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

 

Handmade Knitting

Tiny Baby Knits {handmade}

14/04/2017

I didn’t start knitting after the phone call came, nor after the news came of my tiny nephew’s appearance in the world, or even after I’d been to see him.  He was still in an incubator, only just starting to wear a vest, and the world of a full set of clothing, including knitwear, seemed a very long way off.  But this boy likes to keep us all on our toes, and at a week and a half old he’d jumped through every milestone with flying colours and was on his way home.

Which is where I came in.  It’s a long running joke among knitters that it’s a good job our families don’t need us to knit their socks and hats and jumpers and the rest because we like making complicated things that can occasionally be abandonned in a fit of pique, rather than churning out workhorse woolies because winter is coming.  But when you’re trying to keep a teeny tiny wee boy snuggly warm, the problem is that you can’t get that many teeny tiny little knits.  It’s probably a lack of demand because there aren’t that many 3lb 11oz babies out and about needing to be kept warm.

Space for the Butterflies - Preemie Baby Kimono

In fact, Rosie thought she’d found exactly one cardigan, and even then it was a bit big.  It was never a matter of life or death or anything approaching ye olden days levels of discomfort; they have an excellent central heating system and lots of blankets.  But it is true that it’s easier to keep a baby warm if they’re tucked up in something that fits, and it has to be true that when you’re parenting a preemie baby that you’ve only just got to bring home from the hospital, and everyone’s first comment is how incredibly tiny he is, having him in a nice cosy cardigan that looks the right size must normalise the situation.  If his clothes fit, then it’s not too scary that he arrived at 34 weeks.

We found a pattern that she thought looked good that Wednesday night, I bought the ball of yarn on Thursday, knit all through Thursday evening and into a teeny bit of Friday until the yarn ran out, bought more yarn on Friday, knit on Friday evening, sewed seams, crocheted ties and sewed on buttons.

On Saturday morning I gave it as good a block as I could manage, hovering the iron just above it and pumping steam through until it looked nice and neat.  It isn’t as perfect as a wet block, but there was no time, and by midmorning Saturday it was in the post. Space for the Butterflies - Preemie Baby Kimono

The yarn is Rowan Baby Merino Silk. It’s a great yarn for baby knits because it’s machine washable, it’s as soft as butter, and natural fibres will help its tiny wearer regulate his body temperature.

Space for the Butterflies - Preemie Baby Kimono

The pattern is called Baby Kimono, it’s a free pattern and has plenty of small baby sizes starting with preemie, for a baby with a 12″ chest.  Aside from the yarn amounts being out by a shoulder and a sleeve, it’s a clever pattern, knit sleeve to sleeve, with a cross over front for extra warmth.

Knitting it took every ounce of willpower to overide my default settings of “just add a couple of inches”, in this case the sleeves are only two inches long, the fronts and back aren’t much bigger and I alternated between fear that it would be too small and fear that it would be too big.

Space for the Butterflies - Preemie Baby Kimono

For a sense of scale, I have medium sized hands.

In the end the only thing I could do was to wait; and on Monday I got this picture.

Space for the Butterflies - Preemie Baby Kimono

A perfect fit, anda picture that more than anything gives you a sense of just how small he is.  The model has now commissioned a second in a pale glacier blue which I’m aiming to put in the post on Tuesday so it’s time to get knitting again.

I’ve said before that to wear handknits is to be wrapped up in the love of the maker and it’s truer than ever in this case.  I’ve met the wee nephew but I couldn’t touch him (hospital rules about infection prevention), and I’m too far away now, and surrounded by too many miniature harbingers of germs of my own for us all to go and visit until he’s a bit bigger, both to see him, and to be a support for my sister, but this, this I can do.  Even a tiny jumper has hundreds of stitches, each a testament that he, and she, are so very loved.

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

Blogging Inspiration

Five Podcasts to inspire your morning

12/04/2017

Space for the Butterflies - Five Podcasts for a Wednesday

My school run day is Wednesday; I work from home and so I do both school runs with the girls, sometimes with Pip too but often leaving him at home to have one day a week when he’s not spending a large chunk of it in the car.  It’s 35 minutes each way, and as there’s only so much breakfast radio you can take I’ve found myself getting back into listening to lots and lots of podcasts again.  Years ago I used to listen and knit on the morning commute but then the 4G signal got a bit better along the train line and I spent more time blogging and playing on Instagram instead, and I’ve been rapidly remembering what I’ve been missing.

