Tag: family

Preparatory Position

Have you ever watched a row of people stand at a bank counter?

The high, old fashioned kind with a screen, not the new ones that look like space pods. Almost everyone will put their weight on one foot and bend their other knee to rest their toe on the floor.

There’s a similar preparatory position in ballet (but a little more turned out), you usually use it before you set off on an exercise that travels across the floor, or in the wings when you’re about to run, leap etc onto stage.

In this position there’s a little rock onto the back foot that you take before you set off. It’s a fairly small movement, but the idea is to take it a breath before the start of the music so you can start in an active state, rather than trying to catch up. Being off balance keeps you alert.

I feel like I’m waiting for the breath before the music that will set me off balance. I know the outline of our new routine, but it’s not in my body yet, it doesn’t feel natural and automatic.

So merde to everyone starting new things next week, we’ll be thinking of you.

Moderate or Good, Occasionally Poor

I’m wafting gently through the weeks at the moment.

The weather is nothing special, I’m in the middle of two medium to large projects that I can’t really show at the moment, and my companions are mostly silent (but good company).

It’s quite soothing, but the odd day of excitement (Dragon’s school induction!) takes me rather by surprise and I end up needing half a day staring out the window to get over it.

I’m still picking away at things, even if it is in slow motion.

Are we nearly there yet?

I like to think of myself as adaptable, open to change and unflappable.

But I’m really not.

I absolutely appreciate the fact that we can use the in law’s flat as a bolthole while we have work done (and the amount of grime on even the parts of the flat as far away from the bathroom as possible is truly stunning), but I want to go home!

I’ve got some exciting news coming up in the next week or so, but in the meantime I’m trying to maintain my good humour with the aid of a gorgeous view over the Meadows and the odd tea party.

Last Vestiges

This is going to be strange…

…for me, more than you (with the possible exception of the four or so of my readers who have inside knowledge).

Misericordia Mansions started out as the Lovely Young Man’s student flat, lo this 15 or so years ago. It was distinctly upmarket for a student flat (the boy has standards), but there were still idiosyncratic touches such as orange radiators throughout, unusual paint combinations, and a cork in the cornicing.

Found it yet?

Over the years, we’ve been upgrading in bits and pieces, but since we’ve moved back, there has been a more concerted plan (and budget).

Next week they start ripping out the bathroom, which is the last big project before our flat looks like a house where grown ups live. (But for Heaven’s sake, don’t tell those grown ups, we quite like it here!)

The only thing that was worrying me was Kipling. Every six months or so, a new generation of mice forget to heed the warnings of their elders and squeeze through a gap between the bathroom wall and floor where they meet this charmer…briefly.

I probably don’t need to fret, in a Victorian tenement another mouse dispenser is bound to appear, but I thought it was a fitting farewell when we heard the unmistakeable sounds of mouse-crunching in the middle of the night.

We’re decamping while works are underway, but I’ll be confecting a little something with these which I can share later in the summer.

Not Quite Hibernating

Is there a word for hibernating which evokes lying in the sunshine?

All this baby stuff is certainly different this time around, or perhaps I am different, or (even more likely) it’s a little of both.

I remember feeling an overwhelming urge and ability to accomplish things when Dragon was born. This resulted in the Three by Three quilt (which is much in use at the moment) and a fairly extensive baby book.

This time, while the astonishing range and throughput of infant digestive systems no longer makes me weep, I’m really struggling to do… anything.

Instead piles of things I’m halfway through are mushrooming up around the house while I read Agatha Christie and stare vaguely at the walls.

On the other hand, I sold two pieces this week, so perhaps all is not lost.

Little Lion – in the wild

[whispered, in the style of David Attenborough]

Little Lion

Here we can see the most juvenile member of the Misericordia Mansions Menagerie. This young female appears to prize physical contact above all other stimuli and will frequently spend hours in the same position in a more senior Menagerist’s arms. At only two weeks old, she will eventually open her eyes and start to interact with other members of the group, especially the junior male.

nappy change

To demonstrate his new position in the Menagerie, the junior male brings gifts and watches the mid-ranking male and female as they care for the new arrival.

Small scuffles have been observed between the most senior female Menagerists, but these rarely lead to violence and are probably part of a complex ritual to demonstrate their joint status in the hierarchy.

That Whooshing Sound?

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

– Douglas Adams

For once it’s not me missing a deadline, it’s Little Lion.

Obviously giving them a feline nickname was a mistake, as they seem entirely unwilling to vacate their comfortable nest.

