One cozy dress. One green rocking chair. One great picture book. Stir until just combined for a plum mid-morning moment.

Our friend Meg sent Pelle’s New Suit from the other side of the world as a gift for Jolly when he was new, and while Elsa Beskow may be better known for her mushroom-capped elves, this unassuming hundred-year-old story of a boy seeking help from his community to transform his lamb’s wool into a fine new suit for himself is tip-top. Pelle tends the animals, weeds a carrot patch, minds his baby sister, stacks firewood, and more in trade for the carding, spinning, dyeing, weaving, and tailoring, all of which are illustrated with historical accuracy and obvious knowledge of the crafts. This book is a favorite in our house right now; Ada will soon have it memorized and Jolly chimes in with farmyard noises for atmosphere.

Winter Garden is in heavy rotation and needs a bit of de-pilling on the bodice where Ada’s wool coat has chafed it. But the way my girl loves her dress—she tries to choose it to wear to school nearly every day—I’ll knit her a new one if this model doesn’t last until next winter. She’s worth it, my little mirror, so like me and yet entirely herself. Oh, she knows how to try my patience. And then she knocks me right over with her spontaneous sweetness and good sense. “Well,” she said to me, patting my shoulder consolingly when I made a gloomy remark about the towering laundry pile. “After Jolly and me go to bed, you can just take all our clothes and put them right in the washing machine, okay? That’s a good plan. First you make a good plan and then you can just do it!” Or, making amends after I flashed out at her noncooperation in dressing for school: “Do you feel so much happier now, Mama? Did you hear how I was just singing la la laaaaa la-la la la to make you feel better?” Three and a half. Maddening and sublime all at the same once, as Ada would have said last year.

Another recipe:

Work finished early. Three balls of teal green wool. Size 8 needles. It’s time to start the next design.

mcmanus_swatch (1 of 1)That’s if I can set aside a mad itch to rush to IKEA in search of proper storage for the playroom, anyway. You see, there’s a landslide of puzzles, blocks, and toy animals blocking my access to the yarn cabinet. I think we all know this situation is not tenable.