Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

Joining in with {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour and remember.

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Gardening it seems is turning out to be quite a lot like parenting.  Partly in the plant it and hope and pray something good germinates analogy but mostly that it only grows when you’re not looking.

I find this to be very true of the children, they definitely only grow at night when I’m sleeping or wishing I was sleeping, and suddenly the pretty skirt and top that Kitty wore last week is looking a bit on the snug and short side. It’s only when wake up in the morning that I can see that’s she’s had another growth spurt, and only now that I look at these pictures having just flicked back to last week to remind myself that I can see that anything has grown at all.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

Yes, this is a week of not much change in the Pocket Handkerchief Garden.  If we were a book, these would be the foreshadowing chapters, building the suspense for the moment when the garlic is going to leap out from behind the strawberries and shoot for the sky, preferably with a lot of ominous organ chords and a thunderclap in the background.

Things are growing.  I can’t actually see any change in the strawberry/onion/garlic bed, save that a few more petals have fallen from the strawberry blooms and the tulip is starting to fade and can now be pulled up to prevent it being mistaken for anything more edible come July (though it’s not in a row and everything else is so I think we’re safe).

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

 

And in the other bed, well to be honest, it looks a bit of a mess.  I want to clear it up a bit but I’m not terribly good at telling seedlings from weeds (or anything from weeds for that matter, I once very efficiently weeded my father in law’s primulas) and I’m also a little worried that if I sweep up some of those catkins I’ll take half the seedlings with me.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

So we’re just letting it be.  We now have a nice cover of spinach seedlings and a few good patches of rainbow chard, and I think that just possibly there might be something in the sweetcorn section.  Well there are three new somethings that could be sweetcorn, and a couple of other somethings that could be grass or sweetcorn.  I’m going to leave them all alone for a bit and hopefully I’ll eventually weed the right one.  That or doe anyone know a village show with a giant weed competition?

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If you know me in real life and you are planning on having a baby any time in the rest of this year you may wish to look away right now.  Because I am actually being rather organised. I know, the shock is overwhelming.

I love knitting for babies, but after  (quick check on Ravelry) fourteen Baby Surprise Jackets, I think I need a good break before I knit another one.  The last babies I knit for, the two that arrived just after Pip, one I knit for in pink, because I didn’t start until after she’d arrived and I knew she was a girl, and the other in white and later added pink buttons to celebrate the arrival of a first daughter for our friends.  But this time I don’t know what variety of babies we are expecting, nor exactly when they will arrive.  All I do know is that given the knitting time I have available, it would be much better for me to be prepared, than waiting for them to make an appearance before casting on.

So I am building myself up a little stash of baby knits, of all colours of the rainbow, and then when I hear the glad tidings of great joy I can simply choose which one best suits, wrap it up and send it off.  It’s also the perfect excuse to knit some very very cute teeny tiny little cardies and jumpers without worrying about whether it would look too girly on a boy.

Because we’ve never found out the variety of our babies until we met them in person, everything I’ve knit beforehand has been gender neutral, both in colour and pattern.  There have been reds and blues and rainbows, cream and the perfect pearly grey, and soft cosy patterns, with lots of nice squishy garter stitch and not too much frilly lace.  And while I knit I’d stash away patterns for if it was a boy or if it was a girl and promise myself that the first thing on the needles would be something delicate in shell pink or lots of sturdy boats with red sails against a deep blue sky.  I know I could have knitted them anyway but to be honest I was usually racing their baby blankets to the finish with only tine to dream of anything but fairisle and steeks.

And of course once I was holding my babies the knitting rather took a side seat while we wallowed in all things new baby, and the dreamed of patterns sat in an electronic pile in the corner, only a few every making it into existence.

It’s high time to let some more of them see the light of day.  Starting with the Stacked Staghorn Baby Sweater.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

Oh it’s just so cute.  I knit the larger 6-12 month size because I think you need a baby that’s sitting up and wriggling around for an over the head jumper, and a baby that’s wriggling needs and over the head jumper to actually keep them warm.  Technically by age alone this should fit Pip, and as I was knitting along I kept looking at it, thinking how big it was and wondering whether I was accidentally knitting something for my wee baby.

Well that was right until I held it up against Pip.  It fits over his head, but on the rest of him, it’s a little bit ‘well fitted’, so on an ordinary sized 6-12 month old it’s going to be perfect.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

And it was a lot of fun to knit too, it’s simple enough that for the most part I just memorised the next few steps in the pattern and then I could pick up and knit the occasional stitch whenever I got a moment, which makes it much more doable with my small assistants around.

