Monday, 27 December 2010
Sunday, 26 December 2010
Boxing day over and it’s been one of the best Christmases ever. Not because I got fabulous gifts, was pampered and didn’t have to lift a finger, but because the magic of Christmas was bought back by our little Florence. Her little giggles, smiles, mountains of exciting presents and paper tearing abilities reinvigorated Christmas day and Boxing day for the Parkinson and Davis families and bought us all back to the excitement of a childhood Christmas.
So to update you on my Christmas projects, do you remember the Millamia stripy babygrow I bought the materials for way back at Ally Pally in October? Well I actually got it finished and it fits! Granted I finished it late on Christmas eve and didn’t even manage to get it wrapped. And it will most likely only fit Florence for a month or so before she grows out of it. But the 3 months of knitting were still worth it to see her all snuggled inside.
I also knitted my sister in law a vintage hair snood from Knitting Fashions of the 1940’s by Jane Waller. It was really simple to make and fingers crossed it looks nice when she fixes it in her gorgeous 40’s hair. Photos to follow!
Finally, I confess that my Christmas quilt... did not get finished. It is a little bit of a shame but I really would rather that it be finished properly for next Christmas than be finished in a rush for this one. Now I can try to take my time over it and make it the best I can to cuddle up under next year.
Florence the Mr and I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas!
Sunday, 28 November 2010
I met up with a fellow new mum the other day who showed me the mittens she knitted for her little girl including a crocheted string to keep them safely inside her coat. They are so cute and are even lined with fabric from an old baby-grow to keep little fingers extra snugly. I commented that you don’t see mittens on string much these days, probably because of all the health and safety scares. Personally I’d like to see more mittens on string.
And a quick mention to any of you Knitting Magazine readers; I have submitted my article and shall be back on the back page of February issue. It'll be good to be back!
I’ve recently had a surge of crafting activity and not just on my quilt, which is rocketing along at the moment, but also on the striped baby-grow I’m knitting for Flo and some other household crafting which has been begging to be done for some time.
Ages ago I knitted up some gorgeous curly mohair into cushion covers for my sofa, but a couple of years later they’re malting all over the place and Florence keeps turning up with fists full of fluff. So it was time for them to go and they were unpicked and packed away for a time when tiny hands aren’t trying to tear or eat them.
With the cold weather rolling in I’ve been spending more and more time under my favourite blanket which I knitted throughout my primary school holidays . This knitted relic has been with me through thick and thin but I haven’t shown it much love back. There were large rips in the soft backing fabric and big pulls in several of the squares. So I gave it some much needed TLC by replacing the fabric, washing the knitted top and repairing the pulls. The new lease of life in the blanket means that we’ll be lovely and cosy this winter without the fear of putting our feet though the worn thin fabric.
Continuing with the Christmas theme I made some of Nigella’s Christmas Cupcakes from How to Be a Domestic Goddess today and topped them with edible glitter from one of my favourite shops Lakeland. You’ll never know that you needed so many crazy gadgets and home-wares until you’ve been to this shop and coveted an egg poaching cup or a magic ironing board cover. These cup cakes along with it being the first Sunday of Advent today and the ‘Holidays are Coming’ Coke ad I saw on TV have signalled the true start of the festive season.
To give you a quick quilt update I have sewn the front together and made the backing, which is basically like making another whole quilt! I tried to make it as simple as possible to save some time and it was considerably quicker than making the front. I then sandwiched the front and back with the squishy wadding and have tacked it in place. The next step is the actual quilting part, which involves me hand stitching around each star and across each candy cane square. That’s hand stitching. By hand! Even once I’ve finished that I’ve got binding to put round the edge. Can this really be finished by Christmas?
Sadly I didn’t make it along to the Craftacular today. Did you? How was it? What was in the goody bag? Oh how I love a goody bag!
Thursday, 25 November 2010
Saturday, 13 November 2010
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Monday, 18 October 2010
This weekend Florence got her first view of the sea and first experience of an English beach. It was a lovely day filled with our amazing friends, fish and chips in a cosy pub, coffee/ milk on the beach and hand knits put to good use on baby Florence.
