Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Nappy summary

I thought I'd do a bit of a nappy summary - more for myself than anything else....

The nappies I made: so far I haven't used them at all - at the beginning they were way too big, I tried one on Frances the other day and they gape a lot around the leg, so I can't imagine the containment would be very good.... and as we all know, it's all about the containment.

Disposable: slim, easy, reliable... but.... I don't really want my daughter walking around as an environmental disaster. I've read about disposable nappies not even starting to decompose until she's an old lady, which just feels wrong to me. So, we have some as backup and sometimes to use for convenience - ie if we're going out and aren't sure of the changing facilities etc.

Imse Vimse reusable nappies as supplied by Kela: I've tried to use these, but every time they just haven't contained anything and we've ended up in a soggy mess. I've heard that these only start working once the inners are washed a few times - I guess they must mean a few thousand times.

Muslins: Old fashioned muslin squares with knitted wool pants on the outside. These have been what we use the majority of the time. It's quite a game to "pin" (using nappi nippas) them around her while she's wriggling, but no more difficult than trying to get her into a disposable nappy while wriggling with her legs in the air. I'm curious to know how these will hold up as she gets bigger - maybe I'll have to double them up? I'm still a bit shocked that the wool pants work - I wash and retreat them with lanolin if they get soiled, other than that they just get aired.

Mothercare Smart Nappy: We used these when she was first born and are now using the medium size at night. They're pretty convenient although we do occasionally get leakage at her lower back, and even though the outers don't need to be washed every time they're used, they soon start to smell a bit pee-y.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

First day of advent

Another project that came to light when my Mum was helping me organise last spring was a half made advent calendar. We think this was something my Nanna had found half finished in a charity shop she had been working in and brought home and given to me to finish off. I apparently hadn't finished it, but once again my Mum volunteered and it appeared in a parcel along with a few presents to fill the pockets. I added some more bits so there's one for each day of advent.

The pockets aren't that big, so I thought the best thing to do was to get some sweets to put in each pocket and then attach some wool to join each sweet to a present....

Today's present were some reindeer socks for Frances...

...not quite sure what is in the socks but despite all the kicking she hasn't managed to dislodge them yet.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

When "stuff" stashed becomes useful

Last August, in what seems like an age ago now, I decided to make a concerted effort to use some "stuff" that was in my stash to make something useful, rather than just continue to carry it about.

One of the things in my stash was some red heart acrylic yarn that I'd bought while I was living in the US and had been having a small foray into the world of knitting. I'd bought it as I liked the colour and thought it would be good to make a cabled jumper out of - I still like the colour, but I now know better than to knit something like a cabled jumper out of cheap acrylic yarn. The surplus yarn has been sitting in my stash ever since and the jumper not worn.

A plan formulated itself to knit/sew some sort of picnic blanket, using the red heart yarn, some fleece that was also taking up space in the stash and some waterproof material that I'd acquired at some point along the way.

I cut out the fleece and started knitting the squares, then became pregnant and started to hibernate.

Enter Mum, who came to visit me while I was hibernating and helped me organise my crafting stuff into a newly acquired IKEA shelf unit. She saw this (and a couple of other) half started project and volunteered to knit more squares. We frogged the jumper and she was sent away with the yarn and needles.

When she came to visit just after Frances was born, she came armed with the squares she'd knitted and the yarn that was left. We started to put it all together and she knitted a border for it too. Over the following weeks I've slowly been sewing it together and yesterday, while Frances was napping, managed to finally complete it:

It's not the time of year for picnics, but it's finished and can be used inside as another blanket for Frances to wriggle on. It has a lot of texture in each square as they're all knitted using a different pattern, and also the contrast between the knitted and fleece squares which will hopefully be interesting for little fingers. It's also washable and has a waterproof backing, so perfect for sitting on under the apple trees next year.

It's also very pleasing and satisfying that some "stuff" has been used from the stash.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Retro knitting

A little while ago I ended up with quite a few old knitting patterns - I quite like the idea of making some of them despite how cheesy and old fashioned the patterns themselves might seem.

My first foray into retro knitting has been a hat for Frances - the bottom left of the following:

Made from just over one ball of Garnstudio DROPS Merino Extra Fine yarn and without the pom pom. It's a bit big for her yet, so probably won't be worn by her until next Autumn. In the meantime polar bear has been wearing it on his adventures.

Monday, 16 November 2009

It's about time I blogged something...

