Thursday, 30 December 2010

The Big Happy

Anyone who reads this blog knows I love crochet.  I dabble in many crafty creative things but over the last year or so crochet has really come to the fore as my craft of choice.

The start of the Big Happy blanket

I love doing it, I love seeing other people's pictures of what they are doing, I love learning new patterns and stitches.  I love the old fashioned simplicity of it.  I love that I use my great grandmother's darning needle to sew crochet squares together like she would have done.

So I hatched a plan.  If crochet makes me happy then crochet can help me out of the post-natal depression.  I'm not keen on taking the route of medication right now, especially as I am still desperately persevering with breastfeeding, so anything that can help is worth a try.

The next pattern in the Happy Hooker Backwards project is for an iPod cover. I had been rather looking forward to this as it presented a bit of a challenge, given that iPods have evolved somewhat since the pattern was written, so I would have to modify it and work out my own pattern for covering an iPhone instead.  However in my current baby focused, brain-adled state there is no way I would be able to take this on.  So this is on hold until I regain my mind.

Instead I decided I needed a Big Project.  Something huge yet simple.  Something that will take me a lonnnnnng time to do without taxing me too much.  Something that can be started now in the depths of my depression and finished many months from now by the happy recovered Me of the future.

Introducing the Big Happy...

The start of the Big Happy blanket

The start of the Big Happy blanket

This is going to be a mahoosive blanket.  It measures 2.7m wide...quite accidentally, I didn't plan it, I just hooked the foundation chain until it seemed long enough, oops.  It is a Granny Stripe blanket, a pattern from the endlessly delightful and colourful Attic24 blog.  Simple rows of double crochet (I work in US terms) clusters, endless rows of the same stitch in different colours.  The colours will be random.  This blanket is all about Not Thinking, just doing, just occupying my hands and creating colourful row upon row of soft and delicious stripes.  Something I can pick up to work on in any free minute I may find.  Until one day, months from now, it will be finished and I will look back on each row and remember the days and weeks and months I worked through to get to the end point. 

The start of the Big Happy blanket

It will be my Big Happy blanket.

The start of the Big Happy blanket

When it is complete I will be happy, I will be Me again.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Another Christmas

I love Christmas, it is my most favourite time of the year.  From October onwards I am usually planning and looking forward to the big week of festivities, eating, drinking and gift giving.  This year therefore has been rather tough.  I am not used to feeling down during what is usually my happiest time.  Depression, I am discovering, is a bummer.

Christmas Eve candles

Christmas day was undoubtedly the toughest.  Trying to engage in the fun, desperately wanting to play with Lillia and all her presents but instead sitting glued to a chair breastfeeding for hours, exhausted beyond description, with a dark sensation pushing down on me the whole time. 

Whisky and snacks for Santa and Rudolph

Definitely not a Christmas I want to revisit.  Though I will, over the years, many times I am sure.  I will look back and remember and be grateful that I no longer feel that way, that I never again will feel that way at Christmas again.  This depression will be behind me, I will make sure of it. I've come through a lot in my 33 years, I can get through this.

Lillia had a wonderful Christmas being thoroughly entertained by her (now thoroughly exhausted) aunt and eating far too many pink smarties whilst watching far too much television.  But that's what Christmas is about, a little time out from the usual rules :)

Mum's fireplace

I hope each and every one of you enjoyed wonderful Christmasses, and are still enjoying the Christmas week.  I was lucky enough to receive many new books so as soon as baby Phoebe starts feeding a little more easily I am looking forward to getting some reading done during those long wakeful nights. Amongst others I received A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle, read many times years ago and then lost, I am so glad to have a new copy to re-read!  I also got Kirsty Allsopp's Homemade Home book, a couple of novels, two cookbooks and a book on seasonal gardening (is there any other type of gardening..?)  So there's plenty to keep me going should I ever get the chance.

Mum's Mudmeddling Santa

On another note - despite all the doom and gloom and the apparent lack of productivity over here - I have actually been indulging in the odd bit of crochet time.  I have a plan you see, a Big Project.  Something that will play a part in dragging me out of this post-natal depression.  More on this in a day or two...until then, Merry Christmas xx


Sunday, 19 December 2010

Snow days


Thank you for the lovely supportive comments on my last post, it is so wonderful to be connected to so many other mothers who can understand in some way what I am going through right now.  I am taking it one day and one night at a time right now.  Though to be honest night and day kind of blurs into one long stressy mess at the moment.  These early days of babyhood are so hard...soooo much guess work involved, so much unpredictability.  I do prefer some predictability, never been one for flying by the seat of my pants.  I could cope with the interupted nights of sleep if I knew for certain what was coming and when - could cope with breastfeeding at 2am for an hour if I knew with certainty that when I popped her back - warm, cosy, cuddled, comforted, clean, dry and well fed - into her basket she would then fall peacefully asleep...not cry instead.  It's moments like those that really baffle me, and in the dead of the night really stress me out.

