Mo’ babies, mo’ knits

Hand knit baby cardigan

The impending pitter patter of baby feet inevitably sends me straight for my knitting needles.

True to form, in late pregnancy, I started on a baby blanket for the littlest. But, in rather typical third baby syndrome, I haven’t actually managed to finish that yet. (Ahem, she is nearly four months old now, so I really need to get cracking.)

When I was a week or so overdue, I became convinced that she wasn’t coming out because she was indignant at my inability to have completed a knit for her, so I put the blanket aside for a bit, and knit a quick grey cardie, that she could wear home from the hospital.

baby cardigan

I followed a pattern I’d not tried out before, the bug warmer, by Tagia Hillard designs. It was a great knit, raglan style, and the end result was a perfect fit for a newborn and super easy to put on for a little winter baby.

I used a light grey Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, which is super soft, lovely to knit, but also machine washable (an absolute essential, as far as I’m concerned, for baby clothes. It’s not just me who always has vomiting babies, right?!) All details, as ever, on Ravelry here: baby bug warmer.

I was so pleased with the result that I knit a second one for my sister-in-law’s new baby, who arrived a month later, in the same type of yarn but this time in dark grey.

I fully intended to pick up the blanket again and finish it, but, erm, that’s still to happen, and instead I moved onto another cardie once the grey one was outgrown. I’d spotted a lovely mustard yellow garter stitch cardigan in John Lewis and was convinced I could knit my own version, but then I struggled to find a decent pattern. In the end, I went for the Iceling cardigan by Carol Feller. It’s not garter stitch throughout, but has a huge garter front and turn ups at the sleeves.

Hand knit baby jumper

Hand knit baby cardigan

My usual sewing-on-a-button-inertia struck once I’d finished the knit, so it sat about for nearly a month while I dithered over button selection, yarn selection (for a button. Yes, I know) and threw in some bog standard procrastination.

Eventually, though, I bit the bullet and sewed the little blighters on, and she has been wearing the cardie non-stop ever since. (That would be a better endorsement, of course, if she was actually old enough to choose her own clothes, ha ha.)

Once again, I went for the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, this time in a glorious mustard yellow. I love the slightly vintage look to the colour, matched with more modern big white chunky buttons.

I went for the six month size, which is a pretty good fit on her at nearly four months, but should have enough stretch in it to keep going for a while. Full details of the knit over on Ravelry: Iceling cardigan.

Hand knit baby cardiganHand knit baby cardigan

And finally, yes, isn’t this is a ridiculous amount of photos to show you one tiny little cardie, but, oh she’s too cute, I couldn’t resist – just look at those squidgy legs! Long-term readers might remember that I never usually share pictures of the kids here, but I’ve realised that they grow out of the baby stage so ridiculously quickly that she’ll probably be completely unrecognisable from these photos in a month or so…

And now, back to the blanket! I am determined to get it finished before winter is officially over…

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New baby; new knitting.

Waffles baby blanket | Wolves in LondonWhen I first started writing this blog, 3.5 years ago, the sproglet was just three months old and none of my siblings had any children.

In the time since, there’s been the arrival of another six babies in our family: my next sister down has had a son and a daughter, my brother a son, and, of course, I’ve had the littlest as well. And last month, my youngest sister had her very first baby, an unbelievably adorable little girl.

This is brilliant for all sorts of reasons. I’ve got lots of lovely nephews and nieces to enjoy, the sprogs have lots of cousins the same age as them for sprogging around with and, on top of all that, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to indulge my love of newborn knitting.

It’s turned into a bit of a tradition that I knit a blanket for the first born in each family (this grey one for my first nephew and this stripy one for my second). So I turned, once again, to that enjoyable pastime of browsing baby blanket patterns on Ravelry.

This time round I went for a solid coloured blanket in a waffle knit pattern. The appropriately named waffles blanket from Tin Can Knits.

Once again, I’m delighted with the finished result. It’s a lovely squishy blanket, that will be really soft and especially good for colder months. And though I do love to knit a lace pattern, I think it’s probably quite good that there are no holes for tiny fingers to get stuck in.

waffles baby blanket: hand knit blanket | Wolves in London

I gave it to my sister a few weeks ago, (erm, yes, quite a bit late, I’m ashamed to say) and she was delighted with it. Honestly, I’m not sure there’s a more pleasing present to give in the world than a hand-knitted item for a newborn.