Life is good.

Our move to Turku went very well.

We've had both sets of our parents come to visit already and are due my sister-in-law in December.

Frances is doing very well, she's what could undoubtedly be called a happy, contented baby (without being on a strict Gina Ford regime).

We've decided not to put too many pictures of her up on the internet.

The usual focus of this blog is craftiness - there hasn't been a huge amount of crafting going on since Frances has been born, but I'm sure that will increase as time goes on.

Saturday, 12 September 2009


This is Frances Lorelei, I suspect she will hinder my knitting and blogging for a little while!

Born 4th September, 3.5kg. Mother and baby doing well - Father worn out!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Race update - and the winner is....

A pretty close run thing, but Andrew's jumper has won. Last ends woven in today and after a little bit of a light blocking I declare it the winner.

We had our friend Mina to visit last week along with her son Theodor, who's about 8 months old. She asked if I could help her develop her rudimentary knitting skills - I'm not sure if I was that much help, but she went home with some yarn and needles that she was encouraged to buy and a pattern for a baby hat that she practice cast on for while she was visiting. She's since set up a ravelry account, so hopefully she'll keep going. I cast on for the same baby hat and have nearly finished it - it just needs some i-cord making for ties.

Now we just need the baby.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Race progress

The jumper vs baby race is really hotting up:

Baby is at about 8 months.
And as far as the jumper is concerned, the sleeves are done and I'm onto the yoke. Another inch or so and I can start doing some decreases. I'm looking forward to the decreases as it's an awful long way around at the moment.
So, the race is hotting up and it's all to play for.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Mr Smiley Tree

I've been meaning to blog about Mr Smiley Tree for ages. Someone at some point has done something to this tree that means that after there has been rain a smiley face appear on the bark.

We had a thunder storm yesterday evening and then some more rain during the night, so he was all smiley this morning. It's nice to be able to look out of the kitchen window and see his happy smiling face.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Resurrected quilt - finished

I knew it wouldn't be long before the pink lily opened and yesterday it did just that - very pretty. It's a shame it doesn't have a heady lily perfume, but I certainly won't complain as the flower is beautiful.

Yesterday was a productive day as far as crafting is concerned as I finished the quilt that I resurrected. A very satisfying feeling that a long languishing project has been progressed and finished and will be of use in the not too distant future.

It's also satisfying to know that I only had to buy the batting in order to finish it off, everything else... the sashing, binding, backing etc came from my stash.

Here's the back - I did put the three leftover squares there.

I machine quilted it as I knew if I started down the route of hand quilting I'd never finish it. I also kept the quilting very simple and just did a border around each of the blocks, which I think highlights them quite nicely. It won't win any WI prizes as it's quite puckered, but I'm not going to enter it any competitions, so that's OK. It'll be fine to be lay on, crawled on, played on and eventually slept under.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

flower update

I thought it was about time to have an update on the flowers that I've been growing this year - we've had a bit of a mixed success as a few things that I either planted this year, or which should have survived the winter, didn't.

The sweet peas are doing well - I'm sure they were meant to be a mix of colours, but have ended up being mostly on the purple side. I love the smell of sweet peas, I'm sure these ones won't stay outside for much longer, but will be cut and put into a vase.

I planted a few more lillies this year, which have started to flower (excuse all the weeds) - I can't remember what variety they are, but they're a really vibrant red/orange. The pink lilies from last year and a little bit behind, but their buds are starting to colour up, so it won't be long before they're flowering too.

And last, but not least the dahlia that I grew last year has survived its hibernation in our dining room cupboard and is putting on a show again - it poured with rain last night, so the older of the flowers is a little damaged, but it's still doing well, and there's at least one more bud coming.

I tried growing some dahlia's from seed this year, I was under the impression that they should flower in the same year as germination, but I'm not holding my breath (they're in the pot behind the flowering dahlia in the picture above and are only a couple of inches high, if that).

This week I feel like I'm turning a corner on Andrew's jumper: sleeve number 1 is done. Progress is definitely being made.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Resurrected quilt

While David has been at work this weekend I decided to have a bit of change of craft project. When my Mum came to visit back in March one of the things we did was organise my sewing supplies - in the organising, one of the things we came across was a languishing quilting project. I've been trying to figure out when I must have started it, and think it must have been sometime in the late 80's! I seem to have a habit with quilting and patchwork of starting with a very manageable sized project and extending it into something that stalls because it's too big/complicated.

