Friday, December 23, 2011

FO Friday #8: Christmas Place Names

These place names were very quick and easy to make. I stamped the Happy Christmas and names onto luggage tags, added a line of decorative tape to match my coloir scheme, and added large jingle bells (bought from a pound shop).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

WIP: Christmas Crafting

It's been a bit quiet on this blog lately as I try to get myself ready for our first christmas together as a family. I am so excited and really looking forward to it. As ever I have left everything til the last minute so I have been knitting a few last minute christmas presents. Some of them I can't show you til after the big day, but here are a few photos.

This is a fair-islse hat I have knitted for Evie. I just need to make a pom pom for the top. It's the first proper fair-isle item I have made, and I am pleased with it.

So pleased, in fact, that I am happy to show you the inside of the hat and how tidy it is. Will definitely be doing more in the future. And as it's a baby hat it only took me a day to knit.

This is a close up of another christmas present, which I'll have to show you a bit more of after christmas.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

December's Challenge

I didn't do very well in November's challenge, so am keeping Decembers quite simple. I want to take a photo every day in December. That's it.

I have an idea for a 'Countdown to Christmas' page in Evie's Scrapbook, using the cover of her advent calendar and filling each window with a photo showing the run up to Christmas.

To get started, here is the photo for day number 1 (using the Instagram app).

All wrapped up & ready for Winter.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WIP: Red Riding Hood Update

I've had a busy couple of weeks with family visiting and planning a Christmas Market, which has meant that I haven't had much time for knitting, crafting or blogging. Which sadly means I have failed 2 of my November Challenges.

Having said that I have made some progress on Evie's Red Riding Hood Duffle Coat. Here is the back, and the left and right front pieces with hood in progress. (Apologies for the crappy picture.) Looking forward to having this finished in time for Christmas.

In other news, I have helped an old friend from school start a 'stitch n bitch' group at a local pub. No further progress has been made on my socks. And I have started my Christmas shopping. I can't believe it's December tomorrow, but I do have a potential challenge in mind..... tune in tomorrow.

In the meantime check out Tami's Amis Blog for other WIP Wednesday Posts.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

5 a Day Challenge

We have always eaten pretty well in our house, with a good portion of fruit & veg. But since our beautiful daughter arrived 3 months ago I've been a bit slack and my diet has gone totally down the drain! I don't mean a losing weight kind of diet, just your average eating well diet.

We eat very little fast food and love to cook, so most food is made from scratch. The problem I've found is that it's much easier to grab something unhealthy (like a Cinnamon Swirl) for breakfast, or snack on a chocolate bar... Or at least that's how it's felt for the last 3 months. I've barely had time to make a cup of tea, let alone lunch, & have often got to the end of the day and realised that, actually, I hadn't eaten anything.

I've started to notice that I feel different too. I'm tired (& baby is sleeping pretty well), I get tummy ache & just don't feel healthy.

I am now starting to feel a bit more 'normal' with the baby stuff and feel it's time to start focusing on me a bit - starting with my diet. And the easiest place to start is by making sure I get my 5 portions if fruit & veg every day...and learning exactly what a 'portion' is!

I'll be starting on 1st December and will keep track of all I eat here. There are some (well, 2) rules.

1. Each portion must be a different fruit or vegetable.
2. Juice can only count as 1 portion per day.

Oh, and I'll also be attempting to drink the recommended 6 glasses of water a day too.

If you fancy the challenge do join me. Would be great to get some ideas on how to sneak in some extra veg! :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

FO Friday #7: A Sleeping Bag

A quick FO Friday post (as I'm meant to be packing for my weekend away!) to show you my first ever knitting commission.

After showing off the sleeping bag I made for Evie I was asked to do one for a friend's nephew.

There's a little pocket with J on (for Jude) & a footprint to use my new found embroidery skills.

The bag (and pocket) were lined with a super soft fleecy blanket.

I was left to my own devices to come up with colours & design, but it's gone down well & I am really pleased with it too.

I don't think I'm going to get a chance to look at the other FOs til next week, unless I can get my packing done quickly - but you can go check out Tami's blog to see what everyone else has been up to.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

WIP: Red Riding Hood

I finally finished the 'big' project I have been working on - but I'm going to wait until Friday for the big reveal.

This has meant I've been able to cast on a new project, Debbie Bliss' duffle coat from 'The Ultimate Book of Baby Knits'. I'll be making it in red, hence the name. There's not really much to show as I only cast on yesterday, but I am hoping to have it done for Christmas.

