Third time lucky?

This is the third cardigan I’ve knitted for my friend’s baby girl: Willow. She was born at the beginning of November last year. My first two cardigans came out too small.

First there was this one, which I started in June and finished in October, thinking I was being organised. Since it came up too small, I gave it to another friend who had a baby in November.

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Then there was this one, which, again, was going to be too small for little Willow. I started this in October and finished it in December. I kept this one for myself, as I was convinced I was having a baby boy. I didn’t, I had a girl, who did wear it once.

So, on New Year’s Eve, I started baby cardigan no.3. I was even knitting away waiting for my contractions to start when my waters had broken. Nearly four months on, I’ve finally finished it. And, I’m pleased to say it’s too big for my little model, who is a couple of months younger and several pounds lighter than her little friend Willow. So, I’m hopeful it’s third time lucky.

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Now it’s all wrapped up ready to go to its new home. I even used my new baker’s twine.

Fingers crossed it fits!

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Easter Crafternoon

Time for another Crafternoon and the date that everyone could do just happened to be Easter weekend, so we went with an Easter theme, naturally.

There was lots of chocolate consumed; this photo is very misleading in that we have just savoury bits on the table.

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There was crochet:

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And cross stitch:

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And knitting:

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Whilst I made an Easter wreath which I’d started earlier in the week. You may have seen it on Pinterest, the idea is to create ‘eggs’ made from stiffened yarn or thread, then glue them together to make a wreath.

Rather than buy a load of new thread to use, I was lucky enough to find odds and ends of wool in the stash I’ve inherited from my Nan, who sadly can no longer knit. She just happened to have lots of pastel shades, perfect!

I started by cutting lengths of 36 inches (8 yards). I figured as I was using wool rather than embroidery thread, I’d only need one length per water balloon.

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I then blew up a good 30+ water balloons. Note to self: don’t buy the cheapest next time. They were quick to pop/deflate.

I then mixed together some glue with water in a bowl and soaked a length of wool, then wrapped it round a water balloon, then used a clothes peg to hang it out to dry. I did this 20 times. Wasn’t quite as quick or easy as I hoped.

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I did this on Thursday. You’re supposed to allow 24 hrs for them to dry. As I was busy yesterday, they had nearer 48 hours. Today, at the Crafternoon, I had the task of popping the water balloons and removing the balloons using scissors and tweezers where necessary.

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Then, once I’d worked out my preferred layout, I glued the ‘eggs’ together using my trusty glue gun (best craft purchase, ever!).

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It’s now not very securely attached to my front door. Not sure how long it’ll last in this lovely weather we’ve been having.

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I feel like I’ve avenged the demons of my Easter baking failure last year, where my bunny scones ended up looking like Donnie Darko.

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Also, on the Easter crafts front, I helped my son make an Easter bonnet. When I say ‘help’, I mean I did 99% of the work. Again, thank God for glue guns!

It wasn’t the most creative creation, and he didn’t win a prize, but he loves it. In fact, he’s worn it four days running now!

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Happy Easter to you all. What have you been making?

Craft time is my me time

Shortly after my last post, our daughter arrived – 15 days ahead of her due date. We were convinced we were having another boy, so were very surprised to have a girl. She was in such a hurry to arrive that we didn’t make it to hospital and she was born at home! Her name is Alba (inspired by a character in the book The Time Traveller’s Wife). She’s been supervising my craft efforts of an evening …

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I’m busy knitting my third baby cardigan in a row. The two I previously knitted both came out too small for the intended recipient – a friend’s baby girl. So, I’m going for third time lucky. I’ve changed pattern and am making a bigger size.

Such is my dedication, I was even knitting it when my waters had broken and I was waiting for contractions to begin. It was a nice distraction. Which is the reason for this post really. That, how, as a mum, I find that I crave/need craft time as my ‘me’ time.

I read a blog post shared on Facebook this week about how crafting is good for your mental health. And I couldn’t agree more. Despite having my hands more full now, with a 2nd child, I’m more determined than ever to fit in craft time. Even if just to spite the naysayers who think that such a thing is impossible! Speaking of which, toddler and baby are both asleep, so I’m off to squeeze in a few more rows on the cardigan.

My 2015 makes

Here’s what I got up to in 2015 …

January saw me complete my 2nd commissioned memory quilt, for a friend’s little girl’s 3rd birthday. It was made up of her baby clothes.

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In February, I made my niece some teddy bear/doll’s sleeping bags for her 3rd birthday.

