Saturday, 31 March 2012

one day - week 39

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

I'm officially 'over-due' - my due date was yesterday, 30th March, and I'm now into the two-week zone where the NHS treat you like a ticking time-bomb. With your second baby, my midwife informed me, if you haven't managed to give birth by 40+12, they will send in the bomb-disposal experts - in short, you'll be frog-marched in to be induced. 'Pah,' I said to myself, 'not a hope'. I'm really, really anti-induction, and only narrowly escaped it last time (by about two days) - the thought of having to go through my entire labour in a hot, unfamiliar, unfriendly hospital fills me with utter dread. That said, I know that the old wives tales actually don't work, which is why this 'One Day' post actually features pictures from an entire week - things we've done as a family, and I've done alone to pass the time, and keep my mind off of what's coming next... that and the fact that I'm now too whale-like and cumbersome to squeeze enough activities into a day to warrant a post of their own....

One: Pulling out the Spring sneakers and enjoying breakfast and lunch on the balcony.

Two, Three, Four, Five: Endless picnics in the park, lying lazily on blankets, watching the Husband and the Boy chasing each other in circles and kicking a ball, feeling the sun on my face.... the perfect Spring past-time.

Six: Finally finishing the baby blanket that has given me an absolutely endless amount of grief, due to discontinued yarn and a LOT of frogging.

Seven: Finding the perfect mustard cardigan from (boo, hiss) Primark. My heart soared, my ethical principles took a nose dive....sigh.....

Eight: Stocking up on breastfeeding-friendly tops, like this floral shirt from H&M.

Nine: Finding a home for my new cushion, a Mother's Day present from my Mum the Boy (my Mum always gets something for me in case the Husband forgets!).

Ten: Unashamedly stacking floral pillows on the bed.

Eleven: Stumbling across a dinner set up by the Boy.

Twelve: Pulling out the Spring shoes.

Thirteen, Fourteen: Planting sunflower seeds with the Boy, ready to transplant into the garden of our new house (no official announcements until we're sure we've passed the referencing process).

40+1.... I can't help but wonder if my next post will see me writing as a mother-of-two....
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Thursday, 29 March 2012

adventures in yarn

The other day I was trying to find a certain piece of fabric, that I was sure was hiding somewhere, and spent hours rummaging through half-used balls of yarn, random granny squares, offcuts of fabric that I don't even remember buying, and other crafty bits of, let's face it, tat. I ended up completely forgetting what I'd been looking for in the first place, and having a gigantic clear out - I sent loads of wool in colours I'd rejected to a neighbour, and a bag full of fabric to the charity shop. Everything else was tidied away nicely, and I laid out my (now much smaller, and more organised) yarn stash to have a look:


The top two rows are Stylecraft DK (as is most of my wool - it's cheap, not too splitty, and the colours are pretty good), the bottom row is Sirdar DK Cotton, and the small pile on the right hand side is Katia Merino Sport. The Katia yarn is leftover from a baby blanket I finished recently (this is a post in itself - a long, long story), and I have a few of the coloured squares without their beige borders leftover, so will probably just work the rest up and see what happens. I'd already decided to use the Stylecraft for a couple of blankets, or cushion covers - the top row is going to be made into the Jane Brocket sunburst blanket (from that lovely, lovely book, The Gentle Art of Knitting - my latest ridiculous impulse purchase!), and the row underneath is going to be something chevron related. I'm half tempted to try some sort of intarsia chevron cushion - I've never done it before, but the instructions in my book look relatively easy to master, and working out a chart can't be that hard..... can it?

Working out an intarsia chevron chart
The Sirdar cotton was left over from some baby bibs I decided to make (coming to a huge crafty baby-related post soon), and I originally thought about doing some sort of bag, but looked at the colours and decided they were a bit...well... pastel-ly. Fine for bibs and whatnot, but a bit muted for a nice bright beach or grocery bag. So when I discovered that my local yarn shop was now stocking Rico Creative Cotton (that wonderful stuff from Attic24 fame), I almost did a little excited dance (with a baby due tomorrow, dancing was pretty much out of the question....) and snapped up a brighter blue, red and green:


'Yes,' I thought, as I laid all the colours out together, 'this is going to make one brilliant bag'. I started crocheting. I did a couple of granny square inners in the Rico. I marvelled at it's neatness and colour. I tried to attach some of the Sirdar. This was the point that I realised I'd lost control in the shop, had been blinded by the colours and contracted a bad case of New Yarn Excitement - that disease that affects all knitters and crocheters when faced with a type of wool they've never tried before. I'd glossed over the fact that the Sirdar is DK, and the Rico is an aran, reasoning that they 'looked similar in weight'. I've been crocheting for almost three years - how could I have made such a rookie error?

