Skip to content

“Michelle, would you be willing/able to knit a pair of booties for our new little one for Christmas?? It would mean so much to all of us.”

The text was from Nancy, and the new little one, due sometime in January, is her first grandchild. A week or so earlier I had sent her my last MDK story, a farewell to her parents, Genie and Ed McCliment, who were my good friends and dearest neighbors.

I had planned on knitting this January baby Elizabeth Zimmermann’s February Baby Sweater from Knitter’s Almanac. It’s a favorite pattern of mine, written in Elizabeth’s friendly voice. Adding matching booties would make a lovely layette, and there’s something about warming tiny toes that always has me reaching for my needles.

“Color?”  I wrote back, mentally casting on my trusty favorite, Bosnian Booties by Carole Barenys.

The reply came, “Pink, for sure. Could you add a hat to match?”


The next day, Covid-style, I picked up the last five skeins of a dusty pink cashmere merino from the front porch at Home Ec Workshop, a yarn store here in Iowa City. I chatted with Codi, the owner. Four years ago, I had knit hats for her baby. Which one did she like best? I was content with Codi’s choice until that evening when I discovered my soft beautiful wool did not suit the pattern. 

Suddenly, after raising three daughters, I knew nothing about babies or the hats they need. I queried Natasha who has a local hand-dyed yarn company, Ewe and Lea. She’s a terrific knitter and a mother of young children. Bonnets are the best, she advised, and recommended several adorable possibilities, including one with an irresistible name, Beloved by Tin Can Knits. Need I tell you my choice?

Booties would be first. I tossed caution to the wind, set aside my beloved pattern, and embarked on an elegant and more complicated design. Truth: frogging happened. Truth: with the help of a tutorial, I got so proficient at the knit Kitchener stitch, my brain finally grasped how to graft the sewn version. Still, they were not perfect.

So I switched to simplicity for a second pair, riffing on the Bosnian Booties. They knit up quickly, perfectly. Inspired, I whipped up more colorful ones for a Brooklyn baby. When I began the bonnet, I fantasized how more of these booties would be my winter’s knitting.

As I stitched on, Knitter’s Almanac was never far away. The sweater would be last. I could send it after the baby was born, but on the day we all heard the news of the vaccine approval, I celebrated by starting, with hope and confidence, the February Sweater. It was like meeting a good friend for coffee, without masks. The book practically opened by itself to the pattern.

The following day, I went back to the bonnet. Christmas was not far away. The news was all about the vaccine and the myriads of those who made it possible, including some in my home town. As I neared where the final decreases become an i-cord, I thought about my friendship with Genie and Ed—which brought me to knit these gifts—and about Nancy reaching out to me, so I too could welcome this baby.

I thought about the help I received along the way: Codi, Natasha, Carole Barenys, who went to Bosnia with her church group, bought booties for 10 Euros, and on her return home, deconstructed them to make a pattern I have grown to love and adapt as my own, and Elizabeth Zimmermann, who, sitting by a campfire with a pen she had left there the year before, wrote a book that has aided and comforted me for decades. 

In our time of great worry and cataclysmic divide, it’s easy to miss those who dedicate their lives to making our knitting possible, but they are there—writing patterns, teaching techniques, pushing our craft to new levels, creating motivating posts, stocking shops with wool, needles, and notions. And let us never forget those who bring forth our wool; raise the animals; shear their fleece, spin it, dye it, and more, I am sure, much more. 

A few weeks before Christmas, Nancy was in town, and she picked up the booties and the bonnet. Not long after, the February Sweater was finished, the loose strands woven in, the right buttons found and sewn on. Then I packed it up, put on my mask and face shield, and brought it to Joe and the crew at Mailboxes where I ship my Etsy packages. I trusted them with my gift too. A postal driver picked it up from them, and, with the aid of others, the February Sweater was on its way to Des Moines.

Many hands made light work. We are all in this together. May 2021 bring us all peace, warmth, and wellness.

Illustrations by Michelle Edwards

MDK receives a commission for purchases made through affiliate links in this article.

About The Author

Michelle Edwards writes about family, friendship, and community. Her work chronicles the large and small victories and defeats of everyday life. She frequently posts her illustrations on Instagram, her website, and at StudioScrawls, her Etsy store.


  • This thoroughly warmed my heart. What do we need more at this moment than connection to the past, present and future, and to each other? Thank you.

    • Connection is a deep need on so many levels. Stay well.

