Lockdown Projects: Macrame
#gifted

Back in March, when Lockdown 1.0 was declared, I wrote a list of projects I would attempt to get done. One that was added as the list/lockdown went along was to try Macrame. It’s one of those things we’ve discussed at knitting group and some of our ladies have tried but it’s something that I don’t think I’d ever tried previously.

When an opportunity to work with Rope Source came up it was the perfect time to give it a go. Rope Source are a company based in the UK supplying ropes, twines, cordage and other associated products. They aim to provide the best quality rope. twine and cord products at the most competitive prices. They predominantly source from UK Rope and Twine Manufacturers and suppliers. (Basically if it’s string/rope/twine/cord, they probably do it or do something close enough!).

I choose two spools of Everlasto 4mm Cotton Macrame Cord (here). They stock over 30 different colours so trying to decide which to go with was a challenge! In the end, I choose Eton Blue and Navy.

Eton Blue Macrame Cord

When they arrived, I headed off to Pinterest to find a tutorial to create something. In the end, I settled on a keyring to try first with the intention I would come back to a bigger project another day. After raiding the different sets of keys around the house to find a split ring that would do the job, I sat down and got started. Using a cow hitch knot (here) to secure the cord to the ring, I was then able to start. Most of the “knots” used in Macrame are actually similar to those used for friendship bracelets – so that wasn’t too hard to refresh my memory!

Starting a Macrame Keyring
Finished Macrame Keyring

I used this tutorial from The Pretty Life Girls to create my keyring. Now either because I was using two colours or because I’d not quite got the technique correct, my keyring has ended up twisting more than in the example pictures on the tutorial – I guess it’s something that may come with practice. But even so, I love the keyring and it’s something I’ve made, so now I can add it to my house keys or my car keys and it’ll make it easier to find them when they are lurking in the bottom of my bag! I think if I make any more I’ll be sure to get some lobster clasp keyrings to add so they are easier to add to keys or zip pulls etc.

In exchange for this post, I received 2 x 50m Retail Spools of Everlasto 4mm Coloured Cotton Macrame Cord. All opinions are my own.

Christmas Crafts
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I am a huge fan of Christmas. As we don’t celebrate Halloween, I have been known to start with the Christmas movies and music as early as October! I think this is to do with being a musician and Christmas concert/production rehearsals starting as early as October Half Term. As I write this, II haven’t got my tree up but by the time this goes live my tree will be up hopefully (after all it’s less than a week to Advent!). There a friend of mine at church who starts counting down from September (Actually I think she starts earlier than that but doesn’t tell anyone she’s already counting down!)

Back in the Summer, as crazy as the idea was, I started planning Christmas. I got out my Christmas Planner (Those Mrs Brimbles inserts are coming in handy again!) and started on all the things that would need to be organised. I also got thinking about what could be crossed off before Rex arrived. It even crossed my mind to write my Christmas Cards back in the Summer so they were done. Then I realised that we didn’t know what Rex’s name would be officially (and although we were told he would be a boy, did I want to risk putting “The Boys” if it turned out he was actually a girl?) so those went back on the shelf until I knew for sure what names I would be writing on the cards.

I’d been for a wander around Hobbycraft a few weeks back before Lockdown 2.0 to take a look at Christmas bits. I found a Cross Stitch Christmas Card set so decided that I’d try and make some for some of my relatives.

There’s definitely something about all the home/handmade touches around Christmas. Whether it’s decorations the kids have made in Children’s Work at Church or at school, or the handmade presents that I’ve spent time on.

Christmas Cards

Homemade Christmas cards are perfect for sharing the love with family and friends. In previous years, I’ve often been too busy with other things to make any Christmas Cards but this year I’ve been working on some, while Rex has been napping. I love using embellishments that I have in my craft kit as well as handwriting font from Design Bundles to add extra features to the cards. The gingerbread men came in a Christmas package from a friend (Although Hobbycraft does a similar version) and the Christmas Jumpers were from Hobbycraft (they come with little sticky pads on them which makes them easy to stick down.

Once I downloaded a few of the fonts from Design Bundles I was able to create these labels to be printed off and stuck into my homemade Christmas Cards. The font is called Mama Papa.

Gift Tags

Every gift needs a name tag, these can be homemade too. In previous years I’ve printed ones that I’ve found on Pinterest. But I’ve also found over the years that just printing a template is a great start to then use with wrapping paper that matches or compliments the present that you are wrapping or maybe is special to the person receiving the gift. So far I’ve made these ones with wrapping paper and some scrapbooking paper. This scrapbooking paper is from the Kraft Xmas set from Hobbycraft – it goes well with the brown paper wrapping paper I have this year. Another idea is to use this year’s Christmas cards to make into gift tags for next year – therefore recycling your Christmas Cards into something new.

