9 yards of worsted weight yarn in white
(I used Cascade 220 superwash.)
1 yard of worsted weight in light/lime green yarn
48 yards of a soft dk weight yarn in forest green
(I used Diamond Luxury Collection
100% Super Baby Alpaca.)
a pair of 6 or 7 mm safety eyes
a small amount of fibre fill
3.75mm crochet hook
a darning needle
a stitch marker
Optional: some rustic jute twine to tie around your onion in a bow for decoration
– or to tie a bunch together.
For the white part of the onion:
Begin with a magic circle of 6 single crochet stitches
Round 1: 2 sc in each (12)
Round 2: 1 sc, sc inc (repeat) (18)
Round 3: 2 sc, sc inc (repeat) (24)
Rounds 4-6: sc in each (24)
Round 7: sc, sc dec (repeat) (18)
Round 8: sc in each (18)
Place the safety eyes between rows 5 and 6 approximately 6 or seven stitches apart.
Round 9: sc, sc dec (12)
Round 10: sc in each (12)
SWITCH COLOUR TO LIGHT/LIME GREEN
Round 11: sc in each (12)
Round 12: sc in each (12)
Fasten off leaving an end long enough to sew to the green stalks.
Stuff your onion with a small amount of fibre fill.
To make the white roots for your onion:
Use your leftover white yarn, and with your darning
needle thread through the bottom where the magic
circle comes together. Stitch six or eight times leaving
two inch long loops. Snip the ends of the loops, then
untwine the ply of the yarn to create the squiggles.
To make the stalks stitch approximately 70 rounds in total slowly increasing from six stitches to ten.
There is no exact process of increasing, in fact by using a different count for each stalk, your onion will look more realistic. Your green onion stalks should measure between 8.5 and 10 inches when finished.
Fasten off two of the stalks, leaving a longer end on the third for sewing together.
Magic circle of 3 sc crochet stitches
Round 1: 2 sc in each (6)
Rounds 2-9: sc in each (6)
Round 10: add one sc to this round anywhere (7)
Rounds 11-25: sc in each (7)
Round 26: add one sc anywhere (8)
Rounds 27-40: sc in each (8)
Round 41: add one sc anywhere (9)
Rounds 42-58: sc in each (9)
Round 59: add one sc anywhere (10)
Rounds: 60-70: sc in each (10)
To attach the green stalks to the white onion:
First, fasten off two of the green stalks, leaving the third with along end for sewing.
Sewing just in the centre of the three stalks,
stitch the stalks together either using a slip stitch with your crochet hook or by using the darning needle.
Continue to stitch them together in the centre until you have approximately 12 stitches
around outside of the three stalks.
Use the light/lime green to sew the white onion to the green stalks, placing two stitches into each stitch.
Decorate your onion with a small piece of jute twine wrapped around a few times
then tied into a bow.
My business is named for my children – my three children if you consider my logo. When people ask what ‘Olives and Bananas’ means I always reply that it’s a play on words using the names of my two living children, Oliver and Hannah, and when the moment seems right (which most often it is) I add that the dragonfly in the logo is for our son, Finn, who lived and died in 2013.
In the first few years after Finn lived and died I spent a lot of time reflecting and writing about him.
I didn’t go out much, I felt exposed and fragile, while also feeling like my heartache was being worn like heavy armour. Five years later I still feel that way, though over time I’ve found ways to express my grief that make it more comfortable to wear.
In those first years there was a lot of alone time and space to think. I needed to talk about him, but silently while I worked on the right words. It was easy to purge my feelings in the Instagram community because I knew there were others out there who identified with my words, and that made it safe.
In the past year my safe place has become the wool shop. I know that one of the many reasons I don’t write as much about Finn as I once did is because I talk about him more, I have real life conversations about him now in ways couldn’t before. This past year has forced me into the confrontations and questions I feared the most, and in that I learned that I can handle it, I can cry in front of someone and recover and move on with my day, I can catch my breath. It’s okay to cry, it’s okay if I cry, and we can hug it out – or better let’s dance it out like Grey’s.
The subject of child loss isn’t one that comes up often in casual conversation, but because the “how many kids do you have?” question is asked all too often, for some of us child loss does come up all.the.time.
I could have avoided the subject more easily by naming my shop ‘Amy’s Wool Shop’ or something equally uninspired, but there wasn’t much heart in that, and not in line with what the shop is about. More often than not people who shop & stitch here are making something for someone else; if not it’s something special for themselves. It’s more about the pride in creating and giving than anything else, and it’s been deeply inspiring to be surrounded in that kind of sharing.
I think naming the shop for my children points to who I’m creating for and why on a personal level, which opens the door to deeper conversations – which I think is lovely, and we need more of that in this world.
There’s a perception is that the subject of child loss is too sad or complicated to talk about openly, and I know some people worry about my response and wonder if they should bring up Finn and his story. You should, you always should. It would be much more sad to not hear his name, or feel like he’s being forgotten because he’s not physically present. When his name is said aloud he is acknowledged, as is our grief, and makes me feel less alone in remembering him.
The experiences in the months since opening the shop have been hard to put into words for many enormous and extraordinary reasons. There have some been some really profound exchanges and heartfelt moments, confessions, tears, sharing, hugs, laughter, …all the emotions that seem indescribable when I try to transcribe them.
