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Thursday, 10 May 2012

Seemingly drawn to neon....

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Yes, I can admit, when I see fibre that's full of sparkle in eye blasting colours, my 'must be mine' switch gets flipped.The huge batt above is a prime example, and comes from KnittyandColor in the states. My inner colour and sparkle loving child squealed in glee when I saw this, and it just had to be mine. Its amazing how big a squooshy it is, I pretty much wanted to hug it lol!

So I got to spinning it on my TexasJeans spindle, my nice slightly heavier weight workhorse spindle, aiming for thicker singles. Its been lace weight singles for so very long!And I was winding into a huge centre pull ball as I went to make self plying easier. For once I spun this for fun, no playing with colours, just taking pieces of the sheet of fibre and spinning it as it wanted to spin. And it was a very enjoyable spin!

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So in the end, I got to ply and show off all these flashes of neon and see how the colours interacted. Ad the result? 120g, 350 of sportweight yarn. I have no idea what its going to be yet, but I do find myself petting and thinking about something simple in garter or stockinette to allow the colours to speak for themselves.

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And guess what I am back to doing now? Yup, lace weight singles ;)

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Argh! I disappeared!

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Sorry, sorry! Major case of life getting in the way! Visits from family, horrible colds, all that good stuff. However, I am back. And I have two FO's in this post for you today, and a couple more post to come over the next week! Much more back to normal running, yee haw!

So what is this picture I have started this post with? Well this see, is me branching out on crochet. The last weekend in April my grandmother came to visit. Between her and my mother, they taught me the crochet basics at Christmas. Since then I have managed granny squares, granny hexagons, a couple of crochet bond offs, and even a crochet edging on a baby cardigan. But when gran came down we went out to one of our local yarn shops, and she bought half the stock ;) But one of the samples was a bulky version of the scarf above, and I told her it was crochet and I recognised the pattern.

When we came home I even went to Ravelry and showed her the pattern, widely known as Queen Anne's Lace. But looking at it, I was really intrigued, and it didn't look so hard... so, there was a trip to Hobbycraft too, and while I was there, I picked up that lovely skein of Patons Colour Works Aran, because basically it was cheap and if I failed I could frog and it would work up as something else. I got my 6mm hook out, and little by little worked through the pattern instructions. Its the first crochet pattern I have ever followed, and little by little, it came together, and all of a sudden, in a weekend, I had a complete scarf, and a sense of pride too. So I was most pleased with myself. And now you can have a large picture of it.

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Since then I have been working in cotton. I have since learned that working a tonne of twisted stitches in cotton is incredibly hard on the hands, and the little tummy warmer I was knitting for baby was going very slow as a result. However, that said, I slogged through it, and finished it this weekend.

I had a lovely moment when I finished it and handed it to my husband to look at, and for once, instead of his precursory glance, something else happened. His brow furrows and he starts to inspect this tiny garment carefully, looking at the stitches inside and out. Finally he turns to me 'how did you do this? It looks like its knitted in two layers'. High five me fellow crafters, I finally have him intrigued. The twisted stitches are ingenious, not least because aside from being attractive, the fabric they make when stacked this way has lots of little pockets to trap air in, making this a perfect undergarment for a baby born at the end of the year.

So here it is, the project that finally had me demonstrating how the stitches work to a craft ambivalent husband!

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That's me for now, back real soon with some spinning goodness!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

More recreating favourites

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Yes, another cooking post about recreating favourites. I can't help it. This one has come about at need, so I figured I would blog about my adventures making it. Yes, I am sure we all know by now that I am pregnant. And what comes with pregnancy? Food cravings. Yay! And what do I want? Thai food. Or more specifically the lovely sticky coconut rice that Thai takeaways and restaurants have on the menu. But guess what, our local Thai delivery takeaway has gone out of business, no others in the city deliver to our area, and I am not going to hack off my darling husband by sending him miles out of the way for one portion of rice! So, time to experiment and see if I can learn how to make it.

