Thursday, 29 December 2011

Highs and Lows

The Highs...

Well how exciting.... the lovely (with a capital L!!) Louise from Tea at Weasel's has nominated me for a blog award. I definitely Eeped with delight when I got this. Thank you so much Louise. I absolutely love reading her blog and am in awe of how much she gets done while having 5, yes you read it right 5, boys!! And you have been the most encouraging and welcoming person, I might have given up before now had it not been for you. So I think you really deserved to get the award from the lovely Julie at A Tale From Toadstool House

 If I am correct (being a bit of a novice to this blogging malarky) I believe I have to nominate 5 blogs, who have less than 200 followers, that I love to read. It's been tough because most of the people I follow have got more than 200 followers. So I have to confess I am about to break the rules slightly, as  I can't find a 5th blogger who has less than 200 followers and I'm under time pressure (you'll see why as you read on) I am only going to name 4 blogs. Alternatively I could name someone who has more than 200 followers and I don't know if the blog police would come after me so I'm not going to, I hope you can forgive me? 

So blogs I love to read include...
Sandi Art
One Pink Plum
Patchwork and Lace 
Moo Baa Cluck

 The Lows..

I go back to work tomorrow after a year off on maternity leave with my little ray of sunshine. I don't have time to write much but I'm in quite a fragile state. I'm going to miss my little Baby R so very much and that will be the hardest thing I have ever done, harder than labour and bringing him into the world. I hope I can still find the time to keep going on the blog front and the craft front. I just want to thank all the lovely people who have read my blog and those who have commented. 

And finally I will get round to contacting the people I have nominated for the blog award but I might just have to get the trauma of leaving my baby boy over me first.

Take care all you lovely folk.

Helen xx

Christmas Cheer

It's been a busy old week here at Belmont Yarns. We had our first Christmas with Baby R and it's been totally magical. Unfortunately little R developed his 3rd cold and 2nd ear infection the weekend before Christmas and he was in terrible form. I thought he was teething but then on the 3rd day of him being out of sorts he was so lethargic and clingy and only wanted to lie on my chest so we were lucky to get an appointment with the doc that afternoon who promptly diagnosed a red raw sore throat and nasty ear infection. The poor wee chap, a few days of antibiotics combined with calpol/nurofen and he was back to his bubbly self. But unfortunately it doesn't end there, he was on the mend for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but the day after Boxing day started coughing and has a runny nose and now has his 4th cold (or maybe the same one from last week - who knows) and is in rough form again. Sleep is scarce for us all but we'll survive. 

So I wanted to say a few words about how we got on over the Christmas weekend. Christmas Eve (my absolute favourite day of the whole year) was lovely. My younger brother (the godfather!) and his girlfriend came to visit to give Baby R his first present, a lovely red fire-engine which we had a good play with and Monty even got in on the action as Baby R wanted to share his little fireman with him, so cute!

We are still desperate to instigate some traditions here at Belmont Yarns but so far we don't have many, one thing we always do is to go for a walk after dark on Christmas Eve with the dogs, and now Baby R hurray, and oooh and aaah at all the lovely Christmas lights in the gardens and in the houses. The posh streets can be a feast for the eyes but we aren't fussy we love to look at all the lights (although we are more of a fan of the tasteful ones, not overly keen on people who have every inch of their gardens covered in everything from Santas to entire nativity scenes but hey each to their own). So after Baby R went to bed (I have to admit I didn't want him to go to bed, I usually get a bit sad when Christmas Eve ends) we treated ourselves to some bubbles and Christmas carols on the TV. We had waited a long time for the bubbles as I had a dry 9 1/2 months due to breastfeeding and I can tell you they were worth waiting for! 
 Then we exchanged our presents as we sipped our bubbly, mind you only small presents this year as the purse strings have been tightened but we never concern ourselves with expensive presents as, for us, Christmas is about being off work (well I'm still on maternity leave for a few days yet) and spending time together and not about consumerism. However is always nice to open a little something. So my lovely husband bought me...
I can't wait to get using these. My husband thinks it's hilarious that I wanted a Japanese crochet book and thinks I have bitten off more than I can chew. I am defiant and although the patterns look a bit tricky I am confident hopeful that in 2012 I will be able to make something from the lovely Japanese book and if I don't I am going to blame working and looking after a baby. K? It doesn't end there though very excitingly I also received this (he really does listen)...
My own little Pecker from Sew Sweet Violet. She is so lovely and as soon as I took her out of her beautiful packaging she flew up into my Christmas tree and has stayed their ever since! Jooles has the most amazing work, such attention to detail and the craftsmanship is 100%, I would definitely recommend purchasing something from her etsy shop if you ever get the chance. So I was very happy with my haul. I also got new PJs that I purchased myself and donned on Christmas Eve, gotta love new PJs! 

