Monthly Archives

December 2014

Christmas Elma Family Kitty Me and Mine Milestones Photography Pip

Me and Mine – a family portrait for December

31/12/2014

I think everyone that joins in with the Me and Mine project regularly will say that one of the nicest things about it is having the pictures that you wouldn’t have taken if you weren’t being prompted to find a picture with all of you in it. And it’s true, before I started this project 18 months ago, I had pictures of all of us on high days, holidays and that was about it if we were lucky.

I’m quite good at remembering to take pictures of all of us on birthdays now, or to celebrate some special moment, but I’ll admit this is the first time I think I’ve ever actually managed to take a picture of the whole family on Christmas day.  Christmas photos, yes, photos with the tree in the background yes, but organising the whole family into the right spot, hoping for good light and having time to take photos in between church and presents and roasting turkeys and making yorkshire pudding batter, well it doesn’t usually happen.

But this year Christmas Day dawned bright and sunny, I discovered that in moving around the furniture earlier in the year I’d moved the play kitchen to the perfect spot to stand in for the tripod, and after that all we needed was a bit of luck, and the remote trigger to pay attention.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

 

So here we are, our first photo of the family on our first Christmas Day as a family of five, Kitty and Elma in beautiful Christmas dresses, Pip dressed in a reindeer babygro and the ‘My First Christmas’ t-shirt that his cousin wore only last year, while H and I wore the clothes that were the least covered in baby drool – well at least they were when we put them on.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

 

I’m sat on my knees which is why I seem to be so much taller than everyone else, and I rather suspect the book on family portraits that’s sat under the tree behind me is going to come in handy over the next year; I still harbour dreams of photos where everyone is looking at the camera and even looking vaguely happy about it – Elma looks mostly hungry in these pictures, which I think is why she’s clutching the bag of mini party rings from her stocking.

But I don’t really see all of that when I look at these pictures. They are in some ways the tipping off point for my memories, not the memories themselves.  I look at them and smell the cooking coming from the kitchen, see the sunshine coming dancing in and showing up the cobwebs and hear Kitty’s excited voice “and then can we open a present!”.

I see joy, and celebration, and I see my little family, at Christmas.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

 

dear beautiful

Christmas Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Pip Pip Quilting Sewing

A Kaleidoscope of Snow {handmade for Pip}

30/12/2014

Before we welcome in the New Year there’s just one more little make that I want to share with you.  It’s arguably the most important, after all Pip will have grown out of his jumper by Easter, the girls’ hats might still fit them next year, but a stocking, a stocking is for all the Christmases still to come.  I’m still using the one my Mum made me some thirty something years after it was first laid out underneath a Christmas tree.

It makes it special, but also means there’s a decent amount of pressure to get it right, to make something that is beautiful, suits the personality of a baby you’ve only just got to know, and will be something that they’ll treasure all through their childhoods.

I know that Kitty and Elma love their stockings because they pounce on them as soon as they come out of the Christmas box and because almost a week later they’re still being used to carry around their dearest treasures and I hope Pip likes his just as much.  I like it, and right now that’s probably what really matters.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

The inspiration was snow. Beautiful big fat feathery flakes of snow, drifting gently down and piling up into deep powdery drifts, just perfect for snow angels and snowmen and rolling in and all the things I can only dream of because we live in England and the whole country grinds to a halt for anything more exciting than a heavy frost.  It was to give Pip a guarantee of a snowy first Christmas and all the Christmases to come, even if the weather won’t quite play ball with my plans.