Not much light around here

The arrival of yet more snow here in our little corner of England  has also scuppered plans for any trips out and about with the buggy, even in the car.  Combined with a serious lack of light I find myself getting quite cabin-feverish.  I need to get out soon!


Lillia has been a real superstar, has been entertaining herself far more these days than she has been used to.  Making little camps with her ripple blanket.  The stool and cups are a "mulberry bush" apparently and she has been skipping around them singing quite a lot.  I do feel for her, all this being cooped up indoors in a tiny house with a crying baby and a tired mummy.  It's hard to feel at this point that providing her with a sibling has been a Good Thing.  Maybe in a few months when Phoebe is older, more smiley and interactive perhaps, when mummy is maybe getting more sleep, maybe then it'll all feel worth it.

Lots of time spent on the sofa

All my crocheted blankets have been getting a lot of mileage these last couple of weeks.  There has been a LOT of sofa time, a lot of TV time, a lot of cold weather and being snowed in.  It has made me decide to attempt to start a new crochet project to keep me going along.  Something rather big.  But more on that soon.

Tired, stressed, busy

Thanks so much again for the lovely messages of support, that really do mean an awful lot to me, I frequently check in to my blog from my phone and look at what lovely comments have been left - it gives me something to do at 2am when I'm part cow, part human, part zombie - they always make me smile.

One day at a time.


Thursday, 16 December 2010

"If you're going through hell, keep going"


The last two weeks have been...rather...tough.

I have said before that I like this blog to be a happy place to visit, but just occasionally a dose of hard reality seeps in; the kind of stuff that isn’t all about crochet and clay, crafting and cakes and tea. But I think we owe it to one another as women, because the majority if not all of the readers of this blog are, after all, women, to be honest about the realities of motherhood and life.


I have been diagnosed with post-natal depression. It is to say the least a bit of a shock. I had felt pretty damn terrible after the birth of my first daughter, the beautiful Lillia, and I had assumed that was how you felt when you had a baby –not full of the joys of motherhood and bonding, not singing the praises of the beauty of breastfeeding, not cooing and cuddling and enjoying every moment – but feeling useless, incompetent, exhausted, confused, overwhelmed and incapable. I assumed that was how people felt and that you just didn’t mention it...because you’re not supposed to feel that way, right?


So I said nothing and I pushed on through it alone. It took months before I felt human again. This time though my midwife immediately picked up on the signs, sent me straight to my GP, who assessed me and referred me to a specialist unit at the local hospital. It has all been very quick, very straight-forward in a way. I suddenly find myself surrounded in support – family, health visitors, midwives, and even my own specialist PND worker. Now I know that it’s not normal to feel this way, but it is very common. The hormones of pregnancy and birth have messed with the chemical balance in my brain and caused the issue, it is nothing more than an illness, and one which I shall apparently emerge from with help, with hard work, determination, maybe medication, and time.


Christmas is usually my absolute favourite time of the year, but it is hard to find the joy I usually do in the festivities this year. I am taking it day by day and week by week at the moment. Hopefully one day very soon I will feel myself again.


Until then I will check in here when I can, keep you updated and I’ll be sure to wish you all a very merry Christmas.


Sunday, 5 December 2010

Snow baby

Our baby Phoebe finally arrived on Tuesday 30th November :) 

Our St Andrew's Day baby certainly timed her arrival to make things interesting!  This is a long wordy post, the Baby Post, enjoy...!

This was my car on the morning I went into labour...

Baby Phoebe decided the day to arrive would be the day a massive snow blizzard hit Kent.  It had started snowing overnight and when we woke up we'd already had a couple of feet, and the snow just kept coming, it didn't stop.  The schools were closed so hubby set off to get Lillia to her Granny's whilst I stayed at home to handle the contractions.  Two hours later hubby had to turn back as he just couldn't get there - the roads were gridlocked.

By this time things were getting quite painful and the weather situation was looking a bit worrying, the snow just kept falling.  Luckily the traffic coming the other way from my mum's was ok and she managed to get to us in the end, making the usual ten minute drive in forty-five.  We set off for the hospital as soon as she arrived, me wired up to my tens machine and clutching a bowl in case I was sick! 

The hospital is usually a ten minute drive away - it took us just over two hours.  The roads were gridlocked so we had to resort to the motorway in the hope it would be clearer, but there were several lorries stuck unable to move and we couldn't get past.  At one point I thought I would end up giving birth on the motorway, I could almost see the local paper headlines! 

