Sunday, 31 May 2015


One thing I try hard to do is live the life I want to live. In the face of uncertainty and a small budget it's easy to follow the path of least resistance and do what everyone else does. I have come to realise that that just isn't me: I need adventures in my life! Luckily my family are the same.

Over Easter we took the boys for their first adventure in the islands near our family home. Please note: we all wore age and weight appropriate life jackets. Please never go to sea without them. Sausages' has the little mermaid on. He's a legend!

As with all popular holiday destinations, the beaches were crowded and we had to share them with all sorts

We earned a picnic with obligatory home baking and brew-up

Everywhere we looked there were fossils and casts, but Sausages couldn't find a tyrannosaurus rex anywhere, much to his dismay.

Stay adventurous x

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Who's Not In School?

This week's knitting and reading post features Sausages' first book review!

Sausages received a copy of Who's Not In School to review this week, and he was very excited! We sat down together to have a read and look at the pictures. It's a charming story about a little boy in a home educating family, and all the adventures he has during the week, rather than going to school. Sausages really enjoyed the illustrations, which are very "hand-drawn," but thoughtful, and full of little details that really appealed to his curious nature. He liked that the children in the book did many of the same sorts of activities as him: swimming; museum trips; learning activities at home. For Sausages, home education is pretty normal. Some of his friends go to school, and some don't. All of them learn and have adventures. Children's literature doesn't feature many modern home educating families, and I feel that this book fills a gap there. Not only do home educated children need to see their own experiences portrayed, but school educated children need to see that this alternative exists. I found the writing of the book a little frustrating due to slightly clumsy style, but it didn't bother Sausages.

My reading this week has been these two books by Amanda Blake Soule, AKA Soulemama, about creative family life. I quite enjoyed them, although I didn't feel I got anything new out of them: sometimes it's just good to be reminded of what you already know. The Rhythm of Family has a chapter for each month containing musings, activities, recipes etc. which I rather like. I hope to read the corresponding chapters in the coming months.

The body of Bob's hoodie is finished and the hood is begun. This should be finished very soon. I really like this pattern, it's such a quick little knit, and interesting without being taxing. I swatched for the secret knitting TWICE. That's probably my swatching done for this decade, right? The yarn is very lovely, a blend of cashmere, merino and silk. The fabric is beautiful and so soft!

I'm belatedly submitting to the Yarn Along this week, don't forget to check it out. Do let me know you've been by, it'd be nice to still have some readers after my last post! I promise that I'm done discussing poo funnels!


Sunday, 24 May 2015

For Cloth Nappy Users

This post is entirely generated by a conversation I had with some other cloth nappy users this week about how to use a prefold (a flat, quilted cloth) to prevent poo leakage. You can find out more about cloth nappies HERE. If you're not a cloth nappy user, come back on Wednesday to see the fantastic amount of crafty stuff I'm getting up to in half term! If you are, behold: the poo funnel!

Fold the end of the prefold up a couple of inches, across the quilted lines. This creates a pad at the front of the nappy making it thicker than the back. This is especially helpful if you have little boys!

Fold the two outside thirds in to cover the middle third.

When you fold in the second outside third tuck it inside the pocket created by the fold across the quilted lines in the first outside third. This holds the folded end together so that it doesn't just fall apart.

Open the untucked end of the nappy to create a wide, thin back and a narrow, thick back to your nappy. Do you see how there is almost a cone shape? This keeps the poo inside the prefold and prevents it from leaking into the wrap or soaker.

When I put this into a night time nappy I add an extra booster by placing a smaller prefold or booster pad inside the centre third of the prefold before folding. I generally leave this above the first fold, because otherwise it won't tuck together so well.

I hope this is useful! Wishing you all a leak-proof parenting journey!


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Knitting and reading

I have just finished the most wonderful book: Why Doulas Matter. Anyone who has anything to do with birth or new mothers should read this book! It's a beautiful testament to the work done by doulas, but it's a lot more than that. This book gives an accurate account of the perinatal period for mothers and fathers. It discusses their needs in emotional, biological, and social terms. The book is concerned with exploring why anyone would choose to involve a doula in their experience of becoming a parent. Two of the most interesting points made are the effects having a doula have on the probability of a caesarian and breastfeeding success. If employing a doula can help you to avoid a major operation, with all the risks and inconveniences involved, and enable you to feed your baby in the way that is healthiest for both of you, what on earth could you argue against! However, Maddie makes it clear that doulaing is not about supporting any particular choices other than the choices made by the parents themselves. This is important, because I think many people consider doulas to be the preserve of the natural, "hippy" set, pursuing natural birth, breastfeeding, and other practices of this type. In reality, doulaing is about supporting the parents in their own choices and their own reality, without any other agenda.This book is not only helpful for those considering using a doula themselves, but also for those who might come into contact with people beginning their parenting journey. It gives an understanding of what a new or expectant parent might need from any supporter, and why they might need it. The tone of this book is informal and very easy to read, The informative chapters are backed up with quotations from doulas and doula clients, and Maddie's gentle caring language shines through. After my last book, with its harsh realities and unapologetic judgementalism, this book was like a stroke on the back. If you're interested in learning more, Maddie has a lovely blog. Check it out!

