Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Look, In The Sky

It's a big day today. It's my turn to host the antenatal group afternoon tea. I get a bit to caught up in getting ready for these things, so I was trying to get on top of the housework earlier that usual. I was even hanging out washing at 8:30 Рvery early for me. While out at the clothes line, there was a strange noise overhead, not unlike a blow torch on cr̬me brulee, and there it was.

A balloon.

And I looked, and there were more balloons.

How close were they? About this close:

It's the Wairarapa Balloon Fiesta at the moment. When little E is bigger, I hope to go and see them launching. For now, this is exciting enough for me. I don't think anything else would have had me looking so intently at the sky and it is such a wonderful day.

Some would say there is a moral, something along the lines of “isn't it nice to get the housework done early?”. Me, I'm just stoked that it is such a beautiful Autumn day.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Jobbly Welly

It was quite a domestic Easter. I had big garden plans – putting in bulbs for spring and planting a native grasses area. It turns out that it is still too warm to plant bulbs so they are still wintering in the bottom of the fridge.

However, it is just right for doing this:

Some of the grapes I was given became jelly. Jelly isn't a very big thing in New Zealand. While reading Judy Blume books I was a tad confused over this whole peanut butter and jelly thing. I mean, don't they have jam? Mum told me that it was just the american word for jam so I'll go with that.

It's the first time I've made jelly and surprisingly it wasn't as hard as I thought. The cook book had lots of warnings about making it cloudy. However, the baby food jars are hard to get a seal on so the smaller jars need to be eaten soon.

Time for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and some nostalgic reading.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

It is finish, it is finish

I love reading books about quilting history and catalogs of historical quilts. In a sense these make me appreciate the importance of labels. There was one quilt that sticks in my mind. I cannot find the book any where but the label started with “It is finish, it is finish” and continued with a history of how long the quilt took and who stitched it.

There is some debate about when a quilt is finished. I remember my mum having a book called “It's Not a Quilt Until it is Quilted”. For me, I often consider something finished when the top is ready for quilting. This is probably because I don't usually handquilt. I have to admit that these quilts are not really ready for use until they are bound. I have friends who take it one step further and say that it is not finished until the label is made.

I can proudly say that the Frocks quilt is finished in every way. It even has a label that was carefully added on Thursday. This was my first attempt to use cotton flannel as a batting. I was inspired by some summer quilts I read about in Yarnstorm. While it isn't the warmest batting, it feels lovely and light and just right for the summer that is just ending. I even managed to do some basic hand quilting.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Big Thank You to Big E

I have a much younger sister who gets to do lots of cool stuff. Being 15, she texts a lot so it was only a matter of days after my daughter's arrival that we realised that it was getting a bit confusing with two E's, hence the Big E (sister) and little e (daughter). In case you are wondering, they do have different names, just the same initial.

Amongst the cool stuff Big E gets up to, was a skiing trip to France over Christmas. I can't begrudge her these thing when she brings back treasures such as this smock and the latest copy of Quiltmania. So, I only did fourth form French but it is fun pretending that I understand what the patterns say. The diagrams are pretty good. I just hope I don't get caught out by subtleties like reverse pieces etc.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Day 7 - Baby Gown

I started by making these merino gowns for my baby before she arrived. After some in the field testing I can report the that they fit from a new born weight of about 3.8 kg (8 lb 5) to 5.5 kg (12 lb). I have since made a number for expectant friends.

The fabric can be machine washed, but be careful with the detergents. It doesn't take to well to being soaked in nappisan. I found that the typical baby stains (exploding nappies) faded with the first hand wash in wool detergent and were gone by the second wash. Sun bleaching may have been helping here too. Two gowns were enough to get me through the first 6 weeks.

The ties at the hem are optional. I didn't get time to put them in before little e's arrival. I found the skirt was long enough not to need them. The little ones feet stayed well within the gown so it didn't matter that booties didn't stay on. For those worried about little feet and loose threads, the ties are on the outside.

I had big plans to post a PDF of the pattern and instructions, hence the delay in getting day 7 done. I was expecting it to just be a button on the page, but found it was a little more complicated than that – google pages account, gmail account etc. I will get around to it one day but I have a found a solution for the next month or so – I can email it. So if you would like a pattern, drop me an email (it's somewhere in my profile) and I will get one to you, just email me before this time next month.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lavender Chicks

I was given one of these when little e was born. It was made of vintage vyella and very cute. It even prompted me to start hoarding vyella to make my own at some point ( any excuse to collect fabric, really).

