Farm Play Mat

When I was a child I had this book:  

I absolutely loved it and several others by the same author. There are loads of lovely farmy illustrations like these:   

These pictures absolutely captured my imagination and I’d pore over them for ages, taking in all the detail. When I had Bea my Dad passed on my old books and I re-discovered the Benedict Blathwayt books with glee. As an adult I still love the detail in each picture and can imagine myself within each little scene and landscape. 

Through the wonder that is Amazon I was able to track down a few other books by the same author and ordered them straight away. 

They are completely charming and the countryside one features an aerial scene which got my crochet mind whirring:  

When I looked at the patchwork of fields and farmyard I just thought of how wonderful  they would be in crochet form and what a fabulously old-fashioned toy it would make. So there began the idea for a crochet farm play mat. 

I set about designing some ‘plans;’ rather roughly sketched onto graph paper and a few samples of double crochet to work out size and scale. The final plan looked like this:  

I was able to keep track of stitches and rows and coloured in each bit as I went to keep track of what I’d done. 

To start with there were lots of outdoorsy crochet moments in the sun:   

   

And then the weather changed and I had to switch to indoor field production.

I have to admit that towards the end I became really quite bored of those long rows of green double crochet and was very glad indeed to finish the last field. 

Then came the ends… a whole evening’s work. It was pretty hard going but satisfying when I’d finally finished them.    

Then it was time for a just a few embellishments. I’d imagined a pond and stream from the beginning, inspired by the book, and thought I’d try my hand at a ripple for the first time and see how it worked for the stream…   

… a raging success if I do say so myself! I used Lucy’s neat ripple pattern and absolutely loved it, she really does write (and photograph) the best tutorials.

The last component was a flat circle pond (pattern also from Attic24) and both stream and pond were joyously stitched on whilst watching The Jungle Book with Bea.

And so came the end result and I really am pleased. The scale is a bit dodge but it’s homespun and I really don’t mind, plus Bea has a very eclectic mixture of plastic farm animals in various shapes and sizes so hopefully the whole thing will just look rather wacky.

I’m now holding my breath as I reveal to you for the first time one of my finished pieces… 

Hehe I love it! It’s a bit baggy and saggy in places but I used a selection of dk yarns from my stash and they didn’t all marry up fully but hey ho, it’s going to be trampled on and toddled over and crawled on so I don’t think it really matters.

A close up of the water feature:

  

And a last view down the lane towards the wheat field:

This will be a present for Bea’s first birthday in a few weeks. Photos of the whole caboodle – complete with wooden buildings and plastic animals – will follow once she has seen it herself. 

I feel so happy to be able to spend time doing something I love and using it to make things for Bea to play with and hopefully enjoy.  Happy happy x x x

This week… ‘Entertaining Grandad’

This week my Mum and Stepdad have been in Italy, a Chrismas present from my Stepdad to my Mum and coinciding with her birthday on Monday. With my Stepdad being a farmer it can be hard for them to get away and this is the first time they’ve been abroad for 10 years! My Dad has been down from Gloucester to look after the farm while they’re away. My parents separated when I was nine but have maintained a good relationship, which has always made things positive for me. So this week has mainly been about entertaining Grandad!

I took the day off on Monday as my Mum would normally have been looking after Bea for me. Bea and I spent an exciting morning at the beach (Crooklets, Bude) with my Dad, plunging into rock pools and getting all giddy waiting for the waves to race up to us. Bea absolutely loves being at the beach, as with everything she gets stuck right in and needless to say the change of clothes I always pack was deployed! I didn’t get any photos here as I was much too busy gripping her little hand and making sure she didn’t choose to dive into any rock pools in over her head. Below is a photo taken at the same beach in February for reference! 

 

On Tuesday I worked as normal and Bea spent the day at home with Rob, getting involved in some spring cleaning and tidying, packing away the fire guard and other woodburner paraphernalia.

Wednesday was a day spent visiting Grandad at my parents’ farm, only ten minutes from home.  