Flo wore a suitably nautical navy and white striped jumper which I knitted back when I wasn’t sure if we were having a boy or a girl and a very cute hat which my mum whipped up for her. The hat is from Wee Woolly Toppers by Woolly Wormhead which I’m also using at the moment to make a cute hat called Cubba, one for Flo and one for her friend Harry, it will make them look like a pair at an autumn teddy bears picnic when they’re done!
When we arrived the first thing I saw was this cute little yarn shop called Buzz 4 Wool and Crafts which unfortunately was closed at the time. I thought it was worth a mention if you’re heading to the seaside and fancy some crafting on the beach.
I was a very special trip with Florence to see the sea for the first time. One we’ll remember forever.
Monday, 11 October 2010
“Right, first of all go for a wee. Here’s lunch and a bottle of water I picked up for you earlier. When we get in there we’ll take one room at a time and work from the back of the room to the front making sure not to miss any aisles. You have two choices on how to work the show; either we do a preliminary sweep of the whole exhibition without buying anything and then do a second sweep buying the things you definitely want, or you only make considered purchases as you work your way round, no impulse buys. If you get lost, call me on my mobile.”
She thought I was being a bit over zealous and suggested that perhaps we should carry distress whistles. By the end of the day she admitted that my plan was an essential one as I’m sure many of my fellow Ally Pally veterans will agree.
The plan ensured that my purchases were considered ones; considered but more importantly fabulous! I bought the Bright Young Things pattern book from Millamia Sweden which I’d coveted earlier this year at Knit Nation. As there was 10% off I also bought the yarn for the cutest project in the book; a little stripy babygrow for Florence. The founders of Millamia, sisters Katerina and Helena Rosen kindly let me take their picture with their sample babygrow. I better start it soon before she gets too big for it!
The other hit of the show for me was the V&A stall. They were selling beautiful fabric, printed with designs from quilts in the V&A collection, all for 10% off. I bought two of the same bundles for just £15 each. The price on the ticket was £25, so I reckon this was a serious bargain. I’m hoping to make a quilt with these bundles at some point, but the Christmas quilt really needs to get going first.
I also got some nice needles from The Little Knitting Company.
As always the student and exhibition works were amazing to wander though and take inspiration from. The Black Sheep yarn dive was typically popular and the Stitch London stall had quite a crowd round it. I had a nice chat with Susan Crawford of Knit on the Net, who let me know that there will be a Volume 2 of the beautiful vintage knitting pattern book A Stitch In Time which will be available to pre-order soon.
All in all it was a good show. Not the best Ally Pally I’ve been to as I did notice that quite a few regular vendors weren’t there this year. This was most likely down to the more knitting specific shows such as Knit Nation and the I Knit weekender. Stalls are so expensive at these events that vendors are becoming a bit more selective of which shows they spend money on coming to. But for another year the biggest stitching show has come and gone. See you in 2011 Ally Pally and next time I’m bringing distress whistles.
Wednesday, 6 October 2010
First of all I’d like to say, OMG, it’s Ally Pally this weekend! Didn’t that come round quick!?!? I shall be visiting on Saturday with Mum and my amazingly crafty friend, Sarah. I will no doubt find the time to tell you what I spent my maternity pay on once I get back. Last year I went in with a plan and stuck to it, this year I’m going in with only my instincts... this is going to get dangerous... and potentially very expensive.
So in the ridiculously long time that I’ve not been blogging I have done a lot of baking, a little bit of knitting and some quilting.
Baking wise I hosted a surprise cake party for my friend Jessica. It was her first birthday living in the UK after moving earlier this year from Canada and we’ve been out for a lot of cake together so I thought it appropriate to make some cakes and invite people over to eat them in her honour. She enjoyed it very much and the winner of the night was undoubtedly the rhubarb tart, which looks weird as its green rather than pink, but I assure you it was super yummy.
