Bunting, bunting, bunting

IMG_1149This morning, I spent a relaxing half an hour or so finishing off the pennants for my first ever fabric bunting. No yarn, no felt. Just these pretty little fabrics. I then hopped out to The Wool Shop (this fab little shop in Liskeard which stocks yarn, buttons, haberdashery, lingerie, tights AND ladies footwear)to purchase the bias binding to enable me to string my pennants together which I had planned to do this evening. I need to refine my planning skills because I’m currently stuck in a holding pattern as it didn’t cross my mind to buy matching thread at the same time. Never mind, at least I have something to look forward to tomorrow!

If you’ve been reading for a while you will know that I am a hearts and flowers girl…but that’s not all. I’m also a tiny little bit addicted to bunting. If it incorporates hearts and or flowers all the better. I’ve had a little tot up of the bunting garlands in my house  – 7 and counting. The only rooms that have, thus far, escaped are the bathrooms and our bedroom. (If I had a photo of an amused looking husband shaking his head at me I might insert it right here!).

Instead, I’ll remind you of the last bunting that I made:

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And, of course, it plays quite a large part in many of my wreaths:

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As I was sewing at far too close to midnight last night, I got to wondering why we call it bunting and how long it has been around and whether it has always been used for purely decorative purposes. I associate it with the mid 20th century – I’m sure my parents must have been surrounded by it during their post-war childhoods…weren’t they?

My research tells me that it was actually only used for special occasions and and then put away again until the next time that it was needed but I shall continue to imagine that period in history a la Darling Buds of May and in constant street parties festooned beautiful bunting.

What is bunting?

The OED 1995 edition defines it as  1. flags and other decorations. 2.a loosely woven fabric used for those and by 2009 the entry had been updated to flags and other colourful festive decorations.

These are some of the many bunting offerings at Glastonbury Festival 2015:

Today, we use the term to refer to any strung together decoration. Here’s one that I made a year or so ago – no sign of a triangle there.

On my journey of bunting discovery, the first revelation that I happened upon was that it was originally made from fabric woven from yarn!! We’re not talking crochet here, of course, but it’s nice to think that the little triangles that I enjoy hooking aren’t all that far removed from the pennants of history.The fabric used was called ‘buntine’ (derived from the middle English ‘bontine’) and was used to make signal flags (flags with combinations of numbers representing each letter of the alphabet) used onboard the Royal Naval ships in order to send messages.

One very famous message communicated in this way was sent from from HMS Victory as the battle of Trafalgar was imminent and repeated throughout the fleet. You might have heard it a few times before:

“England expects that every man will do his duty”

Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson

21 October 1805

Bunting has become a staple of vintage chic yet its 19th century origins couldn’t be any further removed from the cosy interiors created by modern homemakers in the 21st Century and I think that it has taken on a different meaning for me.

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I’m just off to start hooking my next offering – watch this space!

I’ve just had  meander through my photos and it seems that I had forgotten quite how much bunting I have shared 2015 with – I’ll leave you with some of my favourite images just for fun!

 

Thanks fore reading

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Sources:

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunting_(textile)

Press: https://prezi.com/kcgvqgv-jmti/the-history-of-bunting/

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20 things nobody ever tells a Mum to be, but probably should…

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, so thought I would take a break from craft (almost). Just for tonight. 

  
 
1. You will use baby wipes for everything. I mean everything!

2. Your greatest allies on this crazy journey are other mums. They are also capable of being your harshest critics. Hang on to the good ones, you’re going to need eachother.

3. You are going to look back at the early weeks one day and laugh/cringe at some of the crazy things you did! For me, it’s the video of us bathing Little Mr Toad for the first time – baby in one hand instruction manual in the other! I’m weeping with laughter inside just thinking about it!

4.  It’s a huge secret, but babies don’t spend the nine months in the womb reading baby books. They can’t read and, if they could, they probably wouldn’t be reading the book you bought. That’s ok because they are as individual as you and me.

5. Breast feeding is (for all but the lucky few) hard. Really, really hard. The Mum feeding in the cafe may look like she has it sorted but, in all likelihood, she has spent hours and hours behind closed doors struggling to make it work and even now she’s afraid that she’s getting it wrong. She almost definitely isn’t. 

