candy coloured knitted baby blanket

I started making this blanket a long time ago and somehow, it got lost. It got that special kind of lost, the kind that only knitters and crocheters know, the kind that signifies some other project blustering it's way in, eclipsing any other yarn thoughts and destroying all current, hopeful project's dreams.

And so after the brightest of starts it got forgotten, in a bag, all alone.

Until I realised that firstly I was making this blanket for a particular someone so I better pull my bloody finger out and secondly I can't very well start new projects until I finish some old ones that are sitting in bags around the house and this one didn't really have that much work left to do. I had already completed the brown and baby blue colours so I grabbed some more colours and went for it.

The pattern is the Little Ridge Blanket from Pickles, Oslo - oh how I love these gals and their patterns.

The yarn is Rooster Almerino Aran in mushroom, sugared almond, custard, brighton rock and strawberry cream. Dreamy stuff to work with, dreamy stuff to make baby blankets from, the aran is the big sister of the Rooster Almerino DK I used to make Betsy's Springtime Throw and I love their colour range, so pretty, so candy, so right for little ones.

The garter stitch makes this blanket all stretchy and cuddly, seriously stretchy, this thing actually bounces! Perfect for wrapping a cute bundle of baby loveliness in, I know it's going to be a winner.

yarn porn!
The way this pattern works, which left me completely baffled for the entire period of knitting it, is the square shape comes about from creating two opposing increases either side of a central stitch. Such a simple idea, easy to follow (it's garter stitch, no prizes for whizzy stitchy woo here), but completely baffling. I mean it.

You just can't see what it is going to look like until you cast it off and then it was like all my cogs finally started whirring and turning, I put on my goofy, mouth open face as the lights finally came on and I realised what I had done.

"OH I SEEEEEEEEEE!" I cried, all chuffed and pleased with myself, not rocket science but near as dammit!

The pattern calls for casting off loosely (LOOSELY GIRL!) and gives the method they use, which I had never heard of before nor ever tried. To make matters worse, the magic of the square will only be realised with a stretchy, loose, lovely cast off. Pressure?

The only way to cast off that I know is the standard knit two, move the first stitch over and off and I know from experience that this creates a really solid and tight cast off.  To make it all the way to the end of this beauty and mess it up at the casting off stage was just not an option so I looked it up (thank all the heavens for YouTube) and practised it a couple of times before allowing my fat fingers of destruction anywhere near.

I managed it. I had a good knitting day. I cast off the final stitch and thought simultaneously "thank you" and "god I'm ACE". This woolly lushness is now lovingly wrapped in tissue paper to await it's grand moment in it's new home.

To prove that this kind of knitting smugness ("god I'm ACE", I mean come on), is not rewarded well by said gods, I started my next project at the weekend, a really difficult one that gives me the nervous sweats just thinking about it. After three days of deep concentration, intense video watching (wrap and turn anyone?), Betsy came running at me like a wild thing, landed and pulled the wool out of my hand.....and about 10 stitches with it, stitches that had been wrapped, increased and lord knows what else thus leaving me with no option but to rip and start over....I haven't started over as yet, I. can't. even.


and whilst I'm at it remember....

Never, ever. Never, ever, ever give up. Don't you dare.

Although knowing when you should stop flogging a dead horse helps.

Saw this lovely print whilst pinning and found the original source which makes me very happy.

why you bloody CAN try for a baby when you're 40

I sometimes get a bit sick of the tide of commentary on the rise of the older mum. Or to be more precise, the plight of the older woman trying to get pregnant most recently dragged up again here by supposed friend of the people Kirstie Allsop.

Why do we beat women up for what is essentially their own choice and none of our business? We can think for ourselves, we can make informed decisions and we should certainly not be made to feel bad if we decide to wait until we're in our late thirties or even early forties to procreate. So what is the deal here? Have we found a new way to beat women up?

It's also offensive that the assumption is we don't already know how reduced our chances are going to be. I mean come on, you'd have to be from Mars or at least incredibly stupid to not know that your fertility rapidly declines after the age of thirty five. We are quite literally bombarded with the negative aspects of modern fertility choices all the time not only from the media and 'well meaning' celebrity breeders but also our friends and family regardless of how supportive they think they are. "Don't you dare wait, don't have a career, you'll be sorry, have your babies early", ...blah, blah blah, yeah, yeah, we hear you.

And the thing that really gets me roaring with feminine rage is the fact that in most of these articles the presumption is made that women make a choice to have their babies later on in life when in fact I would dare to predict that only a small percentage of women actually do think consciously to themselves, "I know, I'll build a career and then have a couple of babies when I'm forty. Sure, it's a bit more difficult to have a baby at that age but there's always IVF, right?".

It just doesn't happen like that.

Let me tell you what usually happens.

