Thursday, December 4, 2014

the extra long, extra lovely scarf..

I know we're in our very first days of summer here, but I've had a bee in my bonnet about making this scarf since I posted this one a little while ago.

I found myself some chunky cotton in just the right shade and couldn't wait to get started.  It's extra length and can wrap around me twice! But I love it all loose and dangly, and I can see that it's going to be a staple next winter, especially with that tan clutch those tiny fingers are trying to reach up there.

In fact, I might even have been wearing it curled up on the couch some nights recently, but who can blame me..

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

2014..on reflection

All of a sudden we are here in December!  Beach bags at the ready, alfresco dinners and sand between our toes..oh, yes please!

2014 is coming to a flying end, and I woke yesterday, the first day of summer, reflecting on the year that has been. 

My body tired, my mind weary and my heart a little heavy.  Its been a year of great loss, with the passing of two beautiful members of our extended family.  The sadness becomes a part of your everyday, but you don't always acknowledge that its there.  You worry about other family members and how they're feeling, if they're coping, the enormous weight of grief they must be carrying in their hearts.  Though there is comfort in the fact that our family is so big and so very wonderful. We are lucky.

Then in October, we welcomed my darling niece into the world.  My baby brother's first baby, what an absolute joy! Seeing my brothers become fathers, and watching our family grow is really something very beautiful.

Its been a year so busy and so distracted, that I feel changed.  Hopefully for the better, I'm not sure yet, my head is still spinning.  My mantra for this year has been 'let go', and boy, have I had to let go! Let go of everything being so perfect, let go of commitments that were not a priority, to not be as available to school as I would have liked, to not care so much about what everyone else might expect of me, or what they might think of my absence everywhere.

To let go this year has been my survival mechanism.  Sometimes for the better and if I'm honest, also to the detriment of this family and these little people that are my whole world.

I came across our very favourite christmas story book recently, it's tradition to read a story from it every night in the month of december, and a sudden realisation hit me like a tone of bricks, 'we haven't been reading bedtime stories! When did we stop reading bedtime stories??' I don't even remember!  I picked up that christmas book and we started that very night.

Ever so gradually, our priorities had shifted.  Work went to the top, managing the house close second, and everyone else fitting in the gaps.  I'm sad to say, that somewhere along the way I let go of the values I held most dear, being available to my family.  I could see it happening, too.  But trying to stay on top of everything else was completely consuming.  I was forgetting things, important things, life was spinning out of control.  Then I got really sick with a shocking flu.  My boys were so wonderful, offering to help with all kinds of things, giving me extra hugs, doing their best to behave and not fight (at least so they didn't think I could hear them).  Through endless fevers and aches I worked, got them to school and back, made dinner (of sorts) each night and cried, I cried a lot, at the craziness of it all.

After a week the fevers broke, and everything looked different.  The illness was gone and with it, the distorted way of living life I'd become accustomed to over the last few months. I can't ever get that time back, but I can make sure I do not let it happen again.  Remembering to be in the smallest of moments.  Sitting in silence.  Listening to my kids, and talking with them, not at them.

Of course, this time of year has a way of becoming manic, with all the tying up of loose ends, preparing for christmas, school books and uniforms for next year, and so many dates to remember. It's busy, but I will make lists, I'll plan ahead and I will not loose my way like that again.

A new clearer, brighter year is just around the corner, but for now I'm just looking forward to our christmas break and living each beautiful day with the blessings that surround me.

Monday, November 24, 2014

the blossom cowl..a pattern

Here it is! It's the Blossom Cowl pattern requested by so many of you.  Even though we're heading into much warmer months down here in Aus,  you might make it a little summertime project, all ready to wear in plenty of time for Autumn. For all those who are rugging up in your winter woolies right now, the timing is perfect to start something new!

I think this is one of the prettiest crochet stitches of all, and although its finished products look quite complex and detailed, it's actually very straightforward.  Like most of my work, it's simply one stitch repeat, repeat, repeat!   

To begin, you will need:
  • 200gm in your choice of 8ply yarn
  • 4.50mm or 5.00mm crochet hook *
  • tapestry needle
  • scissors
The stitch we are using here is the shell stitch, and a single shell is made up of:
  • double crochet (dc)
  • treble crochet (tr)
  • single crochet (sc)
When working a shell stitch we work in increments of 6 (one shell for every 6 chains).

Let's go!

Chain (ch) 120, plus 2

First Row..
be sure to push your hook through both top stitches of the chains in your foundation chain, this will ensure you have the scalloped edge at the bottom of your cowl (see third pic).