So, I now have the original selection of Sirdar, which is being worked up into various little bags and pouches for a future craft sale - perfect for crochet hooks, mobile sewing kits, loose change or any other little bits and pieces you might want to carry around. The colours actually work quite well together if you're clever with how you mix them, and on reflection, brights aren't everybody's thing anyway - better to play it safe when making to sell, I always think.


Three balls of Rico was obviously not enough to actually do anything with, so I trotted back off to the yarn shop to top up my stash with some other colours. I'm quite excited about working with it - I've decided it's destined for a stripey-ripply-front-post bag, which I may or may not line, depending on how big the gaps turn out to be. I can just see it now, paired up with a little tea dress and my tan clogs.....mmmmmm......


You'd think that would be enough projects, but no - I'm the type of person who has to have several different things to work on at once. I found this Cygnet Seriously Chunky yarn in a charity shop of all places, and have since discovered that while the mustard is quite clearly the best, it is available in quite a range of other colours. I've been experimenting with my larger hooks - anything from the 10mm, right up to the 15mm (which I've been dying to use for ages), and have made some of the largest bobbles I've ever seen. I've got three round cushions, currently with no covers, so I think a round bobbly cushion cover is the way forward - I'm writing the pattern myself (the first time I've ever done this, eeek), so we'll have to wait and see how this turns out!





Lastly, when I was in the midst of my Rico dilemma, the yarn shop had it's fifth birthday, and I was entered into the raffle. On Monday, the owner rang to tell me that not only had I won, but I'd won first prize - five balls of Sirdar Denim Sport Aran! This is a real treat for me, as I don't usually get to work with any of the more well known or expensive brands, and I want to choose my project carefully, so it doesn't end up another half-finished rag, shoved in my wool box! I'm considering doing the Aruna bobble cardigan, that I've had saved in my projects folder for about two years - I've never made anything that's wearable, and think the challenge might be quite nice, especially if the outcome is good as well!



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Monday, 26 March 2012

latest thrifts

Due to my increasing waist size and decreasing energy, it's been absolutely aaaaages since I've been on a good old thrifting trip, but last Saturday afternoon saw me minus one toddler - and with a sudden urge to rummage.


I've always had a bit of a thing for pyrex, but until lately haven't had much luck finding anything good in the charity shops - I've been tempted to buy from eBay, but the postage costs and risk of breakages always puts me off (latest example - gorgeous mustard yellow patterned dish, postage from Australia - £70. Bargain! Pffft....). On Saturday though, I had the best luck - a miniature casserole dish, with the most beeeeyoootiful pattern,  for a mere £1 - just sitting there amongst old chipped plates and bog standard glassware.


I love it so much that I had to do a close up picture of the pattern - mustard yellow flowers and seventies style swirls, sooooo good. I know loads of you are thrifters, so you'll understand my excitement at finding something that you've almost given up hope of ever getting your hands on!

I also found this delightful little tray:


I can't decide whether to put it on the wall, or use it on top of the bedside cabinet - the Husband laughs because everything seems to end up on the wall, no matter what it's actually meant to be used for. Just like this coaster that I found on the same day for a teeny tiny 50p:


I think it might be just too pretty to stand drip-py, messy tea and coffee cups on!

I also found some vintage pillow cases, and a couple of cushion covers from Ikea:


I'm a real textile hoarder, and always think, "ooohh, I could make so-and-so from this" - then I take all these fabrics home with me, and they join all the others in the Suitcase of Doom, destined to live out their lives in the dark. One of my aims once I have this baby (due Friday, people, FRIDAY!) is to do more sewing, and actually use the raw materials I already have. Expect to see lots of printed tote bags pretty soon!

Have any of you had any good thrifting finds lately? I think it must be something to do with the weather - there always seems to be more bargains when the sun is shining!
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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

the beginning of twenty-nine

The beginning of my twenty-ninth year looked something like this:

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen
One, Two: My old faithful wedge boots decided to go all out and die on me completely, so it seemed only right that I replace them with something ridiculously high and unsuitable for a mother-of-two (almost!) to wear, but as soon as I saw these I fell in love with them completely. The husband bought them for me as part of my birthday present, and then added to them with (drum rolll..... drrrrrrrrr.......) my new clogs! I have wanted a pair of clogs for completely and utterly ages, I've pondered over Hasbeens (sorry, HOW much?!) and looked at other places, but in the end I decided to go with Hannah's recommendation from last year, and order from the pretty marvelous Lotta From Stockholm. They arrived super-duper quickly, and I spent an hour waving my fist at the sky as the rain poured down (tights and clogs is one thing, soggy feet is quite another). I am absolutely in love with them, and am already planning my next clogg-y purchase, which could very well be these little lovelies (also from Lotta), just in time for the Spring:


Although, I'm also quite taken with the Mary-Jane style - I can just imagine these with tights and lovely skirts in the winter....



