Thursday, September 29, 2011

Crochet pattern for gowns

I have a few people crocheting me example gowns from this pattern and similar ones, and I will post photos once I get my hands on them.  Two modifications I request if you use this pattern are to make the opening in the back go either all the way down, or at least a 6" slit for ease of dressing, and either tighten up the stitch pattern on the skirt so that there aren't so many large holes or hand stitch a simple fabric liner inside the skirt.

(I also wouldn't recommend ironing on a poodle patch...random.  But the iron mark gave me a good laugh.)

Here's the link to the pattern!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Partner Organization Spotlight: Salt Lake Prenatal Massage

 I had the pleasure of visiting with Tammy Adams (left) and Rebecca Overson (right) last week at the Salt Lake Prenatal Massage clinic that Rebecca owns.  Tammy is an angel mama, and as a result of her experience with massage after her loss, she has created a Massage after Baby Loss program.  Tammy and Rebecca are working on gathering data about the benefits of massage in the process of healing, and have created a series of discounted massages for those that are willing to fill out a survey after each session.  Tammy has also offered a single free massage for angel mamas in the area.  Please contact her for details.
 Don't let the name of the clinic fool you.  Rebecca and her staff cater to women of all needs, not just pregnant women.  They have set aside one massage room specifically for loss moms that is devoid of artwork or other pregnant reminders that may be painful triggers.  I expressed my concern that angel moms may feel uncomfortable coming to the clinic at a time when the waiting room is full of blossoming bellies, and Tammy said they have made accommodations to schedule appointments to avoid that.
 The waiting area is welcoming and comfortable, the sort of place that helps you immediately relax.
 Rebecca has hired an impressive staff to work at her clinic.  They offer many services beyond massage, including yoga and other exercise classes geared particularly to the needs of their clientele.

Recognizing that it is often difficult for moms to get child care in order to make it to a massage appointment, the clinic offers nannying on site for a reasonable fee if notified at the time of booking.
My daughter checked out the play room and it met with her approval.

So what's the big deal about massage?  I can tell you from personal experience that it is not simply a  back rub.  Many loss moms have emotional and physical triggers associated with their birth experience that can be worked through with the assistance of a skilled massage therapist.  I wish that I had thought of scheduling massages during the time between when I found out that Elizabeth had a fatal prognosis and when I gave birth.  I believe it would have helped me process my grief in a more positive manner, and helped me relax and bond with her more fully before she was born.  Instead, I remember those twelve weeks as being intensely stressful and full of more negative emotions than positive ones. I am still sad about it.  Therefore, I am passing on this resource in hopes that it can help other angel moms have a better experience.

If you're looking for the nice thing to do for a friend or family member going through a loss, a massage is a great gift.  I get asked frequently for ideas, and this is one of my favorites!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Guidelines for hats and headbands

I often get asked about hats and headbands.  They're an awesome gift for bereaved families, and also serve a very valuable purpose of covering bruising and providing support to fragile heads.  I did a photosession recently for a family that doesn't speak English as their primary language.  The hospital had a beautiful crocheted gown on hand, but nothing for their baby's little head.  I pulled out a hat and a headband, and the mom's eyes immediately lit up when she saw the cute little pale pink flower on the headband.  It was just the right touch.

There are a wide range of head sizes.  It is easiest for me to visualize objects of comparison.  The smallest little micropreemies have heads about the size of a plum.  The next size up is about the size of an apple.  Then a large navel orange, a grapefruit, and finally, normal newborn size.

One of my biggest issues with some of the hats I have had donated in the past is their lack of stretch.  In order to slide these hats on without damaging fragile skin, they need to be quite stretchy.  Preferably stretchy enough to turn them inside out and carefully flip them right side out onto their head.  I've had a lot of hats donated that were made on the round looms.  Some of them work ok, depending on what kind of yarn is used, but many of them are pretty tight.  The more flexible ones are either sewn from stretchy fabric, crocheted or knitted.

I love hats that have a little bit of character.  Little embellishments like a flower, pom pom or a button, or a pale blue stripe as an accent make it so much more personal of a gift.  One of my favorite hats that I've photographed was a cute beenie style hat with a crocheted purple flower on the front that matched the accompanying blanket.  Just like I posted in the previous post about yarn colors, though, stay away from rainbow yarn.  Blotchy hat + bruised skin doesn't come out looking so great.  Also, yellow and green don't complement the skin tone well either.

Here are some links to patterns that I particularly like.

Knit hat patterns  (These are my absolute favorite!  So cute!)
Crocheted bonnet for little girls
Knit hat and bootie sets
Knit hat and hand mitt set (This may not be very stretchy, but it's very cute.  More muted shades would be desirable, but the embellishment concept is great.)
Crocheted hat and bonnet patterns (This hat looks like it may not be as stretchy.  I would love some feedback if you try this pattern.)
Hat and Kimono set (totally adorable, and I'd love them in sizes as small as fitting around a standard bottle of water)

Headbands are fantastic for baby girls.  Use soft, stretchy banding that's at least 1/2" wide up to 5/8".  Flowers and bows should be 1-1 1/2" in diameter.  As cute as ginormous big-as-their-head flowers are on healthy newborns, they're a bit much for bereavement use.  Pale pinks, purples, creams, whites, and even pale yellow as an accent color are all great.