The yarn is Rowan’s Baby Merino Silk DK, it’s a great yarn for baby knits, as it doesn’t contain any synthetic fibres but can go in the washing machine, and it comes in some gorgeous colours.  This is Bluebird the same as the bottom half of Pip’s Christmas jumper, and as that has withstood my young man’s determined efforts to add some extra decoration I have no doubt that this jumper will prove equally sturdy.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

I think I’ve chosen my next pattern, the Maile cardigan out of something lovely from the sock stash for a baby girl but I’m always open to suggestions for the list so if you have a favourite baby knit please do let me know.

I love putting together the children’s milestone pictures each month, they’ve always been the perfect way for me to actually get around to recording a little of what they were like and what they were up to each month.  But there are some milestones that require a little bit more than a mention on their pictures, and Pip has just reached one.

As of last Thursday he was mobile, but would get around the room by rolling towards whatever he wanted, then pushing himself up to sitting and sort of bunny hopping and then flopping forwards to get to it.  He would sit in the middle of the floor and then tip forward to being on all fours and stay there rocking back and forth and back and forth, desperately willing himself to move forward but not quite sure how to do it.

But Friday, Friday the penny dropped.  I left him on the lounge floor and went to take a cup out to the kitchen and when I came back he was all the way over the other side of the room, quite a bit further than I thought he could get in that time by bunny hopping.

And sure enough, as I stood in the doorway he turned and with a mixture of ‘left then right’ and bunny hopping he scuttle-crawled all the way across until he was near enough to throw himself into my hands and come up for a cuddle.

And since then he’s only got quicker and quicker.  We went up to Yorkshire to visit the family for the long weekend and he had a whale of a time cruising around Grandma’s lounge and across the kitchen floor, usually making a beeline for the telly, any one of a number of charming ornaments placed at just about his height, or the tea service.  Fortunately for us, if not for him, he never actually attained any of his targets.  Poor boy.

I find it fascinating that whereas both sisters commando crawled for a bit before figuring the bottom up in the air and on all fours crawling, Pip never bothered with the commando crawling, he was straight up on his knees.  If he’s anything like his sisters on the speed crawling front though we’re going to have to watch out.

You’d think after three children our house would be fairly well baby proofed and it’s true that there’s nothing precious, or that belongs to H or me that is in the firing line any more, but as the sisters have grown up, so their bits and pieces have started to get smaller, and it’s just not good enough to put the really exciting and potentially edible things (conkers, play pizza toppings, small chunks of crayon) beyond his reach any more, we’re having to round them all up and keep them in pots on top of the play kitchen.  And with it comes a new chapter in parenting the big sisters, that moment when you try to explain just why it’s really important that they don’t leave tiny pieces of lego, or their bead collection over the floor.

It seems that every stage with every child is a learning curve, no matter how many babies you’ve already brought through it, and I still have no idea what we’re doing about stair gates this time around.

But for the most part those are the thoughts in the back of my head, because  at the moment in our house everything stops when you see this:

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

 

One little boy gearing himself up, finding the thing he wants to grab and chew, and setting off determinedly in pursuit.  It’s the cutest thing since his sisters started to crawl!

 

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Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

 

PS – if you’re looking for What We’re Reading, we’re still in the middle of a wonderful bedtime chapter book, but as Kitty keeps moving the bookmark backwards because she doesn’t want her Sylvia stories to end, and we were away for the weekend, we haven’t quite finished it yet. We’ll be back next week but in the meantime if you’re looking for something to read there are some wonderful suggestions in the Pinterest booklist here

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Is it the very nature of having children that whatever was once yours is now fair game? H and my hobbies mean that there have always been a fairly wide aray of nice crafty things around the house.  There are a few bits and pieces in his art stash that are off limits for little girls but for the most part we’ve let the girls try out differnet sorts of paints, chalks, pastels, paper, board, canvas and all the rest.  H is an artist not a hoarder of paint supplies so it’s all there to be used, and in the same way my stamps and cutters and wiggly scissors have migrated into the girls’ craft cupboard, where I should mention that they get a lot more use than they did tucked in the back of my desk drawer.

But the latest filch from the studio isn’t paint or paper or even some of those very nice stickers that Kitty has been eyeing up, it’s a piece of MDF.

