Early Christmas present

T’was 5 days before Christmas
When all through the house
Something was stirring
And not just a mouse!

The sleep suit was hung
On the radiator with care
In the hopes that the baby
Soon would be there

With Ma in her birth pool
And Pa with the towels
We readied ourselves
For the new baby howls

When out of the water
There arose such a cry
From one tiny body
With two little eyes

I’m delighted to introduced you to my new little man, who was born at home in the pool on Saturday afternoon. It was an incredible experience giving birth in my own home, by the lights of the Christmas tree and the crooners Christmas album playing in the background.

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A completely different experience to my first labour, and one I will treasure for a lifetime. It was a long hard slog getting into established labour (first contraction was at 11am on Friday!) but, when it was time to push, baby just popped out! He’s a dinky little dude at only 6lb 12oz / 3kg, but completely perfect and we all love him. Especially his big brother who is being so loving and attentive it’s truly heart warming, I’m so proud of him 💞

My most perfect Christmas present 😁

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Happy birthday to me!

Hello everyone! Just popping on to say I’ve not forgotten about you! It’s my birthday today and we’ve had a lovely trip into town for a wander round the German market, lunch, and a trip to my favorite ice cream cafe Affogato. Seriously, if you’re in Edinburgh you have to go, it’s delicious 🙂 I had an incredible trio of sorbets: coconut, dark chocolate and chocolate orange (well, it is my birthday after all!) So I’ve got one happy tum 😀

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Speaking of which I’m now 36 weeks pregnant if you can believe it?! It simultaneously feels like it’s taken ages to get to this point and yet has flashed passed. Weird, huh? Not long until we’ll have a new little person joining the family. I just wonder if he’ll be here in time for Christmas?

Anyway, my lovely husband is about to make my dinner, then hopefully young sir will go to bed and we can relax and have a lazy evening. Hope you’ve all had a lovely weekend!

Knitting, knitting, knitting and an update

Oh man, what a week! And unfortunately not all in a good way.

First of all we all have the lurgy in our house, which isn’t so much fun. For me especially as on Sunday it migrated to my sinuses and I’ve spent the last three days feeling like I’ve been kicked in the face 😦 (pause for sympathy…!) According to the doctor, my nose looks “all swollen and haemorrhagic-y”. I mean wow. It must have taken years of studying to be able to come up with a diagnosis like that! He he, well at least it cheered me up a bit!

Also in the middle of last week our new boiler decided that it wasn’t cold enough for us to want heating or hot water and so decided to stop providing us with both. Considering it’s less than a year old we were less than impressed! Luckily it was actually fairly straightforward to fix, but it did require a visit from the manufacturer, who couldn’t come until Monday. So we had a weekend in the cold, when all I wanted was a nice hot bath! Luckily we have an electric shower though so we didn’t have to also brave cold showers.

But on a more positive note I had my 28 week midwife check up yesterday and got to listen in to baby’s heartbeat. Baby wasn’t cooperating and kept wriggling away from the doppler, but I can’t really blame him for not wanting poked and prodded! Everything is going really well, baby is very active and seems to like to party. It’s very exciting to be in the third trimester now and on the home stretch! I think this is my favourite time of pregnancy: when I’m big enough to very obviously be pregnant, far enough along to feel lots of movement, and still not so big that simple tasks are getting difficult (I’m thinking specifically of bending over and putting on socks!).

I’ve also been making very good progress with my knitting to-do list. The matching hats are coming along nicely, although they did have a slight change of plan. It turned out that I didn’t actually have enough of that lovely green bamboo yarn I was using to finish off the hat for young sir. But thanks to the stretch in the ribbing and the fact that he has quite a big head, it is large enough to fit me as a headband. So poor baby will have to match me instead!

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And this means that I’ve started on a new, new hat for young sir using this slightly odd yarn that I found in a charity shop. Bet you can’t guess what it’s made from! Anyone care to have a try?

