Eight

The birthdays seem to come in a flurry at this time of the year, hard on the heels of Christmas and New Year.  But, they are welcomed as such a blessing.  Happy, sparkly days in the midst of cold, grey, wet wintriness.

This weekend our sweet boy turned eight.

I can’t believe that the sad wee man who came home to us 7 years ago is now this charming, funny, delightful boy.

Pictures like these still break my heart. He has overcome so many challenges, and still has a way to go.  But whatever he faces, we face together.

And the tricky bits are always overshadowed by the joy and pride we all feel.

Oh, my darling boy.  We are so incredibly lucky to have you in our lives.  The year without you was the hardest every, but I’ll say now what I said then.  You were, and remain, worth the wait.

You are like a permanently lit sparkler, fizzing with light and energy.  Never let anyone dampen that spirit.  Your determination to succeed and competitive spirit will take you to good places.

As will that adorable smile.

Happy birthday, Handsome.  We love you beyond worlds and beyond words.


In a spin

For the last couple of weeks life has been even more chaotic than usual.  Which is the only reason I can think of that I thought it would be a reasonable and sensible thing to put my Boxy sweater on a 400 spin in the washing machine before laying it out to dry.

I know!

I heard that sharp intake of breath!

It was an insane thing to do and this is how it looks today.  It is wearable…I wore it out and about today to check out the fit and nobody pointed and laughed! But it just feels a bit off. So I think the best option will be to cut the bottom off, lose a couple of inches, pick up the stitches and reknit the hem rib.

The only upside is that it’s possibly less likely to droop going forwards.That’s not a good enough upside in my book.

Take it from me…DO NOT put your hand-wash only hand-knits in the washing machine.

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Pigeon Toes

Santa was good to me this year and brought me a lovely new point and click camera.

As my big Canon is back from being repaired, but is hiding somewhere in the sewing room, it is very lovely to have a new camera to quickly snap some pictures of outstanding makes from last year.

2016 turned out to be the year I became the patron saint of unselfish sewing and knitting, although, to be honest, I didn’t make very much at all.  14 finished items, 13 of them made it to the blog, only 3 of the blogged items were for me, and only 1 of those is still in the wardrobe.  That’s the Lemongrass sweater.  I just love this sweater so very much!  Cosy, easy to wear, makes you look like you’ve made an effort even when you haven’t!

The Burda sweater has been donated as I just couldn’t get to grips with the scarf neck and even though that was stitched in place I still felt very exposed in anything other than an upright position.

The Burda trousers are donated to Ma.  I’m going to alter them for her as they’re a much better style and fabric for her than me.

The main focus of the year has been socks.  And I’ve another pair to share with you today.

Same old, same old pattern, but just a lovely combination of colours in the stripes.

Very subdued by Hubby’s standards.  Absolutely perfect by mine!  I may have to match that pale grey/blue colour for a sweater for me.  It’s sublime!

Now, if I could just get the wee monkeys to stand still for some photos, I could show you that occasionally I knit something other than socks!

Project details

Pattern:                             Regia 4 ply sock pattern

Pattern cost:                     Free

Yarn:                                 Sirdar Heart & Sole

Colourway:                      Pigeon Toes

Purchased at:                  Black Sheep Wools

Yarn cost:                         £4.99


9

Our gorgeous girl is 9 today.

When they say that the days are long but the years are short, they aren’t kidding. Tempus fugit indeed!

Darling girl, you are such a blessing to us all.  Yes…you are strong willed, stubborn and opinionated, but in this world you will need all those strengths in spades.  More important though are your kindness, wacky sense of humour, enormous heart and quick mind.

You are our little flamingo in a world of pigeons, and today we celebrate that, and you.

We love you, Button.

To the moon and stars and back…with sprinkles and icing and chocolate on top!


2017

Phewsh…we made it!

I don’t think I’m the last person to be heartbroken over much of what has happened in our world over the past 12 months.  Nor to have breathed a deep sigh of relief as the clocks ticked over into 2017.  It may be naive of me to hope that this year will be kinder, safer and more tolerant of otherness, but I’m happy to embrace that naivety, and the knowledge that hope is a powerful and wondrous thing.

In our little corner of Lancashire, 2016 was pretty momentous too, not all of it in a good way.  The worst thing of the year was Ma’s TIA.  That shook us all up, I can tell you.  But, thankfully, despite still needing to see doctors on a regular basis for a battery of other niggling problems that the wretched thing threw up, she’s very much back to her old self and planning outings and holidays for 2017 with renewed gusto.  In fact, at a small family gathering on New Years Eve to celebrate her birthday, the general consensus of opinion was that we’ve not seen her looking this chilled or healthy for quite some considerable time…including prior to the TIA!

