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January 2015

Elma Family Kitty Photography Pip The 52 Project

5/52 {The 52 Project}


A portrait of each of my children once every week for 2015.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Kitty: As the first tiny flakes of frozen rain started to hail down on the patio she ran to press her nose to the door to watch the world turn a very tiny bit whiter than it was already and then pleaded to head outside.  She was just so excited by the teeny tiny amount of snow that we got and clearly she’s forgotten the snow we had the spring after Elma arrived it makes me all the more certain that one of these days we’re going to take the family on holiday to somewhere where it really really snows just to see what she makes of a foot or more of snow.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/600, f/2.8, ISO 640)

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Elma: Oh how that girl loves her blankie.  I knit it when I was expecting Kitty and used it for naps and as an extra layer on the coldest nights and did the same again for baby Elma.  And when it was time to start nursery that’s the blanket she took for naps.  And in the process it became more than just something cosy to sleep under but a comfort and a talisman of home.  It is adored, cuddled, carried around and dragged across the kitchen floor, and if ever she feels a little tired this is how I’ll find her; thumb in, blankie wrapped up in her arms and pressed to her cheek.  It must be time for a cuddle and a story.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 100)

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Pip: This is why I photograph my children.  Because this isn’t just a little boy looking at a camera, this is my son looking at his mother.  It’s the look is joy and contentment and relief all rolled into one, the look he gives me whenever I come back into the room; a look of pure love.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/50, f/2.8, ISO 100)


Elma Family Kitty Me and Mine Photography Pip

Me and Mine 2015: January


Once upon a time it was a sunny morning.  It was also January and this means that sunny mornings are not to be wasted.  You might be forgiven for thinking that in a houseful of self professed explorers this should mean suiting and booting ready to get outside and go and find some mud to roll in and a flurry of wooly hats, mittens and the occasional scarf.

But no, for the end of the month was drawing near and therefore the presence of sunshine and the master of the house home from work means it’s time for pictures.  Even if one member of the family was still wearing a hat to warm up after taking Kitty to ballet class, and more than one other was sporting baby drool as less of an accessory and more of a full on style statement.

I love it when my Me and Mine or Siblings pictures come out all nicely posed with a pretty backdrop and everyone looking at the camera and if not smiling then at least looking moderately happy to be there.  I treasure those photos, and they are the ones that I’ve got marked up for framing, but I’m very well aware that they aren’t exactly our every day reality.

And so I hope that there’s room in the remit of family photos for the less than perfect, the photos where someone’s squinting, or talking (that would be me!), or pulling a funny face, or the ones where despite assiduous attention with the hairbrush only moments before, both girls look like they’ve just landed through a hedge backwards.Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Or when it suddenly becomes very obvious that my attempts to remove glitter glue from my patio windows has been largely unsuccessful!

But I think they show us as a family as our truest selves.  This is what family life looks like in my house if you pop round on a Saturday morning.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

There are cuddles as everyone tries to curl up on H’s very snuggly jumper, princess babies that are apparently essential to all activities for at least the next hour and a half, sucking thumbs, sleepy faces, funny expressions, a baby quite desperate to hold onto and taste everything that passes him by, and if you’re very lucky we’ll all have made it out of our pyjamas.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

This has been on the whole a very ordinary sort of month.  We loved celebrating Pip with our family and friends at his baptism but other than that we haven’t done anything tremendously exciting or made any great plans to go anywhere special.  It’s been a month of just being, of trips to the playpark, baking biscuits, tidying away Duplo, trying not to eat Playdoh, of long days working hard and evenings vegging out together.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Being the five of us together is my favourite kind of happy, everyone is relaxed and after a week of mostly parenting by myself it’s just bliss to be able to share it with H. In the grand scheme of things even though our tiny Pip is now a little bigger and a whole five months old we’re still really such beginners at being a family of five and still working so much out to try to balance all of our needs and find room for all of our wants, and that’s not without its trials, tribulations and sleep deprivation and I’m so hugely thankful that I’m not doing it alone.  It’s the moments when you can share your exasperation at the logic of small people, or exchange a wry smile at something they say, or one of those rare times when everyone’s playing happily and you look across at each other and feel like you might just burst with joy.