In other 'WIP' news, here is a quick progress photo of my sock. (Yes, it's still on going! At least I haven't given up yet.)

Check out Tami's blog for plenty more WIP Wednesday inspiration.

Friday, November 04, 2011

FO Friday #6: Embroidered Button

I haven't had much time lately for crafting and didn't manage to post a FO last week. This week, I have a very little FO to show you. A little embroidered cupcake button using the free kit that came with Issue 7 of Mollie Makes magazine.

I drew my design on the linen using a wipe off fabric marker...

... then I embroidered over my sketch ...

.... and wiped off the marker pen using a damp cloth....

... then I mounted the fabric on a button. 

For my first attempt at embroidery and covering buttons, I am quite pleased. I love the sketchy feel and it has sparked an idea for a sampler for Evie. I am now going to check out the other FOs on Tamis blog.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

A knitting meme

I completed this meme over 2 years ago on my other blog and thought it would be interesting to see how much has changed in that time. All items in bold I have done and those in italic are things I would like to do.

Total number on list: 105
Items completed: 47 (March 2009 - 36)
Things I'd like to do: 36 (March 2009 - 43)

American/English knitting
Baby items
Cable stitch patterns
Charity knitting
Combination knitting
Continental knitting
Cuffs/Fingerless Mitts/Arm warmers
Designing knitted garments
Domino knitting
Drop stitch patterns
Dyeing spinning fibre
Dyeing with plant colors
Dying yarn
Fair Isle knitting
Free-form knitting
Garter stitch
Graffiti knitting
Hair accessories
Hats: Cuff-up
Hats: Top-down
Holiday related knitting
Household items
Kitchener stitch
Knitted flowers
Knitting a gift
Knitting a pattern from an on-line knitting magazine
Knitting and purling backwards
Knitting art
Knitting for a living
Knitting for pets
Knitting for preemies
Knitting in public
Knitting items for a wedding
Knitting on a loom
Knitting smocking
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on one or two circulars
Knitting to make money
Knitting two socks on two circulars simultaneously
Knitting with alpaca
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Knitting with banana fibre yarn
Knitting with beads
Knitting with camel yarn
Knitting with cashmere
Knitting with circular needles
Knitting with cotton
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Knitting with dpns
Knitting with linen
Knitting with metal wire
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Knitting with self patterning/self striping/variegated yarn
Knitting with silk
Knitting with someone else’s hand-spun yarn
Knitting with soy yarn
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Knitting with wool
Knitting with your own hand-spun yarn
Lace patterns
Long Tail CO
Machine knitting
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Moebius band knitting
Norwegian knitting
Participate in an exchange
Participating in a KAL
Publishing a knitting book
Short rows
Slip stitch patterns
Socks: toe-up
Socks: top-down
Stockinette stitch
Stuffed toys
Teaching a child to knit (My neice?)
Teaching a male how to knit
Textured knitting
Thrummed knitting
Toy/doll clothing
Tubular CO
Twisted stitch patterns
Two end knitting
Writing a pattern

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

November's Challenge(s)

As the last 2 challenges have been knitting related, and I have failed to complete either of them, I'm going to try something new. Here are some things I want to do in November.

Complete my pregnancy section of Evie's Scrapbook.

Post a FO Friday post every Friday in November.

Try embroidery.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Socktoberfest Progress

And so we reach the end of another month and my second monthly challenge. October's challenge was to knit a pair of socks. Unfortunately I didn't get as much done as I hoped.

I guess I thought that being on maternity leave would give me plenty of time for knitting, but the days go by so quickly and I have so many things on the go it's difficult to fit it all in.

I did nearly finish one sock. This is my progress:

I really don't have much left to do and I am disappointed I didn't finish at least one. But I did enjoy knitting it and (depending on how the finished item fits) I can see the appeal of sock knitting. It is quick, is something I would wear and has plenty of sock for experiementing. I do still want to finish the pair and hope to do so before Christmas. Keep an eye out for future FO Friday posts.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Starting my adventure in scrapbooking

I finally got some time today to start my scrapbook for Evie. I'll try to blog my progress - partly as a record for myself, partly for anyone else interested in scrapbooking - a bit of a getting started guide I suppose. I'll share links and resources, my mistakes and triumphs as I create my photo album.

As much as I am keen to get started, I am a bit of a perfectionist and it will get on my nerves if it's not done properly. As I have a few weeks to catch up on I am taking the time to plan my pages.