Thankfully we now live only 2 minutes walk away.  Our new home is such a joy!  And I’ve had to eat a smidge of humble pie as I was very resistant to purchasing this style of house. I’d fallen in love with a slightly ramshackle Victorian villa in our town centre.  Sadly it was in need of much repair, quite a bit of it structural, as well as a complete renovation of the interior.  It was the wrong project for us for this chapter of our lives, and it was the right decision to walk away from it and buy this home.

This home needs minimal major work.  The drive is crumbling and is our next big project. We’d love to replace the small and slightly chilly conservatory with a larger, cosier orangery that will grow with the kids from a playroom to a teenage hangout (that can be accessed via the side of the house or the kitchen without disturbing aged parents too much), but this isn’t a necessity.  Taking the jacuzzi out of the en-suite and replacing it with a walk in shower is going to happen, but I can just avoid using that bath for now!  I’m not entirely sure what the previous owner was thinking….it’s sounds like a jet engine when you switch it on, and a boiling pan makes more bubbles!  I may also be eyeing up a new kitchen.

I’m ignoring the overgrown garden that needs a chainsaw and a woodchipper!

It sounds like such a lot, and it will take us a couple of years, but the house is so useable as it stands…this is just stamping our own personality on the place. We have settled here so quickly and I’m convinced part of it is just how much Hubby loved it from the second he walked through the door (which made it super easy for me to settle here too), and partly just how much space we have to live and breathe.

The kids bedrooms are little sanctuaries (and toy free zones for when they need a quiet time out) but they have a playroom stuffed to the gunnels with fun stuff that they love to do.  We have an office and a sewing room and probably 10x more storage than we had before.  As each room comes together and everything finds its place, calm envelopes us more.

Speaking of the sewing room….oh my life….how much stuff do I have!?!?

As box after box of fabric, yarn, patterns, books and God only knows what else have been piled up in there, and then the same number piled again in the garage, The Husband has been giving me the side-eye and muttering mutinously under his breath about justice and big screen TVs.  I honestly don’t have a leg to stand on. Assuring him that come the Zombie Apocalypse we’ll be much better dressed than the cast of Walking Dead isn’t holding much water here.

I feel a cull coming on!

It’s so bad that I think it will take till the end of January to unpack, sort, and organise the lot of it.  That’s not including setting up the Evernote database that I’m craving…that will take forever to scan and tag!

I’m looking forward to it being done.  I miss the creativity and I know I have some lovely fabrics in there waiting to be sewn up, plus new patterns and fabrics that my good friend Liz cheered me with on her return from Oz this week.

It’ll also give me the chance to come back to this neglected corner of the interwebs and catch up with you guys again, and share some of the fun that we have here.

So it seems that despite it’s best efforts we have much to celebrate and be thankful for as we slam the door on 2016 and wish it good riddance.  2017 stretches before us, a blank page holding the promise of love, laughter, fun and adventure.  Sure, there’ll be challenges. We won’t always get this parenting thing right, and there are lots of unknowns for us with the kids.

But we have each other, and the hard-won knowledge of a couple who took a long time to find each other and fought hard for their kids…that love is a powerful thing and the touchstone in all our lives.

Take that 2016!  Here’s looking at you 2017!  It’s going to be fun!


Knitting

Refurbishments continue apace. Being badly let down at the last minute by a plasterer turned into a blessing because the new guy we found is a gem.  He came, he plastered, he hung coving, he went.  He didn’t talk me into a coma, which has been my previous experience of plasterers. Already the house feels more like our home.

At 9am on Monday the decorator arrives.  I have boxes of wallpaper and tins of paint up the wazoo.  I’m starting to feel more than a twinge of excitement.

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I hadn’t realised how much I would miss being able to sew.  At the moment I walk into the room and touch the boxes and twitch to open them and unpack.  The truth is I don’t exactly know what is actually in the boxes.  There are books and patterns and fabrics and notions that have been packed away for the best part of 18 months.  There are supplies for knitting, dressmaking, crafts and embroidery.

Honestly….it’s going to be like a satellite branch of Hobbycraft with a more than a little John Lewis thrown in!

I can’t wait.

