November 25, 2015

Winter is here! & a fleece blanket

Winter arrived. It was quite all-of-a-sudden-ly. Now, cold hands and woolly hats are abundant.

The park froze over. The puddles are miniature ice-rinks. Jumpers and cardigans have been replaced by snowsuits. There was, in fact, even snow. In London. In NOVEMBER!

I haven't been crafting much as it seems that I spend more time making sandwiches for lunches, cleaning up after messy baby and washing bottles than on anything I actually want to do. Ya know, like knit a cardigan, or a pair of socks, or ... anything, really.

I did, however, make an eensy weensy and snuggly warm baby blanket for a friend's baby shower. Just a few evenings after baby has gone to bed and et voila! Instant craft satisfaction.

Take one cheery fleece fabric print (hot air balloons AND rainbows)...

... and blanket stitch all the way around the outside to make a base for a neat crochet edge. This keeps the fleecy bits all neat and tidy for washing later on.

Very snuggly warm for winter baby who should be here in a few short weeks. Brrrr.

November 2, 2015

A scrappy, stash-busting birthday quilt

It may have been a bit ambitious to make a one-year-old baby a quilt for her birthday, but she was delighted. She unwrapped it, picked it up, and hugged it with her tiny baby arms. She now points at the squares, and tries to find funny shapes. Clever girl.

I started making this quilt months ago (okay, actually maybe a year ago. Or longer.). I cut up some of my favourite fabrics in 2 inch squares, and then added to the stash every time I had a fabric scrap. I then pieced the squares together one-by-one as the stash grew... LONGEST and most drawn-out method of making a postage stamp quilt ever. The sensible thing to do would have been to piece strips of fabric and cut them out from there, but then I couldn't use up my hoarded scraps. Ah well.

Each square has a story to tell. There's the one that looks like dad's favourite shirt, and the one I bought four years ago at the Quilt Festival in Birmingham. There's the one made from my very favourite tiny scrap of fabric I've saved for years, and some from my first ever charm pack. There's the one that's leftover fabric from her first party dress, and one that was the lining of her sun hat. 

I added a 2 inch white sashing around the quilt edge, and backed the quilt in one huge piece of Lizzy House's Pearl Bracelet fabric in Glacier. Love.

The binding is a scrappy binding made from the same fabric in three colourways: pink, lime green and grey. I couldn't decide which colour I liked best, so used them all. I figured that the front of the quilt was so bold and colourful that it  needed something special around the edges.

I quilted around each square with straight lines, and then quilted a grid around the whole quilt, going round and round in a tight square with lines about 1cm apart. Such neat quilting... so unlike me. Really love the grid effect, it makes the fabric go all crinkly when it folds up, like an old, much-loved quilt. I think it helps that I used two layers of wadding to make it a bit thicker than usual.

I'm so happy with this quilt, I put so much love and work into it; even pulling out seams when squares didn't line up (!) and carefully lining everything up so there were no identical squares side-by-side. I can't believe I finished it (A) in time and (B) at all. #happy.

October 29, 2015

Bert the Monkey

This is Bert. His name comes from his pattern, another amigurumi animal by Sharonlee Holder. I saw him made up in Thimbles, a yarn shop in Durbanville, Cape Town, while on holiday there. Such a lovely shop, so worth a visit if you're in the area.  

He's very sweet, and the proportions are all right. I made him using Vinni's Colours Serina, a bamboo yarn which is really lovely to work with. Really annoyingly, I ran out of yarn about 3/4 of the way through! So frustrating! This happened with the giraffe pattern I made a few weeks ago too, from the same pattern designer.

I kept my stitches nice and neat throughout, and matched the pieces to the images so I don't think I should have run out. I had to have someone in South Africa post me an additional ball of yarn... luckily it arrived in time for Isla's birthday.

I found some stash buttons for his arms and legs which seem to go quite well, and make them posable. He has such a cheerful face that it makes me laugh!Isla loves him too, and often gives him a hug if she finds him in her toy box. Sweet girl!

October 26, 2015

Happy Birthday Isla

My baba turned one last week. That's quite something. I can't believe how quickly the time has flown by, and how much life has changed (positively) since she arrived.

I love that she is the happiest, most cheerful and enthusiastic little girl I've ever met. I love that she has so much personality, and that she just wants to share it with you all the time. She makes me smile every single day.

The birthday, as expected, was a fantastic celebration of turning one. We had balloons and birthday cake, a visit to the zoo, a family tea party, and oh so many presents to unwrap. I baked non-stop: carrot cake, cupcakes, birthday cake, banana bread, caramelised date scones, cake pops. 

We unwrapped presents in pyjamas, and ate cake with sprinkles. Isla loved all of the wrapping paper, and especially loved having so many new things to play with. A keyboard, a set of drums, some musical maracas, books (she loves books) and even some beautiful handmade things. Lucky girl.

She went hands-first into the many-layered birthday cake (good girl). She shrieked with delight at balloons. She insisted on sitting on her baby-sized scooter way past her bedtime.

We took some time off work, abandoned computers, spent time together with family.

I feel very lucky. Even though we are so far from our families, we were spoilt with cards and best wishes sent from afar - parcels from New Zealand and South Africa, gifts from Norway, and even an incredible present from a penpal in Brazil! Isla was completely spoilt. Thank you to everyone who helped brighten her birthday weekend!

October 12, 2015

Duck the Giraffe

Another day, another ta da! This is Duck, the Giraffe. Raveled here.

I made him for Isla's birthday, so he shall now make his way into the Great First Birthday Stash of Gifts to be wrapped and stored away until Monday.

Duck is a completely posable free-standing giraffe, with a jingly bell in his neck and a really cute twisty tail. 

His legs, attached through buttons, are moveable, so he can sit or stand or lie down atop your sofa. As he does. 

I used this pattern for Gerald the Giraffe by designer Sharonlee Holder. The pattern was a pain, as I had to stop regularly to re-read things and figure things out a bit. Some instructions were clear, others were sparse and barely there, some details were omitted, and some were just plain annoying (like the fact that I ran out of yarn about two-thirds of the way through the giraffe). Overall it was fine, and it helped that I had another one of her patterns on-hand to compare notes. 

The yarn. Oh. The Yarn. I used Vinni's Colours in Serina, 100% bamboo yarn that is oh-so-soft and just lovely to work with. It gets a bit fiddly when you only have a little left but it the final result is so worth it. 

I ran out of yarn about 2/3rds of the way through and had to arrange for a second ball of yarn to be purchased and sent over from South Africa (there is but ONE supplier of Vinni's yarns here in the UK, and they didn't have stock of sunshine yellow. Blegh. Someone is missing a real business opportunity here!). 

So. Why is he "Duck" and not "Gerald"?


I was working on attaching all the giraffey bits together, slowly piecing them together one afternoon while Isla was playing next to me. I put him down for a moment, within reach. She picked up the leg-less giraffe, looked at me with huge eyes and a massive smile, and said - at the top of her voice - duck! 

Isla's vocabulary is somewhat limited, being not-yet-one. "Duck" is by far her favourite word at the  moment, but she is quite precise as to what is a duck and what is not. It must be yellow. It must make a duck noise.

Apparently giraffes-without-legs qualify.

Just two more hand-made gifts to finish in time for The Birthday. Almost done. Am sure I will like them more than she will, but when you're one, everything is amazing and wonderful and perfect so I have high hopes. (Just make sure that there are balloons on the day and whatever you choose will be fine.)

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