My soul country

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Happy Tuesday everyone! I hope you are all having a good week so far. We went back to the Netherlands for the weekend, and now back into some sort of routine. Mr MiH spent 5 years of his life out there (and I a mere 6 months) - before we got married (although it was close, as we only moved in together a week before our wedding). We still have friends out there, in fact my brother now lives there - so as you can see plenty to get on with. 

Whilst I was out there, I started to play 'what if...?' I am not keen on playing that game, especially now - because well, you know there is no point in discussing what if .. because, yes, everything will be different if... Anyhow it reminded me that at some point Mr MiH and I were discussing actually living in the Netherlands, him sticking to his job, and me finding one - and buying a house, we already had views on one. As you can see we were ready to make the commitment. But it was not to be, and I was the one who stayed in the UK job, and Mr MiH who found a job back here. It has been busy in the last 5 years, and I never had time to reflect on what if... 

Could the Netherlands be my soul country? I knew the UK was my soul country - the country you want to live in even though you might not be able to speak the language properly and knowing that your parents would (utterly) disapprove. I knew when I was 16/17. I moved across when I was 19. It was the right thing to do, I saw a landscape, and just knew it was the one I had seen in my vision. And I gave up everything in France - not that there was a lot to give up, my studies mainly, and made a life for myself in Britain. I was given the opportunity and I took it. 

Even after what happened to Leo, I did not regret living my decision. As you can imagine, I received a lot of (unhelpful) comments telling me that it would not have happened had I been in another country (mainly France). In fact it had happened, I researched  the topic extensively, and there are similar cases to ours. It does make it better (at all), it just means it could have happened elsewhere. 

So have I missed the opportunity of a lifetime not sticking with the Netherlands, and giving up at the first hurdle - was it my soul country? It was really appealing - I love the sea, the water - this is a country according to my own heart. We had many friends nearby, we had a life out there (we did not in London). Amsterdam is a very exciting city, and yet not as big London and therefore manageable. The pace of life is a bit slower than here near London. But on Sunday I was glad to be back, and it made sense that I gave up after the first hurdle. My soul country is still Great Britain. I asked Mr MiH whether he missed being in the Netherlands, and thought we missed an opportunity. No was his answer, so I suppose we will stick to Britain for the time being!

Have you got a soul country? Did you give up a life to do what feels right?

February Plans :: Sewing ::

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Happy Thursday everyone! I hope you are all having a great week. This week I sat down, and decided that I will sew again. Now that my wardrobe has been reduced to 15 items, I am a bit desperate to be honest. Also my sewing machine has not seen the light of day for months now - poor her, she needs her vitamin D. There is nothing like planning to spark interest again - and get excited about new projects. I chose two for this month, hopefully they are easy enough and without too many pieces to ensure success. And now that my fabric stash has also undergone the Konmari method, I know my fabric options. 

The Arum Dress from Deer and Doe should be easy - it is a pattern meant for beginner, so I am really hoping this is true. I was thinking of making a dress for Valentine's Day dinner. Yes, we have plans - not last minute plans, but real plans, in a real restaurant, and this deserves a handmade dress! I am thinking denim - I have some from Offset Warehouse (unfortunately I cannot see it on the website anymore). That little (useless?) pocket has to go though. 

I fell in love with the Burda 7220 view B top - but to be fair view A is very much my style too. However now that I have the pattern, I have done some research on the pattern, and it is not exactly looking like what I had in mind. I will be making a proper muslin for this one. Ivy Arch called it part futuristic dentist's scrub and part intergalactic Lieutenant Commander's tunic. Hmmm... interesting...  not exactly my style then. So it might need adjustment - many reviews calls already to go one size down. As you can see a muslin is a must! I have fabric found here - it has a lovely darker sheen on the wrong side, it would look great. 

What are your sewing plans? How do you get your sewing mojo back? Do share! 

Monday, 1 February 2016

Hello February! Depressing January is finished. Actually it went very quickly for me. I am back at work - and it is good to have my routine back on track and feeling a bit independent. However it has also been hard to be back where I used to go, working with the people I used to know, not knowing who I am anymore. My work used to excite me, working with all sorts of people (albeit mostly men - thank you glass ceiling), managing to push through ideas. But now I am back in the same culture with the same people, working on the same issues - when I have been on a steep learning curve about everything (except work). I will not make a rash decision about this - it is easy to come back, reactivate my network (not so easy to tell them why I was gone for so long though) and do what is expected of you (without thinking too much about it). I know it is not a long term solution, but a stable medium-term solution.

