October 5, 2015

Time for reflection, and socks.

Time has sped since we returned from our trip to South Africa. We've had visitors, we've all been sick with some 'flu or virus or another, and the days are rolling by into shorter and shorter burst of sunshine. Lots of scarves, slippers, pots of cosied-tea.

For a time, we were all sick, and spent our nights huddled under a blanket on the sofa. All three of us, sniffling and snuffling with the healing powers of Olbas oil wedged under our noses. Sometimes waking, sometimes taking turns to sleep. That hazy week (two weeks? more?) had no definite beginning nor end, although we seem to have unbundled and made our way out into the world a bit. Isla started nursery, we're back at work.

And, I've knitted. Just a bit. You know, to remind my fingers how they work when not emailing / designing / other work-y action. I have tiny moments of reflection late at night after baby has had a bath and gone to bed, after supper has been prepared, eaten, plates packed away. Sometimes these tiny moments are filled with tea, or with plans. And sometimes, they're filled with yarn.

I bought this yarn from an enormous yarn shop in Cape Town. Two balls. So far, have knit knit knitted one ball up into two lovely socks using my very favourite sock pattern (here). 

Sock knitting is oh-so-gratuitous. You get a whole, finished item in just a few short knitting hours, and much of it can be done without paying too much attention. Just in case you happen to be watching The Great British Bake Off on TV before turning a heel.

Socks, not for me. He chose the yarn for himself, and is a happy recipient of warm woolly toes at winter time. This is a self-striping hand-painted yarn which is quite cheerful, and lovely to knit with. I did one at a time, on two circular needles.

I really, really like that they stripe in different places and that they're quite clearly a pair, although they don't quite match. There's enough yarn left over for another sock - maybe one to match the leftover yarn from the next pair? Baby socks? Raveled here.

Baby's birthday in a few weeks; I've planned a few special home-made gifts and some other light-up-noise-making-plastic-goodies too. A good balance, with added cake. I can hardly believe that she is suddenly turning one!

September 3, 2015

Roar! Dinosaur Cover for IKEA Antilop High Chair

Baby is messy. That's why I love that our high chair is plastic and wipe-able. The only downside? It's plain and boring in white, and must be freeeeezing cold to sit on when Messy Baby has lunch in only a nappy. This happens frequently.

And so, I turned to pinterest and happened upon this pattern for the IKEA Antilop High Chair Cover. Hurray!

Pretty successful, I'd say. The fit is surprisingly good, and I was able to use up bits of fabric I had stashed away for a rainy day. 

This is the inside-seat view. Good fit all round, and I'm especially pleased that there is space for the straps to come around because Messy Baby has just learned how to be Standy-Uppy-in-High-Chair Baby too. 

I chose hot pink for the backing fabric. I love that there is a bright secret splash of fuchsia hiding underneath all of those dinosaurs. 

Isla approves. So does the snuggly triceratops.

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.