Sunday, August 5, 2012

the cost of butterflies

This year has been a breeze in the tomato garden. Not a single horned tomato-killer/piller in sight! I did see one dried out carcass which had been taken out by braconid wasp eggs. . . . It appears that I have broken the cycle here, at least for one year. If I have no hummingbugs, at least I also have no tomato hornworms. It's a price I'm willing to pay. We have tons of hummingbirds - I'll live with no hummingbugs.

Butterflies, on the other hand, I'd be sorry to part with. We have a plethora. Yellow ones, orange ones, black ones, blue ones, white ones. OK - the white ones are moths, technically. I've written about them before. They're the ones who decimate the cabbage. And the kale. Not the butterflies, of course, the caterpillars. But without the caterpillars, there are no butterflies. . . .

This year, I was a lot more tolerant of the damage being done to the cabbage and kale by the munching caterpillars. I had planted the cabbage among the basil and parsley, and if I used chemical warfare (the only thing that really works) that meant I couldn't eat the basil or parsley for several weeks. I decided to give up on the thought of controlling the caterpillars on the cabbage so I could eat the basil and parsley, and hoped for the best. Several of the cabbages succumbed, but several others made it to table and the kale yielded regular fronds for soups, salads, and veggie portions. And I've always enjoyed the white cabbage moths flitting about the garden. They're so cheerful looking! Maybe there's something to this 'live and let live' attitude after all.

I've been looking forward to the arrival of the big butterflies and in the last few weeks, they've come on in droves. The other day I was horrified, however, to see one of my sunflowers being systematically stripped of all its leaves by an assortment of caterpillars. All fuzzy, in a wide range of colours. My first thought was - yes - chemical warfare. Death to the destructos! My second thought was "well, if I want butterflies, I have to endure the caterpillars." I consigned the sunflower to its fate. The cost of butterflies.
As it was, the caterpillars didn't kill the sunflower. They hadn't really started eating its leaves until the sunflower had bloomed, fed the bumblebees and started to fade, its petals drying to raffia and the middle of the flower turning to seeds destined to feed the songbirds here at the greenwood. A few of those seeds, of course, will be saved to plant in the spring. Cycle repeat.

No, it's not nice to have the ragged plant in my garden, ravaged by caterpillars, leaves turning yellow and brown where there are leaves at all. It's a small price to pay, though, to sustain the cycle. When the caterpillars had finished their work, they disappeared and I cut the sunflower down. I feel a bit like a murderer. They're taller than I am, with heads as large.

'Unless a seed falls to the ground and 'dies'. . . .'

There's no stopping the cycle at any one stage. The flower will wither and if I deny its leaves to the caterpillars, all I do is deny myself the joy of butterflies. And if I cut the flowers before they have been pollinated by the bees and matured, I deny myself food for the songbirds I love to see and hear, and seeds to plant next year. And if I will not harvest the sunflowers when they have dried and started to fall over, then the wind and the rain and the birds will scatter the seeds. They will either be eaten now, or rot, or if they hang on to next year, I'll be dealing with volunteer sunflowers in the paths and in between the boxwoods. They may or may not spring up where they are welcome and have sufficient soil to grow. Meanwhile, there are birds who will be looking for seed in the feeder in January and February.

Part of growing a garden, then, is tolerating ugliness. That is not at all what our culture says. Ugliness is to be rooted out. Sprayed. Eradicated. We can have it all, we are told. Beautiful fruit and leaves and seed - all at the same time - and never mind the cost. In fact, what cost? Life is beautiful. Just don't look behind the curtain. Don't question how the roses in stores are grown so big, so beautiful, with leaves with nary a spot or blemish on them. Or the sunflowers at the supermarket: each perfect, none contaminated by the touch of any bug, let alone the munchings of a caterpillar. I begin to see their perfection as a deathcamp. Neither fertile nor food. Poisoned. Their "beauty" pales when I consider what chemicals enabled it.

I have written before that growing one's own food has made me much more tolerant of imperfections. Now, I learn to tolerate even ugliness. Everything, in its season. We don't want the seasons, though, do we? We want the cool when it's hot, and the hot when it's cold. We want to be young forever, and to be wise without the years. We want to keep our options open and to be able to be where we are not. We 'conquer' time and space with facebook, skype and instant messages and wonder why we never really talk any more. Talk, sitting down, face to face, munching on the produce of the garden with the messiness of dishes afterwards and a greasy grill.