I am very lucky to have an Asian supermarket in walking distance, so if I manage to figure this out, they can expect some repeated custom from me that's for sure. So I have been scouring the internet trying to find out what I need, looking at rice cooking methods (because oddly enough, to do it right, its not as simple as bung it in a pan of boiling water and drain when its soft), and comparing notes between recipes and methods, trying to distill them down into something basic that really can be done with a pan, a stove, and ingredients I can get hold of easily.

The hardest thing to find, is the Thai jasmine rice. And to do it right, apparently it needs to be jasmine rice. Though when I say hard to find, it seems that even my local supermarkets carry it! Bonus. So the hard part isn't all that hard. Secondly coconut milk. That I can get anywhere. Thirdly stock, chicken or vegetable, pick your poison. Today I am starting with some home made chicken and vegetable stock I finished in the stock pot yesterday while the AA were replacing my car battery.... its a long story and not relevant here. But cooking stock kept me from cursing and swearing about the car.... And lastly, salt. As far as I can see, these are all I need.

Most recipes work on amounts that boggle my mind, that would feed the five thousand it seems to me. Here's me with issues eating anything much bigger than an apple because I have a tenant squishing my internal organs, and I cannot fathom cooking that much rice. Not to mention this is my first trial run. I only want to cook enough to test if it works, and be able to reasonably eat in a short space of time. So after running through tonnes of conversion charts (cups, what a silly unit to measure things in as the volume varies based on whether you have a solid or a liquid, what size is a standard size cup? Do I own the right size cup? etc etc) and I have come up with this. Probably enough going on the rice packet instructions to allow for one large portion, or for pregnant me, two small ones that are just right.

100g of Thai Jasmine Rice
3 fluid ounces of stock of your choice
4 fluid ounces of coconut milk (not the light stuff, the good thick stuff)
a big pinch of salt.
  • So here we go. Apparently you put everything apart from the salt into your saucepan, give it a stir, and now leave it to soak, no heat for 20 minutes. I think I can handle that. 
  • Now add the salt, place over the heat and bring to the point of simmering. Gotcha.
  • As soon as it simmers turn the heat down to its absolute lowest, put on a good fitting lid or tightly cover with foil, set a timer for 15 minutes, and DO NOT TOUCH THAT LID. Seriously, everything I have read stresses this point. 
  • Your timer goes off, take it off the heat WITHOUT LIFTING THE LID and leave for another 10 minutes.
  • You may finally remove the lid, fluff the grains with a tool of choice and serve.

Of course you can garnish. Toasted sesame seeds are the Thai restaurant's garnish of choice, I have seen coconut shavings too, and the internet suggests fresh coriander. Go mad, do what you feel. Maybe all three?

So the verdict? Is it any good?

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First off, the amounts of liquid to dry rice work out perfectly, the texture is spot on to the restaurant stuff, as evidenced by my ability to do the fancy dome of rice thing, as its sticky enough to do it with, but light enough to eat without being a solid blob. Flavour is a little less coconut in your face than the restaurant stuff, however, it is right, aromatic on the nose, and very enjoyable. As a recreation in the home, I am giving it two big thumbs up. 

I did get some of the slight browning issues on the bottom of the pan I read about, but so very slight as I cannot taste it, and it hasn't scorched. The amount given in my recipe above gives two domes of the size in my picture, so enough for two nice light meals. I am really very pleased with myself and enjoyed my stir fry with Thai coconut rice very much!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Lazy is the word alright...

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I have been terribly remiss. I meant to do this blog post earlier this week, but I have just been tired and drained. Ah that's all part of being pregnant for you. And I have had a sick husband and even our son has had it. I avoided it thankfully. Or had it first and didn't have it badly. And I have been a touch distracted too I can confess. the small one starts preschool next week so its been a flurry of filling in the paperwork, marking all his clothes and sorting him out a little school bag. Monday will be visit day, then he starts on Wednesday, his third birthday! He's going to love the big football cake his dad got him!