But in the meantime the knitting is keeping me sane.

malabrigo_1I wound this beautiful Malabrigo Rios worsted a little while ago, whilst the sun was still shining, but the yarn is perfect for the chill that has settled in these parts.

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I’m knitting the Worsted Boxy sweater from Joji Locatelli.

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You’ll recall her lovely Lemongrass sweater…this is another beautifully written pattern.

Admittedly, there are acres of stocking stitch to work, but this is mindless TV knitting at it’s absolute finest. The Malabrigo makes a wonderfully drapey fabric that will work beautifully with this style, and there is a cute short row shaping at the shoulders that adds a nice detail.

The back is already completed and I’m almost half way up the front.  I can’t wait to have this finished.  It the kind of easy to wear, cosy sweater that I need in my life at the moment.

Whilst I was winding the Malabrigo, I also took the opportunity to wind some wool that had been a gift from my friend Christian last Christmas.

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These beauties are Buachaille by Kate Davies.  I’ve long admired Kate. She is inspirational in how she turned a major illness that would have floored a lesser woman into a catalyst for a new and rewarding life and business.  Her designs are so beautiful and her dedication to Scottish wool and knitterly heritage is exciting to me.

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That said, I’ve not knitted one of her designs yet, which is pretty shabby on my part. These guys are destined to be The Goats of Inversnaid.

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Goats!  On a hat and gauntlets!  What’s not to love?  My friends have the best taste and know me so very well.

So that’s keeping me busy.  I’ve also a little Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran awaiting turning into a quick hat.  All my hats and scarves are currently still in boxes, and I think I may have mentioned that the weather has turned here.  Whilst The Goats will be lovely, they’ll take me a wee while to make and the weather waits for no woman.

The wee man has requested a blue sweater with red stripes, so a quick trip was made to Black Sheep Wools this week for supplies.  I’m not turning my nose up at the kids asking for things to be made for them.

Add in the ball of sock yarn that the Hubby located last week and I think I’m covered until the boxes start being unpacked!

My cameras are currently in the shop as I’ve been having sensor problems with one and managed to bend the prongs on the card reader with another.  But as soon as they’re back I’ve got a cardigan that I made for Miss Button to share and yet another pair of socks that I’d completely forgotten that I’d knitted for the Mr.

Right…the babes are off to bed, there’s a gin and tonic with my name on it waiting to be poured, and The Hubby has a movie all lined up.   There’s also a little more acreage of stocking stitch to be knitted. 😉


Don’t Dilly Dally on the Way!

This is the last pair of socks that I knitted for The Hubby.

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When I say “last” I mean “most recently completed” not “the final pair”.

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Amazingly another ball of sock yarn appeared just as I was knitting the toe of the second sock of this pair.

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Hubby had found it in a box he was unpacking.  I’m feeling the fates conspiring with him to fill the world with hand knitted striped socks.

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I, on the other hand (or foot), have other knitterly plans!

Project details

Pattern:                             Regia 4 ply sock pattern

Pattern cost:                     Free

Yarn:                                 Sirdar Heart & Sole

Colourway:                      Dilly Dally (051)

Purchased at:                  Black Sheep Wools

Yarn cost:                         £4.99

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A heartfelt thank you

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Thank you all for the kind words and good wishes on my last post.  I cannot tell you how much they mean to our family.  We are grateful for your friendship.

Ma is very much better.  We’ve had the all clear on blood clots, so that’s a huge relief.

The plasterer starts work in 3 weeks, closely followed by the decorator.  I need to get my act together and choose a colour scheme for the sewing room!

And Miss B had her best competition yet at the weekend.  She reached the quarter-finals for the Pas De Bas, semi-finals for her Cha-Cha, and placed 5th for her Waltz. That’s her waltzing in the picture above.

Mr B had a shock weekend and didn’t place at all.  It’s caused a bit of a ripple of discussion (not just at our dance school) as to why, but it’s so subjective, and he can’t win them all. Losing graciously is a life skill he’s not quite mastered. We’re working on it!

I’ll be back soon with another finished project.  You’ll be hard pushed to guess what it is.

Or maybe not 😉


Seasons

I’m in a reflective mood so no knitting or sewing to share at the moment.  I’ll be back soon with some new socks to share. 

The seasons have turned and autumn is with us.  This is without question my favourite season. Crisp mornings. Mist. Warm boots.  Cosy sweaters.  A legitimate reason to stay indoors with tea, cake and knitting.  But the best weather for walking in the park before curling up on the sofa.

