Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hang out the flags

Three years ago I made these bunting flags as we prepared a bedroom for our first, gender then unknown, baby. Grandmothers-to-be chipped in with other handmade goodies, including these beautiful beach hut curtains (my mother's creation). P duly arrived and it became his very own seaside-themed bedroom.
However, when he was less than a year old the world in general, then our world in particular, was rocked by the financial meltdown. C's place of work closed down and everything, flags included, was packed into boxes as we moved out of our first little family home to go to where he could find work.
We count our blessings that we were much more fortunate than many, even in those challenging times. C found a new job just in time for the redundancy money to stretch. We had to move a few times, but this included a summer at the farm with my wonderful in-laws, which was a joy and an education as well as a financial necessity. It also included a period of renting a house which turned out to be at the other end of the street from the family we now count as firm new friends. In terms of the area, it's only a little further North and West of where we wanted to end up eventually and of course we have the splendour of the Lake District on our (affordable) doorstep. Last but by no means whatever least, M has arrived into our lives!
All that said and done, however, it hasn't been an easy or settled couple of years and the fact that, not through our choice, this is the fourth bedroom P has had in his 2 and a half years of life illustrates the point. The fact that it appears that we have navigated the choppy waters for now gives a particular joy to the sight you see above.
When we came to visit this house last year, the back bedroom needed a particular amount of imagination to see its potential. Heavy dark fitted wardrobes were on three walls, taking up a good third of the floor space. Thick paint was slapped onto grotty textured wallpaper and the carpet was thin and grubby. About a month back, after C had destroyed and removed the wardrobes, revealing more hideous wallpaper and large holes in the carpet, my mum came to stay and taught me how to hang lining paper. From then to now, all available evening and weekend hours have seen me (mostly me, with C on babysitting detail) attack the room from top to bottom. Skirting boards and windowsills sanded and painted, wallpaper stripped, lining paper hung and painted, torn and stained ceiling paper removed and ceiling painted (this last yukky job to the accounts on the radio of earthquake in New Zealand and revolution in the Middle East, I'll never look up without thinking about the madness of Colonel Gadafi!). Finally, yesterday was carpet day and last night P's first in his new room (M will join him when she's a bit older).
While there was a certain satisfaction in tearing off nasty old paper and seeing smooth new paint going on, the best bit was undoubtedly dressing the room. The chest of drawers was a spare one from a roomful at the farm, polished up, drawers lined and repaired where necessary (a story for another day) and lugged up the stairs by C and I. The photograph is one my older sister took and gave to me years ago and the print is of my favourite Ben Nicholson painting at Tate St Ives. The lampshade was from our local B&Q and the curtains, as I mentioned before, were my mum's creation. Then last, but not least, there are the flags. Dug out of the box, ironed (an amazing fact for anyone who knows me well!) and hung up in celebration- of a lovely new room for our lovely children, of a house that's becoming more and more of a home for us and of a life that's hopefully going to mean staying put for a while.

Friday, February 25, 2011

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour and remember. Inspired by SouleMama.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Queen Bess the First

This is the first version of a sweater pattern I've devised for M. I've named it 'Queen Bess' due to the influence of Elizabethan fashions on the design- hence the ruff-style collar, puff sleeves and smocking. It was actually quite pleasingly simple to knit, despite its quite intricate looking finish, with a top-down construction where the only fiddle is expanding the smock stitch into the increases round the yoke. It also has the advantage of being cosy without being bulky, thanks to the k3 p2 rib it's based on.
As I have the possibly over-ambitious plan of publishing the pattern on Ravelry I'm now having to do the maths to work out how to make it in at least two more sizes. To this end, I'm going to try out the next size up so that M can have it for next winter and rather than the usable but dull acrylic I found in my stash for the prototype, I've invested in some rather beautiful Dazzle DK from the Natural Dye Studio (colourway is 'Wisteria', a kind of pinky-purple and I got it here). British Blue Faced Leicester, dyed without heavy metals or other nasties. Yum! Yes it's handwash and yes, it's for a baby but following reassurances given by other online knitting mums, I'm going to go with the theory that its easy enough to swoosh a few handknits in the sink with wool wash every now and then, and that if its worth my care and attention to knit, its worth knitting it in nice yarn.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Work in Progress

We've got a lot of work in progress around our house at the moment. Really, I suppose the whole house is a work in progress, given that when we moved here there really wasn't much we didn't want to update or redecorate. Since this updating goes on as money becomes available, its going to be a slow process, but recently we've had the means to get two of the three bedrooms carpeted. Since carpet day is next Friday, this has put a bit of a rocket under us to get decorating done before we have new carpets to protect from paint. Cue rather a lot of late night work on everything from ceiling to skirting boards...
When I'm not covered in a layer of dust and paint I've also been working on some other bits and bobs. I bought a peg loom at Woolfest a few years back and have never really got around to using it. With what will be the children's room needing a rug, I thought it was about time I pressed it into service, so I dug out some worn out jeans and some uncombed fleece I acquired and washed a few summers ago and I'm having a go.
Meanwhile, yet more leftovers in the form of several oddballs of sock yarn are being turned into a simple top-down rib sweater for M. It's totally improvised and very much dictated by which colours I have most of, but I rather like it so far. Of course, chances are as ever with me that I'll run out of yarn before it's finished!