Tuesday, 30 June 2015

How to :: Crochet I-Cord ::

Tutorial and video, explaining how to crochet i-cord.

I have a little jewellery making tutorial coming up that requires the use of some crochet I-Cord (though you can totally use knitted I-Cord too if you'd rather). So I figured before sharing that with you I'll give you a little tutorial on how to make the I-Cord itself first.

Tutorial and video, explaining how to crochet i-cord.

I-Cord is really very, very simple to make, both with knitting and crochet and is simply a lovely little tube of stitches, ideal for adding to all kinds of projects, or can even be knit/crocheted with itself.

Crochet i-cord is essentially exactly the same as knitted i-cord the way I make it, but if you're not comfortable with knitting or just find crochet easier on the whole, this is a great technique. I haven't yet timed myself, but I'm also fairly confident this way is much quicker for me.

Tutorial and video, explaining how to crochet i-cord.

All you need is some yarn and a crochet hook in a size best suited to your yarn. I've made a video which gives you a step by step guide, but if you'd rather words and pictures I have those for you too, just keep scrolling.

Friday, 26 June 2015

9 Months ::

Last week Miss Effie Tallulah turned 9 months, meaning she's been out in the world growing as long as she was inside growing. She is turning into such a feisty independent little character.

Crawling is now very much established and she's quick, much too quick, she also fears nothing, so must be watched like a hawk at all times, also she will put EVERYTHING she finds on the ground in her mouth. I made a beanbag last week, so I've spent the majority of last 7 days retrieving polystyrene balls from her mouth. She's started to pull herself up now too, not on the sofas yet, but anything a little shorter and she's up. I am very much not ready for walking yet. Of course she'll probably decide to do that the week we move house, but I am hopeful it will a long way off yet, Milo was well past one before he started.

She now has two very prominent bottom teeth. She's recently discovered she can actually use these to take little chunks off things, which she seems very proud of, I love watching her bite small pieces of rice cakes off with them, a look of satisfaction in her eyes.

Routine-wise not a lot has changed since last month, still having 4 milk feeds a day, 3 meals and one nap in the morning, sometimes a little afternoon catnap if given the opportunity.

She is cheeky! She seems to understand 'no' now and is aware of the things she's not supposed to touch/put in her mouth, I can tell this by the way she looks at me whilst doing exactly that as if to say 'look Mum I'm going to do that thing you don't like'. For the most part though, when you tell her 'no' she usually does stop.

She blows kisses and gives out high fives, she tries to clap, but isn't all that successful! She'll also come to me now and put her arms up to be lifted/cuddled. I completely forgot how it feels to be needed in this way. Milo's so much older than her and so independent he rarely needs me for cuddles. It's really lovely to have someone who does, even though I know it won't last forever. Which is exactly what I keep reminding myself when I feel like she's attached my hip and I'm not getting anything done.

She makes a lot of sounds now and has a lot of chat, but not really any words. So far we have 'at' (cat or any kind of animal) 'dad-eee' (daddy, of course she can see daddy and not mama and calls for him regularly throughout the day when he is at work!) and as of yesterday 'ilo' (milo, which prior to yesterday was 'arah' repeated very loudly when waiting for him outside school or when he was ignoring her). I'm not going to lie it would be nice to hear 'mama' soon, but I'm sure it will come soon enough.

She's such a happy, friendly, smiley, sociable baby and I'm so lucky to have her.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Blogtacular 2015 ::

Last weekend I headed over to London for a fabulously inspiring, fun filled weekend, surrounded by amazingly creative folks in pretty spectacular surroundings. It was of course the second Blogtacular event.
I went along last year and I cannot tell you how much it changed the way I think about my blog and work in general, how much I learned and what an amazingly positive effect it has had.

So when the weekend finally arrived (Johnny bought my ticket for me last August as a birthday gift, so it seems I've been waiting forever!) I was so excited. Partly because I got a weekend away (my first since Effie was born) and got to hang out with Joanne of Not So Granny, who I don't think I had seen since last Blogtacular. But mostly because I knew I would come away full of inspiration and ideas. I certainly wasn't wrong.
As with last years event, I think my favourite was the opening keynote, (now avaliable to watch online here) given by the fabulous Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge. I also really enjoyed Fran of Fall For DIY's talk on blogging full time and took loads of useful information away from Kat Molesworth's photography workshop. However just being there surrounded by all those wonderful bloggers was incredible.

