Thursday, November 09, 2006

On hiatus

Sweet Beatrice is on hiatus until further notice.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Contributor: Crank Mama on Pretending in Suburbia

Pretend Suburbian
by Crank Mama

I’ve always been more comfortable around cranky sassy types than those filled with the wonder of the universe. Secretly, of course, many of my less than thrilled cohorts are happy. They just don’t brag about it or run around with scary gleeful expressions, declaring how much they love sewing Halloween costumes for their kids. One of the central struggles for me as a mother is how to be myself (a cranky potty mouth with weird hair) and still love my kids --how to love them, adore them even, without losing my essential self. Thanks to many from my Mom’s generation, I’ve seen what losing oneself looks like, and it isn’t pretty.

Making new cool friends once you’re a Mom isn’t very easy. I’m friendly and outgoing, but I don’t sign to my baby, join “Mommy & Me” classes, nor do I talk only of my children while in social gatherings. You could say I’m a pretend suburban. I may look suburban (I usually wear clothes, drive a mini-vanlike vehicle, am married, and usually mow my lawn), but my gypsy spirit longs to rock in the city.

My hubs and I moved to this hippie town in NW WA state to be nearer to our jobs and closer to people with our politics. And while we don’t technically now live in suburbia, something about it still feels that way.

Yesterday we decided on a lark to host a gumbo party. We invited two sets of neighbors and their kids. We’re all 30-somethings with young kids and we’ve gotten together before and shared some laughs. But last night it was the dreaded women/men gender split. And guess who sat and talked about the children?

How I long to talk to a woman about her non-mommy dreams, about her doubts, fears, and ambitions. Instead there I was shilling 7-Up while drinking my wine, talking about breastfeeding, teething, and sleep.

It’s my fault for not actualizing myself up off the couch and sliding my way into the more jocular, interesting conversation occurring among the men--who were at least (unlike our father’s generation) standing in the kitchen.

Ultimately suburbia is a soulless state of being where everyone seems the same, but isn’t, where moms pretend to care only for talking of children and their silly old unhelpful husbands, where everyone seems overly concerned about cars, granite kitchens, and lawncare.

For Halloween this year, I’ve decided to lose the pretend suburban mom costume and don myself. The one with the crazy hair, who can’t cook, loves to read and write, and who has great ambitions for herself and the world.

CrankMama, is an aspiring hippie mama in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She's an ex- nonprofit executive now working part-time in fundraising and trying to build a community of cranky mamas in her new town. She's married to her second husband and tries to still be herself and a good mom. She almost named her third daughter Beatrice, but chose Violet instead.

Editor's Note

Our theme for October is "pretend." Whether you're pretending that you've got a handle on this whole parenting thing, faking your way through the trial by fire known as the homemade Hallowe'en costume, or convincing yourself that you can absolutely host 20 of your closest realtives for Thanksgving, October is all about that belief in the impossible.

There's a reason "make believe" is a synonym for pretend for belief is essential to the process. Without the belief, you have no magic, no wonder, no soul; belief infuses everything we do, whether it's embracing the women we've become or choosing to join in on the pagan festivities of the season.

Me? I believe in Sweet Beatrice. I believe that there's a place for parents who don't need a constant bombardment of how they're doing it worng. A place that celebrates choices and diversity in the role of mother. That looks at it with honesty, humour, and a marked lack of judgement. Hopefully, if you're here reading, you believe that too.

