Tuesday, December 8, 2015

New Release: Lavedia Dress

My great-grandma, Edith Lavedia was born in Southern Illinois in 1904.  She didn't like her first name, so she went by her middle name.  As an adult, she was the woman on the block who hosted all the neighborhood kids.  She later babysat her grandchildren, and for a time in the early 50s, allowed her son's family to live in an attic apartment in her house.  And she took pleasure in having the kids' friends over to her house as well.  Living well into her late 90s, she was even able to create strong bonds with her great-grandchildren, all girls.  

As a young child, I got to visit her at least one morning or afternoon most weeks, and as a teen, I enjoyed occasionally walking to her house after school for a visit.  Somewhere along the line, with so many young kids calling her by name, it went from "Lavedia" to "Vee-Dee" to "Bebe", which is what I always called her.

Grandma Bebe made french toast with Crisco in the frying pan in the morning after you spent the night in her guest room in the attic (not nearly as creepy as it might sound!)  She never tired of playing board games with her grandkids.  She never drove, but would tell stories about taking the street car "into town" during World War II when she worked in a factory in Kankakee, IL, or when she met her girlfriends for a fun outing.  Bebe was resourceful, a "Martha Stewart" before Martha was even born, and all-around crafty lady who canned all sorts of fruits & vegetables, made Christmas tree balls out of beads & pins, had a basement full of refrigerator boxes for kids to turn into forts, and taught me how to use her table-mounted Singer sewing machine from the 1940s.  

She was the married mother of a young child during the depression, and her habit of washing out plastic bread bags to save them for later use never left her.  I remember asking her why she only had one child, since it was so obvious she enjoyed children quite a lot.  Her answer was that it was so difficult for my grandpa to see her in labor (I guess they let the men witness it in rural Texas in the late 1920s), that he declared "No more!  Never again!"  But I wonder if it also had to do with the fact that their son was born just 10 months before the stock market crashed and they were thankful to be able to get by when so many had so little.  Maybe adding another child to the family seemed like too big a risk, then by the time the economy recovered they were past the point of wanting to start over with the first steps of parenting again.  Whatever the reason, Grandma Bebe more then made up for any extra babies she never had by the scores of grandkids and neighborhood kids that she helped to raise!  

Grandma Bebe was a crocheter; I never knew her to knit.  And her specialty was afghans, not garments.  But I know from the little aprons, tea towels, and pillow cases that she sewed that she liked things that were simple but had pretty embellishments.  And that perfectly describes this little A-line dress with its woven empire waist band and trim details.

I don't have any close friends with babies right now, and when I was telling my LYS owner that I'd probably have to take photos of this dress on a hanger, she said, "Let me think...."  And then she arranged for me to meet a friend of hers with a baby who was just about a year old.  When I stopped by to make sure the dress was a good fit, I had terrible timing.  Mom had just gotten home from work, baby was just home from daycare, dinner was cooking but not served yet, and I made the rookie mistake of slipping the dress on baby instead of asking mom to do it.  (That amateur move sent baby into hysterics....the things you forget when you haven't had babies in the house for 10 years!)

But when I arrived a week later to take pictures, toting a box of distractions just in case baby still hated me, she was in a great mood, and even gave me a couple smiles.  But when mom attempted to sit her down on a blanket in the yard for a couple solo pictures, she gave me the suspicious side-eye and made it clear that she was not happy with mom being three whole feet away.  So mom stepped in, as moms always do, and was a very good sport about being in the photos as well.  (Quick funny story about mom: As I was chatting about my kids, she said she was surprised to know that I had a 15-year-old, and when I said I had just turned 40, that surprised her, too.  When she later gave me her e-mail address so I could send her photos, I saw it ended with "76" and asked her if she was just a year younger than me.  I had her pegged for being around 30, so I guess we either are both blessed with good genes, or we have absolutely no ability to discern people's ages!)

Anyway, this perfect little peanut may only be 12 months old, but thanks probably to her dad who is well over 6 feet tall, she was a perfect fit in the 18 month size.  This size took every last skitch of the 3 gray skeins of yarn in the gradient pack, but only used about half of the pink yarn.  

Speaking of the yarn, don't you love pink & gray for little girl's clothing?  When I saw the "Shabby Chic" gradient pack from June Pryce Fiber Arts Etsy shop, the idea of a little girl's dress immediately sprung to mind.  I chose the "Plum Panda" yarn base because I thought adding bamboo to the wool blend would make for a drapier result.  Plus I love using something washable when making baby clothes, especially when I'm giving the final product to a mom of a young child who doesn't need a baby garment that requires special care.
 As shown, this dress makes a lovely warm-weather frock, but it would work great for colder weather when work with a long-sleeved onesie and tights underneath.  I can see it done in red or green, maybe with a bit of black or white mixed in and worn as a Christmas dress.  Or make it in pastels for a special Easter Dress.

Special occasion or casual, however you use this pattern, this comfortable style is sure to be a hit with your favorite little lady and her mom as well!

Many thanks to the three lovely ladies who test knit this pattern - kcatt79, Babbett & momma2five2014 - I appreciate all the time & effort you put into this test knit.  Thanks also to Cheryl from June Pryce Fiber Arts, who has been a gem to work with.

The Lavedia Dress pattern is available as an individual pattern download on Ravelry.  Or, you can buy it as part of my Color Packs & Stash Scraps eBook collection, which is still available at a discounted price!


  1. Those are great stories about Grandma Bebe, and the dress is adorable. :)

  2. I enjoyed reading about your memories of Grandma. Mom