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In March, I finally completed my cross stitch of a West Highland terrier. I made some felt chicks and a mouse as part of the first ever Comic Relief Crafternoon; these were sold at my workplace along with other crafty contributions to make money for Comic Relief. March was a productive month, as I also made another niece a pirate doll for her 3rd birthday.

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In April, I had somewhat of a baking disaster. Attempting to make Waitrose’s ‘bunny scones’, mine ended up rather scary looking – very much like they were modelled on Donnie Darko! However, I did have a baking success too, a car-themed birthday cake for my nephew’s 2nd birthday. I also did an embroidery hoop for a friend’s birthday.

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In May, I finished my nephew’s memory bear, made from his baby clothes. This was also for his 2nd birthday (the one I made the car-themed cake for). I also made a ballerina doll for a friend’s little girl’s 2nd birthday. The memory bear was probably my favourite make of 2015, it came out really well.

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June and July were fairly quiet months on the crafting front, no finished objects to show. But I did begin knitting a baby cardigan and I’d also begun the bunting for my friend’s wedding. In July, a summer crafternoon was had by myself and some colleagues.

August was the culmination of my months of work making things for my friend’s wedding, at which I was also a bridesmaid. I made about 90 metres of bunting, hay bale covers and heart-shaped decorations, all for the wedding reception. All the hard work was worth it on the big day when it all came together and fitted the colour scheme and festival theme perfectly.

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September was another quiet month, perhaps as a result of working myself so hard finishing all the wedding bits in August.

In October, my son turned 2. I made two birthday cakes, one for a joint party with his friends – a chocolate finger and Smarties decorated cake. For my son’s party, I recreated my nephew’s car-themed cake as my son is also car-mad. I also finally finished knitting the baby cardigan I started in June. A little crochet was even involved, to do the edging and buttonholes on the front.

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In November, again with work colleagues, we had our annual Christmas crafternoon. I didn’t get any good photos of this, otherwise I would have done a blog post about it. I moved house at this point, so crafting very much took a back seat.

Onto December, and settled into our new house, I made a last-minute sheep costume for my son’s pre-school nativity play. I also did a wreath-making workshop with my Mum – a lovely Christmassy way to spend an afternoon. And, very recently, I finished my second baby cardigan. Unfortunately, like the first one I knitted, this one is also too small for the intended recipient. So, I’ve started a third one and have kept the second one for myself as I’m due to have a baby any day and I’m convinced it’s another boy!

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So that’s my round-up of my 2015 makes. Lots of things made for children! This is obviously where my interest lies. This year, I’m hoping to get some sort of craft business going, in the hope that I may not have to return to work from maternity leave in Jan 2017, or at least it’s something I could run alongside work. That’s the dream, anyway! Whether it happens as a mum of two, I’m somewhat doubtful …

My ‘to do’ list for 2016 currently looks as follows:

  • two memory cushions – one to match each memory quilt I made
  • make the hay bale covers from my friend’s wedding into a quilt
  • a memory lion, commissioned
  • poppy tapestry for my mum
  • froggy cross stitch
  • baby cardigan no.3, 3rd time lucky, hopefully this one will fit my friend’s not-so-new-anymore baby

 

What makes do you have planned for the year ahead? I’d love to hear about them. Wishing you a happy and crafty new year!

Kate

 

 

 

 

A cake, a quilt and a yearning for yarn

Back in April, I made my nephew a memory bear and a car-themed birthday cake for his second birthday. Last week, my son turned two; with him also being car-mad, I felt obliged to recreate the car cake for his birthday party at the weekend.

I baked the two sponge cakes to make up the cake on Friday afternoon. However, when I cut into the first one, it was still raw inside. So, at 9pm the night before the party I had to start again, sending my husband out into the dark and cold for more butter. (A week of baking disasters, if you saw my last blog post.) This also left me in the slight predicament on Saturday morning of having a cake to ice whilst looking after a two-year old (my husband had to work). Fortunately, my Mum came to the rescue and took over childcare, leaving me free to ice the cake. Two hours later, it was done. It tasted pretty good, if I do say so myself.  

Now that I’ve finished the baby cardigan I spent aaaaaaaaages knitting, I needed to think about what’s next. My ‘to do’ list is as follows:

  • Knit a second baby cardigan, for a friend who is due next month. Despite having a whole hamper full of wool, I might just pay the haberdashery at John Lewis a visit tomorrow …  
  • Two memory cushions, to accompany the memory quilts I made last year.
  • A quilt from the hay bale covers I made for my friend’s wedding. (I’ve warned her she’s unlikely to see this before her first wedding anniversary!)
  • My hairdresser has commissioned a memory lion made from her baby’s clothes. 