So here are my (and the girls’) current favourite five:

Blogtacular

I’m certain I’ve told you all about the Blogtacular podcast back when it first started and it’s gone from strength to strength.  Kat has interviewed some amazing creative people, and as well as having career envy multiple times over, I love that it shows how there are as many approaches to a creative work and life as there are people wanting to do it.  If nothing else it’s inspiration to never give up.  It’s also my girls’ favourite of my choice of podcasts; so far in the last few weeks of term Kitty has decided that she wants to be a potter/t-shirt designer/maker of pretty things and she wants to come to Blogtacular (maybe when she’s older!). We listen to half on the way to school and half on the way back and by the time we’re home, both girls have usually come up with a crafty masterplan for the afternoon off the back of it.

Hashtag Authentic

Sara, of both Me and Orla and Me and Mark Hamill fame started her podcast at the end of January planning to do one episode a month.  Well we’re at episode 10 now and I’ll happily admit that of all my current podcasts, this is the one I go to first for a new episode. They are a mixture of interviews with creative people and thoughts about photography and social media from the queen of Instagram. If you have ever suffered from imposter syndrome and self doubt (which is every single one of us), her most recent interview with Sas Petherick is a must listen.

So you want to be a writer

This is a one of those podcasts where I have absolutly no idea how I found it.  Valerie Khoo and Allison Tait are both Australian writers and every week they get together through the internet to host a podcast.  They talk about what they’re working on, pick out some interesting things that have been going on in the world of writing or that apply to writers and discuss their word of the week.  Their interviews are with people that to be honest I’ve not usually heard of, but actually that makes it all the more interesting because I don’t have any preconceptions about what they write about, or how successful they are, and I usually end up trying to track down a fair few on Amazon so at the very least it’s introducing me to some new to me authors. They’re at episode 164 right now which is a wealth of tips and information to dip into.  I haven’t listened to no 164 yet, but as it’s headed “write an award winning screen play on your commute”, it really need to be next on the list, and it ties in quite nicely to my next choice.

Act On This TV

OK, bear with me for a second.  It’s true that I reprised a stoic role as ‘non speaking townsperson’ in every single nativity of my junior school career, and I loved being in the plays I did in senior school, but my drive and ambition is not directed at breaking into acting.  So why I am I listening to an acting podcast?  Each episode is a replay of Ross Grant’s Monday and Wednesday periscopes and are all part of the Act on This network, and while some of the podcasts focus on things that are very acting-focussed, most are applicable to anyone with a dream and the passion to follow it, and they are all about not giving up, stopping procrastinating and getting going.

Monday’s periscope was about the five excuses you make for giving up, disected and discarded over the course of an hour. It left me feeling a little bit as though someone had taken my shell off, but in a good way.

John likes this one too, but as a storm warning it’s definitely not one for when the kids are in the car too, both for language and the style of delivery. They’re also on YouTube, which is where I came across them; I’ve no idea what I watched to make YouTube recommend it, but I’m glad it did.

Sparkle Stories

And last but by no means least, this is one for the kids, as recommended by all three of my children.  Every week the Sparkle Stories podcast reads a story from their vast catalogue of tales for the under 10s (available by subscription to the main site).  If you’re British then they are read in an American accent, but it’s a very gentle accent adn the stories themselves are simple without being boring and very peaceful to listen to.  We have them in the car after a hard day or if one of the girls is really struggling to get to sleep we’ll dig through the list for a Sparkle Sleepytime to see if that helps.

So there are my five current favourite podcasts; what are yours?

 

 

Family Photography {the ordinary moments}

Sunny Nights

08/04/2017

While I love many things about winter, by the time Spring comes around I am more than ready to have my daylight back.  When you get up in the dark, go to work in the dark, see the daylight only as the square of the window. and then come home in the dark, by the end of March all aspersions towards Hygge or the latest pseudo-nordic counter to the winter blues have long since faded and I’m ready to great the sunlight.

It should be obvious, but it does make getting up in the morning just that little bit less of a struggle; somehow it just feels right, and it’s nice not to have to scrape ice off the car.

My first day of Spring isn’t necessarily 21st March, though it’s pretty close. It’s the first day that it’s still light enough to take photos after I get home from work.  Even though I haven’t yet rushed home from work and dashed to the camera, just to know that I can, that the part of me that itches to take photos isn’t confined to weekends and Wednesdays, feels like the pressure to get it right first time has eased up a little.

