Monday, February 28, 2011

Things that are finished and things that are not

It's grey, dank and gloomy here today and I think I made it rain in direct contradiction of no less than three weather reports by hanging a load of laundry out on the line so Kitty and I have spent the day snoozing, cuddling, singing silly songs and going to Sainsburys.  It's been a bit of a non-day in terms of tangible achievements, but happily I did manage to take a few pictures of a few finished things for February.

So, let me see; I think my number one aim for February was to make the handprint quilt with the immovable deadline.  We organised babies, painted their tiny little fingers, giggled at their slightly bemused expressions, and every now and then I sewed a seam.
February 224a
I finished sewing the binding down after Kitty went to sleep on Friday, which turns out to be a good thing as the party that was going to be a week on Thursday has been rearranged for tomorrow, and incidentally is the reason why my fridge is currently hard at work setting jellies in a sancastle bucket and seashell sand moulds.

I know I've given some details of this quilt before, but just for completeness it's nine 12.5 x 12.5 inch blocks made to this tutorial using four Heather Bailey fabrics; Swing Toss in pink and green, Lindy Leaf in green, and Mod Bead in pinkyppurple. The sashing is just 2.5 inch wide strips and squares.
February 216a
We painted the babies hands with green or pink fabric paint and printed them onto the centre square (before it was joined as a block) and then wrote their names underneath (that's the smudgy bit in the photos).  We've got one square blank for the little girl whose quilt this will be, and the ninth square is the names of all the mummies.

For the backing I chose a Tanya Whelan print from the Dolce collection called Marilyn, and the binding is just strips of leftovers.
February 212a
The quilting just follows the sashing and then outlines each of the stars.

I have to admit I'm a little nervous about giving away a quilt.  I think she'll like it, and hopefully she'll be too distracted by the handprints to look too closely at how matchy the points are.

Task number two also made it onto the finished rostrum; I finished the Phoenix socks on Saturday.
February 230
Have I written up the pattern? Only if 'cast on 70 stitches' is all you need to complete these socks.
February 235
Oh well, better to aim high.

And the Christmas tree decorations ...?

Let me distract you with more of the socks:
February 239
I'm still percolating my aims for March but I've got another 3 hours so that should be plenty.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A new toy

February 192
We've been going all high tech around here as you see! In amongst the heady bustle of finishingitis (more on which later when the weather cheers up and I can take some good photos), we've made what H describes as two very low tech lava lamps.

The blue is water with a good dollop of blue food colouring, and the yellow is sunflower oil.

Shake it all up and it turns turquoise
February 194
And then we sit and watch the bubbles of oil slowly separate
February 196

February 198
Until we get back to where we started.
February 201

In the spirit of full disclosure, the idea isn't mine but was shamelessly pinched from Me and Wee. Kitty loves playing with it, she can touch and prod and shake, and even if she suddenly develops an amzing ability to unscrew tightly fastened bottle caps, the worst that will happen is that she'll be a bit blue for a while; it can't do her any real harm. Although having said that I don't think I'll be taking the bottles to anyone with a cream carpet just yet.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Five Months

