June 2nd, 2014


My two boys, at nearly 2.5 years and 5 years old, do not play with each other. In the pre-bedtime witching hour they occasionally rough and tumble on the bed, but that is the limit of their playful interactions. This is something we need to work on. Oz is willing, Spike less so.

However, changes are afoot. There used to be very little conflict between the two of them – their worlds simply did not collide, but now Oz is a little boy that wants to be heard. If Spike does something he doesn’t like, he tells him so. Oz is interested in how Spike occupies himself and, much to Spike’s irritation, places himself in Spike’s personal space to observe him. Today, they had an argument about whether to watch Paw Patrol or Peppa Pig. I’m sure most parents would sigh at siblings bickering, but I thought “How brilliant! They are interacting.” To build a relationship, they need to notice each other and have opinions on each others movements. That seems to be happening more and more.

We also get more moments where they want the same thing. Today, when Spike came home from school, he asked to change into pyjama bottoms and to look up logos on his iPad. Oz wanted a snack and to watch a show on his iPad. I had resources to make, so we all sat around the kitchen table, companionably, and not even in silence. It was lovely. Again, other parents might bemoan two faces glued to technology, but we were interacting and happy. It was good.


May 31st, 2014

Logo missive

I miss writing for this blog.

The best corrective is, I suppose, to just write. If technology existed to scribe posts composed in my head, many a phantom post would be a reality, but I am an over-thinker and over-editor. I have so little free time that, if I want to have this record of things made and seen and thought, I just need to type and post, type and post, type and post.

It seems unlikely that I will have anything crafty to write about for a while. Most of my very limited spare moments are spent making resources for Spike who does a lot of his learning at home. Still, perhaps that might be of interest to some. The focus of the blog was changing, anyway.

In the new spirit, here is a postcard I drew for Spike. His school have asked us to send a postcard addressed to our children at school. They will use them as a stimulus for a letter writing exercise. Spike needs highly-motivating materials to engage with at school. Logos are his particular fascination.

I used a lovely Blackwing pencil, a black pigment pen and Prismacolor markers.

Spike's postcard

In other news, I need to work out how to adjust the white balance on my new camera…

April 3rd, 2013

Party bags

My biggest boy has just turned four. It seems preposterous that he has grown into such a beautiful, fully-formed human being in four short years, but that appears to be what has happened.  Our four year old loves technology, revels in colour and shape and climbs like a monkey.  He is coping well at a mainstream nursery, is learning to take notice of his peers and has some beautiful relationships with all the adults who are involved in helping him reach his full potential.  There is a lot of celebrate.


Birthdays are still a mysterious occasion for S. Wrapped presents are a source of anxiety, parties are potentially overwhelming and demanding, and being the focus of attention is usually unwelcome. Despite these presets, I think we managed to convey to S that his birthday was his special day.  It helped that cake is a central tenet of the birthday tradition, and S is always up for cake.

We held a party at Little Gym, inviting just a few of S’s classmates. Little Gym were brilliantly accommodating, changing their usual package to better suit us. Traditional parties are hard work for S, but the gym party worked perfectly. He could play in parallel with the friends who know him best, and still have the opportunity to share moments and interact with them. We served pizzas after the romping, and April provided an awesome rainbow layer cake. Why, oh, why do I not have a picture of the cake?!  It looked a lot like this one she made for someone else.  I am kicking myself that we got hardly any pictures, but hosting and wielding a camera is virtually impossible.

I set myself a crafty challenge: to be creative about the content for the party bags. Of course, party bags are ridiculous, really, but I do remember how much joy they brought me as a child, so I like doing them. I’ve noticed a pleasing shift in party bags recently. Rather than just being a bag of plastic tat which ends up in the bin, S has been given a book, or a cupcake and some stickers. Quality, not quantity, and rather more considerate to the environment. Mind you, my challenge was more about being thrifty and giving my hands something to do, rather than having any noble aims.

My first idea was to use cotton tote bags, as they are reusable, and to give a couple of fabric pens so the bags could be personalised and decorated. Here they are…

Handmade book & twig pencil

I made the labels using my Tonic corner rounder, some foam letters from Yellow Moon, that I had in my craft stash. I packaged the pens nicely, with instructions on how to use them.

Fabric pens

I wanted to include some more activities as well as toys, so I downloaded a postcard from the lovely Walnut Paperie, and included some stickers, so the recipients could make a card.

Handmade book & twig pencil

I also made some mini sketch books and found these fabulous handmade twig pencils on eBay.