1 double crochet (dc) into the second last ch, skip 2 ch, 5 treble (tr) into the third ch, skip 2 ch, 1 dc into the third = one shell.
Continue all the way to the end of your foundation chain, then ch 1 (turning ch) and turn your work

Second Row..
3 tr ** into the first dc (we only work 3 tr at the ends, the rest of the row work 5 tr per shell), skip 2, 1 dc into the third, skip 2, 5 tr into the third, skip 2, 1 dc into the third and repeat to the end

Continue this until your cowl is at the required length, this usually uses the full 200gm, but be sure to allow enough yarn for stitching up your seam.

To stitch up your seam, fold the cowl in half so that each row is lined up and carefully thread with your tapestry needle. Tie off, weave in the ends and voila!
Of course you might choose to work your cowl into the round and avoid a seam altogether.  Or you might like to leave it open and pop a button or brooch  on to keep it in place.

*the size of your hook can vary depending on your yarn and wether you generally work your tension tight or loose, it can vary from one person to the next.

**I like to treble 3 at the end as it gives the work a neater finish.

So there you have it.  I hope this is easy for you to follow.  We had a practice at The Craft Sessions recently and I've since made some amendments to really break it down.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

making as medicine..

I tell you, you people are very lovely.  I have been inundated with pattern requests these last few months, such a compliment!  I must apologise for tardy responses and being oh so slow at getting those patterns up here for you, though. 

Firstly, there's the simple lack of time to sit and think and write, and secondly, as you know, patterns are really so far out of my comfort zone, both the following and the writing!  

But I will do my very best, bare with me,  I'm so looking forward to sharing them with you all. 

To be perfectly honest, I struggle to know where to begin, I think perhaps I over-complicate it in my mind.  My pieces are very simple, using straightforward, repetitive stitches.  I enjoy the simple rhythm, and therapeutic nature of the making.

I had a very special moment with a beautiful friend recently.  She told me that making for me is medicinal.  It's my medicine.  I'd never looked at it this way, but she's right.  Time to stop and crochet those repetitive stitches are as valuable to me as a yoga class or taking time out to myself.

What she said next made me cry happy tears.  She said that when I make, I'm sharing my medicine. Sharing the calm, nurturing qualities that those pieces hold.  Woah!  I love this, and it makes perfect sense to me.  You know that feeling you get when someone asks you to make something for them, or when you have the perfect gift in mind and you can't wait to get started?  It's all about how it makes you feel.  Its a part of you, and the love you put into creating for someone else.

So, anyway, I just wanted to share that with you all and to assure you that my pattern posts are on their way, and I hope that through these you are able to share the love of making as medicine, too.

Monday, October 13, 2014


Can you believe it, thirteen!  I can't.

This beautiful boy who fills me with awe, and pride and so much love.  

I look at him and he makes me smile.  Actually, I look at him and listen to him talk, with his shakey pitchy voice, and I can't help but giggle.  Watching him move into this new phase of his life is giving us so much joy right now. I know things will most likely change, that's what they say isn't it, the years ahead are supposed to be our toughest yet. But right now, he is joy, and we are loving watching him grow.

I listen to his thoughts, his ideals, his plans for the future and I'm so overwhelmed by all that he is and all he might be. I'm also completely terrified as his independence broadens, of all that lies ahead in the near and distant future, and I pray that he is wise and sensible and has good judgement.

This boy who made me a mother has taught me so much, and we continue to learn from one another every day. He's always been a little beyond his years, an old head on young shoulders, perhaps experiences have shaped him this way. He's faced a lot of challenges in his young life already, and its been hard, really hard.  He doesn't realise just yet, but through his courage he's made a difference, and that's a pretty incredible thing.

Now, as I watch him grow, I don't see him changing so much as I see him becoming more of who he is. His confidence, his humour, his expectations and perceptions.  It's like watching a butterfly ever so gradually emerge, and I'm completely fascinated by him.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

a pattern for you..

I've been overwhelmed by lovely people admiring my ribbed cowls lately, so I thought it was high time I shared the pattern with you all.

This one is  l u s h !  It's enormous and incredibly soft with super drape, and it is one of the fastest projects you will ever make.  I would love to see this as a simple long open ended scarf too, I think it would be quite stunning all loosely wrapped around and hanging.

Little feet interrupting my shoot and standing right in the middle of the cowl give you an idea of the scale.  It's big.

I chose 'Hudson' by Vera Moda for the yarn which is a wool/acrylic blend, simply because it was the fattest yarn I could find.  Something in a thick cotton or jersey could be nice too.  I have also used a 10mm hook to create the airy drape element.

