Week four: busy doing nothing

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been in lockdown (of a sort) for four weeks already…or that it’s the end of the Easter holidays so the Horde and I will be back to work tomorrow. My email inbox is already filling up with work for them to do, sent by their teachers, who are clearly superhuman.

People cavil about the amount of ‘holidays’ teachers get, but from my own days at the chalkface I know that the majority of those holidays are spent marking, planning for the next term, prepping their classrooms and (usually) being ill. All these teachers (who have just worked through their breaks) are as much in need of applause as the rest of the key workers. On that note, we did remember to join in the applause on Thursday at 8pm – I haven’t seen so many of my neighbours for weeks! The noise was amazing and a passing ambulance beeped as it went along the main road.

But what did you do all week?

I have had a very lazy week with the Horde! My sort of lazy, anyway…

I’ve been able to stay awake in the evenings long enough to do some crochet, and on Wednesday I sent off a Frontline Hero bear to a little girl whose Daddy has been in our local hospital with Covid-19 and who has been very brave. Several friends sent me links to this pattern on Facebook (definitely an improvement on some of the things I get sent!): it was really easy to follow, and the scrubs/bear colour can be adapted to suit either your stash or your local heroes. You can find the link in my week 2 post, or just search ‘Frontline Hero bear’. I chose this bluebell colour in Stylecraft Special DK as I happened to have some handy. I sent off four pairs of real-people scrubs in a very similar colour to a mental health trust in East London, too, which I hope arrived safely.

Bear ready for action

I discovered how mindful unmaking can be as well. My first pair of crochet socks – before I got the hang of tension – were beautiful but too tight for even Thing 1 to wear, let alone me and have languished in a box in the shed for several years now. They surfaced this week while I was trying to resist all the Easter sales emails from yarn companies by seeing what I already had in my stash, and I decided to unravel them so I could remake them to fit.

You need patience to unravel an item that’s been very tightly worked, freeing stitches and rewinding the yarn without it tangling. I spent an afternoon in a hammock in the sunny garden, listening to the new fountain burbling away (my beloved made me a fountain in the old bird bath!) and carefully unworking the socks. I now have two beautiful balls of Drops Fabel yarn, which is lovely to work with – I just need to decide what to make!

Spending time in the garden gave me the chance to watch a pair of red kites soaring overhead – new to the village this year – and a pair of goldcrests. These tiny birds live in the pine tree along with the nesting collared doves, several families of blue tits and even a bat or two.

Mindfully unmaking some socks

The Horde got creative, too – they love working on canvases, and when they are bored with them we repaint them with white emulsion and reuse them. Thing 1 is hoping to do GCSE Art next year so is experimenting with perspective, Thing 2 likes white space and we gave Thing 3 a box of pastels to try as something different and he drew a giant Pikachu. Pokemon are enjoying a bit of a revival in our house at the moment. I really love the way Thing 1 has painted the clouds in her picture.

They spent a happy afternoon outside getting messy! Thing 3 also made a TV for the treehouse out of an Amazon box, and Thing 2 made a squirrel picnic table out of offcuts of wood after we had seen a social media post about them. The badger and the fox also appreciate the table, as it turns out.

There’s been a lot of baking too – bread rolls, dough balls, Melting Moments (Dad’s favourite), homemade pizzas and chocolate brownies. We made a foray to our local farm shop earlier in the week on a quest for flour – getting in the car and going somewhere felt quite adventurous.

New challenges

I decided that since the overlocker was out for making scrubs, I’d try some new patterns – my go-to working at home outfit is a tunic/tee dress and leggings, and while I am not quite ready to sew leggings I did have some lovely striped lightweight jersey that was calling me.

I searched the stash of sewing patterns and came up with ‘The Staple Tee’ which was a freebie with Simply Sewing magazine aaaaages ago. It could be made as a t-shirt or a dress, so I went with the longer version. The pattern had grown on sleeves, cuffs on the sleeves instead of a hem (I hate hemming sleeves) and a slightly curved hem. Super easy to make, especially with the overlocker. I think if I make it again I’ll grade the bodice down a size as it’s very wide, but I really like the elbow length sleeves.

‘The Staple Tee’

I used the remnants of the stripey fabric to clone my favourite Hema skirt – tube skirts have been part of my wardrobe for years, for layering with leggings, and you can never have too many. I used brown paper to trace off the original skirt, added seam allowance and then whizzed it together with the overlocker in about half an hour (most of that was doing the waistband).

I wanted to try a raglan tee-shirt as well, which I’ve always been fond of but haven’t tried making before as the sleeves looked tricky. I found a pattern online by Greenstyle Creations, an indie pattern company I haven’t heard of before, and it also had an add-on pack for a cowl neck or a hood, as well as lots of sleeve options in the original pattern (to cuff or not to cuff?).

I went with the hoodie option, and 3/4 sleeves (no cuff), and used cotton elastane jersey in black and royal blue. Apart from when I did exactly what the instructions warned me about – stitched one of the hood sections on upside-down and had to unpick – and when I had to unpick all my topstitching on the hood (twice) when my tension went awry, the pattern was really easy to follow and the result looks great. The fit is perfect – a good length, which as a long-waisted person is often an issue, and the hood is wearable rather than cosmetic. I can see this becoming a staple make too, in lighter weight jerseys for layering.

Centerfield Raglan Shirt

I’ve cut out a wrap skirt for Thing 1 and some pyjama shorts for me, too, from a lovely polycotton fabric with dots and daisies on a black background – the fabric was from the stash. I have made the shorts before, last time by upcycling a duvet cover, but this time I’ll use elastic at the waist instead of a drawstring. The wrap skirt was a request – she saw one on a shopping site and I knew I had a pattern somewhere!

That was my week! I’ve been determined about not turning on my work phone or logging in to check emails, so there’s probably about a million waiting for me tomorrow morning but tomorrow – as Scarlett O’Hara said – is another day.

I’ll leave you with one of our more unusual garden visitors, who found himself in the new fountain the other day. He gave me an excuse to resurrect one of my favourite jokes….

This is Tiny….. he’s my newt!

And on that note I’ll leave you for another week – hope yours was as enjoyable as mine!

Kirsty x

What I’ve been reading:

The Crow Investigations (series of 3) – Sarah Painter

The Travelling Cat Chronicles – Hiro Arikawa (I cried)

Under the Paw: confessions of a cat man – Tom Cox

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