6. You are going to become completely blase about wee, poo and vomit and will probably find yourself leaving the house wearing at least one, if not all three. More than once.

7. This little gummy bundle is going to teach you things you had no idea you needed to know. The greatest thing you will learn is how completely and utterly unconditional love can be.

8. A “mother’s instinct” is actually a thing.

9. “This too shall pass” – you’ll hear that a lot and that’s because IT WILL. Soon the baby days will be gone forever and you are going to miss them. 

10. The early days are a crash course in extreme exhaustion. Tiredness like you have never, ever experienced before but it is so, so worth it. Few, if any, babies sleep through from the off, they aren’t made that way and that’s ok.

11.  The answer to the question “how do you do it?” is L.O.V.E. In other words – I love this tiny human more than words can explain and would give my life for him*, he needs me. 

12. Perfect parenting is a figment of imagination and exists only in the dreams of those who are yet to experience it for themselves. You are going to get it wrong sometimes, don’t be hard on yourself when you do. Tomorrow is a fresh new day.

13. Those leaky eye pregnancy hormones have done something crazy to your tear ducts because they will continue to leak at the drop of the hat. I’m willing to go out on a limb here and say that that isn’t going to change for the rest of your life.

14. No matter how exhausted you have been all day, you’ll wake up and develop a need to do anything and everything you can think of the moment the gummy wrinkly bundle is asleep. You’ll probably get fed up of hearing well meaning people telling you to “sleep when the baby sleeps”. One day you will realise that you should have listened to them and begin sharing that advice with all and sundry. You’ll actually do it (when you can) when baby number two comes along (and, if you can’t, wish you could jump back in time to the newborn days with baby #1 and go tell yourself to, for goodness sake, sleep when the baby sleeps!).

15.   This is going to change you. Forever. For the better. It’s going to add new colours and shades to your life and that old life is going to feel monochrome by comparison – even tho leaving the house, with your partner alone or after dark is now almost completely a thing of the past. 

16.  You can do it and, if you are struggling, there is no shame in admitting it and reaching out for help. We all struggle sometimes – see ‘thing’ 12 above!

17. All you really need is nappies, clothes, a  sleeping place and a supply of milk and love. The rest will take care of itself.

18.There are going to be good days and bad days, there are going to be days you feel like a total failure and there are going to be days that create memories that you will hold on to for the rest of your life. 

19. It is possible to make peace with a ‘Mum tum’ and stretch marks.

20. When all’s said and done, you are about to start the most incredible journey of your life. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!
 
  

P.S. 21. You’ll become so evangelical about it that a list of ’10 things that nobody tells a Mum to be, but probably should’ turns into a list of 20 (or 21) things quite by accident.

I’d love to hear what you would add to the list.

Thank you for reading.

T&T

Xxx

* I am a Mum of boys

Happy Home Bunting

I don’t know about you, but I need a break (yes really!) from Christmassy yarn. Just a little one, I haven’t undergone a complete personality transplant!

So I thought I would tell you a bit more about my Happy Home Bunting (it made a small appearance in a previous blog post which you can find here).

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This is where it started:

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Really! You might remember that these heart decorations were my made for my first Etsy customer and as I sat making them, it suddenly struck me that I ought to be able to tweak them into bunting and I have been wanting to make all-year round crochet bunting for months and months.

We’ve been living in our Cornish home for just over a year and therefore the decor is still a work in progress. My lounge has been niggling at me for quite some time because it just didn’t have the cosy ‘spend all your time in me’ feel that I wanted it to have. This bunting turned out to be the beginning of me putting that right.

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These little shelves have now become my favourite corner of our home…and have you noticed that my Christmas heart has snuck in there too? You see, I said I was only having a tiny break from Christmas didn’t I?

Thanks for reading xx

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A Christmas Wreath – Holly Pattern

I’m still here, just incase you thought I might have disappeared again! It as been crazily busy at T&T HQ the last few weeks but that isn’t the whole reason that I have been quiet – Instagram also has a part to play! I’ve discovered it in the last month and need to admit that I am totally addicted to hundreds of little pieces of creative magic that are living within my phone at this very moment. If you haven’t investigated it yet – it’s almost as addictive as Pinterest! You can find me at https://instagram.com/tinyandtoad/.

