Always start with a sheep . . .

by | Jul 11, 2014 | Uncategorized | 20 comments

 It seemed a good idea at the time. Knitting quietly is my ideal way of welcoming in a new babe. But since using a computer, I can’t knit any more because I get RSI. It’s winter, and I need a project. So I had the great idea to order a kit-set baby quilt, and quietly hand-sew it over the 2 months that remain. (Click here to read how the little one found treasure on the beach to help pay for it,)

 First disappointment was that it arrived too late to sort out ready for my weekend away with my women’s group. Second disappointment was that, despite being so beautifully packaged, it wasn’t pre-cut (naive me thought that kit-set meant all cut and ready to go. I did find this out before it arrived)

Trying to work it out. I’m not sure that I like the colours.

 Third disappointment: the cutting was laborious, the instructions very unclear (what is a ‘fat quarter’, and where is the 12 inch piece, and can I find a measure that pre-dates NZ’s changeover to metric several decades ago?). It would have been helpful if the instructions said that step one was to wash the fabric – BEFORE I rushed ahead and cut these strips.

 More washing, this time of the supposed ‘fat quarters’, before I cut them. Then they had to be ironed.

 Then cut. I’ve never used the ‘steam-a-seam’ iron-on backing before. The instructions were impossible to follow. In the end I just made it up myself, and managed to cut out a sheep. Then I put it all away. Two weeks have passed and this is going to take forever. I feel discouraged, until . . .

 the little one comes to play. We play alongside each other, me arranging the quilt squares in different patterns, while she makes a hut. The rain pours down and the wind howls, but we are cosy and happy.

She melts my heart, that little one.

 I manage to cut out a second sheep, without using the sticky backing. It’s easier this way, and I like the white sheep on the brown background, even though it has no legs yet.

 The little one likes the special buttons she found in my sewing bag. ‘I’m going to make a person,’ she says, arranging them happily. ‘Look it’s Rapunzel!’

 The hut has blue sky over it, and a blanket of snow covered in crystals just outside the front door.

Meanwhile, I start what I’ve been so eager to do, what I know well—hand sewing, and arranging the colours. It’s taken a few more hours to get this far, but I’m so happy with it. I’m planning to add eyes, and a smile that isn’t in the pattern. A sheep like this must have a curly mouth, don’t you think?

The sheep will look after the rest of the animals as they emerge. It will smile on my work. I nearly threw the whole thing away, but now I’m starting to enjoy it.

That’s the secret, so often I find: remember to approach difficult things in good company, with a playful spirit, and then everything will fall into place. Oh, and always start with a sheep.


  1. Hilary Melton-Butcher

    Hi Juliet – well you’re getting there and it will be fun to have finished ready for number two ..

    Delighted Granny and little one love each other’s company so much .. lovely to read about …

    It’s wet here now and fairly chilly … still let’s hope we get some sun back soon .. enjoy those cozy evenings together finishing the quilt off.

    I do like to see and know what I’m getting … and this proves my point. Cheers Hilary

  2. Juliet Batten

    Hilary, yes it’s always tricky ordering something through the mail. But let’s hope it all ends well. The rain is pouring down here again. Thanks.

  3. silkannthreades

    I am admiring your perseverance! But, yes, there always needs to be a lead sheep for others to follow.

  4. Penny O'Neill

    :” . . . approach difficult things in good company, with a playful spirit, and then everything will fall into place” What a sage piece of advise, Juliet.

    Tom recently replaced the outer storm door; a four day project that should have taken an afternoon. He was fit to be tied for it was the instructions,with the most important step buried deep in the print, that made it such a chore. The times we live in, I’m sorry to say.

    I love the little one’s tent and her sweet way of looking at things. What a dear child. Once the sheep have taken over, I’m sure the quilt will start to fill in. It’s funny, but, I had a similar challenge with Ezra’s blanket. Somehow, the crocheting just didn’t go right. The same pattern I’d used for Kezzie, but, just wasn’t working.

    Raining here, too, this morning; rather heavy downpours. Hope your rain passes soon.

  5. Hotly Spiced

    That’s such a shame that you can’t knit any more. I used to do a lot of knitting in my nursing days and I loved it. I found it stress-relieving and comforting and it was always such a joy to see a garment coming into being from all those balls of wool. This ‘kit’ job sounds like a nightmare. How frustrating! I’m so pleased it’s now working out. Your granddaughter is gorgeous and I’m glad she’s the glue that’s holding this project together. The lamb is so cute xx

  6. Juliet Batten

    *Gallivanta, I nearly gave up! Let’s hope the sheep, roosters and cows all follow now.

    * Penny, you know exactly what I’m talking about! All that’s needed is a bit of plain English and the steps to be numbered in the right order. Did you finish Ezra’s blanket, even so? You must post a picture of it. Today the sun is shining and anything seems possible.

    * Charlie, knitting was much more soothing than this project. It always has that magical element to it, just as you describe.

    Thank you Gallivanta, Penny and Charlie. Nice have your understanding comments.

  7. growMama

    Love the images of you and your small ones projects side by side. Special times, I am sorry it has been so challenging to get started. I feel for you having to change crafts too, with the RSI. I have ripped ligaments around my thumb and sewing, using scissors and many other things are painful for me right now. I am having to diversify my crafting outlet too. I like the bright colours…good luck with it all. x

  8. Juliet Batten

    Anissa, how nice to see you here. I’m so sorry to hear that you are having problems too. Luckily there are many craft options around. Thanks for the support. I’m on quite a learning curve here.

  9. Vicki Lane

    It’s going to be wonderful! And I love the Small One’s Rapunzel — I suggest you sew those buttons to a backing and make a wallhanging for her.

  10. Juliet Batten

    Vicki, it seems to be shaping up nicely now. What a great idea about the wall hanging. Thank you.

  11. Ruth P

    Oh Juliet – what a role model for helping us think about facing challenges/disappointments. I love your closing recipe for these situations! And clearly the Small One is as creative and innovative as her “grANNY”! Thank you for sharing this with us.

  12. Juliet Batten

    Ruth, it’s been testing me, that’s for sure. But now that I’ve lightened up, it is going much better and I’m even starting to enjoy it. Thank you.

  13. Nadezda

    Juliet, I hope you will made a wonderful quilt with this kit-set baby quilt you received. Lovely colors, and the sheep look pretty.

  14. Juliet Batten

    Nadezda, it’s going slowly, but I think it will look good. Thank you.

  15. Marja

    oh it is going to be gorgeous. when things are hard good company makes all the difference and especially such cute company.
    Love the tent. We were always building tents when the kids were small. So much fun

  16. Juliet Batten

    Marja, it’s going well now. We always made huts inside when we were children too. Thanks for visiting.

  17. Anne Ruffell

    What a beautiful post! I just love the sheep and am looking forward to seeing his smile. Am so glad the disaster is turning into a triumph and what a lovely story to tell the new little one in the future.

  18. Juliet Batten

    Anne, I’m having to find some sheep’s faces to study to be sure what a sheep smile looks like! I’ve got one drawn in, but it’s just my idea. If you come across a smiling sheep do send me a photo.

  19. Juliet Batten

    Thank you, sheep lady. The smile will be done soon.


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