Friday, December 31, 2010

The old year passing

In 2010 I made:

12 baby cardigans
11 pairs of socks
10 hats
7 bibs
3 pairs of bootees
3 pairs of mittens

2 blankets
1 Ishbel
1 Poppy
1 elephant
1 octopus
1 quilt

and one gorgeous adorable little baby girl.

So bye bye 2010; the year when I became a mother, and a year that despite a few ups and downs has found me the happiest and most contented yet.  I'm starting 2011 as I mean to go on; to the soundtrack of a Fisher Price rainforest jungle gym, curled up next to my husband, with my little girl in my arms, and baby sick on my shoulder.

Happy New Year

Thursday, December 30, 2010

An interlude in which things are almost finished

One of the nicest things about this quiet time between Christmas and New Year, apart from the fact that H is home on holiday, is that hunkered down feeling that comes over the whole house; we've done our getting ready, we've had our big feast and now we're enjoying a very extended post prandial nap.  And yes, that does involve extended pyjama wearing, excessive amounts of Chocolate Orange, and a host of good DVDs.

We have left the house occasionally; we bought Kitty some more pretty clothes given that her pretty Christmas dress was a size 6-9 months, and this morning the poor wee darling had her second visit to the nurse with the needles.  Today has accordingly been given over to cuddles and nursing but she's a happy little thing and currently communing with tiny monkey and trying to eat caterpillar.
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And in all of this week long duvet day I've been doing a little knitting.  I don't actually have anything finished, but I do have some almost finished; some more almost than others.

Way back when I looked like I had a netball stuffed up my t-shirt I had a terrible craving to cast on for a jumper for myself.  It wasn't the most sensible of cravings (but then when are they ever), given that I couldn't reliably give any indication of my current or future size but I really really wanted to knit the Owls pattern.

So, size? Not a clue.

Yarn of the weight called for? Not a chance.

Time to finish a sweater of any size before a little bundle of joy arrived? Not a hope.

I did however, have a variety of needles, and a large quantity of Mission Falls 1824 in Cedar.  And thus, with the help of some very useful notes on Ravelry, I dropped from 6.5mm and 6mm needles to 5.5mm and 5mm and with a dash of optimism and a bucketful of reckless abandon I cast on.  On 9 September.  Three days after my due date but another 10 days before I went into labour and 12 days before Kitty actually made an appearance.

I picked it up again when she was a few weeks old and discovered the joys of snoozing on my front of a morning and a little gentle knitting in the round was just the thing to rock her softly to sleep.
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It is a fabulous pattern and a quick and easy knit and so I finished the knitting part on 19 December and put it aside to wait for a chance to go and buy the perfect buttons for the little owl eyes.

And what should I find looking in the yarn bag but four and three quarter balls of yarn left over.  What to do?
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Ah the advantages of having a teeny tiny daughter who has to wear just what you choose.  I know it won't last long so I'd better indulge in some matchy matchy dressing while I still can.
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I finished Kitty's Mini-Mummy Owlet yesterday morning while watching England retain the Ashes (via the replay highlights) so now I just need to do some serious button shopping.

All of this almost finishing left me with some rather empty fingers; I've got a million and one things that I want to knit, and some of them I even have yarn for (I'm eyeing up some laceweight cardigans for the next new project), but I also have three rather neglected projects on the needles; a shawl that 'just' needs the edging, and two pairs of barely started socks, one from the Tsock Club way back when, and one from my Cookie A class last summer.

It must be the influence of all of these impending New Year's Resolutions ganging up on me because I've dug out the Flowing River shawl from its appropriate strata of craft project geology and rapidly discovering that this may well be the very last thing I ever knit.  I will be edging f o r e v e r and e  v  e  r.
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Judging by my last Ravelry pictures I'd done 4 repeats of the edge before it was abandoned for something that actually makes progress and I've now done 14 but each repeat only absorbs 5 stitches of the central triangle so you can see why I'll be here for a while.
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If you need me, I'm knitting a river.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lunar Eclipse

So I'm a little behind the times, but it's taken a little while to get all of my photos uploaded and processed in the crazy wonderful that is Christmas.  However, I can now confirm that one of the many advantages of a teeny tiny baby that wakes up hungry in the early morning is that you're awake in time to twitch open the curtains, remember that tonight's the night of the lunar eclipse and prod your husband to see if he wants to wake up and watch.

