August 19, 2015

Granny Square Crochet Baby Dress

Another baby birthday, another dress ... but this time it was for the birthday girl, not the baba.

I made the Granny Square Crochet Baby Dress (pattern here), which turned out rather nicely.

The bodice is made up of crocheted granny squares and treble crochet rows, and the skirt is a cotton fabric attached to the hem of the crocheted bodice.

I used Sirdar Simply Recycled Aran in teal for the bodice -  I loved working with this yarn! It has such a nice feel about it. The skirt is a Fabric Freedom music note print.

I followed the pattern and made up 8 squares, but only needed 7 as the squares were a bit bigger in the aran yarn.

I made some changes to the pattern because the neckline was just far too high. It would be fine for an older child, but definitely not a crawling and toddling toddler. I lowered the neckline by one row and added two simple straps that fasten at the back with buttons.

I also added a ribbon around the waist to draw in the bodice in case it was too big. I liked the pattern, but I think that the crochet bit could be a bit shorter. This could make a really nice top for a bigger girl - or mama!

August 12, 2015

Crochet monkey see, monkey do

I haven't crocheted for a very long time.

A very long time.

I gave it up because I wanted to learn how to knit. You know, because you either knit or you crochet.

I hadn't realised that the two weren't mutually exclusive. You can crochet and knit. I know, gasp.

Turns out, it is pretty easy to pick up again. I made this monkey for my friend's baby's first birthday. They call him monkey, and I wanted to give him something hand-made and special.

The pattern is from Crocheted Wild Animals by Vanessa Mooncie. 

He's quite a sweet monkey, and definitely one of the nicer patterns out there. I looked through loads before choosing this one and ordering the book from the library. He's got long legs and arms, and a windy spiral tail. I particularly like his ears, and the way the front of his snout looks like an oooo.

All wrapped up with ribbons!

I don't think people realise how much effort and love go into handmade gifts. Supplies - especially yarn - costs an awful lot, and then you have to make each and every stitch by hand. By hand. It takes a lot of time.

That's why I rarely give handmade gifts. First birthdays are special, though. You should have something extra special for your very first birthday. It kinda sets a precedent for all of the amazing birthdays to come.

August 7, 2015

Katy's Carrot and Squash Biscuits

Isla insists on feeding herself. Spoons are banned. Purees are too. It's a phase, I keep telling myself. Baby cannot exist on cucumber sticks and biscuits alone.

Baby biscuits - the type you buy in a box from the supermarket - cost a fortune. There are all of these new rules about what you can and can't feed a baby, but I figure that we all got by without Organix and Kiddylicious and Annabel Karmel, so there must be some baby-friendly recipes out there.

I've tried out a couple, and these are the first ones that got the baby-seal-of-approval. Katy's carrot and squash biscuits from I Can Cook.

They are completely baby-friendly: no egg, no sugar, no salt, sneaky veg.

With added cute factor because they look like squidgy baby carrots with their little rosemary tops. 

Baby likey. 

Texturally, they're not quite biscuits. They've got quite a dense cakey structure that is easily mashed by baby gums. When I make these again,  I'll make them into little nuggets so they last longer ... the carrot shapes are fun for older children but in baba's hands they're crumbled up into a big mess on the carpet in no time at all. 

You can find the recipe on the BBC website, and I've copied it below too. 

Katie's carrot and squash biscuits, makes 6


30g butter, at room temperature
70g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp golden caster sugar (optional - we didn't add this)
20g grated carrot
50g butternut squash pieces, roasted
Sprigs of fresh rosemary


- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

- In a bowl, mix together the butter, flour and sugar, if using. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.

- Stir in the grated carrot and roasted butternut squash using a fork.

- Bring the mixture together as a dough using your hands, then turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface.

- Divide the dough into six equally sized pieces. Roll each piece into a sausage shape and place it onto a baking tray.

- Flatten the lengths of cookie dough into carrot shapes about 0.5cm/¼in thick, using your hands.

- Tear individual mini-sprigs off the rosemary sprigs and insert one into the top of each cookie to resemble the carrot tops.

- Bake the cookies in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until crisp and golden-brown. Remove from the baking tray and set aside to cool on a wire rack.

July 29, 2015

Again, again!

How is it the end of July already? Whoosh! The days are flying by. Soon we'll have a little itty bitty baby first birthday party to celebrate.

Isla's friends are all turning one, and this little miss got another dress for another party. Geranium Dress, how I love thee. 

This time I made the basic dress with a gathered skirt and flutter sleeve and one enormous pink bow.

The bow was a source of great amusement and was absolutely covered in baby food before the day was out. I made the bow out of hot pink cotton, stiffened with interfacing and hand-stitched it on along the bottom of the bodice to one side. Ta ra!

This girl is very mobile. She's crawling and standing and shuffling along while holding on to things.

Every day I expect to her stand up and toddle over to me.  

July 17, 2015

A few of my favourite things

Brown paper packages tied up with string, hessian bows and lavender. These are a few of my favourite things. #instagram

July 15, 2015

If you liked it...

Shopping in Cape Town; this made me laugh. #instagram

July 14, 2015

We're back!

We're back! We spent the last month in Cape Town, South Africa. It was amazing. It was the middle of winter but oh look! at the weather! Imagine being stuck in traffic looking at that on the way to work.

We were thoroughly spoilt. Isla met the whole family, played every day, and had almost four whole weeks of time off with us. We discovered that she's mad about dogs, that she loves mango, and her favourite food in the whole wide world is hot chips; especially when enjoyed with one in each hand. Nothing cheered her up like a bowl full of chips and a dog to giggle at.