My first job was to paint the wooden letters I want to put on the cover of my book.

Painted letters

I want this to be more than just a photo album. Including notes, artefacts (for want of a better word) and any other little mementos such as, song lyrics, swatches from clothes, labels, cards, even tweets & facebook comments.

My second job was to decide on mini stories or pages to start my book. The first page will be mainly text with Evie's name, date and time of birth and weight, though I haven't decided how I want to lay this out yet. Then I want a mini family tree showing Evie's grandparents and immediate family. Then I'll do a timeline of my pregnancy, showing my bump growing and including scan photos, over maybe 4 or 6 pages.

I've then stuck in photos using blu tak so I can see roughly how much space I'll need. One thing this has shown me is that I do need to have everything that I want to inlude in one section or page ready to hand. So for the pregnancy section, for example, I need to have the photos, scans, comments, ready to stick in. I know this probably seems obvious, but I was hoping I could stick a few bits down and work the rest around it.

I haven't really chosen an overall colour scheme or theme for this book because it will be spanning quite a long time and I don't want to feel restricted. I'm assuming my own 'style' will shine through, but I am also looking forward to seeing how my skills develop as the book grows too.

I'll try to post un update every Sunday to show you how I am getting on. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Scrapbook for Evie

I love photos. I would happily look through anyones photos, whether I know the people in them or not but it really isn't the same looking at pictures on the computer. You really can't beat opening a photo album or leafing through a pile of photos, and as technology advances so quickly I wonder what Evie will think of my photographs. How will she capture her memories in 15 years time? Will she look back at our digital photos and think 'ah, how did they manage?' in the same way as I look back and wonder how we coped with having 35 shots on a film and not being able to see the photo until it was developed.

In the 'old days' when we did still print photos I would put them into albums with notes and any little trinkets that added something. The date from a calendar, a ticket stub, whatever. And I still enjoy looking through them now. My early dabbling in scrapbooking, I guess.

For some reason this stopped around the time me and my husband got together nearly 8 years ago. Now all my photos are saved in folders on my computer and a few years back I started printing them out and putting them in albums, but didn't really get very far.

I used to love photography and would always have my camera with me, and this is another thing that has changed. With mobile phones able to take pretty good quality photos we tend to settle for those rather than making the effort to get the camera out. When I found out I was pregnant we bought a digital SLR camera and I want to start taking more, good quality, photos of Evie. I also want to print them out and preserve them for her.

So I am going to start a scrapbook for her. I have bought an A3 book from Paperchase, got some photos printed, bought a few scrapbooking supplies, and scoured the house for potential scrapbooking tools.

Scrapbooking Supplies
I can't wait to get started - I have 8 weeks to catch up on!

Friday, October 21, 2011

FO Friday #5: Evie's Cardigan

Pattern: Debbie Bliss' Classic Cardigan, size 0-3 months
Yarn: DK yarn from stash (don't tell Debbie!)
Started: Sometime while I was pregnant
Finished: 12th October 2011

This should have been posted last week, but better late than never, right? I was also hoping to have another FO to show off but baby & life have got in the way of knitting/crafting stuff. 
I'm pretty happy with the cardigan, it was a lovely pattern to knit and I got to practice my making up skills, which I think are improving. I just wish I had made it with a better wool. (Sorry, Debbie, I definitely won't do it again!) 

I'm now heading off to Tami's Blog to see what everyone else has done.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Craft Update

Kids Clothes Week Challenge Fall 2011

Well, I didn't do as well as I'd hoped. What with visitors and having to sort out my spare room so they had somewhere to stay and looking after Evie I didn't have a chance for much making. So the only thing I did get round to 'making' was the cardigan - which was practically done anyway! I do plan to sign up for the Spring 2012 one though, which gives me some time to practice and Evie will be around 6 months old.

On the plus side, my craft room is a lot tidier and I have space to make stuff!

October Challenge: Socktoberfest

I have nearly finished my first sock.

It's looking good, though not quite sure how I'm going to get the second one to match colours. Still not quite sure how I feel about sock knitting - I can already feel 'second sock syndrome' setting in! And I chose some pretty expensive yarn. I am looking forward to wearing the socks, have found some lovely patterns and they (so far) haven't been as complicated as I thought they would have been. I'm not sure I'll become a sock addict, but I will knit more pairs. Providing the second one goes as well as the first....