He did.

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H is very keen on astronomy and the only reason his telescope is still at his parents' house rather than ours has to do with space of the more domestic sort.  Happily, we were also at his parents and after a bit of rummaging in the garage he had it all set up.

The moon going into eclipse as seen through a really powerful telescope is a very beautiful thing.  My camera doesn't have quite the same power so you'll have to excuse the wobbly photography; I was using maximum ISO to get as good a picture as possible so it's a bit noisy, and as you can see, the tripod was otherwise occupied.

So here we are, for the first time since 1638, the moon going into total eclipse on the Winter Solstice:
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As you can see the moon was setting behind the trees and it was getting light so we never saw the moon come out of eclipse and trooped back inside for hot drinks and more Christmassy fun.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

On Stockings

I have a confession.  I still have a stocking from Father Christmas.  I'm 30 years old and I've obviously scraped through each year being good enough to merit a visit, regardless of whether there's even been a chimney to get down.  For at least 28 of the last 30 years I've had the same stocking; it's thick green cotton fabric printed with Father Christmas' front and back and matches my sister's which is red with a teddy on it. Mum made them and their earliest recorded use appears to be 1982 when photographic evidence shows a two and a half year old me (with classic early '80s bowl haircut) 'assisting' my ten day old sister to open her stocking.  Zee may only just have forgiven that particular infringement.

Anyway, I knew that despite any number of quite cute stockings in a variety of shops I wanted to make one for Kitty so with a week to go until Christmas I pulled all of the Christmassy fabrics out of the stash and printed out a template from the internet (it's from Cath Kidston but the link I had doesn't seem to work any more).

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I wanted something that was Christmassy but also felt quite girly and very Kitty; something that you would look at and instantly know that it was Kitty's stocking not H's or mine.

In the end after much deliberation and playing I took apart a Moda 'Let it Snow' jelly roll that is supposed to be part of a Christmas quilt that I started a couple of years ago and fished out a few strips, and then cut up the remains of the pink spotty fabric that I used to make a little pig squishy box toy for Kitty when she was just a bump. 
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I sewed the strips together to make a width of patchwork fabric and then folded it in half selvage to selvage and cut out the stocking pattern through the double layer to make each outside half of the finished stocking.
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I then made a sandwich of: lining right side up, lining right side down, back right side up and front right side down and sewed around the sides and foot leaving the top open.  Clip the curves and turn the front inside out around the back and the two linings and you have a lined stocking.

I finished the top with another jelly roll strip, folded in half and sewn edges together to the top.  I then flipped the stocking inside out and hand stitched the fold down to the stitching line on the inside, as if I was binding a quilt.
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The ribbon to hang the stocking was machine sewn in with the binding; I positioned it slightly off the back seam to avoid too much bulk so it's just slightly to the front of the stocking.
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The ribbon itself is part of my special VV Rouleaux stash - precious for the memories it holds of a wonderful trip to London with H and perfectly appropriate for a little girl's stocking.

And if Kitty every gets bored with a blue and pink stocking, the lining is her other option;
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I didn't have enough contrasting fabric in any one colour to make a plain lining, and as I was making this the weekend the snow came and I didn't want to venture into town to try to buy some I picked out some green strips from the same jelly roll and went for it.

Definitely a success and happily as the website isn't working any more I've saved the pattern template - something, possibly 28 and a half years of sisterly love, tells me that should Kitty ever be joined by any more tiny bears it might be a good think to be able to make them identically sized stockings!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Day

Christmas was wonderful.  A first Christmas for Kitty aged 13 weeks and a first white Christmas that I can remember for me (aged 30 years).
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Kitty woke us up with a smile for Daddy and we headed downstairs to see if Father Christmas had been
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(he had)
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and to tuck into breakfasts of milk for Kitty and cinnamon swirl rolls, coffee and juice for H and me.
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Miss Kitty may not quite have grasped the true reason for the season, or why she was suddenly presented with a bulging stocking the same size as she is
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but I think she liked the shiny things that came out of it
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particularly a little lamb that baaas and a little chick that chirrups.  Mummy and Daddy may also quite like playing with them too.