There were some great sponsors around showing off their wares and giving you the opportunity to pitch to them. Plus the new addition of the Genius Bar, where 3 talented ladies were available all day for brain picking and chats. I loved the crafty activities provided by seeds and stitches and even did a little shopping at the market place. 
After the conference West Elm hosted an after party sponsored by Pinterest, full to the brim of crafty folks running crafty escapades. I made a little plant pot cosy using some gorgeous Nikki McWilliams fabric and tried my hand at some paper cutting. 

It was lovely to get back to my babies on Sunday afternoon, tired but full of ideas. Effie having never been away from me for that long before looked as though she didn't know whether to laugh or cry as I approached.
It was such a great weekend for so many reasons and I'm already excitedly anticipating next year.

I'll blog about the gorgeous goodie bags separately so check back later in the week.

If you couldn't make it but wished you could you can join in with all the fun online, at the virtual conference.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Little Bento Project Bags :: How to ::

Super quick and easy, bento style, project bags.

Back in the spring my sewing machine and I reacquainted ourselves and it was oh so good. I had grand plans of making myself a whole summer wardrobe, not to mention all manner of baby attire for Miss Effie. However, work and life, as is often the case, soon had other ideas and my sewing machine has been sat in the corner of my dining room gathering dust ever since then.
One of the things I managed to sew back in April was a really simple folded bag, which I love so much it has become my daily use bag. This bag is so easy to make, it takes so little time, but is so versatile and I love it so much.

As this years Knit Girllls, Stash Dash is currently in full swing, I've been pulling unfinished knitting and crochet projects out from all over the house and what I really needed were a couple of these bags in a slightly smaller incarnation. So, I dusted off the sewing machine and the iron (it's only outing is generally for sewing or weddings) and quickly stitched up just that.

Hillary's sent me some of their gorgeous daisy pistachio fabric to take part in their crafting competition, so I decided this would perfect for these little bags.

These are great little project bags for small knitting projects. Perfect for baby sized items or socks for instance. The handles on the top are knotted together to seal, so need to worry about zips getting too close to your precious knitting either. Read on if you fancy making some of your own.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Personalised Towel :: How To ::

In need of inspiration for a last minute Father’s Day gift, that’s personal and will be cherished? Why not try your hand at embroidering your children’s drawings or writing onto a gym towel? Find a towel that has some nice thick panels along the edges that aren't fluffy, to provide a flat space for your embroidery. I've used this same technique to personalise hankies which would also make a great Father's Day gift.


Ingredients ::
  • A towel, with nice thick panels
  • Embroidery floss
  • Embroidery needle
  • Scissors
  • Dressmakers carbon paper
  • Embroidery hoop

First up, measure the panel on your towel. Mark out on a piece of paper this measurement to ensure your child(ren) don’t write or draw too large for the space you have available. For example, the panel on my towel measured 2.5cm high. As it was much longer than an A4 piece of paper I didn’t worry too much about the length, but I did draw two lines 2.5cm apart and asked my little boy to try to keep his writing within these lines. Milo, much more of the practical than creative sort, decided he’d much rather do some writing than drawing, so that’s what we went with!

When your child has finished, cut out the paper along the lines you drew, so it fits into your panel. Place your carbon paper dark side down on to the towel, with the drawing on top, over where you would like your embroidery to go. Carefully draw over the lines of your child’s drawing/writing with a pencil, pressing down just enough for the carbon to mark your towel.

Put the embroidery hoop over your area to embroider, making the fabric nice and taut like the skin of a drum.

Now it’s time to get stitching. Choose your colour and cut a length of thread about the length of your arm, any longer and you’re likely to get yourself in a tangle. If you’re using traditional 6 strand embroidery thread, you’ll probably want to half the strands so you’re only using 3 for your stitching, otherwise it can tend to be a little too thick. Thread your needle and begin, very simply all you need to do is sew over the lines you’ve just put on the towel using backstitching. To backstitch, make a simple straight stitch, any length you like, I usually do mine around 5mm, continue along your drawn line, but bring your needle up a little bit ahead (around the same space away as your original stitch was) and bring your needle back down in the same place as the end of your last stitch, repeat the last 2 steps all the way along your lines, changing colours as you like.

When you've finished all your stitching, wash to remove any leftover carbon lines and wrap ready for gifting.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Harry Potter ::

Harry Potter hysteria has gripped our household recently. Milo is utterly besotted and so completely engrossed. I am not remotely ashamed to say that I myself am a massive fan of the series.

Please note there are mild spoilers below if you haven't read the books yet.

I actually started reading Milo The Philosopher's Stone a year ago now. It took a bit of time to get him hooked, we dipped in and out a bit, I found myself having to recap what was going on a lot. I think he was probably just a little too young back then (5).  However after my lovely friend Melody visited with her kids a few weeks ago and Milo got talking to her eldest son about his own love of Harry Potter, he decided we should get back to the book. Which we did and to be honest we were pretty close to finishing so finish it we did and moved directly on to The Chamber of Secrets.