It started out being this:

First change was to not want to do any applique, so these blocks were changed - so far so good, and then I think I must have gone on a family holiday somewhere in Scotland and came back inspired to try to piece together a border composed of Celtic knot work - this is obviously when it got out of hand.

We found about 4 blocks of knot work and 15 blocks of normal patchwork. My Mum's suggestion was to go back to the original plan and make the quilt up as per the book using the blocks I had as it would turn out about the right size for a cot quilt.

I've listened to this sane suggestion and have produced the quilt front:

I've still got 3 blocks leftover, which I might put on on the back just so they have somewhere to go, and the Celtic knot work, which I think might languish a bit longer!

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Still growing

Nothing much new to report going on here - just continued progress on ongoing projects.

Andrew's cobblestone now has 5 balls of felted tweed on it and is about 21" long - so probably one more ball and then I can get on with the sleeves.

The weather here has been nice over the last little while, and the veg garden is growing with varying success. We harvested our first broad beans during the week and after a few hints to the chef that these needed to be showcased in something, he made a nice risotto. We also have one surviving sweetcorn plant, some florence fennel, leeks and brocolli plants doing their thing, so hopefully they'll continue to make progress. Our soft fruit is also doing well. We have a few blackcurrents and gooseberries and also some strawberries - the field fares have been eyeing them up, but despite some attacks on the netting they haven't managed to get in there yet.

My bump is also growing - I'm about 7 months now.

I'm starting to feel a bit as if there's a race between Andrew's cobblestone and the baby - I would really like Andrew's jumper to win as I'm sure knitting will take a bit of a hiatus once the baby gets here.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Under the gooseberry bush

Well, not quite under the gooseberry bush time yet, but we went and picked up my maternity package today, which I get from Kela as part of the maternity benefit. I think this is a fantastic idea - I think it might be the only social security system in the world that gives a box of goodies to prospective parents. The link shows what's in it - basically baby clothes and bits and bobs like blanket, bedding, hairbrush, picture book etc. Even the box it comes in has a little mattress in the bottom and can be used as a crib. I need to look at the contents a bit more, but from what I've read everything it contains is ecological and there aren't any disposable nappies, which I think is good - just washable ones.

I didn't manage 11" of knitting while I was away, by the way, am not really surprised. Too many other things to do - oh well, I'll buckle down to it now (promise!).

Friday, 12 June 2009

The rain will do the garden good

Anyone would think we were back in winter again with the darkness of the photos I'm posting - in fact it looks like it's about to rain, big heavy laden sky. We have had some good sunshine and hot weather recently, so the phrase, "The rain will do the garden good" is more true than annoying. Hopefully it'll help to swell the gooseberries and encourage the rhubarb to put up a few more stalks for us to harvest, and maybe encourage the strawberries to fruit (the field fares are certainly keeping their beady little eyes on the plants despite them being securely caged - the strawberries, not the birds).

So, back to the photos - just a couple of progress shots again. The first is another shot of Andrew's cobblestone sweater. One more ball of yarn down and it's definitely getting longer - I think I've got about 11" to go before I get to the armpits (I had thought I only had 4" to do, but my maths isn't very good at the moment so when I checked I found it was more). We're off to the UK next week so I'll take it with me to try to get those 11" done while sitting in the garden relaxing and while David's off walking with my Dad. I still like knitting with felted tweed, there's something about it that pleases me - not sure if it's the tweediness, or the soft but not fluffy soft texture, or how even it knits up - or maybe all three and some other reasons that haven't been verbalised right now.

The other progress shot is the pile of nappies that I'm making.

I had a bit of a slow start as I decided I didn't like how they looked when I overlocked the edges, and I was having some problems with the soaker pad bunching when I washed them. But after taking a couple of the first ones apart and putting them back together so that they're sewn and then turned and with a better constructed soaker pad, I'm starting to make progress. These are going to be too big for a newborn, but I'm hoping will be a good average size that the baby will be able to get some good use out of. I think we're going to try these nappies from mothercare for when the baby's very little.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Rhubarb cheesecake experiment

I thought I should update on the rhubarb cheesecake experiment. I didn't manage to get a shot of the whole cheesecake before we made a dent, but we did manage to stop before we ate it all.

