Monthly Archives

January 2012


One week


You know when you have a week where everything falls into place: you get more full nights’ sleep than not; the laundry fates align so that every family member’s clothes are both clean and dry when they need them; delicious suppers materialise out of things you’d bought from a list, with a meal plan; your hair falls naturally into the bouncy glossy style only normally produced by your stylist and an army of blow drying assistants; trains run on time; and at work, opposing counsel lie like scattered dominoes, felled by the devastating power of your carefully worded legal arguments.

And then there are the weeks that counterbalance.  The ones where a twitch of your skirt has got caught up in life’s mangle, and there’s nothing to do but ride out the storm and wait for it to spit you out sodden, snotty and slightly crushed on the other side.

Where have we been? let me give you a clue.  Poor darling Kit’s cough of a week ago turned into a full blown chest infection, complete with steam-train breathing sound effects that landed us at the out of hours doctors at some tiny wee hour of a weekend morning to get mademoiselle started on antibiotics pronto.  And then just as she started to perk up, H and I, exhibiting rare synchronicity on the illness front, were taken out by the same lurgy within 24 hours of each other, just in time for H to take an exam through a cold fog momentarily held at bay by just about every over-the-counter pharmaceutical on the market. My pharmacopoeia being rather limited by the nursling, I’ve made up for it by a lot of groaning.

Last Tuesday I went down with a fever and the shivers and it wasn’t until Sunday afternoon that I started to perk up, and only today that I’ve felt even vaguely human, and that’s while speaking makes me cough, and I appear to have swallowed several golf balls.

On Saturday, having run out of, well just about everything, we ran a carefully planned mission to the butchers (for pie) and then both had to have a little lie down.  Seriously people, if you know me in real life and you haven’t had this horrid cold that’s doing the rounds – run and hide (and chain eat Vitamin C).

But life goes on, and we are on the mend, a little less:
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and a little more:
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The fairies came at the weekend and did the washing up and took us for a restorative roast lunch at the Durham Ox and you never know, if you’re very lucky, there may even be some crafty making in the offing.  Come on this week, you really can’t be worse than last week (and for the avoidance of doubt, that in no way shape or form resembled a challenge)!

Christmas Quilting Work in Progress

Seasonally appropriate quilting


Thank you for your help and suggestions for fixing my chronic inability to count.  The popular vote was for option C – pick out the offending line and fudge it somehow and, by the power of evenweave, I think I’ve managed something that looks almost as if it was supposed to be like that.  But more on that another day when I’ve had time to finish it properly and find some sunshine for some pictures.

Today we went to town, ran errands, and came home again, and then had lunch, went to town and ran the errands we forgot to do this morning.  It’s been a deja vu sort of a day, but that could just be the sleep deprivation talking. Kitty is currently combining the arrival of two new teeth (1 front, 1 molar) with a grotty cold, and to stave off the feelings of misery that clearly envelop her own bed, is showing a marked preference for sleeping on my head, preferably while simultaneously pulling my hair and kicking her father, and all three of us are wading through the sandman’s cloying glue trying not to leave our boots behind.

I’ve only been embroidering while in full possession of my facilities to prevent any more counting incidents, so in the non-nursing gaps of the evenings I’ve turned back to my sewing machine for a little quilting.

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Well I’m not sure this even counts as proper quilting.  I’ve been adding the borders to my Christmas quilt, just long long seams to add a 2.5 inch white border that will eventually be finished off with a red binding.
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The quilt in question started life as a jelly roll, and then I needed another one to get enough white background prints to have the desired effect, and then a few charm squares for the same reason.  I ended up with a good pile of charm squares left over so I’ve used them to piece the back with some Kona solids for company.

One of today’s final errands was to pop into Quilter’s Den in Warwick for some cotton wadding and deep red quilting thread, and now that Kitty is asleep (for the moment) and H has popped out to compare parenting notes with a fellow NCT class Daddy in the pub, I’m going to push back the sofa, roll up the Aquadoodle, tuck small pieces of toddler-related plastic into all available nooks and crannies, and baste baste baste.

