31 October 2013

All Hallows Eve

Outside my window the fire pit is burning low in the darkness of our garden. The faint pop of distant fireworks indicate that elsewhere the parties of tonight are continuing.

I am thankful for friends, hot soup, poetry, and the earthy smoke-smell on the baby's skin.

In the kitchen the remains of our seasonal supper are in evidence: half a loaf of pumpkin bread, some sausage soup (minestrone with beans, sausage, and paprika), and an empty cocoa pan.

I am wearing the orange, purple, brown and red hippy patchwork skirt with a plain leaf-green vest tshirt and an orange jersey cardigan with huge pockets.

I am creating another lilac Versa vest and some winter season table fairies in blue felt. I just finished a stunning Versa for Tilly's birthday in the bright green Colinette Art (Popsicle colourway). :)

I am reading The Great Divorce, C S Lewis's parable about heaven and hell.

I am looking forward to more crisp Autumn days, fireworks, my birthday (end of November), and so many small things in between.

Around the house... baby is sleeping in my arms, wrapped in a white blanket my friend's nana crocheted for Jenna many years ago. The kitchen had mud tracked across the floor from our garden happenings earlier. Jenna is snuggled up on the sofa with baby and I, enjoying the quiet once sisters are sleeping.

A favourite quote for today: Nothing is certain, only the certain spring.

A peek into my day:
2013-10-31 18.53.50

28 October 2013

The Weekend we Survived

Blurry photographs of a weekend that feels just like that. A blur of sleepless nights and changes of sheets and cuddling of hot sticky miserable baby. When sickness hits, I just have to slow down and take things as they come, one step at a time.
IMG_1427
(There is always still that part of me that declares, "I don't WANT to!" and pitches an internal fit at the forces that conspire to have me scrubbing the bathroom floor *again*.)

I am working on giving graciously even when I feel like stomping my feet and saying, "It's not fair!" And when there is a moment to offer something fun to the other children, I pull out old wrapping paper and marker pens. 
IMG_1439

Morgan felts a flower brooch.
IMG_1444

I even knit, a little bit. And rejoice at every glimpse of recovery, and the old sparkle in Talia's eyes. I can't tell if I'm getting better at offering the best of me to my precious family, or if I'm just more resigned, but this weekend was bearable.
IMG_1445

IMG_1446

IMG_1449
Now nobody else is allowed to get ill just yet, mmkay? I think I'm at my capacity for patient niceness.

23 October 2013

Yarn Along after internet-less-ness

IMG_1361
Morgan's Christmas hat is flying off my needles this week. It's my handspun, requested by her before I was even through spinning it. Progress picture was my blissful respite of mama conversation and hot cups of tea during sling meet at soft play. :)

I also got a birthday crown knitted up for a friend.
IMG_1331

And while the internet was down, I finished the Mortal Instruments series and I have a bone to pick with authors who finish a book on the more ludicrous kind of cliff hanger so you wonder if they just decided that their story was too long, "may as well make it into two books and get paid more!" Grr. Also, I read both The Last Runaway and The Shining Girls (both really wonderful and much more interesting than I expected them to be).
IMG_1399

I'm much less productive when I have an internet connection. ;)

Joining in again for a weekly roundup of knitting and reading with Ginny and friends.

22 October 2013

Daybook in a tangle of bracelet kits

Outside my window the roof tops are slick grey-brown and the hedges are glistening with raindrops and the last few webs of the harvest spiders. The garden is swamp-like. We are not venturing out today.

I am thinking that I didn't have nearly enough sleep this week. Month. Year. Lifetime. I am hitting that point in toddlerhood where I can't remember when I last woke up naturally at the end of a night's sleep, rather than in the middle of the night when someone is out of bed.

I am thankful for mint tea.

In the kitchen I haven't cleared up from teatime, but we had Thai green curry with rice. It's the first time the children have all eaten yellow peppers and not complained about them. Baby licked her plate clean, repeating "spicy, SPICY!" over and over - I don't think it was a complaint, either, just a fun new word.