I started out thinking about appliqué, imagining a dark blue background covered in tiny unique snowflakes, but I couldn’t work out how to get the flakes as fine as I would want them, and I didn’t want to embroider them which seemed the obvious solution so I shelved that plan and started to think in shapes. Stars, hexagons, diamonds, and then, triangles. Equilateral triangles, from a variety of snowy and Christmassy fabric, all sewn together and then cut into a stocking shape. I could do the piecing on the machine (always a plus when time is of the essence) and I even had a couple of red and icy blue fabrics in the stash to start me off.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

I love red, white and an almost duck egg blue as a wintery combination; it’s the colours in my christmas quilt and my felt paper chains so it’s not really a surprise that I went with my favourites for Pip’s stocking, adding in a little air force blue and deep midnight for depth and to pull together all of the snowy or starry fabrics we could find in the fabric shop.  I’m not sure what any of them are; I bought fat quarters and my quarter didn’t get the selvedge information, but they’re all quilting cottons and there are seven of them.

The triangles are cut following Lorna’s instructions for cutting and piecing equilateral triangle quilts at Sew Fresh Quilts (which are fantastic – really nice and clear, especially the cutting instructions) and then I laid out a pattern that I thought might be big enough to fit my stocking pattern piece.  It wasn’t.  As I sewed the triangles into rows I started to add to either end, and once I started piecing the rows together I added a couple of extra rows but in the end I had nine rows of triangles with a finished height of 2.5 inches (cut from strips that were 3.25 inches wide).  The second side went together much more easily because I wasn’t trying to work it out as I went along and is a mirror image of the first.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Mirrored, yes, identical to the point of seam matching down the spine, not always – I’m just not that good at piecing!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

And then it was just a little matter of laying out my trusty stocking pattern, cutting out a front and back and two lining pieces (from a lovely white on white snowflake pattern), layering them up and sewing them together. And as a finishing touch, a little red binding and a loop of snowflake ribbon.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

I think it’s got a little bit of that feeling when you stand outside when it’s snowing and stare upward as the flakes whirl at you seemingly out of nowhere; snowfall in a kaleidoscope, beautiful and ever so slightly mesmerising.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family lifeB

ut most importantly of all, and this is crucial, (a) I finished it on time, and (b) it is exactly the same size as Kitty and Elma’s!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Christmas Elma Family Kitty Photography Pip

Christmas 2014

29/12/2014

A thud as two little bare feet hit the floor next door, the flump of a bunny and a blanket being pulled along for company, a pitter patter, and around the corner of the doorframe came a little face radiating excitement.

“Is it Christmas!!!!?” said Kitty.

And it was. And with Elma and Pip awake and fed we all piled downstairs to see whether Father Christmas had eaten both the mince pie (Elma’s choice) and the ‘spicy biscuit’ (ginger biscuits lovingly made by Kitty), and whether Rudolf had enjoyed the carrot (yes, yes and yes).

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

We sat in the glow of the tree and watched while the girls explored their stockings and helped Pip to his, and then opened up our own little collection of lovely bits and bobs; a new tape measure, more washi tape and some of my favourite dairy free chocolate in mine, and washi tape (are you sensing a theme here), chocolate sprouts and most impressively a Lego batman that shines light out of his feet when you press his tummy (which I keep finding behind the curtains accompanied by one or both of my daughters).

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

We ate breakfast as a gorgeously bright winter sun appeared over the hedge and flooded the lounge with light, and then we rushed around to get dressed and headed off down the hill to church. There were carols and a dear friend to share singing the ‘twidly bits’ with, a church family drawn even closer in joy and celebration and even more impressively a small Pip who actually stayed awake for the service, bestowing beaming smiles on all and sundry, quite to the surprise of many friends who usually only see the top of his sleeping head tucked up in the sling.

And then home to finish up the roast turkey, with all the usual trimmings plus yorkshire puddings, to pour the champagne, to try to persuade Elma not to eat all of her stocking chocolate just before lunch, and to settle down into a day of being just the five of us in our very first Christmas as a five.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Pip was I suspect largely unaware that this was any more special than any other day; he paid polite attention to his presents being unwrapped but I rather suspect that for him the highlights were his sisters’ giggles, cuddles and tickles from his Daddy, and when things got a bit too much, the safety of the sling, and snuggling down on Mummy for a little nap.   But the girls, oh they just couldn’t contain their excitement, and there was one little pile that seemed to call to them more than all the others.

