Nursery tour

Although we plan to have our baby sleeping in our room for the first six months of her life, we recently spent a bit of time organising our spare bedroom into something of a “nursery”. A place for her clothes to live, somewhere to change her, and a quiet space for me to feed her during the night. Luckily, our spare bedroom was was already painted pink – very handy when we discovered we were having a girl! So all that was left was some sorting and clearing out, adding shelves for my craft books (rather than the, ahem, pile on the floor) and children’s books and toys, and folding away some tiny lady clothes.

We bought an antique chest of drawers for storage, and I succumbed to the lure of Elisabeth Dunker’s famous Pirum Parum poster, which I’ve been lusting after for years! It also happily ties in with the loose pink and grey colour scheme of the room. We made shelves out of the original floorboards from our house, and used antique brackets to attach them to the walls. I have already amassed a small – but growing – collection of adorable knitted cardigans, some gifts and some vintage. I think I need that pink cabled wonder in my size!

I have an old pretty nursing chair, and paired with a sheepskin rug, it will be a cosy place to sit with our baby. I love this room, and although the nursery will also double as a guest bedroom for now, we’ve made the most of the limited space in our little house. I sometimes find myself standing in the doorway, just looking around and taking in the quiet calm before the baby storm. Not long now, my due date is 16 days away!

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Go pink or go home

Another baby project today, in the form of a dip-dye baby blanket. A little while ago my friend Mel gave me a white cotton blanket for our baby, which was lovely, but I planned to spruce it up a bit. Knowing the sex of our baby has definitely given me free reign to go a bit more girly than usual when making things – but then again, I’m a fan of pink anyway. So after a bit of Pinterest inspiration, I decided to try my hand at dip-dying the blanket a very bright and bold shade of PINK! I chose Dylon’s ‘Flamingo Pink’, because, go pink or go home, right?

There are loads of DIY ombré dip-dye tutorials out there, and they all tend to suggest slightly different hints and tips at getting the perfect ombré dip-dye. After doing lots of research and reading, I realised the best thing to do was probably just to go for it. I covered our kitchen table with copious amounts of newspaper, and, following the instructions on the dye packet, filled a bucket with water and mixed in some salt – a lot of salt, actually, as this helps the dye to take to the fabric.

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First off, I rinsed the blanket in cold water so it was damp – one great tip I read was that any bits you don’t want dying should stay totally dry, as the dye will only spread up the wet parts. So as I wanted the top of my blanket to stay white I kept that part as dry as possible. Generally, with dip-dying, I found that you can either submerge the fabric in the water and then pull it out a bit at a time, or go the other way and feed the fabric into the dye. I decided to submerge the blanket and then gradually pull it out, onto a towel on the table. Each time I left the blanket for around 10-15 minutes, as I wanted as really good, dark pink at the bottom. Another good tip is to sway the fabric slightly in the water, to avoid getting a rigid line of colour between the sections.

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Once the dying was complete, I emptied the bucket and gave the blanket a rinse in cold water in the sink, then washed it in the machine to set the dye. Then hung it out to dry. Done! Although I really enjoyed the whole dying process, I would have preferred to have a longer fade from white to pink, whereas I ended up with a huge dark pink section and not much pale pink/white at the top of the blanket. I did wash the blanket again to see if this would help it to fade, which it did – but only slightly (probably all that salt). Considering this was my first attempt at ombré dip-dying I am pretty pleased, though!

To complete the blanket, I continued with the all-out pink theme and, inspired by this great blanket, made some bright pink tassels and sewed them onto the corners. And there you have it – a full-on girly baby blanket! Just hoping they didn’t get it really wrong at the scan and a boy pops out…

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Baby knits

Today I’m sharing a couple of knitted projects that I’ve recently finished for our baby. Although I usually shy away from knitting clothes for babies, as they grow out of them so quickly, I couldn’t resist these lovely patterns. The first is a very cute jumper that I found on Ravelry. I couldn’t believe how easy it was! Simple garter stitch, knitted in a T-shape, with some casting off for the neckhole, and some more knitting in a reverse T-shape. You then simply fold it in half and sew it up. So great! I admit I have a thing for pom pom trim, so I added that to the hem to finish the jumper off, along with some heart-shaped elbow patches. SUPER CUTE.

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The second project was actually a request from Jim. Back in 2011, when on holiday in New York, we found an adorable child’s hat in the gift shop of the American Folk Art Museum. With thoughts of babies in the waaaay too distant future for us to even consider buying it, we left it in the shop. When we found out I was pregnant Jim immediately remembered it but alas, the shop no longer stocks it. So he set to work finding a similar pattern online. And he did! This actually only took me about a week to knit, and although it was slightly fiddly in places, it was pretty fun to make with all the different colours. It’s a great stash-buster, too. I really love how this hat turned out and can only imagine the cuteness when our baby is old enough to wear it! You can find the pattern for free here.