The cost of butterflies, indeed.

The title notwithstanding, I reject the utilitarian cost/benefit framework. No, I see this squarely within an Aristotelian conception of the good life, helping me to make sense of what I would not easily call "good" absent a wider perspective. It's the wider perspective which, in the end, leads to the transcendent, and the transcendent, to God. Because like the grass and the flowers, we, too, fade. . . .

Friday, July 13, 2012

lessons from the garden

Weeding and Watering.

As you may have determined by my last post, I have a laissez faire approach to weeds. If they are pretty and behave themselves, they may stay. If they're ugly, they get ripped out right away. Likewise, if they encroach, smother or otherwise impede the growth or flourishing of the lawful plants (read: beans, tomatoes, peppers, cabbages, basil, herbs, recognized flowers, etc.), they will be uprooted.

Today was an uprooting sort of day.

I learned last week, to my dismay, that a half hour or so of water every other day (or so) may dampen the top of the soil, but does absolutely nothing where it counts: deeper down, where the roots are. Another 15 daylilies had arrived from our friend Don at - what IS his farm's name again? Lily-something. The queenmum will surely supply it in the comments. Anyway, digging deep holes to place them in revealed the water shortage. A half an inch down, the soil was bone dry. I'd been making much of how much time I spend in the garden watering and etc., but it sure hadn't accomplished anything! Note to self: if you're going to water, you have to water. Water like you mean it.

Out this morning, watering like I mean it, I learned another lesson: weeding helps with watering.

As I watered, I absent-mindedly pulled out some grass and the occasional ugly weed. Their roots not only brought the dry soil to the surface, but also left an avenue for the water to soak down into the soil. I crouched down, then, with the hose, watering and weeding at the same time. Three hours later, my compost bin is full, my legs and back are a bit sore, and the garden looks refreshed - but the soil probably still needs another couple of hours' worth of water on it!

How I wish it would rain. . . .

More than ever, I appreciate the parables in which Jesus talks about gardening. Preparing the soil, pruning, good and bad fruit, dealing with seeds, fertilizing, weeding, watering - He talks about it all. And as I do all of those things in my little garden, I think about how He is doing all of those things in my life, in the lives of those around me, and all the way up to our country, other countries, and the whole world. There is a time for everything, isn't there? Well, I see some weeding and some watering in our future. And I'm going to spend some more time re-reading the gardening parables.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

iron root

Some years ago, I attended the funeral of a wonderful old woman who came from the Tidewater Virginia area. It was a hot, summer day, and we drank lemonade, ate cucumber sandwiches and told stories about Nan.

Walking around the old church grounds I spied a beautiful purple flower in the lawn, growing in the grass. The pastor clearly thought I was a bit strange, but readily gave consent to dig one up and armed me with a spoon and a paper cup with which to do so. It was no easy task, but I finally succeeded in getting a plant with a bit of some root to it. I prepped it for travel, and popped it into the ground when I got home. Some days later, it seemed to have disappeared. Oh well. Probably just as well. I had no idea what it was, and was vaguely worried lest it have invasive weed-type qualities. With those wire-like roots, they could cause a problem. I would always remember the day of Nan's funeral, and didn't need the little purple flower to remind me.

The next year, two or three sprigs popped up which I suspected were Nan's flower. I left them in place, even though they did not bloom that year. The year after that, there were considerably more sprigs, with flowers. They were pretty! There was only one problem that I could see, and that was the roots. They are incredibly difficult to dig out of areas they have strayed into, into which you do not wish them to roam. The plant stands a foot tall, and seems to spread by root as well as by seed, as they began to be seen popping up well beyond the reach of the first transplant. I begin to suspect I have a problem.

"Does anyone know what this plant is?" I posted on facebook a week or so ago, with a picture of the plant in question. The picture above, in fact. Almost immediately, a friend posted a possible identity. "Wild Petunia?" she questions.

I hadn't even heard of a wild petunia. But at least I had a place to start my research. "Weed with purple flower" hadn't given me anything. "Wild Petunia," however, turned up immediate pictures that confirmed that my flower was indeed a wild petunia, or Ruellia. As I continued reading, my worst suspicions were confirmed. Although there are Ruellias which are lovely and well-behaved, mine apparently are not.

