Sunday, 22 April 2012

the chunky yellow bobble cushion

Usually, a project takes me a couple of weeks, even with a toddler on the loose, but since Daisy arrived all my spare time is dedicated to sleeping, naps and snoozing. Having two children is incredibly exhausting, much more so than I ever imagined (especially when the toddler has decided to throw tantrums over absolutely EVERYTHING), and I have a new-found respect for parents of families with three, four or even five children. Hats off to you, I have no idea how you stay sane!

So I was left feeling pretty darn pleased with myself this week when I finally finished the yellow bobble cushion - all I had left to do was to sew on three buttons and make the loops from chain stitches, but there just never seemed to be time. Two weeks later.... it's finished! Drum roll please..... drrrrrrrr....... ta dah!

The fastenings that took what seemed like forever to get done were ever so simple - literally just three buttons sewn on to the back, and three corresponding loops crocheted onto the front, made up from six chain stitches. There is a bit of a gape, as you can see in the picture below, but hey, it's the back, and nobody can see it!

This was the first time I've ever attempted to make up a pattern, and man alive, it was hard work - frogging, unravelling, swearing, sighing... I did the lot. But I'm so glad I stuck at it; there's something incredibly satisfying about working from your own initiative and knowledge (crochet is the only thing I'd say I'm really proficient at!), and I really think that there's nothing that validates your craft skills more. Now all I need to do is try to remember exactly how I did it, so I can write the pattern down and share it with you all!


Tuesday, 17 April 2012


The thirteen week scan

Daisy on the inside

The first picture that doesn't contain me, covered in blood!

Mum and baby Daisy

As any expectant mother will know, going overdue is a real pain in the backside - a week or so before your due date, everybody and their dog begins the endless round of texts, Facebook messages and Twitter messages, enquiring politely as to 'how you are' and whether you're having any 'twinges'. Irritating enough before the baby is even due, more annoying once you've gone over by a couple of days, positively infuriating once you get to 40 weeks and 9 days. Which is exactly the point I was at when Miss Daisy decided to make her appearance.

At 41 weeks, I was a week overdue, and headed off to see my midwife for a stretch and sweep, which is known to help things along a little - she told me I was already 1cm dilated, which meant I left feeling far more positive than I arrived. My Mum and I went on a long walk, wandered round the shops, and then headed home - I was half expecting her to arrive that evening, simply because that's what happened with the Boy. So you can imagine my disappointment when, after a few niggles, I went to bed and nothing else happened. Friday arrived, and still nothing - we filled the day with activities (which you can see in this post - what is more cheering than yarn and beach huts?), and although I had a few contractions throughout the day, they were manageable and not terribly regular. By that evening, I was feeling thoroughly fed up, so we watched some television and went to bed early. By Saturday morning, after two days of stop-start contractions, all I wanted was to be left alone, so the Husband took the Boy to the park and then round to see his Grandparents. I'd had exactly the same experience with my son, so was loathe to believe that even the regular pains that started that evening were anything to pay attention to - so desperate was I not to have a labour that was a repeat of the last one, that I ignored them and went to bed instead.

Two hours later, I found myself wide awake, hanging onto the bedhead with every contraction, and I finally gave in and admitted to the Husband that things might actually be moving along. He went to pick up my Mum, and after a lot of persuasion, I rang the hospital - they told me to come straight in (second babies apparently have a habit of just suddenly 'appearing'), so we all piled into the car, and headed off. I'd decided to have my Mum as my birth partner (ooohhh, controversial!), as she knows me better than anyone, and is far more of a relaxing presence than my Husband (who tries, bless him, but was utterly hopeless when the Boy was born...), so she came up to the ward with me, while the others went home and back to bed.

I was shown to my room, and met my midwife, whose first words to me were, "I'm Sandy, now, what do you want, and what don't you want?" I instantly felt relaxed, and told her that I was concerned I wasn't actually in active labour yet - she told me she'd been a midwife for over twenty years, and could promise me that I was. Sure enough, when she examined me, I was 5cm dilated - I immediately felt better, and realised that this was a different baby, and subsequently a different labour, and that it might actually not be as long or terrible as the first one. I ended up standing, leaning on the bed using gas and air for the first couple of hours, with the lights dimmed and some music on - the whole experience was incredibly relaxing and far, far better than anything I had imagined. When I was examined again, I had only reached 7cm - I felt despondent, but Sandy was fantastic, and said that anything could happen. When I told her the gas and air wasn't working as well, she offered me a shot of pethidine, which I happily accepted, and suddenly felt like I could cope again.

