“Family”

Little Nora was born this week. In old-school style, her parents decided not to learn her sex ahead of time. She, with emphasis on the gender, was a true surprise to them.

In line with that, I got to make a blanket that could work either way, for a boy or for a girl—another fun challenge in my blanket-making adventures.

Each parent had items to contribute (faithfully preserved by their moms), so we’ve got pieces of mama Lauren’s and papa James’ baby blankets (three of them) and a spectacular spaceship T-shirt here.

In a very special addition, Uncle Jon has a piece of himself here too. Marine Lance Cpl Jonathan Collins, older brother of Lauren, was killed in action in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006 at the age of 19. He is a deeply beloved hero, and his family and our community meaningfully keep his memory and the memory of his sacrifice alive. Patches of Jon’s fatigues are part of this blanket, so little Nora can touch and love her wider family. As she grows she will learn the impact of all of her family members on her life.

(Yoo-hoo! You out there in your 50s too: is this the sort of stuff you ponder regularly?? The reach of generations and family web fascinates me with its breadth and impact.)

It wasn’t until I was laying the pieces out that I noticed a slice of the fatigues had “USMC” and the Marine corp symbol just along the edge. I’m glad it made it in —

It was a pleasure to make this blanket, commissioned by a childhood best friend of Nora’s maternal grandmother. See? More far-reaching impact of family and all who love them :).

Welcome, little Nora, to your dear tribe.
May you discover the wonders of it throughout your entire life.

“Family” (42″ x 41″)
This blanket has already gone to a good home

[Memorial Day is around the corner. Take time to remember and honor veterans young and old, especially those who have made an ultimate sacrifice. We really are in this all together.]

Little Cherished One

I have written about sheep before at Christmas, here and here, and once at Easter, here. I’m at it again. (Honestly, I relate to the creatures: more timid and quiet than not, mildly inattentive, and never comfortable standing out in a crowd. But…enough about me. I’m getting uncomfortable.)

So. What follows here is a roundabout sheep-and-shepherd story in time for Christmas.

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Our granddaughter Miriam (a year old this month) was baptized in October. To note the significance of the day, I decided to give her a blanket as a gift. I hope I’m able to give her several more through the years! But this first one needed to convey something especially meaningful.

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As she and her parents marked the sign and the seal of God’s grace in her life through baptism, there was one message I really wanted young Miri to know: That when you stray, when you err, when you’re lost, embarrassed, in pain, you have a Shepherd. He knows you, loves and cares for you, and he will set aside his flock to come after you.

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“Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the 99 in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.” ’ ” (Luke 15:3-6)

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Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your birth at Christmas, for becoming a sacrificial sheep yourself, for living again as the Good Shepherd who looks after his sheep. And then! For chasing down an awful lot of wanderers and for celebrating each and every rescue. Happy Earth-birthday, sir!

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Little Cherished One (Size: 36″ x 37″)

“Learning to Swim”

Turtle

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In June I had the pleasure of responding to a fellow wool-enthusiast by sending off a blanket for her expected grandbaby’s first shower. This customer, Lona, is previously known to me — and to you too, if you’ve been following my blog for a while. Lona and her husband own a small farm in Holland, Michigan. They raise sheep and now cows, beans and other crops, and in their “free time” process their wool to make and sell wonderful wool products. (Shop for their wool and beans here.)

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Their Shady Side Farm hosts an annual late-winter Shearing Day event, opening their doors to the public when they bring a hired sheep-shearer in prior to lambing season. My husband and I attended three years ago, and my appreciation for sheep, their amazing wool, and their patient handlers grew tremendously. (You can read my blog post about that exceptional day here, and I’ve added a couple of photos below.)

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Lona’s daughter Anne, the momma of the coming grandson, is a blogger and masterful do-it-yourselfer. The daughter of farmers? Of course she’s a DIYer! She’s the one on the right above, skirting a wool fleece freshly shaved from a sheep. Anne blogs about household projects and other interesting things over at Planting Sequoias. Her energy is inspiring!