Sleeping Bag Commission

I am also knitting a sleeping bag I have been commissioned to make. My first commission! It's going well, the yarn is lovely and soft and the colours remind me of a beach scene.

Crochet Blanket

I haven't made much progress with the blanket as I've been working on the two projects above, but I did find some random crochet squares I may be able to add in.

Evie's Duffle Coat

I still haven't cast on the duffle coat for Evie, as I feel I should finish at least one project before starting a new one.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

KCWC Fall 2011 : Days 2 & 3

One thing I didn't factor in to this challenge is the fact that my 'craft' room is in need of a sort out & with a little one I don't really have the time to be searching through everything to find what I need. So yesterday (Day 2) was a planning rather than a doing day. Today (Day 3) started out as a buying day, but I did manage to find some time to do some making too.

Today I went to Knitters & Sewers World to see knitting designer and maker of beautiful yarn, Debbie Bliss. Who is also the author of one of my favourite knitting books - The Ultimate Book of Baby Knits. I spent yesterday going over and over the book trying to decide which patterns to knit next & what yarn I needed to purchase today.

I decided on the Duffle Coat, which I plan to do in red for a bit of a 'Red Riding Hood' thing.

As far as my making goes for today I did sew on the buttons to my cardigan - actually completing it! I'll take photos tomorrow.

Monday, October 10, 2011

KCWC Fall 2011 : Day 1

So today is Day One of Elsie Marley's Kids Clothes Week Challenge Fall 2011, and I am pleased to say that I did spend over an hour working on a cardigan for Evie. It's one that I knitted while I was pregnant and was meant to sew up as part of my September challenge.

It has now been sewn together I now need to add buttons and was wondering about some decoration - maybe beads or embroidery. What do you think?

I plan to finish it by Friday ready for a great FO Friday post.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Kids Clothes Week Challenge

Tomorrow sees the start of the Kids Clothes Week Challenge Fall 2011, where the aim is to spend 1 hour a day for a week making clothes for kids. My sewing and clothes making skills are definitely at the beginner end of the spectrum, so I am hoping to spend this time learning and trying new things.

In preparation for this challenge I wanted plan what I would do rather than waste time during the week looking for something to do and ending up with nothing to show for it. Evie is only 6 weeks old, so I'm not planning any outfits for her yet, and if you have any suggestions for newborn makes I'd love to here them.

Anyway, here are some of my ideas.

1. Finish making up the cardigan I knitted for Evie.
2. Sew a bib & add some embroidery.
3. Make a hairband - either sewn, knitted or crochet.
4. Wraparound skirt - to go over babygro & leggings (maybe).
5. Trousers
6. Little dress
7. Poncho

And here are somelinks I want to remember:

On another note, on Wednesday I am hoping to meet knitting designer Debbie Bliss at Knitters & Sewers World in Swansea. Can't wait!

Friday, October 07, 2011

FO Friday #4: My Living Room

Alright so this FO is a bit of a cheat, but this week we finally finished re-decorating our living room.

We started it nearly 2 years ago and on Wednesday put our new carpet down & sorted all of the cupboards out. (It's taken all week to sort, move everything around & clean, so there hasn't been much crafting going on - hence the cheating post!) It's lovely, so clean & tidy & cosy....I just wonder how long it will stay that way.
Check out some other (proper) FOs on Tami's blog.

Monday, October 03, 2011

The 'right' parenting decisions

I've only been a Mum for 5 weeks, but have really had my eyes opened to the ways of parenting. There are so much choices, and everyone has their own opinion on what is 'right' and how it 'should' be done. Three examples that seem to have very split opinions are:
  1. Breast V Bottle Feeding
  2. Co-Sleeping
  3. Babywearing
Apparently you should breast feed as long as you can to enhance the bond and closeness between mum and child, but then you shouldn't co-sleep or babywear too much as they'll get used to being held or close to you.

I know I am new to this but if my baby is happy then so am I! If this means she wants to sleep in bed with me (and will sleep well rather than being restless in her moses basket) then that's fine with me.

I have tried breastfeeding and we couldn't get on with it, so I am expressing and bottle feeding and looking for ways to get our closeness somewhere else. For me, babywearing is great. Our pram is lovely, but it is bulky and a bit of a faff to if I want to pop to the shop or go to Tesco, or just get stuff done in the house.

Babywearing with my new Moby wrap
I am still learning about the pros and cons of my decisions and the options available, but so far it's working for me.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

October Challenge: knit a pair of socks

I can't believe October is here. September went so quickly & little Evie is over a month old. Though as everyone told me I can't imagine life without her, nor remember what I used to do with my time.