I got myself a fish kettle from gumtree for my yarn dyeing, and my inaugural project was this rather lovely blue/green mix. It looks like light under the sea. I'm so pleased with it! Now I have a dedicated pot I can experiment a bit more with non-food safe dyes, which I'm quite excited about. I have lots of ideas!

I finished the newborn sized snapdragon soaker and also a middle sized one with a rolling cable down each hip, which looks rather cute. I'm thinking of opening an etsy shop for a few of my handmade items, including my hand dyed yarns and soakers. What do you think?

The little hoodie for Bob is coming along. It's not gray. I don't know why my pictures always come out grey, but I never knit in grey! However, it's about to be set aside for an exciting, top secret project. I can show the knitting, but I can't tell you what it's for, that's the secret! I'm feeling very privileged to be in the know, and very proud to be knitting it. My wonderful friend has done me a great service!

If you're interested in hat other people are reading and crafting, please pop over to Ginny's and Nicole's to check out the link-ups, and do please tell me what you're working on!

Sunday, 17 May 2015

The Measuring Units Of Our Lives

I'd like to tell you a story. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

Once there was a girl, and the girl loved tea very much. She came from a home that drank leaf tea from a pot, and she grew up nurtured by the familiar rhythms of boiling the kettle, warming the pot, spooning the tea, letting it brew.

The girl grew up and left home for a city far far away from anyone she knew. She bought herself an inexpensive teapot from a poplar shop, and took it home to make tea in her new life. The new pot, however, was not the one for this girl. It dribbled when it poured. The handle wasn't the right shape. It wasn't working out. One day, despite warming the pot, when the girl poured the boiling water over the leaves it exploded into a hundred shattering shards, leaving the girl standing forlorn in a puddle of steaming tea, clutching a potless handle.

The girl knew what she must do. She wrapped the shards in newspaper and returned to the popular shop, and armed with a refund and more of her student loan than might be expected, crossed the road to the middle class department store of choice and purchased a pot almost identical to that in her family home, except that hers was blue. It was money well spent. The teapot sustained the girl in her new life with cups of moral support. It had adventures of its own. A beloved friend of the pot (and the girl) gave it two matching cups to be its companions. When the girl moved into a house that used a saucer for a teapot lid, the pot swelled with pride at being useful. A boy made a jug and painted it to match the teapot, and the girl knew he was The One.

The girl finished her degree, and another, and started another, and still the pot remained her constant companion, until one day the girl was moving into a new flat and THE BOY DROPPED THE TEAPOT! The girl was devastated, but she tried to hide it. I was just a pot, after all. There was another she could use. But the boy Knew (did I say he was the One?), and he worked hard and bought the girl a new pot, the same as the last. So the girl married him. They managed to move house many times, and the teapot followed them into their marriage, into parenthood, through trials and tribulations, and into their first Own Home. But in this home a terrible thing happened.

The pot was found one morning mysteriously smashed. And although it was not the original pot the girl had loved and associated with her story, she had come to love the new pot, and cherish the stories it had played a part in, and its demise made her sad.

The girl put the matching jug in the cupboard, and pulled out the smart teapot and matching jug that she and the boy had been given for a wedding present. It was a beautiful pot, but the tea cosy handmade by her cousin didn't fit it, and when she picked it up full the angle of the handle made her hand slide down against the burning china. The tea was good, and the pot was a marker of their new life, and so it worked. But there would always be a special place in the girl's heart that was tall and blue.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Dyeing with Gorse

Over Easter I spent a lot of time at our family home in Ireland. All around the house the gorse was blooming in the bright sunlight. Gorse has always had a special place in my heart: as a child I used to run around a sandstone heath that we called "the land of yellow gorse."

copyright: The Estate of Cicely Mary Barker

It put me in mind of some yarn I had seen on Annie's blog, which she had dyed with gorse. I didn't have any base with me, and I couldn't get old of any alum to use as a mordant, so I tried to forget about it. I couldn't! Annie suggested I try it without mordant and hope for the best, so I did!

Sweet husband bought me 400g of white aran-weight from my favourite Irish yarn shop. It's made by the inspiring Kerry Woolen Mill. I have used this yarn before, and I think it might actually be my favourite ever. I knit it on holiday though, so that might bias my opinion!

I spent two days picking gorse petals around the house. If you are ever tempted to do this, please bear in mind that my fingers were very tender afterwards. There sure are some big thorns on a gorse bush! Also you can pick for a very long time and end up with very few flowers. On the plus side they smell amazingly of coconut!

Having learned my lesson from the saffron dyeing experience, I fist made the dye by simmering the petals in a pan full of water for several hours. Then I strained it through a colander lined with a muslin and let it cool, so that the yarn wouldn't be felted by the hot dye water.

The yarn simmered for a few hours and I left it to cool overnight. On rinsing I discovered that the cheapy acrylic I had used to tie the skeins had not been colourfast, so what I have ended up with is a muted pale yellow with the odd blue splodge. Oops! It's lovely though. I'm thinking of knitting it into a blanket (maybe this one?) to remind me of that gorgeous Easter, with it's sparking sunshine and blooming gorse, for years to come.