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April 2017

Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: April

30/04/2017

Only this afternoon did I realise that only in my head does a day called the 30/1 of Apray actually exist.  Really truly, despite 30 something years on this earth, I thought tomorrow was the last day of April, and at the same time know that it’s the May bank holiday and I don’t have to go to work.  It wouldn’t have made much difference anyway; despite having had a week’s holiday in the middle of the month and all the lovely sunny evenings, I took our pictures this morning under the cherry tree.

It’s a beautiful tree and it’s been a marker of the change of our season here in this house when every year bare branches unfurl first tiny leaves and then let free with a cascade of pink snow that not only covers our garden but reaches out to embrace the neighbours too.  All being well, and I say that with all fingers and toes double and triple crossed, this is our last spring with this cherry tree, and while the garden of the new house (touch wood) has at least one apple tree, I don’t know whether we’ll need to add a cherry for the same effect.  The reality is starting to hit that we really will be moving house, and in among organising for a friend to come around to quote for the removals, and dealing with surveyors and agents and all the rest, I’m determined to make time to cherish and preserve our most favourite parts of this very first home of ours.

And so here we are, in all our Sunday morning barely awakeness, watching the petals come swirling down in the breeze, and trying to take a photo in which Elma is not entirely obscured by her hair.

This month John has loved the Easter holidays; me being home all day and the return of several sorely needed weeks of lazy mornings and no long school run.  It’s a marker of these holidays how little we’ve driven, and I think he’s enjoyed the rest.  April has also brought the start of the cricket season, and if I’d written this post last night instead of this I could have told you how he’d got 7 runs and the final wicket (off 3 balls) in the first match of the season.  Today he didn’t need to bat as we romped to victory and gave away only 11 runs for his 4 overs bowling, all of which I’m told is a good thing.  We, as always, enjoy the tea and the sunshine, and if you were anywhere today that was on the grey and windy spectrum, know that I have cricket spectating down to a fine art, because we came with not only quilts to sit on, but two of the sleeping bags to huddle under. It was great.

I’ve loved the Easter holidays too; I really needed the break and the pottering around days were just perfect, as is going back to work for a week and then having a long weekend (yay for May!). The time off gave me time to finish the cosy cottage ripple blanket I started at Christmas 2014, and for Elma to steal it for her bed, and for Kitty to submit a wish list of the one she wants me to make next, and to do my homework for Sara Tasker’s Instagram course.  It was completely and utterly awesome and I can see the changes in my pictures (come and see my feed here), as much as I can also see how much more I want to keep working on!

As for the littlest three, well Kitty has discovered Swallows and Amazons, because I discovered that they’ve re-recorded them on Audible (the previous reader was just atrocious) and she is now completely immersed in their world, which has led to lots of games of ‘camping’.  John told me that he walked into the lounge to find all three in sleeping bags sat around an upturned scooter helmet, and when Pip reached out for it the girls both said “no don’t touch the fire, it’s hot!”

Elma, as well as purloining my recently finished blanket, had her first day of Kindergarten  She would ordinarily have moved up just after her fourth birthday, but as she joined nursery late because we had to wait until there was space for her, she had an extra term and moved up to join Kitty this week.  I have never seen anyone as excited as she was on her first morning; we all went on the school run and she was literally quivering for more of the journey.  I wasn’t there to pick her up but at little lunch she’d sat between Kitty and one of Kitty’s dearest class friends and to all accounts she’d had a wonderful time and hadn’t been hugged by too many of Kit’s friends to make her not want to go back the next week.  She still only does three mornings each week, but this is where she’ll be in September.

And as for my Pip Squeak, he’s still Mama’s Best Pip, the cuddliest chaos that a Mama ever did see.  He loves that sunshine means outside, and outside means hockey and football and golf and cricket and digging in the mud, and even when it rains, that means puddles.

It’s been a good month, with the prospect of all sorts of excitement in the next few months, roll on May (and another of those bank holidays!).

My little family, in April:

The Me and Mine Project

Crochet Family Handmade

Cottage Ripple {handmade}

28/04/2017

I feel that there should be some sort of fanfare to announce this post, or possibly bunting.  You are please to imagine one as appropriate because this is a finish I have waited a long long time to be able to share with you.

Space for the Butterflies - Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket, Attic 24

Yes, it’s true, I have finally, finally finished my Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket (“ta da!”).  This blanket has been 2 years and 4 months in the making; it’s the longest I’ve ever taken to make something, and that includes my children. Cumulatively. Even though they were all three of them late.

I started on Christmas Day 2014; itching to get into this enourmous squishy bag of yarn, armed with a crochet hook that seemed vaguely about the right size and my usual “how hard can it be?”.  The answer, for the record, is that when your entire crochet experience to date comprises the bag you made in Learn to Crochet class, the odd edging on a blanket or jumper, a baby wraparound, and your swatch, the jump to a project that starts with “chain 213”  is, shall we say, sudden.