A little pile of flat wide slightly squishy parcels, wrapped in Frozen paper.  We started there:

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Two dressing up dresses, the one thing that Kitty had asked for from every Father Christmas she encountered, and her face says it all.  I don’t think there’s been a day since that she hasn’t worn it, and Elma is just as excited by her Anna dress (not least because it has a cape!).Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

But what was that. Two more flat squishy parcels, smaller, but a very similar shape ….

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

…well if the girls are going to dress up as Anna and Elsa then why shouldn’t Dully and Monkey too!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

It’s possibly my favourite memory of this Christmas, my little girls and their teddies, all dressed up and hopping with excitement.

And there was more to come. New stories, building blocks, fairy ribbon wands to twirl in giant circles, and all sorts of pots, pans and a very gorgeous kettle for the play kitchen.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

We went slowly, knowing that we weren’t in any sort of rush, and wanting to savour and enjoy each present as it came, and it was truly lovely to see how happy each little treasure made them.  It meant that we still had a little unwrapping to do on Boxing Day, but that’s no bad thing, and for the most part we managed to avoid any full scale meltdowns, though Kitty started to flag towards the end of the day and teeter on the edge for a while.  I think in years to come we might slow down even more.

I know it’s really cheesy to say that my favourite part of Christmas is finally getting to give my family their presents but it’s true.  I love trying to think of new and interesting things for people, and then when I’ve got them, I’m just itching to share the secret. It’s not to say that I don’t adore the things I was given; I have a reading pile a foot high and when I unwrapped the family’s present to me I may have sighed in happiness, hugged it, petted it and just sat there adoring it for a little while (it’s a Kitchen Aid mixer, something I’ve longed for but didn’t think was within the realms of possibility); but I was so looking forward to seeing the girls’ faces when they unwrapped their dresses, and by the time we got to giving H his present I may have been found just sitting giggling in the corner.  He’s been talking about visiting Paris and the Musee d’Orsay for a while and while it’s out of the question for the five of us at the moment, and a family trip wouldn’t have much time for sketching anyway, there was nothing to say that he couldn’t go by himself.  So we got him a Eurostar ticket, got in touch with his boss and secretly booked him a couple of days of work, and wrapped up his passport; it was brilliant. I’ve also promised to lend him my big camera for the day, so we can expect a lot of slightly out of focus photos of Paris sometime in the Spring.

And so the day passed in happy contentment; as have the days since.  We’re in that gorgeous lull at the end of the year, where it feels like there might be time to read or think or plan for the year ahead, but only if we really want to.  A time to fill our days with family and just be happy.

 

 

 

Elma Family Kitty Living Arrows Photography

Living Arrows 52/52

29/12/2014

We’ve made it. All the way to the end of the year and 52 pictures that sum up childhood, or to be more precise; 52 pictures, mainly of my children on the swings.  It seems we started as we meant to go on.

It’s lovely to look back on them, both to see the changes in the girls across the year and to see the things they love captured for our memories, little snippets not just of childhood, but of their childhood. Their love of the swings is clear but so too is the fun they have baking, or playing in the garden, building tents, or just snuggling up at home.

I have oodles of pictures from Christmas, but they’re going to have to wait for another post, because it seems only fitting that we should finish right back where we started.

The same park, possibly the same swing. Not the same daughter.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

What a difference a year makes.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

 

 

The girls may be taller, there may be another member of the family just watching, waiting and wriggling in the anticipation of the day when he gets to have a go too, but in essence it seems we’re fairly consistent.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Give us a bright sunny day, we have hats, we have mittens, we have a couple of sets of waterproofs (essential for going really fast down the slide), we have wellies; and you’ll find us at the park.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

living arrows

Baby Knitting Family Finished Handmade Handmade for Baby Handmade for Pip Knitting Pip

Oh Christmas Tree (Jumper) {handmade for Pip}

28/12/2014

It was Christmas Eve Eve. I sat at my desk in the studio, in front of me, one piece of wrapping paper, Pip’s colour of washi tape and the last piece of the Christmas knitting, finished and ready to be wrapped.