Craft wise I have finished another shawl. This time the Lazy Katy pattern on Ravelry. As you might be able to tell from the top picture, this is another knit made from my handspun. It started life as this lovely braid of English breed wool from Yummy Yarns UK:

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Yes, yes, my Yummy Yarns UK addiction is showing once again. I can't help it, honest. The colours are wonderful, and this braid was called Lake Sunset. Very  appropriate I think. I got brave, and tried out chain/navajo plying for this one, and was really pleased to come out with a lovely fingering weight 3 ply yarn:

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And preserving the colours was so very worth it. The choice of pattern was rather easy, as I had spotted the patten before, but hadn't got a yarn I wanted to knit it in, till I made this. But the kicker was the crochet cast off. When I planned this knit, I couldn't crochet at all. But recent successes had made me bold, so I went for it. Thing was, I had far more yarn than the pattern called for, and wanted to use it. So I got to trying to make it bigger. It went well in the main, but when it came to the set up for the lace edging a couple of increases were fudged in there to make the stitch count work out. But that's just between you and me. I can't tell where I did them anyway. Though blocking it was quite an adventure, trying to get its curves preserved and the lace pinned out nicely. But I think I did well enough.

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Yes the only way to get a good picture in daylight was to drag the blocking mats out into the garden  so I had a sort of flat surface to lay it on, but I am very pleased with it. The crochet cast off was confusing from the chart, but once you figure it out, its incredibly easy. It just took forever because there were so many stitches. But I am very pleased, and will most likely be wearing it when we go to visit preschool on Monday. Now if only this rain would stop so hubby can finally plant the potatoes out...

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

You spin me right round....

SAM_0397 Yay for a cheesy blog post title ;)

Anyway, I think its obvious the topic of this post is spinning. I am of course knitting, but spinning seems to have grabbed me a bit this week so I have actually been making some progress there and my knitting has been crawling a little. But to be expected. Its helping me stay away from the baby knitting till after the scan. Which is even harder to do now I have a baby bump!

So, spinning. Of course the silk brick is a looooong, slooooooow project, but I actually did spin some this week.

The big mover has been the fact I finished a yarn! Woohoo! Been a while since I did that ;) Some of your will remember from my January 'what's on the spindles' post that I was spinning some BFL/silk that I won as a prize in the Tour de Fleece last year.You can see some of the fibre above. I did split the roving down the length and spin into two singles with the hope of aligning the colour but... yeah, the best laid plans of mice and men. One ply was thinner than the other and the colours did not line up the way I had planned. However, I do still think its a beautiful yarn:

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Its 122g, 650m of 2 ply light fingering weight yarn, actually a really nice yardage. Not sure what I will do with it yet, but some ideas are floating round my head. The way it plied the reds dominate the yarn with some colour variations as you can see, but very pretty.

So I have cracked on with another project.  This one is about intentional spinning for me. Basically I have been spinning a tonne of lace recently, and even the previous yarn was on the lighter side of where I planned it. So, trying for a thicker single, looking for definitely fingering weight or heavier when the yarn is self plied. What is the fibre? This giant batt from KnittyAndColor. (The brit in me rebels at not putting a u in colour but that is correct).

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This is 4.3 oz of pure sparkly fun in one giant batt. The colour is off by the way, the green is a lime neon, but my camera washed it out. Made from BFL, Falkland, Merino, Firestar, and Angelina I am not spinning with any intent, merely tearing off random handfuls and focussing on the thickness of the singles, and sitting back and enjoying the hell out of it. I'm using my TexasJeans spindle for this one as its one of my heavier spindles and is very content not spinning superfine singles. Here's a small cop, but I have already spun a fair bit more than that. Winding off into a centre pull ball for easy self plying.

