Another opportunity for me to take shameless advantage of adorable small people wearing things I've knitted for them, and more besides.
Anyone who reads at Clare's Three Beautiful Things (the Original and Best) knows that her two littl'uns must be among the canniest, funniest, most original and formidable small people around, which isn't surprising given how clever and sharply observational their mum is. I met them very briefly back in March on the occasion of Joe's funeral, when it was a very beautiful thing to meet and spend a bit of time with Clare too.
I like knitting for kids, it's quick and satisfying, though the finishing can be fiddly. By the end of the winter I was eager to get my fingers out of fuzzy warm wool and round some cotton, and knowing that Clare's Bettany was born in June (remembering Alec's excited 'The roses are blooming and the baby is coming!'), I used some rather pleasant organic cotton to make her a pullover, experimenting with a new 'inside-out' way of joining stripes.
I understand that very small children have disproportionately large heads, and knowing that cotton lacks elasticity, I thought I ought to adapt the pattern and put an extra opening with buttons along the shoulder. I remember shoulder buttons on jumpers, sometimes they were rather a source of stress, but perhaps not as much as not being able to get your head out of your jumper. Looking at the rather sloppy way the cotton knitted up and the generous neck size in the pattern, the extra opening was almost certainly unnecessary, but it did mean I could go on a quest for buttons, which is always an extra pleasure, and I found these little pink apples,
which went with the pink stripe, and also suggested to me a name for the jumper. It's a custom I've come to like very much, which must surely have come into being with on-line sharing of knitting, to give a personalised name to one's creations. This one I called Haute que Trois Pommes - Three Apples High. This French expression describes a very small child; it often seems to be in the feminine, though presumably not exclusively, and is often used retrospectively - depuis qu'elle est haute que trois pommes - ever since she was knee high to a grasshopper, we might say.
It was broiling hot when it arrived, so Betts didn't get to wear the jumper for a while, but after a bit Clare sent the most wonderful photo of the little imp in it, which she very kindly gave me permission to post here, and which makes me chuckle with delight every time I look at it:
But that wasn't all. When Molly died Clare was one of the many dear people who wrote kind, wise, consoling words; she urged me to grieve well, and mentioned that Alec was making a 'very sticky picture' to send, which in due course I received in the post, with many other generous and magical things, a card with an anemone, a dinosaur, a book... even the parcel tape around it carried a numinous message:
The book was of folk tales, with illustrations by Jan Pienkowski, a long time favourite, his trademark silhouette ink work against marbled backgrounds. Here's Baba Yaga's house, complete with crows and a picket fence made of skeletons:
And Alec's thoughtful, delicate collage had watchful eyes peering out through ethereal feathers, all against my very best shade of blue.