Note to self: Before you go to all the trouble of digging up and transplanting something you suspect might be weed-like in its growth habit, do some research first. If it has a common name like "iron root," by all means DO NOT PLANT IT.

Next up, the Ruellia relocation program. I think I have just the spot where - if they can survive - they may happily spread out and make themselves at home. I hope they make it. Actually, I hope I succeed in digging their iron roots out of the cucumber patch! I'm sure I will. Anything associated with Nan wouldn't even think of ever making a nuisance of itself.

And I've learned a valuable lesson.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

the state of the garden

I'm a little nervous.

The tomatoes have set fruit, a lot of fruit. Meanwhile, the basil is already trying to blossom - so I'm constantly snipping it, trying to keep it at optimum tenderness and flavor for the tomatoes once they start coming in.

Yesterday, I harvested four (4!) zucchinis. You should see how many tomatoes are on the plants, just biding their time. When they start coming in, it's going to be an avalanche.

I don't know what it is, but everything is bigger this year. These are "grape" tomatoes in the picture above, but they're almost the size of Romas. The sugar snap peas reached to the top of the centre tee-pee, which they never do. The purple-podded pole beans have already started coming in, overlapping with the sugar snap pea harvest. This, too, is a first. Overnight, purple beans appeared, up to 7 or 8 inches in length! (OK, maybe not overnight, but it seemed like overnight! One day they weren't there, and the next day they were there with a vengeance.)

Here's a picture to prove the point. This was on June 18th. Last year, the first tiny bean wasn't spotted until July. They coincided with the beginnings of the first ripe tomatoes.

Since then, I've harvested about the same amount as in the photograph above, every second day. The so-called "cherry" tomatoes are almost the size of Early Girls, and are just getting an orange/reddish tinge. The Beefsteaks are mammoth. Here are the Brandywines, almost as big as the Beefsteaks - and even prettier, with the kale in the background. Who would think that this was only mid-June?! I'm looking over my shoulder, expecting disaster, somehow. No sign yet of the dreaded tomato hornworm and, so far, the deer have kept their distance!

Nonetheless, I can't shake the feeling that disaster is lurking . . . just around the corner. Sigh.

Well, time to figure out what to do with this basil and these zucchinis. For good or ill, it's what's for dinner.

Friday, May 11, 2012

friends of friends. . . .

Three years ago I got a call from the queen-mum.

"Go to the parking lot of Twist Salon. Under one of the trees there you will find several shopping bags of iris bulbs. Yellow, I think. They're for you."

"Ah - thanks?" Yellow is not my favorite colour, although I tolerate it in daffodils. It's also grown on me in zucchini blossoms. But yellow iris? Meh. Still, free plants are free plants (and moreover the queen-mum would be advised if I failed to cause them to disappear) so I dutifully made the trip, picked them up and took them home. I felt a bit like an undercover agent . . . .

Thereafter, the iris bulbs languished all summer in their shopping bags, moved from one spot at the greenwood to another. I couldn't figure out where to put them where they wouldn't take up valuable sunny real estate which I didn't really want to waste on them! I finally got them in the ground just before the first frost. I put them next to the wall up front where I figured nothing would grow, primarily because the ground there is harder than iron! Thank you, Tom-builder. I scratched a couple inches deep, threw them in, covered them and called it a day. If they could grow there, I figured, they were welcome.

Each summer thereafter, they have put up leaves, but nothing else. This summer, finally, flowers. Those flowers, above. They're kind of nice! What's more, they remind me of Debbie, the woman whose garden they came out of.

Come to think of it, many of our plants have travelled via friends and former houses. It enriches the garden and builds in memories. . . . The Ligularia out back came by way of the king's former house, as did the black mondo grass. We have miniature mondo, a painted fern and a red maple from our rental abode during construction. The black-eyed-susans came by way of another Debbie and are slowly taking over the place. The rosemary is almost all from the queen-mum, as are the Lysimachia and the daisies that just arrived a few weeks ago. They are all friends, and friends of friends.

In the words of Spock: May they live long and prosper.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I've learned quite a lot about beans since we've lived here at the greenwood. I started with Thomas Jefferson's hyacinth bean, which turned out to be beautiful, but potentially poisonous. The king objected to its wayward ways, obliterating the front walls with its foliage. He is not moved by blossoms.

