It’s been a while but I’ve finally managed to write a ‘How To’ for the reversible pinafore dress I created after being inspired by Anna Maria Horner’s ‘Quick Change Pants’ (from Handmade Beginnings). There have been a few changes since the original version, mainly the addition of bias binding to finish the hem and neckline, which I think gives it a much neater and professional look.
So here (hopefully) is the link for the PDF. I decided to share it this way as the instructions are a bit lengthy for a blog post.
Do share with others, let me know what you think, and send me pics if you have a go!
We may not have the bright lights of the big city round here, but we do pretty well for little town festivals and celebrations. The town we lived in until the summer has a wonderful Christmas tree festival in its Church each year, launched by a Christmas procession through the town. Since there is a Wild Animal Park just nearby, the Christmas procession includes a real donkey for Mary and real camels for the Wise men! I got a sneak preview of the Christmas Tree festival when we had to find an emergency place to feed M- it felt very seasonal to be a woman seeking a room for her and her baby on a cold winter’s night! The idea is that lots of community groups decorate trees around the Church and collect money for charities. I couldn’t get pictures since I was juggling a still grumpy M and an empty buggy, while C chased P, who was overcome with the urge to touch all the glittery loveliness, but take my word for it, the spectacle is magic.
M certainly made her presence felt last night- I think she objected to the cold despite her brand new ‘Snow Gnome’ hat, a last minute improvisation with some spare chunky wool I had lying around- pattern on Ravelry now. Funny to think that this time last year she was not much more than a little secret sparkle as we waited for a New Year scan. Now she’s such an integral part of the family, and asserting her growing personality more each day.
I had already planned to change our new Seasonal display this weekend, and right on cue this was the snowy scene out of the kitchen window as I cooked up an indulgent full English breakfast this morning. We can claim the breakfast as medicinal since three out of four of us have had a truly awful cold the last couple of days, with number four making up for her lack of cold with teething pains. Thankfully we all seem to be on the mend, even if there is no sign of actual teeth yet.
I’d already broken out the glitter earlier in the week when P and I prepared a backdrop for the Winter display. I was originally looking for some dark blue card, but then I saw this dark indigo felt and thought ‘Why not?’. We used cotton buds dipped in PVA glue to create the stars and moon, with glitter heaped on top, then the excess shaken off to settle over everything inside and outside the house, probably until next July. Cotton buds are great for controlling how much gloopy stuff- glue, paint etc- an enthusiastic toddler transfers from pot to artwork. With a bit of experience I’ve seen lovely pointellism (spelling?) effects using this method.
Since the glitter was already all over the place anyway, we did a bit of instant, post lunch/ pre nap art using pine cones, glue, two empty cream cheese tubs and yes more of the shiny stuff. Actually it’s quite a good way of minimising the glue and glitter mess and has the added advantage of involving noise and surprise, always good as far as two-year-olds are concerned! Basically, put some PVA glue in one tub and some glitter in the other. Put the pine cone in the glue tub, put the lid on (firmly!) and give it a good shake and rattle. Open it up, carefully transfer into the glitter tub, repeat the process and ‘Surprise!’ a frosted pine cone!
We began with ‘realistic’ white frost but ran out of that colour so ended up with ‘tasteful’ purple as well.
Also featuring on our Winter display is the Steiner advent calendar we made at the toddler group we go to: an angel made of cleverly tied wool tops moves up 27 stars on the dark blue ribbon until Christmas day (27 because the first Sunday of Advent is not the first day of December). The angel has a slightly unfestive bulldog clip sewn to the back of her to enable the heavenly ascent…
The Season display is becoming one of my favourite things in the house. We do our best to light the candle from it each day at our evening meal, to help P to understand that it’s a special time to sit together. We’re developing the habit of finding things or making things to add to it as the weeks go past, and while I’m lucky enough to spend a reasonable amount of time outdoors and watching the year as it turns, this focal point helps to give me a heightened awareness of time ticking by, which in turn seems to remind me to take a longer view, rather than sweating the small stuff. Every home should have one!
Okay, I’ll admit it, I have serious woodland envy issues! I love the idea of owning some woodland, learning to manage it, maybe heating the house using fuel we’d grown, maybe building a yurt on it…you get the idea of what is definitely nothing more than a dream at the moment. Maybe the next best thing then, is to have some good friends whose family have bought some lovely woodland in a valley near us. Today we got to visit it for the first time and it was magical, from shuffling through the leaves to making music by banging sticks on logs, from being able to let the toddlers tootle off on their own adventures (nearly) out of sight, to eating lunch and drinking tea in the cosy little caravan they’ve moved there. I get the feeling we’ll be back.
Meanwhile, I can’t believe that it’s been a week since I wrote anything here. It’s not that I haven’t been productive, but just that I seem to have lots of projects part way through and nothing to show for it just yet. In the case of a certain pirate jumper it’s a case of rip it up and start again (ouch!). But hopefully soon I’ll have some good stuff to show and tell, especially with a certain special season approaching!