Last time I popped in for a chat, I shared details of my wreath competition the prize being this year’s version of my very first crochet wreath:

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I have received so many compliments on what, I must admit, is my absolutely favourite creation that I decided to time how long it would take for me to hook a replica with a view to making them for sale in my Etsy shop. I guessed at around the 10 hour mark and I was wrong but, sadly, not wrong enough to make it viable for me to make and sell any more of these Christmassy treats.

Here, then, is my Christmas Wreath v.2 (I  wish I could remember how I made the original bow!):

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…these are all of the component parts…:

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…and this is the timer on my phone as I pressed stop for the last time:

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Time and handmade are words which do not fit easily into the same sentence because creativity cannot be measured in minutes, seconds or hours but rather in passion. For the creative me, the need to create something that I perceive to be beautiful is the driving force in everything that I make and time is secondary. For the me that just opened an Etsy shop, time matters and this is a make that just takes a bit too much of it.

I’ve decided tho that that isn’t going to be the end of my Christmas Wreaths, and that the best way to achieve that is to share the pattern. So, without further ado, here is my Holly Pattern.

T&T Christmas Holly

The pattern is written in UK terms

I used a 4mm hook and Stylecraft Special DK in meadow and khaki.

You will find this easier if you hook the foundation chain in fairly loose stitches as you are going to need to crochet into the chain from both sides – you are going to be crocheting around the end of the chain

Stitches used:

Chain (ch) Slip Stitch (sl st)

Double Crochet (dc) Half Treble Crochet (htr)

Foundation Row: Chain 10

Sl st into the first ch from the hook, working along the foundation chain dc, dc, htr, htr, htr, htr, dc, dc, and sl st in  in last ch.

You should now have something that looks like this:
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Now ch1 to take you around the end before you start working back down the other loop of the foundation chain.

Start with a sl st into the other loop of the last ch worked as below:

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Working back along the foundation chain, now dc, dc, htr, htr, htr, htr, dc, dc and sl st into the last ch. Do not join.

Now to make the stem.

Ch4 and sl st into second ch from your hook, sl st into the remaining two ch and you should now have a leaf shape like this:

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…but holly isn’t holly without prickles!

So, let’s add those. You are going to work a second row around the edge of the leaf.

Sl st into both the sl st and first dc from previous row.

To make the prickle, ch3 and sl st into the second ch from the hook. Dc into remaining ch and sl st into next stitch on previous row (dc). Repeat another 3 times until you have created 4 prickles and reached the end of the first side:

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(You need to sl st and ch3 to make the prickle in the following stitches:First htr, Third htr and Second dc. And sl st only into the stitches between these).

The prickle on the end of the holly leaf is made by making a sl st into the back loop of the ch that you made to go around the end of the leaf on the previous row. This prickle is worked slightly differently, so ch3 again and sl st into second ch from hook but, this time, htr into next ch.

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To work back down the other side, sl st into the sl st from previous row. *Sl st into first dc from previous row and ch3. Now create the prickle as before (sl st into second ch from hook and dc into remaining chain) and sl st into second dc from previous row. Repeat from * three times down the side until you have four prickles (sl st and ch3 into the following stitches – first htr, third htr, first dc).

The last stitch is a sl st into sl st from previous row.

Fast off and darn in the ends.

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From me to you, an early Merry Christmas!

Please feel free to contact me if you need any help with the pattern.

Thanks for reading!

T&T

Did someone say competition?

I’m currently having a little down time as it is half term here in the UK. 

It’s been a busy week since launching T&T on Etsy and I have got far too many ideas of what to work on next!

Here’s a few pics from my first week:

   
    
    
    
    
   
I’ve got so many ideas for new projects I barely know where to start.

…but the next one is going to be a competition to win this year’s version of my Christmas Wreath. Last year’s is pictured below:

  
For your chance to win, head over to my Facebook page here.

I can’t wait to start creating my new wreath – first thing on Wednesday morning. Christmas 2015, here we come!

