Once upon a time, my mother and her friend decided to become blood sisters.
It was an interesting decision for me, even though I wasn’t born yet. The friend is my godmother and bought my prom dress, at which point she became my fairy godmother. She also bought the fabric for my wedding dress, and I feel like there should have been a third dress, as shining as the stars, if we followed the tales, but I don’t remember that one.
My fairy godmother’s eldest daughter, just two months younger than me, was my best-est friend for years. When we were very little, she would bite me, or so the story goes, and then I’d cry. Her mother would ask me: Roza, did she bite you? And, tears streaming down my face, I’d lie and say no, because I didn’t want her to go into time-out. I wanted her to stay and play with me. When we were ten or so, we were each going to run for president, with the other as the vice-president, so we’d be sure to win. In high school, we’d stay awake way past midnight when our families would visit each other and talk about everything. Why not? Our parents were downstairs, playing board games until the middle of the night, so we stayed awake, too. I was one of her bridesmaids, and we traveled across the country for each other’s college graduations.
Over the years, it turned out that the second daughter was a dear friend as well. She moved to Boston for a few years, and there were weeks I saw her three or four times. If two weeks had gone by, and I didn’t see her, it was time to call her up and make plans. I would knit or spin and she would do cross-stitch, and we’d talk about books for hours. One year, we hit all twelve of the North Shore Yarn Crawl stores in just two days. She helped me pack my books and move with only three weeks of warning.
Sometime after college, it became easier to call them both ‘cousin’ when introducing them to people than to try to explain. Much to our amusement, I’d introduce my ‘cousin’, and people would immediately say that they could see the family resemblance!
Sadly, both now live in California, so visits are rare these days. The eldest’s daughter, who turns two this summer, knows me mostly from Skype dates rather than in person, and the long midnight talks haven’t happened in a while. There are some very cool things about being an adult, but babies and work do cut short late nights.
Before my ‘niece’ was born, I decided this baby needed a sweater. And not just any sweater. The Baby Surprise Jacket. And for reasons that have now been lost to time, I decided the yarn to do this in was Sugar n’ Cream. I picked a nice set of colors, white and green and blue and pink, and cast on. And it was hideous. The fabric was way too thick, and this made it stiff, and I couldn’t get it to work, and this was supposed to be for a baby! Bother.
So, as if I wasn’t already crazy, I decided the way to solve this would be to unspin the yarn, a four-ply, and respin it half as thick. I really did decide to do this. I have no idea why. The baby wasn’t going to care. My cousin and her husband would be delighted that I made a thing for their baby, regardless of the details. And yet, there I was, hunched over my spinning wheel, unspinning and then respinning an entire ball of cotton yarn.
It was silly, but it did work. Having finally reach the right thickness of yarn, I cast on. The Baby Surprise Jacket is a magical and weird piece of knitting, in which you knit misshapen rectangle (very misshapen), fold it up just right, sew two seams, and surprise! There’s a jacket.
The rectangle has too many corners, the increases are in unexpected places, and none of it makes sense.
Except, then there’s a baby sweater.
And, since I had leftover yarn, a matching hat.
Here’s a picture from the hospital, of the hat.
Except, the baby is much more interesting. Isn’t she awesome?!