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I’ve also finished a little carseat baby blanket using this funny, bumpy yarn:

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It knits up pretty quickly once you get used to it. You have to use small needles (I used 2.5mm, but you could propbably use 3mm too) and do one stitch between each bump. I did the whole thing in garter stitch (knit every row) and the only issue I had was when it came to casting off. I couldn’t use the usual method as it made the final row too tight so I had to be inventive and make up my own method. But I think it worked quite well 🙂

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Although it’s quite small, that little blanket is actually 3 balls of yarn! I’m glad I bought 3 otherwise I’m not sure what else I would have been able to make with it.

And last night, thanks to young sir having an uncharacteristically early night, I managed to finish my shawl! Woo hoo! I still need to weave in the ends and block it to bring out the lace pattern but I’m pretty pleased with how it came out 🙂

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Once it’s finished I’ll do another update and let you see how it turned out. I’ve never blocked something so big before so I’m hoping it will all come out nicely, although I’m not really sure how long it’ll take!

And I realise I told you all I was excited about dying my hair and then never showed you the finished look, but honestly I look like death warmed up right now so it’s not a great time for taking close up pictures of my face! I’m really pleased with the hair though and as soon as I look healthier I will show you!

Tutorial: Transforming a polo-neck jumper to a maternity* cardigan

*I’m including the ‘*’ as this isn’t specifically a maternity project. But the finished article is suitable for both maternity and regular wear so is a good project for anyone to try.

I bought this jumper in a charity shop about a year ago, for the enormous price of £1. Big spender, me 😉 I just loved the colour of it and I’m a fan of cabled jumpers in general. But I didn’t really like the neck, it was just that little bit too tight to be comfortable for me. So after wearing it once it hit the back of the wardrobe and has been there ever since. Which is a shame as I still like the colour and I still like the cables. So it was time to transform it into something I will wear.

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I could have just taken off the top and made it into a crew neck jumper, but by opening up the front as well and making it into a cardigan, I’m able to wear it now over my rapidly expanding bump, and it will be great for when baby comes and I’ll be spending hours breastfeeding.

The transformation was actually very easy. First thing I did was identify the centre of the jumper, which turned out to be the centre of a cabled row. Then I very carefully cut up the front of jumper using a nice sharp pair of scissors. Don’t be tempted to use general purpose scissors, as it’s the sharp edges which give you a clean cut and stop the fabric from shifting.
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I only cut as far collar, as I have a faint notion of reusing the ribbing from the neck, but you could quite easily open up the whole of the front.

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As you can see from the photo, there was quite a thick band joining the body of my jumper to the neck. I decided that this would become the new top edge of my cardigan, so I cut parallel to its top edge, leaving about 1cm of ribbing to finish off the neck line.

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Looking like a cardigan already!

Next step is to finish off the cut edges to stop them fraying. I sewed along each front edge and around the neck using a zig zag stitch. Alternatively you could use an overlocking stitch as both will seal the raw edges.

I found that the zig zag stitch left the edges with a slightly frilly lettuce effect as it got a little stretched going through the machine. If this happens to you, don’t worry about it as you can reshape the edges at the end when you press your cardigan.

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One thing to be aware of when finishing your raw edges, is that there will be a lot of little pieces of fluff will come off your cardigan and some of these will end up in your machine. Once you’ve finished your raw edges it’s a good idea to clean out all the fluff to keep your sewing machine running smoothly.

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The final step was to create the new finished edges. To do this I pinned under the raw edge, so that a knit row was the new edge and folded far enough over that I could sew up the purl row to hide the stitches.

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I used a straight stitch to sew the seam, and I sewed very slowly to make sure the same amount of fabric was sewn under the whole way down. I also found I had to take the pins out at least 5 – 7cm from the needle in order to get the best result.

