Archive for September, 2010

September 27, 2010

How to sew fleece mittens

For the past couple of years there has come a time when mittens were needed *right now* and we didn’t have any that fit anyone because last year’s pair was too small.

That’s how we started a ‘tradition’ of mitten sewing. Two years running I have sewn them from felted woollen jumpers with wrong sides together leaving the stitching on the outside because the wool was too bulky to turn.

This year I have lots of odds and ends of fleece after sewing Winter Sling Things so today we sewed some brown mittens in two sizes: Miss Amoo size and Miss Froo size.

I have some tips for sewing mittens that might help others so here we go:

Find some fleece that is new or something that doesn’t fit anyone any more. Find some paper and draw around the hand that the mitten is for in a mitten kind of shape and make sure that the thumb of the hand is sticking out to the side a bit. Make the bottom edges of the mitten shape longer going down past the wrist. Flare it out a bit here as well because wrists are rounder than hands and need a bit more fabric to get round them.

Not like this

Fold your fabric or bit of jumper right sides together and see which way it stretches. Pin the mitten shape on the fabric with the stretch going from side to side, not up and down.

At this point you can draw the shape on the fabric or leave it pinned on but in either case DO NOT CUT THE SHAPE OUT. It is hard to sew two bits of fleece together without one of them slipping a bit and not getting sewn together at all. This way you have plenty to hold on to and no risk of sewing off the edges

If you have a zipper foot it is easy to sew around the paper pattern without removing it.

If you have an ordinary foot, sew along the line you have drawn and remember not to sew up the bottom edge where the hand will need to get in!

You should end up with something that looks like this

Next, get your sharp scissors out and cut the mitten out, close-ish to the stitching

Turn it inside out and there you have it – a mitten!

Now all you need to do is sew another one!

I don’t bother finishing the bottom edge as the mittens will only be used for a couple of months but if you want to, you can make the sides a bit longer and more flared, sew a hem or a casing to run some elastic through or sew some elastic on the inside with a zig-zag stitch.

Miss Amoo has a horrible cold but she insisted on going for a walk round the block in the new mittens to test drive them. Miss Froo’s didn’t get sewn up til it was dark and she went to bed in them.

September 18, 2010

Labyrinth 2

The day dawned all fresh and zingy so I was sure we would make it to see the Abingdonian Labyrinth at some point between 2 and 4 this afternoon.

My bike got two new inner tubes and tyres last week as the original ones which must have dated from the 80s finally gave up the ghost, so we were able to set off without needing to get the pump out.

The home of the labyrinth is a church which is very close to another church in a very quiet bit of town which has Private Roads and very large houses.

For such a small town there were plenty of places to worship back in the 1800s. We parked our bikes round the back and went in through the side door where the labyrinth is within 8 steps of the entrance.

How can anyone look at a labyrinth and not feel drawn to walking it? I led and the girls followed and a man who was in the church called to me “What are you doing? That’s just for kids!” Does God frown on adults enjoying themselves, I thought to myself but I didn’t bother replying as he had already sort of jolted the peace. The path has lots of short stretches and covers each quadrant separately which means that you are never very far from the centre.

We got to the centre and stood for a moment then I walked back on my own as the girls had spotted a Traidcraft table stacked with goodies. While they were wandering about they also saw the Stations of the Cross, the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham and the font and the candles in the red sanctuary lights and more. Questions questions questions.

I was brought up Catholic by a Catholic mum and an atheist dad and went to Catholic primary and secondary schools as well as being a weekly churchgoer but since I turned my back on it I have left all the symbolism and history at the back of my mind and it hasn’t been a part of our life at all.

Today I found myself talking about the stages of the cross, baptism, the resurrection, who Mary and Joseph were and tabernacles and blessed bread. This is a whole area of knowledge that I realise ties me to many others but is not something I share with my own. Does it matter if they don’t know the stories of the bible? Or the prayers or the history of beliefs?

These thoughts trouble me periodically and today I was relived when they decided to sit down and found that the chairs had a bum groove which they found almost impossible not to sit in.

I liked the side struts and pondered on the necessity to make people sit in a certain way and whether it would be really bad to stand on one to get a better picture of the labyrinth. I decided against standing on one and this is the best picture I could get

There are better pictures here

I may go back another Saturday on my own and walk and walk and walk.

September 17, 2010


Another week has slipped by and we still can’t get into a rhythm. Too many different things are happening and we can’t get a grip after months of blah. Then they delivered these

I love recycling but WTF? I now have a brown bin, a green bin, a grey bin, two green recycling boxes, a kitchen food caddy and an outdoor caddy. And I already have a composter in the back garden. The street looks as if Aliens have invaded.

Back in the normal world, school shirts need to be washed and ironed and available five days a week to avoid school folk thinking that us home edding folk don’t care about our school-going children.

The fridge is seriously lacking in lunch box foods and the cake tin is empty too so J has been taking odd and not very nourishing lunches to school this week and El Famosisimo hasn’t been eating anything. I can’t work out who is supposed to be home to eat in the evenings and Mr G is in a busy early evening property viewing cycle with clients which doesn’t help.

Home ed things got going again but we can’t seem to get our act together to go out by midday let alone 11am which is pretty weak. The only things we made it to this week were ice skating and our own little swimming appointment at 2.30 on Tuesday afternoon.

And what is going on with the darkness coming so early? I don’t mind the chill in the air but the creeping darkness bothers me.

This is the view from my back door between just before 7pm and just after 7pm on Thursday night

The first one was taken through the kitchen window and the other three through the open door. No photo-shopping or trickery: just point and shoot.

Here’s to next week being a bit smoother.

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September 9, 2010

Can you see? Can they see?

I’m speaking totally literally here. When was the last time you had an eye test? Or your little people had an eye test?

EF couldn’t see the tv from more than 2ft away by the time he was six and has worn glasses now for ten years. He couldn’t see friend’s faces in the park or playground and was becoming less willing to rush about. J has got to thirteen with perfect eyesight and Miss Amoo is also ok but at the age where she is moving towards short sightedness. Miss Froo is four and can see a lot of far away objects but I will take her for an appointment next year too.

The only reason I know this is because all three of them get their eyes tested regularly. J is only going every two years now as they are bored of telling him that there is no problem and he is bored of choosing frames only to find that he still doesn’t need them! EF and Miss Amoo are still on yearly appointments.

Not being able to see well makes little people more cautious because their world is fuzzy at the edges and it can also stop them wanting to pick up books and start reading.

Seeing EF when he first got his glasses was like seeing a new little boy: he was obviously able to see much more than he had before and loved pointing out things that were beyond his previous limits of vision.

In case you hadn’t considered taking yourself or your children for an eye test did you know that:

Children are entitled to free eye tests
They don’t have to be able to read to have their eyes tested
Identifying a lazy eye and helping it resolve early could save your child’s sight
Eye tests include looking at the eye itself and checking that it is healthy.
Some children previously thought to have dyslexia and behavioural problems may just be poor sighted
Glasses are cool!
Eye tests can diagnose other health issues

Make an appointment and see if you could see better.