What seemed like ten minutes later (but was actually an hour, or so I'm told), I felt the distinct urge to push, but was concerned I wasn't dilated enough - Sandy told me to have a little go, and then to my absolute joy informed me that she could see hair when I did. I was given the green light to start pushing, and thirty minutes later, Daisy arrived into the world. Sandy was amazing - she gave clear instructions and remained motivational throughout the whole experience, and despite my wee one weighing in at a large 8lb 11, I had only a couple of stitches.

The whole labour and birth was everything I wanted it to be (despite a stubborn placenta, and problems with a racing heartbeat and light headedness afterwards) - calm, relaxing and safe. Sandy was simply amazing - any lady who is in her care should consider themselves extremely lucky, and be assured that she knows exactly what she's doing, and will do everything she can to make the whole experience as positive as she possibly can.

Daisy is an extremely placid baby, happy to both sit in her bouncer while I clean, or sit and be cuddled up close - I'm exclusively breastfeeding (which is going well so far - something else that was an utter disaster last time!), so we have lots of bonding time as well. She sleeps well at night, only waking once or twice for food, and settles herself down again afterwards - the whole experience is so different to when the Boy was a baby, it's hard to believe they're even related!

It's safe to say I'm thoroughly in love, as is her brother - he smoothes her, kisses her and tells everyone about her, and although we're having some behaviour issues with him at the moment, I'm staying confident that he'll settle down soon.

Welcome to the world, little one!


Saturday, 7 April 2012

41 weeks

Yesterday I hit the 'week overdue' marker, and rather than sit around feeling fed up, I decided to fill the day with beachcombing, crochet, bookshopping and general lovely don't-think-about-the-fact-that-the-baby-still-isn't-here activities. Typically, I forgot to take the camera, so had to use my fake-Instagram app on my phone - Camera 360, you have served me well, but the news that they've finally developed the real thing for Android is a little like waking up to find it's Christmas morning, it's snowed, and you've got everything on your wish list.

The chunky crochet cushion is so very nearly finished - I just need to join the front and back pieces together, and sew on some buttons as fasteners, and it's done. I've got to say, I'm pretty happy with it - it's the first pattern I've actually made up myself, and I still can't quite believe I managed to work it out. I've got some Cygnet Seriously Chunky in black waiting in the wings - there's an idea for a cowl just running round and round in my head....

The Boy had an excellent time, and came home with a bag stuffed full of shells and stones, which we're going to use in the garden when we move (one month to go! Eeeek!), and I spent a lot of time eyeballing the Rowan section in Hobbycraft, wondering if an overdue baby was a reason to justify an £8 ball of yarn for a project that I'd yet to decide. It turned out, it wasn't - Rowan is the stuff of dreams; perhaps when I'm selling twenty chunky cushion covers a day, I might be able to warrant buying it. Maybe.

Precious findings

Beach huts

Mmmmm.... Rowan..... Tweed..... Mmmmmmm

Floral socks and nearing the end

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

This is a post I've been planning for literally months, but due to utterly rubbish light levels in the bedroom, I couldn't take as many pictures as I wanted - our room never, EVER seems to get enough light to photograph anything clearly or sharply, and I don't have the patience to sit there with a tripod, and then edit them all in Photoshop! So apologies for the first few pictures, which really don't do this little baby-space justice.....

I'm a big fan of attachment-parenting, which is why we'll have the baby in with us for the first year or so - after that hopefully we'll be able to move to a three-bedroom place, otherwise she'll be sharing with her brother. So  while we technically have no nursery for her, a corner of our bedroom has been dedicated to looking as calm and pretty as possible - think vintage clothes hanging on the walls, customised tassled vintage lamps, floral pillows (please don't write me a load of e-mails telling me this isn't safe - it's literally for decoration when she's not actually in there!), hand sewn cot sheets and some pretty pictures on the walls. We don't have much money, but my main belief is that you don't need a great deal of cash to make your space your own - you simply need a little imagination and effort. 

We've decided to give cloth nappies a go this time - although I've also stocked up on the eco-disposables. As we currently live in a flat (until the middle of next month anyway, squeeeeal!), I'm not entirely sure how the washing and drying process is going to go. Eco-disposables are almost as good, and I've discovered Naturebotts, an online company who stock a fairly good range, which don't cost any more than your standard shop-bought disposable.I think the thing is to remember that while making ecologically sound decisions is obviously up there in my list of priorities, whatever is best for baby and easiest for Mama is the most important thing - a new baby can be stressful enough, without adding to the mix!

