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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 

Family Sponsored Post

Clothes for tall girls

18/04/2017

My mother made my final primary school summer dress.  At the time I thought that she just loved making clothes for me, and as the apple never falls far from the tree that’s probably fairly true, but looking back I’m beginning to wonder whether it wasn’t more than that – in all the trousers and shorts and sundresses, why did she make a school dress.  Blue gingham and white piping isn’t exactly the first thing you’d reach for as a creative outlet.  I strongly suspect that the answer is that she couldn’t actually get a school dress that was long enough for 10 year old me.  We’d already done the letting down of every available millimetre on my winter pinafore and moving the buttons on the shoulder straps (and the “just pull it down a bit if you walk past the headmistress and I’m sure you’ll be fine”), desperate to eek it out until the end of the Lent term. The previous summer’s dress, which would go on to drown my younger sister, just wan’t going to cut it.

Space for the Butterflies - clothes for tall girls

The benefit of hindsight comes with the realisation that I’m at that stage again, only this time as a mother of a very tall daughter.  I don’t know exactly how tall Kitty is right now, but she’s easily chest height on me and I’m 6’0″. Her Dad is 6’1″, her Grandpa 6’2″ and her Grannie (my mum) was regularly called ‘Little Mama’ coming in at 5’8″.  Kit was never going to be petite, and if she stops anywhere shorter than me I’ll be very surprised.  Last year she started the school year in age 7-8 and finished in age 9 summer dresses, and now, while she doesn’t have a uniform, she’s rapidly growing out of age 10 clothes.

Space for the Butterflies - clothes for tall girls

Which means two things.  Firstly, she’s growing out of the awesome clothes with penguins and robots and yellow submarines. And secondly, it’s becoming really difficult to find age-appropriate clothes that do actually fit her.

I can’t dress her in glittery tweeny clothes, not just because they’re just not appropriate and bring out just a smidgen of feminist rage at the conditioning of young women by the clothing choices available to them, but because they dictate the way in which people react to her.  If you’re out and about with a six year old who looks like she’s a six year old and she started being very six, especially at the end of term when she’s a bit overwhelmed, I imagine that people will give you a wry smile if they’re fellow parents.  A six year old being very six, who looks like she’s easily 10, and you get the looks and all the silent judgment you don’t need.  I’m fairly resilient when it comes to being judged on my parenting by strangers, but it isn’t fair to her.  If she’s having a wobble, the last thing she needs as she tries to get back in control of her emotions is to feel people watching her, and she’s aware enough and smart enough to pick up on that.  I would do her a disservice if I dressed her up to be all grown up before her time.

Space for the Butterflies - clothes for tall girls

To date she’s been forced to continue wearing despite serious shortages in sleeve length grown through some of my favourite baby brands, and it’s always taken me slightly by surprise because in my head she’s exactly the size a six year old ought to be.  When she grows out of her current bits and bobs from Frugi that’s it, there are no more sizes. There’s one more size to go in most of Boden and we’re out of most of the Scandinavian brands, although thank goodness Mini Rodini run on the large size – this penguin shirt is a size 116/122 (usually branded as age 6) and it still just about fits. Just. About. If you don’t look too closely.

Space for the Butterflies - clothes for tall girls

shop Mini Rodini clothing (especially the Unicorn dress which I shall have to hunt down for Kitty – we’re in a very unicorn phase!)

Suddenly I have a lot of sympathy for my mother, who did all of this without the internet, and with fairly limited options nearby (though I had some awesome tie dye thanks to living near Totnes).

I wonder whether it ever crossed my mum’s mind as she taught me how to sew, that one day I might need those very skills (and her very own overlocker) to make clothes for another very tall little girl? I’m very glad she did, though I’m equally glad I’m not called to tackle gingham.

Space for the Butterflies - clothes for tall girls

Space for the Butterflies - clothes for tall girls

And now I’m throwing open the comments for your help.  What do I not know about, what brands are there out there that make gorgeous colourful kid clothes that come in size tall?

Space for the Butterflies - clothes for tall girls

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

 

Family Siblings

Siblings 2017: April

15/04/2017

When I first thought about being a mother, and having a child, my imagination conjured up tiny babies in impossibly cute outfits, who would snooze in the shade of a cherry blossom tree and giggle as they mushed yoghurt into their hair.  Some of that came to pass (though not so much the snoozing), but those were the baby days, and as motherhood for me always started with a baby, my imagination wasn’t too far off the mark.

But when I thought about having multiple children, what it would be like for those imaginary babies to have imaginary siblings, I skipped ahead past the big sibling doting on the new baby stage, past the new sibiling wondering when the baby will start to be any fun, and past the new sibling trying to feed the baby yoghurt while your back is turned, to pretty much where we are now.

I could and can see my little ones sprinting around the place, causing chaos and destruction and utter joy in equal measure.  They are my little band of three, they each have their own slightly different relationship with the other two, but together they have a collective will that gets only stronger with every month and was no more apparent than when we headed out on then adventure when these photos were taken.

Even after living here for twelve years there are still placed I haven’t explored and roads we’ve just never been down, but our hunt for a yellow field took me down a dead end that I’d assumed only went as far as the farm.  In fact it kept going and going and that glimpse of yellow that we’d spotted in the distance turned out to be a gorgeous field in full bloom right next to Chesterton church with a bridleway running straight through it.

And so we went exploring.

We may have taken a few wrong turns on the bridleway down the wide tractor lines than carved patterns through the field, but for the littlest two, who couldn’t see over the top, running down the paths and hiding away so they couldn’t see me was the height of excitement.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings Monthly Photo Project

The field is big enough that we never got to the other side, and I’m definitely saving that up for another day when they’re all feeling a bit picklish and we need to get out of the house.

I love this picture of Kitty – both feet off the ground and flying.

It was a beautiful sunny evening; all the golden light that I’ve missed through the winter and a warm wind to set the rapeseed dancing.  It smelt like sunshine and sneezes and the melding of spring into summer.

Trying to get all three to pose for a photo was near impossible – the girls would stand still but then Pip dash away chuckling to himself and by the time I’d get them all in the same place at the same time they were laughing fit to burst.  The girls both help in keeping hold of their brother, and I started chuckling when I saw this one pop up in my pictures:

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings Monthly Photo Project

That is ‘big sister’ for “you will stand here until Mama takes this photo and don’t even think of running away”!  I’d say poor Pip but he adores Kitty, largely I suspect because she can enact all of his thoughts of mischief and mayhem that require a slightly longer reach.

And so my little trio grow another month older, another month nearer to our next big house move adventure, and ever more tightly knit together.

Two little sisters, and their brother too, in April

 

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings Monthly Photo Project

Do go and say hi to my co-hosts: Donna at What the Redhead Said Natalie at Little Jam Pot Life,  Keri-Anne at GingerLily Tea, Amber at Meet the Wildes, Katie at Mummy Daddy Me and of course the mastermind behind the whole thing, Lucy at Dear Beautiful.  And then link up your Siblings posts below, and if you’re joining in on Instagram if you use the hashtag #siblingsproject and tag @siblings_project_ we’ll be able to see them too!



The Me and Mine Project