Thursday, February 28, 2013

Messenger Bags

I made Oliver + S Messenger Bags from Liesl Gibson's book Little Things to Sew for Xanthe and Alannah's Christmas presents.  As with all Oliver + S patterns I found it to be a great pattern, very straight forward to sew together with loads of tips and a detailed pattern.  There are lots of pieces but it came together quickly once the fiddly bits like the bias binding is made!  I used webbing tape for the straps to save time, but the pattern details how to make your own from fabric.

I made Xanthe's bag first.  As I was not really sure what to expect I made it exactly to pattern.  Using a very cute hedgehog linen fabric from a local fabric shop for the exterior and a mushroom print in her favourite colour for the lining.

For Alannah's bag I didn't want to alter the overall bag but did want to add a closure of some sort.  After looking around at other messenger bags, I decided on a simple plastic buckle and clip.  I made some extra slightly wider binding in blue and hid the joins in the binding.  It is the perfect closure nice and lightweight and easy to open for little fingers. I decided magnet closures would not work well with the front pockets which I didn't want to change, and Velcro would not have such a neat finish.

The outer fabric for Alannah's bag was a light weight striped denim I found at Ikea and the lining was also a mushroom print but in blue, Alannah's favourite colour.  The hearts were free drawn and machine appliqued on, all the spotty fabric was from Sarah Jane's, "Children at Play" line of fabric.  I used a plain black webbing for the strap but tarted it up a bit by sewing some red spotty ribbon around the center.

The girls love their bags and especially Alannah uses it all the time.  They also happen to be very similar in size to the little messenger bags that are used to take snack to Kindergarten here in our part of Switzerland.  So sometime before August I will try and make another one for Xanthe in a more Kindy friendly fabric and with a buckle.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Winter Holiday

Winter holidays, some like to escape the cold, we prefer to enjoy it to the max!  So last week we headed of to Serfaus in Austria for a week of fun in snow.  

After discovering the delights of a Kinder Hotel last winter, we were eager to stay at one again this winter.  Especially before the kids are old enough to ski Kinder Hotels are a  great way for the whole family to have a great time in the mountains, with daycare in the hotel with great care for the littlies all day and activities for the older skiing kids in the late afternoons and evenings.  Kids buffet at dinner, 5 course meal for Mummy and Daddy.  Baby phones to your room and often playrooms, cinema rooms and swimming pools.

Philippa had a lovely time in the daycare crafting and playing with her best friend Eleanor and Xanthe (until she decided mid week that skiing would not be so bad).  She also loved sledding from the top of the Gondola to the village with me, insisting I go faster (due to it being an icy course, Mummy was a bit of a wuss and faster we did not go!). 

Pizza at 2400m, from restaurant Lassida was also a big hit with Pippa.  Especially as it required two gondola rides to get there. 

 Lassida was also a popular lunch spot for us all.

Xanthe enjoyed daycare with Eleanor and Philippa for a couple of days, till we took her up the mountain for a morning of skiing with Mummy and Daddy, followed by an afternoon of sledding.  She loved it and decided she would quite like to try ski school the next morning.  She really enjoyed morning ski school for the rest of the week but also could not wait to spend her afternoons crafting in the daycare.

The highlight of the week for Xanthe would have to be coming second in her ski race on the last morning and winning her first ever medal!

Alannah enjoyed a big week of skiing.  She astounded us with her improvement over the week, from a very cautious beginner to a very competent and surprisingly fast red skier.  She was also super excited to place second in her ski race (and Mummy and Daddy super proud).  Not one to miss out on anything she also enjoyed crafting and swimming back at the hotel every evening.

So what about Mummy and Daddy, we enjoyed the bliss of some awesome skiing, the company of our great friends and sharing our love for the mountains and skiing with our little girls and loving that they enjoyed it all to!

We all enjoyed a wonderful holiday with our great friends, it would not have been as much fun without them.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Honey Cowl

After seeing a honey cowl knitted by Tony of Make it Perfect, I was inspired to give knitting another go.  My previous attempts were a couple of beanies made with my mothers group when we decided to start a regular knitting evening.  

With winter well underway and thinking a cowl would be so much more practical than a scarf  for the girls.  I printed off the free Honey Cowl pattern from Ravelry and stopped in a local wool shop I had noticed near the little girls'  gymnastic class. 

I decided to start with a small cowl for Philippa.  I choose a merino + wool by LANG and she choose an olive green colour, coincidentally very similar to Tony's colour.  My first attempt was so full of mistakes I unraveled it and started again.  Second attempt was much improved but a bit to narrow she wore it for awhile, but after Xanthe refused to wear the light pink honey cowl I knitted her, Philippa claimed it.  Much better fit don't you  think?

The wool is super soft, warm, nice to knit, and washes well, which is very important when knitting for kids.  Alannah loved the colour of Philippa's original cowl and so I made her one in the olive green colour.

