There were about a half dozen years in my life when my children were babies when I wasn’t into knitting.
I was into smocking.
This involves creating tiny pleats in cotton fabric and then embroidering over those pleats and sewing up the little outfits. This especially lends itself to cute baby dresses, and I made dozens and gave many away to other new parents to welcome their little ones.
At one point, my sister Carolyn and I were due at about the same time. I made our daughters matching dresses, even if, given how hard it is to travel across country with toddlers and babies, we would never see them together in them before they outgrew them. Given Second Dress Syndrome, I kept them simple and quick. (Those sleeves match when they’re not arguing with a camera.)
When my lupus started four years later I could no longer hold those tiny needles but I still needed a creative outlet. Something that stayed done in the happy chaos. And that is when I rediscovered my love of knitting.
But meantime, my kids had outgrown the various smocked outfits and I had set them aside for future grandchildren.
Then we remodeled. It was the seventh year we lived here, and the first six had all been drought years. That seventh was a doozy, though, and I started joking that if we ever had a drought again we just had to get the state legislature to fund remodeling our house again and that would end it–it just wouldn’t stop raining.
When our contractor thought he was pretty much done our roof had seventeen leaks, all of them new. It took every bucket we could find while we tried to get that taken care of. There was a leak in an overhead light fixture over here, and over there, water was pouring out a light switch. More from the new sky lights, others just randomly wherever. Fun times.
Meantime, those smocked clothes were in a box with a lot of other boxes that got shuffled around depending on where work was being done on the house just then.
And one day I discovered that roof juice had permeated that box and those clothes and despite all I could do with a washing machine, those stains did not come out. All that work, all those memories, all that generational anticipation! I couldn’t throw any of them away–they were beautiful, aside from the damage, I just couldn’t.
Yesterday I stumbled across this simple little bishop-style cousins dress. It somehow was not stored with the others, as if it were waiting to be discovered, a spokesman for the others. It took me this long to figure this out? Hello, lady, you’ve got grandchildren… I wondered if my niece, now the mother of three little ones herself, might still have or even know about her matching outfit. I hadn’t thought about them in a long time. I think the sense of pointless loss had made me avoid them.
I had to try.
I rubbed some Seventh Generation detergent into the spots, put a little more in the sink and sudsed it up at the tap (not too much! It’s a drought! Tell the legislature they’re not doing their jobs!) and put it in to soak.
For eight hours. I squished water through from time to time.
The water turned brown.
And look at that. No baby food stains either.
I actually missed one roof spot near the bottom, so I’m going to rub more in and do it over. But look at that! Twenty-one years and three grandchildren later and I can actually start passing these down now.
I’ve got me some work to do. At long last.
p.s. I don’t remember if I used the Ultra Power Plus or their older version; I have both. But they’ve earned the link they didn’t ask for so here it is.
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