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Why Blog?

This is a blog that I wrote just under 4 years ago on another page which I have not maintained. I have pontificated over sharing it here, but I passionately believe in breaking the taboo that is talking about pregnancy loss.

The very last thing I want to do in sharing this is to upset, my hope is that, in sharing, I can help at least one person to not feel the isolation that I did in 2009.

Should any of you reading be touched by molar pregnancy now, there is hope. Promise X

A Circuitous Route to Motherhood

Today, I left the house and car keys in the outside of the front door for nearly two hours. Today, I left the house and car keys in the outside of the front door for nearly two hours because my mind was elsewhere. Where elsewhere? Oscar, that’s where.

Oscar is my 12 week old son and Oscar is a miracle. All babies are miracles so what makes Oscar any different? Ostensibly, nothing. It is what went before that makes him our miracle.

Molar Pregnancy.

If you are randomly reading this blog and don’t know me, then you have probably never heard of Molar Pregnancy. If you dream of becoming, or are already, a Mum, that ignorance makes you lucky. You can trust me on that.

Molar pregnancy is a very rare form of tumour (effectively an abnormality of the placenta) that affects around 1500 women living in the UK annually…

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Don’t be afraid to fail (or, feel the fear and do it anyway)

As a child, I am told, my “little fingers were always busy”. I’m an only child that was rarely bored. In part, because my Mum was great at making sure I had lots of friends over to play (and, of course, that was a time in which ‘playing out’ was the norm – the ‘good old days’) but also because I had a craft cupboard for most of my childhood and I could usually find a way to delve into it and entertain myself.

During the friendship bracelet craze, I’d created my own designs whilst my friends were buying theirs in town, I cross stitched, french knitted, dried flowers, created fairy gardens. You name it,  I was there. Oh, and there was the time when I accidentally knocked a bottle of ink (remember Quink ink for re-filling your fountain pens?) all over my Mum’s beautiful pine kitchen table in the name of some crafty project or another.

Then I became a young woman, went away to university and left crafting at home in a village in Norfolk. For much of the subsequent 12 years, life’s greatest pleasures revolved around cheap wine, great nights out (some of which are best forgotten) and that hunt my 20 something self would never have admitted to, you know, the one for Mr Right (I found him).

Then, in 2009, life threw me a curveball and I became ill, the vices of the previous years fell by the wayside and I needed something to do to keep my hands busy and my mind on something other than the low-risk chemo that I was undergoing. A friend had recently discovered crochet and I decided to give it a try too. I bought a book and, to this day, I am not sure I understand the diagrams but I very much understand how to crochet thanks to Youtube and lots and lots of practice.

I produced some decidedly ropey pieces six years ago, but it was wonderful therapy. Really wonderful therapy. It still is.

In 2011 Toad arrived early one Autumn morning and the nesting instinct re-ignited my interest in crochet. Tiny’s arrival in the summer of 2013 turned it from a hobby into an obsession and, somehow, during the first three months of his life I managed to complete my first big project (after their baby blankets) – an advent calendar for the boys:

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Christmas 2013
This little chap also came to join us for Christmas 2013:

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This is Ahren the elf and, goodness me, wasn’t he a challenge in my sleep-deprived state and without the hours and hours of crochet that I have enjoyed since then. One leg is fatter than the other and he isn’t quite the same shape as the elf from the pattern that I used.

BUT…

Ahren and the mini stockings were something I made for my children without the fear of failure and they led me to be starting this blog which brought me to feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

You see, I had an itch that I just had to scratch. An itch that just wouldn’t go away no matter how much fear I felt so I decided to do it any way – on Friday I opened an Etsy store.

I’m feeling the fear posting this today, I’m feeling the fear about sending out my first orders but I am doing it anyway. I’m doing it because I don’t want to live with the regret of never having tried.

I love to craft, I need to craft, I can’t not craft and now I’m working my socks off in the hope that some folks out there love, need and can’t not have my craft as much as I want them to share in my crafty little obsessions.

So, here’s a peek at the process:

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And here’s what I did anyway (which you can find at http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/TinyandToad):

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Life is too short to live it in regret so, feel the fear and do it anyway.

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xx