But today’s the day the metaphorical duvet is shaken out and the tedious sleeplessness and vagueness of  late pregnancy is replaced by the bewildering sleeplessness and vagueness of life with a newborn.

See you on the other side.

I’m Not Afraid of Hand Work

Well, this is quite exciting, Dragon has a proto-quilt!

I always joked that I couldn’t have another child until I finished Dragon’s quilt and, as I type this that’s sort of true (but I’ve scheduled this to post about 10 days after I’m writing it).

My mum was due to arrive on a Saturday morning, and since I’d need to use the spare room/dining room to lay out the quilt ready to baste it, I planned a whole Friday to spend on it.

I thought I’d experiment with starching the top and back before I basted them, especially because there’s an awful lot of linen blend in there, so a little glide between the layers was going to be a good thing.

I’ve been using this tutorial from Oh Fransson! recently, where you lay out the wadding and the top, roll them up, and then lay them out on the backing.

All was going well for the first part, but the quilt top was a little bigger than I remembered. So I duly rolled it up and spread out the back, ready to tape to the floor.

If you have a cat, you’ll know that there is a point where the cat will come in, roll around on your project and generally require you to take a very deep breath before you do something you regret.

That was only a precursor to the realisation that the back of the quilt was smaller than the front, and that I didn’t have enough of the gray linen to just cut two long pieces to go at the top and side.

Six and a half hours of hand piecing later, I had extended the back sufficiently to lay out the top again.

Problem Number 2 then reared its head: How do I centre the top onto the pieced back so that when you turn it over, the binding and the seams of the squares run parallel? I fussed and fretted over this all of Friday evening, until I realised this – No one is the boss of me. Just because I have found someone’s technique useful in the past, doesn’t mean that I always have to use it.

Because the back is more detailed at the bottom left and fades to monochrome at the top right, I could line up the top and back edges at one corner and allow it to go where it pleased as I moved diagonally across.

Once I whip stitched the edges on two sides, I set off with another new method of basting, pad stitching, taken from tailoring, but quite effective and surprisingly quick for basting (some of that may have happened at 4am when I couldn’t sleep).

Overall, I’m quite pleased with how it came out. I appreciate there’s a significant amount of hand quilting to do still, but at least it’s ready to pick up and start.

I’m also glad I remembered who is in charge in this making lark (me, in case I need to check back later on), and discovered the pad stitch method of basting.


Of Ice Queens and Parenting Foibles

Parenting is a bit like trying to drill holes in the walls of our Victorian flat.

From the outset you’ll never be quite sure whether you’ll remain as unyielding as surprise masonry or as soft and crumbly as lath and plaster (or in fact be made entirely of newspaper and Polyfilla, but I can’t make that relate to parenting, so lets pretend we haven’t spoken of it).

My large weak spot is costuming. I’m starting to be able to tap the figurative walls and guess when this indulgence will rear its head, and when an invitation to a Frozen birthday party appeared, I knew it would be better to anticipate than react.

Luckily, I’ve been spared the princess-mania and since Dragon’s favourite character is Olaf the snowman, I could suggest a t-shirt rather than a full ensemble.

I’m pleased that this one came together with an investment of £1 in charity shop clothing and some felt (not to mention that I feel I’ve escaped very lightly without metres of sparkly tulle).


In the Walled Garden – Baby Quilt

This baby quilt feels like the end of an era.

Many moons ago when I was child-free and full of time that was my own, a very good school friend had a baby. So what could be more natural than to make her a quilt?

(Look at wee Kippie trying to help!)

Then I had a baby, then she had another baby. I didn’t want anyone to feel I was playing favourites, so I made a quilt. I enjoyed it, but it took a little longer than the first one (still under a year).

Then we had a synchronous increase in family size, her youngest arrived at about the time I discovered there was a Little Lion on the way, and I’ve been working on (what she assures me will be) the last quilt in the series.

It’s a mixture of machine and hand quilting, and I’m quite pleased with how it turned out in the end. (Although I have to admit I got a little stuck in the middle of it all.) Plus, I’ve managed to finish it within the one year self-imposed limit!

I think I’m going to give quilt-making for other people’s children a little break; for one thing I now have two quilts to finish for my own offspring and I’m also finding that hand sewing as a way to relax from hand embroidering is not quite as soothing as it might be.

But watch this space for Dragon and Lion’s quilt updates because I’m determined to get moving while my nesting spell is upon me!

(The photos of the previous quilts link to their original outings on my blog, if you fancy seeing more photos or reading more about their creation.)

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