These are the moments that I truly treasure. Moments of my little family, in January:

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And no Me and Mine post would be complete without another example of “what happens when I go upstairs to change Pip, leaving my camera set up and the remote trigger in the possession of one of my daughters”

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

H is clearly branching out on the modelling poses!


dear beautiful

Crafty Ideas Crochet Designed by me Handmade Inspiration Knitting Work in Progress

Socks, and the knitwear formerly known as socks


Once upon a time, long long ago, before I had stretch marks, bags under my eyes and three adorable children, I used to knit rather a lot.  Sort of obsessively. Rather as if I had oodles of free time in which to play with sticks and string.  And about five to six years ago my obsession dedication to that fibre art got quite specific.  I knit socks. A lot of them.  I knit socks for family birthdays, for H, and lots and lots of socks for me.  There were socks in beautiful multicoloured skeins of yarn that coiled and wrapped themselves around my feet in rich velvety swirls of colour, there were the plainer yarns used to knit up the most intricate patterns I could find, cables, lace, knots and leaves, the first pair of socks knitted from my own handspun, and a very memorable pair of pirate argyles, (that alas appear to have gone unphotographed).

And gradually my sock drawer got fuller and fuller and fuller to the point at which I phased out anything that wasn’t either hand knit or for sport.  Similarly H has work socks, sports socks and a beloved collection of fluffy socks that explode out of his drawer at the slightest opportunity.

But the problem with knitting all your socks is that they wear out.  And the problem with knitting all your socks within a 24 ish month period is that they all wear out more or less at once.

And so the casualties have begun.  Worn patches under the ball of the foot, stitches escaping from a hole in the toe and unravelling half way up the foot, odd stitches that you didn’t think were in any danger suddenly giving way mid way through the wash leaving you with a hole big enough to make thumbless mittens by the time you pull it out the machine.

I’ve darned more than a few but it doesn’t seem to extend their life expectancy by more than a couple more wearings before the bit next to the bit I’ve darned all falls apart too.  Clearly I would have failed darning if they’d taught it at school.  I think about throwing them away, and sometimes I even take them out of the drawer and put them on the top with a vague sort of intention to actually move them gently towards the bin, but they never get that far.   I think there’s just too much work in each pair for me to be happy just chucking them away.  I’ve thought about unravelling them and using the yarn for something else, probably a smaller pair of socks, or maybe some stripes, but as much as I like the idea, I also know myself, and I know that that plan is only going to end with a pile of socks insulating a corner of the studio while I cast longing glances at the untouched stash upstairs.

So this year I have a plan.  Well a plan of sorts.  Some of it is a little experimental (but aren’t the best plans always like that) and it starts with a little ruthless attention to the sock drawer.  Everything with a hole in it has come out.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

If it’s a toe up pair then they are no longer candidates for being a pair of socks.  The sock has to go on to pastures new, no plea bargaining allowed.

If I knit them cuff down and the hole is in the toe and there aren’t any other noticeable weaknesses then they’re candidates for re-knitting.  Which is this lot:

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Five pairs, most of them just need a new toe and I’m tempted to say that I’ve got until Easter to get them back into circulation, but don’t quote me on that one.  I have however put the green pair back on the needles for a new toe.  They’re special socks, the colour is called Lucky, I was wearing them for my first ultrasound with Kitty and during a lot of my labour and they’re on the save list for sentimental reasons alone.

And as for the rest of them. Well these are no longer classified as socks.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Which is where the experiment comes in.  I still really don’t want to throw them away. I love those socks, there are hours of my time knit into them, they’re made of yarn that I think is soft and warm and they’ve kept me cosy and warm for so many years.  And they’re beautiful.  Just rather well ventilated.  So the plan is to upcycle them. They’re going to be a blanket.  Or some of them is anyway.

My plan is to slice across the bottom of the cuff just before it expands into the heel.  The foot can’t be saved but the cuff could then be sliced open vertically to give me a square ish sort of shape which could then be crocheted to lots of other former socks to make a knitted patchwork blanket.  Not all the colours will work together and I’m sure some will fall apart somewhere along the line, but what about something that looks a little bit like this:


I haven’t cut anything open or tried to crochet around all the raw edges so I have absolutely no idea how this is going to work out.  It could be brilliant, it could be utter madness, but having made the momentous admission that these are no longer functioning socks I don’t think I’ve got anything to loose.  It’s time to get the scissors out.


Elma Family Kitty Pip



At the end of November H and I took a big deep breath and sent an email to Kitty and Elma’s nursery to withdraw Elma.  She had her last nursery day at the end of December and came home as happy as could be having had a lovely day playing on the trikes in the garden and doing something involving copious amounts of glue (the latter deduction based mainly on how much shampoo was required at bath time), entirely unaware that this had been her Last Day, while I tried not to get emotional at the fact that she was leaving key workers who I can remember loving and welcoming Kitty not so very long ago, and who I had been so happy to have be a part in both my daughters’ childhood.