NB, I’m sorry for the lack of decent photos here. I only finished blocking the blanket the morning of giving it away, so just grabbed a few quick ones while I could…

A few pattern notes for anyone interested in more info…

waffles baby blanket: hand knit blanket | Wolves in London

Pattern: Waffles from Nine months of knitting by Tin Can Knits. Download available for $6.

My Ravelry page is here: new baby blanket.

The pattern was straightforward and simple to follow. No need to re-read the pattern after the first repeat, and an easy, relatively quick knit. I didn’t alter it in any way and just kept going until the blanket looked about the size I was after.

After blocking, it stretched considerably, mostly width-ways, but more lengthways than I had anticipated as well.

Wool: I used a yarn that I’d tried before and knew lasted and washed well. (It’s essential to be able to wash a baby blanket in a washing machine, I think. The chances of it getting fairly frequently covered in either poo or sick are pretty high in those early months.) It’s the cashmerino aran by Debbie Bliss. Not the cheapest, at around £5 for 50g, but a really lovely wool that feels soft and wears well. I used a total of 5.5 skeins, so it cost me just under £30.

The colour is called “peacock” and it’s a lovely rich teal, which I thought was pleasingly gender-neutral when I chose it. Actually, after I’d knitted it up, I thought the blanket looked very blue, but my sister shares my opinions on the ridiculousness of gender stereotyping small babies, so she’s perfectly happy for her baby girl to be encased in a blueish blanket.

Now, what to put on my needles next?

A chunky, earthy toddler jumper

Handknit chunky boys jumper, free pattern
Breadstick: model’s own

Handknit toddler jumper, free pattern

Never has anything I’ve knit been met with such enthusiasm as this chunky green and mustard jumper.

Before I had even got the wool on the needles the sproglet was already endearingly excited about the prospect of a new jumper.

Me: “Sproglet, would you like it if I knitted you a new jumper this winter?”*

Sproglet: [face lights up with look of utter delight and disbelief] “A jumper?! For me?! Wot you would knit me?! Really?!”

Me: [slightly disarmed by enthusiasm] “Erm, yes, shall we choose a pattern together?”

Sproglet: [flings arms around me in joy] “Oh yes please Mummy, that would be brilliant!”

Handknit toddler jumper, free pattern

After such an unexpectedly amazing first response, I thought things could only possibly go downhill from there (you know, with a finished result of a jumper that was absolutely never taken out of the drawer) but every few mornings he would ask to check on my latest knitting and say endearing things like, “Oh Mummy, I love the back!” as I showed him each part.

The finished result was just as appreciated and after he tried it on for the first time (and told me how it was his favourite thing ever) he asked, “Am I really allowed to keep it and wear it?” as if I might have just given him something incredibly precious to touch for a few minutes before whisking it away back to a vault somewhere.

Handknit toddler jumper, free pattern

Now, whenever he is wearing it (which is most days) and someone compliments him on it, he always, but always replies, “My Mummy knitted it for me” with a big proud smile on his face.

Adorable. Unexpected. And utterly adorable.

Anyway, a few notes on the jumper itself for any other knitters out there.

I followed the Nantasket pattern by Berocco, which is free and available here on Ravelry. I’m also pretty pleased with the end result: the stitch pattern on the torso looks fabulous, it’s a (fairly) good fit and looks really lovely and like one of those handknits that you could have potentially bought from a very expensive shop (rather than the kind of handknits that you might have bought for 30p from a charity shop because someone’s Granny made it for them in the 80s, badly, and they never wanted to wear it. I have made a few of those in my early knitting days…)

However, though I was pleased with the jumper once finished, I did have a few issues with the pattern.

Firstly, it is by far the vaguest knitting pattern I have ever read. It includes such useful instructions as, for example, “purl the next row, decrease by 28 stitches”, with no indication of where to make the decreases. Which meant I spent ages trying to work out how frequently to purl stitches together in order to make an even decrease from 77 to 49 stitches.

Overall, I spent quite a lot of time figuring out exactly how obey the instructions in the pattern, when I would have much preferred everything to be written out properly for me. But then, that’s what you get with a free pattern I guess…

Handknit toddler jumper, free pattern

Handknit toddler jumper, free pattern

The arms also came up very skinny – I had to frog the first one and re-knit because it just looked like there was no way I could get them round a toddler’s actual arms, and a skinny toddler at that.

