Tag Archives: life in a Northern town

Steampunked sewing

The sewing room is ready to reveal.  The last boxes were unpacked a couple of weeks ago. All the fabric has been sorted, measured and catalogued.  All paper patterns have been scanned to Evernote ready for tagging, and then packed into easily accessible boxes.  Even the new blinds have been fitted.  I just need a bin, an ironing board and iron specifically for that room, and a full length mirror.

As the first thing I’m going to be making is curtains, and I’ve got all of the missing items in other parts of the house, I’d say I’m good to go!

I need to take some photos so I can share with you, but till then I’ve got quick snaps of a lovely sewing room warming present the husband bought me last week from Pipecreative in Hebden Bridge.

I’m sure the vintage sewing machine purists will be up in arms about this but I absolutely adore it!

A Steampunked sewing machine.  A Jones, no less.  It couldn’t be more appropriate!

The owner was highly amused that he was selling a Jones sewing machine lamp to Mrs Jones to go in her sewing room.  He didn’t believe us at first, and double checked the Mister’s bank card when taking payment.

It’s totally bonkers in the best possible way.

Sitting proudly on the windowsill to the side of my sewing table, it’s straight in your eyeline as you enter the sewing room. It makes me smile every time I walk in there.

My hubby buys the absolute best presents.  I’m one very lucky lady!


Life in a northern town – March 2017

Hello my lovelies.

I had a wee window of time where I should be doing other stuff but, quite frankly, can’t be arsed.

I’ve had a lovely morning skiving off with my friend Julia at my favourite cafe, No 15 in Penwortham.  Julia is wise and witty and should be available on the NHS to cheer all who need it.  She’d save them millions.  With avo and poached eggs on toast and a couple of good cups of coffee, it was the perfect end to the week, even if she had to dash off to get her Louie cat to the vets.

Life here is a full as ever.  The hubby is still working every hour god sends.  The kids are dancing 3 nights a week and we’re about to put an advert out for a partner for our wee man.  Much as I’d love them to dance together, my blood pressure really can’t stand it. The pinch and stomp and whinge and whine and it’s just not worth it. Maybe in a couple of years, but not right now.

I’m on the home stretch with the current studies.  I’ve an exam next week and then two more modules and I’m done for this year.   The jury is out whether I’ll do next year.  Which is actually an 18 month course.  I may bunk off and do something fun like a photography course or a couple of weeks of sewing in London (subject to being able to figure out a solution to childcare other than locking them in a cupboard.  Apparently social services frown on that.  Odd! 😉 )

I have much to share with you but it is so grey here that I struggle to get enough light for decent photos.  But…spring is coming, and then I’ll catch up.

There are knits, almost a quilt, and….drumroll….the sewing room.  As soon as I’ve finished the binding on this quilt that Ma made, I can finally, finally go into the sewing room and get to it.  First up is blinds.  Preferably before the clocks change.

I can make 4 roman blinds in 3 weeks, right? (cue hysterical laughter).

I’ve got a review for a great Craftsy course on the topic of curtain making.  So much to share.

But for now, I can share some super good news.  Some of the best.  As you know we’re having rafts of tests and meetings with various medical and educational peeps to try to get to the bottom of some challenges our wee monsters are up against.  Last night we learned that the boy definitely doesn’t have ADD or ADHD and we’re 95% sure he’s not on the autistic spectrum.  We’ll have final confirmation on that within about a month. We are narrowing the field and it feels good.  Once we hit upon an answer it informs the support strategies we can put in place for them.  This also speeds things up for him as the Autistic Spectrum Pathway (the route to a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder) is currently are 49 week waiting list in our area.  Which is shameful.

So, on that happy note I’m off to pin the final stretch of binding so I can spend a happy evening stitching with wine tonight.

Have a great weekend full of the fun things you love to do.


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.