A generation of girls grew up knowing that they had choices. We knew there were options in life other than getting married and having babies and so we exercised those choices and bloody loved doing it too. However a perilous result of this emancipated womanhood was strength, balls, independence and courage. No longer would we put up with the lily-livered boyfriend - kick that one into touch - or the one with the wife - cheating bastard - nor the bullying coward - leave that one and never look back. The result of this increasingly selective tribe of females is that more and more of us ended up still single in our thirties, or married to the completely wrong man as in my case but that is a whole other story.  Are you still with me? Am I ranting?

So here we are womenfolk, we are strong, we are independent, we are listening to Destiny's Child on repeat, alas we are single.  What happened? Where have all the good men gone? Why am I suddenly always the single one at parties, weddings, funerals? Better get myself a boyfriend before all my eggs run out!! Panic! Panic! Get me the internet right now!

I'm sure there are a million different versions of this story that could be told by a million different lovely ladies who most certainly did not expect to be like me and looking at the number 40 on a birthday card before having had any children. I think every single one of those ladies deserves our love, our wishes of luck, love and good fallopian fortune.

Our support and our sisterhood are essential because whilst it isn't easy to get pregnant at forty, and none of us expect it to be, it is possible. Yes naysayers I am daring to say it, you can get pregnant, you bloody can, I am living proof of it and I am surrounded by other ladies who also managed it. True that massive amounts of shagging are required (and perhaps a shot of clomid) and at our age who can really be bothered when there's tea and Downton Abbey, but shag my dears and you have every potential of conceiving - total respect due for my incredibly eloquent words of wisdom.

So that is my message. You bloody can get pregnant, just try and try and try again and listen only to positive vibes, ignore the mass media, your smug 'got pregnant on the first go' friends and family. Ignore the doctors who are all mean and negative and will basically tell you that you are too old to have a baby and most of all ignore bloody Kirstie Allsop who should know better given she was no spring chicken when she had her babies and who should think herself lucky that she did and who would do well to remember the large number of women in their forties who are still looking, trying, hoping, praying and those who might never be lucky enough to experience the joys, the pains, the muckiness of motherhood.

Here endeth my ranty moan, I'll get back to my knitting now.


why I write

It started off small, this desire to write. I never meant it to carry on for this long. In fact I'm amazed nearly all the time that it has.

It began on a whim with a tale of wild flowers in August 2011 and for the last three years I have bungled along, morphing, crafting and creating this place of mine through trial and error (a lot of errors!) to be what it is today. I've experimented with style and substance, taken the most incredible amount of pictures, deleted the most stupid amount of crappy posts, met the loveliest people and basically been on a wild adventure and enjoyed every minute of it.

Writing has turned into a pleasure. I can't quite believe that it has but there you have it, I enjoy it, it creates space inside me, space to explore how I think, feel and experience the world. The pleasure has grown exponentially since I started keeping a journal (I've always wanted to use the word exponentially in a blog post!), and also since I read Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, a magical book, life-changing for me, about rediscovering or just plain discovering your creative self.

In it Julia says this which I love:

"The process of identifying a self inevitably involves loss as well as gain. We discover our boundaries, and those boundaries by definition separate us from our fellows. As we clarify our perceptions, we lose our misconceptions. As we eliminate ambiguity, we lose illusion as well. We arrive at clarity, and clarity creates change."

Ah, clarity and change my two favourite c-words apart from cake.

Since getting into the habit of writing every day, everything about the way I think and behave has changed. The clarity of finally understanding things about yourself that have been right in front of your eyes and making you miserable is priceless. Writing gently removes layer after layer of accumulated social conditioning and after a while you start to recognise small glimmers of your authentic self.

These tiny cracks at first feel like a kind of madness because you abandon long held beliefs, duties, desires. You wonder if it's a kind of crisis (mid-life or otherwise) because suddenly you don't want to wear make up every day or high heels, you dig out old music, start reading poetry, prioritise people who make you feel joyful, find yourself dancing, running, meditating, making time for yourself and you start to feel alive.

All this and more is why I write, why I want to write and why I will continue to write, doors have been opened that can never be shut, it has become a way of life, become my life, become me.

I was asked to write this post by Cat from That Bettie Thing, it was supposed to be part of the summer long blog-along type thing that I can never usually be arsed with but Cat asked me so nicely and I liked the idea for a post so thank you Cat and sorry for getting in there with this post before you but I do believe you are moving house right now so you can be excused.


how to make time for yourself when you have a toddler

I am an expert on this subject. I was born to write this post.

The answer is unless you are blessed with a baby Jesus type child (as apparently my darling husband was when he was small), you are fucked! Yes you are. Add a small person to your life equation and you have one seriously big fly in the solitude ointment, peace might as well be a small town in Alabama with a toddler running around your house.

As an introvert I feel this pain more than most. I absolutely have to spend some time all alone every day otherwise I go completely bat shit crazy. The times are too numerous to count when I have just handed over the baby baton to Darren as he walks in the door from work and scurried up the stairs to the soothing calm of the darkened bedroom leaving him alone to deal with the chaos queen and her bag of intrepid toddler magic.

