Sophie Kingo Blogs

Insight into Sophie Kingo's African-Scandinavian inspired clothing and accessories


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Up and away wall chart

imageI have regularly browsed Pinterest for inspiration for our home, sewing, knitting and crochet. But since Finlay has become more engaged in the world (and I’ve managed to acquire more freedom alongside) I have used Pinterest for homemade baby play and development ideas.

First up, a wall chart to measure Finlay against now that he’s steady on his feet.

I asked my dad to buy the timber for us; his estate car is a better size for a length of timber than our car. He had to get it in two pieces in the end and decided to round the top – I think he quite fancied a project, though that’s where his project ended.

We took a little while to work out a design that used the round, then plumped for a balloon rising into the sky – much like Finlay will one day when he undoubtedly grows taller than the two of us and leaves us looking up to him.

I’ll leave it there and let the pictures show the creative process.

By the way, in case you were wondering, Finlay measured 81.5cm last Monday when he was measured at a check up. But his first mark on the chart is at 80cm from last Tuesday (we’re all taller when we’re lying down).

 


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Finlay’s makes – Christmas cards

It’s New Year’s Eve. A week ago today it was Christmas Eve. 9 months ago I was still pregnant. Just. How did that happen?

Since Finlay was born we’ve done a surprising amount.

We’ve decorated the hallway and landing and had decking and fencing installed in the garden. We’ve (as in, my Dad has) fitted folding doors to our under stairs cupboard. And we’ve fitted baby gates to the stairs and living room.

We’ve been on walks in Epping Forest, long family visits to Yorkshire and day trips around London. We’ve been to visit friends and family in Yorkshire, South London and Surrey. We’ve been to Christenings and 1st birthday parties. We’ve had friends visit us for weekends from Hull and Cannes. We’ve been to the beach and out for meals. We’ve had a Yorkshire garden party.

We’ve been to baby rhyme time, baby swimming, baby massage, baby signing, baby sensory.

Finlay has learnt to roll, babble, eat, sit, crawl (well, his is more a crawl-cum-shuffle-cum-bunny hop), stand… the list goes on.

Finlay has even learnt to paint.

So for Christmas we decided to let Finlay make the Christmas cards. I say we let Finlay make them. What I mean is, we let Finlay paint some bits of paper which I (Mummy) used to make Christmas cards. But I’m sure if Finlay could have seen the whole process through these cards are exactly how he’d have imagined them.

Here’s to a creative and eventful 2016.


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Baby knits – pom pom beanie

If there’s one thing babies need (there isn’t by the way – babies need shed loads of stuff), it’s lots of hats.

Finlay received a lovely 6 month sized hat and cardi combo from the mum of one of the kids at the hubby’s school when he was born. But other than that, he’d grown out of his newborn hats well before the cooler weather struck. With autumn really setting in, a warm hat is a must for Finlay’s walks in the buggy and swings in the park.

I bought Max and Bodhi’s Wardrobe pattern ebook from Tin Can Knits, which included the lovely cardi pattern I shared last time. I was planning on making the Bumble beanie. However, after realising I would need to go and buy myself 3.75mm and 6.5mm 40cm circular needles and 6.5mm double pointed needles (plus extras a little larger in case my gauge came out small as they often do) I decided against it. I couldn’t be doing with the expense. But more importantly, with no decent knitting shop in Walthamstow and the desire to get going with the knit as soon as possible setting in, I didn’t want to wait for an online delivery or make my way to John Lewis in Stratford City hoping they had the right sizes in stock.

Instead, I reclaimed a lovely little baby knitting book from my sister – Sarah Hatton’s 10 Simple Projects for Cosy Babies – so I could knit the Moss Stitch Hat. I love this pattern. It’s quick and easy and leaves you with a great little hat. I have made this hat a few times now for various babies, including Adam and Oliver, two lovely little boys up north in my hometown of Hull. And I think it’s always a hit.

I bought yarn from Drops again. I think Drops merino yarns are great value, great quality yarns. And with no synthetic fibres, they’re warm and cosy and lovely to knit with (Just an FYI – I hate synthetic yarns. I just don’t get the appeal. They’re scratchy and shiny, look cheap and are just not as warm. I don’t wear synthetic fibres, so why would I use them for my baby? They’re also not enjoyable to knit with.)

This hat required a double knit yarn, rather than the 4 ply Finlay’s cardigan required, so I bought Merino Extra Fine in mustard and north sea.

I knitted the main body of the hat in mustard and added an oversized pom pom in the contrasting teal, made using a cardboard ring like this one, to avoid the annoying, time consuming stuffing yarn through a hole over and over again method of days of yore. Boy, did that use a lot of yarn?!

I think it works. And Finlay loves it too!

Next up – switching the colours.