  • What a beautiful and thoughtful article. Thank you. Being asked to knit for a new baby is such a compliment.

    • Knitting for babies needs its own verb, maybe several.

  • What a lovely story. Thank you.

    • You are welcome. Good to hear from you.

  • What a heartwarming reminder of gratitude! Thank you for sharing your talent and insight in a wonderful piece of writing.

    • My pleasure. I love writing about knitting.

  • Michelle, your words and pictures are always a balm for my soul.

    • You are very kind and I am grateful for your words.

  • So lovely. Just sent to my knitting friends and wrote that I couldn’t wait until that time when I was able to knit booties for their grandbabies. Keeping in touch with them via email over knitting has kept me sane during the Covid lockdown.

    • Thank you, Diana. Booties are so much fun to knit, I sometimes make a pile of them. Then when I hear there’s new baby somewhere, I am ready. Enjoy your friends!

  • This warmed my heart. You have captured the beautiful truth of knitting and if being a knitter. ❤

    • Thank you, Diane! Stay warmed and knit on!

  • What a beautiful post to wake up to! Thank you, Michelle.

    • You are welcome. Knitting for others gives back so much.

  • My first grandchild is due in a few days, (1/27/21) and I too finished booties in the fall. Thank you for a January Baby post to help me celebrate my joy in spite of Covid and the state of the world!

    • Glad to help you celebrate! Congratulations in advance on your first grandchild. May their feet always be warm.

  • Such a lovely post, so heartfelt. I just love the illustration too!

    • Thanks, Liz! I had so much fun with this illustration.

  • Lovely thoughts and illustration to start the day. Thank you, Michelle!

    • You are welcome and your words are apreciated.

  • It truly takes “a village”

    • Absolutely!!!

  • A lovely reminder that we need each other, even in these days of division.

    • Thank you. I keep thinking of Jesse Collin Young’s song …
      Everybody get together
      Try to love one another right now
      Right now
      Right now

  • Thanks for that.

    • You are most welcome!

  • Thank you -your articles are always so thoughtful.,

    • You are welcome, I appreciate hearing from you.

  • This is such a lovely and thought provoking article. Thank you.

    • Writing and illustrating is my life and I am so grateful to hear this from you.

  • Working on two blankets for our third grandchild due in late April. First one that the parents have decided not to know if girl or boy until delivery!! Starting sweater and cap next. Thanks for reminding me of Beloved!! Great pattern!! Love Michelle’s artwork and wonderful writings. You bring our hearts Hope and Peace! Thank you!

    • Way to go, Deneise! Two blankets! Beloved is a sweet pattern, and interesting as well. I appreciate your kind words about my work. Peace to you and yours. Congratulations in advance for your April grandbaby.

  • Beautiful essay, Michelle—thank you! Much to think about. I will use these patterns to welcome dear friends’ coming fourth, and likely final, grandchild. And then perhaps also to do what my own grandmother did, lay in a trove of baby knits for future family babies she might not get to meet.

    • So good to hear from you, Vicki! I also like to lay in a trove for future babies, but as welcome gifts-in-waiting. So I am touched by your grandmother’s thinking, knitting ahead for those she might not get to meet. Now that’s a story.

  • Warmed my heart, slows me down to appreciating friendships and our love of sharing our creations with others. Thank you

    • I love reading this — good to hear your thoughts!

  • What a delight!

    • Thank you, Sonya!!

  • Simply lovely. It give me hope as I knit for my own granddaughter. Thank you❣️

    • Hope is such a good thing to have when you knit. I am glad this story gave you some.

  • Very nice story. The pandemic has made us all aware, if we weren’t already, that we all depend on the kindness of strangers, and friends. In always flummoxed, though, by people giving hand wash only knitted things to new mothers, unless it is supposed to be an heirloom with one once. In fact any knitting I do for those under the age of consent has to be machine washable.

    • Thanks, Mary! I am with you about machine washable knits for babies. Shrinking happens.

    • I am the mom of 9 year old twins and I have clothed them in wool from the beginning. Not superwash, with the chemical treatment, but the old fashioned kind. Everyone is different, of course, but I choose natural fibers and a cold delicate wash works fine for us. Oh, and although I am the spinner/knitter/designer in the household? My husband does most of the laundry. Wool has been around for a long time, and over history, most parents have figured out how to wash it! Don’t underestimate all of us parents!

      • I hear you. I am not quite there. Yet. I do love what you are saying, though.