You can download the template I used here.

Another option are these stickers from Design Bundles – I quite like the. “Do not open until 25th Dec” ones. I think I’ll be printing some of them off to add them to the wrapping.

Printing Wrapping Paper

When Jaxon was little, for one Christmas we painted wrapping paper to wrap our gifts in. The intension was it would be potato printing or hand prints but I think it descended into chaos and just turned into whichever sponge shape he would cooperate with.

Homemade Crackers

Another craft is homemade crackers. You can get kits to make them which include the “bangers” but you can make them at home without if you prefer. I’m sure at some point over the years I have made them but I haven’t recently. They are really easy but so effective to do as something for your Christmas table – it also means you can tailor them to your guests. Here’s a tutorial I found on Pinterest.

Paper Chains

Paper chains are so very easy to make but also cheap to make too. In the past we’ve bought kits but in the summer for Jaxon’s birthday, I found a printable that was actually July 4th themed but I just omitted certains designs on the printables so that it was just blue and white stars for his birthday which he absolutely loved! Making red and green ones work great for decorating a tree or they can be strung across a room to add some more decoration. There’s a lovely easy walkthrough here to follow and make your own.

Chocolate Orange Cover – Christmas Pudding

Knitted Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding

Materials

  • Brown, Green and Red DK Yarn (I like Stylecraft Special DK in Brown (Mocha or Walnut), Green (Bottle or Green) and Red (Lipstick)
  • 4mm Knitting Needles
  • Needle (for sewing in ends)

Pattern – Christmas Pudding

Using Brown:

  • Cast on 43 sts
  • Row 1: S1 *k1, p1, repeat from * to the last 2 sts, k2
  • Row 2: S1, *p1, k1, repeat from * to the end
  • Rows 3 to 12: Repeat last 2 rows 5 times more.

Change to White

  • Rows 13 to 18: Knit 6 rows.
  • Row 19: S1, knit to end.
  • Row 20: S1, purl to last st, K1
  • Row 21 and 24: repeat last 2 rows twice.
  • Row 25: *k2tog, repeat from * to last st, K1.
  • Row 26: p2tog to end
  • Cut yarn. Leave a tail long enough to pass through the remaining stitches. Once you’ve sewn the tail through the stitches, remove the needle and pull tight. Use the remainder of the tail to sew up the edges to create a Pull it tight, fold in half so, leaving a tail long enough to

Pattern – Holly (Makes 2 leaves joined together)

Using green

  • Cast on 1 sts
  • Row 1: Knit
  • Row 2: Knit 3 times into the same stitch (3 sts)
  • Row 3: kfb, k1, kfb (5 sts)
  • Row 4: Cast off 1 stitch, k3 (4 sts)
  • Row 5: Cast off 1 stitch, k2 (3 sts)
  • Row 6: kfb, k1, kfb (5 sts)
  • Row 7: Cast off 1 stitch, k3 (4 sts)
  • Row 8: Cast off 1 stitch, k3 (3 sts)
  • Row 9: s1, k2tog, psso (1 sts)
  • Row 10: k3 into same stitch (3 sts)
  • Row 11: kfb, k1 kfb (5 sts)
  • Row 12: Cast off 1 stitch, k3 (4 sts)
  • Row 13: Cast off 1 stitch, k2 (3 sts)
  • Row 14: kfb, k1, kfb (5 sts)
  • Row 15: Cast off 1 stitch, k3 (4 sts)
  • Row 16: Cast off 1 stitch, k2 (3 sts)
  • Row 17: s1, k2tog, psso (1 sts)
  • Fasten off.

Pattern – Berry

Using red:

  • Cast on 3 stitches
  • Row 1: kfb in every stitch (6 sts)
  • Row 2: Purl
  • Row 3: Knit
  • Row 4: p2tog in each stitch (6 sts)
  • Cast off
  • Tie cast on and cast off tails together (This pulls the berry together into almost a circle)
  • Sew leaves and berry on to the top.

Self-Care in Lockdown 2.0

On the 5th November 2020, England went into a month-long lockdown. In our house as well as many other households, it got nicknamed Lockdown 2.0. (Can you tell we’re tech nerds?). So I got thinking about self-care in lockdown and how I could make it work around caring for the boys.

With Chris being away, self-care opportunities haven’t always been readily available so I’ve been trying to figure out ones that fit in around taking care of the boys. Sometimes this has been squeezing in things while Rex naps and Jaxon is at school or late at night once both boys are asleep.

