Pants: an obsession

Great title for a blog post, no? Let me explain. With our baby due in March I have been having to hold myself back from too much shopping for the little one…not that I haven’t bought (ahem) some things, of course. But to try and abate this I have also been making a few bits for the babe. A bit of knitting, and some sewing too. Ever since Helen pointed me in the direction of Made by Rae and her wonderful FREE sewing tutorials, I had been hankering to make some adorable newborn pants. Rae describes the pattern as “so simple it’s scary”, and I’m inclined to agree with her.

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The newborn pant pattern really is a doddle. I made my first pair in a great elephant print I’d been saving for something special, and they turned out really cute.

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After that, I was longing to make more, so raided my fabric shelves for some inspiration. Deciding which fabric to use was loads of fun in itself. The day of the dead fabric is perhaps kind of random, I’m aware, but I’m sure our baby will appreciate the bold sartorial choice. My favourite of all is probably the foxes, oh THE FOXES! Again, I have Helen to thank for introducing me to that fabric.

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I made five pairs in total, because obviously baby needs trousers. I made them all over a couple of afternoons, and they were so much fun to put together – and so easy! Honestly, if you are a beginner sewer, you can make these cute pants. Skills needed: cutting things, sewing straight lines, using an iron. They are so quick and very satisfying, and will be perfect for our little spring-summer baby to lie about in.

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I think I’ve sated my pants obsession for now. I am currently knitting a pair of baby bloomers, though, so maybe I’m not quite over it just yet…
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A park day

Last week, I spent the day with a couple of pals at Tatton Park, a beautiful National Trust estate in Cheshire. It was a crisp day, with orange leaves underfoot and grey clouds sitting low in the sky. We wandered through the lovely gardens (although my favourite, the Japanese garden, was shut), played in the maze and, as is obligatory at all National Trust cafés, enjoyed rather a large slice of cake. The park was decorated for Halloween, with white ghosties hanging from the trees, which was loads of fun. It was great to wander around in the fresh air, enjoy Autumn and feel that the cooler weather – and Christmas – is on the way.

Tatton Park is a huge estate, and you really do need a full day there to enjoy it. You can ramble around the parkland deer-spotting, and even sign up for a deer-feeding session! They hold seasonal events all year round, and are gearing up for Christmas, when I’m sure the house and gardens will look beautifully festive.

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Oh, baby!

I had my 20 week scan yesterday and we decided to find out the gender of our little one. So, courtesy of our special Halloween baby barometer, here is our latest news!

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Of course we are both very happy and excited! Now I just need to resist the overwhelming urge to immediately go shopping…

Starburst baby blanket

More knitting, more projects, more babies to knit for! A lot of folks are having babies around us at the moment, so I have a little production line on the go. First up is this starburst pattern baby blanket. I’d wanted to have a go at crocheting starburst rounds for a while, having done the whole granny square thing to death.

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I spied the lovely pattern in The Gentle Art of Knitting by Jane Brocket, and after splurging on a rainbow selection of wool, set to work making a baby blanket for our friend Helen‘s new little lady, Thora.

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Having already crocheted a full-sized granny square blanket for myself, I knew a baby blanket would be a great way to try out this lovely starburst pattern. Much smaller, and much quicker. Still, crocheting 30 squares is no mean feat, and with weaving in ends and sewing together, I was literally racing the baby to the finish line/birth day. Happily, she won, and knowing a little girl had been born meant I could go all out and finish the blanket off with a pink shell border, another crochet technique I’d been wanting to try for a while.

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This blanket was really fun to make, and I loved playing about with the colours. So effective, and so pretty! I have seen lots of lovely colour starburst combinations on Instagram, in greys and blacks. I think a bright and colourful 70s style one with a black border would look awesome.

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Maternity style: 19 weeks

I’m not intending to write a maternity style post for every week of my pregnancy, but I wanted to this time because week 19 has probably been the most momentous so far (after finding out I was pregnant, of course). Last weekend my belly well and truly popped out, and although it’s still small, I love that I’ve finally started showing. What’s more, I’m feeling well and – short of a few spots and, ahem, bouts of moodiness – am really enjoying being pregnant.

Another reason this week is a biggie is because I felt our baby move for the first time. I had been trying not to get too excited and confuse belly rumbles for movement, but the little pops and flutters I’ve been feeling are quite different. What’s more, just a few days ago I put Jim’s hand on my bump and after a few minutes he felt quite a fierce kick/punch! It was truly amazing to experience that together and now in the evenings, when the baby seems most active, he can join in on the fun with me.

For this week’s photos we went for a stroll to our local park, which was looking quite the Autumnal postcard. I love layering up, and am looking forward to more of this lovely tights-and-scarf weather!
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Wearing: necklace, Topshop | waistcoat, knitted by me | dress, American Apparel | maternity jeans, Topshop | boots, Sainsburys

Maternity style: 18 weeks

These photos are actually from last week, when the weather was miserable and rainy and I was just shy of 18 weeks pregnant. Luckily, a lemon cake was in the oven and I had just been gifted this pretty fair isle skirt so was in the mood for a garden photoshoot with our chickens. At 18 weeks I was back to feeling very much like a normal human (ha!), with the queasiness of morning sickness long gone. Here you can just see my bump beginning to make itself known! One odd side effect I experienced briefly last week was itchy hands…anyone else had that before?

I am loving stretchy, comfy skirts, and this knitted one is no exception. Perfect with tights and legwarmers for a cosy afternoon of baking – and, maybe, some chicken chasing.
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Wearing: t-shirt, Allo Darlin’ | skirt, gift | wellies, charity shop find | umbrella, leftover from our wedding

Rainy day lemon cake

If, like us, you’ve been experiencing drizzly, grey days lately, you might (like me) have been craving comfort food. I did yesterday, which is why I decided to bake Mary Berry’s lemon drizzle cake. This is a recipe I come back to time and time again, because, for me, it is foolproof. It uses Mary’s all-in-one method, everything just goes in the bowl together and gets mixed up, so it’s super quick to rustle up for guests. The crunchy lemon topping really makes it, and a sneaky slice while the cake is still warm is just DIVINE (well, you have to make sure it tastes OK, right?).

This cake will fill your house with a warming, lemony smell, and draw everyone into the kitchen to find the source. Lemons may not be particularly seasonal right now, but if you’re looking for a cake which is comforting, delicious, and easy to bake, this is it. I usually bake this cake in a round bundt tin, for extra prettiness. But whatever. It’s going to taste just as good whatever you bake it in.

Lemon drizzle cake
from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible

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Ingredients:
225g (8oz) softened butter
225g (8oz) caster sugar
275g (10oz) self-raising flour
2 level teaspoons baking powder
4 eggs
4 tablespoons milk (or enough to make the cake mixture loose and creamy)
finely grated rind of 2 lemons

For the crunchy topping:
couple of tablespoons granulated sugar
juice of 1 lemon (or enough to make a runny mixture)

- Preheat the oven to 160°C/Fan 140°C. Grease a bundt or round cake tin then line the base with baking parchment.
- Measure all the ingredients for the cake into a large bowl or electric mixer and beat until well blended. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and level the top with the back of a spoon.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until the cake has shrunk from the sides of the tin and springs back when pressed in the centre. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn out and peel off the baking parchment.
- To make the crunchy topping, mix the granulated sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl to give a runny consistency. Spoon the mixture evenly over the cake while it is still warm. DEVOUR!

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