Single mothers I salute you.

I am eternally grateful also for the famous toddler nap. Betsy still naps, Betsy loves naps. Long may the napping continue. God bless the nap. All hail the lunchtime nap.

Fully two hours of time alone every single day and it is heavenly, I literally am in love with it. I can tidy up, eat some food, do some yoga/reading/crochet/knitting/writing, have a poo all by myself (only those with toddlers know this joy), drink a full cup of coffee, watch something other than Team Umizoomi on the telly and sometimes I will just sit there and be; drifting off, spacing out, unplugging for a bit.

Spacing out is one seriously underrated pastime.

The trick is to really, really enjoy the little parcels of time you get alone. Whether it's a sneaky wee whilst everybody crazy shakes (she loves that Umi shit) or the chance to crochet a row whilst food is being devoured, own that time, flood it with love potion and you'll be on the right track.

When little smellbum wakes up from her lunchtime nap the fun and fury begins all over again but I've got my mojo back, I'm loaded up with coffee, carbs and tolerance and letting chaos reign ain't no big thing.

Just don't ask me what I'm going to do when the napping stops!

ps. illustration by the amazing saskia.


back to school

Yeah, me and my bro circa 1970 something or another....evidence, if evidence was ever needed, that I have always looked slightly evil and menacing...Darren is seeing a distinct similarity between me and Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shining! I'm inclined to see his point.

Back to school is the theme for today, this week, this month, for obvious reasons. My girl isn't old enough for me to get stressed/excited about uniform buying, how to make a school cardy last a whole year or whether to buy the Dora or the Hello Kitty lunch box. Instead I'll share my excitement of the season via the medium of blog because there must be more than a few of you who also love that whole new pencil case, new shoes, change of season back to school feeling?

I still do and it has been twenty six years since I left school, the excitement doesn't go away, I might be quite insane.

The difference in the air from summer, still nice but with a cooler edge always makes me think of the long drive back to boarding school every September, full of excitement with new shoes on and a school bag loaded up with pens, pencils and all manner of pretty stuff ready to be swiped, destroyed and lost over the coming weeks and months.

Hundreds of us would arrive back at school slightly dazed at how quickly the summer holidays had gone but stupidly excited at seeing one another again, immediately slipping back into old ways and alliances, happy to be free from parental supervision and boredom.

Now I no longer get shipped off to another world, I still find September to be a productive and busy month after the long, lounging days of August. I feel all ready for action and set myself a new timetable for getting shit done. Not quite so easy with an almost two year old who requires plenty of amusement pretty much all day long and who laughs in the face of plans.

I've got lists about lists, timetables and action plans, I am an all round geek and organiser of stuff - mundane and inconsequential for the most part - but that's the point for me, making the mundane a bit more colourful.

I have a filofax for organising life, a filofax for organising blog stuff, my phone organiser, a business book, a journal, a writing book and a calendar on the kitchen wall too - it's a full-time job to keep my organisers organised, says she with mock disdain.

Now I just need me some lessons to go to, a new PE kit, bad haircut and Clarks shoes. I will then be suitably prepped and ready for the new school year.


the last few august photo challenge pictures

I did it. I completed a photo challenge and am suitably amazed because I'm usually such a lazy arse about these things.

Occasionally, and more often than is acceptable to my self-imposed, often ridiculous high personal standards, I'll start projects and then get bored halfway through; can't be bothered, forget, fanny about doing other things, procrastinate and since having a baby, who I swear sucked all the brains out of me, am unable to summon the mental energy required to complete the most simple of tasks.

Argh some days were definitely harder than others, the selfie day was the worst, I hate the shit out of them bitches. I wasn't keen on the jump day either, tried to get a shot of Darren jumping and it was an epic fail, or the my guilty pleasure day because I don't feel guilty about my pleasures cos life is way to short for guilt isn't it. Yep.

Anyway my favourite picture is the last one. Me and my love.

For soft, well there isn't one thing softer than this gal.

Nature excited me so much I took two pictures. One of an apple tree that we walk past every day on our afternoon walk that Betsy is obsessed with "apple, apple, apple, apple, apple" soon as we get to the apple and I hold her up to it so she can touch it, she freaks out, her head turns away and "you do it mummy" hmm.

Then this moment presented itself in the park. Too good to miss and dog photo bombed as well, brilliant.

That's me done then. I completed the challenge and am well pleased with the results and with myself. What I love most is that it provides a snapshot of my life in August 2014 that I will treasure forever.

It shows my life, how I'm living right now; all toddler, dog, toddler, husband, writing, toddler and a smattering of pretty stuff. I only wish it hadn't taken me this long to getting round to doing a photo challenge. Probably just make it an annual event though, still lazy.