And I am comforted after talking to friends and colleagues who seem to go through a sort of mid-life crisis in a major way, and are more lost than I am. To be fair, I have read a few magazines in the last week (a business travelling delight) and found that everyone is talking about the fact that women should be happy and why we are not. So no wonder my friends are feeling fragile. They have a full life, and have been going at it for the last 10 years, the career, the husband (still there or not anymore), the kids etc. and now they are in therapy (not all my friends but some). At least they have a way of dealing with this period. I will keep drinking my green juice, go back to healthy eating, crafting and reading about creating meaningful moments and surrounding myself with meaningful objects (and keep my matching underwear in check).

I carried on with my (future) clutter free home, and kept a sixth of my clothes - and oh it felt good - soooo gooood, and it feels amazing in the morning as well. It has also energised me for craft projects. I can see what I like to wear now, the finishing I prefer. It is a great experience. And I cannot wait to start with my kitchen - and get rid of it all. Now Mr MiH is really scared. He can see I am on a roll, and that this little machine is not slowing down.

Except when I am knitting of course. I may have over committed myself recently and be quite upset about it (hence not a little post to go on about last week). It feels like my craft time ( ie dedicated to projects for myself or my family) is non-existent. I find it highly frustrating but being it all down to my own decisions, there is not a lot I can do - just suck it up and get on with it. Mr MiH asked whether there was a lesson to be learnt here, I just looked in anger at his smug face, because he is right there is a lesson, but stating the obvious is not helping right now. I made a schedule to allocate time to my projects, so hopefully these can be shared here soon.

Depressing January is gone, welcome cold February! And travelling. We will be in the Netherlands this weekend - did I tell you that Mr MiH used to work there - and to France for our annual skiing trip (with in situ babysitting facilities, of the best kind, aka my parents!). Exciting times! Who is excited about February?

This photo was taken during the same one day of snow we had in January. I maximised on the opportunity, and took as many pictures as I could - in case I needed them for the blog because you never know when a picture of snow is needed.

Becoming a designer :: Susan from Canadian Abroad ::

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Happy Sunday everyone! And welcome to a new series on the blog - becoming a designer. I have seen a lot of bloggers I have followed for a bit time becoming designer - publishing their own patterns or being published in magazines. Isn't it wonderful! You should also see me telling Mr MiH that I follow/met the person who has published a new pattern. I am super excited! So I was wondering how it happens. How do you suddenly become a designer? What does it take? 

Today I am talking to Susan from Canadian Abroad, who is an amazing quilter, so no wonder she now has many designs in magazine. I actually met Susan and have been following her blog (and IG account) ever since. She shares her story and tips here. I hope you enjoy it! 

- Susan, tell us, when did you build the confidence to design your own pattern?

I don't come from a family with any history of quilting (or sewing for that matter). It was a hobby I landed on when my girls were younger and I wanted something to do that was just for myself. Seeing as I knew no quilters,and only took a few basic classes at a local quilt shop, I used to look for inspiration online and would work out the maths to a pattern I liked myself. This morphed into modifying patterns I liked and then just dreaming up my own came from that. 

- Did you approach a publisher with a new pattern? 

I was lucky, the publisher approached me. When Love Patchwork & Quilting was launched over two years ago the editor looked for possible contributors in the online community and - maybe because I was already doing my own thing - she saw something in my work that she thought would appeal to the magazine readers. 

- What elements of designing quilts do you enjoy the most? 

I love doodling out patterns. Most often I see them in my head first, but sometimes they just develop as I go along. I also love piecing a quilt. Basting and quilting are my least favourite parts.

- What remuneration can you expect from publishing in a magazine? 

Remuneration can from £0 to about £350 for a quilt. While it may surprise many people to find this out, some smaller magazines do not pay at all, or just a minimal fee, and people submit patterns to them as a stepping stone, or just for the joy of seeing a pattern of theirs in print.

- Which designers/magazines do you look at to be inspired for your own designs?
I don't focus on any one designer or magazine but think that if you want a good place to find inspiration then follow some of the modern quilt guild sites on Instagram or follow their blogs. This gives you a wonderful overview of many people's quilts and lots of original ideas.

Thanks Susan for sharing your experience and inspire others to design - for their blog or magazines! 

Friday Randomly Sharing

Friday, 22 January 2016

This week I was inspired by ..