Our theme this month is "pretending." Whether it's pretending you know t-o*

Saturday, September 30, 2006

September Issue

Sweet Beatrice :: September Contents

Editor's Note: Personal lessons

Column: "Weaning Into Daycare" by MaryP

Column: "I Never Intended To Be A Mother" by Thordora

Make this: Hannah's Dress (Knitting!) by Rilana Riley-Munson


Upcoming themes:

October: pretending
(dress-up, Halloween)

November: coming together
(family traditions good & bad, how to feed a large family on the cheap, blended families, step-, foster- or adoptive parenting)

December: celebrating
(birthday parties, holidays (not just Xmas), making new traditions)

January: keeping out the cold
(cold or rainy day activities, keeping the family close)

Febuary: loving
(sex after kids, dating as a single parent)

If you would like to contribute anything, big or small, to one of our issues (you don't have to be "on-theme"), see our submission guidelines for details.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Make This: Hannah’s Dress

Hannah’s Dress

Pattern by Rilana Riley-Munson (copyright 2006)

Design Description: A sweet little Spring/Summer dress for girls of all ages. It’s knit entirely with acrylic yarn, which makes this dress durable, washable and kid-friendly. It makes for a nice play-dress. It can be worn with a t-shirt underneath or without.

Difficulty Level: Easy to Intermediate. Most of this dress is done in the knit stitch. The bodice is simple garter stitch with a few decreases and bind offs. The skirt/dress portion is also knit in the round. The only time the Purl stitch is involved is at the bottom trim. This project is good for beginner knitters to learn the K2tog decrease and knitting in the round on circular needles.

Materials needed: 3 skeins of Red Heart Super Saver. 2 skeins of main color and 1 skein of contrast color for the bodice. (The colors I used: Lt. Sage- bodice, Cornmeal-dress/skirt.) Red Heart Super Saver is a worsted weight yarn, 100% acrylic, 7 ounces and 364 yds per skein and comes in an array of colors.

Needle size is flexible for this pattern; it depends on whether you want a tighter knit or a loose and stretchy fabric. It does not alter the sizing that much, just the finished fabric. You can use needle sizes #US 8 for a tighter knit or #US 10 for a loose knit. You will need a pair of straight needles and circulars in your chosen size. The finished dress pictured was knit in the largest size with #US 10 needles. The sample bodice pictured was knit with #US 8 needles and the small size.

Other materials needed: A stitch marker to mark the beginning of rounds, small stitch holder (optional), yarn needle for sewing in ends.

Yarn substitutes: Any worsted weight yarn will do. Some ideas: TLC Cotton Plus, Lion Brand Wool Ease, Caron Simply Soft, Bernat Super Saver, TLC Essentials. Remember when substituting yarn to look at the yardage per skein and adjust accordingly.

Sizes: Chest measurements, around ; Small – 20-22”, Medium – 26-28”, Large – 30-32”

The pattern will list the small first and the other sizes in parenthesis. Ex: sm (med, lrg) Follow the instruction accordingly for the size.

The lengths of the dress will vary and the length I give for the sizes are approximate. You can adjust the length of the dress to your liking or child’s height by either knitting more rows in the round, or decreasing the rows.

Approximate lengths for the dress part, not the bodice: Small – 14”, Medium – 18”, Large – 23”

Gauge: approx: 16 sts = 4” in Garter St with # 10 needles

Some stitch explanations:

The decreases on the bodice are made by K2tog at the beginning or the end of the round, depending on which side you are working on. (ex: K2tog, Knit to end of row; Knit to last 2 sts, K2tog)

Kf&b means to Knit in the front and back of the same stitch. It’s a form of increasing. You can also do a M1 increase if you are more comfortable with that. It doesn’t matter. The Kf&b leaves a little ripple effect right under the bodice. The M1 would not show that. It’s just a design element. So, increase as you like.

PU (pick up) sts means you pick up stitches along an edge. What I do is insert my needle into the stitch and pull up a loop and onto the circular needle, repeat until desired number of sts have been reached. I am left handed and a self-taught knitter, I have no idea if I pick up sts correctly. You can pick up sts as you like.

just the dress


The Bodice: (make 2)

With your chosen pair of straight needles and the bodice color, cast on 40(50, 60) stitches. Knit even in Garter stitch for 16(18, 20) rows.