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Shop crush: Polka Dot Club

I’ve already talked about my love of discovering independent shops selling lovely baby wares, and next up on my new favourites list is Polka Dot Club, a dreamy venture run by a very talented lady named Jennifer Murphy, who clearly has a thing for old things.

A second-generation teddy bear maker, Jen takes toy-making seriously. As it says on the Polka Dot Club wesbite, “At the turn of the 20th century the finest teddy bears and stuffed animals were made with mohair, wool felt, and wood stuffing. Inspired by the longevity of its love worn predecessors, the PDC continues to use only natural fibers. We use mohair fur woven onto cotton backing, and improve on safety and feel with the inclusion of safety eyes and 100% cotton stuffing…These are bears that pay homage to the past but are wholly modern playthings for today. They are heirlooms for now and forever.”

After discovering Polka Dot Club on Instagram, I hot-footed it over to the website and immediately fell in love with their Big Bear, a gorgeous mohair two-tone panda with big eyes and a snazzy bow. We decided that this should be our baby’s first teddy, and within a few weeks he had arrived in our home. He is so handsome, in beige and black, with a pink PDC bow. He was bigger than I expected, and really so sturdy and well-made. I love the feel of the mohair, and know this little fella is going to get a lot of love and wear – and most importantly, last for many, many years of playtime. I love that Jen’s bears retain that lovely vintage feel, it’s such a charming (and rare) thing to find in new toys.

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As well as the adorable bears, Jen also makes bear head rattles, cuddle rabbits and even clothes for the smaller bears! Truly adorable. I’ll leave you with some of my favourites from the shop, and probably also a yearning to get yourself, or a loved one, a new (old) teddy. Sorry about that…

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Shop crush: Misha and Puff

One of the great things about Instagram is that it can introduce you to a world of crafty sellers, online shops and creative people. This was certainly the case for me, and many of my recent new Instagram follows are baby-related, having become my new favourite online shops. So much handmade goodness out there for babies! As much as I enjoy buying treats for our baby from eBay and high street shops, like many I am always on the look-out for more unusual, special items from small, independent businesses. I’d love to share some of these with you in this space, and today we’ll begin this series with Misha and Puff, a wonderful knitwear company for babies and children up to four years old.

Everything sold by Misha and Puff is handknitted in Peru by a group of women, either from their homes or at a local knitting centre. The centre provides meals and day care for children, meaning that these women can support their families. While recently browsing photos from a recent trip that Misha and Puff took to Peru, I read that when asked why they came to do this work most of the women responded with one of two reasons:
1. Because they can still stay home with their kids and 2. Because they love to knit. What a wonderful collaboration!

As well as being truly mindful of the process behind their pieces, Misha and Puff knitwear is also extremely beautiful! Made from hand-dyed merino wool, the collections come in a chic palette of stunning colours: blush, nutmeg, persimmon, zephyr and graphite. I recently ordered the popcorn vest in the gorgeous green-grey zephyr, and I wasn’t disappointed: it’s so cute! I can’t wait to see our little one bobbling about in it this time next year. The garment tag even had the name of the knitter written on it.

Although these clothes are expensive compared to those we see in the shops every day, I love that we know where they have come from, and that they have been hand-knitted by women who take pride in their work and importantly, have been paid properly for their time. As Misha and Puff describe it on their website, “Families working together to benefit everyone.”

Here are some of my favourite pieces from the website…
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A rattle for baby

With our baby due in just over three months (erk), I decided it was about time to craft something fun for her. After all, I’ve recently created plenty of cute things for other friends’ babies, and apart from the pants I posted about a few weeks ago, until very lately I hadn’t actually made anything for our little one. All of a sudden, though, I had three projects on the go, and this is the one I finished first.

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If you haven’t heard of Ravelry, and are into knitting and crochet, hot-foot it over there. It’s full of great knitting and crochet patterns, many of them free (!), and is wonderful for baby clothes and toys. When I stumbled across this adorable baby rattle crochet pattern I knew I had to make it. I love the simple bunny design, and I opted to make one in the same lovely mustard-and-cream colourway. You can find the pattern right here.

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The bunny is stuffed with quilt wadding, and in the middle is a Kinder egg toy shell filled with lentils, and wrapped in sellotape, for safety. This was a really quick project, and loads of fun to see the little guy taking shape. I used this 100% cotton yarn, which is really soft and smooth to work with, while being very sturdy – perfect for making a child’s toy. Hopefully this rattle will last our little one for a while, and withstand a few washes. In the meantime, Mr Bunny hangs out in the moses basket with the, ahem, few bits I have already bought for our baby. A comfy place to be.

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