And the neckline is pretty tight, though that could well be a problem with my casting off too tightly.

Other than that, I followed the pattern pretty much exactly, though I made the ribbing at the waist, arms and neck a contrasting yellow, which looks rather brilliant (she says, humbly).

Back of a handknit jumper, free patternHandknit toddler jumper, free pattern

As for the yarn, that is absolutely stunning, soft and delicious. It’s Wendy Aspire Chunky, which is 80% pure wool and 20% alpaca and you can really feel it. It’s knitted up thick and soft and made the perfect cold weather jumper. The colours are rich and earthy (they haven’t come out as nicely in the photos as they actually look in real life). But it is very prone to pilling – most of these photos are from the second wear and you can see the little bobbles covering it already. Not the end of the world, but it does mean I spend a lot of time trying to get rid of them…

I’ve gone into even more detail about the exact changes I made to knit the jumper over on Ravelry, so if you want even more details then head over there: Nantasket jumper

Now, I have a hat to complete that I promised someone before Christmas and then I think I’m going to try out a blanket from We Are Knitters to go with our new sofa.

Knit, knit, knit, knit, knit, knit…

Are you working on anything nice at the moment?

* No, you’re right, I don’t actually call him that to his face…

A green, green Valentines: 5 DIY presents for plant lovers

5 Valentine's Day DIYs perfect for plant lovers | Wolves in LondonHoly moley, the year suddenly seems to be flying by and we’re into February already. And the start of Feb can mean but one thing: the imminent arrival of Valentine’s Day, that gigantic commercial event to make you part with lots of cash.

I’m not normally a big fan of celebrating Valentine’s (could you have already guessed that?!) but I do love a small, thoughtful, ideally handmade gesture and if there are plants involved, why, all the better!

So I bring you my five favourite plant-related tutorials / ideas for Valentine’s Day.

My hubby is not such a plant lover as I am (read: has no interest in plants whatsoever) but if you have a green-fingered lover in your life, these would go down a treat.

  1. Talking cacti, from Look What I Made

5 Valentine's DIYs for plant lovers
© Look What I Made

Long-term readers might recall my very own cactus saga, but these little cuties are almost enough to win me back round to the spiky beasts.

Because, you know, who wouldn’t want a talking plant? You can see a full tutorial here: DIY plant speech bubbles.

 2. A teacup sweetheart plant, by Joy of Plants

5 Valentine's DIYs for plant lovers
© thejoyofplants

I was first alerted to this adorable heart shaped plant by Gardenista about a year ago and I’ve since seen it popping up all over the place.

Hoya kerrii, to give it its proper Latin name, is festooned with heart-shaped leaves. As it’s easy to propagate, you can take an individual leaf and plant it wherever you want. In this case, on the joyofplants website, in a mug to go with your breakfast in bed.

3. String of hearts plant (model’s own)

5 Valentine's DIYs for plant loversOh, I know, I’m completely obsessed with my string of hearts plant, but… …just look at it!

I don’t think you’d need to do much more than tie a bow around a pot of one of these to make a really glorious present.

You can see a few more pictures of mine on my first Urban Jungle Bloggers article, plants and art.

4. A heart-shaped garden pond

5 DIY Valentine's for plant lovers
© Baron’s Palace Hotel

Lovely readers, if any of you have been burning with unrequited love for me recently and are looking for a way to show me that you care then may I eagerly suggest creating one of these amazing carved stone ponds?!

I suspect only a professional stonecarver could whip one of these up in time for the 14th but, my goodness, wouldn’t this just be amazing out in a garden? I love the idea of it filling up with rainwater after a heavy downpour.

I found this on Pinterest and spent ages trying to trace its original source. I *think* that it is from the Baron’s Palace Hotel in Oudtshoorn, South Africa. A place that was, according to its website, built by a wealthy “ostrich baron” at “the turn of the century” (by which, I assume, it means 19th to 20th and not just 16 years ago. Though I might be wrong…) Anyway, the image seems to come from this Facebook post. And I am now dreaming of taking a trip to the Karoo, a place I barely knew about before, and watching some kind of ostrich-based sport like this. The wonders of the internet, eh?!