H has two, and they are just very simple straightforward slabs of board, cut to about A2 size in the shop.  Their intended use is as painting boards for watercolour paper, you can soak it, lay it down on them and then tape it into place to stretch it, and it’s nice and portable to take to art class.

But even though that’s a very good use, and even though this board has two small ink and wash pictures still taped to the back of it, I’m afraid it’s now wholly in the possession of the children.

We had used it as a painting board on the dining room table in a vague effort to protect the tablecloth (unsuccessfully as it turned out) but then came the day when I realised that it was exactly the right size to fit a slice of one of our giant rolls of paper from IKEA.

And with that it became a drawing board.  Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

If I need to get something done, or just need the girls to settle down for a bit, I can set it up, wrap a fresh piece of paper around, plonk it on the floor and add their crayons and let them get to work.

  Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

We’ve had pictures of Kitty’s nursery school trip (a Daddy long legs, her teacher’s house -imagined- and a hairslide), pictures of the two of them at ballet class, a huge number of rainbows requested by the girls and drawn by me and lots of scribbles by Elma and odd dots of colour from Pip.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

I think that having the board, and being able to be on the floor gives us enough space for all four of us to be around it, and makes it easy for everyone to join in, or not join in as the case may be (Elma loves stacking up the block crayons instead).

And so when I remember and when we’re next in town, we have a job to go and get another board cut for Daddy, because I don’t think we’re giving this one back.

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On Thursday morning I loaded all three children into the car, added changes of clothes, and swimming cossies, and drinks and a handful of snacks for the journey and set off.  We drove for about two hours including a stint on the world’s most uninteresting car park (the M25) and then we were there.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that an expedition of this magnitude should be for some really amazing day out, a trip to an as yet undiscovered theme park that combines a water park, painting, Duplo, a yarn shop, cake and a spa for Mummy, but alas no such place exists although I may just have had a really great idea for a business venture.

In fact we spent the day sitting on the floor, playing shop, building a robot, playing jigsaws and Duplo and car garage.  We ate lunch, played in the garden, and had frozen yoghurt for tea. And it was wonderful.

And the reason why we went so far for what was pretty much an ordinary day at home was this little man, and his Mum.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

Because for all the fun we have chatting over FaceTime, waving at the tiny nephew and setting the world to rights with my sis, there’s nothing quite like being together in person.

It was wonderful.  And in some ways unexpectedly wonderful.  Between us we have four children aged four, two, two and eight months and so for the last few years we’ve always been part chatting, part parenting, that sort of conversation where you jump between making Duplo flowers and putting teddy’s jumper back on to whatever it was you were talking about and back again.

But our little ones are getting bigger and while Pip rolled around on the floor and got rid of all of his wiggles from being tucked up in the car, the three biggest set up a very elaborate game of supermarket checkout.  And we sat down 0n the floor next to each other and just watched them play while we talked.

They weren’t entirely self sufficient of course, we we still dipped in and out to stop Pip trying to eat the play food and to help build a robot and get the scanner to scan, but it marked a watershed; the start of the moment where we don’t need to be so very present in their play, they’ve got it.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

After lunch we filled up the paddling pool and brought out my nephew’s play house to act as a bit of shade (it’s a ticket office for the tube and the tunnel is a tube train) and it felt exactly like summers should feel.  Pip sat and splashed and splashed and splashed in the pool, and occasionally reached back over the edge to grab a handful of grass for a sneaky chomp.  Kitty splashed, she and her cousin tried to water the garden, and mostly watered the fence and the next door neighbour’s garden, and Elma curled up like a cat in the sun to snuggle with her blanky.

 

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

But the best was yet to come. My Dad was staying the night and when he arrived there was a very lengthy queue of little grandchildren wanting cuddles, and to climb on his knee and tell him all about the day.

Sitting around the table together felt so much like our big family holiday in Putsborough last summer, and not just because it was spag bol and strawberries again. It was the same sense of being exactly where we should be, sunkissed and full of good food and even better company.

And my favourite moment of the day? Well apart from putting all four kids in the tub at once where there was so little space that there was no danger of Pip ever falling over, it was reliving a memory from my childhood, Dad, now Grandpa, reading the bedtime story.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

And of course, before we popped my trio back in the car to head north into the twilight, we had to take our now customary photo of Grandpa plus all his grandchildren on the red sofa.  We have pictures of Grandpa and all three at various ages from a newborn nephew onwards but this is the first with all four, Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

And I think this latest in the series is definitely my most favourite yet!