I used the New York cheesecake recipe out of Sue Lawrence's Book of Baking as a starting point. The changes I made to the recipe, apart from downsizing it, were to use ginger nuts for the base instead of digestives and to add some stewed rhubarb stirred into the cream cheese mix. I used three stewed stalks and a little bit of extra unstewed, just to see if stewing was necessary. I didn't add any vanilla essence or lemon juice/zest.

It turned out to be a successful experiment, the rhubarb gave a fresh taste to the cheesecake that contrasted well with the creaminess of the cream cheese. I found that there was no need to have stewed the rhubarb before stirring it in, and I could have definitely put in more to make it even zingy-er.

So, definitely an experiment that will be tried again. Grow rhubarb, grow.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Count down

Some things I seem to be doing at the moment involve counting down - here are three of them:

Firstly, and probably needing the least amount of counting down is our rhubarb. This has come back nicely after the winter. I'll probably cut the first stalks this weekend. The plan is to make a rhubarb baked cheesecake - I don't really have a recipe to follow, but will adapt and experiment with my usual baked cheesecake recipe and see what happens.
Secondly, Andrew's jumper is still making progress. I've now knit 3 balls and I think I'm nearly half way to the arm pits. The felted tweed is knitting up nicely (as ever). I hope it fits him when it's finished.
And thirdly, the counting down of the bump... this is the progress at 25 weeks. It looks like a baby bump rather than a pie bump now.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Cobblestone progress

We're off to Riga tomorrow for a long weekend to explore another of the Baltic cities. The weather's meant to be good, and hopefully it'll be a good weekend all round.

I promised myself that I would finish two balls of yarn on Andrew's cobblestone sweater before I went to Riga and before I blogged about it - so here it is:

Progress so far. Progress is slow, but it's progress nevertheless.

Friday, 10 April 2009

spring at last?

Finally, the first snowdrops have been spotted in our garden:

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Breaking the silence

It's time to break blogging silence... I haven't been feeling particularly energetic recently and the crafting has been suffering. (Sorry Andrew, your jumper is only 2" further along). I think I'm getting a bit more energy now and so thought it was time to break the silence.

I couldn't ignore, and had to share, the display Mr Amaryllis is giving this year. I've pretty much ignored him all year and only occasionally given him a drop of water and he's rewarded my neglect with this beautiful bloom. I've spotted a second bud coming from the same bulb, which is very exciting.

My Mum came to visit last week and helped me plant a few veg seeds.... it didn't take long, but a few have already germinated. The line of seedlings closest are broccoli, there's also some leeks that have germinated and one sweet corn plant (so far). It all bodes well for this years vegetable garden, we just need things to warm up and the snow to go and then we can really get things going.

I have started (again with the help of my Mum, and Dylan as model) a new crafty project. I've decided to make nappies. Dylan claims he doesn't need a nappy, but I'm not so sure! The plan is to make 20 before the beginning of September.

Thursday, 15 January 2009


I seem to be getting behind with my blogging.

I finished the deep V argyle vest - as I've said before I was meant to be knitting this along with Quinn, but the knitting gods were against her and so she ended up taking it back to the US with her to finish.

I'm pleased with how mine turned out. I made some alterations in the upper part to accommodate my row gauge, basically by shortening the pattern - the alterations have worked out and it fits pretty well. The scary steeking part was scary as predicted, but the good directions kept me on course and it worked fine.

I also finished the arch shaped socks I started on my trip back to the UK before Christmas. Despite my gusset/decrease numbers not working out they came out fine. They're comfortable and a bit different.

Next project started is the cobblestone pullover for my friend Andrew - I'm about 2" in. Man-sized sweater's are pretty big.

Friday, 2 January 2009

looking forward

2008 has been a good year, with lots of positive things happening, but I prefer to look forward to 2009 than back at a summary of 2008. I've been thinking about 2009 and things that I would like to achieve this year - not really resolutions - but more goals and aims. David and I have been thinking about places we'd like to visit and experiences we would like to have, but I thought it was worth having a think on a more personal level. Some of these are craft related, so I thought I'd write them down here (in no particular order):

Learn to knit continental style - I did teach myself to do it last year, but I would like to actually knit something this way around so that the method sticks properly in my head.
Continue with my City and Guilds (which seems to be paused at the moment).
Make a really concerted effort with my quilt.
Continue using stuff I already have, and generally reducing the amount of "stuff" I have.
Sew more clothes.
Design something myself.

Some of these will overlap and hopefully lead into each other, which gives me a nice feeling of continuity.