5. My life would succ without you, by See Kate Sew

5 Valentine's DIYs for plant lovers
© See Kate Sew

Ah, succulents, what celebration would be complete without them? And I love a pun almost as much as I love a succulent, so this could well be the perfect gift in my eyes…

The tutorial comes with a free printable for the cute labels too, check it out here: See Kate Sew.

Now, tell me, do you have plans for Valentine’s Day this year? Oh, and if you’re in the mood for a non-plant-related DIY, then do check out my top 10 Valentine’s tutorials as well…

 

The annual Christmas blog post

Just popping in very quickly this Christmas Eve to wish you a wonderfully happy Christmas and an excellent start to 2016 and to share a few pics with you of the merry-making that’s been going on around here.

The Christmas bug was late to bite this year and so, unlike past years where I set myself the impossible task to craft my way to some sort of Christmas nirvana (if you’ll excuse the mixed religions that would involve), I did very little until December 23rd.

Homemade wreathHomemade wreath

First of all, I put our wreath up, a gorgeous creation made by my mother-in-law and niece, of foraged ivy and fir trees (and because I have something of a dried orange peel mania going on this year, I couldn’t resist adding a few of those as well). Excuse the fact you can only see a small part of the wreath, but I couldn’t bare to show you our really ugly front door. A new (old) one has been ordered for January and I can’t wait to get rid of this 1960s dark-brown-stain monstrosity.

Homemade gingerbread house

But mostly, yesterday was a flurry of cooking and baking: I pre-cook everything except the turkey, which saves Christmas day peeling and chopping and so on. I remember, as a child, feeling rather put out that I had to help peel sprouts or chop carrots on Christmas morning! Christmas morning, I ask you, which should surely be reserved for opening presents and eating chocolate and nothing else…

Ridiculous though that may be, I now always try and cook everything that I possibly can ahead of time.

It was our first year of making a gingerbread house and I was pretty pleased with the results. Definitely one to be repeated in future years…

brown paper wrapped presents

Presents were wrapped, in a decorous and tasteful manner that I think is obligatory for all bloggers these days. Yawn, yawn, yet more brown paper and string and random bits of foliage stuck on. Actually, I was busy snipping away the rosemary from the fridge, when I remembered it was meant to be saved for the gravy, so I had to restrain myself to a spare sprig per parcel.

Paper chains

What else? Hmmm, oh I stuck some sprigs of ivy around the place and got our spare room all ready for my Mum’s arrival later on today. And this morning, the four of us made a paper chain: the hubby cutting the paper strips, the sproglet punching the holly shapes and me stapling it together. While we all simultaneously read a book to the littlest to keep him entertained…

Now, we’re heading out to my sister’s for a Christmas Eve family lunch, with my Mum, all three of my siblings, their respective spouses and three nieces and nephews. It promises to be a noisy, boisterous, booze-filled do, if previous years are anything to go by. Whatever you’re up to, today and tomorrow, I hope you have a wonderful time. Thank you so much for reading here in 2015 I’ll be back in the New Year with more of the same!

Huge kisses and hugs,

Sabrina xxx

Awesome finds at Renegade Craft Fair

Vases by Justine Free

The trouble with attending craft fairs, I find, is you go with every intention to buy hundreds of presents for other people but as soon as you get there you want all the things for yourself.

Just me? Ah.

I don’t go to nearly as many as I used to, due to a combo of having to drag little sproglets with me these days and a far higher density of that sort of event in Hackney where I used to live, compared to here in East Dulwich.

So Saturday’s trip to the Renegade Craft Fair in the Old Truman Brewery was a special effort but oh-so worth it.

I thought I’d share a few of my favourite finds with you in case you’re on the hunt for presents for yourself early Christmas presents too.

(By the way, excuse the slightly crappy pictures — I took most of them on my phone with no decent light.)

Justine Free ceramics

Firstly, my hands down favourite in the room, were these amazing ceramics by Justine Free. I persuaded the hubby to buy me these three single stem vases for Christmas. After photographing them to show you, I’ve had to wrap them back in the bubble wrap and put them away again til December. Still, something very much to look forward to then!

They’re unbelievably tactile, just begging to be picked up. I’m not sure if I will be able to put flowers in them for that reason, or just have them empty on an accessible shelf somewhere in a nice cluster.