I moved on to the more conventional bush bean which, although more restrained in its growth habit, requires prolonged stooping to search out and harvest the beans. Plus, the deer find the bush form much easier to graze the leaves off of. . . . Back to the drawing board.

From Baker Seeds, I ordered Scarlet Runner beans and the Purple Podded Pole bean. The Scarlet Runner bean flowers early and starts producing beans reliably all summer - but I was not a fan of the slightly fuzzy skin. It's not bad, but the purple podded pole beans were beautifully smooth and the purple pods much easier to spot and harvest. Their drawback? They start producing later in the season, but when they start - do they ever start! They produce well into the fall, if you keep harvesting the beans.

Then last year, my globe-trotting parents brought home several packets of beans from various ports they'd called into. I planted several of what I felt certain were bush beans - just to humor them - only to discover that the beans were rampant runners. I erected towers under them and let them climb among the tomatoes. The beans were slow to start, but delicious. They have smooth skin and stay tender well past what I had learned to expect of bean sizes. These were called "Perfect" Judios. Judios apparently means beans! Looking it up now, however, it also apparently means Jews. . . .

I agreed. These were just about perfect beans. Eating-wise, anyway. For this year, I planned to stay with the Perfects and the purple podded pole beans. No Scarlet Runners. Sorry! But then my parents came back with more packets from foreign ports. Oh dear. Here's a close up.
Look at those colours! (I have since decided that perhaps the fungicide they put on packeted beans is coloured. . . . surely the lima beans are not fuchsia? We'll see.)

Which brings me to where to put them. . . .

You know those ugly pvc pipe caps builders insist upon putting right next to your house? (and does anyone know what they're good for?!) We did this:

It does get sun part of the day - just not first thing in the morning, the time of this shot. Meanwhile - I've put in some of each type of bean at each trellis.

Should be fun!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

the owl in the woods

I hear him when I wake at 3 a.m.

I wake often at 3 a.m. - I'm not sure why. Someone once told me it was the hour of evil spirits and ever since then, I turn to prayer as soon as I'm aware enough to realize I'm awake. Inevitably, I fall asleep again almost immediately.

I love to hear the mournful cry of the owl, though, before I fall off.

This morning I was up at dawn to bake a promised loaf of bread. Just outside the back window, our owl sat on his branch. He moves his head like a cat, looking and diving his neck and - yes - turning it almost all the way around to look completely behind him. He's full of motion for all that he is also completely motionless. In the picture, certainly.

Voles, beware! Actually, I'm hoping they will take no notice of him, and that the owl in the woods will take up residence in our clearing, and clear out the voles.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

words, pictures and facebook

Has it always been so that books have been lauded as a good way to educate, inform, inspire and entertain? I think so. Perhaps novels were not always so enthusiastically received, but that's largely changed in these times.

Television, on the other hand, is largely reviled, even as we all watch it. I read somewhere that 100 years from now we may well remark on this time as the great lost years, much as gin soaked - and sucked up - the life out of those who lived during the Industrial Revolution. I'm sure I book-marked that idea, but where? It's an intriguing premise. I wish I could tell you where I found it.

Both books and television serve as an escape, but we applaud the reader's escape, not the TV-gazer's. Perhaps the difference has to do with pictures. Not the single picture that adorns the frontispiece of novels (which usually look nothing like what you imagine of the hero or heroine), but the moving pictures which tell the story in movies and television, and thereby remove it from our imagination.

Books work with words and ideas, and require the interaction of the reader's imagination. We read; we think; we picture the story or the ideas in our imagination and it becomes real to us, and can be made real in our actions and by what we do as the result of what we have read and thought.

Movies do not require the same interaction. They require some attention, perhaps, but act upon us, rather than with us. I watch the recorded action as an observer and only imagine that I am a part of what I have observed merely because I have observed it.

Maybe the Biblical injunction against making images is about what happens when we set those images in front of a people that then stops creating, or even co-creating. Art doesn't make me just want to sit down in front of the picture, it inspires me to view things differently, to think new thoughts, or to change my surroundings or even myself. I begin to think that the difference between prohibited 'images' and art lies in where the life is. Is the life in the people viewing it or reading it? Or is the image itself held out as life, or held out as what life ought to be, somehow, if only we were right?