My Grandma who is 83 (and the biggest collector of my knits, making her my biggest fan in the world). She is now on her own. My Mum asked her what she really wanted to do now. My Grandma told her that she wanted to go to Venice (where does that come from??!). My Mum said ok, that she would take her, if my Grandma walked. She is not much of a walker - actually, she is a rubbish walker. She now walks 45 minutes every day so she can make the trip of a lifetime in Venice. Whoa! People. it is never too late.

I wanted to sew...

- The Birkin Flares... I am sold. I have seen this pattern before, but Oona made me realise that I need them in my life - desperately!

- I love this version of the Inari Tee Dress by Named - The addition of central seams is brilliant - looks so professional. I have added to my sewing list, as if it was not long enough..

- I love this review of the best sewing patterns in 2015. I have a few in stock - not touched of course (arrghh) - but it reminded me that I really want a new Renfrew and that I have the Minoru Jacket pattern and all the fabric for it.

I will be travelling (not for work) ...

- 52 places to travel to in 2016 (there is no way some of these places are this year, but there are actually a few in Europe.. So Easyjet, where do you fly to?)

I will be watching ... 

- If you are in the UK, you might be interested in a new reality show - that does not seem as dumb as some others - called the sugar free farm to be aired on ITV from 26 January - it is in my diary, is it in yours?

- OMG!! One of my favourite after school 80s series is back, Fuller House (aka la Fete a la maison as I know it) will start on Netflix in February 2016. Is it wrong to be excited?

- A lot of TV ...  knitting and TV is a great combo. I loved Atelier on Netflix, beware it is in Japanese (so you could also say that I was learning a new language) and therefore easy knitting is required. A great series about the fashion industry, focusing on luxury underwear. 

Whilst knitting...

- If you follow me on Pinterest, you know I am a bit of Humanoid fan - and I found (totally by chance) a knitting jumper called 'humanoid knock off' - yes it is in my favs list (and also it is made from a free pattern, hourray for free pattern!)

- A free simple hat pattern, yes please, thanks Felicia!

- BT published its latest lookbook, check out Julie's review. I do love Halus, and League. What's your favourite? Snoqualmie wins on Ravelry. 

I will be reading ... 

- My coffee table is officially looking very uncool as none of this uber-cool magazines features on it. Time to review my readings. 

- The reality behind the blog, my friend Cee has written a day in the life of a fashion blogger, reading about all that workout has knackered me. 

- I am not sure how I can feel pain anymore - I am a bit numb in that department - but I have been thinking a lot about happiness, and what it does actually mean. I loved reading this article, about negative experiences, and how much you want it.

And finally... Travelling (with work) and maybe meeting with you... 

I am travelling with work again - oh the glamour of a hotel (and full night sleep) - So people, I will be in Brussels and Leiden in February, Paris in April, Copenhagen in April, Dublin in May. I am usually staying the one night - message me if you fancy meeting up with me and get some knitting done! 

Dialogue with my son :: The solution seeker ::

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Making sense of it all when you are 3... 

Maman, can I give a toy to Leo? Mon cheri, it is really nice of you to want to share but you know we can't, he is in the sky with the stars and the moon. Oh that's not a problem, we will build a ladder that goes up to the sky, and we will be able to give him new toys. 

And could you buy a new Leo? Euh, no, there is only one Leo and you know that although we think about him all the time, he is not with us physically. Do you miss Leo? Yes I do ... So could you buy a new baby? Mon cheri, you remember that I did not buy Leo, I was pregnant, I was huge, do you remember when I was really big? Hmm, yes, but I really think I would like a baby boy right now. And if it is a girl. No thanks, I just want a baby boy, pleeeassse. 

I took these pictures this Sunday - we had snow for one day. And well, his face says it all. He is wearing his acorn hat, as he does everyday. 

Wardrobe with Attitude | Stay Gold Mary Rose

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Happy Tuesday everyone! I have been wanting to talk about my new wardrobe for a while - not just my handmade makes (although I am hoping to have more of those to show). As soon as I saw this pendant from Stay Gold Mary Rose, I just knew I had to have one of her pendant. StayGoldMaryRose is a collection of creations by a British designer who has managed to sell through Anthopologie! All of the bone china used in Abigail's work is sourced from the UK's biggest China manufactures as seconds and damaged items. Abigail believes strongly in preserving, upcycling and reusing beautiful objects that have outlived their previous lives or intended use. Of course this totally resonates with my search for more ethical (and meaningful) items in my life. Beautiful and ethical, what else could a girl ask for!