Website: www.justinefreeceramics.tumblr.com; instagram: @justinefree

Animal alphabet

Animal counting by Katie Viggers

B for bears by Katie ViggersWe got these two illustrated animal alphabet / counting books by Katie Viggers. The intention is to give them as a present to someone else’s children… …but I suspect they might just stay with our kids, they’re so blooming lovely.

If you like them, they’re also available as prints and cards. Gorgeous.

Website: www.eightbear.co.uk; instagram: eightbear

Here be monsters

And I couldn’t resist this “Here be monsters” tea towel by Woah there Pickle. At £9.50, I have to confess I don’t think I could ever skank it up by doing the dishes, so instead I plan to frame it for the kids bedroom.

Website: www.woahtherepickle.co.uk; instagram: @woah_there_pickle

Grain and Knot chopping board

Grain and Knot chopping board

I’ve spent the best part of the last few years yearning to head off to the hills and whittle spoons, so I couldn’t pass up on the stall of Sophie Sellu, Grain & Knot, which was stuffed full with spoons and other wooden delights. I bought my sister this beautiful beech chopping board for her birthday.

Just getting the website details now, I’ve seen she also runs workshops in London. I shall be off to learn a new skill pronto!

Website: Grain & Knot; instagram: @grainandknot

London print

I also bought my sister’s birthday card, this stunningly intricate print by The City Works. We’d run out of money by the time we reached his stall, so I could only afford a couple of cards, but I’ve since bought the brilliant colouring-in poster for the sproglet online.

Website: the-city-works.com; instagram: @thecityworks

Monti by Monti stall at Renegade Craft Fair

Monti by Monti also blew me away – geometric shaped plant stands in simple glass and black frames, that you can hang directly onto the wall. I picked up a few air plants at the RHS Frost Fair the weekend before and I now have the distinct feeling that they absolutely must live inside one of these very, very soon.

Instagram: @montibymonti

Verdantica collage

For a while, a year or so ago, I decided that I wanted to photograph every tutorial for this blog with a tiny person in each photo. Assisting, if you will. (I never saw through on it, because I tend to only actually execute about one in every 500 ideas I have…)

So, I fell head over heels in love with Verdantica’s stall; a selection of little people in scenes inside salt and pepper shakers, compact mirrors or jars. My photos above aren’t very good, but this was seriously one of the very best things I’ve seen in ages, do go to the website to see some much better photos and get an idea of just how awesome they were.

Website: verdantica.co.uk; instagram: @verdantica

Business cards from Renegade Craft Fair

Then there were other stalls that I loved but didn’t photograph and had run out of money to buy anything from, so just had to satisfy myself by taking their business cards. Here are a few more places to visit, if you’re inclined:

Geo-fleur have a range of amazing succulents, cacti and air plants, along with some lovely concrete pots and macramé plant hangers. (I have to confess, I’m not buying into the macramé trend because I am just (just!) old enough to remember it from the first time round…) The plants and pots, though, I love. There are also some Japanese hanging moss ball planters, called kokedama – a trend I am 100% into. I meant to pick something up from the stall (I had actually been insta-stalking them for a while before the fair) but the wallet was dry by the time I got there. I think I’ll have to go and visit their shop in Walthamstow sometime soon instead…

Website: www.geo-fleur.com; instagram: @geo_fleur

Cactus Club had a brilliant cactus print that I would have bought had I not been busy arguing its merits with the husband over a whale print that he preferred. In the end, we just had to wander off…

Website: cactusclubpaper.com; instagram: @cactusclubpaper

Sarah K. Benning does “contemporary embroidery” for which read the BEST ever embroidered samplers of plants. (See the top right card in the photo above.) I would have insisted on buying one of these, but I had a feeling my husband was remembering the name for another time and I might be surprised with one in future…

Instagram: @sarahkbenning

Hazel Adams business card

I really loved the insect illustrations by Hazel Adams. The hubby’s birthday is in a few weeks and he is a serious insectophile, so I think I might have to buy him one.

Website: www.hazeladams.com

Finally, Pygmy Cloud had some utterly irresistible bear and mountain cushions, as well as lots of beautiful wooden cloud shapes. I think the sproglets will probably be finding one of the bears in their stocking each. Father Christmas has excellent taste, doesn’t he?