Earlier we had hot cross buns straight out of the oven for our lunch. It was the perfect comfort food for today.

I am wearing pjs: teal trousers and a soft blue long sleeved tshirt with buttons at the front that don't unbutton. I remember buying it as a nursing shirt when my second born came along and being annoyed at not having checked it more carefully! 

I am creating a soft chunky lacy cowl for myself, using that Toscanna Colinette Prism I bought at the knitting and stitching show. Or at least, I will be, once I find the right size knitting needle in my shamefully tangled knitting bag. I did just cast off Morgan's Christmas hat (handspun from art batts, so a very simple textured knit), and I spent the morning pattern editing and laying out graphics and creating listings for some more little knitting kits.

I am going to the museum session on Friday, again, hopefully? That's about it as far as planning goes. It's going to be a chilled home-based week. I might be stir crazy by Thursday but I just don't have the energy for planning anything extra.

I am hoping to get the time to do some batch-cooking tomorrow so that there are easy options in the freezer. I am working my way back towards being more organised with food ingredients and getting the most out of staples.

I am looking forward to the entertainment and chaos of drying yarn club skeins indoors as October turns to rain.

Around the house: Talia is sitting on the arm of the sofa, glitter in her hair and a not-at-all-sleepy cheeky expression on her face. She has two little wooden figures in her hands, small animals. The only one I can see is a goat. They appear to be talking to each other. "Morga, Roo-an, Mor-ga, Roo-an," they say. There is a basket of spilled building blocks spread across some of the living room. And the odd popped kernal of corn that escaped my earlier brief effort to clear them up.

The two biggest girls have been to their Church club tonight, and just poured in through the front door laughing and talking. Neither appears to be wearing their coat any more. I daily find their coats on the floor under the pegs in the hall, and wonder how much harder it is to hang the things up; Jenna's new winter coat is brown tweed, with ruffles, and she just adores it - still, it ends up on the floor just like the ratty blue rain mac she equally disregards!


I am pondering chocolate cake. I feel the need to bake a cake right now. So far, it's the kind of week where cake is absolutely essential.

Some of my favourite things... rainbow puzzles. And popcorn (even if there *is* still a lot of it on the floor). And my Dad coming to the rescue when the week goes badly. And doll houses in which an octopus is having tea with a Sylvanian mouse and Little Red Riding Hood.

A peek into my day...

IMG_1386b

IMG_1401

IMG_1402

IMG_1410

IMG_1394b

20 October 2013

Seven Days, ordinary life in pictures

IMG_1271

IMG_1272

IMG_1276

IMG_1277

IMG_1302

IMG_1307

IMG_1321

1. Coming home from the park in the dark after meeting new friends
2. Blackcurrant tea and peanut butter cake from The Cake Hole
3. Doctor Who Club
4. Treetops silk
5. Pony playground by Rowan
6. Another show
7. Pumpkins for Autumn displays

14 October 2013

Ally Pally

Early on Saturday morning I left my little ones quietly going about their mornings, and got on the train to London with my wonderful friend Ashleigh (with coffees and knitting in hand). I was mostly very very excited, but also a little anxious. Twelve hours, and so very far apart!
IMG_1246

One of the trains was cancelled, so we opted for the underground and a long walk up the deceptively steep hill.

I've never been inside Alexandra Palace before.

IMG_1247

The noise, heat, and colour - it was totally overwhelming, and without the more organised presence of Ashleigh I'd have missed a lot just by meandering from one colourful area to another without any rhyme or reason! From when we arrived until about three o'clock the place was packed; jostling enthusiastic crowds of crafters everywhere we turned.

The first stall that really truly blew me away was this: Natali Stewart's hand dyed yarns. They were displayed so gorgeously, and I just wanted to take them all home with me. More subtle palettes are not my default, and the skill with which these colour combinations were put together was so inspiring and very easy on the eye. I could have spent a good long while stroking these beauties.

IMG_1248

Natural Dye Studio, of course.