Handmade book & twig pencil
My final activity gift was a colouring in book.  I purchased a printable colouring in book from Asking for Trouble for £2, and printed out copies for each child, so this was inexpensive.

Handmade book & twig pencil

Of course, no party bag is complete without sweet treats and a couple of toys. I got the sweeties from the estimable establishment, Poundland, along with the bouncy balls.  The marbled balloons were from eBay and the rainbow magnets from Odd Pockets on Etsy.

Handmade book & twig pencil

Handmade book & twig pencil

I made one additional fun toy, a monster mouth, ideal for taking silly pictures or scaring siblings. These were inspired by some I saw on Etsy. I drew them by hand, coloured them in using image editing software, printed them on card and stuck them to a lolly stick.  This required no expenditure for me, except the cost of printer ink.

Handmade book & twig pencil

Little kids often like packaging, so I made the contents more appealing by packaging everything in little cello bags or candy striped paper bags and used my colourful rolls of MT washi tape, liberally.

I think the bags were well-received.  S only had a small number of friends at the party, so the bags didn’t take me too long to prepare, and they were not expensive.


Cotton tote bag £1.24

Bouncy balls 25p

Rainbow magnet 75p

Balloon 20p

Twig pencil 35p

Fabric pens 44p x 2

Stickers 91p

Lolly 20p

Freddie bar 17p

Fruit stars 20p

Colouring book* 29p


A grand total of £5.44 for each bag, not including paper or ink costs, or the cost of items used from my admittedly sizeable craft stash!  Best of all, it was a nice thing to spend time doing, and I felt good about the things that went in the bags.


* Not including the value of the paper and printer ink.

August 16th, 2012

Buzzy buzzy bee

[Please insert your preferred apology for not posting, here.]

I see that since I last posted, I have had another baby. That will explain a few things. Here he is, dear, jolly Oscar or, to his friends, Ozzie.


Ozzie is a great baby. He doesn’t sleep very well. He will only nap if I carry him in his carrier. He is causing me all kinds of headaches in the transition to solid foods. BUT. He is insanely jolly. So quick to smile and laugh at Mummy doing something silly. Sweet, sweet, Oscar.

And can you believe, since I last posted, Spike has learned to talk?! He has gone from strength to strength with his ABA programme. He is progressing so well. Interacting with his peers is still a big problem for him but, even there, there is positive movement. Spike can recite nursery rhymes and play around with the words. He can count up and down from 100, he knows most of his phonics and his alphabet very well. There is so much to cheer.

Of course, the last 10 months (ack, has it been that long?) have also been ridiculously hard. Managing an autistic preschooler and a very demanding baby has been tough, especially over the holidays when the structure of our day goes to pot. I don’t really get out, play dates are tricky. Our lives are dictated by Spike’s therapy. I can’t help but look forward to September when Spike will be in nursery every morning, Ozzie will be able to nap without being woken up, and I can potter about a bit more freely.

So, you’ll understand that, from a crafty point of view, I have not had a great deal to post about. Having said that, if my brain was a cup it would be in a constant state of overflow. There are so many things I want to make and new techniques I want to try but, alas, minimal time to make and do. Which is not to say I haven’t done anything. On the rare evenings when I am not slumped, comatose, on the sofa, or when Spike is occupied and Oscar is napping, I will feverishly crochet or cut or knit or sew. I have about seven shoe boxes, each containing a different work-in-progress, so that I can always work on something. Need something I can do while standing in the kitchen with a baby strapped to me? Crack open the cross stitch box. Husband up to the challenge of wrangling two children simultaneously? Grab the sewing box and run to the machine. Free hands while a small child slumbers in the half-light? The crochet box is the correct choice. It is the only area of my life that I have fully organised.

One project I keep coming back to is this crochet bee.


I made this incarnation twice, once for Ozzie and once for a friend’s new baby boy. It’s such a fun, quick pattern, that it has made the ideal gift for all the new babies who keep appearing. I couldn’t resist playing with the colour scheme, producing this little lady bee with lovely coral stripes:

Crochet bee

and this little boy bee:


Since making the first Buzzy Buzzy Bee (as Spike calls them), I have realised they are much nicer to handle in cotton yarn, particularly for babies. For the coral and blue bees, I used gorgeous Patricia Roberts Cotton No.2, which is just about my favourite yarn to work with. I stuffed the faces with a couple of windows from envelopes to make them scrunch, and put a caged bell (AKA a cat toy) in the middle.

The original pattern, which I have modified a little, called for stud eyes, but I embroidered my faces with linen thread to make them more baby-friendly.