Online shop: pygmycloud.com/shop; instagram: @pygmycloud

So, yes, ha! If you’ve got similar tastes to me then I apologise (somewhat) for this deluge of amazingness tugging at your wallet strings. Roll on December, so I can start spending without guilt!

Dresses for girls: homemade baby presents

A momentous event occurred a few weeks ago. My sister gave birth to a baby girl.

Of course, every birth is pretty momentous — a life is begun where before there wasn’t one — but this was especially astounding as the baby was the first of her generation to not be a boy

Homemade baby present, Liberty print dress and bloomers | Wolves in LondonBetween me and my siblings, we’ve so far produced five boys, so the arrival of a little girl into the mix is most exciting.

Also exciting for me was the chance to make some cute little dresses and bloomers. I love my boys (of course, it hardly needs saying) but if there is one thing I miss not having a girl, it’s the chance to sew tiny girl clothes with beautiful Liberty fabrics.

But that chance I now have!

The sewing machine was retrieved from the attic, dusted off and I got to work.

I made two matching sets, both from the same patterns and, sigh, just look, aren’t they sweet?

Homesewn Liberty baby dress and bloomers | Wolves in LondonThe dress is from the Purl Bee tiny triangle dress pattern. It’s a straightforward, though slightly fiddly sew, I found. Ironing 1/4 inch seams onto every edge was a little bit of a faff and I got a bit bored of trying to endlessly measure them to make sure they were straight, so, well, some of them ended up a tiny bit not straight.

Do any more regular sewers have any tips for good ways of going about that?

Liberty print Purl Bee tiny triangle dress | Wolves in LondonAnyway, other than that, it was very simple to put together and the end result looks lovely. I think my only criticism is that, in the wearing though not so much in the photos, the triangle shape is actually a little bit too extreme — it really does stick right out at the sides. This would probably be fine on a standing-up toddler, but on babies who spend their time lying or sitting, then there’s a little bit too much material in the way.

Liberty print bloomers | Wolves in LondonBloomer cuffThe bloomers are made from a free pattern by Sewing Mama RaeAnna on Craftsy and I was utterly, completely delighted with these. They look way more complicated than they were to make, just using some elastic round the waist and legs to get that cute gathering, and I sewed them up in no time. If I ever have another summer baby (boy or girl) I will definitely be making loads of these as nappy covers as they are seriously adorable.
Green Liberty bloomers | Wolves in LondonThe fabric for both is a Liberty tana lawn*. The designs are called Capel L (the green flowery one) and Lola Weisselberg (the purple, more ornate pattern). The first is available on the Liberty website, though I can’t find the second. I have to confess, I bought both from eBay.

To go with the dresses I had to – of course – make some personalised babygrows using my go-to fabric transfer paper method. I made her older brother a set of printed babygrows when he was born (you can see them here: a very important arrival) and I wanted her to have some of her own as well.

(Please excuse the rather crappy photos, I always have difficulty photographing these: invariably, parts of the babygrow are blown out, while the background looks grey and under-exposed. Three years of making these and I still can’t take a decent photo of them…)

Anteater babygrow homemade | Wolves in LondonTulip babygrow | Wolves in LondonA is for... babygrow | Wolves in LondonThe tulips are a Graphics Fairy image; I just couldn’t resist using some more flowers since I rarely have the chance to put lots of flowers onto my boys clothes. (Not that the sproglets don’t love them, actually, so maybe I should break away from all the gender stereotyping.) The As because her name starts with A. The anteater is from an amazing vintage alphabet I first found years ago, but use at every possible opportunity I get. The French A is from a new discovery: a partial vintage alphabet, also free from copyright.

And that’s the complete set: a load of teeny, tiny, flowery little girl clothes. I’m already planning what to make her for Christmas…

*I realised as I wrote this that I didn’t actually have a clue what “tana lawn” meant, so I have just Googled it to find out that the Tana is for Lake Tana in East Africa where the original cotton grew, and “lawn” is used to describe a fabric made with high count yarns; the Liberty tana lawn is made “without the use of crease-resisting chemicals or irritating allergens, the result is a famous masterpiece of fabric technology: fine, cool, comfortable and durable, with brilliant reproduction of colours and prints.” Which all sounds wonderful, but does explain why I found the fabric creased a lot as I sewed it and I had to constantly iron it out. Not really an ideal quality for an item of baby clothing it has to be said. I did also find, as a very amateur sewer, that the slightly silky quality to the fabric made it a little trickier to sew. But will no doubt be lovely to wear…

