To-do lists

Oh, what a difference two extra pairs of hands, eyes and ears make: to play, carry, listen, watch, comfort, walk with, entertain.  And I’m having fun making, painting, tidying, sitting.  I feel like I am bursting with things I want to make and do, impatient to get them all done at once.  Here are a couple of completed projects and a pile of new fabric.  I hardly ever sew with new fabric: its lovely just to look at it and make plans…  But now?  Now I’ve got a door to paint.

Work space

I wrote a while ago about my mother’s sewing machine.  Last week, after it started to sew a bit erratically (tangled thread, loose stiches) I gave it a service: vacuumed and oiled.  It now runs along smoothly without any chug-chugging.  Seeing the sun shining this morning, I thought it was too beautiful not to photograph.  It also gives me a chance to show you where I do my stitching.  Very messy, I know, but I am so grateful for this sunny space.



Little stitches

We have just enjoyed a wonderful weekend with dear friends – so good to spend time together.  We were one eight year-old, two seven year-olds, two three year-olds, a one year-old, two daddies and two mummies.

We managed to climb two Munroes (two of us), paddle (all of us), run 3.5 miles (two of us), walk up to the tower (a few of us) and eat a lot (all of us).

After all that exercise and fresh air, I thought it would be nice to do a bit of making and stitching with the older girls.  So with a bit of nervousness and inspired by this, I got out a pile of material and suggested they draw a design they would like to make.  I was surprised and delighted with their creativity and the simplicity with which we were able to turn their simple drawings into fabric creations: a pillow, a badger, a fish.  They were pleased with them.  I learnt a lot.  We will definitely try it again.


I love making cards.  We have just had another week packed full of birthdays which inspired me to choose some scraps of cloth and use them to make cloth badges, pinned to cards.  They were for two seven year olds and a four year old.  The next one I plan to make is for a ninety year old great-grandmother.  I have some scraps of gold cloth just waiting to be used.

A friend recently passed on a pair of purple cords that she thought would fit me just right.  They did fit perfectly.  I put them in my cupboard.  I looked at them every now and again. I wondered if I would ever wear them.  You see,  they weren’t just an average pair of cords.  They were purple flairs with red, pink and blue flowers appliqued onto the bottom of the trouser legs.  The more I wondered about wearing them, the more I realised I never would dare.

So I got out my unpicker and with uncharacteristic decisiveness I unpicked the inside seam one evening and chopped them off at the knees.  Then I pieced and pinned and tried them on and sewed.  As I worked on them, I realised the cord has washed and worn beautifully – so soft!  And here we have it: a cosy, comfortable and colourful skirt that I shall enjoy wearing as we head for spring.  Something new from something old – I love it!




I have a long list of creative projects waiting for me to work on, some started, some fully realised in my imagination but only evidenced as a pot of paint or a pile of scraps.  I can bemoan my inability to achieve anything or I can celebrate the creativity that keeps coming up with new ideas for things to make and do.  I console myself that ideas wait around for a long time and more often than not they will be accomplished.

But here is a project that I was working on as a surprise.  We played the game of molkyn  or Finnish skittles once in a friend’s London garden and ever since I have wanted to make a set.  Finally I did it, in time for Ross’ birthday.  The rules I could only find on his blog (here) so this may be a truly McDonald version of the game.  The wood was branches from the apple trees in our garden, pruned in the autumn.  The cloth was a pair of old jeans.

I hope it becomes a permanent part of our camping kit.  It should certainly mean that long summer evenings and short winter afternoons are filled with the sound of wood on wood and fierce competition in the fresh air.  Our first game was enthusiastically refereed by Daniel.

The good African

This is a cafetiere cosy I made for a friend.  I love the fabric: I bought it in Capetown and its made by ‘Mandela’ fabrics.  Its very stiff and is designed for the amazing African dresses that ladies, seemingly designed to make a lady look as large as possible – huge puff sleeves, bustles, fans and gathers.  I love this cloth with the warm face of Mr Mandela smiling out of it – what cup of coffee could not taste sweeter when warmed by his beatific smile?

(The cup is from a pottery in Dedza, Malawi, bought on my first, wonderful but slightly ill-fated holiday there.  The coffee tin was bought in Swellendam, South Africa on another great holiday with the McDonald family.  The coffee is called the ‘Good African’ and is from Uganda, via Tesco.)

Small created things

An observant reader may have noticed that the name of my blog has changed from ‘Bringing up Boys’ to ‘Small created things’ (at the same time noticing that I have not actually written anything for about six months).  As I have been the mother of a boy and a girl for the last year, I obviously can’t continue to refer only to the boy I’m bringing up.

So, for now, its ‘Small created things’, referring appropriately to my beautiful children but also to things I enjoy and seem to be spending more time on: making, sewing, knitting, baking, small things that have been creeping into my posts more and more.  Here is one project I’ve had fun with recently.  Many more to follow – I’ve been busy as a bee!