February 26, 2015

Knitted Whirligig Shrug for Isla :: with added sparkles

Everything is better with added sparkles. We went to an evening party and baby Isla needed something glam. It was a good excuse to dig around in my yarn stash, especially as Graeme has been threatening to throw out all of my yarn unless some of it disappears.

I found some teal sparkly yarn in my stash (I bought this to knit up a bolero in my size but never got around to it) and chose one of my favourite baby-sized knits: The Whirligig Shrug. It's a fun and quick knit which takes about two nights of knitting while watching NCIS (or other TV drama of your preference). The TV bit is essential, obviously.

Raveled here, pattern by Stefanie Japel.

Here's the baba posing with dad in her shrug with a rather large ice cream sweetie. Aw. Thank goodness for mobile phone cameras. 

February 24, 2015

Navajo plying handspun singles (say that five times fast for a tongue twister!)

Lucky me, I spent a lovely few hours spent plying up two very thin stored spun singles. One, a moody ocean-coloured cornucopia of greens and blues. The other, a bold purple-grey-petrol-white-black shock of striped colours.

I navajo plied them to preserve the colour changes and create a self-striping yarn when knitting (and also because navajo plying is great and is almost as good as spinning, really. It reminds me of arm knitting, except you're finger crocheting. Sort of.). I haven't measured the wpi, although it feels lighter and thinner than a DK yarn but thicker than sock yarn. Sport weight? I need to get/make one of those yarn gauge thingamajigs. 

Navajo plying also seems to even out any handspun lumps and bumps, which is great, but then you don't get those lovely candystripe sections where colours cross over to create unexpected barber poles in traditional plying with two separate singles. I really feel the need to break away from the neatness and thin-ness of lace-weight spinning and make some art yarn.  

I spun these without any particular project in mind, and I have about 100 grams of each which should be plenty for a shawlette or a pair of socks -- or to add to another project that requires lots of soft yarn loveliness. Stashed for a future project!

February 20, 2015

Hoop-la! Issue 3 Cover Feature

Lookee! My "Life is Beautiful" stitchery is on the cover of Hoop-La! Issue 3. It's also looking fab on their Facebook page all stitched up on simple white cotton. Cover feature, yay.

Inside the magazine are step-by-step and letter-by-letter instructions for the design...  

... and an interview with me too. Yeah, that's my name in capital letters. *Almost* as good as lights.

February 13, 2015

I cannot brain today.

This is how I feel these days. I think they call it "baby brain". There's a lot of not-sleeping, bottle-washing, baby-feeding, baby-bathing, washing and overall frazzledness. I get to knit a few rows every now and then, and I am oh-so-slowly rearranging my office/craft room to make it baby friendly so we can spend a few afternoons there. Progress is slow. Sewing and quilting are distant but happy memories.

I am very grateful that my phone has internet for late-night craft inspiration and of course, much pinning on Pinterest. Time for crafting is a distant memory ... for now, I have to craft (pin) vicariously). Is anyone else mad about pom poms? I want a pom pom rug, and pom pom bunting, and pom pom bunnies. Oh, Pinterest. I salute you.

Follow Stacey Siddons's board Crafts on Pinterest.

I may have just ordered some pom pom makers in a fit of 4am online shopping and craftlessness while baby was awake and coo-ing. Thank goodness for Amazon. I justified it thus: I shall get through my enormous yarn stash AND feel creative at the same time. It's a win-win situation, really.

January 14, 2015

Quiet and cosy


She is amazing. She laughs and giggles and rolls about, delighted with the world around her. She is ticklish and curious, and babbles along with songs and stories. 

She has just discovered toys, and how to hold them. It's amazing to be allowed into her little world of discovery, excitement and happiness. 

We've had visitors - and we've been away too - so crafting has been minimal. 

Instead, we've been walking, and sightseeing with friends and visitors.

This baby has been all over London and further afield in England. She's a well-travelled little lady with a well-used raincoat.

We enjoyed some of the sights we hadn't yet seen. This one in particular. There's something rather wonderful about wandering the streets inside the Tower of London, following our very own Yeoman tour guide.

Still, I haven't been entirely without craft. A bit of knitting with cables in front of the fireplace while on holiday in the countryside; these pieces destined to be a cardigan for dad. Perhaps it'll be done by next winter.

Some lazy spinning on quiet days at home, mixing a few of my favourite colours together in anticipation of some navajo plying (soon, very soon).