It was one of those moments when you just have to cross your fingers and hope that you’ve made the right decision.

It was in part a decision motivated by finances; I don’t need childcare right now, I’m at home all day, and will be until the summer so to have any form of outside help is a bit of a luxury.  Kitty is eligible for her nursery grant and my employer continues to pay my childcare vouchers while I’m on maternity leave, but you don’t get any more childcare vouchers for having more children (sensible though that might be, and we’ll leave that soapbox for another day) and they only go so far.  And so it came to a choice.  Both girls could have one day a week, or Kitty could have two.

If one of them had hated nursery, had had to be peeled off me every morning or had come home bored and unenthusiastic it might have been easy to say “Ok you stay at home, you can go if you want to”, but they both absolutely love nursery.  Kitty settled in almost from her first day and is happy and comfortable and confident with all of her key workers.  They’ve taught her French nursery rhymes and she’s watched a chicken hatch, and a baby chicken poop on someone’s hand, and made more art than we can fit in our house and sung and run around all day long, while Elma walked in on her first day without a backward glance.  As long as there was toast in the mornings she was the happiest little girl in the room, usually giving her wailing companions a rather quizzical look over the breakfast table.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

But at the end of the day Kitty is four and Elma is only just two, and so we decided that it was most important for Kitty to have her two days.  I think if she were at home all day every day she’d start to climb the walls.  It sounds very super special snowflake I know, but she comes across as quick to pick things up and usually fairly confident and articulate and I can see how frustrated she gets when we have to do things at a slightly slower speed or at a lower level to allow Elma to join in, or because Mummy also needs to take care of Pip.  It’s probably a useful life lesson for her and I do try to take some time in the day to do things just for her, to play dominoes or her sandcastle game or anything else where there’s a risk of Elma running off with the pieces, but as Elma starts to drop her nap (alas) it becomes harder to fit in.  Those two days with her peers give her the chance to just be Kitty and not Kitty-the-biggest-sister, and as there’s at least one little girl in her preschool class who will (fingers crossed) be going to school with her come September I’m so happy that she’s going to have  one friendly face for her first day.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And while Elma loved her nursery days we’re hoping that for her the benefits of being at home all the time will outweigh missing her toast, her favourite tricycle, her key worker and her friends (probably in that order).  I hope that in giving her more time at home she gets to be the big sister not the little big sister.  She will get, well not quite one on one time with Mummy, because no one gets one on one time with me at the moment, not even me, but certainly the chance to be the leader in our expeditions, the chance to think for herself, and to answer for herself and not simply echo her much adored and very vocal big sister.  She is by nature a very independent little thing and I’ve no doubt that when the time comes for pre-school and real school she’ll have no trouble finding her feet, but for now it feels right to pull her close and enjoy the last few months of her babyhood.

But that was our reasoning, not the girls’.  I worried that Elma would feel that she was being left out, that she would want to run on in to her toast every day and I’d have to comfort a sad little girl who couldn’t understand why she wasn’t being allowed to play with her friends any more; or that Elma would be fine but Kitty would feel as if we were pushing her out, as if we didn’t want her so we were sending her away, or that she was missing out on some day full of fun and chocolate ice cream every time she went to pre-school.  And I worried a little bit about Pip.  All through the autumn I loved those couple of days a week that I spent with just my Pip; I could entirely devote myself to him, to feeding him with no pressure to be done so that I could go and sort out sticky messes or trying to read a story with one hand, hold a baby with the other and work out how or whether we were ever going to have lunch all at the same time.  It was a treat and one I’m well aware many people don’t get, but I didn’t want Pip to loose that special time, or to simply be carted from pillar to post as I parented his sisters.

It also felt like the first time we’d made a parenting decision that was right but not necessarily fair, it’s an awkward sort of feeling, but one I suspect we’ll become all too familiar with as the years go past.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And so here we are, one month in, and so many of my worries have come to nothing; Kitty still loves pre-school and sees it as something that she gets to do because she’s a big girl; Elma turned up to deliver Kitty on her first at home morning wearing a sunhat, carrying a little raffia basket and told everyone “I going shopping. But not Littee (her sister)!”, seems generally rather surprised to find some of her former colleagues in the hallway and is loving sole possession of all the Duplo slides and the swing twice a week.  And as she still naps occasionally, or gets utterly caught up in playing I don’t think I’ve lost out on my play time with Pip.

So far so good. Phew.