Turning one

We’re just back from a lovely week in Somerset and I’ve got lots of photos I want to share with you of some of the beautiful places we visited. However, since I think I would need to change this blog’s name to Gardens wot I have visited if I were to follow on with yet another garden visit post, I’ll save them up for next week. This, instead, is something I found sitting in my drafts, written a month ago when it actually had just been the littlest’s birthday and then left as I had wanted to get some better pictures. I think it’s time to admit defeat on that front and just publish it…

Just popping in rather quickly to share a photo of the T-shirt I made for the littlest’s first birthday at the weekend.

 

Homemade birthday top
Oh glorious baby chubbiness!

I’m thinking of turning it into a bit of a tradition, this birthday T-shirt thing. Do you remember the top I made for the sproglet’s second birthday last July?

Needless to say, far less time, thought, planning and energy went into the making of this one for the poor old baby. Where the sproglet had a large, well-planned and well-cooked-for first birthday party, last Saturday’s affair was a family only, last-minute organised do, catered by a quick trip to Waitrose to pick up sausages, scotch eggs and the like. We managed to make him a cake, at least, but forgot to buy candles.

Homemade birthday t-shirt
Crumpled and creased, post-action

And as the first guest arrived – my Mum – I was still busy ironing the image onto the front of his birthday T-shirt, cobbled together in the last few minutes before the party officially started.

Ah well, I rather suspect this will be his lot for the rest of his childhood. Hand-me-downs and less fuss made over all the big milestones. I wonder if it might not be a much easier entrance to the world, though, always aware that you’re not actually at the very centre of it, making it all spin round. At some point in time, his elder brother, the sprog, might get a rather rude awakening to all that, after the constant adoration and amazement from his family.

Gorgeous boys, both, in their different ways. I’m very lucky.

PS, I should mention that the image I’ve used isn’t actually copyright free and good for reproduction, so, erm, don’t tell on me. In a bit of a rush, rather than use my normal vintage images sources, I just had a very quick Google.

PPS, If you’ve not already seen it and want to make your own T-shirts (or anything else at all), check out my tutorial for how to print on fabric.

Finally finished: a toddler cardie

Oh, the sun, the sun of the past few days!

Can it really signal an end to this interminable winter at last? I am keeping all fingers and toes crossed that it is so.

Wonder years homeknit cardiganHandknit cardiganAnd so, with the appearance of some warmer weather, it is, naturally, perfect timing for me to actually finish the cardigan I first started knitting the sproglet in October. You know, to keep him warm in the winter months.

Luckily, he hasn’t had any sort of growth spurt recently so, despite the insanely slow pace of knitting (there was a two months hiatus, at one point, because I simply couldn’t be bothered to decide where the buttons needed to go before knitting the buttonholes) the cardigan still just about fits him.

Wonder years handknit cardiganWonder years cardiganOverall, I’m pretty chuffed with it — except for the middle button placement which isn’t exactly centred, but I’m sure the sprog is never likely to notice that.

The pattern is called the Wonder Years toddler cardigan, by Elizabeth Smith, found through Ravelry (of course) and downloadable for $5.50(US). I thought it was a pretty good pattern, very clear to follow, and the only alteration I made was to add a little bit of length (in an attempt to make up for the slow knitting time vs growth of small child). You can see my Ravelry notes here, if you’re interested: toddler cardigan.

Handknit cardigan, Wonder Years patternWhen I finally got round to sewing the buttons on (after another month long hiatus following actually completing the knitting) I gave it to the sprog to put on.

“Oh Mummy, I yike it, I yike it berry berry much,” he said to me.

And I wondered why on earth I hadn’t just got a wriggle on and finished it sooner.

As gratitude goes, it really couldn’t have got much better.

Incidentally, the “in wear” photos here, showing action shots of Driving-a-Car and Playing-with-Nail-Clippers-that-are-only-a-little-bit-Dangerous are because saying, “please stand still while I photograph you wearing your new cardigan” no longer cuts the mustard these days.

Joining up with Yarn Along

7 uses for old socks

Happy 2015 all!