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Grandma Lona’s one request for this new baby blanket: that it have an applique of a turtle. It turns out that Anne and husband Kenny’s backyard gently rolls right down to a lake with … turtles! I imagine turtles lined up like bumps on a log, stretching their pointy turtle-noses on their thin turtle-necks toward the sun — just as heat-lovers around the world are wont to do.

And that baby turtle?

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That baby turtle, of course, would be learning to swim.

Kenny and Anne, I wish you a sweet time of getting ready for your own little guy to break through to the surface and into this beautiful world.

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“Learning to Swim” (36″ x 40″)

This blanket has already gone to a good home.


“Pink Posies” for Roselyn

Pink Posies

Pink Posies

Recently I opened my email at The Green Sheep to find this note:

“Hi, my name is Mandy. An amazing woman from my church gave us one of your blankets when my first son was born. It’s beautiful, and we show it to everyone. My mother-in-law, Sandi, was especially smitten with it and has custom-ordered two blankets from you since (‘G is for Griffin‘ and ‘The Sand and the Sea‘).”

This is so fun for me! I love meeting someone new through the connection of a blanket.

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Mandy was looking for a gift for her little niece and god-daughter, Roselyn. Instead of starting from scratch, I showed her some of the finished blankets in my Etsy shop. With the “Rose” in Roselyn’s name and the tiny buds on this blanket — along with the fact that her nursery is gray and pink (with elephants!) — this particular one, “Pink Posies,” was a good choice.

Mandy chose to add a monogram. I stitched on the “R,” packaged up this sweet blanket, and shipped it over to Michigan for its new owner. Keep warm, little Roselyn!

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“Pink Posies” (35″ x 36″)

This blanket is no longer available.

“Baby in the Badlands”

Badlands

It all started with their love of raptors.

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Kristen and Lori, wildlife biologists, best friends, and now sisters-in-law (they ended up marrying brothers), met while working on a golden eagle project together in the Badlands of North Dakota.

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Badlands

When Lori got pregnant with her second child last year, Kristen (a Green Sheep blog lurker for over a year) wrote and asked me about the possibility of making a Badlands-themed crib blanket. Both families still live in North Dakota. Now, Lori and her husband are ranchers there.

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Badlands

The closest I’ve come to where these two met was the South Dakota Badlands on a family car trip in my early youth to see Mount Rushmore, Wall Drug, Crazy Horse, and the Corn Palace. That was a long time ago! So I relied on Google Images to feed my imagination. Kristen steered me away from the stylized, filtered photos toward the natural ones. What an astounding landscape!

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Badlands

Kristen, who has been a sewer since age eight (“I learned from my mom and in 4-H!”), requested blues and browns to echo that landscape. I headed that direction and soon realized I needed to somehow represent the Badlands’ fascinating geologic formations. Two striped sweaters were perfect for the project. I also knew from the beginning that there must be a golden eagle coasting on the air currents above the land.

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Badlands

For Lori and Baby Owen, who arrived just last week, here is “Baby in the Badlands.” Welcome, little one! May you come to love the land and its creatures as much as your momma and your Aunt Kristen do. And Kristen and Lori, may your friendship continue to be a blessing that binds you and your families in wonderful ways :)

“Baby in the Badlands” (45″ x 52″)

This blanket has already gone to a good home

Celebrating Ellie

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This week, I got to hold tiny Ellie. Ellie is just a newborn but she has already accomplished a great feat: she tenaciously stayed put through her momma’s 16 weeks (!) of pre-term labor — including DAILY contractions. She did her family proud by not appearing until well into Week 39 … on Thanksgiving Day. Amazing. For all this and more, I present —

 /\/\/\/\/\/\/\   a few celebratory chevrons!   /\/\/\/\/\/\ 

It just seems appropriate.

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[Hyacinth Quilt Designs was helpful to me in learning how to plan out the stripes for the chevrons.]

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Welcome to God’s beautiful world, little Ellie! And congrats and love to Lori, Steve, and Aiden :).

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“Celebrating Ellie” (~40″ x 40″)

This blanket already has a home.

A Beautiful Intervention

Tim and Stephanie were pretty sure they were finished having children. They had one son and one daughter — a comfortable family. And then out of the blue Stephanie had the distinct impression they should have a third.

