Make Wine, Not Blankets: Dee’s Story

When I could finally stomach more than canned pineapple and veggie sausage, I decided to create something for the child stirring in my belly.

It was the second trimester of my pregnancy with our first-born (known as “the Chip” until birth) and I had a bit more pep in my step and more confidence in what was going on with our growing little girl. And no, growing the baby wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to gift her something she could look at for the years to come and say, “When I was but the size of a tiny chocolate chip, my mother made this for me.”

So, I decided I would knit the Chip a blanket. Having never knit before, I wasn’t too worried because I had six months to learn and create. Chris and I also have this running joke, and in moments in which he’s being extra petulant, and I ask him a question, he will mockingly spout, “Knit me a sweater! Make me a pot pie!” I always laugh and subsequently warn him that one day I WILL knit him a sweater and he will be stuck wearing my lopsided creation with his initial on the front—a true-life Mrs. Weasley number. 

I really wanted to knit this perfect baby blanket for our Chip’s arrival, and as I saw it, there was no better time to learn a new skill with a deadline than when you are pregnant.

Yet, after a few months of procrastination while the Chip continued to grow, I started to get nervous. Perhaps I should have a backup plan? What if I couldn’t learn to knit and create the most amazing baby blanket in two months? It was still possible, but what if something came up and I just couldn’t make it happen? 

Luckily, Chris’s mother brought over a few of his baby items in anticipation of welcoming our little one into the family. Among the treasure trove of Chris memorabilia was his baby towel—a slightly frayed avocado green towel with a yellow bear and his name cross stitched in brown. I imagined a tiny little baby bundled in it after a bath. It was adorable. Perhaps not the magnificent knit baby blanket I had in mind, but I had a different idea and perhaps this could be the start of a new tradition? I could cross stitch our baby’s name on it and use it for her first bath. Then, if we had more children, I could add their names on it, too. And they could save it for their children. I thought it was perfect and far less daunting than diving into a crash course of blanket weaving as my body continued to rebel against me as the Chip swelled in size.

Having never done cross stitch before, again I wasn’t too worried because I have been able to sew since I was eight, and to my mind, they were basically the same thing. 

Time passed and I had a few stitches on the towel. They looked nothing like the “Chris” stitched so neat below the bear. And again, I began to worry. 

Yes, the Chip was growing quite large and doing great, but what was I creating for this little one who would soon join us? Would it be something special and heartfelt enough for our baby? Would she feel how much we loved her already and anticipated her arrival? 

Luckily, my doubt in my ability to commemorate this occasion was quelled when Chris tricked me into meeting him in a vineyard and asked me if I wanted to pick grapes for our daughter’s wine. Of course, my amazing husband, who is so good at planning, had been working on something for our little one all along. So, I took the pruning shears and did my part, picking one perfect bunch of Syrah grapes and threw it into the bin. 

Then I went home and removed the hideous stitches I’d added to the towel.

We had our creation. Our gift. Our baby would have a birth year wine that we made just for her. We were quite literally bottling this moment so we could share it and enjoy it again and again. And we put her name on it—Ariya, meaning “precious, exalted, a ray of hope”—and one day, we will give her a selection of these wines of her very own.

I sometimes think about the blanket that never was. I think about what it represented in my mind—a chance for our baby to be warmed by something her mother created just for her. But then I thought, she would have outgrown that blanket one day.

But this tradition Chris and I created together? Well, this is something she could grow into—and our son, Soren, too. The wines inside their bottles will change alongside them, never outpacing them or falling behind. We will share them with each other and our community, and we will be able to celebrate together our greatest legacy glass after glass, year over year.

And it is with that recognition that I figure it’s probably best I didn’t try to knit after all.

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