Okay so maybe you don’t know the how Chris came to not be here during Lockdown 2.0. I might need to write about that one too or maybe he can come and guest blog for me as he has miles more spare time that me currently lol.

When I do have chance for self-care, what am I getting up to?

Bath 

So pictures of baths with all the bubbles are a regular thing when it comes to talking about self-care but for me sitting down and taking the time for a bath is self-care. Don’t tell me off about this. For me, there are levels of baths/showers. At one end of the scale there’s the “just wash your hair so you look human” one, which is often me standing over the bath with the shower head trying not to soak the whole bathroom in the process. Then there’s the “I just need to get clean and stop smelling” shower. This is pretty much what happens all the time… that’s basic hygiene and needs to be there. This has been known to happen at 1 in the morning because it’s the only time that someone hasn’t needed me – in the early Rex days it was between feeds and seemed to work!

Then there’s the “soak in the bath and leave my worries behind” – these don’t happen very often but when they do I try and make them special if I can… I have lots of bubbles and get the candles out if I can! (Although if it’s a daytime bath I might skip the candles!)

A lit candle on the side of the bath

Curl Up with a Book 

While breastfeeding Rex, I’ve been working my way through quite a few books on my Kindle app. In 2020, I’ve read almost 40 books according to Goodreads, it’s not quite there but it’s almost one a week which is a bit crazy.

Snuggled up with a Book

Anyway, sometimes curling up in a comfy chair or your snuggly bed and reading can be just what the doctor ordered to help you take care of yourself. Whether it’s escaping to a seaside town where everyone knows your name or through a wardrobe to a magic land, falling into a book can be just what you need for a spot of self are. Add the candles and fairy lights to the atmosphere and you’re heading for Hygge!

Knit/Cross Stitch/Something Else Crafty

For some people, the idea of knitting or creating something crafty can be more stressful than mindful. I love curling up with my latest project and seeing things come together. At the moment, I’m knitting a woolly hat for Rex that involves intarsia so it can be a little stressful but on the whole, for me, it’s quite mindful. Whether it’s something simple or something more complex, for me it’s self-care. At the moment, I’m working on a shawl, which has a pretty easy to follow repeat so I don’t need to worry about complicated lace or increasing and decreasing lots.

Baking

We’ve been making different cake. Whether it’s from a packet mix where you just add the eggs and oil or something from scratch, There’s something about seeing the raw ingredients coming together to form something complete that just makes me happy. Actually the bit that came to mind just now was from Julie and Julia, where Julie (Powell played by Amy Adams) has a rubbish day at work and on the way home decides to make Chocolate Cream Pie.

You know what I love about cooking?

I love that after a day when nothing is sure, and when I say "nothing" I mean nothing,
you can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. It's such a comfort.

Rocky Road is an absolute favourite in our house. I’m hoping to share the recipe for it soon – I’ll be sure to add a link here. Do you have a favourite recipe either to make or to eat? I’ve been watching The Great British Bake Off and once again I’m excited to try baking more again. Part of me wants to try to learn to make profiteroles properly but imagine that if I learn how to do it properly I might want to make them all the time!

Journaling 

I am a notebook addict and so I often can be quite specific about my notebooks (check my Wishlist there’s usually 4 or 5 different ones on there just in case!) but you can journal in any notebook or on a scrap of paper if needed. It’s just about getting down how you are feeling and processing those emotions. You might go back in 6 months or a year and be like “what on earth was I going on about??” but if in the moment it helps, it’s worth a try right? There are different forms of journalling just like there are different forms of painting for instance. In the past I’ve mostly done the memory keeping form of journalling – so where did we go and what did we do and how did I feel about that. Some people just write about what they did each day or the highlights and low points of those days.

Photo by Jessica Lewis from Pexels

If you want it to be more of the “Dear Diary, today I did…” style then go for it. Ultimately – it’s your journal, you do what you want with it. If it’s a bad day and you just want to scribble like crazy across the page, DO IT. If it’s a good day and somehow you want to commemorate that with a drawing of balloons or a page from a magazine, DO IT. It’s your journal. Do what works for you, not what works for a pretty Instagram picture or something like that. That being said your journal is a private or as public as you want it to be.

Nap 

I am a massive fan of a good nap. When I was pregnant with Jaxon I would mostly just nap at weekends – I think it was my way of catching up but this time around when I was pregnant with Rex, I was having to nap most days just to be able to function. If I didn’t take myself to bed for a nap I often found I was dozing off in front of the TV. At one point, Jaxon was well trained and would grab a blanket and put it over me if I dozed off. He’s very sweet like that.

Anyway, sometimes if you’re having a bad day or struggling, having a nap is just what you need to get through the rest of the day or feel recharged enough to deal with a situation.