Space for the Butterflies - Sunny Nights

The girls broke up from kindergarten and nursery on Wednesday and to celebrate, as the clock hit 5pm I abandoned the laptop for a couple of hours in favour of taking them out from under their Daddy’s feet (because de-mob happy and cooking do not mix) and the four of us headed down to the woods for a little wander.

Space for the Butterflies - Sunny Nights

It was the most beautiful evening, soft and warm and the woods seemed all but deserted.  The path leads through trees that in a few weeks will be surrounded by bluebells but now have a carpet of lilac white wood anenomes.  They’re incredible pretty with just a whisper of magic about them, even as the girls ran through them in search of puddles.

Space for the Butterflies - Sunny Nights

Space for the Butterflies - Sunny Nights

It’s been pretty dry here for a couple of weeks at least, but our woods are to puddles and squishy mud what alpine mountaintops are to snow, and for every nice dry detour around the edge, the centre remains satisfyingly damp and squidgy.  It was only a matter of time before one of them fell over, and Pip took the honours, entirely unfazed and only pausing for a moment before heading off to find the next.  We only had half an hour or so before it was time to head home for supper (and back to the laptop for me), but we puddle jumped, found tiny baby bird feathers by the side of the field, and added a couple of sticks to our favourite den.

Space for the Butterflies - Sunny Nights

As the time for us to make our move comes nearer, with or without a house to move into, it brings into sharp focus, just how many memories have been made in the places we all but take for granted.  There have been so many photos taken in the wood, or up at the windmill, or even just at the gardens in town, and I know that we will find the places near our new home that mean as much as those that have seen so much of the story of our family.  But just as I know that, I know that I will treasure the chance to make just one more memory. It’s an extra reason to welcome the return of the sun, a reason to gather up the welly boots and push back supper for just a few minutes, and let the magic in with the light.

Space for the Butterflies - Sunny Nights

Joining Katie at Mummy Daddy Me and Donna at What the Redhead Said for The Ordinary Moments

Handmade Handmade for Baby Knitting

Iconic {handmade for baby}

07/04/2017

As I darned in the ends on my first baby surprise jacket of this year (and my 16th overall) there was a little bit of me that wondered whether or not I should be branching out with my baby knitting; whether it’s a sign of creative malaise that I hear baby and start reaching for Elizabeth Zimmerman and some nice soft squishy wool.  The rest of me however, knew that this is not just any baby cardigan, this is an iconic knit.

So far there are 25,707 baby surprise jackets shared on Ravelry, and as Ravelry is a relatively new creation and the baby surprise jacket is not, this is probably only the tip of the iceberg.  Centuries from now, archaeologists will unearth hundreds of baby boxes across the world and find the same little jacket in every colour and fibre under the rainbow, and wonder whether we considered it a good luck charm.

The mama of this baby is a very dear friend of mine, and while the baby is so completely adored that there isn’t enough knitwear in the world to represent the love that greeted his arrival, I was never not going to knit him a little something.  The challenge for me is that his mama is also very stylish; we work together and she is always beautifully dressed and put together, in contrast to my slightly more ‘this is clothes, I’ll wear it’ attitude to fashion, and her creativity has full reign when it comes to interior design.

A baby surprise jacket was the only thing that could possibly keep up.

For the colours, I’ll admit I used cushions and crowdsourcing.  Over the years we’ve discussed dream houses, scoured RightMove for the fixer uppers we’d buy when we won the lottery and had lengthy discussions about wallpaper and curtains and all the colours we would use in our houses, and grey and mustard was a popular combination.  The crowdsourcing was the rest of the team who relayed back to me all insider information on colour, mostly, no all-out baby blue.

The yarn is a combination of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (the pale blue and grey) and Rowan Wool Cotton for the mustard.  They all knit together beautifully, and more importantly, they machine wash.

The stripe pattern is entirely random; it’s the joy of knitting something you don’t have to duplicate and I just changed colours to whatever felt right.  And the joy of the baby surprise is that I don’t think there’s a way to make one of these look bad.  I love the finished jacket, at least enough to entertain me through darning in all those ends, and I think it was a hit with its small owner.

And what’s more, I’m pretty sure that the 16th will not be the last.  Before the tiny nephew arrived, my sister had asked for one for him, and while he has some growing to do, I’m sure we’ll get there in the end.  It’s a testament to the lady who, in her words, ‘unvented’ it, that it’s both so practical that it gets requests, and so incredibly fun that you just can’t stop knitting them.