I'd spent pretty much all of Christmas Eve in the kitchen baking up a storm and getting everything ready for Christmas lunch so on the day itself it's pretty easy cooking, just add things to the oven at set times and it all came together pretty well.

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We may still only be setting two places at the table but last year we didn't have a teeny tiny 15lb 7oz three month old sat in her bouncy seat between us, and lunch was all the sweeter for it.  Even if she did fall asleep, I suspect lunch may have been a welcome relief from a little bit of sensory overload after a lot of wonderful new toys emerged from the shiny parcels under the tree.

Her big present from us was a baby play gym (it's Fisher Price Rainforest if you're curious)
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And despite my having committed the schoolgirl Mummy error of buying the wrong batteries so we couldn't test out the chirpy tunes and rain forest sounds until H made a battery and chocolate expedition yesterday, she seemed to love it.
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We know this because of (a) the smiles and (b) ...
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the feet!

This is the clearest photo I have of Kitty's feet which were wiggling ten to the dozen the whole time.  She's lying in it now and having a good chat to some butterflies, and the feet are still going strong.

Her other favourite present I'm struggling to show you; her lovely aunt gave her a new sparkly red party dress which fit her beautifully for Christmas day over a red babygro.  The bodice is red velvet and the skirt is red satin with sequins sewn all over it, covered with a layer of red net and fluffed out with petticoats.  It looks so pretty on her, she shares my colouring and it's a really good red.  The only 'problem' is that the skirt is such a fun texture to little baby hands that she spent the entire day trying to pull the skirt over her head!
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and nothing would persuade her to put it down long enough for Mummy to get photos!

It was a wonderful day, I hope yours was similarly blessed.  And I leave you with a photo that I found when I uploaded the camera photos.
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Kitty is asleep and so am I.  When I woke up I thought I'd only had a tiny nap because I'd only missed about 10 minutes of It's a Wonderful Life only to discover later that H had paused it for 20 minutes while he spoke to a friend on the phone. He thought we looked sweet so he tucked us up with blankets so that we couldn't move and recorded the event for posterity.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's been ...3 months!

Good Morning sweet little Kitty, Happy Three Month Birthday.

Now that you are three months old you:

- still love to wriggle your feet and dance for joy (although Mummy has discovered that you can't wriggle out of stripy tights so they're a popular wardrobe choice)
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- have just started to discover that you have two hands and they're both yours.  It's so cute to see you try to pull your fingers but mostly you have your little fists with the thumb tucked through; comfy cosy and perfect for noshing on when you think you might just be starting to be hungry.
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- have got a lot stronger and a lot longer; you are rapidly growing out of your 0-6 month growbag and it won't be too long before you're stretching the seams of your 3-6month baby gros.

- leave a tide mark of hair every time you have a bath; the second wave is coming but it isn't growing too fast.

- love it when we sing to you.

- love your cuddles with Mummy and Daddy.

- recognise Daddy by his special "kkkkkkk" noise.

- giggle.

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but you still aren't that excited by snow.  We're working on it I promise.

We love you lots lovely wee lass

love Mummy

Snow time

I really didn't mean to leave it so long without a new post but as usual real life whipped up a maelstrom of Christmas parties and lunches, and Miss Kitty has her own views on what we should be doing and when and I tend to have my hands full relishing being her Mummy.

Anyway ... where were we?
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A certain someone has become increasingly fascinated with our tree; mainly the lights and the glass bead decorations that sparkle, so we spend a good deal of time tree gazing and I try to explain Christmas and tell her all about our different baubles and the special one which will eventually start her collection (remind me to show it to you sometime).