Lavender has been known to have soothing properties. These cotton ones smell lovely and possibly, should be kept out of a child's reach. For some reason, little e likes chewing on hers. Her little friend Mia does too. They both get quite excited while doing this, so I have no idea who is being soothed. The stuffing is English lavender as, in the worst case scenario, it is edible.

In other matters, the pregnancy counter has been bumped up to 7 as of today. If my friends weren't spread out so far, I would swear that there was something in the water.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Stocking the Baby Box - Overalls

It seams that most of my toddler photos star me and various cousins in hand knits and mothercare overalls. It was the height of gender neutrality and those pants lasted for ages with hems being rolled down and buttons moved as we got taller.

It comes as no surprise that I was keen to make some overalls for little e. While not being able to find the mother care pattern, I've gone for corduroy and yes, again another simply baby pattern. There were a few adjustments – snap locks rather than dome tape and the contrast cuffs. I'm still not sure about the orange ribbon so it is pinned on at the moment.

I have set myself a challenge and hope to get a week of blogging on the baby box. A sort of Seven Stitches for Seven Days if you will. I feel I can reveal what I was up to, now that there are only two days to go. I was worried that I might not manage to pull it off.

I have just had that great news that another friend is expecting (or do you say some more friends are expecting when both the expectant mum and dad are your friends?). This should be keeping the number of friends expecting static, however the one due on Monday appears to be running a little late.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sunhat That Stays On

I saw this pattern in Enid Gilchrist's Baby Book” and was intrigued. It appeared to be a sun hat that would adjust as she grows and with ties to stay on. All up it is a simple old fashioned bonnet and unlike the newer hats little e has, it stays on.

I was keen to attach a copy of the pattern but have no idea as to what the copyright status is for these books. If anyone has an idea let me know.

Going by the photos, I'm quietly pleased that the lawn hasn't been mowed for a while.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sun Dresses

These dresses aren't strictly part of stocking the baby box. Every girl needs a Christmas party dress and these were made for little e's big day. They come as a result of buying the fabric before the pattern. These prints caught my eye and I figured that half a metre of each should be enough to make a dress using both prints. I had been eying up some patterns in an old Enid Gilchrist book. I started draughting the dress pattern only to find it was about to be outgrown, and so the hunt began to find a dress pattern hat used only half a metre of two fabrics.

I was really impressed with the Simplicity Simply Baby series – gone were the mum dressed like daughter photos of the 80's and the fussy detail. I even managed to get a dress out of half a metre of fabric by shortening the hem by a little. If you are thinking about using this series of patterns I recommend using the weight as a guide rather than the age – the size said 1 yr but was closer to 6 months.

The spotty dress was the trial before cutting into the glorious florals. I bit off a little more than I can chew and fortunately Mum was able to lend a hand and sew up one of the dresses for me. There are even some matching pants somewhere – in the wash I think.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Stocking the Baby Box - Burp Cloths

Burp Cloths

I have to admit that I didn't use burp cloths for little e. Not because she didn't need one, but more because I was never that organised. For me it was more a matter of reaching into the baby bag and pulling out the handiest absorbent thing just after she threw up. I am setting out to remedy this for my friends expecting babies by making these.

This is simply a 2 layers of cotton flannel with bias trim. There was a bit of experimenting with size. The smaller one is 15 x 35 cm. It looks fine and you can get enough trim out of a fat quarter of fabric. However, the child would have to aim well. The brown and pink one is on the generous side at 18 x 75 cm and probably the most practical.

I have been looking around at tutorials and found these . Does any know where to find Gerber prefolds in New Zealand? I am really keen to try them out. Whereas these are using stuff easier to find close to home.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Stocking the Baby Box - Bibs

I read in the news a few weeks ago the last year saw a record number of babies being born in New Zealand. It feels like this year is shaping up to be much the same. At the moment I can think of 6 couples that are expecting this year, so it is time to stock up the baby gift box.

I'm starting with bibs. I think that they are one of those things that you can't really have too many of. I was inspired by the fantastic one made by Prairie in Greytown, and have followed her lead by putting pincord on the back. It's easy to work with, soaks up well and can handle the occasional scrub – because babies are lovely but not always tidy. There is not particular pattern to these bibs. I started with a nice rounded pattern with a side fastening and adapted it to close at the back and fit in a 10” x 14” shape.

Bibs are being made everywhere . Louise at 20 Cent Mixture is working on some and there are a few other patterns already out there like this one and this one [ (it even has a pocket).

Note: The stunt tree's double is working overtime. This one is a purple magnolia that seems to flower first and for longer than anything else in the garden. If you look closely you can seen the buds ready for next spring.