Ever since they started stocking it, I’ve been tempted by Clothkit’s Liberty print bias binding It’s Liberty Print! It’s on a wooden bobbin (although I’ve realised it’s cheaper to buy by the metre, but hey-ho)! What’s not to like? Ok, maybe the answer to that question is the price, so it took a 25% off deal to get me to go for it. By happy coincidence they also had some Rowan Revive on offer too. I’ve been looking for a chance to try some of this out for a while as I’d really like to source as much yarn as possible from sustainable sources in future and/or support British sheep farmers. This yarn ticks the eco-box and I’ve an idea for a wintry number for little M, once I finally crack on and finish the sleeve of P’s pirate sweater. On that subject, all I can say is that once again I’ve got a stocking stitch in brown versus entrelac in multicoloured glory situation once again (remember this one?)- I’ll get there in the end!!
Sometimes I know I make too much work for myself. I already had a present ready for my best friend’s little girl R, who turns 3 tomorrow (3! imagine!!). It was sitting proudly in my presents box, because with all the little ones we have to buy for these days I actually have a presents box where I store things for later. But I digress. As I said, I had a perfectly good present ready to send, but maybe it was the windy cold weather yesterday that gave me the urge to make something extra to pop in the parcel. I had some Artesano Alpaca left over from the Snapdragon Mittens and some Rowan Purelife Blue Faced Leicester left over from the Pirate sweater (which still needs an arm finishing) and together they made a lovely combination just crying out to be an Aviatrix. Thinking about it, given that the recipient is unnaturally clever at finding nearly all the countries on the world map, this could be a very appropriately named pattern- future career as a pilot perhaps?!
The result reminds me of those gorgeous screen print illustrations they used to use on railway posters and the colour combination is, in my opinion, just Christmassy enough for November. I’m sure R’s clever mummy could easily add a little something to up the Christmas factor when that time rolls around. Speaking of which, that present box really needs some topping up…
I know some people move into new houses and find unexpected treasures discarded by previous occupants. We’ve mainly found junk and hideous wallpaper. However, sometimes a kindly eye can be enough to transform trash to treasure.
The shelf and cupboard pictured above was hanging in our still rather neglected porch, holding a collection of junk mail, old aerosol cans and other rubbish. At first it was on my list of things to send to the tip, but then I realised that it was the right sort of size for the Seasons display area I’d been meaning to get around to creating for ages. In addition, the little cupboard was perfect for storing bits and pieces not needed at any given time.
So, a bit of soap and water and a few coats of paint- not a fabulous job, I’m pretending it’s meant to be a bit ‘shabby chic!’- and while it’s no heirloom piece, it does the job.
Here it is with our ‘Autumn’ items…crafts from the Steiner toddler group including a Michaelmas candle, hedgehog made from a conker, mouse made from sheepswool and a pine cone and a ‘shooting star’ made from a conker and streamers; a collection of leaves, acorns and nutshells collected on walks and possibly my favourite, a painting of a hedgehog in leaves by P and I. I drew the hedgehog and demonstrated how to fingerpaint the spines, but P was much more enthusiastic about handprinting the leaves, hence the hedgehog is pretty comprehensively buried in autumn colour!
…or take four to be precise. Our home improvements are taking a long while to get done, partly because we are on a learning curve with most things, partly because free weekends are hard to come by and partly because two small children don’t really speed things along! These chairs were a nice exception to the rule, though, turning out to be an easier and quicker job than I expected. My Grandma had given us money to spend as a housewarming present, so I bought some ‘Provence Rose Green’ cotton duck from Cath Kidston. It was a simple case of unscrew the seats from their bases, use a (borrowed) staple gun to secure the fabric over the old covers and replace the seats. The only challenge I have is to try and make an extra slipcover for the chair P uses. He insists on a big chair rather than his lovely adjustable high chair to sit up to the table and I don’t want my lovely new fabric splattered with porridge, pasta sauce etc, so I want a removable, washable version. Sewing machine out later this weekend then, to finish the job.
The magic loop in question is being deployed on the Pirate jumper I’m making for P. It’s working instead of DPNs for the sleeves, but I’m finding it pretty tedious and annoying work. This is probably why I’m giving it a break for a while. That and the fact that given how fussy the intended audience is when it comes to clothes, especially tops, at the moment. I’m not sure I can take the rejection of my specially designed, handknitted from BFL yarn offering just yet, so I’ll go back to it in a wee while and maybe he’ll be feeling slightly more cooperative.
I also have huge temptation in the form of spoils from a trip to Kendal last weekend. The trip took place for an initially bad reason- C’s phone going on the blink and needing to go there to be fixed- but unexpected post the day before turned it into a bit of a treat. The post in question was a letter from the Inland Revenue, explaining I’d overpaid tax last year and enclosing a cheque!!! Okay, so the overdraft swallowed it, but we decided that a few treats were still in order, therefore new boots, a yummy lunch out and a visit to William’s Wools made it a very nice day indeed. The yarn shop visit was not entirely selfish, as both purchases were in preparation for Christmas presents. Can’t say much about the Noro in case the wrong eyes read this, but the golden Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino is destined to be a teddy bear like the one I made for P. It’s hard to know what to get as a Christmas present for a 6 month old baby, so I’ve decided M should have something handmade with love. Hopefully she’ll love it as much as P loves ‘Edmund’ bear. I’ll keep some yarn back for essential darning in case she does!