Sunday, 12 January 2020

One Word for 2020


Just two letters, nothing fancy or flamboyant. As the new year ticked over my social media feeds filled with reviews of the year past, and good intentions for the year to come. 2019 was a good year for me and mine, but I'm tired. A year of carrying a baby, first inside the body then outside; and nourishing that baby, first inside and then outside; that will wear you out. My word for 2019 was "connect" and maybe I'll get time to summarise how that worked itself out in another post, and I ended the year satisfied. 

However, looking ahead was hard. I was surprised by how hard; how I found myself without even hope for the year to come. My grandest intentions week by week are not to shout (or cry) at the children; to get dinner on the table before bedtime each night and to maybe squeeze in half an hour's crafting. Most weeks I don't manage that so to look ahead to a whole year was honestly overwhelming. 

Last Sunday we were finally back in routine at our home church. Hubby was poorly so I was alone with both littles and it turned out there was no Sunday school. Church with littles is hard, even when everyone's friendly! The music is loud, and then it's quiet, there are biscuits within grabbing reach and exciting fire exits everywhere. But there's something in gathering with a family of people and singing that's good for the soul. It took my mind from my own little world and lifted it higher, and I felt a glimmer of hope. It seems I wasn't the only one as word after word came of finding hope and looking forward to spring. 

So this year my challenge is to look up- beyond my messes and victories, beyond nap routines and nursery term dates. To remember that outside of my bubble there is a wider world, both in a spiritual sense and a really practical one. That's all I've got for now, although I'm sure more layers will come out as the year moves on. 

Do you have "One Word" for 2020? How did you choose it?

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Making a Space

For a year or so, I had the luxury of a sewing room. The bigger munchkin had moved out of the nursery into his "big boy room" and the smaller munchkin hadn't yet arrived. It was great to be able to leave the sewing machines set up and just pop in to do 10 minutes sewing when I had the chance.

With the arrival of number 2 I moved my sewing space to our spare room. It's a nice enough setup, with a desk that has an extra nested table and everything within reach in the drawers, and worked beautifully during the summer.

But now it's cold and rainy, and if you've been paying attention you'll remember that we dry our clothes in the spare room too. A jungle of damp clothes doesn't make for a lovely environment to craft in, so I hadn't made anything for ages and it was getting me down.

Time for another move- maybe just temporary- my sewing machine is now in the bedroom on the dressing table! The serger is still upstairs because I don't want little hands playing with it but I have at least started sewing together some toy bags I've been wanting for months, and the creative itch has been scratched which is great news for my mood and therefore the whole family!

Do you have a permanent or temporary set up for crafting equipment? 

Thursday, 28 November 2019

On Everyday Life, and Laundry Style

I've decided to try and write a bit more about my life. Partly because I think it's probably pretty normal and other people might be able to relate; I don't see many blogs I can relate to these days. Partly because I used to love writing, and I haven't done much since the littles came along! My intention is to keep this rough and ready, because I barely have time to go to the toilet in a day, let alone get onto a laptop to make beautiful photos and layouts. I hope that's okay. 

Today's thought is about laundry. Since becoming a family of four, my basic success criteria for each day is to get one load washed and hung out; miss a day and it takes a month to catch up! We don't have a tumble dryer so we carry our wet clothes up two flights of stairs to hang it in the first room- a task which can take me until bedtime without even getting to the hanging part! What I didn't realise is that I have a laundry style. 

This week someone else very kindly hung out the washing for me. And it was very kind- I wouldn't like to put anyone off from helping! But when I came to take it down to hang out the next load, it took ages- the baby vests weren't on the rails I normally use, and the grown up clothes had been hung in a different configuration to usual. Not worse; probably more efficient in fact. I was surprised that I even noticed, but it just felt so unnatural. 

Who knew?!

Anyway, today baby slept for ages after the nursery run so I got the washing out before lunch and we are winning! 

What makes a successful day in your house? 

Thursday, 15 November 2018

The Smile Trousers

I've been listening to some sewing podcasts lately and people often comment that they love blogging because they can share in more detail about what they made and how they made it, both for their own memory and to help others who might be making the same pattern. I thought I would give it another go since I made possibly my favourite thing yet in the form of some trousers for Sam!

I bought some leggings for World Book Day and one of the pairs in the pack was bright yellow, with smiles and rainbows on it. Sam LOVED them and wore them every time they were clean, until they started to look like tights around his big nappy bum and developed a few holes. I had to hide them and tell him they were "broken" to get them out of circulation.

I had some old black joggers that I bought from Primark and had steadily shrunk so that they were now ankle-grazers... Not the look I was going for.

They were destined to become one.

I wanted to keep the spirit of the smile trousers alive so as well as the smile, I used this fun appliqué alphabet from shiny happy stitches:

One day I'm determined to make one of Wendi's quilts, but it might end up being for my grandchildren! I shrunk the letters a little as the trouser pattern has quite a narrow leg, then used fusible web to stabilise the fabric before I cut it out. Basically you trace the pattern onto the stabiliser, iron it into your fabric and then cut it out. There's a peel-off layer so then you can iron it onto the main fabric before sewing. I just used a plain straight stitch because I figured it shouldn't stretch with that in place anyway, and there's an article here that told me I didn't need to worry about the edges fraying.