Originally I said he couldn't watch any of the films until we finished all the books, but I realised that was a little unrealistic, plus I watched the films as they came out, before the series was even all published. So we borrowed the films from my favourite Harry Potter fan. Watched The Philosopher's Stone one Saturday morning, devoted that afternoon and evening to finishing The Chamber of Secrets in book form, before watching the film the next day.

I did say we would then have a little break from the books, to let Johnny do a little bit of bedtime reading (he's not a Harry Potter fan). However Milo insisted we go straight on to The Prisoner of Azkaban. Part of my reluctance to move straight on was due to being a little uneasy about how Milo might deal with the subject matter in this book. It was the first one of the series that really drew me in and the first one that made me cry. However he loved it all and was totally gripped throughout. Of course, Sirius is now his favourite character and I greatly fear how he'll cope when we make our way to through book 5.
We tend to talk about it a little as we go along, Milo asks questions and I run through parts with him I know are important to make sure he understands. Then over breakfast I ask him to give me a recap of last night's reading. To be honest he's so engrossed at the moment, it's mostly all we talk about all day.

My original plan was to hold off before starting The Goblet of Fire but he was so eager to move on and had dealt so well with everything so far, that we jumped straight in. I completely forgot how terrifying the first chapter was, not to mention the scenes at the Quidditch World Cup. I will say that Milo has never been a sensitive child in terms of fear, he'll cry a lot at the end of 'Up', but he's not one for nightmares. If he was I probably would be less inclined to read this book to him at this young age. I'll talk more about The Goblet of Fire once we've finished it, we're currently about half way through.

I really think that the first 3 books are great read aloud's for a 6 year old. I don't think he could read them to himself yet, I think a lot would get missed along the way and he'd probably get quickly bored, but to be honest, it's an almighty pleasure to read them to him anyway. I would probably be wary about moving on to book 4 with a 6 year old. Obviously you know your child best, but just be warned it can be a little frightening in places.

Other than the joy I'm getting in sharing something so close to my heart with him, the other bonus that has arisen from this is Milo's interest in reading to himself. He is a reasonable reader for his age (probably average) and he has always loved books, but when he goes to bed he would usually write or look at lego books, more than read any stories. However, I think Harry Potter has helped him to really understand how utterly wonderful the written word alone can be and he's taken to reading to himself in bed. Finding something that he could happily read to himself but was engaging enough was a bit of a task. Nothing we had on the shelves already seemed to be up to it so at the weekend we took a trip to the library.
We took home with us, The Worst Witch and Oliver Moon and the Potion Commotion. So as you can see we haven't moved too far from the theme of magic! He's stated on the Worst Witch and loving it so far. Any recommendations for age appropriate read alone books, much appreciated.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

8 Months ::

The lovely Miss Effie, turned 8 months old a couple of weeks ago. The same week she also cut her first tooth (finally!). I was so sure that tooth was coming months ago. We've had days of grizzliness, red cheeks and the desire to chew everything in her path off and on for ages. Of course the week it actually decided to make an appearance there was no sign it was coming at all. She now has a little stub of tooth on her bottom left, it can just about be seen if she lets you take a glimpse inside her mouth, but it's definitely there and I don't think the one next to it is too far behind.

Weaning is going well, she now has 3 meals a day and eats very well at all 3! Just like her brother, she would sit in her high chair all day eating if you let her. She's just dropped one of her milk feeds, so now has 5 a day. I'm not sure if this is a normal amount for an 8 month old or not, but it works for us. She's maintained her morning nap, though will hold out a bit longer if we go out, though normally she wants to be going down around 9am, especially as she's taken to waking up at 5 recently.

She's really starting to make a lot of noise. She knows what she wants and isn't afraid to ask for it, loudly. She says 'at' (cat), which is probably her only word really, she loves that cat and he loves her, if only he could be trusted to behave himself. She does say 'dada' though I don't think she really means Daddy, it's just a sound. No mmm sounds yet, so of course no 'mama' yet, but I'm sure they'll be plenty of that in time! She has also managed 'ilo' (Milo) a couple of times, she says it in a really cute whisper whenever she does.

We've been trying a little sign language with her, I always wanted to do sign language with Milo but never did. Nothing from her yet, but I'm assuming it's too early for that, but we'll keep going and see how we get on.

Crawling is progressing, but she's still reasonably contained by her lack of ability. She can go forward now, but not very efficiently. Though if there's something in front of her she really really wants (my phone, the laptop, an electrical wire, you know all the safe stuff) then she will get there one way of another.

