Our bright and beautiful world welcomed a new little one in July!
Baby Selene joined her parents, a sister and brother
…and a pretty fun group of neighbors who decided to celebrate her arrival with a baby blanket.
And more: In true Chinese fashion (going back to the year 960!) Selene’s grandmother joined the household for a month to give Selene’s momma Alice a big postpartum hand—otherwise known as 坐月子 (zuo yue zi), literally “sitting the moon” (or, less sentimentally, as confinement.) Even the blanket gift delivery was obliged to wait until confinement was over.
My sleuthing informer-friend provided some family background in order to prep for this custom blanket:
Momma Alice is Taiwanese-American. She has fond memories of watching Mulan for the first time with her family as a young girl. She works with a non-profit organization to keep women who are at-risk or in crisis safe and supported. She has family nearby. And she’s a new mom of three!
Photo source: Walt Disney Studios
Dad Jamie served in the Army, earned his MSW and now works with veterans through the VA. He’s adventurous and a little daring. He also likes educating himself about child development and ways to thoughtfully help his own kids grow to be great adults.
I spy a great deal of brightness and beauty right in Selene’s family. So much care-giving to others!
The line “All Things Bright and Beautiful” is from Irish hymn-writer Cecil Frances Alexander and was written in the mid-1800s. (She also wrote the Christmas carol “Once in Royal David’s City” and “There is a Green Hill Far Away” for any of you who remember hymns from your childhood.) Her first verse is the most familiar:
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
The words gained longevity when author James Herriot titled his autobiographical books about being a veterinarian in the English countryside with phrases from Alexander’s poem. British television furthered our familiarity with it by producing films and TV series of Herriot’s stories.
It seems like Alexander’s simple expressions touch something fundamental within us. Whatever one believes about the origins of things (granted, my thinking aligns with hers), I venture to say we all deeply appreciate these very good things: wisdom and wonder, great and small creatures, and beauty, color and light.
Just one particular element was requested when this blanket was commissioned: “Make it pink and cream.”
Just one thing! But did it happen here? Not exactly. Because the sweaters were insistent (as they usually are) about choosing their own buddies.
The body of this blanket began with the purplish-pink of Mulan’s magnolia tree. At that point, those magenta sweaters called for peach for the border. (You’ll likely recognize the purple-orange complement.) It was a good call. Finally, for counterpoint to the sweet pop-art flowers in the trim, I chose big, bright flowers for their centering visual weight.
Other pieces of interest are:
* a tiny pocket for tiny fingers, treasures, or messages
* two curved necklines, backed with contrasting fabric
* a preserved curling edge of a sweater
* several small sweater pieces stitched on top of the blanket’s border for greater texture
* all those cables!!
Congratulations, Jamie, Alice, Stella and Apollo! May you enjoy your family’s brand new gift: Selene.
And welcome, Selene! May you see brightness, beauty, and all manner of other wonders in this world around you as you grow.
© Joan Olson
“All Things Bright and Beautiful” (36×36)
Felted wool sweaters