Lucky, lucky me. 

January 3, 2015

Noodlehead's Diaper Keeper

That is a totally weird blog title, but I haven't lost my marbles: I promise. The "diaper keeper" is one of those projects making the rounds on the internet as a must have gift for new mums. It is, essentially, a pouch that holds baby wipes and a stack of nappies that can be stashed in your bag for quick on-the-go nappy changes.

The idea is that you can just grab one of these when you're heading out for a quick visit or outing, and you don't need to worry about taking along your whole baby gear bag with every-essential-under-the-sun.


Here's a link to the tutorial on the Noodlehead blog, which explains the first bit of that blog title. I didn't call her that: she chose the name herself. Promise.

It has a velcro strap covering the top which means you can see at a glance how many poopy nappies you can handle when you're off for a walk in the park. 

Also, it takes a whole massive wipes pouch (even though the tutorial says that it will hold a travel wipes pouch). A full wipes pouch is giant, presumably in anticipation of many nappies that require changing. And hands that need cleaning. And foodstuffs that need wiping up. And mums that need cleaning while doing all of these tasks. 

I made two. They're quick and easy to make up, and that means that we can have one of these in dad's emergency car bag, and one in my everyday-use bag. The fabric matches the bags; I was in a matchy-matchy mood, had some leftover panels, and figured that we might as well personalise them. Aw. 

Very easy boxy construction with separate fronts and backs, and a separate lining. I think they took about an hour and a half to piece together, sew up and finish (for both). I didn't have any webbing so I made the straps using leftover bits of linen folded over a piece of batting - just like the straps of the Amy Butler Weekender Travel Bag. Quick and easy.

I used quite a soft batting as I had loads spare, but they still hold their shape when empty. I was a bit careless when matching up the seams on the side panels, but that doesn't bother me - they're only out by a few millimetres and I don't even notice it now. The only (remotely) tricky part of this sewing project is attaching the lining to the bag exterior: if you're even a little bit lazy with your measuring (ahem), you get tiny little puckers in the seam where they don't match up. 

I think these would be really nice with am all-over print instead of the zakka linen-and-canvas look, and might be more recognisably baby-ish if you used a fun children's print. Overall, though, I'm quite pleased with myself and they've been super useful for dashing out when you don't want to take the whole baby bag or you forget. Which, is often. I'm blaming it on baby brain.

December 21, 2014

Witterings on the web and festive treats

Things have been busy around here as we move into the festive season. We've got friends visiting, baby's first outings on the underground, nights away, Christmas dinners to plan, lights to go and see, gifts to wrap. It's all rather festive. Coffee brews on cold afternoons and stollen has become an everyday essential. 

I haven't been completely absent from the internet though; I guest blogged over at Wayfair.co.uk and made three delicious DIYs that make fantastic gifts for friends and family this festive season.
Oh go on: an indulgent Choc-Nut Kugelhopf to enjoy with coffee lattes, tomato chilli jam for cheese and biscuits, and linzer cookies for Santa and his reindeer.  Read my post on Wayfair.co.uk to find out how to make your own.

I had every intention of giving these delicious treats away but of course it didn't happen: we indulged ourselves and now need to make more chilli jam yum yum if we want to give any as gifts.

And so, the Christmas Tree is up and the lights are twinkling. The ribbons are twirled and most of the cards made it into the post in time. Here's wishing you all a very Merry Christmas indeed; may you be warm and comfortably full of festive treats, and may the turkey go according to plan.

November 20, 2014

A few of my favourite things

My days are filled with tiny little hands and feet, beautiful nonsensical babbles and smelly nappies.

We bath, we play, we dance, we take turns napping. At night, bleary eyed, we try to guess what her cries mean as we softly shush her and shift from foot to foot as we rock her. These are our slow - but full - baby days. 

She is one month old now, and she has the most wonderful personality and alert eyes. She loves music and lights and cuddles. She tells me stories in her own little language. She loves going for walks, adventuring about in the fresh autumn air. I rarely switch on the computer.

I miss sewing and knitting and making, but soon, soon we will start to fit these things into our days as it gets colder and darker outside.

For now, though, we take long walks through the park, meet friends for coffee, snooze on the sofa, and snuggle in bed and under the duvet when it rains outside. 

November 1, 2014

Hello, Isla

Our beautiful baby girl finally arrived. Phew.