We are surrounded by trees in our new house so I can stand at the window and watch the leaves falling in a shower of gold, copper, russet and bronze and chase each other up and down the drive and garden on the wings of a chill wind.

It’s something of a melancholy season but one I always embrace.  I always feel most like me at this time of the year.

But the season of our life here has turned too.  Ma had a TIA a few weeks ago. She’s lost sight in one eye, but we are considering ourselves immensely lucky that this is currently the only long term damage. She’s doing well and is at home, knitting and sewing and galavanting around with her friends just like she always did. She has more tests to be done, and the hospital is keeping a close eye on her, but, fingers crossed, other than the eye all is well.

We have also entered a new season with the kids.  As you know they are adopted, but what you probably don’t know is that they had a fairly rough start in life and, as such, are now facing some big challenges; emotionally, physiologically and educationally.  We have spent much of their lives engaged with the medical profession.  First for divergent squints and in-turned feet. For speech and nasal problems. We are currently awaiting ear surgery for the boy.

Now we are lining up tests for a raft of potential diagnoses.  Or non at all.  Imagine a skein of alpaca thats been played with by a basket of kittens.  It’s like trying to untangle that!

It’s unsettling for all of us.  And the system is neither sufficiently resourced nor imbued with any sense of urgency.  This could take us years to fully explore.

It would help if there was any sense that the Educational, Paediatric and Social services operated in anything other than silos.  But it is what it is.  And we are united as a family and with school to push back against the system until we get the children the answers they need.

So as you can imagine it’s pretty busy here.  As the nights draw in I’m drawing up battle plans to get everyone the support they need.  I’m working in the house to build us a safe haven and fortress where everyone has their space, and we can come together with family and friends to eat and play and relax.  Husband is taking the business forward and is securing our future. I’m immeasurably proud of him too. Earlier this week we hit the final marker for our five year plan.  It’s taken us only 2 and half years to do it.  We’re a pretty awesome team and have achieved so much together that neither of us would have managed on our own.

We are squirrels…harvesting our nuts and storing them until they are needed, and building our nest.

Thankfully there is lots of fun stuff happening too.  And though I would probably sell one of the children for a decent nights sleep and a plate of posh pasta, I’m counting our blessings as they considerably outweigh the challenges.

But here are my happiest moments this month.   I’m sorry for the grainy pictures.  I’m not sorry for being the most ridiculously proud and boastful mother in all creation.

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Miss B dancing her way the the quarter finals of the biggest dance competition of the year at the Empress Ballroom at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool.  Last year the Irish teams, who are amazing, swept the board.  This year, they didn’t have it all their own way.  Quarter finals after one year of dancing, against girls who have danced since they could walk (I’m not kidding). It is such a huge achievement it takes my breath away.  Especially from a girl who is falls behind her peers in so many other ways, and who struggles so hard every day to keep focused on the task in hand.

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Shortly after this picture was taken Mr D forgot his routine.  His lovely partner said “don’t worry, I’ll dance around you until you remember”.  So she did.  And he remembered.  And he placed second in the final!  He also placed first in the quickstep.  He was the only boy on the floor leading a partner. Every other boy had a teacher with them.  He’s 7.  He wept with joy when he came first.  I wept with pride. Only a few short years ago he couldn’t walk into a shop without becoming hysterical and terribly distressed.  Now he leads a girl onto a dance floor in front of a crowd of hundreds of people.

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A very emotional pair. He’d just placed first in the quickstep.

Guess how proud I am of them?   My kids are awesome.


Rum Paradise Socks

Ooof!  I had no intention of falling off the edge of the world for another month. There’s a whole lot of life happening here at the moment.

I’ve also been busy getting quotes for all the trades that we need in to help us bring this house to life and make it a home, and happily, the first of those starts work next week.  I’m hopeful that by Christmas I’ll have a big chunk of decorating done and will be in a position to start setting up the sewing room.

Until then, everything is still in boxes so my creativity is limited to knitting. I even had to borrow needle and thread to sew name labels in the kids new uniforms!

And you won’t be surprised to learn that I’ve been knitting socks!

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Wildly coloured, fabulously striped socks!

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They are delightfully gaudy, and very cheery on some of the rainy days we’ve had recently.

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Basically everything The Husband loves in a hand knitted sock.

Project details

Pattern:                             Regia 4 ply sock pattern

Pattern cost:                     Free

Yarn:                                 West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply Cocktail Range 

Colourway:                      Rum Paradise

Yarn cost:                         £7.20

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