Embroidery Work in Progress

Oh Christmas tree


With one New Year’s Resolution (Kitty’s trousers) ticked off the list, I’m feeling very January-enthusiastic and I’m motoring along with another, this time from the Crafty Creating section.

You see for someone whose craft polygamy flits from knitting to quilting (and a little sewing) and back again, I buy a lot of cross stitch magazines.  And they (particularly Cross Stitcher) frequently have beautiful patterns, and I think to myself, “I must make that, it would look cute/match perfectly/be so much fun”, and I put the magazine in a pile on my sewing room floor, and there it sits.

It isn’t such a big jump to imagine me actually doing some embroidery, I started in cross stitch, taught by my mum to sew a little red poinsettia picture to fit a dark green card one Christmas holidays, and I believe that she still owns the set of tea-napkins painstakingly embroidered by me with blue lazy-daisy flowers with a good deal of coaxing and cajoling from my grandmother when my enthusiasm wained after the second of the six (I can’t have been much more than six myself).  A folder full of DMC threads sits in a corner of my knitting box and a little bag of kits and spare fabric is tucked into a corner of my sewing room upstairs.

So in the spirit of Christmas-always, I picked up a pattern, found the fabric and one of the colours in my stash, acquired the other from Decorative Cloth, and set to.
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It is the Deck the Halls pattern from the Christmas 2011 issue, which I didn’t buy in hard copy, but found as a back issue through the ITunes Newstand.  Incidentally, Future Publishing whose stable includes Cross Stitcher, Mollie Makes, The Knitter and Simply Knitting, have launched all of the above and many of their other magazines onto ITunes with an introductory free download issue.  I don’t know how long that will last for but a free magazine is never a bad thing, particularly when it can’t add to the clutter in your house.

But back to the stitching, it’s red and white, it’s simple to sew and pretty to look at, and I’ve been enjoying stitching away to some old favourite films – the sort that you don’t actually need to look at!

But clearly, watching Persuasion (for the 100th and something time) was a bad idea.  Look carefully.  Somewhere around the time that Fredrick Wentworth realised that he did love Anne Elliott after all but was seemingly inextricably bound to Louisa Musgrove, I was counting down to position the house neatly under the snowflakes.
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It was only as I worked back up the tree, adding in the backstitch that I could see clearly that I’ve counted a row short.  There should be an extra line of canvas so that the zig zag line doesn’t touch the snowflakes, but I’ve mushed it together a bit.

Now snipping out everything underneath the zig zag line is more time consuming than it’s worth so my options are: (a) leave it, it looks fine, it’s only obvious if I point it out (b) start all over again on a fresh piece of fabric (and possibly finish this one and give it away to someone who won’t notice, or (c) snip out the zig zag line and fudge something along the lines of a shallower zig zag so that it doesn’t actually touch the snowflakes, just come close.  What would you do?

Finished Kitty Sewing

The Scoot or Cycle trousers


I am in awe of Anna Maria Horner.  Actually I’m in awe of anyone who can sit there and just visualise a sewing pattern and draft it out (although I’m pretty sure there might be a bit more work to it, and possibly a few technical courses thrown in the mix too).  Where do the ideas come from the in recesses of someone’s brain to have the back leg a little wider than the front leg to perfectly accommodate a little nappy-clad bottom, or to have a two part back yoke to give a bit more dimension where it’s most needed, and a dip at the front to take away excess poofiness?

As I said. Awe.

I’ve made the Quick Change Trousers twice now, and I can only see a growth spurt that puts Kitty way way beyond the pattern sizes and my rough and ready sizing up, putting an end to wanting to make more.  The aforementioned little touches of genius make me love them as a Mama trying to persuade a wriggly girl that clothes really are the way to go, and the pattern is written in a nice simple straightforward way, to help me (an advanced beginner on a good day) make trousers that I’m proud to send out into public.
It was -6 this morning so our photo shoot was short and sweet, and involved a lots of layers everywhere for both of us.  Kitty stepped outside in both hat and mittens but abandoned them in the herb garden before she’d taken even a few paces so we snapped, hoped for the best, and scuttled back inside.  But here they are, the Scoot or Cycle quick change trousers:


I’m torn whether I like these or the pirates best, but on a day like today, flannel lining wins the day.