Space for the Butterflies - Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket, Attic 24

That first precarious starting chain took several lots of counting, and the first row seemed to be the product of an entire day’s stern concentration; each stitch intensely executed.  I can see from the tension in those first fews rows just how tightly I was holding onto everything as I figured out my crochet holds for yarn, project and hook.

And then, probably about the same time I finished the ripple pillow, it all seemed to click and I relaxed into the stitches. Suddenly it didn’t take an entire episode of Game of Thrones for just one row; I could feel my hands start to move instinctively, and with that came the speed.  It became my non-thinking project, the piece I picked up just to do a couple of stitches of an evening to take the edge of the day off, and it perched on and under the end of the sofa for many months while I dipped in and out of other projects.

There’s a section just after the middle where suddenly it gets a big wider over a couple of rows. I lost my crochet hook, and for all the searching, and despite being certain that I’d found it on the lounge carpet and put it somewhere very safe, it continued to elude me.  Of course only at that point did I discover that my hook, bought long ago on my first trip to the States, doesn’t match any of the UK sizes.  We went up to the next size (and it got bigger), we went down to the size below (and it still got bigger), and then with relief I finally found the original hiding out inside a ball of yarn I’d last touched in the summer.

Space for the Butterflies - Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket, Attic 24

There comes a point with every project where it hits a curve, and suddenly the finish is in sight, and at that point, no matter how much I’ve dilly dallied in the past, or put it to the back of the cupboard, it becomes the one and only thing that I want to work on, a sprint finish to a marathon project.  And so it was with the blanket.  As I started the final column of colours in the pattern I could feel it gathering speed.  When I got to the crease in the page that marked 7 rows to go, I started calculating the possible finish date, and then suddenly all the ripples were done, and all that was left was the border (and 168 ends to darn in but let’s not dwell on those).

Space for the Butterflies - Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket, Attic 24

It’s a beautiful border, but not a very big one; just enough to hold everything together and then it was done.  So here it is, in full show off mode, my gorgeous blanket:

Space for the Butterflies - Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket, Attic 24

In terms of the knitty gritty we’ve already mentioned the changes in tension, and I’d be misleading you if I said that the result was anything other than a seriously trapeziodal creation.  I suspect that when I started the hook was slightly too small, but by the time I finished it was a bit too big.  That’s what happens when you learn on the go and while it’s rather noticeable if you try to fold it up, yuo’d never notice when you’re snuggled up underneath it, which is after all what really matters.

Space for the Butterflies - Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket, Attic 24

The tension issues also mean that it has a bit of a unique feature on the final border round.

Space for the Butterflies - Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket, Attic 24

As I started the final border I’d said to John how unusual it was for me to be making something exactly as written in the pattern, right down to the colours of yarn; in fact I would go so far as to say that I’ve never knit something that hasn’t had a bit of knitter input, even if it’s just adding length or changing the colour, and a little voice in the back of my brain wondered whether it’s somehow lesser for it.  And so when the yarn ran out, I chose to audition leftovers rather than buy another ball.  The winner is the nearest tonal colour (Magenta) and for all the pink to Lavender’s purple, you do have to look for it to see it, it doesn’t jump out at you.  It’s the best of both worlds; a gorgeous exercise in colour from Lucy and a tiny tweak from me to make it my own. Space for the Butterflies - Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket, Attic 24

As for the yarn itself, as acrylics go, it’s not bad.  That there is very high praise from a self confessed yarn snob.  It isn’t the same as working with wool, but it makes a soft warm blanket that the kids can haul around without my worrying too much, safe in the knowledge I can just bung it in the machine if I need to.

Space for the Butterflies - Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket, Attic 24

And speaking of the kids… when I first finished it it lived on the end of the sofa, and I happily snuggled up underneath with my knitting or a good book and it was mine.  Pip liked to hide underneath it and poke his fingers through the holes, Kitty liked it because she could hide underneath but still see us coming in enough time to jump out, and Elma, the only one of my three children who has ever had a blankie (a now remarkably grey-beige Debbie Bliss Alphabet Blanket) observed, planned, and at one bedtime executed a graceful coup by declaring that there was no way she could ever ever get to sleep unless she had both her blankie and “Mama-blankie”. It’s been on her bed ever since.

Space for the Butterflies - Cosy Cottage Ripple Blanket, Attic 24

Even though I’ve got more than enough projects around here to keep me busy, even though I’m making a little mouse, and I’m really enjoying knitting Kitty’s cardigan, there’s a part of me that misses the blanket.  It was my companion for so many months; the thing I picked up when I didn’t want to think, I just wanted to do, and it honestly feels strange now that it’s all done.

And you know where this one’s going don’t you! I haven’t done any actual shopping just yet, but I have got the next blanket all picked out; and possibly the one after if Kitty has anything to say about it.

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On

 

Family

Eleven years

23/04/2017

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Yesterday was John and my eleventh wedding anniversary. We celebrated in style; I gave him eight cans of Carling and he gave me a night away in a Travelodge without him.

I promise it’s more romantic than it sound. The Carling was a final flourish, an evening of beer and football before what I’m reliably informed his training group have called ‘Get Ripped May’ (I know, I think they could do better too) as the first of his warm up half marathons approaches in a few weeks. Apparently Get Ripped May starts on Monday despite that being 24th of April so Saturday and Sunday night are the last chance for an indulgence.

And my night away? Every three years my college holds a dinner for every student past and present who read Jurisprudence. Its mostly people who are still in the legal profession who come back so it’s a great opportunity to catch up with old friends, only a couple of whom I ever see in a work context, and we all get to have a nice catch up and gossip while we drink something lovely from the college cellars and worry about how young the current students look when we ourselves only left five minutes ago. This year the current undergraduates were born after we matriculated which made us all feel extraordinarily old.

That I went at all, and that I got to stay over so I didn’t have to leave half way through to catch the last train, says more to me that I am loved than any big sweeping gesture ever could.

John is my rock, the person who knows me better than I know myself, and who looks out for me and supports me no matter what. He’ll tell me in no uncertain terms if I’m overthinking something or worrying about stupid things, and the voice in the back of my head that says that I can do it.

He taught me how to catch and the names of a number of now former Celtic players and I introduced him to the concept of vegetables other than potatoes and mushrooms. We are each other’s counterpoint.

Happy Anniversary love; don’t eat all the cheesecake ’til I get home.

Family Handmade

A slightly less teeny tiny baby knit {handmade}

21/04/2017

You’ll never guess what I made this week!

As it turns out, when you make a baby jumper for your teeny tiny preemie nephew, and it actually fits (unlike anything else his parents have been able to lay their hands on), you might just get a little request for another one.

Space for the Butterflies - Preemie Baby Kimono in Rowan Pure Wool DK

Fortunately for the tiny nephew he is utterly irresistible and has his Auntie Carie well and truly wrapped around his unbelievable teeny little finger, and so I cast on.

I went stash diving for the yarn this time; in part because it was the Easter weekend and I wasn’t going near any good yarn shops, in part because even I must admit that my stash is not teeny tiny and the more I knit now the fewer boxes I have to justify when it comes to the big house move.  I also have some lovely yarn in the stash in small amounts so it’s a treat to pull it out and start knitting.

Space for the Butterflies - Preemie Baby Kimono in Rowan Pure Wool DK

It’s a gorgeous soft Rowan pure wool DK which might have been called Cloud.  I’d tell you for certain but despite repeatedly reminding myself to keep hold of the ball band, and being certain that I’d tucked it into the inside pocket of my handbag to make doubly sure, now that I’m sitting down to write a blog post I can’t find it for the life of me.  It will almost certainly turn up exactly as this post goes live and I will keep it as a reminder that I really really need to tidy my desk. Space for the Butterflies - Preemie Baby Kimono in Rowan Pure Wool DK

As for the pattern and the knitting, it’s more or less a case of rinse and repeat from last week.  Feedback from Rosie was that the buttons were a bit high on the first version where I’d set them in line with the side seam; not uncomfortably so, but enough to make the neckline a bit snug, so for this version I set them as low as possible, and slightly in from the seam to make it a bit bigger.  My theory is that if the body of the cardigan it a little on the baggy side that’s not the end of the world because they can always pad out the baby nephew with a vest and babygro and he’ll still keep toasty warm, but if the sleeves are too long they get in the way and get chewed on, and are no fun for anyone, so the sleeves are all exactly the same teeny tiny two inches as before.

Space for the Butterflies - Preemie Baby Kimono in Rowan Pure Wool DK

The buttons are likewise from the button jar (formerly my Mum’s spaghetti jar, now serving a much higher purpose) and I have absolutely no idea where they came from, nor why I have only two. As I usually buy random buttons in threes I can only assume that there’s a three button cardigan out there somewhere with dove grey spotty buttons, and they’re a lovely combination of fun without being overwhelming, so if I ever spot them again I’ll have to restock.