Such fun. I’ll try and show you what is in my other boxes, just as soon as I stop being a busy, buzzy bee.

October 21st, 2011

Rhubarb & Rose

With baby number two arriving in single digit weeks, a confirmed diagnosis of ASD for our dear boy, antenatal appointments, appointments with therapists and paediatricians, and trying to get an ABA programme off the ground, there shouldn’t be much room for anything as trivial as blogging.

But then a parcel arrived this morning and it reminded me that I have been meaning to post about April of Rhubarb & Rose fame for ages. Spike has been taken off for a jaunt by Daddy, so I am seizing a cup of tea – and the moment – to correct my error. This is of course a cheat-post as I am pressing someone else’s hard work into service, but I hope April will not mind the exposure (to my three readers), and I get eye-candy and a post out of it!

The parcel contained these creatures…


Most British parents of toddlers will recognise Nok Tok, Yojojo, De Li and Lau Lau from Waybuloo rendered in cake pop form. I commissioned them from April for my dearest friend’s birthday. She is a new mother, a yoga-aficionado and watcher of Waybuloo, so I thought they were a sweet choice. I shouldn’t be surprised at how awesome they are. April has a track record – a good one.

We had a Very Hungry Caterpillar-themed second birthday party for Spike back in March and April made this fantastic arrangement of cake, cupcakes both big and small, and cake pops for us.

April has more pictures of the comestibles on her very beautiful blog here. The fruity cake pops, in particular, were irresistible in both form and flavour and were sampled by almost everyone. I thought it was almost a shame to eat everything, but thankfully there was a gaggle of toddlers who thought differently!

In April, I hosted a retro red and white-themed baby shower (think bakers twine and stripey straws) and April ran a cake pop workshop. It was such a fun thing to do and lovely to learn a new skill.

I can’t claim that ours turned out as beautifully as April’s, above, did, but they were still pretty cool. The class was wonderfully organised and everything was supplied, including the balls of red velvet cake, so we could focus on the important business of decorating.

Finally, when faced with the birthday of a quite-difficult-to-buy-for male relative, I turned to April for help once again. The relative in question is an orthopaedic surgeon (who likes cake), so I commissioned some bone-themed cake pops.

I love the contrast between the stark bony appearance and squidgy red velvet cake I know is (or was) lurking within.

Anyway, I hope you’re getting the idea that April is some sort of cake pop wizard and you should go to her for all your cake pop needs. If you require further proof, do torture yourself into a state of drooling imbecility by reading her blog, or by reading her fabulous new book.

[I pinched all the lovely pictures from April's blog, apart from the Waybuloo ones.]

September 27th, 2011

Baby soft

With my dear boy starting nursery, there was a short hiatus in knitting while I sewed in name tags, planned lunch boxes and read and re-read Spike Goes to Nursery School. I’m happy to say the transition to nursery has gone much better than expected. We still have a few tears when I leave, but he recovers swiftly and always looks happy and absorbed when I pick him up.

The arrival of the latest in a long, dense line of squidgy newborns has necessitated that I up sticks once more. It’s always hard to find sweet patterns for baby boys, so I was very pleased to happen upon a unisex, season-appropriate vest – Thora’s Top. I had some lovely fingering weight alpaca in my stash from my trip to Copenhagen. It’s the perfect yarn for babies born in the cooler half of the year. In fact, I’m slightly concerned that I am running low on this yarn staple. I’ll have to look out for some at Ally Pally (anyone else planning on going this year?).

Lachlan's top - a purl free vest

The vest was a wholly pleasurable knit. As the pattern claims, it is purl-free which is a boon, and it knitted up quickly. I do hope it is boyish enough. I like patterns like this because they can be worn tunic-length when the baby is very small and sweater-length as the baby grows. I’ll almost certainly knit one for the little boy due to arrive Chez Spitting Yarn in December.

Lachlan's top - a purl free vest

I really need to crack on with knitting Little Ivanhoe which has stagnated just under the armpits (what an unpleasant image). The tiny yarn and large stitch count has made it slightly difficult to pick-up-and-put-down, as I hate doing so in the middle of a row. If I can just reach the armpits, my stitch count will decrease and the project will proceed a little more quickly.

July 26th, 2011

Spike Goes to Nursery School – the novel

In a brief segue from usual crafty topics…

Our dear boy, Spike, currently has a working diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder so life is currently a whirl of assessments, appointments and sessions of one kind or another.