Bind off 5 stitch at the beginning of the next 2 rows. – 30(40, 50) sts remain on needles.

Knit 5 rows even in Garter stitch, ALL sizes.

Next row- Knit 10(12, 14) sts, Bind off 10(16, 22) sts, Knit across the remain stitches. You should have two sections of 10(12, 14) sts on the needle. You may now place one set of these stitches onto a stitch holder if you wish.

**Next row- Decrease 1 stitch on neck edge (k2tog) on every other row, (ex: decrease row, knit row; repeat) 3(2, 4) times. You will have 7(10, 10) sts for the strap.

Knit in garter stitch evenly for 10(10, 15) rows.

Bind of all stitches. **

Place the second strap stitches back on the needle and repeat from decreases to bind off, to match the other side. (from ** to **) Remember decreases are on neck edge only, which would be opposite from other side you just worked.

Repeat the entire bodice pattern once more.

Take the two pieces and sew together the shoulder straps and the side seam.

Bodice sample knit on #US 8 needles and size small (20” around)

The skirt: With your main color and your chosen circular needles, turn the bodice sideways and pick up stitches from the bottom edge all the way around. You will pick up 80(100, 120) stitches around. Place the marker and join. You will now begin knitting in the round.

Knit 1 round even on the stitches you “picked up.”

Next round- *K1, Kf&b; repeat from * around. (This is the increase round, if you are not comfortable with Kf&b, you can M1 instead. Alternatively it would be *K1, M1; repeat from * around) – 140(160, 180) sts are on the needle.

At this point you knit every round until desired length. Approximate lengths for the dress part: Small – 14”, Medium – 18”, Large – 23”

The bottom trim of the dress is knit in the Garter stitch, but in the round. All sizes will have the same bottom trim.

Purl 1 round

Knit 1 round

Purl 1 round

Knit 1 round

Purl 1 round

Bind off all stitches.

Finishing: Take your yarn needle and sew in any loose ends. You may block the dress lightly if you wish.

Options for decorating the dress: Pick up 3 sts along the side of the bodice in the bodice color and I-cord for 12” on each side for a back tie. You can embroider flowers, ducks, etc on the bodice front too. Add ribbons, beads, whatever floats your boat.

(Finished dress is knit with #US 10 needles and size large, approx 31” around)

Questions on this pattern? Please comment. If you try it, let us know!


Rilana is a 30-something stay-at-home mom and domestic diva, resides in lovely Portland, Oregon with her husband, 2 daughters and 2 fat, spoiled cats. Her addictions include alternative rock music, juicy novels, knitting and coffee. When not enthralled with the previously mentioned four, she studies and practices her Pagan ways with a bit of tarot and herbs for spice.

About this pattern:

Hannah's Dress is named after my youngest daughter of the same name and who the original dress was made for. I had originally planned to make her a summer top, with the same design. Hannah and I discussed the summer top idea and she dictated to me what she wanted and the colors she liked. I picked up the needles and created the top, bodice portion of the dress first. Hannah tried on the top part and said, "It would be cool if you could make this into a dress, instead of a top." That made my brain turn. In keeping with the original summer top idea, I thought...why not just lengthen the bottom skirt part and make it into a dress? Hannah's main requirement was that the dress reach her knees.

The entire time I was knitting her dress, Hannah would come in excited, "Is it finished yet?" She is an impatient 10-year old. Finally I finished it one afternoon. I called Hannah into the living room and held it up for her to take. "WOW!" She said. Hannah immediately tried the dress on and loved it. She wears the dress as much as she can. Hannah even asked me, last night, if she could sleep in it, rather than her normal Power Puff Girl pajamas. I will have to sneak the dress out of her bedroom at some point to wash the poor thing.

The next request from Hannah is that her stuffed Build-A-Bear gets a matching "Hannah Dress" too. It would seem I am not only knitting for my kids, but their animal pals too. A mother's work is never done...

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