little dolls dress

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Few words today, Alana is having a post-nursing snooze in my arms.  But I sewed this little dress up over the last couple of evenings.  So sweet and lovely.  As is her new dress.

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She seems to find it (or something) funny.  Today has been filled with grins and baby laughter, and some very contented napping.  All is good.

Pattern is here, by Leila and Ben.  I am on the hunt for more sweet baby sewing, so let me know if you have suggestions.  And that was more words than I thought I’d manage!

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a big little quilt

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Three of the four little girls I mentioned in my last post have a quilt of their own, made and gifted in time for their arrival into the world.  Of course there were plans for little Emily to have one too, but her early arrival combined with not just another baby to make one for, but one that I had to actually look after too, meant things got a little behind.

It started off with a pile of 4 inch squares, as many as I could cut from the fabric scraps I’d chosen.  Piecing began, but soon I realised that an actual plan was going to be required.  I did a little drawing and kept on going.  It’s a little bigger than I imagined, more of a first-bed size than baby shaped.  Hopefully that’ll just mean that it’ll be in use for longer.

And it feels so good to be back at my sewing machine!  I’ve accepted that I enjoy patchwork and quilting so much more than garment making, and I’m going to stop feeling guilty about it.  There’s no rule that says that because I sew, I have to make clothes…

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for the girls

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Finishing knits takes a little longer these days, and is likely to slow up even more now I’m back at work.  But luckily Alana likes to sleep in the evenings, so after a few chores are done I usually manage to squeeze in a few stitches.  I knit a little in between crocheting the odd granny square and looking in at our sleeping babe, and still not really believing how lucky we are.

I’m thinking of starting a new tradition.  Springtime cardigans for our extended family’s little ones – four girls.  This seems like a great plan when the oldest is just two and the littles still have no say in what they wear, but probably not so wise as they get bigger with opinions, and knitting involves a lot more yarn.

First up was a wee Liesl.  Kindly modeled by my girl but actually for her little second cousin Emily who was born just ten days after Alana but quite early, though healthy thank goodness.  It took less than one 50g ball of Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk 4ply (yum).

Second was a Rock Rose for her other second cousin Shannon, a completely delightful almost 3 year old.  She has a mother who loves handknits.  A lovely little pattern which I came across thanks to the Ravelry advanced pattern search, knitted up in Pure Merino from James C Brett.  I even enjoyed the bobbles.  And the icord edging.  Honestly.

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Two more to go – a Heartrose Cardigan for Alana and then a Little Trellis for her cousin Lara.  Except I got distracted by new yarn and cast on for a Semi de Printemps instead.  Whoops.

outdoors play

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We headed outside today.  The vegetable garden is a bit like a time warp, exactly as I left it back in July when pregnancy symptoms were in full force and I was so scared that something, anything, could cause things to go wrong.  I remember so clearly this time last year, when I was venturing into the garden for the start of new season and being so unbearably sad that I was doing these little springtime tasks alone, rather than with the child that should have been there with me.  Of course this year it is all different.  Alana slept in her sling as I cleared away a few old pots and planted some seeds.  My vegetable gardening plans this year are pretty tame, just lots of potatoes and a few things in the greenhouse.  I think in the past I’ve been a bit ambitious and it all gets a bit overwhelming.  I hope she loves being outside as much as me.  I want to her know the smells, and the feel of the earth.  Is it selfish to hope that your children love the same things as you?  I want her to love what she loves too.

But anyway.  There are lots of dead vegetables.  Some gigantic weeds.  The kind so big that if you dig them out you leave a huge, clear patch of earth.  A couple of weeks ago we had some tall, wobbly trees cut back and my lovely inlaws have chopped and cleared the wood while we were up north.  The chickens are as cheeky as ever.  They gathered at the gate while we explored and I swear they were whispering excitedly to each other ‘the lady is back growing things, sure, the man build a new fence but we will find our way through!’  Sure enough, I turned and when I looked back Scarlet was pecking about on the wrong side of the fence.  I have no idea how she did it.  She looked pretty proud of herself, as if she just wanted to show me that she could.

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two plus one

Little Alana Charlotte finally arrived six weeks ago.  We are in love.  Her arrival took a very long time and was a little traumatic, but of course I’d go through it all again and many, many times worse to bring her home.  We were so well cared for during the days leading up to her arrival, and for the birth itself.  The names Donna, Karen and Jane will forever make me think of the wonderful women who helped Alana into our arms.  I still can’t believe she’s here, she is perfect.  Even the sleepless nights are awesome, mostly.  Insomnia kicked in early in my pregnancy, and now I have a tiny human to share the awake with.  We chatter and read stories and rock and sing back to sleepiness, and I feel grateful for every minute.