To my dearest little girl

Today you are five months old.  It's almost a year since you first made an appearance on this blog as a little tiny ultrasound smudge, and look at you now.
February 155
So how has your fifth month been? Well two days before you turned four months you first started to roll onto one side and now that's your favourite trick; you love to lie in your jungle gym and chat to the butterflies and wiggle round and round in circles and roll from side to side to get to all your toys, and usually lift them over your head to surprise Mummy and Daddy. 
February 056
You haven't quite mastered rolling onto your front without a bit of help but I'm sure it won't be long now, and when you get there you're head up and those little feet are kicking away. In the meantime you've discovered your toes and you're keen to give them a thorough inspection.
February 103
This month you've started to show an interest in food, starting by grabbing Daddy's banana out of his hand and giving it a good gum before returning it to its rightful owner, and since then I've given you the odd lick of a banana or an apple if I'm eating one.  I'm sure that when it comes to the right time for solids you're going to love all these new tastes.
February 140
You continue to be such a happy little soul, with an easy going nature that reminds me so much of your father, and you're definitely the extrovert; happy and chatty with your baby friends around you, and a ready smile and sweet gurgles for anyone who takes time to pull silly faces for you.
January 279
You are your Daddy's biggest fan and your face lights up each day when we hear the door open and know that Daddy's home again.
February 152
You love to play singing games, hide-peepo and bounce on my knee, but your favourite time is when I blow raspberries on your tummy and you try to grab my ears/hair/glasses - you giggle so much you sometimes give yourself hiccups.
February 104
Right now you're working on some teeth; and by working I mean trying to gouge them out with your fingers from the looks of it.  I know they make your mouth sore so you're having lots of cuddles and the occasional smidge of Bonjella to help and that makes you feel a lot better.  That and chewing on your teddies and anything else that you can make a bid for; usually the remote controls or the phone which we'd really rather you didn't eat.
February 156
I know every age has its special charms but you are so much fun right now, well apart from yesterday morning when your nappy explosion took out not only your vest and baby gro, but my jeans and a favourite belt as well, not to mention the dripping that was going on as I whisked you upstairs while Daddy scrambled to run your bath; the memories of that one need to fade a little I think.
February 160
You are my Squeaky Peach, my joy, and I love you

Love Mama xxxxx

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Rain, Wind and Wool

It's been a grey and grizzly day here today but happily we had exciting and shiny post to open.  Kitty thought the shiny silver packet was very very thrilling and was allowed to prod at it a few times before Mama opened it.

And what did we find inside?
February 144


Alice has been dyeing beautiful colours and had a little naming competition on her blog with a skein as the prize for the winning name.  So this, with suitable apologies to JWM Turner, is Rain, Wind and Wool

February 147
It's got the deep dark grey of a rain-filled cloud on the point of bursting, and that plummy purple is the steam from the original Rain, Steam and Speed, the sheen of wet tarmac after a downpour.

I loved the colour when I saw it on Alice's blog but the yarn base is just gorgeous in person; it's a wool, cashmere, nylon mix in a heavy fingering weight and I love it just as much as Kitty - thanks Alice, it's a real treat.

So given that it might just be too gorgeous to be socks, has anyone got any patterns to suggest? I've got 400 yards of Soccusu-X and I'm going to enjoy knitting it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

February 111
I woke up gently this morning, sleepily wished my husband a happy Valentine's Day, and then told him that he was really late to work and he had to get up. 
February 117
Happily for both of us, because he was really late by this point, his Valentine surprise for me was that he'd booked the day off work so we got to have a wonderfully lazy morning, pottering around the house doing the odd chore and generally just enjoying spending time as our little family of three.
February 105
We're not usually into Valentine's Day in a big flowers and chocolates and cards kind of way; but I'll sign up to any excuse to play with my food and get the cookie cutters out, hence the oh so elegantly presented ham sandwiches for lunch.

I did fall victim to a little marketing by Sainsbury's; mainly because I still get a kick out of buying packs of three and knowing that that's one for each of us, so now we each have a little red Chinese-ish lantern with pink hearts.
February 119
We hung them off the mobile that Uncle C and Aunt C gave Kitty for Christmas which hangs off our lounge lightfitting which puts them at shoulder height for us.
February 120
Kitty, clearly themed for the occasion in a t-shirt only slightly too small, loves it when we blow the lanterns to make them spin so I think they might stay up for a while.
February 128
She is possibly the most spoiled of all today (as is right and fitting) after we took a trip to see her Godmamma this afternoon who had knitted the sweetest little red pinafore dress, perfect to match her t-shirt. I've no photo because the princess is asleep, and no link because it appears to have escaped Mandy's ravelry page unless I'm being very blind. It's all warm and snuggly (and three inches longer than the pattern) and she looks completely adorable in it - thank you Mandy.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Another week passing

I must come clean, I have a raging case of startitis which I am trying womanfuly to resist.  The resistance is not an objection to multiple projects on the needles/sewing machine, but simple financial restraints on the spending spree which my knitterly eyes want to take me on.  Apparently I don't want to knit anything that I actually have yarn for but I could name half a dozen things that require a little flexing of the Paypal button. Paypal is a wonderful and dangerous thing- I don't need to go and find my credit card to go shopping...!

