Baby boomlet

Is something in our water? I’ve noticed a sudden burgeoning of bellies in the ‘Bu. In fact, in my office alone, there are three babies imminent, all announced in the past week. About-to-be dads tell me with considerable pride that they’re pregnant. Never mind the anatomical challenge in that.Pregnancy is a shared experience and I’m sure you’ve seen happy couples strolling hand-in-hand around Cross Creek showing off bumps beneath cut-off T-shirts on moms too well toned to be sporting muffin tops. What’s going on? Are babies a new epidemic?

I think it’s a thrillingly hopeful harbinger for the future that new births seem to be on the rise, but I wonder why there’s a sudden boomlet. I see no attendant surge in the economy and no new tax break for kids is in the offing. Could it be the wonderful news that Malibu schools are ranked nationally in the top 2 percent? No need for tuition at private school when the public ones are that good.

Whatever the cause, I’m up to my elbows in fluffy baby blankets. Using the world’s softest, puffiest-and washable-yarn from a local manufacturer, I’m knitting up stroller fuzzies as fast as I can. It’s so easy! In a single evening of “Grey’s Anatomy” on DVD, I can make an heirloom, thanks to a simple, ingenious pattern from the friendly folks at West Hollywood’s Knit Café. It takes four balls of yarn, fat pencil-sized needles and a single stitch repeated for just a few hours and I’ve got a gift to remember.

The yarn is Zucca by L.A.’s own Trendsetter Yarns, perhaps the best use ever of a barrel of oil. The fiber is soft, durable, nontoxic and washable enough to endure even the drool of pureed carrots. And speaking of food, the yarn comes in delicious colors: Granny Smith green, wild blueberry, cantaloupe, rhubarb, grape, cotton candy blue, and my personal favorites: mocha, chocolate and creamy caramel. Knit Café’s design calls for trimming the blanket in a contrasting furry yarn, just the thing a toddler wants to rub against a childish cheek. The more adventurous among you can even involve your older children in the project: have them make pompoms from scrap yarn.

The blanket pattern is available in the bestselling book: “Greetings from the Knit Café” or at the cheery store on Melrose where sample blankets are available for purchase, if you’re not up to making your own. Last year, I made a green one with magenta trim for my devil-may-care goddaughter and a deep marine blue with red and white trim for the new son of my husband’s sailing partner. The kids tote the blankets everywhere.

A baby blanket hand-knit with love is, to me, the ultimate “Rosebud,” an indelible childhood memory. My great-grandmother knit one in cream and pale green wool trimmed with green satin and gave it to my mother for my christening. I understand it was truly beautiful, soft to the touch and a bit avant-garde in its disregard for the blue-pink conventions of the day. I have no memory of its glory days, but I loved it as a Linus would, dragging it everywhere behind me. Slowly, the satin edging shredded until scraps hung on to the silk whip-stitching. The blanket shrank from weekly washing until it was a kerchief-sized hunk of felt. Still I loved it and called it “baa.” I still had it in kindergarten until the teacher told me, with a chill in her voice, to take it home and leave it there. From that day on, I slept with “baa” tucked beneath my pillow, one little hand hanging on until one day it was gone and a silver dollar was in its place, a fair exchange from the tooth fairy.

May whatever gift you give the next baby in your life bear as many memories. Happy Father’s Day!

Frozen Lemon Margaritas

From “Block Parties and Poker Nights” by Peggy Allen

Six to eight glasses, or a single pitcher

Knitting blankets in summertime is hot work, best shared with good friends, cool drinks and laughter. My Meyer lemon tree is still heavy with fruit and I’ll bet yours is too. Take advantage of its bounty and make a pitcher or two of this luscious refreshment. Careful, though, two drinks and your knitting just might start to unravel or look unnaturally relaxed. If you’re not fit to knit, put down your needles-and don’t drive. Bon appetit!

4 thin slices of lemon

Coarse salt, kosher or sea

2 cups cracked ice

1 1/4 cup smooth tequila

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup Grand Marnier

Zest of one lemon, grated with a few strips for garnish

Fresh mint, optional

1. Rub the rim of cocktail glasses with lemon slices and dip in salt.

2. Blend ice, tequila, lemon juice, grated zest and liqueur until slushy.

3. Pour into prepared glasses and garnish with zest and a sprig of fresh mint.