  • Wonderful writing and drawings. Any chance we can see pictures of the projects you speak of?

    • Thank you, Heart of Yarn! If you email me from my website,, I can send you a picture. I can’t seem to post an attachment here.

  • Thank you!!! Such a statement of hope to knit for a baby, and an honor to be asked. This got my day off on the right foot. Thank you for the pattern links as well. I am always glad to see when Michelle has a post.

    • Well, you made my afternoon here! Nice to hear from you, Linda C.!

  • Thank you for this lovely story. It brightened a chilly grey Seattle morning.

    • Stay warm! Good to hear from you, Nicole.

  • As an ex-pat Iowa Citian, can I ask if your yarn store is down on Muscatine Ave? That’s where the yarn store used to be when I was there (1976-1996). I modeled my current knitting group in Vermont on our Monday evening gatherings. It would do my heart good to know if my old yarn store had survived all these years!

    • Yes!! Eydie and the Knitting Shoppe is still there on Muscatine, well-stocked. The table and chairs ready for knitters to knit and chat. There’s always a small bowl of candy by the cash register. I am sure she’d love to hear from you.

  • Your post has brighten my day. Thank you.

    • Glad to hear this from you! Stay well.

  • If you haven’t read The Knitters Almanac yet do so immediately! It is a wonderful book of knitting patterns and reading about knitting. The mitten pattern is one of my favorites.

    • I must try the mitten pattern! Thanks for the heads-up, Grace! Mostly I read around the patterns. I just love EZ’s voice.

  • Beautiful drawings!

    • Why, thank you!!

  • What a lovely story. So warm and comforting. Thank you for sharing it.

    • You are welcome. I appreciate your comments.

  • I remember the article/send-off for Genie and Ed. How wonderful that the circle of life continues and you are able to knit for the next generation. My best friend will become a “Nana” for the first time in early March and I just finished knitting several pairs of booties and a very soft washcloth out of cotton. I do love your illustrations and writing, Michelle.

    • Thank you, Jan! Lucky baby! Washcloths are ALWAYS a great gift for babies of all ages.

  • Love the drawings!

    • Thank you, Sureen! I loved drawing it.

  • Simply charming- thank you! My Grandma Eva always said, “Many hands make light work.” And there’s such joy in that unity of purpose.

    • Your Grandma was so right. You, too, there’s a joy in working together.

  • Thank you for sharing your heart-warming and wooly tribute, from sheep to ship.

    • I appreciate your words, Carol! Be well.

  • Love your story. As knitter’s or crocheter,’s we can forget all the joy that goes in to giving. Fiber Arts the love of it.

    • Thank you! “Fiber Arts for the love of it” is so true. Why else knit on?

  • Lovely Michelle. And thank you for your kind words about my mum!

    • Always a pleasure to hear from you. I remain grateful to the forces that watched over that blue pen for Elizabeth. Stay well.

  • This made me cry a little, in a good way. Thank you.

    • Be well, Meghan. I get a little teary some days, too.

  • My new favorite Knitting Blog….I have sheep, and we just had some baby lambs so this touched my heart. I also have a daughter (I have a son too) and she is the “lamb of my eye.” She’s going to be 13. I miss her little tiny feet, and loved booties. I just began knitting about a year and a half ago. It was only because I was doing “women get togeathers” and I asked a knitting fanatic if she wouldn’t mind teaching us to knit, just so we could learn something while we chatted. Well, I never put my needles down. I have to be knitting something, and have about three projects going; one to learn something new, One, to just knit easily, and one for a gift for someone….found a great slouchy beanie so I could share, and not feel so Greedy with my knitting time.

    I am starting a garter stitch cast on and would like to make the center “invisible” as possible. Do you have a great stitch for that part, that is better than the yarn over. I am doing the Peacock, by Expression Fiber Arts, Chandi and shawl using California Sunset over the Ocean, Striping in Four Colors, and mosiac where the colors meat and blend. Thanks so much if you have the time.


    • I wish I could think of a good stitch for you. Anyone have any ideas?

  • I am lovingly knitting a February sweater right now for my nieces little girl expected near Valentines Day. I love this sweater. It never fails to be beautiful. Thank you for the touching article. Love all you at MDK.

    • Ah, Angelcso, you are a sweetheart! You are right, the February Sweater never fails to be beautiful. A gift to be simple.

  • Hodge – best bootie ever!

    • Thanks, Joellen! I will try the pattern.

My Cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping