Crochet Elma Family Handmade Inspiration Kitty Knitting Photography Pip Sewing Work in Progress

Progress and Planning

29/04/2016

This week I have been plotting.  I’ve been making as well but I’m having one of those phases where I flit between projects depending on mood and concentration levels and while some things have got a little bigger since the last time you saw it, none of them are anywhere near finishing.  The backing and wadding and binding for the Fishing Net quilt are still in their bag, as is the background fabric for my next quilt, mostly waiting for me to tidy my desk up even just a teeny tiny bit to make room for what will be a quite gargantuan quilting effort.

Space for the Butterflies - Cottage ripple Space for the Butterflies - Cottage ripple  I picked up my crochet again when the weather turned cold, mostly because it’s so cozy to work on while it’s all spread over my lap.  I have now finished the first third of the central section, although given that that has taken me a year and a quarter I can only hope that the rest won’t take as long to finish.  I’m definitely getting faster, and my trebles are getting more fluid, so I have high hopes.  I’d say maybe by Christmas but it turns out that after all these years I am actually learning that given that the last third of the year has all three children’s birthdays and Christmas, I might want to rethink what I’m going to be able to do on top of all of the deadlines for birthday jumpers.  Maybe a year from now – what do you think?

 

The chief distraction from the crochet has been Christmas knitting. Of the 2015 variety.  I was doing so well with H’s Christmas present balls of yarn; he had his January socks in January and his February socks in February and his March socks are ….

20160429-DSC_0073 two inches of the first sock that keep falling off the needles as soon as Pip even looks in their direction.  I do like the pattern but I think it’s my least favourite of all four yarns and when I was looking for something to grab for car knitting while we were travelling last weekend I’m afraid I glanced in their direction, and then went to pick up the loveliness that is Socks that Rock medium weight to make a start on April’s socks.    Space for the Butterflies - handknit socks

It’s proof that lovely yarn practically knits itself because by the time we arrived back on Sunday night I’d got to the toe shaping.  Forgive me for my sock infidelity lovely March socks, I promise I’ll get back to you just as soon as I’ve finished the second April.

But I mentioned plotting.  I picked up one of my stash of Oliver + S patterns the other day and realised that not only has Kitty grown out of the sizing (that’s not that much of a surprise, she may be five but she wears age 8 and 9 clothes) but Elma is on the cusp of being too grown up for them too.  Well that will never do.  And so on a rainy wet evening this week that felt entirely borrowed from February, I pulled out a good chunk of my dressmaking fabric stash, divided the patterns into Kitty and Elma sizes and asked them to do some choosing.  And so I have a summer sewing list of sorts.

I’ve done this before; make lists and lined up fabric and pattern and then that seems to have satisfied that particular creative itch and I’ve never actually got around to doing the cutting and sewing, a sort of textile equivalent to joining a gym making you think that you’ve actually done some exercise.  So lets just say that this is the intention, even if we have to wait a little bit for the reality.

So what do we have?

Space for the Butterflies - campervan skirts

Well probably first on the list is going to be the girls’ souvenir from our weekend away – H and I both fell in love with this camper van print, to the point that even a similar print but with beach huts couldn’t distract us from the vision of two little girls running around in camper van skirts with dotty pockets.  My plan is to make more (yet more) of the Purl Bee’s Skirt for All Ages, it’s a great pattern and the previous incarnations have been top of the wardrobe picks all year round.

Space for the Butterflies - Susanne from Citronille

After that, and in the spirit of fairness and the slightly more important spirit of dressing them as near to matching as I can get away with while they’re still small enough to find it fun, I have the Citronille pattern for Susanne, in sizes to cover both girls.  It’s a beautiful floaty gathered smock dress, which will be perfect for the hot days I’m convincing myself are coming (even if we have to go travelling in Europe to find them), and work well with leggings underneath for the rest of a British summer or when Kitty grows 10 inches overnight.

I can easily imagine that this is as far as I will actually get, but if I indulge myself for a second and press on, both girls have chosen a skirt from my stash of Oliver + S patterns;

Space for the Butterflies - Oliver + S skirts

Kitty’s is the Badminton Skort to be made out of a blue quilting cotton (Toy Box II by Sara Morgan for Blue Hill Fabrics), with possibly something of a contrast for the shorts underneath depending on how far I can make the fabric stretch, and Elma chose the Hopscotch Skirt and a pile of fat quarters from a seaside print. It’s crazy to think that when I bought that fabric it would have made her a dress. Oh well!