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.

sewing_room_before

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.

malabrigo_2

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

worsted-boxy

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.

buchaille_1

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.

buachaille_2

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.

goats1

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. 😉


A heartfelt thank you

summer_kirkby_oct_2016

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.

summer_blackpool_2016

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.

d_blacpool_oct_2016_edited-1

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.

sd_blackpool_oct_2016

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

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


Hand made frocks and new houses

I just wanted to say a big thank you to all who have commented on the last couple of posts.

I read your comments to Miss B and she was so genuinely touched by the kindness of your words that it filled my heart with joy.  You guys are the best and have done such a Very Good Thing for one small girl.

flamingo_8

I am eternally grateful.

Thanks also for your kind words about the new house.  We’ve been here just over a week and it feels like home.  We have so much more space to breathe, and the proximity to family and the park for walks and play has improved our quality of life no end.

As soon as my trades are available the work begins on making it home.  I need plug sockets and coving (crown moulding) before I can start to decorate.  Some of the decorating will be done by the decorator but I’ll be doing some of it myself.

If I can get the sewing room and office decorated and unpacked, that’s the worst of it done. I also need the sewing room ready so I can get to work on the blinds and curtains we need for each room.   So. Many. Blinds!

This is what the sewing room looks like today!

sewing_room_before_edited-1

The wallpaper is depressing, and we’ve lots of stuff that needs to go to other rooms, but….it’s going to be AWESOME!

Wood floors, view over the front garden and masses of space.  I’ll have a table for my sewing machines, a custom height cutting table and plenty of storage for all my patterns, books, notions and fabric.

Fingers crossed I can get to it fairly quickly once the kids go back to school in September. Until then we are just chillin’ and enjoying usually lovely weather for this part of the world.

 


Home sweet home

Woodlands

After a years of searching, 2 failed house purchases, and over 4 months of wrangling on this purchase, we are, finally, in our new home.

We have a lot to do, and I’m going to have fun making this place into a wonderful home for our family.

For now…I’ve a million boxes to unpack and an awful lot of cleaning to do!  Not cool, but worth it.

Thanks to everyone for your kind wishes over the past few weeks, and to the grandparents for wrangling two very excited small peeps over the removal weekend.

This quick and blurry snap was taken on Sunday evening whilst we walked the short path from our front door to our favourite park.  If a picture tells a thousand words, this is why we moved.

parklife

Oh….and a separate sewing room 😉


Life in a northern town – July 2016, part 2

Today is the first day of the summer holidays.  We’ve had a slow start to the day. The kids are having a water fight in the garden.  We’re still alive at lunchtime.  It bodes well for the rest of the holidays.

Two weeks today, with a bit of luck and nobody playing silly buggers at the last minute, we will be moving house.  Even though we’re having the place professionally packed for us, there still seems so much to do.  I tidied away my sewing machine last night.  I’m not entirely sure if it will come out again in this house, and just how quickly I’ll get it unpacked in the new house.

Number 2 makes me ever so slightly anxious.

But I will have a lovely and spacious sewing room in the new house so it will be worth a little while without sewing.

Won’t it????

I will get some lovely photos of George soon and share them with you.  But till then, this little face will have to do!

george_day1

We weren’t planning on getting a new puppy until after the school holidays.

Sometimes it’s good just to throw the plan out of the window!

We had a dance competition for The Boy at the weekend.  Note to self, when travelling over an hour from home to the competition venue at 7am in the morning…it really helps to pack his dance shoes!

Number 9 is Reason 876 why I love The Husband. He drove back home to collect the dance shoes.

The Boy won.  Again.  First place for quickstep and for jive in the 6-7 year old age group.

With his lovely dance partner

With his lovely dance partner for the day.

I may be ever-so-slightly ridiculously proud of him.

His success may have prompted his sister (who is equally talented as a dancer but decidedly more work shy) to up her game.

I’ll leave you with my current favourite pictures of my wee man.  I’ll be beating the girls away with a stick in a few years!

huddersfield_july_2016_edited-2

huddersfield_july2016_3_edited-1