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.

Friday, September 09, 2011

minirhi makes


Welcome to my new blog, a new online home for all my craftiness.

I have always been a bit crafty, but the recent onslaught of the handmade revolution has brought it out in force, reminding me how much I like making things, and how much I have yet to learn. There are so many things I want to try and skills I want to improve.... and I'll be documenting it all here.

Just under two weeks ago I gave birth to my first child - a beautiful baby girl we've named Evie Grace. (Though from here on in we'll call her Fidget, which was her nickname while I was pregnant.) I'm hoping that maternity leave, and such a gorgeous model, will give me some time and encouragement to spend more time making and doing.

I've been knitting since I was about 16, have more recently started to crochet and have dabbled in felting. I have done a bit of cross stitch and patchwork too, and have attempted making clothes. I have a background in graphic design, and love to bake.

I'll be combining this with plans to be a bit more thrifty by saving and hopefully making money on my crafty journey by mending and customising clothes, possibly selling my crafts and any other ideas that spring up in the meantime.

And if I could make it a profitable business (alongside my cakes) ..... well, that would be just awesome.