September's Challenge was to finish off some UFOS. I managed 2 of them - the sleeping bag & green booties, and have made my excuses for the blanket. I have no excuses for the cardigan - but I do plan to finish it. Maybe this weekend....

So, on to the challenge for October. I have 2. The first is to knit a pair of socks - or at least have one complete by the end of the month - as part of Socktoberfest. I have attempted socks before but didn't get very far and would like to see what all the fuss is about! I have bought my yarn ready & just need to find a pattern.

Pretty sock yarn
The second challenge takes place between the 10th & 17th October - the Kids Clothes Week Challenge. The aim being to spend 1 hour a day for a week making clothes for kids. There aren't really any rules. Clothes can be sewn, knitted or crocheted, upcycled - as long as you are doing something every day. I have no idea what I am going to do. I'm hoping to be inspired by everyone else once the challenge gets started, but I will have a look around this week to see if I can get some ideas so I can order or find the supplies I need. (Though this may be a great opportunity to try being thifty.)

I will also be working on my crochet blanket and have been commissioned to knit another sleeping bag. I guess I should probably look at finding ways to knit faster too....

If you are involved in Socktoberfest or KCWC11 let me know so I can see what you're up to.

Friday, September 30, 2011

FO Friday #3: Mug Cosy

Pattern: Mug Cosy (not yet published)
Yarn: Sirdar Supersoft Aran
Needle Size: 4mm crochet hook
Started: 27th September 2011
Finished: 27th September 2011

I can't believe it's time for another FO Friday!

This is just a small one today as I am working on some quite big projects at the moment, though I haven't done very much knitting or crochet this week.

I was asked to test out this pattern (to be published soon) which took me about an hour or so to crochet. It's quick and straightforward and would make a lovely personalised Christmas gift. Stick it in a hamper with some nice coffee and biscuits....not forgetting the mug!

The one thing I really did want to show you finished was the cardigan for Evie as part of my September Challenge. However, once again I have managed to keep putting it off. Having said that I still have 6 hours of September left....maybe there's still time.....

This post was inspired by Tami's Amis & Other Creations.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WIP: Crochet Blanket

As the end of the month is approaching it dawns on me that I am highliy unlikely to finish the crochet blanket as part of my September Challenge. Partly because I have changed my mind in how I want to finish it & how big I want it.

I want it to be big enough for me and Evie to cwtch together underneath rather than it being a pram blanket and I have decided to crochet it all instead of adding a knitted border. I want to add a bit of colour & am in need of some instant gratification pieces - as I have decided that the Beekeeper's Quilt isn't really for me, not right now - so will be adding a granny square border. Small projects I can do in between feeds & while I am expressing.

Crochet Blanket progress so far

The colour scheme will be based on the Hodge Podge range by Mamas & Papas that adorns Evie's nursery. A lovely collection of colours including red, purple, orange & green - nice & bright & autumnal.

Blanket from the Hodge Podge range - beautiful colours
So new plan is to have it finished by Christmas.

You can check out more WIPs on Tami Ani's blog.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I've been shopping...

As the title says - today I went shopping. And in town there is a rather fabulous shop called Knitters & Sewers world, that holds lots of yarn, buttons, thread, patterns, everything you could possibly need (or want) - a knitter's dream shop. I can quite happily spend hours in there deliberating over yarn colours and patterns. I even went in with a specific list of what I wanted in the hope I would be quick while hubby was shopping elsewhere - but no. I was completely distracted by knitting possibilities!

I went in to get yarn for my first ever commission - a baby sleeping bag. I chose Sidar Supersoft Aran...but couldn't decide on a colour scheme. So planning a couple of swatches tonight to see what looks best. Colours look a bit odd in the photo below....but you get the gist.

I also bought some sock yarn, to attempt my first pair of socks for Socktoberfest.

And this fabulous Big Bamboo yarn from Sirdar, a little bit inspired yesterday's FO Friday post by AutumnGeisha, it's already been knitted into an i-cord tube! It comes with a scarf pattern on the ball band, so will knit a test one (for me) but can see this becoming a very handy Christmas present idea....

Friday, September 23, 2011

FO Friday #2 Baby Booties

Yarn: 4 ply baby cotton. (From my stash - can't remember the brand.)
Needle Size: 3mm straight & DPN
Started: 20th August 2011 
Finished: 23rd September 2011

Well, I just about made it to this weeks FO Friday! 