And last, but by no means least, we have the challenges;

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a Fairytale dress for Kitty from fabric from the weekend’s haul, a beautiful albeit nameless quilting cotton, and for Elma an Ice Cream Dress from two of the oldest lengths of fabric in my stash.

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They’re both Liberty Tana lawn, one a birthday present from the days before the children arrived, and the other bought while I was on maternity leave with Kitty.  Liberty print is far too special not to be treasured and held onto until exactly the right project comes along, and I think this might just be it – always assuming I can get around to making it before Miss Elma grows again.

And lest you be worried that poor Master Pip Squeak is missing out in all of this, (a) his birthday comes first, (b) he needs a new jumper before then and (c) I have some truly amazing navy blue fabric with a white lobster print that needs to be something for him, I just can’t quite decide what – any suggestions for sewing patterns for little boys?

Joining Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On.

If you like talking about sewing, and knitting and making things both with and for the children, please would you vote for me? I’m a finalist in the MADs blog awards and I need your vote to win – to vote click here.  You have to give an email address, presumably to stop us spamming the results and then look for Space for the Butterflies on the drop down menu for Best Craft Blog.  You don’t have to be a blogger, or based in the UK, just be someone who enjoys reading and can spare a couple of minute to vote sometime between now and 27 May – thank you so much x

 

 

Elma Family Kitty Milestones Pip

Taking Time

28/04/2016

Harrogate, Bath of the north, is little but lovely.  In all my years with visiting our family I’d never actually been for a wander round and so when we idly suggested places we might go on some hypothetical day away from the children it came pretty high on my list.  A town with a shop just for buttons and a Betty’s Tearooms really shouldn’t be missed.  And so as the idea of our actually taking that step and taking time away from our little trio to remember what it was like to be just the two of us started to become less hypothetical and more an actual reality that we might actually do, Harrogate kept cropping up. It was far enough from the family to feel as if we’d gone away, and near enough that if it all went horribly wrong we could be home in an hour or so.

And so we went.  We travelled up to Yorkshire on Friday, saw the children loaded up into the car on Saturday morning to start their day of adventure, and then we packed up and we left, for a whole 24 hours, starting with a gentle potter around a very pretty northern town.

Space for the Butterflies - an adventure in Harrogate

H jokes that Harrogate is posh Yorkshire, to the point that he claims I’d be better understood with my southern accent than he would, but to me it sounded exactly as if we’d walked onto the set of Downton Abbey, in the best possible way.  It felt so strange to be wandering around without the children; to go into shops that we know would present a serious challenge to the family “look with your eyes not your fingers” rule without constantly being watching and turning and trying to keep three little ones in one field of vision at any one time.  Strange and lovely.

Space for the Butterflies - an adventure in Harrogate

We found Duttons for Buttons which is a treasure trove of every sort of button under the sun, and I could easily have said “six of everything” and come home a happy woman.  We found The Remnant House which is the closest I have ever come to encountering a Tardis, full of roll upon roll of beautiful fabric and all the trimmings you’d need to go with them, and somewhere where I may perhaps have had a little falling down and swiped the bank card as I tumbled.  Suffice to say that the girls are going to have some awesome skirts this summer. Space for the Butterflies - an adventure in Harrogate

And then of course to Betty’s.  Not to the tearooms themselves, with a queue snaking out of the door and around the side, which must have rather obliterated the nice view of the park for anyone with a window seat, but to the shop section for an extraordinary amount of cake, parcelled up as the very best sort of picnic.

Space for the Butterflies - an adventure in Harrogate

And so it was, that in the last sliver of sunshine before the dark clouds returned to pelt us with rain, we sat in the park in the Montpellier quarter, taking in the tree carvings that celebrated the Tour de France’s Grand Depart (it seemed very fitting to have found the Eiffel Tour given we went to Paris for our first work anniversary!), and eating my very first Fat Rascal.  It will not be my last; fat rascals are a sort of rock bun come scone filled with spices and cherry and topped with three almonds and two cherries to make a face – utterly delicious.