Writing letters to friends/family

I am a huge fan of handwritten letters. There’s just something about the time and focus it takes to write a letter to someone. I always feel like someone really cares about me if they’ve sat down and written me a proper letter. Emails and Texts are great for a quick question or to find out a burst of information but a letter has a character to it. I received one from my penpal in the USA telling me all about how their town had been in the run-up to the election and how even though they live in a mainly red state, their town was changing to more and more blue as “President 45” open his mouth again (or tweeted instead). My friend also wrote about massive life changes going on in their family at the moment – it would have worked on email but something about it being there in written form just made it so much more personal.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Before you panic and feel like it’s got to be some epic long essay, it really doesn’t. It could just be a greeting card with a short message just to say I’m thinking of you.

Going for a Walk/Exercise 

Going for a walk and exercise of any form increase the brains levels of serotonin which in turn make us feel happier after we’ve been for a walk or done some exercise (even if we had it while it’s in progress and question our life choices or a while!). We set little challenges like trying to find a different route to take around near our house or who could do a particular stretch in a certain way like backwards, fastest or slowest etc.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

But ultimately take care of yourself, in whatever works for you. There was talk about being productive and writing that novel you’d always meant to write but never got around to in Lockdown 1 and for most of us, lockdown involved lots of lockdown learning, TV watching and dealing with the chores when you really had to. If that’s what you need to do, then you do it, take care of yourself.

How do you care for your own well being? Do you do one of the things in this post or do you do something else?

As part of this post I received the Orange, Cedarwood and Clove candle and Restore and Renew Lavendar Bath Therapy Oil from Zita West to try out and write about. Other products included are ones that I’ve purchased myself or been gifted by friends or family.

Getting Life Back in Order after Lockdown and Pregnancy

Like many people, chores around here have got a bit slack during the last six months. Between isolation learning, being pregnant and never seeming to have enough time, the chores around here have almost been about surviving and keeping the house at some controllable level rather than actually getting anything properly tidy.

For a large chunk of lockdown, our kitchen table was our school classroom, so in the corner of the room there was a large tote bag with all the print outs, workbooks and pens we were using each day. This definitely annoyed Chris as the corner was never tidy but it was definitely a bit easier than putting everything completely away each day and getting it out the next day. Chris and I would regularly discuss how Jaxon learns better getting up and doing rather than sitting at the desk and learning that way. (Anna at The Whimsical Cloud has definitely been helping me with that – her two little ones are home-schooled and they do a lot of “up and doing” rather than worksheets at a desk).

So now Jaxon is back at school and Rex arrived about ten weeks ago. When I started this blog post, I was about 6-7 weeks postpartum and was still trying to take it easy. I was being told off by a friend via IG that I was overdoing it and needed to chill. I’m also trying to restore some order to our house. Rather than writing all 101 jobs on one to-do list and getting overwhelmed, I decided I needed a plan of sorts to follow and having seen KatyKicker mention #TeamTOMM on her Instagram Stories, I headed off to Google to see what it was about – I also found TOMM (The Organised Mum Method) printables which would help me organise that to-do list into different days.

So starting a few Mondays ago, this is what my to-do list looked like when I got up in the morning. Yes okay, so some of that might have been a little heading towards the overwhelm but it was okay – I’d got it under control.

As the weeks have passed, the list has got shorter. There’s a list of 5 or 6 household tasks and then I just add the other errand and tasks that need to get done. In the last week, we’ve been getting into more of a routine with Rex’s naps so it’s been a little easier to block out time to clear my to-do list (or get distracted and do lots of Christmas prep stuff). Prior to this, I was spending a lot of nap time sat on the sofa reading or working my way through my YouTube subscriptions. (Right now I have Trent and Allie playing in the background. I’ve been working through their back catalogue ahead of their new videos on Mondays and Fridays).

Today is Thursday, so it’s all about the kitchen. Well, at least it would be but for now I just need to muddle my way around the rest of the downstairs to try and restore some order. The weather this week has been really wet so I have still got washing drying in the kitchen for now. I managed to get a load to dry outside and the dryer is currently running to clear the underwear and towels which always take up the most space/pegs when trying to dry either inside or outside.

The great thing about The Organised Mum method is that after “Level 1 Jobs” (these are your frequent/everyday jobs), you then focus on one room a day (minus the weekend) so that you can keep the house on track. This definitely helps than trying to tidy the whole house in one go and then feeling overwhelmed (and then if you’re like me procrastinating!). You can find the printables to get started here.

I’m hoping to properly get onto the chores on a daily basis and hopefully find that the house is a heap tidier overall.

What do you do to make sure your living space is clean and tidying? Do you have any tips or tricks?