Apart from not changing yarn colour and using different yarn to that specified, I followed the pattern exactly. This is a quick and straightforward pattern, and I could happily make a few pairs to match Evie's outfits. Best of all, they stay on her feet - unlike the socks that she managed to kick off before I've managed to get the second one on!

This post was inspired by a linky set up by Tami's Amis & Other Creations.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Exclusively Expressing

I always wondered what happened to people when they had a baby (yes, I am referring to the Dads as well) as they would often discuss things I considered to be private matters. Poo being a fairly popular topic.

However, since having a baby I have noticed I am doing the same thing. I have no problems at all now discussing the state of my nipples, for example. So, if you don't want to know me in THAT much detail I suggest you stop reading now.

For those of you that have had a baby you know what it's like. You have people pearing in to check your most intimate areas, people manhandling you (by the way, by 'people' I do mean qualified doctors and nurses, not just any old random....), asking you questions - and they don't really care who else is with you. So you get a bit de-sensitised to it all.

When Evie was born, she was given to me straight away for our skin-on-skin contact, and we tried breastfeeding where she did have a bit of a go. However that was all we managed. We tried frequently in the hospital, but when she hadn't eaten after about 24 hours I was told to try hand expressing my breastmilk to give her what she needed. The first breastmilk you get (called colostrun) is very thick and yellowy. You don't get much of it (by that I do mean mililitres), but it is very good for baby. So I expressed and had to collect it in a little syringe to feed to Evie.

Throughout the first 24 hours I must have had 4 or 5 different nurses come and go, all wanting to see my breastfeeding technique, offering advice and demonstrations. They don't have time to faff about and I learned it's just easier to get your boobs out and get on with the job at hand. It's amazing how quickly you realise just how much you would do for this little bundle of joy.

To cut a long story short (and get to the point of this post) we tried breastfeeding but Evie just couldn't seem to latch on which left her hungry and us both frustrated and upset. I then began expressing to encourage my milk supply and to give her the benefits of breastmilk by feeding her with a little cup so that she wouldn't get used to a bottle. At this point we were measuring her feeds by 5 or 10ml, and as she hadn't had anything for so long, this felt like a huge step forward. I promised to keep expressing and trying to breastfeed and we were discharged.

However, as she wasn't eating much we were re-admitted to hospital 2 days later as Evie had lost over 10% of her birth weight. Here we were told that she should be taking around 30ml every 2 hours to flush out her jaundice. So what she had been taking in a day was what she was meant to have at every feed! Feeding her this much with a cup would take forever, so we decided to use a bottle to make sure she was having enough - and she took to it straight away. Then she needed phototherapy to treat the jaundice and so the doctors recommended feeding her via a tube up her nose to ensure she was getting enough. As much as I hated it, it was obviously for the best, and I was expressing throughout to ensure she had my breastmilk although did need to supplement with formula.

Anyway, the treatment worked & her jaundice levels came down & we were once more allowed home. I had been given more advice on breastfeeding and was still trying, while expressing as much as I could. It was here that I was told that maybe my nipples were too soft or too flat for Evie to latch onto. So I tried nipple shields, which I didn't get on with at all.

While we do still have a go at breastfeeding every now and then, I am now Exclusively Expressing. We do need to top up with formula as I don't manage to get enough to meet Little Miss' needs, but I am pleased she is getting mainly breastmilk.

The one thing I have noticed is that no-one really talks about expressing as a valid means of feeding your baby. You get told about breastfeeding (BF) and formula feeding (FF) but not expressing or pumping. The booklets don't cover it, very few books cover it and the nurses, midwives and health visitors don't seem to have the information you want to know about how to manage it.

It is time consuming - feeding takes twice as long as you need to feed baby then pump. It gives you the same issues as BF - sore nipples, risk of mastitis, engorged breasts. And the same as bottle feeding - sterilising bottles, storing milk. But it does mean feeding your baby your breastmilk.

I have been expressing for 3 and a half weeks so far. It does take up your day. Between expressing, feeding and looking after Evie, sleeping and looking after yourself, you have very little time for anything else. But the most difficult thing I have encountered is getting some answers to all the questions. How often should I pump? How much milk should I be getting? How much does she need? How long can I leave breastmilk out? How does it need to be stored? How long should I pump for? The best information source I have found is the Pumping Mummies group on BabyCentre. There is a post with links to loads of information and the administrator is great at getting back to you and answering your questions.

