Congratulations to Jennifer Tinonga, who won the third place prize for our "Crafting with Jane Austen" creative writing contest. Jennifer lives in California and shares her day of birth with Jane Austen. She teaches English and she enjoys painting regency-style portrait miniatures in her spare time.
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"Crafting with Mrs. Austen"
Saturday, 16 December 1775
I’ve been up late working on a cap for the new baby—though there are parts of this pattern from the Lady’s Magazine that puzzle me exceedingly! No matter—I’m making the design my own and using the colored thread that I have left over from embroidering a fire-screen. With its curling leaves, berries and flowers, the design reminds me of pattern I saw on a building in Oxford. I worked as long as I could by daylight, but I admit to you that I used a candle for an hour or two after the sun went down (sunset is so very early this time of year!). An indulgence, I know, but I was recompensed by the way this work calms my nerves. The lovely colors and something about the rhythm of the needle are so pleasing to the eye and to the mind—especially when coping with the anxieties of anticipating this new child, who by our calculations is very late in arriving!
I hope that they (and I) shall be safe and healthy after the lying in—my health can be so fragile at times, though I have been more nimble and active than I expected. That is in the hands of our Lord, Mr. Austen would say and he would be quite right, I think. He hopes for another boy, though I think it would be nice for Cassy to have a sister to play with, since it will be hard to grow up in a family of all boys. I hope Cassy will have a mild temper, though I would like her to also have my sprack wit and fine nose! I look forward to when she will begin her sampler in a few years’ time and we will be able to do this fancy sewing together.
It is so frightfully cold and damp this morning that I wouldn’t mind sitting by the fire all day long. I cannot think of a more comfortable evening than sitting by the hearth at my worktable with my workbox, embroidering a shawl or sewing some work of charity from the poor basket. Last night, Mr. Austen was reading to us from Rev. Fordyce’s sermons but then switched to a bit of Fielding which was quite diverting. I lost my place in the gloves I’m knitting because I laughed so hard when Parson Adams was thrown from his horse ten times in one passage. (I dearly love a laugh during these long dark winter nights!) I didn’t even mind when the cat got herself tangled in my basket of yarns shortly thereafter...
Christmas is fast approaching and then the new year. I hope that we shall see the produce of our new cucumber garden in the summer!
I pray that this new child will come to us soon and all shall be well. If it is a boy, we shall name him Charles; if it is a girl, we shall name her Jane.