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Linking up with Jodi with a portrait of each of my children once every week for 2015.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

Kitty: You had so much fun visiting your Auntie and cousin this week; you were the best big sister to everyone in reach, playing with your cousin’s toys, trying to show him how to use the hose and running around the garden at top speed

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/200, f/7.1, ISO 100)

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

Elma: I took Pip outside to take some pictures of our tiny veggie garden this week and as soon as you saw the door open you were sprinting out of it.  You and Pip sat and giggled at me, and then tried to dig up several handfuls of our seedlings.  I’m not quite sure why you’ve brought my ex-pastry brush; I know you’re very fond of it, which is why it was relegated to “ex” the day I found you dusting the potty with it, and why I keep having to hide the replacement.  I love this picture of you with Pip, my two littlest together and you in full big sister mode.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/160, f/3.5 , ISO 100)

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

Pip: I think you might be the biggest fan of our new interest in gardening.  Aside from the fairly consistent attempts to eat the grass whenever it appears within reach, you’ve discovered that you can pull yourself up and across to the top of the veg beds and dig your fingers in the soil.  Your enthusiasm is very cute – and only slightly dinted when you end up with mud all over your head.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/160, f/3.5, ISO 100)

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Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

Joining in with {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour and remember.

To see more, check out the comments to Soulemama

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

You’d be forgiven for thinking that at first glance nothing very much has changed in our garden over the last week.  And I think that if I didn’t have the first Pocket Handkerchief Garden instalment to go back on I’d think pretty much the same thing, but if you look carefully you might just spot that the lone stray tulip (pinched from the back garden and buried there by a squirrel I think) has started to fade, while the garlic and leeks have shot up a little, growing happy and strong now that I’ve cleared all that grass that was swallowing them up (that bit was pre blog-photos – you don’t want to know what it looked like, chocked just wasn’t the word!).  I’ve also clearly added a couple of rather adorable children who were having a lot of fun digging up our planting.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

Some of the strawberry petals have started to fall, leaving Kitty very anxious that we don’t miss the first strawberry.  I’ve tried to explain that it’s still going to be a while before flowers turn into fruit, and by the time that first one ripens I suspect no strawberry will ever have been so eagerly anticipated.  Now all I need to do is find some netting to put over them to prevent ‘fat pigeon’ as he’s known around here from claiming the prize.  I don’t think she’d mind if it was our robin but fat pigeon has done little to endear himself save once topple off the fence and I think Kitty would be wanting to do more than “raaa” at him if he pinched her berries.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

And in the front beds we have a small haze of green.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

The northerly end has now definitely been identified as spinach on the basis that (a) it came through first (b) it looks like the seedlings on the packet and (c) the rainbow chard has started to appear at the other end and it looks different.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

This is what we think is spinach,

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

And this is rainbow chard.

Which brings me to my question.  I’ve never really grasped the concept of thinning; in my head to have grown something is a miracle, why would I want to pull it up, but I do get that that may also be the reason why I only ever grow minuscule root vegetables.  But when it comes to the spinach and the rainbow chard, I’m not quite sure what to do.  I want to grow them both as baby leaf if I can, that way I can cook them if we feel like it, but also, well probably mainly, eat them both in salads, spinach and avocado salad being one of my favourite lunches thanks to a small Pip-bump who gave me a humungous craving for it that happily translated into merely deep affection post partum.

So, should I thin them now, or wait until they have little leaves and then thin/harvest for lunch, leaving the rest as a sort of cut and come again salad?  And if I thin now is there anything I can do with the thinning? replant them? eat them for lunch?  I really, really don’t know much about growing food do I!

And as for the sweetcorn in the middle, well there are a few things that might be the start of seedlings, or they might be weeds, or some leftover grass.  For the moment we’re leaving well alone and we’ll make a decision as and when anything substantial appears.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

Yes, that’s my lens cap for size, rather than a dinner plate, the seedling you’re looking for is that tiny green dot!

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

So for now we’re carrying on as normal.  We haven’t really been out into the garden this week apart from a little bit of occasional weeding, but it has become our morning ritual to run out to the beds and stare at them for a bit to see if anything new has appeared overnight.  We’re doing it because it’s fun, and we like to eat strawberries, corn on the cob and spinach salad, but I can’t help thinking that the girls will be picking up a fair amount about the origins of their food along the way – what more could you ask for for the summer.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

 

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

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