Wednesday, May 1, 2019

One Day

Six years ago, you had one day with her. That's so unfair.

As magical as newborns are and as much as I envy you those precious hours, you couldn't possibly have imagined how incredible your daughter would become. She is sugar and spice, quick to take offense and eager to please. My dragon daughter. From the first picture I ever saw of her I sensed a brightness in her, a vividness. Everything she feels, she feels intensely. Every story she tells, she throws her whole self into portraying every aspect. I've often wondered if acting is in her future: she just seems like a natural.

I'll get to see that future, and unless a modern miracle of internet and DNA transpires, you won't. That's so unfair.

I don't know what combination of societal limitations, familial pressures, financial duress, and personal bias led you to want your daughter to be cared for by the state. I know from other parents of nevus owners that the initial reaction from uninformed doctors and medical staff can be devastating. One family's child was placed in NICU immediately and the parents were told the child probably wouldn't live out the week. She did, of course, and proved to be and continues to be happy and healthy. But it's so rare, you see. One in every 500,000 births and most doctors never see it in their whole practice. It can look so scary at first, but it isn't really, most of the time. Were you scared? Did a doctor tell you she wouldn't survive or that she would need medical care you couldn't pay for? Did you face the question that so many parents in your situation have had thrust on them: to take your child home to die or to surrender her to the state so that she can receive life-saving medical care? That's so unfair.

But medically necessary or not, she thrived, even in an institutional environment, and after bringing her home we have seen her burst into bloom. The calendar tells us that we have had her for two years, five months and seventeen days and every one of those days she has been a joy. (And often a trial as well: she has a strong will, your daughter.)

Thank you for including the note with her time of birth. I wonder, when that time came today, did you wince? Do you feel the loss of her like a limb? Do you have peace that you made the right decision for her? Did you move past the grief years ago, hopeless of ever seeing your child again? I wish I could face west and send you this message: your daughter is loved and cared for and accepted. She is yours, always yours, but also ours.

Ours forever.

We promise.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Say It Today

This last Christmas was a great Christmas for hand knitted gifts. I typically start making Christmas presents in early spring allowing me to harness my spare time throughout the year to produce hand-made gifts. I have a spreadsheet that helps me keep track.

I used mostly Paton yarn, which is a great affordable, hard-wearing, high quality yarn, and I made a lot of fun, functional things.

But after Christmas, I was wanting ... something different. Something that would really be a challenge. Something less about function, and more about form. I settled on a lace shawl. An epic lace shawl, made from laceweight wool and silk, gossamer thin.

Before you block lace, it looks scrunched.
You can sort of tell there's a pattern and purpose going on, but it's not entirely clear.
Most of the knitting I do is very forgiving. If I miss a decrease in one row, I can add it in the next without anyone ever being able to tell but me. Knitting a lace pattern is not like that. All the stitches, decreases and yarnovers are very carefully designed to form a pattern, and if you miss a single stitch, it will be glaringly obvious. Twice I made a mistake but didn't catch it for eight or ten rows and so had to pull out all that work.

Inserting the needle into the last row before my mistake.
But it was all worth it.

Interstellar Lace Shawl
I made this shawl for my friend Sarah. My friend is in good health at the moment, but as I was considering this project it occurred to me - the time for a big gesture is now. Nobody is guaranteed tomorrow. This shawl, the biggest, most difficult lace pattern I'd ever attempted, was my tangible way of telling my friend how much I loved her and the time to say "I love you" is always today, not next week.

It was finished in time for her birthday and she loves surprises, so my kids and I showed up on her doorstep with a plate of cookies and a brown paper package tied up with string.

She loved it a lot.

Go say I love you. Do it with knitting, with words, however you want. Say it today. 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Love a Baby

Everybody has a baby they love, right? Even if you don't have kids or even don't want kids, you've got a niece that's precious to you, a best friend who's about to have a baby. So with that in mind, we're working on a special fundraiser.

For all donations between March 15th and April 30 that help bring our baby boy home, we'll put your name in a drawing for a very special gift: a hand-knit lace baby blanket in soft, natural wool. Perfect for a boy or a girl, a lovely heirloom and a beautiful photo prop.