Years ago, north of Barcelona, I met an artist who hosted a conference on "kitsch" - which she defined as the attempted depiction of ultimate good, or heaven, even. Something bad happens when you try to capture that much reality in a single dimension. It turns on you and becomes not only dead, but deadening. "Virtual reality" promises more than reality - right before it robs you of any reality you otherwise had. Then it shows that it's dead and drab. No life; no colour.

I begin to suspect that something similar is happening on facebook. It promised more than reality: instant access to friends, family and a virtual community, any time and any place. But the easy re-connection with old friends now takes more and more time and gives less and less. We're like junkies, our faux-community requires ever-increasing facebook hits.

Facebook presents only the illusion of life. It gathers information about my internet habits by which to tempt me with ads for products I can buy to make my life complete. My friends and family gradually fall silent under the pressure of coming up with something clever to say or finding the perfect photo to show our perfect lives. Meanwhile, we post photos of puppies and kittens, slogans, and links to articles that are helpful, infuriating, or shocking. We link to people we don't know who've written about thoughts we no longer think for ourselves.

Life is face-time, not facebook. Ultimately, life is what happens outside of facebook.

This might be one 'book' that doesn't make the cut.

Meanwhile, if Downton Abbey were a book, I'd be reading it. . . .

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

building and book reports. . . .

Gretchen Rubin is a lawyer who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, but gave up the full-time practice of law to write books. She's written several, and I came across her while she was doing research for her book The Happiness Project. In March, that book will have been on the New York Times Bestseller's list for a year. She's hit a nerve, I think.

A lawyer myself, and a writer, and one who has also studied Aristotle in the quest of understanding more about what's important and what makes us happy, generally, I feel a bit of a kinship with Gretchen. Accordingly, I was quite interested when she listed Christopher Alexander's A Pattern Language as a book that "changed the way I look at things."

Paradigm shifts are energizing, don't you think? Picture standing on your desk, like the students in Dead Poet's Society - the view really is different! It can jumpstart thought, or give a flash of inspiration. To an artist or a writer - or anyone, really - it is a good thing. This was a book I wanted to read.

It turns out that The Timeless Way of Building is actually the first book, and describes the theory behind A Pattern Language. A Pattern Language, then, is the "working document" for the resultant architecture. First things first, eh? Moreover, the local library did not have Pattern Language, but as it did have The Timeless Way, I read it, first.

The book consists really of a single idea: that there are inherent 'patterns' in the way we live as humans, patterns which ought to (but often don't) shape the buildings, towns and cities we live in.

That's the book, in a nutshell. Alexander argues at length that we have lost our connection with those basic patterns, and that the current state of architecture and design is bankrupt. This is why, he argues, many of the spaces we inhabit are 'dead'. Dead spaces, he says, are deadening also to our lives. The converse is also true: that 'living' spaces inject life and freedom back into us. The trick is to become aware of the patterns which are "life-giving" and to re-incorporate them into our living spaces. But it's not just incorporating patterns that is important, it's about learning who we are, when we are least aware of ourselves. He does not advocate a slavish adoption of rules and patterns, he attempts to translate living patterns into language, which we can use in dwelling spaces much as we use words strung together as sentences. Ultimately, he says we transcend even the patterns, and that's well and good.

"The more I watch our pattern language being used, the more I realize that the language does not teach people new facts about their environment. It awakens old feelings. It gives people permission to do what they have always known they wanted to do, but have shunned, in recent years, because they have been frightened and ashamed by architects who tell them that it is not "modern." . . . The impulse to make windows overlooking life, to make ceilings vary in height, columns thick enough to lean against, small window panes, sheltering steeply sloping roofs, arcades, seats by the front door, bay windows, alcoves, [and hidden gardens] is already part of you. But you have been told so much, that you no longer value these inner impulses. You curb them, because you think that someone else knows better [or] that people may laugh at you for being so ordinary. A pattern language does nothing really, except to wake these feelings once again." [pp. 545-47]

The writing often feels redundant, and good examples are few. There are wonderful pictures of 'living' spaces, which the author fails to comment upon, happy to let the (often poor-quality) picture speak for itself. The pictures do speak for themselves, but I would have loved to have had the author's commentary about details, and help to see it even better. The value of this book is that the main idea is just so good. The drawback is that he spends more of his time trying to get us to agree with his main idea than showing us how it works, once we're on board with it. It's likely that the drawbacks I've listed here are remedied in the next book. Note, too, that this was published in 1979, and there are aspects that feel dated.