At the neck seam I decided to finish off my cardigan by hand as, unlike the front edges, there was nowhere to hide the stitches and I didn’t have any thread that closely enough matched the colour to blend in. So I used a whipstitch along the inside of the thick neck band, making sure to go slowly and check that my stitches weren’t coming through to the right side of the fabric.

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As a final touch I also did some hand finishing along the front edges. However if you were converting a jumper made entirely in stocking stitch you could skip this step by sewing a double line instead. As I was trying to hide my stitches I decided that a hand finish would be neater and more invisible. At every cable I simply put in a few stitches joining the wrong side of the cable to the raw edge. This is enough to keep the raw edge away from the finished edge, and to stop it from curling around into view when the cardigan is being worn.

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Finally give the new finished edges a good pressing to help them into the correct shape. This will help to take care of any remaining excess from the stretching earlier. Then slip it on, pose, and enjoy your new creation! (Silly face optional! Haha, I should explain I had a toddler trying to climb up my leg at the time!)

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Note: you could add a top button if you fancied, like Delia does here. She also uses fabric to finish off her raw edges, giving a (probably better!) finish to the front edges. But still, I’m happy with my creation 🙂

Tutorial: Transforming regular leggings into maternity

As I mentioned here I am having real trouble finding any trousers that fit over my low down baby bump. Even the type that are cut incredibly low are a bit too diggy the second I sit down. And anything that does fit when I’m sitting down, will fall off when I stand up. Not really the best look to be flashing my pants at everyone followed by a pulling up the trousers dance!

So I thought I’d give leggings a go in the hope that the nice soft fabric will work against my poor squished bump! But have you seen the price of some pairs of maternity leggings? I mean really, for what is essentially exactly the same product with a little more fabric round the waist, I’m not sure why they cost so much more. (OK, so in the grand scheme of things they aren’t expensive, but I still object on principle.) And it also annoys me that most shops only stock their maternity clothes online. At a time when my body is a different shape at any two points throughout the day, never mind week to week, I’d rather spend my money on something I can try on first.

So I picked up a pair of regular leggings, which I knew fit eveywhere except my tummy, for £3, and set about turning them into maternity leggings.

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It was actually a very simple transformation, all I had to do was remove the elastic from the front half of the leggings and sort out the waist band. Easy!

*At this point I’m going to apologise for the quality of the photos, my camera was having issues with the colour balance, and the dark thread on black fabric was really hard to capture. I’ve used dark grey thread instead of black in the hope that it will show up (at all!) but I’ll also explain each step along the way so hopefully it’s clear what I’m doing.

The first step was to take a look at how the waistband of the leggings was constructed. In my case the elastic was sewn into the seem so it was a little (but not much) more compicated than if the elastic was free to move in it’s own casing. In that case all you would have to do would be to fix the elastic at the side seams, open up a little hole to remove it from the front half, sew up the hole and you’re done!

But if your elastic is sewn in like mine, then start by sewing a straight line to reinforce the ends of the elastic. Do this at the back side of the seam, so that you can open up the waistband at the seam for access to the elastic. I used a triple stitch to make it as strong as possible. Repeat the process at both sides.

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Then carefully unpick the side seams to give you access.

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Now we’re going to unpick the waistand along the whole front of the leggings. Do this carefully with a seam ripper to not damage the fabric. Once it’s opened from side seam to side seam and the elastic is free, you can cut the elastic out.

At this point I tried my leggings on, and they fit perfectly. The remaining elastic at the back was enough to keep them fitted, but they were soft enough round the front to be really comfortable even when sitting down.

Finally I re-sewed the waistband. If you don’t want to include this step you don’t have to. As the fabric for leggings is usually jersey, it doesn’t need to be finished as it won’t fray. And if you don’t plan on wearing them with some little cropped top then noone will be any the wiser!

I will finish off the waistband to show you how to do it. Basically you’re just resewing along the same line that the fabric was stitched before. If, like me, you don’t have an overlocker/serger then you can easily do it with a zigzag stitch. (I’m afraid I’ve never used an overlocker so I can’t tell you how to do it that way) The zigzag stitch is necessary as you want the seam to have some stretch, otherwise it defeats the purpose of this project! A basic straight stitch would either not stretch, or would try to do so and break.

