P had a twenty minute tantrum today. I think it was something about the colour of top he was wearing. He’s two years old, so looking for logic just isn’t worth the time. As I waited for the screams to fade down, I got on with making lunch and looked down into the sweet smiling face of my little girl, finding it so hard to believe that in a couple of years she’ll probably having moments like that.
However, for all that it’s tough at times living in the crazy world of the toddler, of course I wouldn’t change him, wouldn’t even freeze or reverse time so that he stayed the placid little baby he was. I know that the tantrums are all part of the process of him growing up, growing more and more into his personality every day.
So today’s blog is an indulgence, for which I make no excuses! It’s a tribute to what he’s becoming and a bit of a chance to remind myself that he does a lot more than scream and kick, this boy of mine:
Happy news today- our very dear friends announced the safe arrival of their first child. Welcome to the world baby Isaac! I don’t need much prompting to get the knitting needles out and had already bought some Debbie Bliss Eco-Baby in preparation. I adapted a pattern from her ‘Simply Baby’ book to make a little hat with the little man’s initial on it. It’ll go in the post tomorrow, ready for when he comes home.
Ok, I’ll deal with the dragons first- Ysolda Teague’s Snapdragon mittens to be precise. I finished the first one ages ago but after swearing and struggling with complicated cables over four needles I just couldn’t face doing it all over again so the second mitten was somewhat abandoned as summer came around. Well, summer is well and truly over and with cold hands to spur me on I conquered my dragon and completed the matching mitten with only one frogging and minimal bad language.
While I feel the cold a lot, P is like his father in that he would happily run around in shorts and a tshirt all year. I really want him to at least wear a hat when he goes out in the cold, but he has perfected the sentence ‘I don’t like it, Mummy’. Undeterred by the prospect of failure, I used leftovers from my Manu cardigan (Inca Cloud), entrelac scarf (King Cole Riot) and the Snapdragon mittens (Artesano Alpaca) to make a pirate hat:
Yes, I know it doesn’t look like anything a pirate would wear but Shhh! Don’t tell a certain two year old who loves pirates and is therefore just about persuaded that a ‘pirate hat’ is acceptable. For five minutes to take a photo anyway.
The pattern was one I made up because I couldn’t find a pattern for the weight of yarn I had (DK) or that wasn’t on four needles (I’m off DPNs at the moment after the mittens, see above!) or a circular (just wasn’t in the mood for circular, and would have needed DPNs for the top anyway). I’m a bit of a straights girl myself, even though I hate seaming at the end, so this is how I made an earflap hat on straights:
P’s ‘Pirate’ Hat
Fits a 20in circumference toddler head.
Cast on 110 stitches on 3.75mm needles, in five provisional cast ons as follows:
15 for left back, 20 for ear flap, 40 for front, 20 for ear flap, 15 for right back. I used different coloured yarns for the different sections so that it was easier later. Neat knitters of a nervous disposition look away now…
Choose the colour you want for the ear flaps and make sure you have enough left to knit them later. Join yarn and knit across all stitches.
Continue in stocking stitch, adding in colours/stripes as desired until hat is desired depth from brow to 10cm below crown.
Begin decreases as follows:
On next knit row, *K9, k2tog, rep from * until end
Next row, purl
Next row *K8, k2tog, rep from * until end
Next row, purl
Continue in this manner until 22 stitches remain.
Next knit row, K2tog across row.
Break long yarn, thread through all stitches to gather.
Undo provisional cast-on for an ear flap and pick up all stitches.
With right side facing, P3, K14, P3
Row 2: K3, P14, K3
Repeat these two rows nine times more.
Next row: K2tog, P2, K12, P2, K2tog
Next row: K3, P12, K3
Next row: K2tog, P2, K10, P2, K2tog
Next row: K3, P12, K3
Next row: K2tog,K12, K2tog
Knit two rows, place stitches on holder.
Complete second ear flap to match.
Join seam at back of hat. Undo back provisional cast ons and place all back stitches on needle. With right side facing to begin, complete three rows of reverse stocking stitch then place stitches on a holder.
Place front stitches on needle, complete three rows reverse stocking stitch as for back. Place stitches on holder.
Join ends of reverse stocking stitch rows to sides of ear flaps.
Using a circular needle (I know, I know, but I only used it for this bit!) pick up 12 stitches down side of left ear flap, pick up stitches from holder along the bottom, 12 stitches up other side of right ear flap, pick up stitches along front, pick up stitches around right ear flap in same way then pick up stitches along back.
Using contrast yarn if desired, use i-cord cast off all the way around edge:
K3, *pass 3 stitches back onto left needle, K2, K2 together, repeat from * until three stitches remain. K2 tog, pass stitch back to left needle, K2tog and thread yarn through loop.
Weave in ends, join up i-cord edging and persuade your two-year-old it’s a pirate hat.
Nobody said motherhood was easy, and with P being very ‘two’ at the moment I’m living proof. With my nemesis day, Wednesday, looming, I was determined that we’d survive without too many tantrums. So a domestic morning of singing and playing instruments, drawing on big sheets of lining paper, cleaning the kitchen and hanging out washing was in order.
I also made bread. Didn’t have time to knead it myself, so it was a breadmaker job for the proving process, finished off in the oven. Even without the soothing rhythm of kneading, just the smell and sight of new bread in the house is enough to give me a sense of wellbeing. Meanwhile, just before naptime, the delivery of a present for M (three apple trees and a pear tree- what a lovely idea!) provided P with his own therapy in the form of bubblewrap. He happily jumped, squished, stomped and popped as we wrapped up a morning that was more or less tantrum free. Hooray!