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In other spinning news, I have had a couple of new spindles join the family this year. Firstly a 35g ThreadsThruTime medium Turkish spindle in cobalt blue.This one I acquired through a destash from the US, mainly because I wanted to try another type of spindle out, as thus far I am a top whorl drop spindle spinner. I have given it a try, and its not the neatest winding, but I am getting the hang of it:

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I do find it significantly slower than my top whorl spindles though, so I think I shall remain favouring the top whorl for some time to come yet.

And the most recent addition to my collection came just this very morning. Already been out for a spin, this one is a top whorl in the mushroom style - a new one for me, from Katherine Kowalski, or daystar07 on Etsy. 22g, made from dyed hardwood with a holly shaft:

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Utterly beautiful wood turning in the most amazing dyed woods for striking whorls on her spindles. I can be honest and confess I have been bowled over by her designs before, but managed to hold firm. Till she listed a few with holly shafts. For some reason I have a weakness for that pale, pale wood. Its a beautiful little thing, and after test driving it earlier with some merino/silk I had lying around... the other half of the tuft you can see spun on the turkish in fact, its a superb little spinner, spins with ease, fast spinner and I am a very happy customer. Now to keep myself from buying a matching distaff and nostepine...

So that is where I am at, playing with pretty spinny tools and shiny fibre and having a good time ;)

What are you all creating at the moment?

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Monet's Water Lillies

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Way back when I started spinning, I did what most spinners did, started with cheap commercial fibre, getting the hang of spinning with that before going on to the pretty hand painted braids that are available from indie dyers everywhere. But even so, I coveted the nice pretty braids, and took the plunge and bought this Shetland braid from Yummy Yarns UK (picture used with permission):

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It was stored away safe until the time when I felt confident enough to give it a try. The Shetland was a deliberate choice, with a long staple length that should suit a beginner, help me get started. And it was only a month or two after I got my first spindle, that I dared to give this a try, and it became the singles you saw above. I was incredibly pleased with what I had managed in my first 'proper' spinning. Proper meaning something intentionally thin, with fancy hand painted tops. And I took the plunge and plied it too:

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The final yarn was something I was incredibly proud of, 525m of light fingering two ply, and frankly I surprised myself. And I knew straight away what I wanted to do with it. I wanted it to become a Photosynthesis. BUT, of course there is a but, I didn't feel that I was a good enough knitter yet, so it got stashed away till a time when I felt better capable to handle it.

So the time has come and I felt brave enough. So over the course of ten days, I got into the pattern and got knitting. And the end result is wonderful. Something finally worthy of my first spinning.

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A bit of a milestone FO really, getting it knit up into something so nice, and I am more than a little pleased with myself I can admit. Its certainly a milestone piece for me, coming to the end of this fibre's journey. Its given me some momentum back for my spinning again and I am currently plying another yarn. So watch this space!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Lost in the Lagoon


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Happy St. Patrick's Day all! Hope everyone is having a fab one! I am back again with more knitted stuff, mainly because I cannot help myself. Above is a gorgeous hank of yarn from Yummy Yarns UK. I can honestly state I am a bit of a Yummy devotee. I just love the things Patricia does with yarns and fibres. This yarn is her fingering weight, soft twist superwash BFL base. And what a lovely base it is. Super soft and cosy, great for warm knits and those where next to skin softness is a must. And the colour is named Knysna Lagoon.

I saw this when Patricia listed this in her Etsy shop and I just had to have it, and I knew what I wanted it for. This was months ago, but I knew that if I managed to conceive, I wanted this yarn to be made into something for my baby. The fact that its superwash means that you genuinely can knit something a baby would wear out of it, because it can go in a gentle wash. And yes, I know it is early days, and possibly counting the chickens a little, but I just had to do something baby related. I want to knit so many baby things but am trying to pace myself. Thus far I am failing, but I cannot bring myself to be bothered, I am so pleased with what I have. So in the last few days I have whipped up these:

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Yup, a matching set of cardigan and booties. Teeny tiny booties I cannot help but fawn and coo over how tiny and cute they are. They've had to be put away because I am starting to wind hubby up with it, though he loves them too.