Gretchen Rubin is right: it will change how you look at things. I expect that I will spend years perfecting my understanding of the "patterns" that delight me, and which we incorporate into our lives and the spaces we inhabit. I wish I had known more about these patterns when we were designing and building here at the greenwood. . . . Especially about "window places" and "windows opening wide" and "sheltering roofs".

As it is, we have a good amount of roof overhang - every inch of which was hard-fought from first our draftsman and then our builder. I would have fought harder for certain doors to open outward. ("That's just not how it is done." I was told, and stupidly, I let it drop.) I would have brought certain window sills further down to floor level and incorporated a deeper sill. There, as I recall, I was told that the building code prohibited windows from extending too far down to floor level without. . . . whatever it was. We won the battle of the 'small window panes' - but were first subjected to comments like "But everyone agrees that picture frame windows are better than cutting up the view with lots of divided panes! You really want divided lights windows? You'll regret it. . . . ." I would have felt ever so much more secure if I had known of this "pattern" and how it makes people feel comfortable to dwell there. I could have withstood the criticism and implied ridicule ever so much easier. As it is, I feel somewhat vindicated now, especially as I also see the thickened walls, varying ceiling heights, steeply sloping roofs, the arcade, columns thick enough to lean against, and the seats at the front entrance. . . . Elements we included without having named them; elements we were made to feel vaguely ashamed of, for even wanting. It was not a matter of luxury, but a matter of feel. "Feel" is apparently not an element that is highly valued in the building trade.

For anyone wishing to understand a bit better how we inhabit the spaces we inhabit - and how we can better inhabit them - this is a great place to start. I think I'll have to bite the bullet and purchase the next one as well - A Pattern Language
- the one that details the 200 plus patterns Alexander identifies as significant in our gardens, buildings, towns and cities.

I'll report back once I've made my way through that one. Meanwhile, The Timeless Way of Building is going back to the Library - if you want to check it out. . . .

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Surely it's not spring yet. It's just the first of February! But the blackbirds have started their spring ritual of flocking and turning the leaves over in the forest.

It's birthday season here at the Greenwood. There are an amazing number of women in this family who are born in the first week of February. And this week we're also gathering for a baby shower to welcome a new baby girl who will miss out on the February festivities - but who will be extending the birthday bashes into March.

Yes, I've been knitting.

My friend Sarah - who used to publish conservative commentary here has had her time largely taken up by her girl toddler and keeping her in hats and other adorable knitted things. Which I now know from facebook and not her blog. Most recently, she's been adorning barrettes with crocheted posies and caterpillars. (again - facebook. Sorry! But here, I'll give you a peek at the caterpillars.)

With that inspiration, I tried my hand at a flower to spice up this little knitted cloche and bunting bag I made for the new baby expected in our extended family. . . .

Is this cute, or what?!
Pattern: cast on 7 sts. Slipping first stitch of each row:
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: Knit
Row 3: Purl
Row 4: Slip one st k-wise, *yo K1* and repeat across the row - 14 sts.
Work in Stockinette stitch for 8 more rows, finishing with a purl row.
1st dec. row: SSK, SSK, knit across until there are 4 stitches left then K2tog twice
2nd dec. row: purl across
3rd dec. row: SSK, SSK, knit across until there are 4 stitches left then K2tog twice.
4th dec. row: purl
5th dec. row: SSK, knit 1, then K2tog
6th dec. row: purl
7th dec. row: SSK, return stitch to left needle and pass last stitch over it; fasten off.

I made 5 petals - you can make as many as you like. When you're done, you sew them together - cinching them tight in the middle. I used narrow ribbon to make french knot and running stitch details.

Have at it!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Spirello - the elf. . . .

I love this hat!

The one made for my grandson apparently was too small. This one, however, for a wee newborn, was just right! She was the hit at the Christmas Eve gathering in her elf suit, and she didn't try to take the hat off even once.

It's the eyes that get me. . . .

Instructions for the hat are pretty general, but you will find them at this link, here. Ask, if you have questions!