Wednesday has a bad reputation round these parts, for reasons I think I’ve grumbled about before. Today was a happy exception. I knew even before I opened my eyes, as in the midst of a week of a windy, wet and cold return to winteriness, there was sunshine coming through the window (it didn’t last!). Not only that, but I was opening my eyes at a time I chose, since P was contentedly playing with his bag of ‘good morning’ toys, chattering away to himself as he had been for maybe an hour (!) without any apparent need for me. Okay, so I discovered when I went in to see him at a comfortably later hour than normal that he had also been munching the spine of a book. Why, when left alone with them, does he eat books? What is lacking from what appears to be a healthy, balanced and generally home-cooked diet?! Oh well, doesn’t seem to be doing him much harm and I really enjoyed my lie-in.
Once we finally got ourselves up and breakfasted it was time for me to do some work on the results of a slightly stressful painting session yesterday afternoon (suffice to say, grumpy toddlers who haven’t napped are not best combined with paints). I made an egg template and used it to cut shapes from the best bits of his daubings, then let him loose with some crayons to add further embellishments. Actually, he mainly broke the crayons in half and tried to eat them, which makes me more motivated to invest in some nicer, and possibly more nutritious ones (!). We bought these for a friend’s second birthday and I’ve been meaning to get some for P since then.
Anyway, with embellishments added, I cut a slit at the top and added some dotty ribbon I had stashed to make a hanging loop et voila Easter cards for various family and friends.
As for this…
…I couldn’t resist sharing my delight in the project I’ve more or less finished during naptime today and this evening. It’s something I’ve been meaning to get sorted for ages and now that I’ve got on with it, it hasn’t taken too long to complete (just waiting for a delivery from Greenfibres now). Aren’t the zingy colours just the thing to drive back the last blast of winter? More soon.
>According to the weather reports, it seems we’ve been a bit fooled by the signs of Spring. Next week promises colder winds, lots of rain and even snow. This makes me even gladder that we’ve been getting out and about as much as we have recently. It also spurred us to go out this afternoon, despite the need to continue the big sorting out job we’ve begun on the house (a move is imminent, we hope, so we are trying to reduce our possessions before we have to pack and move them). Yes, Tarn Hows is becoming a bit of a predictable choice for us, but when you just need to get out and catch that last little blast of Spring weather predictable and easy fits the bill.
We found a little sunshine…
No posts this week as we’ve been away on a little holiday. There’s also a distinct scarcity of pics, as we were just too busy having fun! However, there is this slightly blurry evidence that not did we catch our first ever glimpse of a red squirrel, but we had them right outside our door, posing in every Beatrix Potter-esque pose imaginable! I also saw a woodpecker this morning and last night, coming back from a very rare night out together (the joys of staying with another set of parents is tit-for-tat babysitting favours) C and I saw, and avoided stepping on, crested newts.
The second pic doesn’t even come close to showing just how much fun P had spending the week with a little pal who was equally keen to jump in, and closely examine, puddles wherever we went. Not to mention run full pelt around our cabin, giggling, squealing and generally being full of joy. And that’s without even beginning on the fun we had at the on-site swimming pool complex, with water slides, wave pool and so on!
Beginning and ending with drives through the spectacular Kirkstone Pass that not even my galloping heartburn could spoil, a good time has been had by all.
Okay, I know the photo is terrible, but this was truly an evening’s project and now it’s late evening so the available light is artificial and poor. But all the same I’m really pleased with my little improv project.
It’s in honour of the upcoming adventure this week- swimming! P has been a few times since he was quite small, but hasn’t really had a proper go recently. This week, following the purchase of a float suit- which he currently insists is a ‘hat’ and wears to ride his trike around the living room, incidentally- we are going to get him making like a fish, we hope! As he’s a slippery little so and so when he’s wet I wanted him to have some sort of poncho or robe for apres swim but couldn’t really justify the cost for what was in some cases a glorified towel. Plus I can’t resist a bit of hand-made for the boy. So…one bath towel, size chosen because when folded in half widthways it should cover him but not trip him up.
Then, with the towel folded widthways still, I cut a slit in the middle, and then another halfway across the first slit and at right angles (forming a ‘T’ shape basically). I did this by trial and error, checking on the intended wearer to get the hole big enough for his head but not so big that it will slip off his shoulders.
I then used bias binding tape all the way around the neck hole to finish it and stop it fraying.
Finally I cut a simple boat shape from some scrap fabric and sewed it on the front. I could have done proper applique at this point, but in the end I just back-stitched about a half cm in from the edges all the way around each shape, as I quite like the idea of it being a little bit frayed and rough (no, that’s not just an excuse for a short cut!). I may regret this if fraying gets to falling off, but if that happens I’ll go back and do the proper applique thing.