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We stayed just north of York, at Aldwark Manor, a hotel that has possibly the best customer service that I’ve ever encountered, they genuinely couldn’t have been lovelier, and the food in the restaurant was amazing (I highly recommend the Rhubarb Meringue pudding!).  But the biggest treat was to have the time to talk, even about silly inconsequential things, and to relax.  I think when you’re in the thick of parenting the early years it’s easy to fail to realise that you’re not giving yourself a break.  I know I can get to the point where I just have to have some time to myself to recharge and yet I don’t realise it fully until H kicks me out of the house and tells me to go and have a couple of hours at a coffee shop to just be me, and it’s the same for him; I’ve thrown him out of the house with his golf clubs and told him to go to the driving range for a bit of space even while he’s still telling me he’s fine.  We can see it in each other and we try our best to recognise it and look after each other but it always needs the other to pick up the full weight of daily life for a bit so to be both taking time at the same time was a very special treat, even if we did have to turn the radio on when we first checked into our hotel because we’re just not used to it being that quiet!

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But what of back home.  We didn’t make contact while we were away, thinking that FaceTime would probably just remind the children that we weren’t there, and might just upset everyone, and I’ll admit there was a good part of me that was just telling myself that the worst case scenario was that my in-laws would be driving Pip around during the night and they’d be tired but OK.  As it turned out they had a wonderful Saturday, playing and exploring and shopping and when it came to bedtime (or somewhat past bedtime according to my eldest daughter) Grandma and Grandad loaded everyone up in the car and one, two, three they duly passed out and were gently tucked up in bed together.  And as for that middle of the night wake up where Pip will wail at each and every person that is not his Mama? He slept through it and woke up fresh as a daisy to start the day at 5am.

And so for all my worries and concerns it turned out that he barely noticed I was gone.  Kitty was the only one who had a half hour of needing some extra cuddles from her Auntie, but in some ways I expected that; she’s really the only one old enough to grasp the concept of Mama and Daddy being away and she was happy enough pretty soon after.

I am incredibly thankful to my inlaws for looking after them and giving us such a treat.  My mother in law said that the gift was to them in sharing our children, and whilst I can well imagine that, seeing her sat on a kitchen chair with a girl leaning up against each side, and Pip bouncing on her knee, I also have a sneaky suspicion that they might have had an early night the day we left!

In short though it was a definite success, and in another 10 years we might even go away again!

Blogging Crafty Ideas

In which I’m going to the MADs again – Thank You!

26/04/2016

THANK YOU!! Last Thursday as I sat at the computer in the evening, finishing up a little bit of work and trying not to get too distracted by Twitter, a little notification flashed up on my screen, a tweet from Jess congratulating her fellow finalists.

What? Wait a minute? Fellow finalists? Does that mean?

It does.

Vote for Space for the Butterflies at the MADs

I am a MADs finalist.

To have been able to say that last year was amazing, to be saying it again this year as a Finalist for Best Craft Blog is simply incredible and put the cherry and icing on what had already been a pretty awesome week.  That my text to H to let him know was mostly party hat, smiley face and shocked face emojis pretty much sums it up.  I was floating so high you would have needed to scrape me off the ceiling.

When I asked if you would consider nominating me I’ll admit I asked in hope rather than with expectation. We are so lucky to be blogging in a time when the Internet is full of wonderful writing, great ideas, and beautiful photos, but I bet I’m not the only one whose sometimes found it a little overwhelming, and been certain that anything that I can write or share with you will pale in comparison to the best of everything else out there.  The more years I spend blogging, the more it seems that there just aren’t enough awards to go around and whenever an awards season comes around my inner self critic goes into overdrive on the “why are you even trying”.

But, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know and so I asked, and you nominated my little corner of the Internet and that truly means the world to me. I don’t really know how to explain it except to say that while I would blog even if there were no stats, no rankings and no awards, every single nomination was an acknowledgement that I’m not actually standing shouting into the noisy abyss, I’m here among friends chatting babies and school and gardening and making a creative life for my family.

