I have finally finished knitting the tree house to go along with the story blanket I have made for my children. I began knitting the story blanket at the end of May. When I started, I imagined I would make all kinds of fantastical accessories to go along with their playscape. So far I have only made a few but have had much fun in the making, and I look forward to crafting more add-ons over the following years.
My family again spent our summer in Vancouver, whose forests very much ground me and inspire the type of play I imagine for my kids (these same imaginings make me wish I still had a young mind to engage in child’s play with fervor). I also enjoy all the walking I do in this city and while out on one of the last days of our extended visit, I happened upon Book Warehouse. It wasn’t on my summer to-do list, but when the opportunity presented itself I took advantage because I love this chain of bookstores. The shops are full of obscure titles that are “bargain priced”. The craft and sewing sections are fantastic. My kids and I were in just long enough to discover two books I Had to Have. I am not much of a consumer and possess tremendous self discipline when it comes to stifling an urge to impulse buy. Until, that is, I am presented with fabric, wool, or anything related. Then all good sense evades me. (Just yesterday I came across a large quantity of European wool yarn at an amazing price. I am still trying to process what happened). As I am someone who is prone to guilt, I am forced from within to put much effort into finding a variety justifications: “Well, I rarely drink. I could have easily spent that much on alcohol during the last year”, “I could be washing my hair every day. The cost of shampoo can really add up”. Ridiculous.
One of the books I picked up that beautiful August day is titled Mini Knitted Woodland by Sachiyo Ishii. It is full of knit and crochet patterns for all sorts of forest creatures, gnomes included, and also mushrooms, tree stumps, etc. On our road trip back down to Southern California, in between passing out snacks, activities, comforting young tears and answering “why” questions from the back seat, I followed the lovely tree pattern as directed (except for needle and wool sizes). Then I had more fun and used this same pattern to start a tree house.
Using thick hand spun wool from Colombia (my MIL brought this back from one of her trips), I knit another big tree, this time creating an opening I hoped could be filled with resident rabbits. Over the next several months I kept working on this project. Finally this January, back in Canada again, I started to finish up. I began by sewing up the roots which I weighed down by filling them with rice. If I had have thought it through better, I would have started the doorway higher than the root line to make room for more weighted filling and thus stability. I also would have had large glass beads on hand to use instead of rice. Once the roots were done I had to think about how the opening could support the heavy, wool-stuffed tree above. I decided to stitch in channels for extra wide popsicle sticks. Again, if I had have been more organized I would have used more than five sticks I was fortunate my MIL had on hand. I made loopy leaves for the branches and I attached a wooden tree swing for the dolls.
It brings me true delight that my son has been so excited about this project, frequently asking to see and play with the knitted tree house through all its progressions. I am sure my daughter will grow into this play, too. Certainly we will be spending countless hours swinging dolls back and forth on the knitted tree house, moving tiny animals about and making woodland creatures speak.