The stash issues may be in no small part due to the fact that my stash appears to be largely comprised of odd balls and leftovers. Note to self to cull or make Kitty a whole load of stripy jumpers.  I do have a decent amount of laceweight and as the craving is for jumpers I've been eyeing up the laceweight jumper patterns - yes, this is the depths to which my startitis has developed - I'm seriously considering knitting mile upon mile of stocking stitch laceweight.

I am still knitting my Phoenix socks - slowly - and I'm going to finish them - soon.  But a girl can swatch can't she?

I've not had a huge amount of crafty time this week as Miss Kitty is working on some teeny tiny little teeth which requires much nursing, chewing on things and cuddles from Mummy and in the available moments I've been working on 'The Quilt with the Immovable Deadline'

I took a little shopping trip to Cotton Patch last week for some fabric and after much deliberation and discussion with my able assistant I went for four prints from Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane range, and one from Bijoux.
February 097
Tonally they're very similar so despite the different colours, they should go together quite well and allow the bright white of the stars to pop out.
February 101

I've been doing a little seam here and there, following this tutorial, and a week's worth of odd moments soon adds up so that I've now got nine patches taken about as far as I can get them without having the centre squares handprinted yet.
February 098
I think I'll add 2 1/2 inch white sashing with coloured corner blocks and then make the binding up out of strips of the fabric leftover from cutting the squares and then quilt and outline around each star and maybe stipple the rest of it - I haven't quite decided yet, it's very much a 'wing it' kind of quilt design.
February 099

None the less I like the way it's coming together so far; I realised while I was sewing the other day that this is going to be the first quilt which I've made that I'll be giving away, all the others are dotted around the house and see enough daily wear that I'm not too fussed about just how precise the points are and whether every seam matches (and quite often they're not suitable for microscopic inspection).  This quilt though; lets just say that my seam ripper has never seen so much action.

Fingers crossed it turns out ok.

And what has Kitty been doing all this time - well her favourite activity seems to be grabbing everything within reach for a quick nibble-test ..

February 104
..and I mean everything; fingers, Daddy's banana, and most impressively this morning she made a bid for the communion chalice and had to have her fingers prised gently off it by Mummy and the server.

But if Daddy's home from his match there's only one place for this little girl - by her Daddy's side watching the match.

February 102
Daddy what did you just call that referee? ..... What does that mean?

Saturday, February 05, 2011


By hook, crook and Google, I recently came across the Wilette photography blog and her challenge for February to find the Joy of Love in pictures of someone you love each day.  Given that I don't need to be asked twice to take pictures of Miss Kitty, and I'd like to try to improve my photography of small people that wriggle around (knitting being remarkably compliant when it comes to posing for a good shot), it seemed like it might be fun to try.

I'm a little behind times so we've got a few days to catch up with, and some of the pictures are from recent weeks rather than the past few days but the intent was there and some of them seem particularly fitting. So without further ado

Day 1: What they do

February 077
Kitty found her thumb just this side of Christmas to nicely co-incide with her transfer into her big girl cot and every now and then we'll hear a little slurp slurp in the middle of the night as she comes up out of deep sleep and nuzzles her fingers as she drifts off again.  She's sat on her Daddy's lap as I type and that left thumb is firmly planted again - I think it helps take the edge off some teeth that might be about to make an appearance.

photo settings: f/3.3, ISO 800 with the shutter speed on auto and the white balance on incandescent pre-setting. I wish I'd used a slightly higher f stop because her thumb is beautifully in focus but the face is slightly blurred.

Day 2: How they look
January 204
It's just too good a pun to resist.  Kitty is starting to enjoy her tummy time a bit more, possibly ever since Mummy and Daddy added another zebra to her collection at Christmas, and now that she recognises herself in the mirror she thinks it's great fun to spot Mummy in the mirror.