Three: In the end, I was so baffled by the vast array of things I could choose as a present for my parents, I took the easy option and they gave me some money. It sat in my purse for a couple of weeks, while I umm-ed and ahh-ed over what to spend it on, and the first things I bought were these two dresses from Dorothy Perkins sale section. They're jersey, they're trapeze-shaped, they're forgiving on a post-baby tum - and so they came home with me. I also love the colours, particularly the blue (and wouldn't it look good with those floral clogs in the Summer.... ahem....), and the fact that they almost look a little bit retro-y.

Four: The Husband and his parents also bought me a couple of books - these are both absolutely wonderful, and are full of inspirational projects and little ideas that can be used either as gifts, or in your own home. Packed full of gorgeous images, I could quite happily just sit and look at them for hours (which is actually what I do with most of my interiors and craft books - I'm not exactly the worlds most patient seamstress....), and I've actually scanned the best ones ready for a future post, so keep an eye out!

Five, Six, Thirteen: When the Husband and I went to Brighton recently for my birthday trip, there were three places I knew I definitely wanted to go: Bills (for the best halloumi burger EVER), Beyond Retro (beyond disappointing this time, sigh) and Ditto Fabrics. I discovered this little fabric store when we stumbled across it on our honeymoon, and although it looks tiny, it's absolutely packed with the best fabrics you can imagine. They have a website too, which you can visit by clicking here, although, I will warn you, it's almost impossible to come away empty handed. My favourites are the printed cottons - the yellow floral in the picture above has already been made into a cushion for the sofa, the apples are going to be constructed into a giant floor cushion for the Boy's room, and the hearts... who knows? These are some of my current favourites from the website, just to give you a little taster (HOW great is the fifties kitchen print?!):


I also bought some printed wrapping paper to frame for the littluns, and some greetings cards destined for the same place. The Catherine Holm birthday card has already been trimmed and put in a clip frame on the lounge wall - I'm desperate to actually get my hands on some for the kitchen, to sit nestled next to my Pyrex, charity shop plates and Whittard lovelies, but at this price I might have to just stick to the pictures!

Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve: In my last Brighton post, I talked about the fabulous new shop that we discovered, Edited, which sold the most brilliant homewares - this mug was my one purchase (although I could have quite happily bought half the stock), which is now sitting happily on the shelf in the kitchen with the others. I love, LOVE, old letterpress fonts, which was what drew me to them in the first place, and while I should probably have got a 'V' (for Vicky, obviously), the teapot was just too much to pass up. The best surprise was that when I paid, it was presented to me in the box pictured above - when even the box is this fabulous, you know you're onto a winner!

Fourteen: My Mum and I went shopping a couple of weeks after my birthday, and while on my way upstairs in Waterstones to drool over the craft books, I was stopped in my tracks by their wrapping paper and cards section. Needless to say, these came home with me (I didn't find a craft book though, boo).

Fifteen, Sixteen: Lastly, there were a few bits of haberdashery I needed, and after what seemed like an endless search, I found what I wanted from online store Seamstar, who provided me with fast postage and excellent service. Some fabric from the sale section might accidentally have fallen into the basket as well, ahem.
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Thursday, 8 March 2012

a little artwork


Over the last couple of months, as well as madly crafting and preparing for Littlest Owl's arrival, I've been doing the odd bit of illustrating here and there - nowhere near as much as I used to do (pencil surgically attached to hand, constantly shouting, "but why? WHY won't you let me colour just that line?" at the laptop....), but still, enough to keep me feeling creative.

Firstly, I contributed a little bit to the marvelous Lionheart Magazine - the brainchild of the super talented Hels Martin. I forget how we first met (Twitter, possibly), but as soon as she announced she was looking for people to work on the project with her, I put myself forward. I wrote a couple of book reviews, donated some photographs and illustrated an article on two people who lived in each others' countries for a while.




The whole magazine is really, really wonderful - and had I not contributed, I would have bought it anyway. Made up of a deliciously large variety of articles and illustrations, my favourites consisted of the interview with Miss James from Bleubird Vintage, the page on teapots, Hannah's piece on quilting and the article on Fritha's pregnancy. If you haven't already seen, bought or read Lionheart, I suggest you snap one up quick sharp - you're missing out!

My other contributions were two illustrations for my favourite online publication, Amelias Magazine, for two designers who showed at London Fashion Week recently. The line drawings are shown below, and you can see the coloured versions here and here, if you fancy it! Every time I seem to illustrate anything, I end up getting in a complete muddle when it comes to adding colour, and I'm starting to think line drawing might just be my thing - I seem to prefer the simplicity and graphic-ness (completely not a word, I know!) of it.



I've also started working on some more prints to add to the collection - these started life as something I was just going to put on the walls at home, but suddenly I seem to be full of ideas, sketches and quotes for things to brighten up the walls. Not that we've got much wall space left!
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