IMG_1249

And I spent a fair amount of my budget on buttons, because Textile Garden had an awesome selection of truly gorgeous options. Little red octopus buttons, zakka-style ceramic effect and wooden buttons with stamped and carved designs, tiny square shell buttons - oh, and a lovely little wooden shawl pin. :)

IMG_1250b

When we got to the end of the main hall and found open space and a cool breeze, we stopped for a much needed drink and sandwich under the huge stained glass window.

IMG_1251b

Lots of design elements struck me and got me thinking along new lines. There were some beautiful garments on display (those above are from Purl Alpaca Designs) and plenty of creative stitchery of all kinds from artists and art students alike. I have more crazy ideas than ever.

IMG_1252

IMG_1259

I was very tired by the time we got to this stall (one of the last on our long walk around) so I didn't catch the stall holder's name, but I did very much admire the colourways of this Blue Heron yarn. The entire event had also gone very quiet, making it much easier for us to retrace our steps back to some fabric stalls Ashleigh had wanted to return to. And I bought some Colinette, because how could I not? (I got Toscana Prism, and Popsicle Art, for a cowl and a toddler Versa vest respectively.)

Before hopping back on to the train home, we had dinner in Yo Sushi at the station. I won't confess to how much sushi we had. We enjoyed in immensely, though.

When I walked in through the door, Talia shouted "MUMMMEEEEE!" with a kind of wild glee, and did a little happy dance on the spot. It took her about ten minutes of hugging me to even ask for milk! Apparently through the day she only asked for me once, taking Martin to the door and pointing at it, demanding to go find me in a most put out tone. After that, he had made cupcakes with them, so obviously that suitably distracted her until I arrived. :)

It was a great day out, with the best of company, and I really enjoyed every bit. Even the aching feet. But also, I do have to confess, nursing my sweet teeny person at the end of the day and her falling blissfully asleep in my arms. Yes, with every kind of wonderful distraction, and a day all to myself, I did miss my kidlets. As Ashleigh had observed earlier in the day, "You just can't turn the mummy off!"

13 October 2013

Week (ish) in Pictures

IMG_1181

IMG_1207b

IMG_1204

IMG_1203

IMG_1205

IMG_1240

IMG_1242

1. Somebody got a Thornton's sample...
2. Hand carded Autumn
3. Watching construction
4. Swing!
5. Crunching leaves (again)
6. Octonauts PJs
7. Monochrome (by Jenna)

(Three images, obviously, from the same neighbourhood walk - but I couldn't decide which I liked best.)

11 October 2013

Toys Re-evaluated

So, rather a long time ago, I wrote a post about Waldorf toys. How I love and value the open-ended properties of simple natural playthings. And already, even then, I knew that some day compromises of some sort would come. What I didn't know then is how very joyful those compromises would be, and how easy it would be to say "yes" to something that I categorically didn't like but would find endless joy in through the eyes of a child. :)
IMG_0838

IMG_0900

My second child is now the age my first child was when I wrote that lot of shoulds and oughts. You may have noticed I've chucked out a lot of answers I thought I had, along with some of the hard edges of judgement and expertise (I hope). So here's a re-write of sorts.

The foundation of our playthings are still collected nature (pine cones, shells, stones, sticks), wooden stacking arches, naturally shaped wooden blocks and geometric blocks, play silks, and simple animal and people figures.
IMG_0781b

Those are the things that are played with every day, and that I would recommend as a basic kit for creative play. Also Lego, still a regular fixture. But other things to. The things that spoke to these kidlets of mine, and which we bought over the last year or so as and when they asked (and as and when we saw things we knew they would love).
IMG_0836

I don't appeal to my personal dislike of plastic or my own choices about protecting the environment any more to refuse to buy the plastic toys my children love. They have genuine choices, with the money that I treat as belonging to all of us equally. I don't consider what I allow or don't allow all that much any more at all. I choose generosity, and saying yes. I want to follow the joy.

So, we have Moshi Monsters, and My Little Ponies, and Sylvanians, and Octonauts (I joke that those Sylvanians were the gateway drug). And they live in baskets with our Waldorf-sanctioned wooden toys. And it is all good.