There are times when I sew properly, carefully, with good light and an ironing board set up nearby. Then there are times when I just need to get stuff done out of necessity and those quality standards are- ahem- relaxed a little. Last night was one of those times. Madame Dribble really needed some better bibs as we were constantly changing clothes that were soaked down the front, while the young sir has trouble with leaky nappies at night time and needed some more PJ trousers.
In just one morning of M wearing the bandana-style bibs I’ve made I’ve been showered with compliments and told I should to into production. Each time I’ve confessed ‘THEY’RE NOT MY IDEA!’. There is a company here who make these absorbent cloth triangular bibs and very good they are too. It’s just that we have a near non-existent budget. Therefore I borrowed their idea, and one of their products from a friend and made up my own version using scrap fabric, some leftover brushed cotton for the backing and adding a layer of terry cloth from an unused nappy in the middle for extra dribble soaking. Only trouble is, she can easily soak all four in a day, so another late night session may be in the offing.
The leftover brushed cotton was also pressed into service for P’s PJs, as was an old t-shirt of C’s. I used the method described by Amanda Blake-Soule in ‘The Creative Family’ for these, basically using an existing pair of trousers as a pattern. I made his first couple of pairs like this a year or more ago and he still wears them in bed- easy to make, comfy to wear and free material to make it, what’s not to love? Just don’t look too closely at the finishing…this was necessity sewing, remember??
I mentioned in this post that I wanted to try making a pinafore dress that was reversible, like the Quick Change Trousers by Anna Maria Horner. Having given myself stiff fingers from too much knitting recently, I thought I’d have a go.
I didn’t make it easy for myself using some linen fabric from a old skirt of mine- it tended to slide about making accuracy a bit tricky. Having said that, I really like how it looks with the Liberty print fabric I had in my scrap bag and used for the backing. It turns out that making a pinafore this way is a bit trickier than the trousers, so there were a few false starts but now I think I have the method nailed. My plan is to have a little splurge here and maybe put a ‘How-To’ on this blog.
We’ve been very fortunate in recent weeks to see an awful lot of our extended family- nearly a full house on both sides in fact! This was very much how it was for both C and I when we were growing up, with cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents forming important threads in the fabric of our lives. I’m very happy that the same seems to be happening for our little ones.
The occasion on the weekend just gone, which began with a car journey spent knitting, was a special centenary. 100 years ago on Saturday my paternal grandmother was born. Professional harpist, wartime bride, mother of two and much loved wife, you never hear those who remember her (she died when I was four, so I’m not among them) describe her as sweet or gentle. Instead you get the picture of a strong, witty, intelligent force to be reckoned with, for whom family was so very important. My Dad’s sister had the idea that to celebrate her birthday it would be great to have a family get together. This used to happen on that side of the family a lot when I was little, with Baptisms, First Communions and Confirmations happening in either mine or my cousins’ family more or less every year. We were also lucky enough to have a Grandfather and Great Aunt who organised summer parties and St Nicholas Day celebrations for the lot of us.
And a lot of us there were. My ‘Mama’ (as we called her) only lived to see four grandchildren born. That number eventually grew to eight. On Saturday, as well as her two children, her son in law and daughter in law and her eight grandchildren, there were also eight great-grandchildren- P was in heaven with so many little ones to play with and I was pretty happy to catch up with cousins whom I haven’t seen for two years.
At a lovely country house hotel in Herefordshire (nice and central for a family coming in from London, Surrey, Manchester, Shropshire and Cumbria) we ate a fantastic meal, pored over precious documents that gave amazing glimpses of a life begun a century ago, had a slideshow of photographs and even watched a DVD of my grandparents, aunt and uncle, and parents’ wedding – they had a family friend at the time who was a home film enthusiast. We had a harpist to play who also, so patiently, allowed the children to explore her instrument. Perhaps most precious of all, we got the chance to catch up and reminisce with one another and to demonstrate to the next generation how wonderful and rich the experience of family life can be.
I’m fond of a good pinafore dress, especially since having a little girl baby. On my ‘most coveted’ list for when M is just a little older is this gorgeous number from Oliver & S. As it happens, more inspiration came today from reading this blog- it must be a pinafore sort of day!
Anyway, I’d had some pretty spotted babycord ever since I accidentally ordered it when choosing fabrics for P’s quilt. Only having a fat quarter it wasn’t going to make any sort of garment, so I thought I’d improvise a little using some old cord trousers from the scrap pile and some leftover Liberty print from making last year’s Christmas presents. I bodged a pattern together using existing garments and the Picture Frame dress pattern in Handmade Beginnings and came up with this little number. Then I found it wouldn’t fit over M’s head, even with a popper at the back, so I had to unpick a shoulder seam and add a button loop.
To be honest, while the finished result looks okay (it’s all about the model!), on closer inspection it’s rather a testament to what happens when you try to sew stuff with a heavy cold and in a hurry because the baby’s grumpy. There are some unfinished edges inside, some upside-down linings and some decidedly wobbly seams. However, the process of making it has given me some inspiration for something I want to come up with based partly on this pinafore and partly on the trousers I made (more successfully I might add) a while back.
Meanwhile I have a cardigan and scarf off the knitting needles and ready to block. Which means I have nothing to knit over the weekend. I feel a baby hat coming on…