Archive for September, 2012

September 25, 2012

Days of Atonement

by Decemberbaby

Six years ago tonight, I stood in the synagogue and prayed more fervently than I ever had. I cried, I pleaded, I rocked back and forth on the balls of my feet. I begged God for the clarity to understand why I was denied the chance to mother my child, for the grace to recover quickly from my miscarriage, and for the good fortune to get pregnant again and have a chance to be a mother.
Five years ago tonight, I wasn’t especially hungry. I was pregnant and sick with a cold, and wasn’t planning to fast. I prayed, if not as feverishly as the previous year, for a safe birth and a healthy baby.
Four years ago tonight I took K into services with me and hugged her close while I sang the Yom Kippur liturgy.  I was thankful, so thankful, that I finally was a mother. The shehecheyanu – the prayer of thanks for being able to reach this day – never felt more apt.

Three years ago tonight I was feeling testy from the fertility drugs and hormones flooding my body. I had just received a jubilant email from an aquaintance announcing her second pregnancy. Why was it so easy for her, and so hard for me? We were nearing the end of our options: we’d finally made the jump to in-vitro fertilization. I was terrified that if it didn’t work, I’d have a hard time being with our friends who had more than one child. I davenned, prayed, that God would give me the strength of character to accept the outcome of our treatments with patience and peace.

Two years ago tonight I snuggled our tiny baby boy in a Moby wrap and tried to daven, though my attention was mostly on K’s behaviour and N’s feeding cues.

One year ago tonight I was heavily pregnant – overdue, in fact – and didn’t fast for fear that I’d end up going into labour too hungry and depleted to be able to push. I prayed for my labour to start soon.

Tonight I hope to have at least ten minutes to myself to truly pray. I need to thank God for the family that I feared I might never have, I need to atone for all of the big and small ways that I’ve messed up this year, and to pray for patience and strength in caring for this crazy brood, because some days it’s all I can do to close my eyes, grit my teeth, and mutter, “I prayed for this.”

To everyone observing Yom Kippur, Gmar Chatima Tova (may you be inscribed in the book of life) and have an easy fast.

September 23, 2012

Frustration… and another summertime project.

by Decemberbaby

I’ve just spent the last three hours in my workshop, developing a pattern for my tiny torah design. Three hours, and all I’ve figured out is the proper pattern shape for the handles (trying to make them a bit more realistic.) Oh, and also that it is possible to sew the scroll parts inside out so the seams don’t show, and then flip it around. For some reason that method has eluded me for the past two years, but I think I’ve conquered it.

My goal is to be able to sell a PDF pattern to those people who want to sew a tiny toy torah, but who don’t have the patience for trial and error that my tutorial requires. The tutorial will remain up – I assume that some people really would rather have me do the measuring and so forth and therefore would gladly pay a few dollars for a pattern, and some people will just want to jump in and wing it with a tutorial as my guide. It’s all good.

In the meantime, though, it’s not so good. My hands hurt from wrestling with the fabric and the machine, and I’m wondering why the thread keeps getting caught in the bobbin casing. I suspect it’s time to go to bed.

For your amusement tonight, here’s a photo of the teacher gifts we gave at the end of last year:

See you tomorrow!

September 20, 2012

What I did on my summer “vacation”: Butterfly Sunset quilt

by Decemberbaby

It all started with this fabric:

I thought it could be part of a very sophisticated quilt for a baby girl. The fabric isn’t too babyish, and I could see a teenage girl liking it every bit as much as a child would.

To match the intensity of the black-and-white fabric, I decided to go with bright colours. At first I was thinking of colourful geometric prints, but then I saw some batik fabrics and realized that their softness and low-contrast patterns would be a lovely foil for the sharpness of the butterflies. And so a quilt was born.

The centre is what’s called a disappearing nine-patch. The placement of the blocks is semi-random, which to my mind means that I didn’t want it to look like an orderly repeating pattern. I created the black appliqued butterflies by scanning and enlarging the inspiration fabric, tracing it onto the black cotton, and then cutting out the shape.

The coolest part of this quilt (for me) is the quilting itself. Have a look:

See those meandering lines? That’s my first attempt at free-motion quilting. I used a variegated thread so that the stitching changes colour every so often. I quilted the entire centre panel except for the butterflies, and then I quilted the butterflies separately. You can see it very well from the back:

I have to say that I absolutely love using Minky as a quilt backing. It’s so soft and cuddly, and it also shows off the quilting very nicely.

I made a pieced binding for the quilt out of leftover batik fabric. Early on someone questioned my choice to do a colourful binding instead of just letting the black butterfly fabric fade into a black binding, but I stand by my decision. I think it frames the whole quilt and makes it feel cohesive. Don’t you?

And, of course, I finished it off with a label:

I find it hard to part with a finished quilt. I really wanted to keep this one, maybe hang it in the living room to admire for a while, and then use it as a throw for the couch. In the end I gave myself a stern talking-to, wrapped it up, and delivered it to the intended recipient. It helped that she loved the quilt and made a big fuss over it. I couldn’t help but give the quilt a loving stroke and a quick cuddle before handing it over for good and driving off into the sunset… and noticing that the sunset wasn’t quite as exciting as the one I’d quilted.


September 20, 2012

What I did on my summer “vacation”: hats

by Decemberbaby

As we’ve previously discussed, stay-at-home moms don’t get summer vacation. Summer is my busy season, and now that the kids are back at school (N is in a toddler program this year – more on that later, on my other blog.) I have more time for sewing, blogging, etc. That being said, I did manage a bit of sewing over the past few months, and I’m pleased to share my projects with you through this weekend.

So much of my sewing begins with a problem to be solved. This time, my kids had outgrown their baby hats and needed something cute to put on their heads. Armed with a free pattern (will link to it soon) and some adorable fabric from Sew Sisters, I whipped up a few hats one day. Then we went to the park.

The hats are reversible, as you can see in the last two (not fabulous) photos. What’s truly awesome, though, is that I figured out how to make the strap reversible as well. Okay, maybe “reversible” isn’t the right word, but I figured out a way for the strap to be usable on either side of the hat without it pulling the brim flat against the child’s ears (a pet peeve of mine.) Maybe one day I’ll post a tutorial for that.

In the meantime, one child is screaming and the other is waiting very patiently to watch Mickey Mouse on my computer, so I must go. Come back again soon – I’ll be deciding on (and announcing) specific days that I’ll post every week.

… and how was your summer?