 

Bea loves feeding the fish in my parents’ pond, she takes as big a handful as she can manage and throws it as far as she can into the pond then wants to do it again straight away. I was amazed by the beautiful colours, such rich oranges and reds. Anyone who follows me on Instagram (Bertiebeaandme) would have seen that I spent a terrifying five minutes trying to retrieve my phone from the pond using a rake, after it slipped out of my pocket when I dived to grab the lid of the fish food. Miraculously I managed to retrieve it from the murky depths and it was absolutely  fine, but all I could think about the whole time was whether I’d lose my photos! Later there was more chaos where Bea had a funny five minutes which involved jumping on the sofa and grabbing onto the curtains to stop her fall, resulting in three broken ‘plastic hangy bits’ and a rather dishevelled looking pair of curtains. I’m sure my Mum has hundreds of those ‘plastic hangy bits’ squirelled away somewhere so I’m sure she won’t mind!

On Thursday Bea and I went with my Dad to nearby town Bideford. We spent a happy hour in the park, with Grandad mainly used as a swing-pusher! I left promptly when a Granny turned up with her Grandson, said “I hope you don’t fall off like you did yesterday” and proceeded to push him terrifyingly high and fast on the swings! Eek, I didn’t want to witness anything! Like most toddlers Bea never wants good things to end and there was a ‘slight’ struggle but it was relatively brief and we toddled off for a yummy lunch at Wetherspoons. 

  

After lunch came pudding; anyone who has visited or lived in Devon should be familiar with the divine taste of Hockings ice-cream. I discovered that they do a baby’s teddy cone, so that was Bea sorted! She was a bit reluctant to eat the teddy’s face at first, but not for long.

  

My Dad visited us at home on Friday, and after a particularly hyper hour we retreated to the garden, where things were a lot calmer. Bea loves the old painting with water trick.

   

All in all it was a busy week, but certainly full of fun. It ended with the excitement of turning Bea’s cot into a bed, something which we’ve been reluctant to do as sleeping has never been her forte and we’ve been worried that the change would throw her out. Last night was the first night and it went remarkably well, she seems to love her new ‘proper’ bed and suddenly seems very grown up lying in it while she listens to a bedtime story. I love these milestones x x x  

Fun in the sun

Up until Friday we’d been having the most wonderful weather, it felt like summer had arrived; hot, sunny, not a cloud in the sky, blissful.

The weather has to be particularly terrible for us to not venture outside and when it’s lovely we basically move into the garden for the day. Highs of 20 degrees Celsius meant that the paddling pool was brought out of the shed and much fun ensued.

     

Complete with slide and various toys; watering cans, buckets, plastic tea set and a variety of animals and dinosaurs, Bea spent hours splashing around, pushing things down the slide and making me many ‘cups of tea’ which she sweetly calls “cuptea.”

 
We enjoyed alfresco snacks. 

 

When Bea is absorbed in some independent play I take the chance to do a few rows. It doesn’t get much better than crocheting in the sun. Cue warm happy feelings. Bea showed some interest and I told her it was for her birthday, how exciting because since then whenever she sees it she says “more!” Oh ok then, if you insist! 

  
When all other play has been exhausted, why not put the paddling pool on your head and charge around the garden?! We laughed so much.

  

We also discovered how much Bea loves a spot of gardening. She loves helping in any way and being able to play with water and soil was right up her street! Oh happy sunny days, I’m missing them now the rain has come back to visit. x x x

High on life

Some days there are lots of those little moments where you feel a rush of energy and joy, it fizzes and bubbles up inside and you feel high on life. Sunday was one of those days.

Little hands helping big hands

 

Gorgeous gold crochet against a beautiful blue sky

Stopping to admire pretty pink roses (a Lidl bargain)

Fab new pallet door made by Rob (and Bea) for our cupboard-under-the-stairs

Add to that the fact that Bea went off to sleep easy-peasy for the first time in over a week (oh it’s been tricky and stressful) and these were my ‘high on life’ moments from Sunday, little snippets that I made a conscious effort to focus on, stand/sit still and drink in the fizzy feeling, soak up the joyousness. Small, everyday things maybe, but these things keep the soul well-fed, I feel. x x x

Too many WIPs

 

Giant granny square blanket
 

“Hello my name is Emily and I am a WIPaholic.” (WIP = work in progress, just in case because I had to look it up when I started reading blogs!) I am a serial starter and a terrible finisher when it comes to crafty projects, I have a habit of getting excited about starting something new only for other things to come up and take my fancy part way through.