 


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Baby knits – cardigan

Colourblock cardiganBefore Finlay was born, I started knitting some cute little newborn trousers and a tank top in gorgeous baby cotton. For several reasons – baby coming a bit early, illness and finding our feet as new parents – I didn’t get these items finished until Finlay could no longer fit into them unfortunately.

Since then, I had done some crochet; crochet being much easier to pick up, do while breastfeeding, and put down again. But now, after six months of getting to grips with our new life as a family, I have finally found the time to knit. My first project? A cardigan. I love cardigans for babies. They’re practical, easy to put on and take off and so damn cute. Finlay already had a few cardigans in his wardrobe – four from his Mormor and one from the mum of one of the hubby’s students (you can see those, on Instagram at #knitsforfinlay) – but as we’re now going into winter and Finlay continues to grow, he needs more.

I came across the Playdate cardigan from Tin Can Knits on Ravelry and thought it looked lovely. It was also seamless, meaning no annoying sewing up of different parts after all the knitting – my least favourite part of knitting clothes. But it did involve a couple of new methods that I had never tried before – pockets, and sleeves using double pointed needles.

I wanted to make the cardigan in a colourblock design and chose Drops Baby Merino in four bright colours – orange, vibrant green, turquoise and electric blue – suitably not babyish, nor particularly boyish. After choosing in what combination to use the colours I made a start. And after a good few hours of knitting, hey presto – a super cute cardi for a super cute baby. Even if I do say so myself. And for just approximately £5 in yarn and a few evenings of knitting.

Roll on the next one.


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New home: Finlay’s room

I wrote most of this post in the late afternoon of Good Friday – 3rd April 2015 – and abandoned ship after I realised what I thought might be contractions definitely were contractions. 17 hours later our first child, Finlay, was born. Unfortunately, 90 minutes after birth Finlay was whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) fighting a serious infection affecting his lungs and blood pressure. After 14 days in NICU and SCBU, we were able to bring Finlay home well and happy. 

This post is about the room we decorated at home to be Finlay’s first room – his ‘nest’. In reality, Finlay’s first nest was the one with all the machines and drugs keeping him alive shown in the image on the left.

You can read the poem ‘Three Nests’ that my husband wrote during Finlay’s stay in NICU, which describes the nest we made (this one), the one we mocked and the one we sat in. 

 

Between renovating the bathroom in May and relaxing over Christmas, very little happened on the home renovating front. You may remember back in June I mentioned that we had been having difficulties with a structural engineer for our plans for the downstairs. Then in November I shared the news that we were expecting an addition to the H-B household. Well, we managed to find a new structural engineer and engage the services of a builder for our major building work downstairs – more on that in a future blog post – which was due to start in January.

But before tackling the structural work downstairs, the hubby and I thought it necessary to tackle the room that was to be the baby’s room. We booked our builder to come just before New Year, and before he started downstairs, to come and help us get started.

These old Edwardian houses were designed as two-up two-downs. They were cheaper housing, likely for manual workers (indeed some of the previous owners of this house included fish sellers) and were not particularly plush, though I’m not sure these were the cheapest housing stock of the time either. They were made up of a hallway, leading to a small galley kitchen at the back, next to a dining room, with a living room at the front. The stairs run up the middle between the living and dining rooms. These stairs then went up to the first floor between a front bedroom and a back bedroom. At the top would be a door to the front room, opposite a door to the back. There would be no landing.

This is, I believe, how many of the houses down our and surrounding streets have since remained. Many have added an upstairs bathroom which doesn’t have direct access but is instead accessible via the main and second bedrooms.

Processed with MoldivHowever, our house is somewhat different. A landing has been installed between the stairs and the back, second bedroom. This leads to our bathroom and stairs going up to the loft. The previous owners had installed this landing when they had the loft converted. But they made one particularly bizarre decision – to put the door to the second bedroom in the middle of the wall to the landing, rather than at the edge. This wasted rather a lot of space in the room, leaving in effect only two usable walls. The room also had massively uneven walls, a damp patch in the ceiling where we’d had a leak in November, and a delightful 70s cork floor. And it was painted in that lovely creamy white that I think the previous owners must have got a job lot on.

Our plan: to make a dry, cosy and practical room for our new addition

I had been pulling together a Pinterest board (below) for inspiration for the baby room since we discovered we were expecting. Jeff and I decided not to find out the sex of the baby; neither of us had a real hankering to know. But what we did know was that there was no way we were planning to instill gender ideals into this baby of ours. It never occurred to us to paint the nursery either blue or pink or stock up on blue or pink clothing depending on what sex the baby is. It really perplexes and annoys me when people would say, on finding out we don’t know whether we’re having a girl or boy: “but how do you know what colour to paint the nursery?” or “how will you buy things in preparation?”. My annoyance was compounded when I received the following email from the BabyBump app we were advised to download to guide us through pregnancy (see image below).

pink or blue

Apparently,when decorating a baby room parents-to-be should:

1. Decide on a theme. Girls like fairies, ballerinas, flowers. Anything pretty and delicate. Obviously. While boys like anything masculine. Think mechanical or strong. You know, space ships, trains, dinosaurs. Obviously. (Now, if you read my Sophie Kingo is getting married blog you’ll know my thoughts on themes.)