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“Why don’t you pray about it?” recommended Tim, who places his confidence in God but was skeptical about another child. Stephanie’s sense about it only increased, but she knew that wasn’t what Tim was hoping for. One evening in front of television, Stephanie suggested perhaps Tim ought to join in on the prayer. Tim was respectful but still rattled by the entire idea. “Okay, I will,” Tim responded, “but I think it’s going to take a sign to actually persuade me.”

     “What kind of a sign?” asked Stephanie.
     Tim replied, “I don’t know — maybe a burning a bush.”

They turned back to the television and just moments later, big as day on the screen before them, was a bush consumed in flames. Tim couldn’t believe his eyes.

Before long, Stephanie was pregnant.

Early blood tests to check the baby’s health, however, indicated there might be problems. Stephanie was told to prepare for a possible miscarriage. On the day of her OB appointment to listen for the baby’s heartbeat for the first time, she feared there would be none. Stephanie paused in the parking lot to text a friend from her women’s small group at church. “Please pray. I’m going in to hear the heartbeat.” That friend started a chain to pass the request for prayer on to many more people. In the doctor’s office, Stephanie heard her little one, alive and well.

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At the beginning of her pregnancy, Stephanie was being followed by her regular endocrinologist for a long-standing thyroid imbalance. Although he was out-of-state, he knew her well and continued to monitor her meds from a distance. He told her it would be best to stay on her regular meds until the third trimester. But abruptly and confusingly, insurance denied medication coverage and Stephanie had to discontinue these meds much earlier than planned. With the change, Stephanie quickly chose a local endocrinologist to now follow her through the pregnancy.

At one appointment, the new endocrinologist felt something foreign in Stephanie’s neck and requested a biopsy. The test revealed two fast-growing cancerous tumors on her thyroid. Surgery could not be put off. So when the baby was at about 28 weeks, Stephanie — less concerned about the cancer (a very treatable kind, she says) than about the effects of the anesthesia on her baby — went in for the operation. She says there was a palpable, peaceful presence in the room; she was certain that God was caring for her and her baby. The surgeon removed the now-three tumors and some lymph nodes.

It is not lost on Stephanie and Tim that had she not gotten pregnant, had there been no need to see an endocrinologist face-to-face, this cancer would most likely have gone undetected until it was too late to treat it effectively. And the medication she couldn’t take because of insurance denial? It would have caused the tumors to grow even more quickly. In retrospect, Stephanie is incredibly grateful for the sequence of events.

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Several weeks after surgery, Stephanie began to show signs of pre-term labor. On her way to the obstetrician’s office one day due to early contractions, Stephanie once again paused in the parking lot to text her friend in the small group. The call for prayer once again went out to many. Within 6 hours, labor stopped and there was no dilation.

Finally, at 38 weeks, just as scheduled, little Noah was delivered. He was healthy as could be.

Stephanie, who has been telling me Noah’s story by phone, finally stops. “All of it –” she says, “It is a beautiful intervention by God.”

I have one last question for her, because I had heard bits and pieces of her story earlier through her women’s small group who ordered the owl blanket as a gift for her. On the phone I ask, “So, in addition to the burning bush…wasn’t there something about a rainbow?”

“Oh! There is!” says Stephanie. “At the beginning of the summer, before my surgery, we took our kids up to Kalahari in the Wisconsin Dells. It’s their favorite place to go. At that point, we knew we were having a boy but hadn’t decided on a name yet. We asked the kids for their input too. They came up with some hilarious things! But while we were there, we settled on the name Noah. And as we drove home from that trip, we saw one, two, three, FOUR separate rainbows. Our kids were so excited about seeing the rainbows right after we chose the name ‘Noah.’ They told us: ‘It’s like a sign that our baby is part of God’s big story!'”

Noah, you certainly are part of God’s big story. Welcome, little guy, to this beautiful world and into your loving — and amazed! — family. Already, God has shown his faithfulness to you.

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“Whooo’s Sleepy?” (34″ x 40″)

This blanket already has a home.

“Baby Goes Hiking”

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In my (other) job as an occupational therapist, I have incredible co-workers. I have mentioned this before. Not only do they give their all for our patients, they do some pretty fascinating things when they are not at work.