Photo settings: f/4, ISO 300, Auto shutter

Day 3: Then and Now
February 095
I cheated a little bit with this one because it obviously isn't a picture of Kitty, and then when Day 4's theme came in I knew I had photos for both.  This is the very first baby vest that Kitty wore when we finally got around to dressing her after a wonderful hour or so of gazing at the tiny little baby curled on my chest, size newborn, and the vest that she's wearing right now, size 6-12 months.  I think that says it all really.

Photo settings: f/3.3 ISO 160, auto shutter

Day 4: What they wear

February 096
I think I pre-empted this one - but really, how much has this little girl grown in 19.5 weeks!
February 089

Photo settings: f/3.3 ISO 160, auto shutter

and last but not least, Day 5's theme is 'What you love to hate'.  Your imagination can supply the details of the task that I enjoy the least when it comes to Miss Kitty. Suffice to say that I have not and will not be taking photos - I've usually got my hands full to be honest.  Particularly when a certain someone has a blow-out half way around Cotton Patch and needs attending to in the boot of my car before we travel home.

To see everyone else's joyful pictures and the tips and tricks for each day, check out Wilette Designs here.

Friday, February 04, 2011


Yesterday was (briefly) lovely and bright and sunny so we took the chance to pop outside for a little quilty photoshoot.

Now knowing as you do, my long standing predilection for bright and crazy all the colours of the rainbow in quilts, and knitting, and life in general, and you would be forgiven for being a little surprised at my decision a year ago to make an entire quilt from just four fabrics, all from the one colour family.  Truth be told it surprises me a little, it must have been a decision made under the influence of early morning sickness for which I cannot be held responsible.

Happily we can report that my colour sense, or lack thereof, has returned to normal, and so when I went to pick out a colour to join together my 12 quilted blocks, I toyed only briefly with the creams, the pale grey spot on ivory and the mottled off white that would have blended seamlessly with my quilt blocks.  We found some colours that went well with the blocks and I could have made it up with any number of them and the quilt would have been ... nice.

It just wasn't me so I pulled out a toothpasty mint with little white polka spots and one thing led to another and my finished quilt ...

February 082

is bordered with a brilliant lime green polka dot.  En mass it would be too much, and I don't think I would have used it for a wide border but it's perfect for this little inch strip around the edge.

February 083
I love the way it makes all the blocks pop, and somehow it seems to lift the quilt out of being a bit too old-fashioned and fuddy-duddy and into something modern and crisp that I want to have in my quilt pile rather than relegated to be the first one grabbed for sitting out in the garden.

February 086
I used a fairly standard quilt-as-you-go technique to join the blocks:

First I cut strips 1.5" and 3" wide.  The 3" wide strips I folded in half lengthways and ironed and then made a sandwich along a raw edge of a quilt block of 1.5" strip face down onto the front of a block and then the folded strip along the back, raw edges to raw edges.

I sewed a 1/4 inch seam through all of these layers along the right hand edge of each of the blocks, then to join the blocks I lined up the other side of the 1.5" strip with the block to the immediate right of the one it was already attached to and sewed another 1/4 inch seam, right sides together.

That joins the front and I simply pulled the folded strip across the gap at the back and hand sewed it to the other side as if I was putting on a binding. To make it easy on my fabric cutting I joined blocks into rows and then rows into a quilt but I think it could be done any way you like.

For the edges of the quilt I added quilt as you go borders but obviously there's nothing to join them to, so I machine basted the raw edge and the folded edge together and then used 2" wide strips of white and red leftovers to make the binding which was sewn onto the green border, and you can't tell that there's wadding missing on casual acquaintance with the quilt.
February 038
I suspect that this may be my one and only quilt as you go quilt; I liked the ease of the quilting, and it was a distinct plus to have got so much of the quilting done before Kitty made her appearance, but it was annoying to find that some of my blocks had quilted down smaller than 12.5" square and somehow it just wasn't as satisfying as sitting down and stippling a whole quilt top.

But now that it's finished it's a useful little lap/sofa quilt - size wise it will wrap my feet and tuck up under my arms, so I presented it to our impartial judge for analysis:
February 071
She measured the accuracy of Mummy's quilting,
February 061
Assessed the balance my use of her favourite red across the quilt as a whole.
February 054
Checked its wriggly potential. And proclaimed it:
February 051
"Eeeeeeeeeeeee! Eeeeeeeyye ! Baaaaablumaaaah oooooohmmm ya ya."