Well, I’ve not written any resolutions yet (or my yearly ideas of things I could…), I’ve not cleaned the house for the new year, or put away the Christmas decorations or even written a list (and I am a big list writer)…

But I did clear out the sock drawer this morning. Whoop whoop.

I freed about 20 old pair-less or holey socks from the confines of the chest of drawers and then wondered what on earth to do with them all.

A quick Google later and I have some great suggestions.

7 great uses for old socks: a round-up of some of the best recycling ideas for socks from Wolves in London

For once I haven’t rushed out to start a Pinterest board (it felt like a slightly esoteric topic, even for my great love of Pinteresting absolutely everything) but I thought I’d share a few of my faves with you. Because, surely, clearing out a sock drawer is everyone’s idea of a good new year habit, isn’t it?

1. A sock puppet

Sock puppet giraffe
© Craft Jr

Oh yes, you hardly need me to tell you this, I know, it’s so blinking obvious that you can make a puppet. But I just had to share this adorable giraffe with you from Craft Jr. Because, really, this isn’t any ordinary sock puppet, is it, this is more of a work of genius… Check out the full tutorial.

The thing I love best about this (well, apart from the extreme cuteness of the giraffe) is that it uses a pretty boring sock to start with. And, believe you me, with a lawyer husband, we have a lot of pretty boring socks in the house.

2. Sock monkey

Sock Monkey
© Craft Passion

Of course, there’s the good old sock monkey. You couldn’t do this with a sock with holes in, but it could be a good plan for a sock whose partner has been swallowed by the washing machine…

There’s a free tutorial and pattern on Craftpassion.com

 3. Sock hobbyhorse

Hobbyhorse made of a sock | Wolves in London
© Mummo

If you’ve got a particularly large, woolly holeless sock, then take inspiration from these amazing sock hobbyhorses, found (via Pinterest) on Mummo.

I think these are actually for sale, so there’s no tutorial, but with a bit of wool, a stick and some basic sewing skills, I think I could probably figure out my own version of this.

4. Sock sloths

Sock sloth | Wolves in London
© Lauren at Cut Out + Keep

Need I say more?! Sock sloths. Oh my goodness, just look at him!

There’s something of a sloth obsession in our house; we spend a lot of time watching Youtube videos of squeaking sloths. (Search for “sloth squeak” if that sounds like your cup of tea…) But my, oh my, it never in a million years occurred to me to try and craft one from an old sock.

I’m adding this one to the list of things to make for the sproglet’s next birthday. (It’s in July so there is plenty of time still to make one forget all about it…)

Full instructions at Cut Out + Keep by Lauren.

5. Sock snakes

snake
© Craft Foxes

To be honest, I could go on forever with cute stuffed animals made from socks, but I’m going to resist adding any more after showing you this last one. Surely the easiest sock creature ever to make: a stuffed snake.

There’s a full tutorial over on Craft Foxes, which claims it’s so easy a four-year-old can do it. Not having a four-year-old myself, I can’t verify this information, but I can say it certainly looks easy enough that I could make it even when weary and bleary-eyed with sleep deprivation after a night of combined baby teething and toddler nightmares. (Which is basically most of my days, at the moment.)

So this one is going straight to the top of the sock recycling to do list.

6. A “hard to reach places cleaner”

Sock cleaner | Wolves in London
© Wikihow

I nicked this idea from the insanely long list of ways to recycle socks on wikihow.

Tape the sock onto a long stick (or ruler) and use it to clean under sofas, cupboards and so on. Now, let’s face it, this is by far the least cute and attractive idea I’ve included here, but it is also, without doubt, the only one that I am sure I will definitely, definitely actually get round to doing.

7. Sock blanket

Sock blanket | Wolves in London
The greatest thing ever made from socks?!

This is perhaps my favourite idea of all: a sock blanket (or quilt, really…) Head over to the Flickr picture to find out all the details of how it is made, but apparently these argyle socks were first turned into scarves, which were then all knitted together to make this amazing-looking blanket.

This, my friends, is “upcycling” at its finest!

If my socks make it into some impressive new form, I will be sure to share some pics and info with you. (Well, not of the sock cleaner, I’m not convinced I could spin a bit of cleaning hard-to-reach-places into a fascinating blog post with scintillating photos, no matter how hard I tried…) And if you’ve seen or made anything else with old socks that I need to know about, please do drop me a comment below…