peppermints & poppies

where life imitates art

Two Years and Twenty-Seven Days… November 21, 2013

Filed under: Baby,Sewing,Uncategorized — Katherine @ 11:22 am


…since that last post. Quite a lot has happened in that time. Quite a lot.

I am not the person I was two years and twenty-seven days ago. A lot of things are different now. Let’s recap.

October 2011. Mother to a 15-month-old and still working my way through a reasonable amount of post-natal bewilderment. Making a whole lot of baby shoes.

November 2013. Mother to a 3-year-old… and an 11-month-old. Permanently exhausted, but generally on top of things. Finding a groove. Feeling ok. I am back, and I am feeling ok.

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I made a modest success of mamafactured. Sporadically sold shoes all over the world, sold at craft fairs, through small shops. I have stepped back a little just recently cause I have been overcome, once again, by the need to make. To create things for my little ones and for me. For a long time I have been sewing almost exclusively for other people’s kids, and it’s time for a change.

After all, a change can be as good as a rest. And there’s not a lot of time to rest these days.

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There’s a lot more, of course. A lot of things to catch up on. But just for now, this years poppy.


The elusive purple poppy and other stories… June 28, 2011

Filed under: Baby,Crochet,Photography,Sewing — Katherine @ 5:03 pm


It’s poppy season again. The time of year our garden actually looks halfway decent as we have quite a healthy poppy population growing back there. But this year brought something different. A single purple poppy sprouted among the red ones. I made a mental note to take a photo of it when the baby was in bed. 15 minutes before she went upstairs, a rainstorm washed all the petals off.

I waited two weeks for the other bud to unfold and the SAME THING HAPPENED AGAIN! What are the chances?! Obviously the purple poppy and our garden were not meant to be.

This morning I noticed the universe had arrived at a compromise, and a half red, half purple poppy had snuck up in the night.

In other news, there are two babies due within a week of each other at work, so I’ve been working on baby ripples.

Baby Ripple 1

One of the girls has found out the flavour (pink!) and one doesn’t want to know. I’m doing the girly one first, cause it’s easy, and allows me time to ponder unisex-but-still-interesting colours.

This yarn is new in at my local yarn shop and I am in love. It’s Katia Merino 100%, and it’s amazing. Soft, squooshy and machine washable! What else do you need in a baby yarn?


The other thing I’ve been working on is baby shoes. I got a big bag of leather scraps from my local mill shop, and they’re just right for making those soft slipper-type shoes. Even Phoebe, who at one point was militantly anti-shoe, will keep them on and had now started waving them at me and pointing to her feet.


I’m making a few up to sell after the lady in the cake shop round the corner saw them and got very overexcited. They sell handmade things in the shop, and she thinks they’ll do well. Everyone loves baby shoes, after all.


The ones I’ve made so far are a 6-12 month size, and I’ve given them leather or suede soles so little movers and shakers have a bit of grip. I’m planning to do some 0-6 month sizes in softer fabrics for less mobile, more delicate tiny babies, and also 12 month + sizes in slipper-type materials. Cute.

Speaking of little movers and shakers, our little one will be one on Friday. I’m not sure I can believe it.


long silence, then something different… May 30, 2011

Filed under: Baby,Sewing — Katherine @ 7:49 pm

Well, it’s been a while. I couldn’t quite believe it when I saw that the last time I posted was the 19th March. Forgive me.

Lots has happened in that time. I went back to work. It wasn’t as bad as I feared. We had the hottest April since the beginning of time (or something), a royal wedding – you heard about that, I’m sure, a new baby in the family and one amongst my friends, two pregnancies announced, two new teeth and a word (for Phoebe, not me) and a whole lot of sewing (for me!).

Many of the things I make are born out of me being an utter cheapskate. I see something I like, get a major case of the wants, then, nine times out of ten, decide that I can probably make it myself for cheaper. This was definitely the case with my latest project.


We thought about using cloth nappies with Phoebe before she was born, but my pregnant lady research was rubbish, and only turned up commercially made, boring and pretty expensive choices. So the idea was put into hibernation. Until a few weeks ago when, having a conversation with some friends who use cloth, one simply said, ‘you’re quite crafty, why don’t you make your own?’. And so an obsession was born.

These are a few of my favourites:

DDU side snapping

Happy Snap - smallest


Oriental Bum

Since then I have turned most of my old clothes pile and a chunk of my stash into a nappy of some description. I have been experimenting with ideas and looks and I’ve been planning.

I’ve got a few more plans up my sleeve. Hopefully it won’t be too long this time before I can share them with you.


three decades and the return of the yarn fairy… March 19, 2011

Filed under: Baby,Sewing — Katherine @ 9:44 pm


At the beginning of the month I turned thirty, and thanks to the lovely Mr p&p this lily and her friends graced my dining table for the best part of two weeks.

The occasion also saw the return of the yarn fairy, only this time she sent ribbon. Lovely, spotty grosgrain ribbon in three delicious coordinating colours that was just utterly perfect for a project I’ve had in mind for a while.