I had a birthday while back there too: I'm 30! That happened very suddenly indeed. I  may have brought back an entire stash of yarn, along with a few other treats. We had a birthday tea, a night out at a favourite restaurant, and more than a handful of babysitters.

I've only just unpacked, I have thousands of photographs to sort through, and am still getting used to the idea that it is the hottest July that the UK has had in years. Whoop!

For now, I'll leave you with this cutie's cheeky grin. Many, many photographs to come soon. 

June 4, 2015

Geranium Dress, The Second

It's been a while since I've blogged - and it seems like even longer since I've been sewing/crafting/making. I got a bit carried away in deadlines and other unfun things.

Still, there was a bit of time to make another Geranium Dress. This time, for Bellie Boo - a friend's daughter who needed a pretty frock for a Christening Party.

I made the gathered skirt version with ruffle sleeves. 

Ruffles! I used cotton anglaise which was a bit see-through so I added a double skirt, and lined the bodice with hot pink.

I added pink snaps to the back instead of buttons - so much easier. Love the pink on this dress. I used KAM snaps and pliers, I love that they're so sturdy and come in hundreds of different colours. I was skeptical at first but I've used them on dummy chains and they have outlasted the velcro I used for the last batch; impressed.

I hand-stitched the lining in place. It takes so  much longer but is worth it. The front looks neater and the contrast stitching doesn't peek through. That's important when you're stitching hot pink in place on a white background.


Have I mentioned how much I love this pattern? I've already cut out another Geranium Dress for Isla. It's so easy to use this as a base pattern and add on little bits and pieces to make it special - like the double skirt in this version, and the oversized bow I've planned for the next one. 

April 27, 2015

Home Sweet Home, VeryBerry 2015 ATC Swap

I took part in this year's VeryBerry Artist Trading Card swap. The theme was "Home Sweet Home", and the idea is to hand-make a textile trading card to send to a swap partner. We had about a month to get it all made up and posted out - thank goodness.

Here's my card. I first sketched out what I wanted, and then appliqued each of the lovely fabric bits on to the fabric background before hand-stitching details with blanket stitch, running stitch, french knots and lazy daises. I think this is the same vision of "home" that I've been drawing since a child. 

Ta da!

And then, the border. Many, many glass czech seed beads handstitched on with a blanket stitch around the edge of the card. I watched more than a few episodes of MasterChef while doing this.

My swap partner was the lovely Sally of Wonky Patchwork. I was very lucky because I think, from her blog, that we have very similar tastes!

And lo! My ATC arrived in the post this morning.

Isn't it fab? It's from Siân (ButtonsAndPaint) who said that the theme made her look forward to coming home and turning the key in the lock. How wonderful.

I'm looking forward to next year's swap already. 

April 15, 2015

Here comes the sun, and a big floppy baby sun hat

Spring is here. The sun is shining, and we've been walking to the park every day for picnic lunches and playing on the grass. Isla loves the grass.

She has become very wiggly and mobile, and shuffles about even though she's not yet sitting up properly. Sweet girl. There's not a lot of stillness.

Every sunshiney baby need a big floppy sun hat, don't you think?

She has a sun hat, but it has a very modest one-inch brim that doesn't offer much coverage. I finished sewing this one up this morning, based on her existing hat with added panels so it should fit her a bit longer. I also extended the brim to five inches so it would provide cover for her neck and shoulders, and added interfacing to the brim for added floppiness.

The strap was a last-minute addition! We tried it on, and she was so delighted with the hat that she insisted on pulling it down and lifting it up... so in an attempt to keep the hat in place, I added a buttonhole to each side of the hat and threaded through an oversized ribbon that ties under her chin.

Baby approves.

April 5, 2015

Kian's Sporty Play Mat ta da!

An excellent friend of mine has the cutest little boy who is very nearly about to turn one. When he was born, I promised his mum a handmade gift of her choice - something special, I promised - and she asked me to make a sport-themed playmat. It has only taken me 8 months, but it's finally finished. 

It took ages because... well. It's the theme, ya know. Sport. 

I know nothing about sport. I occasionally watch Formula 1 when it is on TV, but only because Graeme has the TV remote. And I'm usually knitting/stitching/doing something else entirely. 

Sport. Uh oh.

There's a football bit: Kian's daddy is a BIG Liverpool supporter.

There's a golf bit: daddy loves golf too. The water bit crinkles.

There's a basketball bit: we wanted to add a bit of colour and the ball squeaks!

And of course, there's a racing car bit. Because our daddy couldn't let a sport-themed playmat leave the house without an obligatory car section. 

And they all come together in quite a cheery, fun quilted playmat that's so much bigger than I thought it was going to be. 

All backed with one of my favourite kids' prints. 

And best of all...

He loved it. 

April 1, 2015

Hoppity Happy Easter! Pom pom bunnies

Happy Easter! We have happy hoppity bunnies, delivering lots of smiles and choccy eggs. Yum. Oh my ears and whiskers - look at those noses! 

And even better, these quick pom pom bunnies are a great stash buster. 1 large pom pom + 1 medium pom pom = 1 very cute little bunny. If you have a pom pom maker, it takes about a minute to make the head and body, and tie them together. Done! Ta da! 

The rest of the bunny is made up from bits and pieces I had in my scraps:  feet and ears cut from wool felt, some little black beads for eyes and a pink bead for a nose, add invisible sewing thread whiskers... and everything is secured in place with a glue gun. Glue guns are amazing.

Don't forget a teeny tiny pom pom for the tail. Every bunny needs a little white pom pom to wiggle.

Ah, those chocolate eggs didn't last long. Bunnies are no good at keeping them safe from me when nobody is looking. Ahem.