Then I sewed the trousers! I love making children's clothes because they sew up so quickly. I used the Patterns for Pirates "baby bear joggers" pattern- nearly all the PDF patterns I've ever bought are from Patterns for Pirates and I find them really easy to follow, I'm not sure why they never get mentioned in the "Indie sewing world".

The pockets are my favourite detail:

And I even upcycled the waistband, though I'm not sure that was the best idea.

I'm really pleased with the finished product, and (more importantly) so is Sam! They are still a bit too big as he's between sizes at the minute, and we're in the throes of potty training so I can't just tie the drawstring tight to hold them up. Once he's grown a little I will get a model shot too but for now I'm happy to admire them on display!

Has anyone else personalised something old to keep it's spirit when the original item is worn out?

Monday, 22 January 2018

One Word for 2018: Process

Ironically, I spent half a naptime writing this post on my phone and then it didn't save. I guess it's just life checking that I mean what I say! 

I was trapped underneath a needy, sleepy boy. He had his hair cut this morning and had wailed throughout the entire ordeal. We pulled it back with a play in the cars at the early learning centre, but emotionally we were but exhausted. He fell asleep in a cuddle and after one failed attempt at the cot transfer, I accepted that maybe some comfort was what he needed. 

I did have other plans for that nap time. All of the bedding needed washing, and I needed to construct a meatloaf for tea tonight. Then there's the rocky road I bought myself as a reward for surviving the haircut experience. I was looking forward to an uninterrupted cup of tea and a treat. 

At the end of last year I found myself entirely frustrated. Months of sleepless nights and minimal down time meant I was desperate to create something but didn't have the energy to do it well. Instead I took short cuts and then cried when the result was less than satisfactory. 

This year I have decided to reset, to go back to the reason I got into crafting in the first place: the opportunities to connect with others and the joy of creating something special. I'm hoping to enjoy the "Process": of creating, exercising, working, child rearing, and who knows, maybe I'll achieve something as I go?!

In the meantime, here's a grainy picture of my sleeping beauty. 

(You might need to turn your screen brightness up to see him... like one of those magic pictures!)

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Rainbow Blanket

Funny how as soon as you find a solution to a problem, the problem changes! Feeds are not so long any more (thank goodness) but I rarely get through reading all of the blogs I follow now and certainly don't get into writing!

I have however finished and sent the blanket I've been working on so I thought I would share it with you. It all began when I came across this picture:

I loved the stitch and decided to make it into a blanket. I chose a dark blue for the background as the baby hadn't been born yet so it needed to be gender neutral. I started on my first day of maternity leave but didn't get as far as I'd hoped when certain someone turned up early! There followed some creative crafting time (basically whenever / wherever little one slept):


And it was finally finished last month:

I'm pretty pleased with it as I didn't follow a pattern, and I finished it within 3 months of newborn-raising(!) I would have liked it to be a bit wider: I used the same number of stitches as my fantasy blanket but didn't think about how the structure of the pattern would affect the amount of horizontal stretch. It's acceptable though, and I think the border helps.

Here it is all packed up and ready to send!

It is now in transit, I hope the recipient will enjoy it, just in time for the start of Autumn.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Book Review: I Am Malala

I read this book as it was in the book club on the SheLoves Magazine website. I want to write my review before I read the discussion post today but I'm not sure how quickly I'll get this up.

I'm not sure what I was expecting in this book, but I got something completely different. The book begins with a potted history of the nation of Pakistan, then provides some context in the form of Malala's Father's story. It slipped seamlessly into Malala's story without my really noticing. The story itself is a fascinating insight into everyday life in an area ruled by the taliban. If you've ever wondered how cities can be "Taken by the Taliban" or "reclaimed by the army"; or how people live when there is daily fighting in the streets, this book will provide you with at least one perspective.

This book struck me as I started reading it in the week that the Chilcott enquiry was published. This was an enquiry into the UK's role in the Iraq war, and was not complimentary about the decisions made or the processes by which they were reached! To read about the direct impact this had on a rural valley in Pakistan was eye-opening, and the impact that continues is alarming.

I enjoyed that Malala's portrayal of herself is so much more human than those in the media. She was a normal teenage girl, who fought with her best friend and wouldn't share with her brothers. She is so outspoken because she follows the footsteps of her father. She came from the back of beyond but almost without realising became a person of such significance that the foreign hospital she was taken to and the people who took her there were of diplomatic significance. In fact, her survival was of diplomatic significance. It's a real example of how small steps, decisions made every day, can snowball into something that effects a real change in the world.

It's a raw book. I don't think it can have been written very long after the family resettled in Birmingham.  My copy is a newer edition and there is a new interview with Malala at the back. There is a clear contrast between Malala's description of life in the UK in the final chapter of the book vs the interview, and I'm pleased the family seem to be slowly settling though their hearts are clearly still back home.

In summary I would whole-heartedly recommend this book if you have an interest in political history;  an interest in women's rights; or you just like a good autobiography. It may not be the greatest literary classic but if you try you can hear Malala's Pakistani accent in the turns of phrase.

Right, let's see what everyone else thought. The discussion page is here.