When we finally got past and off the motorway, negotiated a couple of gridlocked roundabouts and turned the corner on to the final stretch of road we were confronted with a long queue of cars stuck behind a lorry stuck in a snow drift.  There was nothing left to do but to start driving madly: hubby put on the hazard lights and we started our way up as far as we could on the opposite side of the road.  Then we pulled in, hubby got out and ran up the the policeman who was helping dig the lorry out, he explained his wife was in labour and we needed to get to the hospital fast!  The policeman initially offered us a lift in the police 4x4, but all we needed was to get up the hill and round the corner so in the end he stopped all the on-coming traffic to let us through.  One of the memories that will always stay with me is driving past that policeman, clutching my tens machine and breathing through a contraction, with him shouting "good luck!" and giving us the thumbs up.

In the end we made it in plenty of time.  Phoebe was born just before 11pm, with the snow still continually falling outside, much to our joy and relief!

We made it home the next day - the roads being snowy but no longer gridlocked - but the whole country had come to a halt and all we four could do was pull up plenty of blankets and hunker down.  No visitors, no post, no midwife visits, no getting out and about, no school!  We have been completely snowed in.

The thaw started on Saturday and visitors have started to trickle through, though the roads are now icy and dangerous.  We are hoping school will be back tomorrow so poor Lillia can escape the cabin fever.

It has been quite a week to say the least!  I will be back very soon, but for now I will be mostly crying, breastfeeding and feeling tired but happy :)

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Yup I am still here...

39 weeks, 2 days and counting!  I am still here, waiting waiting waiting and getting larger and more uncomfortable by the day.  Every twinge gets me thinking that things are about to get going, then...nothing.


So the crochet fest continues!  A hat for baby Bonnie, our newest neice who was due the same time as our own but arrived over two weeks ago.  Jealous, me?

Hat for Baby Bonnie

Hat for Baby Bonnie

The sockathon also continues, the latest are a pink pair and a green pair...
More socks!

These are already in envelopes winging their way through the royal mail to their new owners :)

So, I will no doubt see you all tomorrow, or Monday, or the next day!  At this rate it could be a December baby after all!


Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Cosy feet

Crochet yellow slipper socks

Apparently snow is on its way so I made myself my own pair of slipper socks to match Hubby's and Lillia's.  Now we shall all have cosy toes when the white stuff arrives.

Yellow slipper socks

Yellow is my absolute favourite colour so they had to be yellow :)  I mixed some soft acrylic double-knit yarn with the same aran yarn I used for their's.

My own slipper socks


On the hook is the next pair - aran with a deep purple this time...
Onto the next...purple!

I am slightly addicted to making these.  Every time I finish one pair I think of somebody else to make a pair for and a fair stock of these socks are slowly piling up in my Christmas present basket!  And lets face it I have plenty of time to sit and make them - with just over a week until my due date I am still here at home waiting for signs that this baby is going to make an appearance. I have been so convinced all the way through that she would be early that now the due date is approaching I am beginning to doubt my instincts!
Still, wtih Lillia at school for a large portion of each day it has been nice to enjoy some nice quiet time on my own before the whirlwind of a newborn arrives.  In the kitchen some homemade bakewell tart...

Homemade Bakewell Tart

I still can't believe I actually made this, it's totally divine!

And also some fresh pineapple...

Fresh pineapple - trying to get things moving!

I think I'd have to eat about ten fresh pineapples to actually stimulate labour of course...but at least it's tasty and healthy :)

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Crochet socks, cake and drugs.

I have to take my daily dose of steroids with food, it says so on the packet, and there's nothing to specify what kind of food...

Cake and drugs! I figure cake is as good as anything else :) 

And whilst I sit munching away on cake and steroids I have taken to absorbing myself with quick and satisfying crochet projects that make me smile.  It started with hats and has progressed to...socks!

Crochet socks for Hubby& Lillia

Crochet socks for Hubby& Lillia

I found the pattern on Ravelry and it can be found here, it is quick and easy and the socks are so cosy and..well..funny!  I made a nice big pair for hubby first of all using aran yarn...

Crochet socks for Hubby& Lillia

Despite some initial skeptism he has worn them pretty constantly around the house since I presented them to him.  I then mixed the same aran yarn with some soft pink double-knit and whipped up a cute little pair for Lillia...
Crochet socks for Hubby& Lillia

It's safe to say they are both delighted...
Crochet socks for Hubby& Lillia

...not least because they can have skidding competitions on the kitchen floor!

I am already working on my own pair (can't be left out) and there will definitely be more being made as Christmas gifts :)

Thursday, 18 November 2010


My step-mum is currently undergoing a very aggressive form of chemotherapy for an aggressive form of breast cancer.  As a result she is losing her hair and has taken to wearing hats.  I made her a lovely pink crochet hat which I then promptly forgot to take a photograph off before she headed off on a mini-break to Paris with it! 