I will come back and edit this post to include photos in the next week or so, but in the mean time I just wanted to get some patterns up for those that have requested it.

Thank you!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Featured Pattern: Sleeper Sacks

A friend brought my attention to these two patterns, and I love them.  They're essentially the same, just one for crocheters and one for knitters.  We have difficulty finding things for the especially small babies, the 18-22 week gestation angels that are well under a pound.  Any of you crafty ladies and gentlemen out there that can whip some of these up, I will make sure they get put to good use.
Pardon the ugly front-seat-of-my-van backdrop.  I picked these up from Angela (HUGE THANKS to her for staying up in to the wee hours to complete these in one day for a family in need), and went right to the post office with them.  I mailed the blue one along with sewn gowns of each size of my pattern for a little babe with a chromosomal problem that makes extra those angels extra small, so I wanted the parents to be able to have something in each size range to be prepared for any time that he chooses to be born.

This size is absolutely perfect and fills an unmet need for babies that are 18-22 weeks gestation, in the 8-12 ounce/8-10 inch size range.

I'm a very visual person when it comes to size comparisons.  I slid this little sleeper sack over a standard size water bottle and it fit absolutely perfectly.  I adore the matching hat.

Something that I am going to reiterate over and over again, and I am particularly bringing it to your attention on this first post because of the photo in the crochet pattern, is that rainbow yarn doesn't look very good with babies that have bruising and other skin discoloration.  In black and white photos it just comes out looking blotchy.  Stick with simple, muted, solid colors like blue, pink, purple, white and cream.  I actually like the stripes in the knit pattern photo, and little touches like a nice decorative edging are great.  But fuchsia, turquoise, yellow, orange, green, royal blue...just trust me when I say they don't photograph well either next to angel skin.

Measurement wise, many of the babies I have photographed in this size range are 8-10" total length from head to toe, with roughly a 6- 6 1/2" wingspan.  It's better to ere on the side of making the sack a little bit longer, so completed sacks that are 6" wide from sleeve tip to sleeve tip and 10" long, and ones that are a little smaller, 5 1/2" wide and 8" long would be great.  Make the sleeves large enough in diameter to comfortably pass your thumb through so that it's not difficult to ease their little arms in.  Even short sleeve sacks would be welcome.  If you really want to make me faint with happiness, make a matching hat small enough to go over a large plum to small apple size head.

Click on the following links for patterns:

Sleeper Sack - Crochet Version
Sleeper Sack - Knit Version

Sunday, September 18, 2011


After the KUTV news segment aired on Wednesday, I have been inundated with so many wonderful offers to help.  I am thrilled!  This little grassroots project of mine that I took on five years ago as a way to honor my daughter  is ready to grow into something great.  With your help, we can do amazing things and serve far more angel families than I have been able to up to this point.

 Elizabeth Jane is the reason I started all of this.  We didn't know whether she was going to be a boy or a girl because the complete lack of fluid made ultrasound imaging very difficult.  I finally got up the guts to purchase boy and girl outfits to take to the hospital about a month after the initial ultrasound, feeling an urgency to have something on hand.  Once she was born, I realized that I wanted to keep the clothes she wore while she was alive, which meant that immediately after we were discharged from the hospital, we had to stop off at Babies R Us to look for a burial outfit.
 No one should ever have to do that.  Period.  The closest thing we could find that fit her petite little less than three pound frame was a newborn size sweater that fit her like a dress, and we had to roll the sleeves inside.  The pink shirt underneath is a newborn size undershirt.
 Wrapping my beautiful girl up for the last time.  My older kids helped me choose the flannel for this blanket, and I made them matching patchwork blankets in the same size.
I am eternally grateful to Julie Williams, for taking these photos for us at the funeral home.  


It's going to take me a few days to get things really rolling on this blog, so I hope that you will subscribe or check back in frequently.  My intention is to post links to patterns, as well as resources about how to start a sewing group in your own area.  I have had dozens of offers for help from people that live outside of my geographical area, and I would love to see you all serve in your community.

The wonderful thing about this sort of volunteering is that it can be done entirely at your own speed.  If you have a lot of energy and time on your hands for a few days, then work your little heart out.  If life gets busy and you need to set it aside for a few months, no worries.  The need is constant.  We'll still be here when you're ready to come back.

What I can tell you from personal experience both as the mom of an angel and from my service as a Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep affiliated photographer is that the items you provide can literally turn the worst day of someone's life around into one of peace and closure.  Having something beautiful to dress and wrap their baby in is a gift of immeasurable value.  Particularly in the cases of sudden stillbirths and micropreemies, the parents are unprepared with anything appropriately sized.

What you contribute will make a difference, and my belief is that everyone can be taught to do at least some aspect of the crafting.  So round up a bunch of friends, go shopping for supplies, and set to work making clothes for angels.  You will be blessed for your efforts.