I have always subscribed to the belief that new babies should be welcomed to the world with handmade knitwear, and most of the babies in my acquaintance have been duly smothered. Nothing quite seems to say “welcome to the world, you are so loved, so cherished, and so eagerly anticipated” as hours and hours of time spent thinking about the future of this tiny person as the yarn flicks through my fingers.
I think I knit and sewed enough little baby clothes for Kitty for her to wear a new outfit everyday for a year, which speaks volumes about my available knitting time pre-babies, and if Elma didn’t receive quite the same volume of new knits, she certainly hasn’t lacked for the mama-made.
So it shouldn’t really be a surprise that this didn’t stop at birth. I make things for the girls just because I can, and as and when I can, but I’ve also made a point of making something for their Christmas present, I’ve got serious plans for Elma’s birthday in December, and Kitty’s past birthday presents have included pirate trousers and a set of mini beanbags with the letters of her name stencilled on the front.
This year, I knew I wanted to make her a new birthday dress, but I also wanted something that she would find a bit of fun.
You know how sometimes the perfect project just lands in your lap; the pattern you didn’t quite realise you’d been searching for until you see it there before you. Well in this case it landed in the letterbox. Twice.
Mollie Makes; my gateway to a fantasy land where I have unlimited time/energy/resources to give my creativity full rein. I read it in bed with my knitting in my lap hoping that if I fall asleep with my face jammed up against the pages, some of the apparently effortless productivity will pixie dust twinkle through the pictures and I’ll finish this cardigan in my sleep. I have a very long list of things that I want to make from various back issues, and so far I’ve managed a few of the cover kits.
But when I turned the page and saw a little girl, so reminiscent of my Kitty, sat on a step with a little felt bag that looked like my camera, I knew that there was no way I couldn’t make it for her. And then my copy of The Green Parent plopped onto the doormat, and there it was again. You can’t argue with the facts, it was clearly meant to be.
I started long before her birthday, cutting out pieces on one of Kitty’s nursery days while Elma napped, sewing a seam or two each night after they were asleep, and emptying my entire button collection all over the lounge floor one night to choose the very very nicest to act as the lens, twiddles and knobs.
In the end it was finished well before September, which was somewhat of a relief because I still had a dress to make.
It’s an easy enough patterns to follow, just a little fiddly in parts and I made it almost as written, I think I only changed a couple of things. The first was in the construction of the flash; there’s a strip of card in between the two layers of felt and the pattern instructions have you stick it to the back, and presumably then shorten it so that it doesn’t get in the way of the zip. I stuck it to the front, between the camera front and the bag lining so that the card runs down into the body of the bag and gives it just that bit more resilience to the affections of exuberant toddlers.
And the second was that I tacked down the bag lining around the zip; I wish I’d done it before I’d sewn the whole thing together though, but it makes it a lot easier to avoid the pebbles or whatever other treasures are being tucked away ending up falling between the bag and the lining.
But however fiddly, it was completely worth it, she was so excited when she unwrapped it. And her first words:
” Say Cleek!”
Pattern: Belle and Boo Camera Bag from the Belle and Boo Book of Craft, and also excerpted in Mollie Makes issue 29 and The Green Parent issue 55 (which I think is still in the shops).
Materials: Wool felt from a lovely stand at the NEC quilt festival whose name I have completely forgotten, a red zip from a shop in town, and buttons, steam-a-seam and embroidery thread from the stash.
Time: a couple of weeks of evenings and odd moments