I wanted to craft as much as possible for this baby, as I didn't manage anything like that before the Boy was born - I couldn't crochet back then, and I had no sewing machine (he's had plenty of handmade things from me since, though, he certainly hasn't gone without!), so I wanted to squeeze in as much as I could this time around. I think there's certainly been an element of "ooooh, a GIRL! Florals and patterns and vintage, oh my!" which has kept me motivated - it's far easier to find vintage fabrics suited to girls bibs and clothes than it is boys anyway.

I started by making a few bibs - I was going to use the pattern from 'Bend the Rules Sewing' by Amy Karol, but having to go all the way to the library to enlarge it on the photocopier seemed like such a faff that I went with the one I found on the lovely Chickpea Sewing Studio blog instead. It was really simple to do, and even easy to sew - I still need to add the poppers to fasten them on the neck, but on the whole I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out....

Crochet was obviously always going to feature quite heavily in anything I crafted for this little one - I found a couple of bib patterns in 'Cute and Easy Crochet' by Nikki Trench (one of the best crochet books ever - such lovely projects to sit and drool over!), and added the wavy border onto the pink one at the last minute. The little shoes pattern is from 'Little Crochet' by Linda Permann, which is another great crochet book for babies and toddlers. I have a feeling this little one is going to end up with quite a lot of crocheted legwarmers....

The baby blanket - ahhhh, the baby blanket. In the end, I detested this thing so much, I ended up nicknaming it something rude. The thing was, I started it over a year ago, found the un-joined squares at the bottom of my project basket, and decided they would be perfect for a pram blanket. What I didn't know was that in the last year, the beige colour I used for the edging (and subsequently needed more of to join the squares) had been discontinued. The lovely lady in my local yarn store suggested something cheap in a similar shade, but this had disasterous results, and saw me sitting on the sofa at midnight one night, waving my fist at a ball of wool. In the end, I chose Sirdar Aran Cashmerino (which cost an amount I'm not even going to divulge... gulp...) in a nice bright colour that fitted in with the squares, and joined them with a seam designed to show, then added a couple of border rows. I have to admit, now it's all done I am pretty pleased with it, and it is the softest thing ever - but the moral of the story? Don't leave your projects languishing in a pile and expect them to be easy to finish later!

My last crafty effort was a bit of a cobble-together - I had an oilcloth apron from Cath Kidston, which I never used (not a fan of oilcloth aprons - I find they're too inflexible), but didn't want to waste, a pile of leftover wadding and a large amount of stripey canvas fabric. A little snip here, some pinning there and I had myself a rather snazzy changing mat - which can also be turned over and used as a mat for simply lying on in the garden on a warm Spring day. If she ever puts in an appearance, that is...... 40+3 and counting......


Tuesday, 3 April 2012


The chunky cushion cover I'm crocheting in Cygnet Super Chunky has certainly been a challenge - I've done more frogging and unravelling whilst trying to work out this pattern than in any other project. Ever.

I started using an aluminium 10mm hook, or what I thought was a 10mm - but as I worked up each round, it ended up getting stiffer and stiffer, more like a rug than a cushion cover. A quick look in my hook pouch confirmed I had a 12mm, but by comparison it looked gigantic, so I trundled off to my local yarn store to find an 11mm (if such a thing exists). When I got there, I discovered that they had some 10mm hooks which looked an awful lot bigger than the one I was using - made from plastic (boooo, I find they tend to catch and drag on the wool a lot more than metal hooks), but about the size I wanted. Sure enough, my stitches were looser, and gave me the effect I was after.

The second problem was working out the increases - any crocheter will know the basic pattern for making a flat circle (an increase every stitch on the first round, every second on the second round, every third on the third round, and so on), but as well as that, I had to contend with the fact that the bobbles took up extra room, and were absolutely gigantic. Count, hook, swear, unravel. Repeat. For a week. Then, finally, on Sunday evening, in front of Antiques Roadshow (did any of you see those puppets? Freaky!), it seemed to all come together at last. I counted. I hooked. I breathed calmly. I cheered a little. I started the edging. I got a bit over excited and then ran out of yarn.

It's so near completion I can practically see it sitting on the sofa, nestled amongst my floral pillows and retro seventies throw. I'm writing this, waiting for the shop to open so I can race down (well, as far as someone in their 40th week of pregnancy can race, anyway) and stock up on enough for the front, and some extra to make the back.

Here's to triumphant projects!

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