Plenty to be getting on with then 😬

I’ve often wondered what had become of the giraffe quilt I made for my niece. Tonight, I was delighted to receive a photo of my niece with said quilt. It’s helping her keep warm at night. That’s made my day, if not my week! 

  

Five little ducks …

… went swimming one day … onto a cardigan front. I’ve finished the garter stitch cardigan! Cue fanfare …

My fears about the joining together of pieces, weaving in of ends and sewing together of the sleeves and sides were unfounded.  

Next up, the pattern suggested adding a crochet edge, buttons and buttonholes. It’s been a while since I crocheted, so it was lucky that I had my weekly lunchtime pub craft date with ThePolkaDotGiraffe. I was soon on my way.  

This cardigan is intended for a friend’s baby. She is due next week. So, for regular readers, something amazing has happened – I’ve finished something ahead of schedule! She doesn’t know if she’s having a boy or girl, so I needed to choose some unisex buttons. I was going to go for yellow ducks, but then I stumbled across some teal ducks in John Lewis and had to buy them. Anyone who knows me, knows my love of the colour teal. My mother in law calls it ‘Kate’s colour’. So, buttons purchased in ‘my’ colour, I finished the cardigan last night.  

I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. It’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve found the pattern (Garter Stitch Cardigan from Lullaby Knits) challenging. I started knitting this in June and have taken several breaks from it, and almost thrown in the towel. I’m glad I persevered and confronted my fear of knitting things that need sewing together.  I may even make another for a friend who is expecting a baby next month. 

From a success to a failure. A colleague recently offered up cooking apples from her garden, and I ended up with a bag of 20 apples. Having made two of my trusty Dorset Apple traybakes (which always go down a treat in the office), I was on the hunt for other apple-based recipes. Apple rose cupcakes were suggested to me, I think these are a bit of a trendy bake at the moment. These are a puff pastry dessert in which very thin slices of apple are rolled to make a rose effect. I made two errors: my puff pastry was too thick and my apple slices weren’t thin enough. They didn’t look too bad before going in the oven.

  
After baking.   

Generously dusted with icing sugar.  

Unfortunately, despite a second stint in the oven, the pastry was still raw in the middle. And the apples were burnt on top. They had to be binned 😢

You win some. You lose some. 

To end on a happier note, the birthday card I made to appear on children’s TV for my son’s birthday made the cut! His card featured on CBeebies today. Whilst my now 2-yr-old was somewhat ambivalent to this momentous occasion, I was beside myself with excitement.  

That’s all from me for now. Do you have a recent success or failure you’d care to share?

(Not much) progress update

Now, where did I leave things … I had started knitting the first sleeve of the garter stitch baby cardigan I started back in June. Hence the title of this post 😊.

Well, nearly a month on, I now have two sleeves knitted. So, next up is putting it all together. Gulp. Time to procrastinate – my usual approach when I don’t know what to do next. Oh, and I need to weave in the ends too. Another thing I hate doing!  

So, I’ve started work on a secret project. Also of the knitting variety. I don’t think said recipient reads this blog, but just in case, I shall keep schtum. This is as far as I’ve got. The deadline for this is next Fri, and then I’ll have to return to confronting my cardigan-assembling fears.

  
I’ve also been baking again. My son turns two in a couple of weeks and we’re now at the tail-end of five 2nd-birthday parties in the space of three weeks! Today, he had a joint party with 7 of his friends. Ideal, as we split the cost of hiring a brilliant venue near us called Little Street, which they then had the run of for 90 minutes. It is exactly as it’s named: a little street containing a mini supermarket, beauty salon, cafe, doctor’s surgery, building site, etc., in which the children can play. Anyway, I made the birthday cake for the party, utilising another of the number moulds my mother-in-law bought me. I made a chocolate sponge, iced it with chocolate buttercream and began decorating it with chocolate fingers, Smarties and white chocolate buttons. But, disaster struck. Last night, three packets of chocolate fingers later, I was only two-thirds of the way round the cake. And I was home alone with my son and couldn’t persuade anyone to do a chocolate fingers mercy dash for me. 

  

I bought another three packets this morning and finished it off, using a touch of hot water to melt the icing a bit to make them stick. Voila! I had to cut the chocolate fingers down a bit as my sponge wasn’t very well risen and they looked a bit silly at full height.   

 

As an end note, a friend sent me this earlier, she said it reminded her of me!

  

As an editor, the lower-case ‘I’ very much bothers me, but I like the statement. I’m currently 24 weeks pregnant and feeling the time pressures of finishing up a variety of craft projects before baby no.2 arrives I never have free time again.