Using this size yarn creates a cowl which measures approx. 60cm high x 48cm wide this might vary depending on your tension.  I like to keep my tension quite loose.

So to break it down..

350 grams of super chunky yarn (the actual size wasn't on the label)
10mm hook and loose hands for airy drape

To begin, I have chained 50 plus 1 (this is my turning stitch)

First Row..
1 treble into the back loop of each chain all the way to the end
chain 1 and turn your work

Second Row..
just like your first row, 1 treble into the back stitch of each treble in the previous row, do this all the way to the end
chain 1 and turn your work

Subsequent Rows..
Repeat as per row 2 until your work is the desired width

After about the third row, you'll be able to see the rib effect taking shape

To finish..
Tie off your yarn, leaving a long tail.  Make sure it's long enough to stitch your cowl's sides together.
Fold your cowl in half, the ribs running vertical (running straight up and down).
Using a tapestry needle, join your sides.  Be careful to keep your stitches neat and you'll find they will be almost invisible when you hold/wear your cowl.
Weave in your ends.

And that's that! So easy!

Give it a go and maybe you could do a post to show us your finished product.  If you do, share your link here in the comments, I'd love to see!

Friday, August 29, 2014

her birth story..

It's taken me eighteen months to get around to writing this, but the words were not there before now.  Now, as our breastfeeding story is coming to an end and I'm feeling nostalgic and a little bit emotional.  I fed her the longest out of all of my babies, and I've loved every single moment.  I'm going to miss her chubby hands caressing my skin as she goes into her milk zone daze, she takes me with her and it is so peaceful and beautiful, that place that only she and I share. Yes, I will miss it a lot.

Her story is different from the others, it was the only time I'd ever had to be induced.  It was frightening, unfamiliar and unknown, but it had to happen this way because I discovered in my eighth month that I had a condition called Cholestasis.

I'd never heard of this before, and coincidentally, I'm finding it pop up on medical and pregnancy sites so often of late.  It seems to be a lot more common than I thought, yet nobody really knows about it. Cholestasis is a liver condition that can be caused due to an abundance of pregnancy hormones which hinder the breakdown of bile salts, forcing them to build up in your blood and reducing the flow of oxygen through the body.  It was in my eighth month that I had a couple of episodes of nausea which I hadn't experienced since the first trimester, and never at this stage in previous pregnancies.  I began to feel an increase in the severity of my everyday itchiness, but I didn't think much of it, putting it down to the usual stretching skin and fluid retention.  But then, the itching became so intense on the palms of my hands and my feet that I struggled to find relief, feeling drawn to the cool roughness of our garden stones and the course sand in the ocean. I'd twist and turn, burying my feet as far as they could go.  It became constant and it was then that Nick forced me to check it out with our doctor.  

Everything changed from that moment.  He ordered me to have a blood test immediately.  He was cool, calm and reassuring, but there was an urgency in his tone and I knew it was serious. You see Cholestasis can be fatal, the bile acids and/or lack of oxygen flowing through the blood to the placenta can cause stillbirth.

I was lucky and, to this day, with all that went on in the early days of the pregnancy (you can read about that here),  I believe wholeheartedly that this doctor was sent to us by greater powers.  He had sadly and tragically experienced the unthinkable outcome of this condition with a patient early in his career and was so switched on to its symptoms.  He told me the story afterwards. We'll be forever grateful to him for managing us so well.

So with three weeks to go before our due date, my doctor, our hero, arranged for me to be induced. The timing could not have been more inconvenient, but we were certainly not going to argue.  I was to be induced the day before the first day of the school year.  Mother guilt and fretting began to take hold, not to mention that we were only a month into running our own business which in that very week was still to this day the busiest week we've ever had! Needless to say, stress levels and blood pressure were climbing.

I found myself mentally and emotionally shutting out everything that wasn't within my immediate control.  Mum had come to stay and was going to manage the boys and their first days of school, I had to let Nick do whatever he had to do to manage the business, and I had to concentrate solely on birthing this baby.

I kissed my boys goodbye, told them I loved them and would be thinking of them on their first day of school.  They were wonderful.  Soldiering on amongst, what seemed to me, total chaos.  Yet, it all seemed so...structured.  Checking into the hospital felt strange, every other time labour had been in full swing.   We went straight in for our scheduled CTG, with my doctor coming in soon after to administer the prostoglandin.  We were pretty certain this would bring everything on fairly quickly considering it was my fourth time around.  I truly thought we'd have our baby in our arms within a few short hours.  I was taken to the pre-labour ward to wait for things to begin.  We waited and waited, Nick took work calls and co-ordinated jobs.  Afternoon became night time and I realised this could take a lot longer than I imagined.  Nick went home to be with the boys to try to keep things as normal as possible, I tried to settle in and to get some rest but it was quite impossible with all that goes on in hospitals. Sirens, p.a announcements, hysterical patients and all the visitors to the lady next to me, so many visitors, she hadn't even had the baby yet!