I guess the point of this post is so you know there are others doing it. :) So if you are an Exclusively Expressing or Pumping Mum, please say hi.

I don't know how long I will keep pumping. I'd like to think I'll continue for as long as I can, but I don't want to put an end date on it in case I can't carry on. I'll post more on this topic over the coming weeks - I think this is long enough for one post, don't you?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Roast Sea Bass with Sweet Potatoes & Tomatoes

It's time to get back on track with my list of 101 things - starting with trying 1 new meal a week. This could be from a book or magazine or an invention of my own. I confess, part of this is to prove myself to be a wonderful housewife so that hubby will want me to stay home & look after Evie instead of going back to work. ;) Part of it is because I have watched so many cooking programs in my 3 weeks of maternity leave I've been inspired to get back in the kitchen.....which is actually where I am blogging from right now.

I will warn you, I am not very good with quantities and tend to be a bit slap-dash (unless I'm baking) so any recipes I post are probably going to need some interpretation of your own. Having said that, if you do try them, I'd love to know what you think.

My first recipe is sea bass fillets roasted with sweet potato and tomato, served with creamy spinach.

Serves 2 

-- for the sea bass --
2 sweet potaoes, peeled & chopped into chunks
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Dried rosemary
10 cherry tomatoes
2 sea bass fillets
 -- for the spinach --
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled & finely chopped (or crushed or grated)
1/2 a bag of spinach (about 100g)
1 tbsp double cream

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6. 
Put the sweet potatoes in a pan of water, bring to the boil then boil for 5 minutes.
With a slotted spoon transfer the potaoes to a roasting tin (keep the sweet potato water), drizzle with some oil, salt, pepper & rosemary.
Place in the oven for 15 minutes.
In a frying pan, gently heat some oil, then fry the onion until lightly browned.
Add the garlic and mix through for about a minute, then turn off the heat.
When the potatoes are done, add the cherry tomatoes and place back in the oven for 5 minutes.
Then add the sea bass fillets, skin down, on top of the veg, and put back in the oven for 10 minutes.
With the water you boiled the sweet potatoes in, pour away all but about 1/2 cm, then add the spinach. Put the lid on and allow to wilt for about 2 minutes.
Drain the water from the spinach, getting as much out as you can, then add the spinach to the onion.
Turn the heat back on and fry for 5 minutes to warm through.
Just before the sea bass comes out of the oven (about 1 minute left on timer) add the cream & sprinkle with nutmeg. Stir through then serve.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Kids Clothes Week Challenge

Following my discovery of Crafts from the Cwtch I have found a load of new blogs to read and things to try. One of them being Elsie Marley's Kids Clothes Week Challenge.

This challenge takes place during the second week of October, the premise being that for one week you spend 1 hour a day making clothes for kids.

I would love to be able to make clothes for Evie (& myself). I have great memories of my mum's friend making clothes for me and sister and we'd have great fun picking the fabric. I've tried making clothes before, but not really with any degree of success and I have have no idea how (or if) I'll be able to work it around baby duties, but I want to give it a try.

So, this is me signing up. Wish me luck! (And if you can recommend any basic/getting started patterns - that would be great.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

FO Friday #1 Baby Sleeping Bag

Pattern: Baby Cocoon Sack by Bernat
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Worsted (Pistachio) & Cascade 220 (Cream), approx 1 skein of each for sack, plus oddments for flowers
Needle Size: 4.5mm, circular, 3.75mm crochet hook for flowers
Started: 20th July 2011
Finished: 16th September 2011

I didn't follow the pattern exactly as I just wanted the stripes rather than texture. I added the little crochet flowers & a button to make it a bit more girlie, and lined it with a light fleece blanket to make it super soft & cwtchy.

Crochet flower embellishment
Super soft & cwtchy fleece lining

It was a pretty easy project as it was knit in the round and, apart from the lining & flowers, there was no making up to do. I am not entirely happy with the flowers, they look a bit thrown on at the moment, but I'm not sure how to improve this. Maybe by adding some leaves? (Any suggestions appreciated.)

I will definitely experiment with the general shape of this bag and plan to make another one for when Evie is too big for this. I also quite fancy one for myself....but really don't think I have that much patience.

This post was inspired by a linky set up by Tami's Amis & Other Creations, which I discovered via Crafts from the Cwtch, and I hope will become a permanent fixture on this blog.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Evie Grace

It's been a strange, wonderful, busy, emotional, amazing few weeks since my last post.