On Christmas morning Baby R came into bed with us and opened his presents that Santa left. Now we really didn't buy him that much as he's only 11 1/2 months and he really enjoyed bashing the boxes and ripping the paper. Isn't that always the way. 
We got a lovely crafty present for Rowan from a very talented, jack-off-all-trades-master-of-all, been there done it, friend of mine and I fell in love straight away. A lovely stripy knitted rabbit, which his own jumper emblazoned with an R. I'm not sure what to call him, Roger seems a little too obvious, what do you think?
We had a lovely Christmas day with our folks, we went back home and my older brother and his girlfriend kindly hosted Christmas dinner this year to give my Mum a break and they were so good at it. They told us that they don't really like Christmas that much so I had my reservations but I think they were fooling us as they made their house so festive and Christmassy and they made us so relaxed. It was great, he got the thumbs up from me and can definitely host again!! We then visited my sister after dinner to exchange presents. A few years ago I suggested we did Secret Santa in my family and it was been a hit with everyone so it's now tradition. I received a £15 gift voucher (the budget was £10 so Santa was a bit naughty) to the local craft shop which now excitingly stocks a small supply of yarn so I was very excited and grateful to receive this. I suspect my Santa was my lovely younger brother as he is the only one who is really interested in my rambles about crafty things and my blog. The present I was most excited about was the one I made for my sisters baby. My sister loves dachshunds too and I found this really cute sausage dog fabric on the internet. 
I didn't really have much time to make something bigger like a quilt or something so I decided to make some personalised bunting (I just love bunting) and I thought bunting would be cute in her bedroom. I don't have a good photo of the full length of it as it's about 5m long, just of the name and the fabric, but hopefully you get the idea. I'll try and take a photo of it when my sister puts it up. 

On Boxing day we went to visit the in-laws and little R got some more presents so he is a very lucky boy who has lots of books to read (I love getting books and reading to him) and just the right amount of toys to play with. Unfortunately Baby R then started to come down with a cold but we did manage to carry out another of our newly forming traditions, we watched the new Poirot and enjoyed some yummy Beaujolais and a mini-buffet. Oh we are good to ourselves!!

It's been a busy period for us as we also celebrated our 5th Wedding Anniversary and unfortunately due to Baby R's illness we weren't able to make it out for dinner to the newly opened Italian restaurant, we wouldn't have enjoyed it anyway as we would have been worried for little R and our baby sitters. Anyway times have changed and Baby R is the best gift we could ever have so we aren't too concerned about not making it to dinner, there'll be other outings I'm sure. 

At this rate of going I'm not sure I'll make it back on before the New Year so I wanted to take this opportunity to say wish everyone a wonderful, safe, peaceful, productive and crafty 2012! I'd also like to thank anyone who has popped by for reading my blog, for commenting and for encouraging me to keep going at this blogging malarky, you really are a special lot. On that note I have been nominated for a blog award, I'd really like to post separately about this as I'm so chuffed and mega excited about it. Cross your fingers that I get time to!

Phew another long post... hope you are still awake teehee

Friday, 16 December 2011

Ta-Dah: My First Crocheted Blanket

Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! I'm so happy because I finished my first ever crocheted blanket. Happy-Happy-Joy-Joy. It really was a wondrous day as I never thought I would complete it, it has been a mammoth project, well it certainly felt like it. So the story goes...