She's simply lovely though, so social and charming and deliciously cute!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Wychwood Festival 2015 ::

We had such a good time at Wychwood Festival this weekend, it's so nice to have a festival like this right on our doorstep. The weather was wonderful and much fun was had by all!

Despite it being a local festival we've never attended in the 7 or so years we've lived in Cheltenham until now. I wish we hadn't waited so long! We woke up on Friday morning full of excitement, only to discover heavy dark clouds and torrential rain. Needless to say at this point we were very pleased we had decided not to camp! Our plan had always been to wait until after Effie's morning nap to walk up to the site and fortunately once she had woken up and we had packed up our bags ready to head off, the clouds had lifted and the sunshine was glorious. I was really concerned that the floods of the morning, would have left the festival site a mud bath, but once we arrived I realised this wasn't much of a problem. Most of the site is made up of actual, proper, concrete type foot paths. Much relief to myself and Milo who currently have zero wellies between us.

First stop was lunch, we found a great stone baked pizza place, the price was reasonable, the queue super short and the wait time very quick indeed. The pizza itself was also delicious. We listened to some of the music from the main stage whilst we ate our pizza and talked about what we hoped our day would entail. Tummies filled we headed off for some exploring, well there wasn't much exploring to do, the site is tiny. Compared to any festival I've attended it's at least a quarter of the size if not smaller than any of them. However don't let this put you off, for a family friendly festival this is actually perfect in many ways. You don't have to walk miles up and down hills to get to different tents and I felt that Milo was perfectly safe the entire time.

One thing I would say is that the signage isn't especially good, both inside the festival and on the way in. In fact as we were approaching the racecourse and even upon arrival I was starting to fear I had got the wrong weekend. Eventually we spotted a couple of very small (A4) sized posters with simply 'Wychwood Festival' and an arrow on them. Whilst inside there didn't seem to be much in the way of signage at all. Being as it's so small this obviously isn't a huge deal but it would have been nice to have an idea of where we were going (I didn't buy a programme, so it's possible these had maps within them).

There were loads of fun things to keep both Milo and Effie entertained (not that takes much to entertain Effie). There was a great craft tent, full of tables with various projects to join in with, including screenprinting, knitting, mask making and painting. There was the fabulous, Rig, an array of musical constructions, where the kids can make a lot of noise. A croquet lawn of sorts was laid out for anyone who wanted a game. Milo really enjoyed watching people take part in the slacklining though wasn't brave enough to have a go himself. Waterstones had a tent, one side of which was a little shop, the other held workshops, we dropped in a couple of times to join in with these, but found not much really going on and didn't feel especially welcomed in by the staff, but this may have just been unfortunate timing on our part.

We bumped into one of Milo's school friends and his family on Friday afternoon and together we headed in to watch Graham Jones talk about his book, Time Travelling Toby and The Battle of Trafalgar. This was really enjoyable and educational and Milo really loved it, especially as he got to hold a big sword!

Music-wise, I know better now than to plan to watch too many bands, it just doesn't always fit in with what Milo wants to do and though he does really enjoying watching bands too, I want him to have an nice time, so mostly we just go with the flow. Some of the bands we did catch and really enjoyed included Songhoy Blues (everyone's favourites), Dreadzone and The Edwin Starr Band. However the whole atmosphere was so relaxed and laid back and as the venue was so small, we never felt rushed and that we needed to be somewhere at a certain time. The gorgeous weather certainly helped.

A few other points, the toilets were very good indeed. I know festival toilets are a hot topic! I was really impressed though, rarely any kind of queue to talk of and all very well kept. Food wasn't much to shout about. For a family friendly festival the lack of any kind of fruit stall seemed like a big oversight. I struggled to find much in the way of good food for any of us. Though the pizza was wonderful, no one wants to eat pizza all day everyday (well my other half probably would having said that). The range just seemed a little disappointing to me and more reminiscent of festivals of old rather the kind of food we've come to expect more recently. Although it is possible we were just massively spoilt by Camp Bestival last year, who's variety of food stalls was exceptional. We did eat there and everything we did eat was nice enough, but it could definitely be improved upon. In fact on Saturday night we opted to head home early in order to eat at there instead.

Apart from that though, we had a fabulous time and really enjoyed ourselves. It's definitely a small festival but well worth a visit, especially if you have little ones. I think it would be a great festival for your first with kids to give you a taste of how different festival times with little ones is without the worry of a vast, sprawling, busy location.

I failed miserably at taking photos, but I did take a little bit of video footage ::

wychwood from vicki brown on Vimeo.

We were given our tickets so that we could review the festival but all thoughts are very definitely our own.