Finn’s photo in his rainbow knit elf hat hangs prominently in the shop. That hat, that photo, that memory… it all represents such an important step toward my business – long before I even knew the direction I was headed. By the time the path appeared I was already well on my way.
Some of you have come in wearing dragonfly clothing or jewelry as a gesture in honour of Finn. Some have brought me little dragonfly trinkets, candles, and bookmarks. You have shared heartfelt stories about what dragonflies mean to you, and the folklore that makes you believe there’s something magical about them. All of this demonstrating the best of the human heart, and I’m eternally grateful.
Finn’s dragonflies originate in a simple pencil drawing by Betsy Bowen, whose original sketch of ‘green darner dragonflies’ for the book Hawk’s Ridge was for sale as part of the 2012 Crossing Borders Art Studio Tour. I bought it a few months before I was even pregnant, but knew it was special instantly. It was he first thing I hung in Finn’s nursery in 2013.
In the shop I’ve been visited by other bereaved parents, who find the right moments to share their stories. Talking openly together somehow softens the effects of our tragic stories. Losing a child can feel isolating, it’s an incomprehensible grief unless you’re in it. You can imagine the worst – and I’ve lived the sad losses: my parents are both gone, friends, deeply missed, so many people live in my heart…, but nothing compares to the longing for Finn. My little Finn…
It is so important to me that Finn is remembered for living as much if not more than because he died so young.
Finn brought so much joy, relief, peace, and hope to our family when he was born. A rainbow baby himself, he was a bright light after years of miscarriages. Once he was in my arms I felt calm like I hadn’t in years. The future was wide open with potential and possibilities.
He was such a beautiful baby; his golden hair and bright, curious eyes made my heart melt. Tiny and loud, he was perfect in every way.
He had visitors, people held him, we all cooed over him. I nursed him, changed him, bathed him… unaware that all these firsts were his last. Our last. The only.
His death blindsided us.
Five years later and for weeks now I haven’t been sleeping well. I’m waking in the very early hours and can’t fall back asleep despite all my hacks. In the months following Finn’s death I couldn’t sleep without some kind of white noise being pumped into my head, anything to drown out the wheels turning. The only times I felt I really slept was after an acupuncture treatment, and though I still see my acupuncturist weekly it’s not enough to ease this restlessness.
Every morning for weeks I’ve felt butterflies and anxiousness as if I’m heading into an important interview and it’s messing terribly with my physical well-being.
There’s nothing in particular keeping me awake or making me feel anxious; it’s simply a function of grief and the time of year bringing all the feelings to the surface. The air, the way the sun rises and sets, the changing colours of autumn, all of these earthly reminders of Finn are impossible to escape. And why would I want to? It’s always been my favourite time of year. I felt so lucky to be able to celebrate my special boy in this beautiful season.
Now he is everything autumn is to me; he is the lake breeze, the sunrise and shine, and all the warm colours – everything reminds me of him. It’s both paralyzing and full of static energy. He’s my forever baby, he will never grow up, he will never have a first day of school, ride a bike, play with friends, choose Halloween costumes, or celebrate Christmas. All these occasions still come and pass without him, and all I can do is imagine him and wonder who he would be.
September is difficult to navigate. This year I’ve felt numb, distracted, and unable to express myself in the ways I’ve found healing in the past. I’ve learned enough from previous years to know that I can’t predict anything, the triggers will catch me off guard, some will devastate me and others will lift me (and everything in between). I try not to schedule too much or makes plans knowing that each day needs its own space.
Five years ago I thought I would never leave the house again. I definitely wouldn’t have believed I would be running a wool shop, talking to people about Finn, least of all smiling.
Thank you, to all of you who have shown such genuine thoughtfulness, compassion, and empathy for my little Finn, myself and my family. I’ve learned a lot more about humanity this year than wool. We really do need more togetherness in this world because we heal better in groups leaning on one another.
This area of the shop has evolved into a space of its own.
I knew the wall gets too much sun for yarn storage, so my first thought when I was planning the space was that it would be the community space. The wall did scream for a fireplace, and I loved the idea of cozy fireside seating by windows. We in the north have to source as much light and heat at possible!
It IS a cozy seating area beside a window and a fireplace, but it has become more of a children’s playroom than a yarn lovers gathering space. Stitchers do sit by the fire occasionally, but we usually squeeze around the three tables even if there’s too many of us. 😀 (which is so fun!)
The area around the fireplace grew into a wonderful play area for kids. The little table originally had a glass top and I had plans to fill it with decorative wool displays, but before I could put the glass back after painting it somehow filled with Oliver’s toys.
I’m often thanked for creating the space, but really it created itself. Kids now enjoy coming to the wool shop, and moms, dads, and grandparents appreciate the distraction while they shop. Sometimes kids have to be dragged out kicking and screaming when it’s time to go. :S
There’s a lot of weird stuff to pique the imagination: a mounted unicorn head (custom made by the beautifully talented @mommycansew), a monster garland made by @camphappyheart and me, melting snowmen, a toy alien by @sewwhimsicalbykatie, little felted creatures, crochet Oliver in a pumpkin, sheep and alpaca toys, and of course Shaun the Sheep on the smart tv.
This area isn’t what I originally planned but I couldn’t be happier with what it has become. I love that kids enjoy coming to the shop, and that their guardians feel a little less stress about taking littles out shopping. I know the juggle well.
My hope for a community creative space is constantly both affirming my intention and evolving on its own. It’s a great thing to watch.
Thank you all for making the shop what it is today!