I started crocheting in August having come across the craft magazine Mollie Makes and I started with a crocheted apple cosy. Before I could master the apple cosy I needed to learn the basic crochet stitches and so I learned how to crochet using YouTube and the wonderful Beth from bethintx1 who so kindly has a whole host of really easy to follow tutorials on YouTube. Beths tutorials are so easy to follow and I was totally bitten by the crocheting bug. The apple cosy aside, the main reason that I decided to start crocheting was because I wanted a craft to do that was quiet (my sewing machine is not particularly quiet), that I could do while my baby was sleeping. My little dandelion, Baby R was really not doing very well at sleeping during the day and definitely would not go into his cot to sleep so in the end I gave up (it was too painful letting him cry in the cot) and let him fall asleep on my bed while I sat beside him. This seemed to work and while I know many people would tell me off for 'spoiling' the child I just had to do something to get him to sleep and also it just felt right. I actually loved having him sleep there beside me and anyway I knew it wouldn't be forever so I just followed my instinct. So while I loved having this time together I also wanted to do something with my hands and to achieve something. I dug out my granny's old 4mm crochet hook, some dodgy luminous green yarn that my mummy had bought me a while ago and I sat on the bed with headphones in watching crochet tutorials on YouTube on a 3rd hand iTouch while little R slept. So then I wanted to make a blanket and I have to admit I kind of jumped with both feet into this blanket project and didn't really do much research on yarn, colours or styles of blankets which I sort of regretted because then I discovered Coco Rose who let me to Attic24 and the blankets they were doing look A-M-A-Z-I-N-G and the yarn they used was so beautiful and luscious, but hey you live, you learn. I visited the yarn shop in my home town, The Yarn Barn, a treasure trove of yarny delights and picked Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo DK yarn (a 80/20 Bamboo/Wool mix). I had been looking for something by Rowan or Debbie Bliss but the shop owner had stopped stocking these as they were too expensive and people just weren't able to afford them. For my next big project I think I might try to build up a stash of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino as I have discovered another shop near my home town which stocks it, now I just need to rob a bank to afford it (or save up)! Anyway there won't be anymore big blanket projects for quite a while as I am only just recovering from this one and I'm back to work soon so I'm not sure how I'm going to fit in looking after my beautiful baby boy, working 4 days a week and crocheting a blanket, so only small projects for the next while. Anyway I digress, I think I've blethered on quite a bit and maybe now it's time for some photos. Here it is in all it's glory my very first ever crocheted granny square blanket.....

140 five round granny squares 
4 granny rows 
finished with scalloped edging (courtesy of Attic24 pattern can be found here).

I think the edging looks really pretty and transforms it from a bog standard blanket into something much more special. Well that's just what I think

This is where the blanket is going to live so we can see it every day. I'd like some more crocheted items around the living room, I'm still trying to talk D into some granny bunting to adorn the arch between our living and dining rooms but discussions are still ongoing (but just between us I'm going to make it anyway and put it up, he might never notice, ssshh don't tell!).

I'm still not in love with the green colour and I maybe should have thought through the colour choices a bit better and also thought more about the type of yarn I chose. When I started this blanket I was a total novice and I didn't realise how many balls of yarn I would need to finish the project (a whole 30 x 50g balls, eek), how long it would take (3 1/2 months, but it wasn't exactly full time plus I made a quilt for baby R, bunting for baby R, bunting for my niece and christmas decorations while being a mummy, a wife, a dog lover&walker and all that life brings along) and how expensive it would be (I don't even want to go there)! But having said that I do love it. 

I love that I made it myself. 
I love that it reminds me of sitting on the bed beside baby R as he slept. 
I love that it will always remind me of the year baby R was born. 
I love that I saw it through to the end even though I wanted to give up as I decided I didn't like the colours or the yarn.
I love that I am now a crocheter.
I love that it's mine.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Christmas and Ta-Dah's too

So finally I get to post something that I have made and that's Christmassy, happy-happy-joy-joy. WARNING BIG MOAN COMING UP: I'm finding it very difficult to get the time to do anything these days, I just don't know how other people do it. My little baby boy is 11 months old and we are having so much fun together but it's just very difficult to get anything crafty done, let alone get to blog (originally when I started the blog I had hoped to get a post a week but that was very wishful thinking!!). But anyway enough moaning although I did warn you! So I have been veeery busy - I have been working furiously on my granny square blanket (I am on the last row, although I'm wondering if I should make it bigger, haha I am my own worst enemy!), I made a Christmas present for my 9 1/2 month old niece (some sausage doggie bunting, a post to follow *crosses fingers*) and I made some Christmas decorations (hurray!). Would you like to see them???

 I made some FIMO snowflakes as inspired by the lovely Coco Rose. I came across this post and I realised that I had the exact snowflake cookie cutters that Vanessa used and I love red and white Christmas decorations so it was the perfect mini-project for me. I really loved making these and as soon as they were made I gave most of them away as presents, so I had to keep making them and finally I got to keep some myself!