2. Use the colour befitting of a girl or boy – i.e. pink or blue respectively.

3. Mix the theme with the gender-specific colour. So think ballerinas, bunnies and flowers in nice pink and lilac hues for girls, and spaceships, vehicles and dinosaurs on a nice boyish blue background for boys.

And if you don’t know the sex of your new baby? Luckily the BabyBump app gave some tips of how to handle that scenario.

Anyway, I could rant on about gender stereotyping and the limits it places on individuals and society for some time. But this is about our baby room renovation, so I’ll just leave you with a few links worth taking a look at at the end of this post (sadly I couldn’t find the articles that have stuck with me on this subject to include here today).

Back to the baby room.

Just before New Year, the builder worked his magic moving the door from the middle of the wall to the end, which gave us a lot more room and turned the room from a wide corridor to a roomwith three usable walls, replastered all walls and the ceiling to get a smooth finish and replaced the skirting boards, adding a bead to the top to tie them in with the original skirting boards in the front bedroom and living room.

Processed with MoldivIt was then onto the decorating. We chose a lovely off white/pale grey matt emulsion – Snowfall by Crown – for the walls and brilliant white for the ceiling and woodwork, a pale beige loop carpet, a white wooden venetian blind and multi-coloured spot curtains made by Mormor (my mum).

As for the furniture, there was only one piece that was new – the cot, which was a generous gift from Jeffrey’s cousin and her family. For the rest of the furniture, we spruced up an old wardrobe that was made by the previous owner’s granddad, and which the vendors left behind for us, and a book shelf and sideboard that were made by my dad for my room renovation when I was 14- years-old.

We added a few pictures to the wall that I had acquired over the years – including a print of a silk painting of Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen that I bought in about 1997, my GCSE art piece from 2000, an original little piece bought on Las Ramblas in Barcelona in 2002, and a scene from a H.C. Andersen fairytale that I bought in about 2005 – and a moon and star nightlight from Ikea (the moon was one I bought back in about 1998).

A multi-coloured homemade crochet mobile that I knocked up a few weeks ago hangs proudly over the cot and a little hook rack made by my Dad a few years ago is home to a few nice pieces of clothing we have been given from friends and family.

There are still a couple of bits we’re waiting for – including a nursing chair for the corner – but otherwise we’re done. And now that Finlay is home we can enjoy using it for nappy changes till he moves into it properly.

Pinterest moodboard

A few articles on gender stereotyping and colours:

Out of the blue and in the pink

From TV to toys: What makes girls into girls and boys into boys?

Gender Roles and Childhood Development

(I will be adding more articles as and when I come across them. And hopefully when I find the excellent few articles I have read on the matter over the past year or so.


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Rainbow baby blanket

In August this year, the hubby and I discovered we are expecting a baby due April 2015. So out came the yarn, crochet hooks, knitting needles, etc. to start making. I’ll be sharing everything I make for the baby as and when I complete them.

First up, a crocheted rainbow zigzag blanket, inspired by this crochet ripple baby blanket, made with Rico cotton dk.

blanket 1 blanket 2 blanket 3 blanket 4 blanket 6

 

 


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Knitted dress – Rowan Tammie

Back in late summer 2013 I treated myself to some Rowan Lima yarn. And it was a treat by the price it cost! I wanted to knit the Tammie “ribbed sweater” from Rowan Studio Issue 28, but knew there was no way I could knit it in the required Kid Classic as I can’t tolerate wearing lambswool or mohair – I find them far too itchy. So I chose the Lima, a soft and lightweight baby alpaca and merino wool yarn, instead. The gauge is pretty similar and I just made sure I did a gauge swatch to get the right tension.

I also knew I wanted to make some changes to the Tammie. For a start, the version on the model – being a “sweater” – was too short as a dress, even thought they styled it as one. Secondly, I didn’t like the sleeves. So I bought enough of the main colour to lengthen it by several centimetres and decided to end with the second colour as cap sleeves.

But I took too long to get the Tammie dress going, and by spring was no where near half way through the second side. So I put it away and waited for autumn to come round again. By this September I was 10 weeks pregnant and worried that I wouldn’t fit into the dress anymore, but I decided to continue to make it anyway and see how it went. It was, after all ribbed which would stretch over a growing bump. But then I picked up my crochet hook and started crocheting a baby blanket – more on that later – and the Tammie dress got sidelined again.

However, come November I was back onto the dress (which, being dark purple and a plaited yarn was quite tricky to work with on a cosy evening in Walthamstow with the nights drawing in) and finally completed it just after Christmas. Here it is. Complete with 26 week bump.

Knitted dress 2 Knitted dress

knitted dress 3