So, down to the nitty gritty. The patterns. The cardigan:

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Is the Milk Infant Top pattern from Ravelry, and I like it because with a hidden snap fastener beneath the left front there, it is a quick on and off winter garment for a tiny. One very happy triumph for me is the edging:

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I am still very new to crochet and its my first crochet edging, and I am so incredibly pleased to have pulled it off. Little tiring at the foundation stages but so worth it now its finished.And it does finish off the garment so nicely. That's another achievement down.

The booties are another Ravlery pattern, Christine's Stay On Baby Booties. A minor modification in that I did a shorter 'leg' on them, though not for reasons of running short of yarn.

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No indeed, I do in fact have almost 70m of yarn left, and the booties only took 52m. I shall hoard it, and should baby turn out to be a girl, I foresee a matching crochet headband or something... Hee I cannot get over how tiny they are. Now I am trying to keep away from baby knitting... for a week or so at least lol! Watch this space, plenty more baby knits to come of that I am sure.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Parrot - Or how to stop traffic...

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Twice in a week? What has gotten into Gothy I hear you cry. Nothing, just I am doing smaller projects rather than huge floor length over sized shawls!

Now I am sure you recall my first Bird of Paradise scarf. That of course was not knitted for myself, but for someone else, in their yarn, and I got a serious case of the covets and wantsies. So there was nothing for it. I had to stalk the updates to get myself a sushi roll all of my very own. There it is above, and the colour name... Ready, Set, Go.

Lovely and bright isn't it? And unrolled it looked like this:

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Now I wanted the colours to run just a bit differently, so I took my scissors, ad bravely snipped a stitch at over the half way mark of the green, unravelled the smaller piece of resulting knit fabric and balled it for later. Then started knitting at the red. At almost the end of the lace I ran out of yarn, and joined in the second ball, again at the red. And voila:

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Yes, yes, I haven't woven the ends in there. I know, and I actually still need to do it. This scarf is intended for the walks to and from preschool with my son that start next month. Mummy has a huge mid calf length Jaeger coat she lives and dies in that is a wall of black, and I fancy some colour to brighten it up. If nothing else... I'll stop traffic.

Monday, 12 March 2012

A Little Splendour

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Ooof I have been bad at updating lately. I blame baby brain and pregnancy fatigue! That's my excuse and I am sticking to it. Well being honest its because I have been self imposing deadlines on myself - no idea why, I just have - and its been keeping me busy. And there has been a fair bit of fatigue, but its all normal of course.

This is a project that's taken a while since conception to fruition. I started something approaching a year ago, when I made the decision that I wanted to make the layering shrug on Ravelry. I had some spare money, so I approached Patricia, the dyer and owner of the Etsy shop Yummy Yarns UK. I had a specific idea of what I wanted. I wanted to create a yarn that was next to skin soft so I could specifically wear it over vest tops, one of my favourite things in the world to wear. And I really wanted, after seeing a pairing of wool and silk plies done by someone else in her fibres, to do just that. One wool ply, one silk, for softness and drape. So we decided on a merino sparkle braid, and a mulberry silk brick, and I gave her my colours.

The fibres arrived and were perfect, so very pretty, and were more than I could have hoped for. You can see what I mean above. Now for the long task of spinning them, and for the first time, with the intention of making lace weight yarn when plied.

It took a long time and in the end I used last year's Tour De Fleece to kick my behind into gear and get the yarn finished.


Gothic Splendour

So, the pattern was written for a contrast colour, and I had no idea what I was going to do about that. Probably skip it all together.But while in the process of spinning the fibres, Patricia listed an overstock of  these batts:

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They go by the name of Mermaid, and the moment I saw them, I knew they had to be mine.I knew I wanted to use the small amount of the yarn I spun from these as a contrast. So I spun these as lace weight also:

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Now I always knew I would have most of this yarn left over. I have yet to decide to do with it, but I will figure it out at some point.