Kitty certainly had no complaints which is the best you can ask for in a little girl whose vocabulary of actual words stretches little beyond Mama, Dadaaa, Yea, No, Dap (meaning “bring me! bring me that now”), Pow!, Row-row (as in Row, row, row your boat), Hiya (and variations thereon) and a whole hoard of wonderful babbling.  (When she was having her bath this evening I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, answer: “Bebe!”)

They’ve still got massive turn ups so I’m glad she’s happy wearing them because with a bit of luck they’ll last all this winter and be around for next.


The sizing up over the bottom worked really well; these have exactly the right amount of ease for her to play comfortably, with no problems getting them off and on over big nappies, and the slightly wider legs don’t cause any problems.  The next pair will definitely have the same waist and hip increases, but I might try to shape in towards the ankle back to the original pattern width to see if it makes much difference, or whether she ends up looking like she’s sporting 1920’s style jodhpurs.  I’m also seriously contemplating reversible shorts for the summer, using different fabric for each side and different again for the back yoke. It’s true, the possibilities are endless.


What you can’t see under all the layers is that the best match I have for a top half is a cream long sleeve t-shirt.  Perfectly acceptable but not very exciting, and after the last aqua marl t-shirt in the right size sold out of the Mini-Boden sale before I could get to the computer yesterday, and my favourite Molo basics don’t seem to do a turquoise, I’m a little out of ideas.  Does anyone have any suggestions for a long sleeved shirt that might match? In the meantime I’m cutting a swatch of the fabrics to carry around in my workbag and planning an onslaught on the baby shops of Birmingham during this week’s lunch hours.

The Bare Necessities

Pattern: Quick Change Trousers from Handmade Beginnings
Size: 18-24 months (the largest size) with 0.5 inch added to the outside of each pattern piece.
Fabric: Sherbet Pips Pink Skaters (cotton) and Michael Miller Bicycles (cotton flannel) both from Fabricworm in their Thanksgiving sale – I can’t see either on their site at the time of writing.
Time to make: an evening for the cutting out, two naps and another evening to finish – about 6 hours start to finish.
Would I make it again: Yes. Definitely. Watch this space.

Family Work in Progress

Winter, as in igloos and eskimos and penguins and ICE!


It turns out that I may have been a tad over-optimistic in putting the laundry out yesterday!

From one of the mildest winters in my memory we’ve jumped down the thermometer 10 degrees or so, although it’s not a patch on last year, when a brisk minus two was the daily high. Even so, the world outside today is covered with a brittle of ice, like a white cold creme brulee. 

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The fuchsias that had decided that it was spring have been scorched by the ice and defrosted into a pulpy mush, but these delicate pink berries seem to be holding up.  I don’t actually know what they are; they grow over the fence each year to greet the new year, and I think they’re beautiful.  Answers on a postcard/in the comments if you’ve any ideas.
The barbeque, sat outside patiently waiting all through the summer for the promised warm weather, could do double duty as a freezer, and it is to my great regret that Kitty’s trousers

say “Ahoy there matey”, and not the more appropriate “Shiver me Timbers”.

We had Kitty’s slide out in the lounge today so a lot of the day has been spent first lifting her up to the top, and then stretching out a watchful hand or two just in case when she figured out how to climb the steps.  I did manage a little sewing last night and this afternoon while Mademoiselle la princess took a petite nap.

Her newest trousers are finished, I just need some daylight and a cheerful girl to take some pictures, but there’ve been distractions today, aside from the slide, the first instalment of Kitty’s Christmas present to me arrived yesterday, and it’s an addictive read: