Elma Family Kitty Photography Pip The 52 Project

39/52 {the 2016 portraits}

24/09/2016

A portrait of each of my children once every week for 2016.

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 project

Kitty: Perched up on the fence at the sports club, and looking every inch of your six years. You’ve enjoyed every minute of your birthday celebrations this week, and we’ve loved watching your anticipation and enjoyment.

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 project

Elma: Hunting for pirate treasure and finding a Hobbit house instead; you had a wonderful time running around the very beautiful Whitlenge Gardens at your friend’s birthday party, and there was so much to look at I’m not at all surprised that you were more interested in knocking on the fairy doors, talking to the fish, and generally running around after your friends then in amassing a serious horde of pirate treasure.  You do however have musical chairs nailed, only loosing in the final round to the birthday girl’s very much taller older brother, and thrilled that it meant you got a sweetie.

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 project

Pip: What can I say, other children try to open the raisins, or the sausage rolls, or the bagels, but you, you started to eat an orange pepper while your Daddy’s back was turned. Little monkey, you do make me laugh!

Finished Handmade Handmade for Baby Knitting

Horsey, horsey {handmade for the baby girls}

23/09/2016

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Once upon a time, there were two little girls.  Two brand new ever so little little girls in fact.  And as we all know, new little people need knitwear, even if they do happen to be born right in the middle of the summer.

There was only ever going to be one theme for these knits. The girls’ mummy is completely head over heels in love with horses, to the point of choosing exactly which Shetland pony she’d have in the garden for her children if only they could get it to London – and have enough garden.  So I looked and looked and looked around Ravelry for every sort of baby jumper or cardigan ever thought up that was horsey themed until I found Roo Designs Pony Pullover and knew it was the one.

Or rather, the two.

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The pattern is written as for aran weight yarn with Takhi Cotton Classic as suggested yarn, but knit on 4mm needles.  I think it’s one of those occasions where only the specified yarn will actually give you the right tension, it falls right between anything I can usually manage for either DK or Aran, but as the smallest size was an age one, and I really wanted a six month sort of size, I went for DK and 4mm needles, knowing that it would turn out smaller than expected.  I knit the back and front and sleeves an inch shorter than the pattern and it all looks perfectly proportionate.

The yarn is Rico Classic Merino, chosen mostly for the gorgeous deep green. Kitty came with me on a wool shopping expedition and she and I went back and forth picking out the colours for the stripes.  I wanted matching but not matching, something that says “little girl”, without saying “never in the world have you seen as much pink as I am wearing right this moment!”, something that could hold its own against the green, and not overwhelm the blue for the horse.

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The first combination is strawberries and the yellow of the top of proper clotted cream, pure summer in knitwear, and the second is moving into autumn, blackberries and elderberries, and for some reason it reminds me of Black Forest Gateau, but that may just be association with the place where much of it was knitted.

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The front and back are knit flat and then seamed, and in the original pattern the sleeves and neckband are too but I like baby knits to be as seam free as possible so I sewed up the shoulders and side seams first and knit the rest in the round.  It’s a little bit fiddly managing jogless stripes with the first few sets of decreases but after that it’s easy.

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I am really pleased with the way they turned out, pleased and not a little relieved because it’s been a while since I did any intarsia, and when I was half way up a horse, with an entire flock of mini balls of yarn tumbling and tangling with every stitch, I began to have serious doubts about whether this had been a good idea.  It’s amazing what a difference it makes to weave in the ends and block it; suddenly what was looking a bit lumpy and bumpy and very much not my best work, becomes smooth and even. Even then, I cheated on the eye, and put it in with duplicate stitch later!

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I finished the first in July but the second got pushed back and so it wasn’t until September that I could finally put them in the post and send them off.  It doesn’t matter in terms of their small owners being too big for them, there’s more than enough to grow, but the thing is, there’s an old wives’ tale that babies wait for their knitwear, that the baby will come when the knitting is ready; and certainly my nephew was born only hours after I finished his cardigan.  I’ve always made huge efforts to make sure the knitting for my babies will be ready for them and I try to do my best to be ready for the other babies I knit for.

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That the twins arrived before I was finished was no surprise, especially after I had to down needles for so long in July and August.  But I do wonder whether I ought to be extending an apology to their poor mother after the girls hung on for a really, really, really long time, eventually arriving well past 40 weeks.  If it was the knitting that did it, I’m really sorry – hopefully the jumpers make up for it.

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On and Make Do and Push for Funky Kid Friday

 

 

Birthdays Family Kitty Milestones Photography

And now you are six

21/09/2016

Well my darling eldest girl, here we are at six.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

A sixth birthday for you, and six years of motherhood for me, and I don’t think I’ll ever quite believe that time has past as fast as it has.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

We’re at the point now where you’ll be able to reach your memories of these days even when you’re grown up so I hope that you remember that for your sixth birthday you really really wanted Lego and a volcano cake.  The Lego is sat in a box on the dinner table, waiting for the end of the week when you’ll have time to get stuck in and do some building.  I love seeing what you make, you’re quite happy to make the build on the box first, and then play with it and incorporate it with your other bricks, so Cinderella can meet the Lego Friends girls for a cake at the cafe, after which they’ll slide down the side of Elsa’s palace and go for a ride in a yellow submarine.  I love the mash ups and I find it fascinating how for you it’s all about the build.  When you’ve made whatever it was that was in your imagination you’ll quite often happily hand it over to your sister for her to make up lengthy games about what all the different people are doing, while you set about making them a holiday house or a new garden.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

And as for the volcano cake; well we co-opted a recipe for a bonfire cake (red velvet cake, matchmakers around the outside) and on my last trip to London I came across a packet of cake fireworks and if a cake has ever appeared more likely to erupt I’d like to see it.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

Your school make a big fuss of birthdays; you wore a crown and served everyone birthday cake for little meal, your friends sang the birthday songs, and your teacher told the story of your milestones so far.  You came home cherished and beaming, and very pleased to be six.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

For a six year old you are still very tall, you wear age 10 clothes, and size 1.5 shoes and we haven’t even hit the growth spurt that will arrive when you do make it to ten.  When we went to your friend’s birthday party at the weekend, a little boy whispered to his Mummy “look at that girl, I think she must be nine or ten” and even when we told him you were five I’m not convinced he believed us; you are after all, head and shoulders taller than that birthday girl, but as I suspect you won’t stop anywhere short of my 6’0″ you’d probably better get used to it.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

The biggest milestone of the year in which you were five was the falling out of your two bottom teeth.  The new adult teeth are already coming in and I suspect that the tooth fairy is going to be a big part of the year in which you are six.  Hopefully there’ll be a time when the big bottom teeth are in but the top ones haven’t gone so that you can bite an apple properly again; I know you miss scooping one up to munch – like mother, like daughter.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

You still paint and draw as much as ever, colouring in is your favourite way to switch off and chill out, and your colouring crayon collection seems to grow every time you and your Daddy visit an art shop; one of these days we will find that we do own one of every pink pencil crayon currently made.  You love stories and books, and there’s nothing better than snuggling up with you to read another chapter of your latest favourite.  It doesn’t happen too often, your little brother is only just at the stage where he’ll sit and follow the bedtime picture stories, but I cherish the time as much as you do.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

You love to sing too; this year you learnt how to hold your own part in a round, well most of the time at least, and as harmony singing is one of my favourites, it’s wonderful to see your skill and confidence improve, and we both get a lot of fun out of it.

At the moment you’re trying to teach yourself how to do the monkey bars at school; every day you tell us “well I tried…” and I know that one day, and probably not too far away in the future, you’ll come home having absolutely nailed it.  I don’t doubt that if you’ve set your mind to it, it’s going to happen.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

All our plans to take these birthday portraits a few days early were scuppered by one thing and another, so we headed out after I finished work on the day itself to see what we could do with a slightly grey and overcast evening.  Every single one of your sets of portraits have been taken in this park, and we know your favourite spots well enough by now.  The contrast to taking pictures of your brother was huge; he ran around and I followed him with a camera, but you know what I’m doing, and you enjoy the treat of going out just the two of us to take pictures, and it’s so much easier now that you know what I’m asking you to do.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

As a birthday treat the pictures themselves are a treat stored up for the future, after all, you know what you look like right now, and I think it’s the time together that I love the most, especially in a month where stupidly busy and not enough sleep doesn’t even begin to cover it.

You are just so much fun to be with; a loving big sister who will do anything for your little siblings, even if you’ll do it while also pushing every button they’ve got.  You are chatty, and sweet, and clever and funny, all wrapped around a steely core of determination.

Space for the Butterflies - sixth birthday portraits

We love you more than you could ever possible imagine.

Mummy x

Birthdays Family Kitty Video

When you were five

20/09/2016

Tomorrow my Kitty will be six. And in time honoured tradition I’m just a little daunted by the thought of being a mother to someone who is nearer to ten than to the day they were born. And perhaps not quite ready to let go of five.  Despite a few ups and downs and learning curves for all of us, five has been a wonderful age, and so while I try to find where the children have hidden the playsilks so that I can wrap up her birthday presents, and John channels everything he remembers from Home Ec classes into the baking of a birthday cake (or two), it’s time for a little look at the year in which Kitty was five:

Blogging Uncategorized {the ordinary moments}

The MAD Blog Awards 2016

18/09/2016

Six months or so ago I asked, and you nominated. You answered my emploring requests in such numbers in fact that four months ago I just about fell off my chair when I learnt that I was to be a MADs finalist, and then you put up with me asking for votes all over again.  Thank you so very very much.

Several months of waiting later, it was finally time, and in a day about as different to an ordinary Friday as I could possibly get, I took the day off work and headed to London.

In everyday life I rarely wear makeup and my idea of a hairstyle is brushing it, tying it up, and forgetting about it so to sit and be prinked and curled to within an inch of my life was luxury beyond my dreams.  Actually the sitting still in a chair for half an hour without anyone saying “Mummeeeeee!” or “Carie, can I have a minute …” was bliss by itself; I was so relaxed I think I almost fell asleep having my makeup done.  The Powderpuff Girls are amazing and I came from their ministrations feeling effortlessly glamorous, beautifully tall (6’4″ in those heels) and yet still very recognisably me.

Space for the Butterflies - the MAD Blog Awards 2016

And then the fun began; time to catch up with friends and make new ones, to sip champagne and play fake money roulette, to take photos together and to celebrate this funny little thing called blogging.

Space for the Butterflies - the MAD Blog Awards 2016

I didn’t win Best Craft Blog, that honour went to the wonderfully named The Imagination Tree, but I am truly honoured to have been one of those six finalists.  There is so much creativity and ingenuity within that group and to see my Space for the Butterflies header up on the screen still makes me want to sit back and pinch myself that it really truly happened.

Space for the Butterflies - the MAD Blog Awards 2016

Did I want to win? Of course I did, even a healthy does of realistic expectations can’t entirely extinguish a tiny flame of hope, and who wouldn’t want that kind of recognition from their peers (and a rather lovely piece of glass for the mantlepiece to boot)?

I wanted to win, but I’m not disappointed that I didn’t.

To misquote one of my favourite films:

“A MAD Blog Award is a wonderful thing, but if you’re not enough without the Award, you’ll never be enough with it.”

And it’s true, it’s true about everything in life in which there can only be one winner, or so many finalists, no matter whether that’s blog awards or olympic bobsleigh gold medals.  If I could, I would have given an award to every finalist in that room on Friday night; there was no one there who would not have made a worthy winner, but that’s not how it works.

Space for the Butterflies - the MAD Blog Awards 2016

Maybe one day it will be my day, I hope so, and I know I’ll keep asking for your help (apologies in advance for early next year on that one!), but I also know that if I never go to another blog awards final in my life, I will always be proud to have been a finalist and incredibly thankful to every one of you who made that happen.

In being a Craft Blog finalist I hope I showed that being creative while also being a mother doesn’t always mean making something out of pipecleaners, sticky backed plastic and a leftover washing up bottle (though if you do happen to have some pipe cleaners lying around, I have two words for you: Christmas Trees!). I was there for those of us that create beautiful things because it brings us joy (and in my case acts as a fairly efficient form of stress relief – and you get a jumper at the end of it!), as well as having fun getting covered in glitter glue with our kids.

But the very best bit, as always, was the people.  To chat to Amber and Caro and Julia and Lucy and Kirsty in person and whoop with joy when Katie and Jenny won made me day, and I met so many new faces, and heard about so many wonderful blogs that I’ve come home with a list a mile long to add to my feed reader, including Clare, who I met in the queue to makeup, asked the usual “how far have you come today?” conversation opener only to discover that the answer was about three miles from my house.  It’s a small and wonderful world!

Joining Katie at Mummy Daddy Me for The Ordinary Moments