Yesterday was Worldwide Knit in Public Day. It was also the day I became an aunty for the first time. It was also the day of the joint birthday party we held for our two children in the beautiful setting of Fell Foot Park.
For a number of reasons, I’d been quite stressed about the whole process of organising the party, but in the event it was a sun-drenched, perfect day of pirates and party games, bubbles and barbecue, good friends, rolling down hills and ice-cream. In short, the sort of day to make you feel blessed.
Having got there early to hang bunting and lay tables, I found myself with a little free time just before the guests arrived and took the opportunity to do a little knitting in public. Actually it was rather a private kind of public, as I sat on a stone bench at the end of the boathouse we held the party in, overlooking Lake Windermere in all its summer glory. There were people on adjoining terraces and others passing by in boats and canoes, but I was in a little haven of my own and it was bliss.
This time five years ago I was already in hospital, being told that it was unlikely that the pains I was experiencing would lead to the birth of my first child eight weeks before his due date. His birthday is on Monday- so in turned out that ‘unlikely’ wasn’t ‘impossible’. Funnily enough, while I was quite willing to accept the opinion of the people telling me it wasn’t labour, my needles seem to know something I didn’t. During the previous week I had bought fine white cotton yarn- a very uncharacteristic choice for me- and, acting completely on instinct, begun making a tiny, prem-baby sized cardigan and hat. This was what I was making when I sat in the hospital, waiting to see what happened, and that was what he wore when we brought him home from the Special Care Unit just over a week later.
Having my first child marked the beginning of a far more diverse and prolific stage in my knitting, ultimately leading to the design career I have now. A continuous length of yarn runs from then to now, through the tears of sleep deprivation, the calming completeness of breastfeeding, the balancing of work and motherhood, the upheaval of a move to the other end of the country, a second pregnancy and birth, several new homes and the daily revelation and wonder that is being a parent. Through it all there has been knitting- the simple act of creation using yarn and needles. Calming and centering, whether in public or in private. As the inimitable EZ says: “Knit On, with confidence and hope, through all crises.”
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…
If it wasn’t for where we live I can’t imagine I would have countenanced the idea of going for a country walk less than a week after giving birth, but the sun was shining, our little boy still needs as much running around outside time as he can, C is on paternity leave…and while I ended up feeling a little bit sore afterwards it must be good for healing to get the blood flowing. Not to mention the soul to be out in that lovely fresh air. You can tell this year has been better weather-wise so far as they are making hay, unlike last year when we were living at the farm and hay didn’t happen until August thanks to the rain. The tractor doing the mowing was one source of excitement for P. The other was the roots of a lone oak tree in this meadow. They are just the right height for a two-year old to perch and climb on, so we had some mummy/son time while C was in charge of baby sister, buggy, bike and bike helment. Baby sister, by the way, slept through most of the experience, but I’m sure it won’t be long before she shows a bit more appreciation…
I know, I know, it’s a bit late for the usual Friday ‘This Moment’ spot, but I was a bit busy on Friday…and through into Saturday when our little girl finally made her appearance. She is beautiful (of course) and healthy (which we are very thankful for). I have allowed myself a little time to daydream about Liberty print, polka dots and other gorgeous fabrics that can become smocks, frocks and frilly knickers. Also knitting including frock coats and berets by Debbie Bliss. And maybe an Aviatrix or two! It’s likely there’ll be a bit of a hiatus on these pages for a little while, but I’ll be back soon…
It has to be said that 3rd trimester fatigue, completing the final essay of a qualification I’ve been working towards forever it seems, house move preparation and so on and so on, I haven’t been doing so much crafting recently. Writing this I realise how much I’m missing it, so maybe I need to get a proper project on the go soon. However, I am creating at the moment, and somewhat against the clock as it’s a gift for someone. I made my first ‘granny’ blanket a few years ago and even though this is my fourth, I’m always amazed all over again at just how much yarn crochet blankets eat! Having exhausted all the suitable colours in my stash, I bought in some King Cole DK, mainly because I liked the colour choice. It’s super cheap, especially for pure wool, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality and feel of it. I might even try it for one of the cardigans I want to make, as being superwash it would have a fighting chance of surviving my haphazard washing habits, unlike some past projects!
I love spots and stripes! My feet seem to be getting further away, but they’ve not changed shape with pregnancy so I decided they needed a treat- hence these little darlings from Cath Kidston.