10 October 2013

Daybook midweek when it's cold and I'm just coping


Outside my window the sky is bright vivid blue and the wind is bitingly cold. Today is the first day of the year the heating has gone on for an hour in the morning. The overgrown hedge is full of harvest spiders, and the washing line dripping with some little skeins of brightly coloured sock yarn I just dyed in the kitchen.

I am thinking fuzzy not-enough-sleep thoughts about plans for the next couple of days. Morgan and Jenna both have bags packed for sleep overs with friends. I didn't get nearly enough sleep last night to think much beyond that, though.

I am thankful for warm dressing gowns and slippers.

In the kitchen... I've prepared potatoes and boiled eggs, and sliced vegetables for tea. Jenna is going to make fish pie, but I thought I'd get the trickier bits of prep out of the way for her early in the day. I have grilled courgettes and cauliflower cheese in the oven for lunch, because I'm still freezing cold and cheese sauce seems like a pretty good antidote! 

There are FIVE pumpkins on the dining table. We bought four little ones, then my mum brought a gigantic one over, and now I'm thinking we're going to be eating pumpkin-everything next week (especially since she wants to take them to a little local patch, owned by a young lad Jenna's age, to pick their own for carving).

I am wearing a long red pyjama tunic and brown yoga pants. I have no intention whatsoever of getting dressed today. This morning is the first time since Monday I've felt well.

I am creating bits and pieces, no big project right now (apart from a lace hat design I'm a bit frustrated with and am therefore ignoring for the time being). Hand dyed mini skeins for more gift sets and craft kits for the shop. Some yarn just dry ready to knit a hat and a toddler crown.

I am going to the Knitting and Stitching Show in London on Saturday, on the train, just me and Ashleigh. I'm excited, VERY excited, and also a little anxious about being so very far away from baby. She'll be absolutely fine with her Daddy, I'm sure, and yet I can't help quaking a little at the thought of not being able to get back to her if she needs me.

I am wondering whether the music for Mario Kart was specifically designed to be annoying... I just had to ask Jenna to mute it for me so that Rowan's *very long* attempts at playing the game didn't melt my brain!

I am reading City of Lost Souls (book four in The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare). I read the entire first book before realising I had already read it. It's OK, though, and the series has nicely sucked me in and provided useful escapism while I have been in survival mode.

I am hoping that the mini skeins dry quickly, as I'm impatient to photograph them! :)

More importantly I'm hoping that I can shake this feeling of general exhaustion. Lack of sleep the last two nights, with migraine-y I'd-better-not-be-coming-down-with-something-worse-ness, and a huge confidence blow from an unpleasant woman in town on Monday... I'm hoping that some weekending will bring my shine back.


I am looking forward to, well, Saturday obviously. But also looking forwards to Friday and delivery a customer's yarn in person. And very much looking forwards to some Christmas making (and some presents arriving from other small producers, having given myself a break on the make-everything-myself thing and decided to use some of my earnings to support other businesses).

I am learning the difference between Feather and Fan, and Old Shale lace patterns. I thought I had it figured out, and then somehow managed to use the wrong one in a test swatch. I am also learning to NEVER put laundry in the washing machine, or turn the tumble dryer on, without checking that Talia has not put something helpful (like a Wii remote) in the drum...

Around the house there is still a ridiculous, never-ending, amount of laundry. I know. It deserves a mention every time, because otherwise these Daybook posts really can look very perfect-mama. ;)

Some of my favourite things: peppermint tea, novelty cookie cutters, richly golden merino silk yarn, four year old giggles, random questions like, "can crabs recognise each other?", and packets of fun brightly coloured stickers.

A peek into my day...

IMG_1221

IMG_1228

IMG_1237

6 October 2013

Seven Days of adventures, rain, and play

IMG_1034

IMG_1066

IMG_1069

IMG_1099c

IMG_1116

2013-10-04 13.52.23

2013-10-05 17.20.43

1. Oak
2. Late night lego
3. This is TIDY, mkay?
4. Main Lesson Books unschool style ;)
5. Park
6. Home-ed group
7. Walks