H finished work for his Christmas break on Friday and the world at large celebrated with a beautiful blanket of powdery white that arrived on Saturday morning. 
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Being the crazy mad used-top-be-scientists that we are we started a measuring system using H's seemingly never ending supply of Cafe Nero reward cards.
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Card one was placed an hour and 4 minutes before this picture was taken, and the card that we placed immediately afterwards had about the same depth of covering by the time the snow stopped falling a couple of hours later.

We are also intrepid wannabe-explorers (and a little crazy with it; Bear Grylls being a role model) who consider that hot chocolate in the snow requires squirty cream so we bundled up, wrapped Kitty in as many layers as fit under her buggy straps and set off for a walk to the next village for supplies.

Things we now know:

1- Kitty much preferred being in Mummy's arms until she had dozed off.December 190
2 - our village is very pretty in the snow (actually we knew that anyway)
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3. The abominable snowman can come to life..
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4. If you push your daughter in her buggy to the next village through several inches of snow and with more falling all the time, the snow collecting in the buggy base with make the start of a teeny tiny snowbaby (sadly and rather damply deceased along the aisles of Coop)
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5. Pushing the buggy home again, loaded with squirty cream and a few other necessities (beer) was a lot harder work.  There are no pictures, we were too busy pushing.

6. When you have been for an expedition in the snow for a couple of hours and your buggy is on wheels and not skis, the warmth generated by the effort required to push a laden buggy back up the hill to your house renders the hot chocolate superfluous to requirement.  The squirty cream is now in the fridge awaiting developments.

7. I still had the energy to do a roly-poly down the front bank though. Definitely no photo evidence.

So here we are, five days til Christmas.  I have finished the Christmas knitting (evidence on Ravelry for those entirely unrelated to me), the presents are wrapped and under the tree and in due course I will make mince pies and the whole house will start to smell wonderfully seasonal (and ever so slightly alcoholic).

For now, I leave you with Kitty - I asked her whether she was excited about Christmas!
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

This quiet magic

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After a chilly examination of every tree at the garden centre on Thursday afternoon, we started our Christmas decorating last night.  The tree is up and dressed, the advent calendar unrolled and filled, and the slightly squished paper chains are hooked up on the curtain rails.

And lo, it came to pass that we got to see another first for our little princess, the introduction to her first Christmas tree.  We were pretty sure she wouldn't get much out of decorating the tree itself but she does love lights, so she wriggled around on her playmat while we unpacked all of our treasures.  When we were all finished we turned off the main lights and the tv, sat her in her bouncy seat facing the tree, and plugged in the lights. 
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And we sat there, in the dark, watching the lights twinkle off the baubles and Kitty drinking it all in with those long baby stares; it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Suspended Animation

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Jadis, Queen of Charn it seems may have followed my link to her wiki page and passed this way. 

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I always envisioned that everlasting winter in Narnia, when Christmas never came, not as a place of angry blizzards and energetic storms, but a place frozen into suspension by her icy touch and cloaked in cold silence. We got a taste of it earlier this week when, as the rest of the country woke up to yet more snow, the cloud cover dropped, clammy, chill and silent.

Nothing could be heard, there was no wind, and with the freezing fog swaddling each little tiny village, there wasn't much to be seen either.  The only thing moving and growing was the ice.
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Every point started crystals forming, even the whisper of a spider's web was highlighted by a dusting of frozen glitter, and trees which have long since dropped their leaves, suddenly bloomed.

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Every leaf on every bush was outlined with a rim of crystal cold
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This branch is smooth and sleek under the ice jacket, but now sports coral-like tentacles at all angles.
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It was the deep deep cold of a silent, unmoving winter.
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Only ended when the wind arrived to lift the fog and shake the icicles from the trees where they fell to the ground as powder; fools' snow in an otherwise green garden.
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A little awe inspiring while it lasted, and certainly no fun to drive in, but now that we are back to our dull greens and frozen browns I find I miss the magic.  Fingers crossed Father Christmas brings some of his sort of winter wonderland.