Who knows, but she's smiling and she loves sticking her fingers into the flying geese block.

So that's one of January's crafty challenges met and mastered.  February's? well I've done a teeny tiny bit of cutting out for the handprint quilt.  I may have some work to do. 

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

1st February

How is this possible? How has January passed in its enterity already? Did evil piskies come along in the night and flip forward everyone's calendars a week without us noticing? Did I pass another month in a wonderful baby-centric blur? Why yes I did, how did you guess?

But as no amount of lamenting can return that piskie-pinched week that I know went missing in the wee small hours it is time instead to assess the effectiveness of my New Year's Resolution on my vague crafty aims, which I may or may not ever have owned up to. So...
  • Task number 1: Finish the sampler quilt.  
Result: Finished. As of an hour ago. So technically I was defeated by half a binding which was sewn down this afternoon and this evening while Kitty and H played hide-peepo with the finished end.  I'm claiming victory on this one and as soon as it's sunny again I'll take some pictures.
  • Task number 2:: Finish the second Phoenix sock and make a start on writing up the pattern.
Result: If I were relying on finishing these socks to ensure warm and toasty feet I would have one very chilly set opf toes.  I have managed the ribbing and just over one pattern repeat on the second sock so I have made sopme progress but there's still someway to go and the pattern is still entirely in my head.
  • Task number 3: Finish and block my Flowing River shawl.
Result: Finished - yippee
January 085
  • Task number 4: Start making the Christmas tree decorations that I didn't make in time for Christmas.  Christmas 2009 that is.  
Result: Well I cut out the felt pieces for the trees and the deer from the 2009 Posie Gets Cosy kit and I've still got the 2010 kit to go.  It is progress but I probably need to do a little more each month than an afternoon's cutting out if I'm going to be hanging them on my tree next year.
  • Task number 5: Owls need eyes
Result: Owls have eyes.  Lots of eyes.  I started the Owls sweater way back when Kitty was still an enormous bump with nary a swatch or appropriate yarn substitution in sight - I simply knit the largest size on 5 and 5.5mm needles in Mission Falls 1824 wool and hoped for the best.  And the best turned out to be not bad.
February 026
Please forgive the mirror photo - my resident photographer had the unfortunate inconvenience that is full time employment and Miss Kitty has not yet mastered the necessary pincer grip.  Or the kind of height she will need to take a picture of Mama that is more than just a shot of my nostrils.

It is a lovely comfy jumper, and whilst at the moment it reveals that this mother of a four-month old nursling has the figure of a mother of a four month old nursling, I have high hopes that a trip through the wash for blocking and the possible/probable/entirely unlikley return of something vaguely resembling my pre-pregnancy shape will only improve the fit.
February 021

I decided to go for just the one set of eyes on this jumper for various reasons, mainly connected to the cost of buttons, and I did need to buy 28 buttons because, well, when you have complete artistic direction over the dressing of your daughter, the possibility of dressing alike might just be too much to bear. (Just rejoice in the fact that I resisted the temptation to write a blog post full of Edward Lear allusions and leave it at that)
February 005
The Owlet is an equally good pattern and the finished result (size 9 months) is perfect for Kitty to continue to combat wintery weather with growth spurts.  She wore it to watch H play hockey on an icily damp Saturday and, tucked up in the snuggly cover to her buggy, was the only cozy member of the sideline spectators.  She also possetted on it which I'm choosing to interpret as a sign of deep devotion; after all, surely that's what it means when she drools on me, no?

So heading out into February, shall we try some crafty aims for the month:
  • The handprint quilt.  Absolutely has to be done.
  • Finish the Phoenix socks and write up the pattern
  • Make more progress on the Christmas tree decorations.

Will I get close, only time will tell!
But before I go, today is one more very important first. Today, without a hint of sarcasm or cheekiness I can for the very first time say:
January 248

and it's true  - I hope you had a wonderful day Dad; your grandaughter sends giggles and apparently a small amount of milky drool (you may regift the latter if you wish) and we're looking forward to seeing you soon.