Tag Archives: life in a Northern town

DIY Dancewear – Jalie 2803 stretch pants and Jalie 2802 stretch bodyshirt

So…if you follow me on Insta you’ll have seen me sewing up dancewear for my wee fella!

He’s recently partnered up with the lovely Lola (whom you may recognise from Baby Ballroom) and they meet up twice a week for practice sessions, and will be hitting the competition floor very soon.

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The Post Adoption Support Hub

In a break from normal crafty posts , I’ve got a tale to tell that explains the radio silence  around here in recent times.

Last autumn I was invited to a group meeting for adoptive parents, and, against my better judgement, decided to attend.   I had a feeling that it would all be a bit too “hug a tree” for my taste, but the inviter assured me all would be well.

Right up until I got out of my car in the Starbucks car park, I was ready to go home.  But that would have been rude, so I went in, got a large coffee and joined the group of other ladies, none of whom I’d met before.

This is one of those life lessons about how your future can turn on something as simple as walking through the door at Starbucks.  And I should know by now that these things happen, because it was under similar circumstances that I met Dave, and look how that turned out.

The ladies around the table were lovely, and we still have monthly meetups, just to remind ourself that we’re not alone with our quite specific parenting challenges.  But about 20 minutes in, a latecomer pulled up a seat and joined us.  And this is where things take a turn.

I’m sure we knew each other in a past life.  I have other friends like that.  It’s weird, but cool.  And we kept meeting up for coffee, then lunch.  All the time laughing and swapping notes about things we did or didn’t know about the resources and support our children need.   And just how hard it is to find those resources, because often you don’t even know what you’re looking for until you find it!

And over coffee one day, back in Starbucks, we were bemoaning that fact that this information is sooooooo hard to find, and that it should be easier, and all in one place, and somebody should build a website……..

So we did.

 

We launched on Saturday. 

And we’re rather chuffed with it!

This is our first iteration…we have plans for lots more shiny stuff.  But for now we’ve hit the main problems that people like us (parents/carers of adopted children with additional health and educational challenges) have to address on a daily basis.  And when I say address, I mean battle, because the services are so underfunded you have to fight hard and long to get the support they need.

So if you, or anyone you know, has children who need a bit more support than the average bear, do come and check us out.

Normal crafty service will now be resumed.


Stash Stories – February 2018 : A Year of Finished Projects

After spending so much time last year building a beautiful sewing room, clearing down my stash and cataloguing the remaining fabric, this year is all about Getting Things Done!

I have a pile of beautiful fabric, a smaller collection of beautiful yarn, and a surprising number of more crafty projects, all waiting to be turned into finished items.

This year I’d like to get at least 50% of stuff in my stash turned into garments, gifts or beautiful things for the home.

To do that I need to be a bit more organised, or it’s all going to be far too overwhelming.  And I do love a good plan!

The first thing I did was download the lovely, and free, Sewing Calendar from Sew DIY.

I’m sure you’ve already come across these planning pages, but if you haven’t, they’re just the prettiest, and simplest way, to get some order for your sewing plans for the coming year.

These have been cut out and pasted into my sewing notebook…a cheap, spiral bound artists sketchbook.  The thicker paper means you reduce the risk of bleed through if using coloured pens, and you can sketch, make notes and add swatches to your hearts content, without the restrictions of someone else’s ideas of what you need to note.

Next I made a list of outstanding knitting/crochet/craft plans.

It’s longer than I’d expected.

I’ve already added the current UFO, plus the dance wear that’s needed by the 18th March to the planner.

Next up….sheep.

I’ve had a tapestry cushion on the frame for forever now.  I’ve had the kit for at least a year….possibly even 2?  That’s not good.  Last year I only completed two squares.

Sheep are herd animals.

These lovely ladies don’t even stand next to each other.  I’m sure they’re lonely.  I need to crack on.

So every month this year I shall complete 1 square of the sheep tapestry, so that by the end of the year this one will be ready to turn into a cushion for my snuggler!    Already this month I’m half way through the third sheepy square!

So…it’s a start.

It would be way too ambitious to think I’ll get the whole of the stash cleared this year, but it would be really nice to halve it.

This month is time pressured as I’d like knitted mice and a crocheted pug for Easter gifts.  I also need to sew a new dance shirt for the wee boy and a dance outfit for me, as I’ve been roped into a dance competition!!!

Wish me luck!?


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.


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.

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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. 😉


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.