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One of our physical therapists, Mike, along with his wife Annie, runs marathons, competes in Ironman triathlons, and flies to places like Vermont for long weekends of bike-riding in the mountains. These two love to be active. Their dog Maple goes along whenever she can.

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So, several months ago, Mike and Annie casually announced they were going to have a baby. (Honestly, they do all their spectacular things quite casually.) Then they painted their spare room with fir trees and forest creatures and things from the great outdoors. And in that span between announcement and baby, I could think of no better idea for this pair than a blanket with a tree, a path, and a puppy, all just waiting for baby to join them.

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On the day we had planned to throw Mike a shower at work — with a good three-ish weeks before baby was due to arrive — Mike was instead over at the hospital encouraging Annie through the last part of a very long labor. And that evening they welcomed little Owen into their family.

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Congratulations to Mike and Annie on the birth of your son! Maple, get ready for your playmate. May you four enjoy many, many amazing adventures together ♥ .

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 “Baby Goes Hiking” (37″ x 39″)

This blanket already has a home.

 

 

“G is for Griffin” — and gondola too

In September, I received an email from Sandi out of the blue:

“I have had the luxury of napping with our grandson under one of your wonderful blankets.”  I’d be fibbing if I said that didn’t make my day.

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Sandi did some exploring about The Green Sheep and then she wrote me. She said she had a brand new grand nephew and was hoping for a similar blanket for him. And she surprised me by attaching a photo in that very first email of little Griffin’s bedroom.

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Okay. Now this little guy’s bedroom has some wonderful creativity behind it. Rising on the wall by the crib is a hand-painted mural of stunning tall, gray, snow-capped mountains. Fluffy white clouds hover above them. And strung between two peaks is a red gondola, ferrying people through this majestic scene. That gondola is irresistible.

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Then I heard the story of Griffin’s parents and how the great outdoors brought them together.

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His father is from California and his mother is from Wisconsin, and she moved out west after college. But the event that caused their paths to cross was a little random. She was on a rafting trip at Lake Tahoe with girlfriends. The women got stuck — but were happened upon by some young men who helped free them. Among that group of guys was … well, the rest is history for this particular couple.

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The gray and the blue in this little baby blanket were an easy match to Griffin’s bedroom. And as I pondered what style of monogram to add for his name, the red of that gondola stayed with me. The “g” of the typefont “Open-Dyslexic” by Abelardo Gonzalez adds a good-natured grin.

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Welcome to this beautiful, amazing world, Griffin. Welcome to an incredible place to explore, with parents who will probably teach you how. I can imagine that tantalizing gondola on your wall carrying your imagination to far-away places.

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“G is for Griffin” (38″ x 35″)

This is a custom-order blanket.

A Little Lamb for Caroline

Is it the heat? the lack of routine? the pleasures of summer? I haven’t posted much, but I have been busy!

In July, a custom-made little lamb blanket went to baby Caroline in New York. It was a gift from her great-aunt, who became familiar with The Green Sheep through her neighbor, a friend of mine.

Hopefully baby Caroline is cuddling up on cool nights, lounging in the park,

and enjoying this soft little blanket, made just for her.

A Little Lamb for Caroline (~ 35″ by 37″)

This is a custom-ordered blanket.

“I Love Minnie”

When Gloria described her one-year-old granddaughter to me for this blanket, she used phrases like “full of life!” “a tornado!” “our little pistol!”. I also learned “A” loves Minnie Mouse.

I was able to meet her today for the first time when the family came to pick up the blanket. She was sleepy and laid her head on her grandma’s shoulder, and I had a hard time picturing the rambunctious little girl described to me.

But I was a mom of young kids once and so I believe it.

I worked toward a lively blanket to go with a lively little girl  —  with a busy border, the continuous movement of diagonals, and most especially…

…Minnie’s scattered items like toys in disarray.

It was 80 degrees here today! I hope we have a bit more spring so little “A” can cuddle up with her Minnie next time she’s feeling sleepy.