It honestly looks better in real life than the photo. As to whether it fulfills the function- well, we’ll see this week. First job is to persuade P to take his swimsuit off his head…
Spring really was in the air today- we could somehow smell it as soon as we stepped out of the door into sunshine and slightly warmer air than we’ve been used to for so long. We headed to Coniston, to try out the Yewdale Bridleway route, which was as lovely as the description promised, taking us through oak woodland below Yewdale and above Coniston Water. It was a bit tough for us mummies, given the steep start and a path that suffered in last November’s floods, leaving some rocky terrain.
The buggy passengers didn’t seem phased by bumping along but were soon keen to stretch their legs and explore- knee deep dry leaves, becks that disappeared under the path, drystone walls and more signs of Spring; catkins and these daffodils, not quite ready to burst into a Wordsworthian host but surely not far off if the sunshine stays.
It must be admitted that energy levels today didn’t quite carry us to the official ‘turning point’ of the route- you have to know when to stop sometimes, especially when you’re 23 weeks into a pregnancy! As we headed back to Coniston to treat ourselves to lunch in a cafe and check out ferry times for future adventures, this tree by the path provided yet another source of fascination. Small enough for little arms to wrap around and intriguingly covered in moss, it begged to be prodded, stroked and even hugged. Around the same time two horseback riders came thundering along- thankfully slowing down to a gentle trot to pass us. Well, it is a bridleway after all.
Should you ever get the chance to drive along the stretch of the M6 running North to Tebay services- do it! Unless it was the middle of the night, thick fog or teeming with rain I defy anyone not to be blown away by the majestic sweeping hills before you. Better yet, try and make it so you are the passenger, then you can fully admire the views all around- you’ll wish you could rotate your head 360 degrees like an owl. This morning, as a very Spring-like sun climbed above the tops, it bathed a landscape of soft green, ochre and rust, highlighted with splashes of white- sheep and lambs at the lower levels and the last of the snow in the gullies and high tops.
So what was I doing on the road, on my own at 8am on a Saturday morning? Making my way to Tullie House in Carlisle for a belated birthday present from my sister, a day’s workshop in making felt bags with Debbie Lucas.
I’ve dabbled in felt making before, usually of the knit then machine wash variety (yes, sometimes this has actually been deliberate rather than disaster!). I tried a kit to make a sample square a few years ago but was a bit underwhelmed by the results and didn’t really fall in love with the method- too messy and arm-achey. What a difference a workshop makes! I now feel I have a much better understanding of the process, from the strategic placing of bubble wrap and layering wisps of felt…
To the importance of rolling (with and without bamboo blinds) and rubbing with yet more bubble wrap. It was fascinating how all 11 of us newby feltmakers, given the same basic instructions, materials and 5 hours of workshop time, were able to produce such a great variety of bags:
This was my sister’s. I loved the way she used wisps of curly natural fleece to make the pattern, as it reminds you of what the bag was created from. You can’t see the vivid leaf green lining in this shot, but it complemented the muted tones of the outside beautifully.
I went for a more contemporary look. I love dots, but they can be hard to create in, say, knitting. The advantage of felt is that you get wonderful intense colours and clean lines, so I decided to take advantage of these characteristics to create a colourful, if decidedly mummy-on-the-go unsuitable little handbag.
All in all a pretty fab birthday gift. I’m inspired to look further into this, including digging out a book I have which includes 3D forms. I’m thinking soft and colourful toy storage made from all-natural materials…watch this space!
>Yesterday was doomed from the start really. For a start, it was a Wednesday. For some reason, nothing happens on a Wednesday here- the library is closed, our friends are all at work, there aren’t any playgroups or classes we can do…even with the sun shining it feels like a real mid-week slump. And yesterday was made worse because something woke the boy up at 3.30am and kept him (and me) up for the best part of 3 hours in a miserable state. So I would definitely say I was struggling yesterday morning. When naptime rolled around I logged on to my usual blog roll and there was this post from Hannah at A Handmade Childhood. I’d been meaning to make homemade Play-Doh for ages, not least because a certain someone still can’t resist eating the shop-bought kind, which can’t be good.
So, in the afternoon we stirred our stumps to go and buy some cream of tartar and I holed up in the kitchen and made some Play-Doh, veggie chilli (inspired by our visit to Wilf’s last Saturday) and a indulgent Victoria sponge (just because!). A tasty supper and a good night’s sleep later and things looked much brighter. This morning saw the first test run of our Play-Doh, which I didn’t put colouring in as we’re in a rented house with pale carpets…he didn’t seem to mind and his fascinated absorption gave me a chance to sneak a few more stitches on his quilt.
>Today gave us another glorious dose of sunshine so it was off to Fell Foot Park. As I’ve mentioned before, walking provides a welcome chance to give a certain toddler, intent on increasing his independence, the opportunity to feel he’s enforcing ‘his’ rules. Today they included…
The one with the star-covered wellies decides which path we go on…
…even if it involves crashing through the rhododendrons…
…and making for the Lake (I caught up before he joined the ducks and swans, thank goodness!)