To be a finalist is a huge honour, and to win would be ….well I don’t know – and I’d really like to find out.  So I’m asking for your help again.  If you’ve enjoyed some of my crafty posts in the last year, either the things I’ve made for the children and the family, like their Christmas crowns or my Fishing Net Quilt, or all the things we get up to on our crafternoons, like lunar eclipses and tiny fluffy felt eggs please would you vote for me?

The voting form is here.  You have to give an email address, presumably to stop us spamming the results and then look for Space for the Butterflies on the drop down menu for Best Craft Blog.  You don’t have to be a blogger, or based in the UK, just be someone who enjoys reading and can spare a couple of minute to vote sometime between now and 27 May.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

Elma Family Kitty Photography Pip The 52 Project

17/52 {the 2016 portraits}

23/04/2016

Linking up with Jodi with a portrait of each of my children once every week for 2016.

Space for the Butterflies - the 2016 portraits

Kitty: Sitting out in the garden while your Daddy and I tried to put a veg bed; muddy knees, messy hair and the Christmas colouring book (naturally!)  This was the first afternoon of the year when we’d been able to play outside without it having to be running around sort of play to keep warm enough to stay out and you were so excited when we said that yes you could stay out all afternoon. Roll on the summer and many afternoons just like it!

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/200, f/4.5, ISO 100)

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Elma: You can see again! We finally managed a long overdue haircut this week and you are just as cute as a button with it. This look was a combination of “what is she doing?” and “do I have to do that?” directed at your sister; an unusually contemplative look for a little girl that’s more often bouncing off the ceiling!

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/100, f/2.8, ISO 250)

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Pip: This week you have two pictures, and I’m completely unapologetic about it because I spent several days trying to decide between them and failing.  I cannot look at them without wanting to scoop you up in an enormous hug for just being so ridiculously cute. Muddy but happy – long may you stay that way sweet boy of mine.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/160, f/4.5, ISO 100)

Family Milestones Photography

These Happy Tin Years

22/04/2016

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Once upon a time there was a girl, who fell in love with a boy, who loved her back, so they got married, and lived happily ever after.

That was ten years ago today.  Ten years that seem to have passed in the tiniest of pauses between moments, and yet at the same time it seems so long ago.  I can remember so clearly standing in the church porch, shivering because the sun hadn’t quite broken through the clouds trying to peek around the pillar to catch a glimpse of H and not be caught peeking at the same time.  And then the music started, and with a last look round at my bridesmaids, and a grin for Dad I stepped forward into my future.

There have been moments in my life when the world shrinks, and the rest falls away, and everything that matters is within a tiny sphere that could be measured in inches.  It was that way when Kitty was born and lifted up and into my arms; my concept of the entire universe only just about encompassed H, sat next to me and leaning his head over as we both gazed at our daughter; and it was that way when we said our vows.  I know there were lots of people in the church, I have the photos for one thing, and I can remember the joyful “we will’ with which our family and friends promised to support our very tiny new little family of two, but in the moment of our vows there was only him and me and promises that hold as true today as when we made them.

For all that Space for the Butterflies is my happy place, and definitely more representative of the shiny happy side of our life than the ‘yeouch I just stepped on Duplo and what on earth is that stuck to the kitchen floor’ version, it would be unjust to claim that the last ten years have been one saccharine-laden fairy tale. We have held each other up through times that I would not wish on my worst enemy, made big decisions and made hard decisions, laughed and cried, and grumped at each other about laundry crises, the washing up, and cobwebs, to name but a few.

And mixed in and overwhelming those moments are the highlights; the births of each of our little trio, the adventures, the time spent with family, and those simple everyday ordinary moments when you catch your breath and step out of time, just for a second, to hold the moment and know that this is what it’s all about, this moment right now is perfect.

Together, the good and the bad, they are the building blocks from which our family was made.   I’m not so crazy as to suggest that every bad moment was a necessary part of how my family and my marriage looks; I’d really like the “better to have loved and not lost” than any of the suggested alternatives, but I do know that it’s in the tough times that our relationship was tested and found to be on solid rock.

H knows me better than anyone else in the world, my strengths and my fears, and I him. In every single one of the last ten years I have had the security of knowing that whatever happens, he has my back, and I have his.  It’s not a big gesture, it’s not overtly romantic, it is simply the promise of constancy; and on that love built a family.

Much better than a fairytale don’t you think?