Well sort of finished. Technically finished if we define finished as ‘finished with the knitting bit’ and entirely ignore the question of whether or not it has any buttons (it doesn’t – though I have sewn all the ends in and blocked it which has to count for something).

But enough of technicalities. Let me show you the third and final piece of my Christmas knitting list this year, an Anders jumper for Pip, knit from Rowan’s Baby Merino Silk DK in Snowdrop and Bluebird.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

All of my baby baby knitting has been fairly gender neutral, but by the time I was knitting for my girls at Pip’s size, if not precisely his age, well we weren’t in wall to wall pink, but the patterns are definitely feminine even if the resultant jumper is dark blue. And with the newly sorted stash just waiting to be turned into something lovely and wonderful what more excuse did I need to spend many happy hours looking through baby boy patterns on Ravelry and favouriting more knits than I could ever hope to complete before wearing something your Mum made becomes utterly unthinkable, even if I gave up on sleep entirely and either the yarn stash grew and/or I acquired sheep. Some of them might be more projects that I will dream of knitting rather than anything that I’m actually going to turn into reality, but Anders I knew I had to knit, to knit now, to knit for the most perfect Christmas jumper for my gorgeous little son.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Because it has Vikkle Braid (really easy to do and I love the way it looks), it has little fair isle bands on the sleeves, and most of all it has snow. Fair isle Christmas trees under a blanket of snow; it’s like a knitted version of what I’d really like to wake up tomorrow and find outside the windows (please little snowflakes, just wander a little further south, I promise the north won’t miss you).

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

As I said before, it doesn’t have buttons, that’s a couple of safety pins holding the placket closed, there should be three cute perfect little buttons up the front, but alas, my magical touch with the button jar seems to have run out; I found two that were just gorgeous, but not a third, and no one in their right mind goes into town on Christmas Eve just for buttons.  Well not when the jumper’s for a baby anyway.  Pip and I are going to have a great time choosing buttons in the New Year but there’s no hurry; given how little Pip is, the top button at least would just disappear into his chin so he’s probably more comfortable as it is anyway.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Based on a little bit of judicious measuring of Pip, a bit of guesswork and not a single swatch in sight I made the 6-12 month version and it fits the boy a treat; snuggly warm against the nippiest breeze and long enough that there’s a bit of room to grow before summer comes and all the knits get squished to the back of the cupboard.  This is the project that I cast on in the car on the way to a family party, with yarn given to me a couple of Christmases ago by Pip’s godfather. the project that I knit in odd moments; with a baby asleep in my lap, while the girls finished their lunch and chattered about our plans for the afternoon, or at the end of the day with the family asleep upstairs.  It has so many memories of our everyday knit into it, and even though I was working to a deadline and this was the last thing on the list, it never felt rushed or under pressure.

There have been years when I finished the Christmas knitting and crafting long before Christmas, but they haven’t been for a while, and even when I’ve finished the things that are for Christmas day itself there have been things for family that we’re not seeing until New Year’s Day that still needed finishing off. I sat by the lights of the tree on Christmas Eve knowing that for once everything was done; the house was clean and as tidy as it gets, the food was baked and prepped as far as possible, and there under the tree were three soft squishy parcels for my three children, and it felt wonderful, relaxed and happy in the anticipation of all the loveliness to come.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

It may have taken me five years, but perhaps for the first time I’ve finally made myself a Christmas knitting list that is actually reasonable and achievable, even if I did have to be rather ruthless with my dreams in the process. And there are two things that I now know.  One, the feeling of having everything done is very addictive and two, so is knitting those jumpers – Pip lovely, look away now, I think I know what you might be getting for Christmas next year.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

But based on current evidence – I think you might like it!