There are obviously long term concerns which we are only beginning to come to terms with. However, there are also real challenges looming just around the corner. I feel woefully under-prepared and under-skilled to deal with them, but we’re doing the best we can. Nursery School is one such challenge. I do not want to underestimate Spike and I hope to be pleasantly surprised, but we are expecting that he’ll find the transition more difficult than the average toddler. So, how to prepare him?

We walk past Spike’s nursery school frequently and talk about it to him. He has attended a New Starters’ Afternoon, but that was at the beginning of the month and he doesn’t start until mid-September, so I doubt that will help a great deal. I decided he needed a more concrete idea of what “Nursery School” is, so I made him a little book.

Spike Goes to Nursery School

Who knows whether it will help. Spike’s delayed speech/language means we can’t be sure whether he is taking it in. I do hope so.

Spike Goes to Nursery School

Spike Goes to Nursery School

Spike Goes to Nursery School

I used Bob Books. The end product is exactly what I wanted and I am happy with it. However, it was tough going putting it together. The software is not user-friendly. Not on a Mac, anyway. It wasn’t cheap either, at GBP14.99 (not including P&P). If anyone knows of a company which has a similar range of photo book products in the UK, do let me know. I expect we’ll make more of these books and I don’t want to have to endure that software again!

I doubt a silly book will mean he rocks up on day one and makes himself part of the furniture, but if it makes it a tiny bit less confusing, then, that’s a good thing.

With my mind busy, I am still managing to knit quite a bit and have finished a little something, but the recipient has not made his debut appearance yet, so I’ll keep schtum for now. I have started a little project which I can show though.

Little Ivanhoe

The picture was snapped on my iPhone, blindly, in full sunlight, so it’s not great. Hopefully, you get the idea. Little Ivanhoe is knitting up beautifully in Patricia Roberts Fine Cotton, but it’s slow going on tiny needles. I am not a great fan of purling and this is a 6 row pattern repeat of which ONE of those rows is knit! I don’t know what I was thinking. I know I’ll finish it though, as I love it.

July 18th, 2011

London Yarn Shops

If anyone has any up-to-date information about any of the shops featured on my London Yarn Shops page, please do get in touch with me, preferably via Ravelry (user: spittingyarn). I think some shops may have appeared/disappeared/moved since I last updated.

Thank you!

May 29th, 2011

Poppy – popped!

The next in a long line of baby knits is this sweet cardigan for a new arrival named Poppy. I have a long-standing, dear friend named Poppy so, biased though I may be, it seems like an auspicious name.

Garter Ridge Baby Shrug

This is a great little pattern named Garter Ridge Baby Shrug (a Ravelry link). It costs 5 dollars, but it is a quick, effective pattern that I can see myself knitting several times (the example shown here is already the second outing). In fact, I would say it is the perfect pattern for a brand new, summer-born baby girl. It’s not a shrug, though. It’s a short-sleeved, cropped cardigan.

Garter Ridge Baby Shrug

I looked quite hard for some non-tacky, small Poppy-themed buttons and was delighted to find the perfect ones from this eBay seller. They are mother-of-pearl. I think they complement the yarn and pattern very nicely. The yarn itself is half wool and half silk from Avril in Kichijoji, Japan. It’s a dream to knit with. I am so happy to finally be using it.

I love knitting for babies. It’s so quick and satisfying and it’s making a great dent in my stash, which means – I get to buy more yarn!

May 19th, 2011

Her name was Lola

Finally, all the baby knitting I have been working on is becoming declassified and I can archive it here.  The recipient of the following garment was born almost two years to the day that my own darling boy arrived.  I only got to hand it over a week ago, although I have sized it for the coming autumn, so there was no hurry.

DROPS b13-3 cardigan

The pattern is the rather unimaginatively named b13-3 (Ravelry link) from DROPS design.  The cardigan is of a very simple construction and it is wise to go with your gut and common sense when the slightly wonky translation throws you.

The grey yarn is alpaca from a shop in Copenhagen and typically I ran out before the end.  Why is it always the difficult-to-get-hold-of yarns which don’t quite go the distance?  Anyway, disaster was averted via the deployment of some rather snazzy German sock yarn.  The kimono-style flap makes this garment deceptively yarn hungry, so I think quite a few people have been caught out by a lack of yardage.

DROPS b13-3 cardigan

It almost looks like I planned it, eh?

Aside from a few pattern nuances getting lost in translation, I thoroughly enjoyed knitting this.  I like the origami-style construction, the mindless garter stitch, the crochet embellishment and the happy pairing of yarn and pattern.  I liked it so much, I’ve cast on another in Koigu KPM.

DROPS b13-3 cardigan