Isla Gray Siddons came into the world at 16.07 on Sunday the 19th of October. She weighed 3.66kg and took 36 hours to meet us! She's amazing. She has ten little fingers and ten little toes, and was absolutely worth all of the waiting and drama.

We spent a lot of time hooked up to a machine like this that measures baby's heart rate and my contractions. I was induced on Saturday morning and went into labour shortly after. It was quite a story -- but it had a really happy ending. Here it is really, really briefly: I went through about 8 hours of labour with gas and air, and then had diamorphine when they discovered that little Isla had turned around! 6 hours later I had an epidural because she wasn't turning around ... owie. She did eventually, though. I had two and a half hours of stitches afterwards. We met almost the entire labour ward staff during her delivery because of complications, but they were all wonderful and extremely encouraging and helpful. 

Here she is with daddy. She is already very much a daddy's girl, insisting on snoozing on his chest whenever she has the chance. 

And with mommy, on day two, after she refused to eat and the hospital insisted she eat something before we were allowed to leave. 

More than one person has pointed out that "this is not a lethargic baby". That made me chuckle. She has lots of stories to tell the world, especially at 2am. Yawn! 

She is such a sweet little girl. It still surprises me sometimes that we have a baby, but it is wonderful and such a spectacular change from being pregnant. 

I have been taking photos non-stop on my phone, as you do, so many more posts coming soon! My mom and aunt are visiting us from South Africa for a week, we are being terribly spoilt with cooked suppers, lots of treats and lots and lots of presents. Christmas came early in this house!

October 8, 2014

Still waiting

Exactly this. Every day. Baby missed her due date four days ago. I am vaguely aware of an Elton John song swimming around my head on repeat as I mumble I'm still standing... yeah, yeah, yeah. (That's exactly how the rest of every conversation goes too - yeah, the baby is still not here. Yeah, I'm sure everything is okay. Yeah, she will be here soon.)

Except, I'm not standing. I'm in bed, under the duvet, with a cup of coffee. Everything has slo-o-o-o-o-o-owed down considerably. Elton would understand.

I'll keep you posted ;)

October 3, 2014

Quick and easy baby blanket

Oh em gee.

This fabric is the most super-huggable, must-havable, soft-as-anything stuff. Here in the UK it's called dimple cuddle plush, but it seems that almost everywhere else it is called minky. Soft like mink? Not sure. But. Seriously. Once I felt it, I really wanted to replace all of my bedding with yards and yards of it. I wanted to wrap up in it like a giant fabric burrito and hide away from the world. If it was socially acceptable, I'd replace my entire wardrobe with cuddle plush dresses. Seriously.

Okay okay. So, I bought some. Just a wee bit -- a mere 75x100cm. It was destined to be a baby blanket. But, silly me, when buying it from Plush Addict online, I didn't notice that it was single sided. The back wasn't soft at all. I was gutted. My plans for the quickest and easiest baby blanket ever (fold over edges, stitch down and DONE) were foiled. I had to add a backing fabric. Still, it could be worse eh?

I cut the backing about two inches larger all round, got out my sewing machine's walking foot, and quilted the two layers together using really simple diagonal lines. I didn't measure - I just counted every ten dots and stitched a diagonal line down. It's really easy to get the lines nice and straight when the fabric has a consistent pattern. Then, I cut the lining down to an inch larger all round and folded each edge over in half, pressing as I went along.

Fold it over one more time and stitch down - and you're done. You have a perfectly bound-from-the-back baby blanket that's done in twenty minutes or less. Ta da! I feel very proud of myself. Like a minky-wrapped Cheshire Cat.

If, like me, you prefer a neatly folded mitred corner on your quilts, that's easy too. When you get to a corner, unfold the next side's edges and neatly fold the corner fabric back on itself to make a triangle corner, lining the edge of the fold up with the edge of the front fabric. You might need to look at the picture for that to make sense. 

Then fold the unfolded-side's binding in half, and back over the front as usual.

The cuddle plush fabric is in the tiffany blue colourway. I bought it partially because I love that soft aqua colour, and partially because of the name. I know, it's like judging a book by its cover. Shocking. The backing fabric I chose is navy blue scattered with white, burgundy, blue and pink flowers (from Stitch). If the cuddle plush wasn't so expensive, I'd make a guilt-free adult-sized version for my bed - can you imagine the softness in winter?!