“I Love Minnie” (37″ by 46″)

[A custom-ordered blanket]

“11,12, Dig and Delve”

Gloria is the grandma of some very special grandchildren, two of whom are brothers. These boys –2-1/2-year-old Rex and his brand new baby brother Uriah — have already had more than their fair share of hospital time, and Gloria wanted a pair of blankets that could accompany them on those hospital visits. I asked about colors. Nature colors! said Gloria — brown and green and orange…and maybe some blue.

Initially, I puzzled some over how to make this combo look childlike. But then I thought about boys playing outside. After that, it got fun.

Can you picture two little boys daring to catch a frog and hold it in their hands?

Squatting in the garden dirt to examine a snail?

Sitting in a homemade sheet-tent under a tree and listening to the breeze in its leaves?

Squinting against the bright sun as they lie in the grass and look for cloud shapes?

Can you remember your own sense of wonder while exploring the outdoors?

1, 2, buckle my shoe

3, 4, shut the door

5, 6, pick up sticks

7, 8, lay them straight

9, 10, a big fat hen

11, 12, dig and delve.

Baby Uriah was just born in January.  This one is for him:

And little Rex is 2-1/2.  This one’s for him:

So buckle up those shoes and go explore God’s beautiful earth, boys.

“11, 12, Dig and Delve” (each blanket is 42″ x 50″)

Twin Lambs

Well, they’re not really lamb twins — they’re baby girl twins, and they are due to join Mom, Dad, and a big brother and sister in November.

But recently, Big Brother told his mom that these babies are Jesus’ little lambs.  I think that’s how the theme started for the nursery.

I was able to have two blankets ready for Susan’s (the expectant mom) baby shower.  In fact, several friends brought lamb-themed things.  That room will be a welcome place for these sweet babies, and a constant reminder of God’s loving care.

I wrote this Bible verse in the card I took to the shower  —

“He tends his flock like a shepherd:

He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;

he gently leads those that have young.”  (Isaiah 40.11)

The last line of that passage has some comforting words for PARENTS  —  “He gently leads those that have young.”  Another friend at the shower commented, “It’d be nice if sometimes He would lead us more loudly and with clearer direction!”  Parenting is a challenge :).

[On a side note: Susan has been a huge encourager to me with The Green Sheep.  In fact, it was her request when she ordered a baby blanket for a friend last year that started me adding appliqués to blankets….

….She originally requested a turquoise-and-brown theme to match her friend’s nursery.  After I finished that, Susan asked, “Can you add a picture to it?”  That blanket became “A Happy Little Tune.”]

We all love you and wish you and your growing family well, Susan!

“Jesus’ Little Lambs”  (each is 35″ x 37″)

These blankets have already gone to a good home.

“Valentine’s Baby”

It’s nearly February!  I know, I know; you can point out that it’s cold and bleak and snowy, and those would all be true.  But I can point out that it makes a wonderful birthday month!  Maybe I’m just looking for the silver lining, but I think having a birthday to look forward to in February helps winter pass a bit more quickly.

Circle of Love, 36″ by 38″

So, yes, my birthday is this month, and so is my youngest daughter’s.  Not only that, but we are both Valentine babies: she arrived in this world on February 14th, and my parents brought me home from the hospital on the same date (of course many years earlier, and without a carseat!).

Circle of Love (handmade binding of red cashmere)

In Baby’s Garden, 36″ x 38″

Do you have a February baby of your own?  In honor of February babies everywhere, I’ve finished two new baby blankets from lovely recycled wool sweaters.  They are soft and warm, with lots of natural textures for baby to touch and hold.

In Baby’s Garden (handmade binding of soft pink merino)

I hope you find lots of things to enjoy about February.  And– Happy Valentine’s Day!

(These blankets have both gone to good homes.)

“A Happy Little Tune”

A friend of mine (who has been an incredible supporter of The Green Sheep!) special-ordered up this baby blanket for a friend of hers this last winter. She covertly learned the colors of the coming little one’s bedroom, and we chose some sweaters to match. The singing bird was unplanned until the very end, and, in retrospect, is the thing that gives this baby blanket its own happy personality.

“A Happy Little Tune” ( Size: 38″ x 38″)