By the early hours of the morning, with no sign of labour, I was beginning to feel really annoyed.  I was annoyed because the night before I went to bed early and had such a good night sleep, I'd spent the day being calm and preparing my mind. I felt strong and ready.  Now, here I was exhausted and sleep deprived and feeling far from strong!

At 5am, I was moved into the birth suite where I would wait for my doctor to arrive and break my waters.  I sat up to a cup of tea and toast,  and all I could think about was that I should have been at home with my boys taking their first day photos and seeing them into their new grades.

Nick soon arrived, half expecting a baby on my chest, or at least for me to be bent over heaving with contractions.  A bit of a let down, but all the more time to keep organising work and the jobs were pouring in!  The doctor came to assess me and then broke my waters.  Now I was sure we were about to have a baby.  I was hooked up to a mobile CTG so the baby's heartbeat was under constant supervision.  The hours ticked by, I walked laps of the room strapped in wires, dragging this machine around with me.  I went through almost my entire supply of carefully packed hospital underwear before I decided that it was just more practical to wear a towel. We paced, I ate. Nick ran out to do a shoot and returned, still nothing.  Not even the slightest cramp.

By 5pm, more than 24 hours since we arrived, this baby was not even close to coming out.  In walks my doctor, once again all cool and calm, but just like before I could sense his urgency around getting this baby out and safely into my arms.  The next step was the Oxytocin IV, and if that didn't work it was to be an emergency cesarian.  The idea of all of this felt so foreign and so unnatural after 3 natural drug free births.  It was difficult to accept, but we would do anything to ensure this baby was born safe and healthy.

They started with low doses of the oxytocin, increasing it every half hour before contractions finally began.  Finally!! This was good.  I was exhausted from lack of sleep and all the waiting, but I was willing the pain, I wanted to feel it, I needed to feel it and to know this baby was on its way.  For the first time, I was restricted to the bed. Not being able to move around to distract from the intensity of the pain took such focus and control.  I don't know where that comes from. Somewhere deep within. It's a strength that we have, us mothers, its incredibly primal and raw and it is there when we need it the most.

I would breathe through the contractions, everything around me disappearing into a fog, conversations between Nick and the midwife soft muffled sound in the distance.  The midwife was amazing, as they are.  She was so in tune with what I needed and sensed very quickly that I didn't require back rubs, encouragement or comforting, she could see I was in another place.  Then the contraction would ease and she'd be right there, back on deck and ready to monitor the wires and my pillows.

Nick always knows when its about to happen.  He spends the whole time checking in, asking what I need but knowing I don't want anything, I'm in my birthing zone.  It's when I take hold of his hand that he knows.  This is when the pain becomes almost more than I can bare.  This is it, and he braces himself to be my strength, and to watch this baby come into the world.  This is it.

It's the best part, that last push.  The hardest, but the best.  And then you feel her little body slide, literally slide, right out all wet and wavey-like, there is nothing like that feeling, its so hard to describe.

Now relief and exhaustion and elation.
Suddenly there are lots of people around and I don't know where they came from. With my body trembling, they lift her up and put her on my chest and she is so beautiful.  This tiny, tiny divine little being, all warm and sticky and purplish and perfect, and she's crying the daintiest little cry.

My doctor arrived then.  He just missed it. After all the waiting, labour itself was very quick.  I looked at him and thanked him through my tears, and I could see the relief on his face too.  For all of his professionalism and smoothness, I could see that he was as nervous as we were about this baby's safe arrival.  Thank goodness for him, our gratitude is overwhelming.

And now here she is, in all her chunky sweetness.  This little shining light to complete our family of six.  Blessed.

Friday, August 22, 2014

something special..

My sweet cousin is expecting her first baby in a few weeks, the first grandchild for my aunty and uncle and the 35th great grandchild for my amazing Nana who passed away this month at 96.

Needless to say, I was thrilled when my cousin asked me to make a floor rug for her nursery.  She said 'something handmade by family would just be so special' and well, you know how I feel about making for someone who appreciates handmade, and its even more special when its to welcome a brand new baby into the world. It was such an honour.

So here it is.  All ready for baby (number 75 in total #outtathemother). Pictured in black and white because I haven't gifted it yet.

I love it.  My kids love it too. I'm thinking we might need one for our living room.