Alannah and Philippa love their cowls and wear them daily.  I really enjoyed the knitting, they were a great project for December when I was full of cold and very little energy.  I definitely still have a lot to learn particularly about sizing and gauge.  I tend to knit tight, so that requires casting on a few extra stitches for something simple like a cowl, still need to work out how that will affect something more complicated. Loved this pattern for a lovely practical item for the girls for winter and a good introduction back into the world of knitting for me, but I think after 4 honey cowls, I am ready to try knitting something different.

Friday, February 15, 2013


Ok so we are still playing a little catch up here, despite being quite sick in December I made the girls each a handmade Christmas gift, that I would like to share.  I had plans for much more Christmas gift sewing but in the end was happy to get the girls gifts finished.  I really like to make the girls handmade presents, especially while they still love the things I make them.  This year I made Philippa a hobby horse like I made her sisters the week before she was born.  She has been asking for about a year to have her own horse, so was delighted to unwrap her own Mummy made pony on Christmas morning.

I used the Giddy-Up pattern by Melly & Me, great pattern but the finished result is a bit big and heavy for a 2 year old so I tried making it a little smaller.  Reduced it by about an inch, except the nose as I didn't want it to look stumpy and used a much lighter, smaller diameter stick.  Turned out fine although the nose is perhaps a little pointy.  The size and weight is much better for a 2 year old.  Alannah and Xanthe's ponies were made to pattern.  If the pony is for use and not decoration I highly recommend adding some form of protective cover to the bottom of the fabric covered stick as the fabric wears very quickly.  I added rubber chair foot stoppers to the end of the our horses.

Yes, you have probably noticed that none of the horses have eyes.  This is because when I made the original two horses I didn't have any felt and at 39 weeks pregnant I didn't really feel like going shopping for felt for eyes.  So they were declared finished as they were.  As time went on and even after getting felt supplies, the girls grew attached to them without.  To the point that there were tears over my plan to put eyes on Philippa's horse.  So our ponies are blind and we love them that way!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Not Quite New Year and a Fresh Start

So time to restart the blog and hopefully have a more consistent 2013.... I am not a natural writer nor would I say I am even good or particularly enjoy it, but this blog is a great record of our adventures abroad and my crafting, so I intend to do a better job of keeping it up to date.

In 2013 I plan to continue in a similar way, hopefully with less of a break!

So lets recap a little.  End of June was the end of our first full school year in Switzerland.  We also made the decision to leave the International School and fully integrate into the local system.

But first we had 6 weeks of Summer break.  The first week of Summer holidays we spent in the South of France glamping.  Was a wonderful relaxing (technology free) week at the beach.

We returned with a few days to unpack and repack and then the girls and I were off to NZ to catch up with family and friends and celebrate my sister Catherine's wedding and the birth of my sister Anna's first child. Was great to be home for both big events.  But flying half way around the world alone with 3 little girls is no little trip.....

 We all had a wonderful time and the weeks just flew past.  I even managed a little sewing, that nearly broke me, a flower girl dress for Alannah to match the ones the girls used two years ago for my sister Fiona's wedding, turned out ok, if you don't look to close, but took a lot more sleepless nights than I planned.

Wow, my little cousin Chloe.
On our return to Switzerland, Alannah began school at the local primary school.  Was a lovely first day, the whole school has a special assembly to welcome the first graders to the school.  5th graders are buddied up with a first grader and tell a story of their first week at school to make the 1st graders feel more at ease, bring them a special snack and a flower.  Then there are songs and more celebration.  For the first month or so of school the buddy walks the 1st grader to school so they can get accustomed to the route as it is no longer acceptable for Mummy or Daddy to walk you to school.  As a first grader it is time to become more independent and mature in this part of the world.  We are now 6 months into the school year and we all feel the decision to go local was a good one, Alannah has learnt the local language and settled in well.  We all feel much more integrated into the local community.  I just wish I could learn the language as quickly as Alannah has.

Xanthe began a second year of Spielgruppe increasing to three mornings a week, one indoors and two in the forest.

Philippa even started one morning of Spielgruppe in October.

Which means I have about 2hrs a week to myself.  This time has been dedicated to fitness, we have lovely hills and green space around our village and I have taken up running.

As Autumn came and the weather cooled in Basel, we headed South to Italy for one last week of warmth. Italy was fantastic we glamped at lake Garda, visited Verona, Sirmone, Venice and a day at Gardaland which was the kids first theme park experience. We tried swimming but it was just a little to cold even in our wet suits.

Daily gelati was definitely the trip highlight for all.....

We had a few weekend visits to the alps with friends.

Enjoyed local Kurbis celebrations.

Winter came with lots of snow, which we still find a wonderful novelty.  We have had lots of fun building snowcastles, and sledding on our local hill.

Christmas was lovely despite all of us being sick for all of December so we felt a little under prepared and a bit lacking on spirit.

We had a wonderful new years with our friends in the alps.  The fireworks displays down the valley and champagne in the snow was well worth waiting up for.  The best night would have had to be when we dragged the kids on sleds for an hour up the mountain to a little restaurant for fondue and then sledded home by moonlight.   The kids had a lovely time learning to ski, even Philippa had her first go skiing. Will be another year or two before we attempt lessons but she enjoyed being able to give it a go like her big sisters.

 So that was the rest of 2012.