All thanks to the early arrival of our little Fidget. :)

Our beautful daughter, Evie Grace, arrived on Sunday, 28th August 2011 at 12:28pm weighing 6lb 7oz.

She was 3 weeks early and apparently in quite a hurry. I won't give you all the gory details, but it all happened quite quickly.

Hubby & I were due to be hosting a cheese & wine event at the rugby club on Sunday. My waters broke at 7:30am, but following all the advice we had been given about not rushing in, and because I wasn't in any pain and expected to be hours, if not days before we had any sign of baby, we decided to carry on. I phoned the midwife who said she'd call in later on in the morning, and hubby popped out to pick up some last minute supplies for the event.

I started having pains at around 10am, and by 10:30 they were lasting 45 seconds and were about 5 minutes apart! When hubby returned we called the midwife again and she said to call the labour ward, who said they'd get someone to call us back. Then I had the urge to push. We were then told to go to the hospital, and we arrived at 11:30am, when I was told I was fully dilated and that baby would be here within the hour. Which she was. :)

It was all very quick, and very unexpected. I managed with just gas & air - didn't really have time for anything else, and despite a little issue with the placenta, it all went very smoothly. I had to stay in hospital until Tuesday because Evie wasn't feeding as she should, and when we did get discharged, we were then readmitted on the Thursday as she had lost over 10% of her birth weight and had jaundice.

We then had 3 days of phototherapy to treat the jaundice and Evie was being fed with a tube to make sure she was taking all she needed. We finally got home on the following Sunday and she's now doing wonderfully.

Throughout all of this I have been expressing my breastmilk to give to her so she has the best....but I think that's a whole other blog post.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hexipuffs & the Beekeepers Quilt

One thing I have been looking forward to since I found out I was pregnant is creating memories and family traditions. I love looking at the albums I have from when I was younger and the little traditions we had at Christmas time and birthdays, and I can't wait til Evie is old enough for us to start making our own.

I also remember the granny square crochet blanket, made by my Mum, that we used to cwtch up underneath when we were ill, or to watch TV together. So, when I saw the gorgeous Beekeepers Quilt by Tiny Owl Knits, it was love at first sight and I definitely have to make one for our own cwtchy nights in. 

This blanket has been designed to look like a quilt with little knitted hexagons that are stuffed and sewn together. Each little hexipuff (as they have been named) is a tiny little project in itself, and will hopefully appeal to the crafty side of me that needs instant gratification. As they only need a few grams of yarn each, this is also an ideal stash busting project - for which Hubby will be eternally grateful I'm sure. :)

I am not going to put a deadline on it, but hope to make at least one little hexipuff a day. These little knitted puffs have really taken off in the knitting world with plenty of fans and knit-alongs on Ravelry, a Facebook group and plenty of blog posts showing people's progress - just search Google for Beekeeper's Quilt.

I made my first hexipuff yesterday (definitely need some practice) which isn't quite perfect and did take some getting used to, though it does give me a chance to try some new cast on and cast off techniques. I will post progress weekly & look forward to meeting all you hexipuff addicts. Very glad I'll have some time to get started while on maternity leave..... 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September's Challenge - Finish UFOs

Every month I plan to set myself a challenge, so that I have something to aim for. The first challenge is to complete some of the UFOs (Un-Finished Objects) I have started.

I am great at starting projects, not so good at finishig them off, which is probably why I get so disillusioned and tend to have a bit of an on/off relationship with the crafting world. My finishing techniques also really need some practice.

I have a few projects I started while pregnant that I am determined to finish before Fidget gets too big for them.

Sleeping Bag

This is a little sleeping bag for Fidget, knit in the round then lined with fleece. I've cut out a lining from a very soft, dimpled fleece blanket and need to sew this in to finish it.

I have done all the knitting for this cardigan, again I just need to join the seams to finish it. I've been putting it off because my finishing technique isn't great and I'm afraid of spoiling it. 

This cute little bootie needs it's partner.

Crochet Blanket

I started this blanket when we were re-admitted to hospital for Fidget's jaundice and I needed to do something productive rather than sit there worrying. So I haven't been working on it for that long, but I would like to finish it before the end of the month.Planning to finish it off with a coloured border....maybe knitted for a bit of contrast.

If you'd like to join in, you are more than welcome, just comment below telling me how you'll be taking part and with a link to your blog/website.