My new spotty shoes are certainly helping me to deal with galloping heartburn, house-sale hassles and a grumpy little boy, as are the stripes on my completed baby blanket. The Liberty print binding worked out fine; I machine stitched on one side, found a couple of tutorials on YouTube to help me with the corners and hand stitched the other side to finish. I’m really happy with the result- Liberty lawn is so soft, which means the edge should be fine tucked under the owner’s little chin and the loose garter stitch in aran-weight cotton has a really nice, breathable drape. I think I like the ‘wrong’ side as much as the ‘right’ but the way the binding looks I don’t see why it can’t be reversible. Now then, what next? Maybe that cardigan for me…
>Here as promised is the reason for all those lovely, juicy coloured fabrics. Despite the temptations of all the scans I’m having for this baby, we still don’t want to know whether it’s a boy or a girl. This obviously means that I can’t start sewing or knitting in girly colours as there’s a 50:50 chance it’s a ‘he’. However, since borrowing a certain Kitty B’s feeding pillow back when I was feeding P, I’ve been meaning to acquire one, and was only really put off by the price, which always seemed a bit excessive for what it was. This pregnancy I had two thoughts- firstly, why the heck didn’t I make one as it would be cheaper and secondly, as I’m a girly, why can’t my feeding pillow be girly-coloured, even if the baby turns out to be the non-girly variety?
So here’s what I did:
Selected some of my favourite zingy coloured scraps and random fat quarters, then lined them up in an ‘artfully hotch-potch’ way, pinned, tacked, then sewed them together.
I’m very proud to report that by taxing my little grey cells I managed to set in a vintage zipper on the inner curve of the outer layer, before sewing the rest of the seams.
There followed a short wait for these to arrive in the post. I had originally hoped to stuff the pillow entirely in the spelt husks, but found that 500g made for a rather floppy pillow. By the way, as if jam funnels weren’t useful enough in their intended role, they also prove to be invaluable for feeding spelt husks into pillows! Anyway, to solve the floppy problem, I used a layer of natural wool from a fleece I acquired and washed last year to make a peg-loom rug. It’s created a nice effect in the end, with a bean-baggy, fit-to-your curves effect on one side of the pillow and smoother, sproingy softness on the other. At this point I would think that, when feeding, the bean bag side will be on my lap so that the baby is on the more stable and less rustling side. Until then, it’s going to be getting some use as a bed-time bump support.
Girly? Yes. Full of bright, summery loveliness? Definitely. Boy or girl, I don’t think the baby will mind. Although it does need an iron, when this tired pregnant lady can be bothered to!
It might seem like I’ve not been up to much recently but truth is, I just haven’t been taking photos! In rain and shine (oh very welcome sunshine!) we’ve been out on some local walks, trying out a newly acquired, second-hand double buggy in preparation for baby number two. Baby number two, by the way, is very wriggly and was fine when scanned the other day- it’s all getting a bit real! As far as craft is concerned I’m working away on the quilt, patiently hand stitching. My current rate is about halfway across in an evening, so long as I’m not feeling too tired. It’s going to take a while yet- there are two and a half short side lines to stitch and four long sides- but it will be so exciting when I get to rip out all the tacking and snip off all the ends.
It could be that it’s just a coincidence of child development, or it could be that P senses what’s coming, but yesterday evening we saw a new behaviour from him. The vintage baby doll was something I bought at a car-boot sale as a child and it’s ended up being a sort of ornament (although my husband would dispute its aesthetic qualities) in the majority of my adult dwellings. Around bath time last night, P found her and immediately started cuddling her, holding her in the air and cooing at her and referring to her as ‘baba’. For the rest of the evening, and on and off all day today ‘baba’ has been carried around, cuddled, ‘fed’ and given ‘drinks’, put down the slide, nestled in cushions and bounced on the baby chair. Again, it’s not a behaviour we’ve ever seen before in him, but it does bode well for our new arrival. That said, for all his boundless energy and fearlessness, our boy does have an incredibly delicate and gentle touch- usually reserved for carefully pushing buttons and switches, undoing fastenings etc. I saw this again today when he clambered onto a chair to examine the basil plant I’d left on the window sill (it wouldn’t survive in our arctic kitchen). I encouraged him to rub the leaf and smell the scent, but having done that, and seen how the leaf ended up ragged and squashed, he was oh-so-gentle until his curiosity was satisfied.
Okay, this is turning into a very trying day, with everything from nearly lost expensive shoes to no-show Fed-Ex guys. When it comes to writing here, I can’t show what I’m knitting because it’s all presents for birthdays yet to come and various other factors have conspired to keep us away from the Great Outdoors these last few days.
It was all getting a bit ‘aargh!’ so I decided, inspired by this lovely blog entry by Soule Mama amongst other things to make like Maria and think of a few of my favourite things. So in no particular order:
Babies still love to play in boxes
Having wanted a pincushion for ages, mum has now given me this very old one which belonged to my grandmother. I think it was once a velvet tomato. Now it is very soft and saggy but rather lovely, don’t you think?
My Jam store. The eagle-eyed among you will notice that the Apple and Date Chutney will be ready to eat in a week or two.
My recipe file. It’s getting scruffy but it’s full of treasures that may one day be the Holy Eye cookbook. We wouldn’t eat as well without it.
All I need now is a mountain to prance about on and all will be well.