Any donation up to $25 means we put your name in the drawing once, and then for every additional $25, we put your name in again.

This is a similar knit lace blanket that I made for my nephew. The Love a Baby blanket will have a diamond center pattern and a leaf border.

How can you donate? So glad you asked! 

To buy Rodan + Fields makeup and have a portion of your purchase go to support our adoption, click here! (Each item specifically lists how much goes to the adoption.) 

To donate online, click here.

To donate via check, make your check payable to Bethany Christian Services and put Fenn Family in the memo line. Send your check to: 

930 McCallie Avenue
Chattanooga, TN 37403

After you've done that, send me a message on Facebook (I'm the only Libby Mallory Fenn on there!) and let me know about your donation so that we can add you to the drawing! It sometimes takes a while for donations to process and for us to be notified. I don't want you to miss out! 

For more information about our adoption, go here. It's the page with all the links! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Big News

So for a while this fall I wasn't blogging anything because our adoption had stalled due to a medical issue. And then that resolved and suddenly I wasn't blogging because things were happening so fast! 

So, here's our big news

We have been MATCHED!!! 

On Jan 29th, we got a call from our adoption agency. They had a file that they would like us to consider. It was a sixteen month old boy, with the same condition as our daughter, congenital giant nevus, otherwise healthy and with the cutest, fattest cheeks. We said yes. The boys are completely thrilled; Mei-Mei was sour for a bit that it wasn't a girl, but has since gotten fully on board Team Baby Brother and is full of plans. She has instructed me that when we go to China I should take M&Ms, in case baby brother cries while I'm giving him a bath, like she did. I love seeing her little heart soften. 

Right now we can't share pictures online so you will just have to take my word for it that he's completely adorable. We'll be able to share once we've signed our Letter of Agreement, which is a few steps down the road. Right now I'm busy working on our current step, the dossier (doss-ee-ay). We are hopeful that we will have all our dossier ducks lined up and notarized by the end of the month, after which we get them county sealed and state sealed. It's exactly as much fun as it sounds, but now we have the best motivation in the world: our little boy waiting for us! 

So. Many. Documents.

If you would like to be added to our adoption newsletter for more information about the process and how you can pray for us, email me at derkiheeATgmailDOTcom with "add me" in the subject line. 
If you would like to donate to our adoption (thank you SO much!) all of our links and information are here.  

Sunday, August 12, 2018

All Our Adoption Links

We're adopting!!!

(I think I might never lose the urge to put 3 exclamation marks after that sentence.)

I wanted to put all our links in one place so that when people want to know about our adoption and how they can help, I can direct them to one page instead of several different ones. As we have other news I'll link it back to this page so this page always (oh dear what a promise, here's hoping) has the most updated information.

For general information about why we are adopting, click here.
For details on who we are adopting, click here.
For information on our Love a Baby campaign and how you could win a hand-knit lace blanket, click here. 
If you'd like to purchase Rodan + Fields makeup and skin care supplies and have a portion of your purchase go to our adoption, click here. 

If you would like to be part of our prayer team, email derkiheeATgmailDOTcom with "ADD ME" in the subject line and I will add you to our email newsletter.

In August, we did a T-shirt fundraiser. If you are interested in us holding another sale, email me at derkiheeATgmailDOTcom with "I'd buy a T shirt" in the subject line. If we have at least 5 people interested, we will have another T shirt sale and I will email you the link as well as post it again here.
Here is what our T shirts look like:

"Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created."
To donate online, click here. This site takes out $0.30 per donation and 2.9% of the donation. This allows them to maintain their website and, particularly important, to maintain the online security measures that all you to donate your money safely. Please feel free to share this link on Facebook.

To donate by check, send a check made out to Bethany Christian Services, with "Fenn family" in the memo line to this address:

Bethany Christian Services
930 McCallie Avenue
Chattanooga, TN 37403

Thank you for your interest in our adoption! Check back periodically to see how things are going!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Knitting Through the Year - March

"Its shape is the simplest (straight tube for body; tapered tubes for sleeves, which are cast off straight and sewed into straight cut armholes) and the pattern is much simpler than it looks." ~ Knitter's Almanac, by Elizabeth Zimmermann

Sometimes, I knit like an idiot. Sometimes, I continue to knit like an idiot for a very long time. This is very frustrating when I discover it.