Like a lot of babies, Her Drooliness has a big thing for laundry tags. She likes to stroke them with her tiny little fingers, rub them on her nose, suck them, chew them and generally ignore all other, more interesting parts of a stuffed toy in favour of them. So a taggie blanket was an obvious choice.


The aqua ribbon on the corners was a last minute addition, and came from my birthday cake. The brown fleece and Moda cotton were in my stash, and I sewed a square of plastic carrier bag in the middle so it’s lovely and crinkly. So far it’s a big hit!

Taggie Blanket - fleece side

(Modelled by the bark chips in the back garden!)

Taggie Blanket - print side

All in all, a very quick, cheap, satisfying project. It probably took all of about 20 minutes to make and consists entirely of gifted, free and stash materials. Just how I like it!

There’s also a tinge of sadness here because this will probably be one of my last projects as a free woman. My maternity leave is over, and from Monday I’ll be back at work. To say I’m dreading it is probably an understatement. I’ll only be working three days a week, so it could be worse, but three whole days a week away from my little person seems like so long. I’m feeling a little bit blue just thinking about it.

The kind of blue that is probably best remedied with a lovely, new, big project? Watch this space…


on babywearing… February 12, 2011

Filed under: Baby,Sewing — Katherine @ 12:50 pm

Things about parenthood I wish I’d known in advance, part 260: spending lots of money on an all-singing, all-dancing travel system is stupid, cause actually within a couple of weeks you’ll realise how restrictive a pushchair is (seriously, I have discovered maybe 10% of how hard day-to-day life must be for people in wheelchairs – what’s with all the random and unnecessary steps, world?), and abandon it in favour of a carrier.

Things about parenthood I wish I’d known in advance, part 261: spending lots of money on an all-singing, all-dancing carrier is stupid, cause you can make one yourself!


Back view

(I feel compelled to point out that the back straps are the same shape and size, they just look a little wonky cause of the way they’re sitting on the dressform).

I love Phoebe’s Manduca, but there are a few things I wish were different (narrower between her knees, more streamlined, straps easier to wear crossed), and after seeing all the beautiful mei tais all over the internet, I decided I could totally make one.



I settled on a basic design somewhere between a mei tai and a soft structured carrier. I like the lightweight and streamlined look of the mei tai, but I love my buckles, so I went down a buckle tai route.

A lot of carriers have sleeping hoods, but baby girl hates having it over her head, and doesn’t stay asleep long, so I fashioned a sleeping flap that would support her head while snoozing, but that could be folded and fastened out of the way the rest of the time.

Sleeping flap down

Sleeping flap up

It’s not perfect, the next time I’ll have a few alterations to make, but for a first attempt I’m pretty pleased. I took it for a test run round town yesterday and while the waist belt needs some work, the rest is really comfy, probably more so than the original! And Beebs seems to like it too:


I’m already planning my next attempt!


conspicuous absence… January 29, 2011

Filed under: Baby,Crochet — Katherine @ 11:46 am

Sorry, I’ve been busy. Poor excuse, I know. I’ll try harder from now on.

Those who look at this blog from the site itself rather than through a reader may have noticed me tinkering about with the look of it. Don’t panic – it’s a work in progress!

While I’m tinkering, I thought I’d nip on to show you how many granny squares tall baby girl is now.

You may remember at 12 days old, she was a mere six squares:

Modelled Sunburst

By 9 weeks she had grown to seven:

9 weeks

At 3 months, she was stretching to eight:


And at 6 months, well, just take a look:

Off the scale

She’s 7 months next week, and I think we’re going to need to make a bigger blanket.


twenty eleven… January 1, 2011

Filed under: Baby,Crochet — Katherine @ 6:36 pm

...and a Happy New Year

…and a Happy New Year!!

What a year. I spent exactly half of it waiting, growing, stitching towards a goal, a tiny person born 6 months ago today. Happy half-birthday, Phoebe!

The other half, well, to say she changed my life would be an understatement. I have never in my life been so elated, so drained, so energised, so frustrated, so overjoyed, so tired, so sore, so proud, so sad, so fraught or so totally at peace, all at the same time. I have watched this tiny human, this little, fragile being get bigger and stronger and smarter by the day. I have watched her learn simple lessons, things we absolutely take for granted, like holding up her head, or reaching out her hands to grab something. I have heard her find her voice. I have seen her grow before my eyes.

At six months, she sits by herself, rolls off anything and everything, reaches very much further than you expect she can, says ‘ba-ba’, ‘ga-ga’ (music fan?), ‘ma-ba’ and ‘waa-waa’ (we’re still working on ‘mama’), giggles when you throw her in the air, tries to eat anything within reach. She is a person. She is my person.

Merry Christmas

It was a year of lots of things. Lots of change in lots of ways, and my hope is that this year will be very much calmer.

Increasingly active baby-frolics aside, of course.

Ho Ho Ho

My resolution for 2011? Keep calm, and carry on.

Happy New Year xx