But now I have a bit of a hat bug and Ravelry does nothing to curb the problem with all its lovely free patterns.

So first I used up the rest of the Wendy Serenity yarn I had left over from the Li'l Monkey blanket and made myself a lovely winter hat using this pattern....

Crochet hat for me

My mum then tried it on and has requested one for herself, so I may have to attempt a trip into the Outside World today and get some more yarn.

Crochet hat for me

I love this pattern, it is utterly fabulous, and it only took about two hours to make.

With all the hat making going on Lillia felt left out and requested a new hat for herself.  So last night I used this pattern that has been lurking in my Ravelry favourites for a wee while and ran up this cute little butterfly beanie...

Crochet hat for Lillia

The early morning frosty light and my inability to function much before 10am didn't help with the photos!

Crochet hat for Lillia

But trust me this hat looks super cool, and most importantly for out little lady - super pink!

It's been nice to pass the time with some leisurely crocheting.  I now 38 weeks pregnant, so due any day, and very uncomfortable indeed.  The baby seems to sit on every internal organ at the same time leaving me breathless and pretty miserable.  Although I remain at home for now my illness is still flaring up quite badly and draining me. Whinge whinge...  I could do with this baby arriving very soon!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

£40 voucher winner!

Sorry sorry, I am so tardy in revealing the winner of the £40 voucher giveaway

I numbered the comments 1-14, then I used the good old random Random Number Generator and extracted a rather blurry snapshot of the result...

And lucky number 13 is...Claire of The Hookery!  Congratulations Claire!  I will forward your email to CSN who will email you your £40 voucher so you can get shopping!

Thanks so much everyone who commented and left me positive vibes - it seems to have worked as for now I still out of hopsital and actually seeing some improvement to the blasted condition that makes me so unwell!  Still no sign of baby, I will keep you all posted!


Friday, 12 November 2010

Handmade rabbit

On my last day at work my lovely colleagues sent me off with some lovely clothes and toys for the baby.  They know how much I love handmade so the clothes were handmade and beautiful, as well as this gorgeous little bunny...

Isn't she lovely?  She is called "Rag Rab" and she is made by Once Upon Juliet.  Unfortunately they have no online presence that I can find so I can't provide you with a link, but if you live in London they have a stall at Spitalfields Market every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Happy Hooker Backwards Project #38 Completed!

I finished my blanket on Monday afternoon during what turned out to be a rather stressful 24 hours.  So in the midst of running backwards and forwards to various hospitals, having Big Discussions, and dealing with a vomiting 4-year-old we had a new soft blanket to snuggle down with.

Colour Bar blanket

Very handy it was too as when the sickness bug hit Lillia's own pink ripple blanket took most of the mess!  So while that was washed and dried she was able to recover on the sofa quite warm and cosy under the new Colour Bar blanket.

Do excuse the rather bad and wonky "voila!" photo!  The light has been terrible and space to lay it out is fairly limited so you'll have to make do...

Colour Bar blanket

Colour Bar blanket

All in all in took just under a month to do and it was really good fun working through each little coloured pile of granny squares, then laying them all out and crocheting them together.  I used grey yarn and a single crochet stitch to join them, I like the contrast and the pattern it creates...

Colour Bar blanket

Colour Bar blanket

The yarn, despite being relatively cheap and cheerful, is incredibly soft and the colours are soooo earthy and warm.  Hubby calls it his "man blanket" as it is one of very few things in the house at the moment that doesn't contain an element of pink.

The pattern didn't call for any edging to finish off the blanket but I felt it needed a finishing edge, so I added four rows of single crochet in taupe and green...

It fits in beautifully in the bedroom as I hoped, the colours are perfect.

Colour Bar blanket
Colour Bar blanket

But for now it has taken up residence with the family on the sofa, which is where I suspect it may stay for a while :)

So here's the lowdown on Happy Hooker Backwards Project #38!
  • Cost - about £15 - I bought one ball of each of the ten colours and I haven't used any of them up entirely so there's plenty of left for more projects.
  • Yarn - 100% acrylic - various brands.
  • Hook - 6mm
  • Difficulty - Easy!  In fact this project almost made me enjoy doing granny squares!  Each square is only three rounds so they are easy to work up quickly, which is just as well as there are 140 in total!  I enjoy joining granny squares so I didn't find that much of a chore, but I am guessing others would disagree :)
  • Overall happiness with finished object - as usual I am delighted!  But not as delighted as hubby is with his "man blanket"!
So another project is completed, that's 3 out of 40 so far!  Two weeks until my due date, can I squeeze another one in do you think? 


PS - thanks for all the lovely positive vibes and comments on my Giveaway post, and don't forget you have until Friday to enter if you haven't already!