See that? I cast on the same number for both sweaters. I knit the hem, and then began the color work section. This (apparently) was a lot tighter than the hem and I just continued on for inches and inches, blindly believing that it was only a little bit small and that it would easily block out to the same size. If you look at the above picture, these are obviously two different sizes. There is no amount of blocking that is going to change that.

And somehow I had to knit that far before I figured it out. And this sweater combines cables and color work so it was a slower knit than usual. But still I didn't notice until I had knit half the body.

So I unraveled it. It was painful but I discovered something interesting.

Isn't that cool? Wouldn't it make a pretty lacy sweater? It would take a long time to knit, but unraveling the base color would be very thrilling.

Anyway, I unraveled it back to the hem, knit a round increasing by 20%, and then picked up the white and started again. Once I got to the chest, I added a few extra stitches on each side for steeks and continued knitting a color work tube. I sewed the sleeves to the tube and then turned the sleeves inside out to get to the steek stitches. I crocheted double line of stitches through the steek stitches and then cut down middle, creating the armhole.

Does this picture make things any clearer? No? Sorry.
This is a classic method for multi-color Scandinavian sweaters, because it is much easier to knit color work patterns in a tube, where you are always looking at the right side, than back and forth, when you are constantly switching from the right side to the wrong side. So just knit a couple extra stitches where you want the armholes and cut them later!

After the armholes were cut, I knit facings for them to cover up the raw edges inside the sweater. This is partly for security (my sweater is knit of alpaca and wool and alpaca doesn't stick to itself like wool does, increasing the risk of things unraveling) and partly for aesthetics. It was a long slow knit and I wanted it to be finished nicely inside and out. If I were selling my knitting (which I'm not*), this would be a particularly high-end sweater.

I'm very happy with how it turned out. It is a beautiful little 2T sweater, and the alpaca makes it sooo soft and the color work pattern on the body makes it extra warm.

When I first started knitting it, I found the slow pace of the color work + cable stitches to be frustrating. It's not hard, particularly if you have done cables before, but it is slow. But now I really love the bold effect of the white cables against the green-blue-lavender. It makes me want to attempt a Celtic knot pattern, maybe on mittens. Wouldn't that be lovely?

*If there are any people reading this blog who value quality hand knits and would be interested in $500 children's sweaters, I would absolutely be interested in selling my knitting! But those are the kind of prices you have to charge to make it work. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Knitting Through the Year - February

If there is one fact on which all grandmothers agree, it is that no daughter-in-law knows how to wash wool. This may be true, but it is no reason for the grandmas to stop knitting. Do they expect their handmade offerings to be carefully preserved in layers of tissue paper and never worn? They have perhaps forgotten how often baby things have to be washed. The baby surely doesn't mind if they do become a little shrunken and yellowed. Let the grandmas keep up the supply of soft woolies and avert their mind's eye from the ultimate fate of their knitting - at least it is being used. ~ Knitter's Almanac, by Elizabeth Zimmermann

Knitting for babies is delightful even when you don't have a baby to knit for, which I currently don't. When I find a pattern I like I just knit away and stash it for future use. I generally try to knit at least a 12 month size, if not larger, which insures that my sweater will probably be worn more than once.

In true EZ fashion, I set aside her very good instructions and attempted to make the arms and chest at the same time, with extra stitches to make into steeks later on. (Steeks are where you take scissors to your knitting, cut it into pieces and then sew it back up again. It's crazytown, but a very useful technique.)

My reasons were very good. The yarn I was using (Crazy Yarn left over from the kids' Baby Surprise Sweaters) has uneven stripes, and it would be very difficult to make the stripes the same on the sleeves and the body because there are different numbers of stitches in each.

I used the crochet method of securing the steek edges, which was very easy if you are already familiar with crochet. You can also use a sewing machine if you prefer.

I think that somewhere in the process I misplaced some stitches or ignored something crucial because the sleeves are a lot skinnier than I was intending. Knitting stretches, which is good, but this might be recast as a full length infant sweater instead of a waist-length toddler sweater.

Ah well, I'll be more careful next time.