 

Beatrix Potter cross-stitch sampler
 

Things had got a bit out of hand towards the end of last year and I made a vow that 2015 would be the year that I whittled down the WIPs, nothing new until the list had been substantially shortened. At present the list looks like this:

  • Knitted activity cube. Commissioned by a friend over 4 years ago for her friend’s baby (now aged nearly 5!) I don’t even know how it happened but I stopped working on it one day and haven’t don’t anything to it since. It now lurks in a basket under the coffee table and haunts me whenever I catch a glimpse!
  • Beatrix Potter cross-stitch sampler. Started at least 3 years ago, before Bea was even a twinkle, for my future child’s nursery. Oops, hopefully I’ll finish it before she’s 18!
  • Vintage roses tapestry. An eBay buy, intended for our bedroom.
  • Knitted hoody. Started almost a year ago and discarded due to bordedom. Intended for Bea but I can’t remember what size it was so probably won’t fit now even if I do finish it! 
  • Giant granny square blanket. Also intended for our bedroom, double bed sized, just the border to finish. 
  • Stripy crochet bag. Attic24 pattern, using up leftover Rico Creative Cotton from a previous project.
  • Scrappy crochet blanket. Solid granny squares edged and joined in a consistent colour (haven’t decided which yet) to use up scraps too small for anything else.
  • Row-a-day temperature wall hanging. Started off a bit skew-whiff due to turning issues but hoping that it’s nothing a good blocking can’t fix.
  • Crochet farm play mat. Planned for Bea’s birthday at the end of May. The large blocks of brown and green double crochet are taking forever, fingers crossed it’ll be done in time!
Stripy bag

So wish me luck in getting some bits finished, I’ll keep you posted! I’m looking forward to that satisfying feeling of closure and the excitement of moving on to the next thing with each WIP I tick off my list x x x

 

      

Here goes…

I’ve been reading blogs for a couple of years now and really enjoy the chance to have a nosey into people’s lives, homes and creative exploits. My favourite blogs have a mixture of crafts, food, family and photos and I find the everyday stuff they contain so interesting, heartwarming and inspiring. I’ve been toying with the idea of writing my own blog for a while now and feel ready to take the plunge, so here goes…!

 

I spend most of my time being a parent to my crazy little bundle of fun Beatrix (always Bea for short.) She’s so full of character; inquisitive, fiery and so funny, she keeps me and my husband Rob on our toes for sure! I hope this blog will be a chance to share and record the things that she does that make me laugh, smile (and sometimes cry!) 

  

Crochet is currently my big craft obsession. I learnt to knit as a child, I fondly remember my Mum and both Grans knitting various things; clothes and toys mainly. I later taught myself to crochet as a teenager. Up until 18 months ago I had only crocheted the odd scarf, always turning to knitting instead. Then I discovered Attic24 and picked up my hook again. In that time I’ve fallen head over heels for crochet and my Pinterest board of future projects is ridiculous but oh so exciting!

  

Since buying our house four years ago I’ve loved pottering in the garden, mainly flowers and shrubs out the front and veggies and fruit bushes out the back. It’s a real higgledy piggledy mis-match of different heights and colours, very cottage gardeny and I’m never 100% sure what I’m doing but I love it and love looking at it and studying the colours and shapes. One of my favourite things this time of year (when the weather is warm and sunny as it has been here lately) is in the evening once Bea is in the land of nod, mooching round and watering my pots and seeds. I love growing things from seed, I find it so exciting to spot the tiniest bit of new green peeping out from the soil. 

  

The rest of my life is a sort of jumble of work, (two days a week as a Family Support Worker) general home-making, trips to the beach and other outdoorsy places and more substantial home improvements. I’m looking forward to sharing each of these things as they happen, using ramblings and hopefully lots of pretty photos. x x x