Without such pesky things as work to get in the way this took me precisely a day to knit, it went in the post on Tuesday as planned and is now being alternated with last week’s blue version while its wearer does a stunning rotation of growing, sleeping and eating while being generally adored by all and sundry.  One of these days when he’s big and strong and nearly as tall as me I’ll get him to hold them as proof that once he was so very small, but for now he has some growing to do. Space for the Butterflies - Preemie Baby Kimono in Rowan Pure Wool DK

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On

 

Family Sponsored Post

The Butterflies film festival: films we ought to have seen, but haven’t

20/04/2017

If the sudden flurry of blog posts hadn’t given it away, this week I’m on holiday.  I should have been working yesterday and Tuesday but a case settled and suddenly a long weekend turned into a whole week off.  We thought long and hard about going on an adventure, but northern France was nixed by my current lack of passport, the weather wasn’t entirely tempting for the UK, and we decided that the grown up, responsible, buying a house sort of a thing to do would be to have a staycation.  At the beginning of the week I unearthed our local Ordnance Survey map and started planning some new to us circular walks to get us all out and about in the sunshine. Yesterday we headed back to the yellow fields of my Siblings photos to see where the path went, and had a wonderful walk ending up in a picnic by the little lake, and today we’re planning on heading a little way away to Hatton, where the canal rises 45 metres through 21 locks over about about a two mile span.  It’s crazy wonderful engineering and a favourite spot of ours.

And when the children head off to bed I’ve been rediscovering what an evening without work looks like.  John and I have been hosting our very own tv and film festival.  We may not have a cinema in the basement, or something like a UHD TV Panasonic, it’s just us curled up on the sofa with a bottle of beer, a glass of pink for me, a little something purloined from the children’s Easter Egg hunt booty, and our version of cinema lighting – keeping the little spotlight on so I can see to knit, but it’s a lot of fun.  Years ago we had another mini film festival in which we watched a whole load of classics that one or both of us hadn’t seen, the sort that get quoted or referred to all the time but it turns out that you’ve never actually seen.  I can genuinely say that I’ve seen Casablanca (and loved it), and Brief Encounter (and loved the Victoria Wood spoof more), as well as Meet me in St Louis and all four hours of Gone with the Wind .  This week we decided to repeat it, albeit that some of the choices are a little bit more modern than last time.

So, this is our list for this week: another five films we really ought to have seen, but haven’t yet:

Space for the Butterflies - a festival of the films we've never watched, but really ought to see

The Breakfast Club

It’s no secret that Pitch Perfect is one of my favourite films; I love both the first film and the sequel, I’m very curious to see what they do with the third film, and the soundtrack has been the background to many a late night tapping away at the laptop.  The Breakfast Club is part of the inspiration for the Barden Bella’s finale (and yes, a plot device to get the two leads back together, but we can forgive them that).  I know very little about it, I think I only heard of it from Pitch Perfect; but surely one good film could only recommend another?

Dirty Dancing

I know what you’re thinking; I’m a child of the 80’s, how have I not seen Dirty Dancing? It’s a bit like admitting you haven’t seen Top Gun (which I have to the point that I can quote large chunks of it – sometimes it’s worrying what your brain chooses to retain), and in truth I suspect that I’ve seen snippets when I was in my teens, just not enough to have enough conscious recollection of the plot to tie together the fragments.  I suspect and hope in equal parts that it will be utterly 80’s cheese, although both John and I retain a full veto if something is just too corny to cope with.

The Ladykillers

We’re talking the original 1955 Ealing version here.  I have actually seen this before but John hasn’t so it makes the list.  I think I was relatively young when I first saw this, probably in my early teens, along with Kind Hearts and Coronets which should definitely be the second film in an Alec Guiness double bill.  It’s a brilliantly dark film and hilariously funny and knocks the 2004 remake into a cocked hat.

When Harry Met Sally

Well yes, I’ve seen that lunch scene, because you really have to have been living under a rock not to have at least encountered a clip in passing, but truly I’ve never seen the whole film so I have very little idea how it works in context.  It’s another 80’s effort, which seems to be a popular theme for this week’s festival so I’m hoping for big hair and giant mobile phones as well as a very good Nora Ephron plot.

Pool of London

Of a fairly eclectic selection, this takes the crown for unexpected. Pool of London is another 50’s film from Ealing studios; this time a drama about a heist in the City.  It gets fairly good reviews but we know if from Compton Verney.  Last year the featured exhibition was all about 50’s style and design.  It was beautifully curated, especially the mocked up rooms and the enviable collection of vintage dresses, and it only reinforced my love of mid century design.  In one corner was a mocked up 50’s cinema, complete with vintage red velvet seats and a projector showing Pool of London.  It’s not exactly a film for the tiniest among us, so we watched for a little bit and then headed onwards, and ever since I’ve had the IMDb page open on my phone to remind me that we really are going to watch it all the way through, and so it makes our list.

All we need now is for the children to sleep deeply and peacefully tonight and we can declare our festival open.  But if you were doing the same, what would be on your list? What films have you never seen but always meant to?

Thank you to Panasonic who commissioned this article. If you are interested in collaborating on a post, please take a look at my Work With Me page