Pin the waistband in place and sew all the way along the front. You might find (if you’re naughty like me and don’t use the proper needle for jersey fabric… Must buy a new one!) that your zigzag skips in places so you end up with a couple of straight stitches in the middle of your row. I’ve now worn my leggings, complete with these minor imperfections, for a few days and there is still plenty of stretch in the fabric along the waistband. So if the same happens to you, don’t worry about it. So long as the vast majority of your seam is a zigzag then it will do the job just fine 🙂

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And here are the finished leggings! (Sorry, again, terrible tummy selfie alert! But I wanted to show you the end product in action.)

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My first* purchase for the new baby

*OK technically this wasn’t my very first purchase for this baby, as I’ve bought a pack of 2 sleep suits and a little toy giraffe, but I don’t think they really count! This has been my first exciting purchase.

Like many people these days I’m very keen on baby wearing. Now, if you aren’t familiar with the term, it simply means carrying your baby as opposed to only using a pram, for example. There are lots of benefits to carrying babies, and let’s face it, little babies are so darn cute who wouldn’t want to get more cuddles whilst also not being confined to the couch?

I found it invaluable for getting anything done as young sir was not keen to be laid down as a little baby. It also meant that public transport and shops were not the nightmare they can be with a pram.

Last time I made a ring sling using 2 metres of fairly sturdy cotton fabric and two sling rings, the total cost of which was less than £10. Not bad for the freedom it gave me! Of course you don’t have to make a sling, there are lots of different styles, fabrics and patterns to suit any taste and budget, for example I’ve seen one for sale for €5000! But that was just a little out of my price range, and was a very special edition.

This time around I’ve decided to try a wrap as well as my trusty red sling. A wrap is basically a very long rectangle of fabric which you wrap around yourself in any number of different ways depending on how you want to carry your child. And it was whilst watching instructional videos by the very talented creator of Wrap You In Love  (how cool is she? Although I would never ever be brave enough to do the same, I love her tattoos and rainbow Mohawk!) that I saw The One.
You know, the thing you didn’t know was missing from your life, but now that you know, you must own it? Yeah, that One. It was love at first sight, and I immediately set about finding where I could buy myself the gorgeous Pollora Iceflower.

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That was where the fun began, as even though Pollora is a German company, I couldn’t find anywhere in Europe that had them in stock. I even tried a preloved sling site to see if perchance there was one for sale, but no such luck. Eventually I found a company in the US that had them in stock, and, even better, on sale! Woo! But they don’t ship internationally. Boo 😦

Luckily for me though my nephew is working in the US just now, and he has kindly agreed to let me ship it to him, then bring it over for me when he comes back at Christmas time. Yay!

So I really hope that when I finally get it, I still love it as much as I do just now!

An extra special project!

So I’ve been holding out on you guys… I’ve been working on something extra specially special recently. Can you guess what it is?

Not my poncho pattern, although that is coming along, but… another baby! 😀

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Yep, that’s not just cake and ice cream in there any more! Haha!

Do you remember the photos of the pencil skirt I made for Delia Creates? There was just a hint of a tum? Well this is what was causing it 🙂

I’m nearly 24 weeks now (due only days after Christmas!) so that third trimester is coming up fast. Which also means my wardrobe is getting smaller daily so you can expect some posts in the near future with my diy answer to a maternity wardrobe. It’s especially needed this time as baby is sitting so much lower than my first, so I’m already struggling to find trousers that do the double of staying up (nothing more annoying than having to permanently hitch up trousers that just want to sliiiiide down) and being comfortable. It’s just such a glamorous time! Or at least it will be once I sort myself out with some wardrobe staples to keep me going 😉

Anyway, I’ll keep you updated with my progress, both in crafting and baby growing!