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Row by Row

Jenny Feldon

I love to knit. In a chaotic world, knitting is one of few “simple things” left in my life—an activity that doesn’t plug in, make noise, or require a wireless connection. Knitting—like writing—is about taking raw materials and creating something new and unique. It’s also meditative…the rhythmic click of bamboo needles, the slippery feel of yarn between my fingers, the mindless counting of stitches. After years of knitting baby gifts for friends and family, my trip to the yarn store when I was pregnant with E was my all-time favorite—picking out the perfect pattern, the softest cotton, and imagining the little girl who would one cuddle up in a blanket her mom made just for her.

E’s “special blanket” is a simple cable pattern of pink and white stripes. It comes out when she needs a little extra comfort, when we’re snuggling together on the couch, and occasionally to wrap Elmo in when he’s feeling cold. She loves it. And I love that she loves it. I’ve written a lot about how unequal things seem to be for a second child. From forgetting I was pregnant to being worried about bonding with my #2, I’ve had a lot of doubts about making things fair for the new baby on the way. So I’m determined to do at least one thing right: #2 is getting his very own “special blanket.” Even if it kills me. Which it just might.

Knitting, like my other favorite hobbies from my previous life (yoga, reading, showering frequently) has definitely fallen by the wayside. These days things are busier than ever—I’m 33 weeks pregnant, a most-of-the-time single mom, and my to-do list rivals The Complete Works of Shakespeare. Oh, and did I mention we just started potty training?

To be perfectly honest, even sweet E’s “special blanket” wasn’t actually finished until she was 14 months old. I learned the hard way that it’s absolutely impossible to knit with an infant in the house (needles look tasty, they’re sharp, yarn is a strangulation hazard) and trying with a toddler is even worse (you need to be able to sit down for longer than 30 seconds at a time.) But I’m determined to finish #2’s work-in-progress blanket before he arrives. If this means super late nights, early mornings, or (even more) neglect of my email inbox, so be it.

In a strange turn of events, E has decided to help me out with this endeavor. Suddenly, at just over two years old, she’s OK sitting at the table and coloring while I knit next to her—not something she would have allowed even a few weeks ago. I took her with me to the yarn store to pick out the colors for #2’s blanket, and she was so excited I let her pick out her own jumbo needles and a ball of yarn (she chose orange.) So sometimes we “knit” together, and sometimes we curl up on the couch and watch a video while I sneak in a few rows. Never thought it could happen, but it’s bliss.

Knitting a blanket just for #2 lets me focus on him, and on this pregnancy, in a way I haven’t been able to before. Every stitch is about him and for him. The repetitive motion of the needles calms me down after all the worrying and planning and running around. Better yet, this one thing is something I can make the same. Same number of knit and purls, same number of rows. Same amount of dropped stitches, tangled yarn, and occasional swearing. Same amount of love.

Is there something you did for your child, or children, to celebrate them in a unique way? From scrapbooks to wall hangings to hats and booties, there are so many way to welcome a new baby into the world with something straight from the heart. I’m feeling lucky to be able to give #2 something I made with my own hands, row by row, and even luckier to share the experience with his big sister without making it (like most other things) all about her. I’ve got seven weeks, 158 rows, and 24,192 stitches to go. Wish me luck!