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two-and-a-half years ago, we didn’t think about it. we didn’t see it coming. sure, we’d been to like 25 weddings, but we were so wrapped up in the food, drink, dancing, friends and gossip, that we didn’t think about the 25 babies that were heading our way. in just about 2.5 years.

it’s always been fun to include kids in our circle of friends–when the first baby arrived in our little circle of friends about six years ago, we quickly figured out how cute baby stuff is, and how much fun it is to shop for babies. a couple years later, two more little boys came and my “uncle” husband and auntie me have a lot of fun shopping for our youngest friends.

of course, uncle husband had a few rules. like, we should always buy books. and auntie me preferred to buy baby goods from local vendors. as some of the older kids in our group grew up, though, we rediscovered the magic of toy shopping. in our new neighborhood there is an amazing locally owned toy store. the first time we walked in, looking for a toy (having disappointed the recipient for about 2 years with book gifts), we both gasped. i felt like i was 5 years old again and everything i had ever dreamed or wanted was contained in the store. costumes, rocks, miniature kitchen toys, model cars, robots, stuffed animals, and giant bubble wands. my husband got caught up with the toy trains and stuffed elephants, and a paper book of monster-dolls that can be punched out and put together with glue. we were both glad that we had a “legitimate” reason to be seen in a toy store… because we had an awesome time.

now we have a little godson (just turned 1) and some friends who are 6, 4, 3, 2–and a bunch of new friends we’re patiently waiting to meet. and all the sudden it seems like everyone we know is expecting. it’s an exciting time for us–though probably more exciting for the parents-to-be. and we’re kind of broke. and to avoid some of the pitfalls of the summer-of-25-weddings, i decided to literally take matters into my own two hands. because, who is more local than me? what is more hand-made than something i worked hard to make? and when i can walk down the street to the local yarn store to buy soft merino/camel wool yarn in bright colors to produce something that every new baby needs…i feel like we have a recipe for success. and if i can produce a thoughtful, hand-made, high-quality product by replacing some of the $$ cost with some of my time, then it’s time well-spent, and a well-given gift.

so, this winter, i’ve been knitting away. these little hats are so fun to make because they can be colorful! some can be in traditional gendered colors, and others intentionally ignore the classic pairings in favor of bringing a little brightness into the winter baby’s new little life. they take a couple hours to make, and the pattern is fairly simple–and so not difficult to mass-produce. what might be best is that i knit to relax regardless. and feeling productive–like i’m doing useful work, and creating something thoughtful–producing something to give, helps me relax and makes me feel good to boot!

having had no idea how big a baby’s head is, i finally came up with a general size. on size 7 circular needles, i cast on 50 stitches. you can either do all knit, all the way around and get a cute curled up lip, or do a knit/purl for 5 or so rows to get a little rib. then i knit all the way around until the body is about 4-4.5 inches, and i start doing decreases on every 5th stitch. then when i get down to about 10-15 stitches, i loop the yarn through the open stitches and synch the top closed. then i use the extra yarn to start a little braid at the top, or a poof. i like to stripe the yarn, which is really easy–at the end of each row, just change up the yarn. it is easiest with just 2 colors, one row each, but the i started to get creative with some other patterns and wider stripes. and i don’t waste any of the yarn, so some of the designs are definitely leftover-yarn-inspired.

i’ve felt really happy to be able to give something to my lovely friends as they venture into parenthood. something i created and made with my own two hands while i thought about the little ones who would wear them soon. and something that is meaningful. it’s a way to connect and celebrate that feels a little more personal than clicking something off a registry. even when our friends, and their little ones, are far, far away–we can send them a little bit of ourselves. we’re thinking of and missing the ones that we haven’t even met.