Thursday, February 16, 2012

The time has come

I started this blog on 6 February 2006.  I was in my early (ish) twenties, only engaged to the lovely man who became my H, and I wanted somewhere to keep track of my knitting projects, which at that stage largely consisted of baby clothes for miniature second cousins, and a little something Rowan for me.

Fast forward six years and this blog has recorded not only the knitting but all the other crafty things and a good few slices of family life.  And like a pair of battered old favourite shoes, it's been starting to creak a little, and let the puddles in.    Knitted Bear isn't going anywhere, I've no plans to take the blog down, or anything like that and it isn't time for me to give up blogging, far from it, but it might be time to move house.

So, if you'd like to come on a little adventure with me, please step across the way to Space for the Butterflies, where I promise more of the same haphazardly delivered tales of a crafty handmade family life.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Valentine

Reader, I married a Yorkshireman. And whilst there is a deeply romantic core inside that intensely northern exterior (and I know I've just made him blush by confessing it), for the most part this is a relentlessly practical man.  So when I admitted to him over the weekend that I hadn't even looked at Valentine's cards yet, he came up with the perfect solution.  Save the card pennies and put it towards steak.

We've just feasted on two rib-eyes from Aubrey Allen (local purveyor of mouth watering meat) some chips and veggies, and in a small white card box on the countertop are two Strawberry Millefeuille from my favourite bakery in Birmingham. 

It isn't by a dozen red roses, or cards, or chocolates that I know that I am loved (all of which is not to say that I don't like them, although for flowers I'd rather have tulips) but by the daily actions of a man who knows that my perfect Valentine is good food, time together, and for flowers my velvety red Rapido amaryllis that burst into bloom yesterday.

But I couldn't resist one more little touch.  Kitty's nursery had a pink and red day and although she already fit the bill perfectly in pink vest, pink flowery dungarees, pink flashing shoes and pink hair bobbles (at least until she got very very excited in water play and soaked herself from tip to tiny toe), she just needed a little something…

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(photo taken on my phone while she was in the sling on the way to nursery this morning, hence the funny angle) 

Her matching pair of heart hair slides were based on this tutorial at The Purl Bee from a few years ago.  I sketched my own heart shape to work with the hair clips we had, and used scraps of pink and fuchsia felt from a felt bundle from Paper and String and purple embroidery thread to put them all together.

They are incredibly easy to make; my pair took a little under half an hour of quiet undemanding stitching, curled up on the sofa last night surrounded by a confetti of felt off cuts.  I'm starting to wonder whether something could be done with shamrocks? Easter bunnies? Diamond Jubilee Union Jacks? The possibilities are limited only by the amount of felt and the colours remaining in the bundle.  I've hit the pinks and reds fairly repeatedly, but if you can think of a hairslide that needs a few varieties of fawn and beige we're all sorted!

I hope you've had a lovely Valentine's.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A mini snow day

I'm hesitant to say this but I think we might almost be feeling healthy again.  Having written that I now fully expect to be struck down by yet another plague.  Seriously, I've had a cold, the flu, and the Noro virus in the last three weeks, Kitty's had a chest infection and H got a cold, a throat infection and his fair share of Noro.  Fingers crossed, that's it for us for a while. (I didn't say that, I really didn't, I promise; we could really do with just catching a break).

February 258

The snow fell again last night.  Only a tiny dusting this time, light enough to cling to the tops of blades of grass, and form a crisp icy crust across the pavement.  Kitty has just a touch of cabin fever, mainly characterised by bringing me her coat at regular intervals and trotting down the hall to pound on the front door, so I bundled her up this morning for a quick blast of fresh air.  We walked up to the allotments, counting foot prints, and different sized doggy prints, and added our own swirly patterns to the path.

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The walk to the allotments always detours to the baby playpark, and even the snow doesn't stop a pointy hand and cry of "Dap!" escaping from the buggy.  The slide was out of action with a snowy crash mat at the bottom but she loved stepping out making little flowery footprints into fresh snow.
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It's all melted now, and the forecast has switched the snowflakes for little round sunshines so I think we may have seen the last snowfall for the year.  I'm glad we got to go out and play though, to see her with rosy pink cheeks and and a pink-tipped nose, playing in the snow, the winter she was one.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Let it Snow!

It's true, I asked for it.  No sooner had I pressed publish than the teeny tiny virus invasion force rallied its troops and sallied forth for Cold 2012: Round 2. They squirmed their weaselly way into every joint and sat there, tapping at my bones with tiny hammers, while their colleagues took battering rams to my retinas, and I sat at my desk at work, desperately trying to carry on, as powerless as a bouncy castle (and with something of that wobbliness) against their microscopic siege.

I spent Wednesday, at home, in bed, wearing two handknit jumpers, my socks, and a hat.  Truth be told, it was an odd sensation, being home alone.  With a toddler doing thrice-weekly germ warfare in the Teeny room, our little family has had its fair share of sicks and lurgies, but most of the time we battle through them, or if we're sick, so's Kitty.  To nap, just because I needed to, was a rare and wonderful thing and did me the power of good.

I promised crafty finished goodness, but this is more than crafty, this is prophetic.  You see I finished a quilt:
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It's made from a couple of jelly rolls (and some extra bits) from a Moda fabric line from a few years ago, and it's called ...
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Let It Snow!
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Two beautiful fluffy white inches fell late yesterday and overnight, which we celebrated in time honoured tradition by going to the pub in the snow for a pint/hot chocolate/small bowl of chips and sitting in the window, watching the flakes fly, and the traffic negotiate the hill up into the village.

It's been melting today, and with rain forecast tonight it'll be gone tomorrow.  I am wondering about calling a quilt "Large Lottery Win" though!

But back to the quilt.
The pattern is the Barbed Wire quilt from Twosey Foursey Quilts.  I know it says it's barbed wire, but I looked at it and saw stars.  I split out the white based strips from the jelly roll to make the stars, and added extras from another jelly roll, some charm square packs, and a few bits of Kona white to fill in the gaps.

It left me with more than a few leftovers of the other colours; some went into Kitty's Christmas stocking, some into her birthday dolly quilt, and some I saved for the back.

I wanted to keep the borders relatively simple because the top is so busy so I added a 2.5" border in Kona white, and the binding is Kona red.
I wanted to try a pieced back, not least because the chances of finding something to work with all of the colours of the front weren't very high.  The middle band is pieced from leftover charm squares, and the rest is Kona red and Kona aqua.  They are the perfect match for my fabric, but I'll admit to being a little gutted that with all the wonderful colour names Kona have for their solids, I got red, white and aqua.
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It's quilted with dark red thread, a quarter inch inside each of the stars to make them pop, and other than that I left it well alone.

It's huge, cosy, and just perfect to snuggle down under to watch the snow melt, drip by tiny drip.

The Bare Necessities

Barbed Wire quilt from Twosey-Foursey QuiltsSize: 68" x 80"
Fabric: Moda 'Let it Snow!', two jelly rolls, two charm square packs and some Kona solids in red, white and aqua.
Time to make: Years. So many years that I've forgotten when I started.  It might not take years if you didn't take a few years off in the middle.
Would I make it again: Quilts tend to be a one time only thing - once is quite enough.

Monday, January 30, 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:
January 236

and a little more:
January 251

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)!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

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.
July 139
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.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

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.
January 209

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?