So, onto the knitting. I finished the shrug a few days ago and its everything I hoped it would be. 


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I have been wearing it a lot since I finished it, so pleased with the fit, and the fact I knit extra pattern repeats for the sleeves. Its come out just as I had hoped. And obviously this is a big, big thumbs up for Yummy Yarns UK.

So I have the perfect shrug in just my colours. Which is good, given that when I sport a bump, vest tops are exactly what I will be wearing, and I will need it. And the very best part? I spun nearly 1100m of this yarn, and I have well over 400 left, enough to make myself a small shawl. So that will come at some point in the future too.

Well that's me for now, till next time!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Capey Cape

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Okay, okay, I know I have been quiet, far too quiet on this blog, but I have been busy, honest I have! Mainly on that beast you see there. That be Capey Cape as it is affectionately known. The story behind the name is a very long one, but its new owner knows why.

This is basically an oversized shawl. Its the Revontuli pattern on Ravelry, and I simply kept going in pattern until it was big enough. Its been knit in Knit Picks gloss fingering, and I got mine from Great British Yarns, though the red and gold are from DyeForYarn on Etsy. At a total of 2430m of yarn and after having the stink blocked out of it, it is huge. The only way I could get a picture of it laid out in all its glory was to hang it on  the line because even folded in half it was the width of the king sized bed.

It is of course intended to be worn as a cape with a shawl pin and I am sure my dearest friend will look fabulous wearing it. Her intention is to bead it some first, to add to the shine from the silk in the blend of yarn. I am going to miss this keeping my lap warm! Now onto other projects, and try to not cast on baby things for a few more weeks yet... trying hard.

We also have potatoes chitting in the utility room, and tomatoes sprouting on the windowsill. Hopefully the chilies will take too, they did last yea. For now I am working on a lovely shrug, which I will probably use a lot once I get to living in only vest tops again like I did last pregnancy. Just the second cuff and the collar to go.

So here we are a properly big picture of the beastie!



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Till next time!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Arrrrrr! There be priates on the starboard bough!

The past couple of weeks the craftiness in this house has been focused on getting our son's new room ready. He's old enough to be moving into his first bed, and getting far too big for the nursery. We cogitated on what theme we wanted, and right up until the last minute had no idea, just knew what furniture we wanted. Then all of a sudden we came across the perfect thing with which to decorate his room. And we went into overdrive. Furniture was ordered, the paint was fetched from the loft, and more sourced in the correct colour. Then one evening, all hands to the pump, we got painting the room a lovely sky blue.

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But that's boring on its own. I mean any boy can have a blue bedroom. So time for some extra details. First were two coats of white paint and yours truly free handing some cloud shapes.

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Yes the shapes are not your typical clouds. They actually hearken to a video game series that the hubby and I enjoyed as teens. It certainly amused us both. But they looked far better after they were finished and detailed.

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Then hubby got to do what he loves best... not. Building flat pack furniture. I got out our secret weapon when he was done. Pre printed and pre pasted die cut wallpaper sheets. In the theme of... pirates. Well like you hadn't guessed already! Last night we spent an evening soaking the die cuts and getting them on the walls, starting with getting out the masking tape and working out where we wanted what, hubby soaking one piece while I put another up. We finished late last night.

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And beneath this ship is his ginormous train set! Seems every male I know loves playing with that thing....

12 Now all we need to do is wait for the sheets for the bed (its a junior sized bed and mattress so need the right sheets), and move him and his belongings in.

There are shelves to come to be added to the right hand wall when my parents visit next month, and my dear father will put them up for us, on which is books will go. But hardly critical for getting him moved in.

So there we are, project finished, and we're really happy. Now to find out what the small one thinks.