 Then I made some crocheted snowflakes as inspired by the lovely Lucy at Attic24, who so kindly made a super easy-to-follow tutorial on how to make the lovely snowflakes (after the miserable winter we had last year crocheted snowflakes and FIMO snowflakes are the only kind I really want to see this year *crosses fingers again*). These were really easy to make, I think Lucy's instructions are always really easy to follow, she is the crochet oracle to me! Again as soon as I had made these they were also out the door like hotcakes and so I kept making them and finally got to keep some for myself. I had intended to make a garland of snowflakes but without complaining again I will just say that time really is not on my side. But there is always next year Haha! 

We did manage to get our Christmas Tree up on the 1st of December which has been the tradition in our house for quite a few years now and we still managed to get a real tree. We were worried about a number of things (I am a worrier in case you hadn't noticed), firstly that we wouldn't have the space anymore for the tree because we have had to re-jig our living room/dining room to give Baby R more space for cruising and for speeding about in his walker, secondly that the tree wouldn't fit in the car with Baby R in the back too and thirdly that Baby R would pull the whole thing down (that last point lets just say is a work in progress!!!). But we managed to get a smaller tree (we love the Fraser Firs and fortunately the garden centre we love had a smaller tree that was perfect for us, still cost the same amount as the massive one we got last year mind you!), which fitted in the car with Baby R smiling at it as we drove home and it fitted in our alcove (minus lots of it's back branches). 
This was taken on the night of the 1st of December as we enjoyed a well earned glass of wine after decorating the tree and Baby R was tucked up cosy in bed.
This was taken then next day with the top of the tree included (we were very tired after all our hard work!)

You might have noticed that the bottom of the tree is a little bare, well that's because we've had to gradually move the decorations up the tree out of reach of teeny tiny fingers who can't resist the sparkles and dangly bits and bobs.  

Some snowflakes in situ
I also made some FIMO hearts.. I ♥ hearts
This is my favourite new decoration.
I wish I had made my favourite new decoration myself but I bought the wreath from the internet in the summertime and then a few weeks ago I bought some battery powered fairy lights and wove them around the wreath. I love, love, love it, it's been the missing decoration from my life!

This Christmas is so special for my husband and I as it is the first with little Baby R. I am loving every minute of December 2011 (I love the run up to Christmas with Christmas Eve as my favourite day of the whole year), it's just so special because we have Baby R to share it with and really that's all I've ever wanted. Last December I was 8 1/2 months pregnant and the snow was so bad that I couldn't leave the house. Baby R was due on the 27th of December but he decided he was too warm and snug to come out into all that snow so he stayed tucked up like a bug-in-a-rug for an extra 11 days. This year I'm happy and sad all at once, Christmas is tinged with sadness for me because I have to return to work on the 3rd of January. I have to let go of the light of my life and give him over to someone else to look after (Granny 1 day and a lovely lady childminder for 3 days and I have Fridays off on a temporary-to-be-reviewed basis). I think it's the toughest thing I'll ever have to do and I just wish I didn't have to. Then sensible, rational part of me knows that it will be good for both of us as it will help little R to become independent and hopefully to socialise and make wee friends. I was a terribly clingy child, even when I started secondary school I was so anxious, I didn't want to go and "leave my mummy", I wanted to be with her all the time and while this sounds nice it was stressful for me as a child and for my parents to have a child crying every day before going to school so I really don't want baby R to experience this. I want him to be a happy-go-lucky child who enjoys life and new experiences but the emotional, irrational part of me is having her heart torn out and while I know I should be enjoying the time I have left I can't help feeling so sad about what's around the corner. I wish I wasn't so sensitive and could toughen up, I knew this time was coming but it's crept up so fast and in the blink of an eye he'll be sharing his laughter and tears with someone else each day, but I want to be the one to make him giggle and to wipe his tears away. I'll have to settle with wiping my own tears away with an entire box of kleenex 

Oh dear I was so happy at the start of this post because I finally got to share my Christmas decorations and now I'm just so sad. I hope I haven't totally depressed you, somewhere in here I'm still feeling happy-happy-joy-joy I just need to let the sadness out from time to time. Baby R and his Dada are off visiting Santa in Dada's work, I thought it best to stay at home to work on my blog so that we would both get used to being away from each other (it's horrible being so sensible), and from the reports I am getting from his Dada Baby R is handling it much better than me, which was to be expected really. Maybe a hot cup of Lady Grey tea and a dark chocolate hobnob will cheer me up and maybe a cuddle from Luca and Monty. Sorry for my ups and downs over this post I hope you can forgive me.... *crosses fingers and toes*