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Before she was born and I was blogging a little I was careful to keep mention of her separate, knowing how difficult sudden mentions of pregnancy on blogs that weren’t usually about such things can be for some, including me.  I’ve been thinking about how to go on from here, maybe to create a separate blog for motherhood posts but I’ve decided against it.  So much of my crafting now (and I am still crafting!) is for Alana that splitting things up would be hard.  But I do want to talk about our adventures together.

I know that some have found their way here because of similar journeys with loss.  No-one who has lost a child, or doesn’t have a child while wanting one, for whatever reason, wants to hear complaints about motherhood.  Negativity will not appear here.  Just as every niggling pregnancy symptom made me think ‘yay!, this means my baby is alive and growing!,’ every nappy change and cry has me thinking the exact same thing.  I am truly grateful for it all.  We feel so lucky.

random ramblings

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I’m not quite sure why I feel like emerging from blog-hibernation at 5am on Christmas Day.  Penny and I are curled up under blankets and quilts on the sofa listening to the wind raging outside.  She is starting to look older, I”m just noticing.  Little grey eyelashes and a sleepy look when she gets up to follow me.  I feel like I want to take her for a walk in the wind but it won’t be daylight here for hours, so we snuggle.

Although only just beginning, this holiday is full of mixed feelings.  We cancelled our plans to spend Christmas at my parents, something I had been looking forward to for weeks.  The road kept being shut and with a forecast of very high winds and some snow we just couldn’t risk the trip.  The thought of being stuck in a snowstorm in the mountains in our little car, or being blown off the road, or into something didn’t feel like a risk worth taking.  And so I am trying to hide my disappointment surrounded by piles of presents for family I won’t get to see in person after all.  For the second year in a row Christmas isn’t turning out as it was supposed to.  But at the same time I am feeling incredibly grateful, that everyone with a waiting present is safe and warm and mostly healthy.  None of us are alone, hungry, or scared.  Everyone who we spent this time with in our home last year is still with us, and there is new life growing.

At 8pm last night I was able to call my gift knitting officially done for another year.  Is it insane that I then almost cast on for a 2014 Christmas gift?  Like many knitters I always have the intention of putting aside a gift or two a month, and why not start at the end of December?  If things keep going as they are, in just 7 weeks my knitting time is going to be drastically reduced, so it seems smart to do what I can now.  With a little selfish knitting thrown in – the first thing I did after finishing last night was to reach for my First Footing kit.

Right now with the wind howling I am tempted to bake.  Our change of plan means we’ll spend a quiet Christmas morning in a largely undecorated and not-very-festive house.  I think some nice smells will help.  Later we’ll go round the corner to my lovely in-laws, and look forward to the arrival of more family tomorrow.

I am very aware that this time of year can be extremely difficult for some, especially when I think back to how I was feeling this time last year.  If you are in that situation I hope you find a little quiet peace over the holidays.  I hope we all find a little quiet peace.  Much love to you all x

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And just because lots of very kind people keep asking, things are still going fine, thank you x  There was a brief worry last week but a little monitoring showed that everything was fine.  Being pregnant after loss is so completely different.  People keep asking me if I’m getting fed-up, or uncomfortable.  But every single time I wake up choking with heartburn, or have to sit down for a rest my only thought is ‘I still have heartburn!  I am tired! Yay!  This is because our baby is still alive, and growing in the way it should!’  Being uncomfortable for this reason is so utterly delightful, and I will always, always be grateful.

my Rhinebeck sweater

Now I’m back to my normal, cooler climate its time to pull out the serious knitwear.  And light the fire in the evenings again (joy!), something that Penny seemed to particularly approve of last night…

With 15 seconds to get dressed this morning before we all ran outside I grabbed my Artichoke French by the lovely Laura Nelkin that I managed to get finished up in Shetland a few weeks ago.  Wow this thing is cosy!  It has thumbholes! And lovely cables!  I have only good things to say about this pattern and design.

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I look either moody or silly in most of the photos for some reason, I really do love it in every way!  There was a plan to take some new smiley ones, but I am overjoyed that as things are still going to plan, the fit of the sweater now is um, not quite the way it was intended to be and its verging on being unfit to wear in public.  Completely fine for working in at home, and it keeps my hands cosy while I type.

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If you’re going to Rhinebeck this weekend I hope you have a lovely time!  Breathe in those wool fumes for me!  I’ve made a start on another sweater from Ysolda’s new book.  Well, the actual plan was to knit the whole thing on holiday and I carted 10 balls of yarn around in my suitcase.  It turns out that knitting a wool sweater while lying on a sun lounger beside a pool wasn’t really that smart an idea, so I’m working away slowly now I’m home!  And so, progress on my Pumpkin Ale, though there’s a little more of it now –

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Working for Ysolda has some nice perks, like getting patterns a little early…but soon they will be available for knitters everywhere!  Both my sweaters are knit in New Lanark, the chunky for Artichoke French and the DK for Pumpkin Ale.  Maybe a little samey, but as its spun just 20 minutes drive from my house I’m not too bothered, and its lovely to knit with too…