I then went a bit tart crazy and made several plum tarts as my parent’s plum tree was in full swing of fruit. I then topped this off by attempting a pecan pie for my sister in law’s birthday. In a Neil Stuke Celebrity Masterchef moment, here is that attempt.
OK, well I did finish it in the end (by starting from scratch again) but it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped it would be. I’ll get it right and won’t drop it next time. Many more picture of my baking adventures/ failures can be found here.
I made a promising start to my Christmas quilt by buying the fabric, cutting everything out and then making half of the blocks up. However I hit a little stumbling block and having managed to get going again for a good few weeks now. All it will take is an afternoon of someone looking after Flo and no disruptions to get my head round it again, but I’m not sure when that will be. Due to the stumbling block I have no pictures of the quilt in progress as yet. I shall report back.
Knitting wise, once I’d finished the skirt (which made it onto the Purl Alpaca's new blog!) I wasn’t sure what to start, so I have been working on a couple of baby hats and a baby bolero for Flo. We’ve had tons of medical visits and hospital checkups for Florence recently so I haven’t had a lot of free time to knit, although I do think about it a lot!
Flo update: We had more good news from Great Ormond Street that Flo’s heart is continuing to improve and she was able to come off a few more of her drugs which is of course WONDERFUL! We are so happy with her progress and it is a continual shock to realise how far she’s made it with every day that passes. She still has a way to go and it looks like she will be a long term tube feeder as she still hasn’t mastered sucking a bottle or taking solids. This has been quite depressing as you really do become a slave to the tube feeding and it’s difficult to get out of the house or go anywhere for longer than an hour and a half, but I’d do anything for this cute little face, so as far as we’re concerned we’ll keep going for as long as we need to.
Sunday, 12 September 2010
I feel a great sense of achievement at finishing this garment, especially as the weather’s just starting to turn and there will be ample opportunity to wear it. It’s strange how finishing the skirt really feels like closing a door on that stay at the hospital. Although there may be further stays in future, now this project has been cast off and ends woven in, I have a strange sense of closure for that very traumatic part of our lives.
You can wear the skirt three different ways, so this is a really versatile and wearable project. It can be worn as a skirt, dress or poncho and I think it looks great in all three variations. I think my favourite is the skirt with a wide belt round it. I’m so glad I got this finished and it looks nice on me! Bring on the Autumn.
I’ve just realised that I never gave you an update on how our fun run went for Great Ormond Street. Well we raised an AMAZING £6,420! A big thank you for all the donations and runners we had in Team Florence. Perhaps Flo will do it with us next year.
Sunday, 29 August 2010
Just between Friends is a lovely little shop which is packed with gorgeous quilting fabrics, haberdashery and has a small teaching space. We got chatting to the owner, Carol, who was very happy to chat to us about quilting, whilst also taking a class at the same time! She told us that we could come in for a taster session, which is designed to show all the skills needed for quilting before you make the decision on buying all of the equipment needed to get you going.
We went back a couple of weeks later and did the taster session which was lovely and informal, with lots of chatting and cups of tea. We learnt how to cut using the mat, ruler and cutting wheel, then how to put together a basic square and press it. The session only cost £10 and lasted probably 2 hours with all of our chit chat, so it was well worth the money. You can see some pictures from our day at Just Between Friends here.
Mum has gone ahead and purchased the equipment to start her first quilt, but my heart still belongs to knitting and I don’t really have the time to devote to a new hobby, so I’ll just have to borrow hers if I want to do some quilting in future. I really think I’d like to make a Christmas quilt; something that you can bring out every year to snuggle up under whilst watching crappy Christmas TV. The question is will I find the time to do it before Christmas?
Sunday, 22 August 2010
Thursday, 19 August 2010
It was Brett’s Birthday yesterday and Florence wanted to get him something special for his first Birthday as a Daddy. So a few weeks ago we went down to our local ceramic painting shop called the Creative Biscuit. It’s such a lovely place to go with a few friends for the afternoon and paint a plate, cup, jug, vase, money box, ornament etc. I’ve done it a few times in the past and knew that they could do ceramics with babies hand and foot prints if you pre-book.
Tuesday, 17 August 2010
I’d heard of these before from American baby showers but never seen them in the UK. It’s basically layers of rolled up nappies stacked to look like a cake and then covered by cute baby stuff.
You can buy them but I think it’s nicer to make your own as you can put specific bits on the cake to suit the receiver. They’re fun and easy to make too. Although I didn’t make this one I did pull it apart so can see how it was done so here’s a quick ‘How to’.
· Get a couple of packs of nappies. These can be disposables or reusable ones, although reusable ones will cost you a packet. Even though Florence isn’t using disposable nappies these will still come in handy for when we’re out and about.
· Roll the nappies up individually. Once you have enough pack them together standing on end and use an elastic band to hold them together as your first layer. Repeat this process, making each layer a bit smaller each time. You might need a second pair of hands to do this so get someone to help you.
· Stack the layers on top of each other and then start to add your gifts. On our cake there were bibs on the bottom layer, fabric and clothes round the middle layer and socks round the top. Each layer was secured by another elastic band around the gifts and then a ribbon (which said ‘It’s a Girl!’) covered the elastic band.
· To finish off tuck toys, and bulkier gifts into the ribbon or tie them on using pretty coloured cord. We had lots of little chew toys, rattles, teething gel and a thermometer added to our cake.
· Finally wrap it up using cellophane and ribbon.
Tuesday, 10 August 2010
I was over the moon to receive a couple of parcels of hand knit love from some of my lovely knitty fiends but it’s just been far too close to wear them. Despite this I simply have to have her try them on to see how they look and dream of cooler days where there is the need for cardigans and jumpers.
This is a beautiful Sea Waves jumper from Gillian, which looks too cute on her. I especially love the colours.
My mum has also made a few things but this is her stock pattern for all newborns. Although Flo is still small and so it fits her now, I fear that by the time it’s cool enough to wear she’ll be too big. Oh well, we’ll save it for a dolly or something.
These are some beautifully soft vests from Iris which have a great story attached to them. They meant for wearing as under garments during the winter and can be used from birth to two years old as they stretch to fit and have a draw string neck. Iris even included a little swatch of the knitted up fabric to test in the wash before we potentially accidentally shrink them.
Wednesday, 4 August 2010
I made cupcakes for the first time in 5 months. Oh how I missed baking.
I took Flo to baby sensory, which is basically a room of lights, noisy toys and tactile bits and bobs to play with. She loved it!
Sunday, 1 August 2010
It was so lovely to catch up with many of the vendors I’ve got to know over the years from being a visitor and volunteer at various knitting shows. Andy from Bluefaced.com was the first one I saw as I walked in and he was so glad to hear about Florence’s progress that he gave me a ball of pink Baby Rooster merino yarn to knit Flo something pretty with. What a fantastic start! I’m thinking I’ll maybe make a hat from the Wee Wooly Toppers book that my mum bought at her stall. Did you know the cute as a button boy in all the photos in this book are Wooly Wormhead’s son? He’s so adorable and she assured us that he loves to wear hats, which is probably a good thing when your mum’s a hat designer!
I had a lovely chat with Emma, the editor of Knitting Magazine and took a sneaky peak at Perri Lewis’s article which has taken over my spot at the back of the magazine while I’m on my break. Hopefully I’ll be back on the pages of Knitting magazine next year.
Over at Yoslda’s stall I acted like a massive stalker and generally said the wrong thing. I think she thought I was a bit of a nutter. Despite this, or maybe because of it, she signed both copies of her books for me and we had a photo taken her cute photo booth, with me wearing one of her designs.
I met the nice ladies from Denise needles, picked up some sock yarn from a stall I can’t remember the name of (sorry!) and made it down to the stand everyone was talking about Rohrspatz & Wollmeise. Apparently, because their yarns are not usually available in the UK there was a full on stampede when the doors opened on Thursday night. I hear there was screaming... scary! The stall was beautiful and the yarns were very lush.
So in my opinion Knit Nation was a successful and really enjoyable day. All my pictures of the show can be found here including stalker-ish shots of all my favourite yarny people.