Wednesday, November 30

Yarn Along

Knitting: Lancelot sweater, size 2 years for my little knight in Drops Lima.

Reading: I finished Little Women (both parts!), and I'm glad it's over, I mean, it was great and all but I usually don't read books with 777 pages and I was curious to know about Jo March's future. I must admit that I sometimes had trouble with understanding some english verbs and adjectives, so I had to look up a few things, but it wasn't really necessary for understanding the story in its whole. 
Recently, when in Aachen, Germany, we visited a grand bookstore and I always go straight to the international section. A big pile of classics was nicely exposed and I bought a couple. I chose Animal Farm by G. Orwell. (My fiancé bought 1984 and I might read that as well). I haven't read that much though, but until now I like it.

Joining Ginny

Wednesday, November 2

Knitting: beccs cardigan

After a few disappointments considering sweater and cardigan knits, I decided to take a different road regarding my fall knitting. First of all, it needed to be something that I would really wear and that would fit me. Since I'm not that good patient in gauge swatching - I do check my gauge, I just give up really easy when I do not obtain it and then I don't really make an effort anymore and just start knitting, hoping that it'll probably work itself out, ahem - so, since I'm not fanatically wild about this necessary evil part of knitting fitting garments, I wanted something that would fall loose, required no picking up stitches for a buttonband and it had to be a bit of a quick project too.
SoI started browsing my 600+ favourites on Ravelry, another 600 favourites of many inspiring Ravelers's favourite cardigans and I was becoming a little too fixated on knitting Pinterest boards. In the end I went with my first choice :-): the beccs Cardigan by Isabell Kraemer.

 It's such a genius pattern and so easy! The aran weight yarn I used (Drops Nepal in a gray mix color) was so soft and it feels really comfy. It's a joy to knit with I think.

I'm really happy with it. Along with my Owls sweater I knit in 2013, this is actually something that I will wear in the colder months.

Wednesday, October 12

Yarn Along

Knitting & crocheting: beccs cardigan by Isabell Kraemer in Drops Nepal. And these coasters make such a nice decoration of my kitchen table.

Reading: I shifted from Wuthering Heights (too challenging to read in bed at night)  to Little Women by Louisa May Alcott :-)

Listening: Lage Landen Lijst, a radio program that runs the best Dutch and Flemish songs since 1945.

Joining Ginny and many others.

Saturday, September 3

First time mom: a breastfeeding/nursing story

I actually wonder why I’m writing this story down for the whole world to read. It is possible that I regret making this public, but now I feel the need to explain my worries and experiences of the past few months as a new mother. While writing this all down, baby is on my lap, smashing the keyboard, while bouncing up and down and saying 'Abooo' with lots of saliva, thanks to his two teeth sticking out. Baby has a dry diaper, had playtime, sleeptime and was fed an hour ago. Just like the hour before that and the hour before that. (Yes, he’s 4 months old and suddenly wants to be fed every hour instead of every two hours). From previous experiences, I'd say he's growing.

Mummy's milk, the best a baby can get

During my pregnancy I was convinced (and I still am) that breastfeeding is the best thing to do for my baby. You can’t beat nature in giving the best milk to babies I think (of course there are numerous reasons why anyone does not breast feed and prefers to bottle feed their baby, it's personal choice or sometimes, sadly not a choice at all). Mothermilk has all the nutrients and antibodies and it's always the right temperature. Lots of people warned me for the first few difficult weeks: sore nipples, baby needs to learn the perfect latch on. I was told you really have to be persistent in nursing if you want it to work, so I had to hang in there, they said. So I was prepared that nursing might not be the dream I always thought it would be. I attended an information session about breastfeeding and read lots of articles about it. The moment E. was born, I consistently latched him on, applied lots of mothermilk and Lansinoh cream to my nipples and looked and listened carefully for him to swallow my milk to make sure I was doing it right.
It appeared to be working very well: baby had a great latch on, my sore nipples were healed in only a few days after giving birth, my production was flawless and the nurses were all proud of me and baby E. I was so thankful for that. Baby did well on the growthcharts and everything was fine! Praises all over the place, my breastfeeding couldn’t go wrong (and never really went extremely wrong, in case you’re wondering or searching for a climax in this prose) . So that’s all great and all.
It’s just that, nursing is such a great way to bond with your baby. I love it when he stops nursing, looks up to me, smiles and starts nursing again. It gives me power and energy to see my baby enjoying our nursing times, it provides him not only nourishment but also comfort, love and safety. Of all the things in the world, nursing is, with all it’s pro’s and con’s, the biggest adventure and most wonderful thing I have ever done.

Nursing problems

But, yes there’s a but, nobody warned me about all the nursing problems when baby is older. Actually, looking back at it, I was so convinced that when he was 4 weeks and being nursed every two hours (at least!), that would all be better in the future, when he’s older. Well, uhm, no it’s not. I’m still feeding 10-12 times a day! Which is, of course compared to the initial 12-14 times, an improvement. Also, nobody told me about, however great your baby can latch on, he can have a bit of a temper sometimes during the feeding and does not seem to know what he wants on a daily basis: on/off, hungry/not hungry? Oh, and the constant 20 pm to 22 pm 'titty-sucking' for comfort. It's sweet in the beginning, but after a while (read 4 months) I've had it. And don’t get me started about having teeth and nursing! And these problems aren't the biggest of nursing problems at all. Some mommies deal with not having enough milk or having too many milk or worse problems. I never experienced that in an extent matter. All I had to do is pump a bit more and latch him on a bit more when he was growing to encourage my production. From time to time he slept from 23 PM until 06 AM and I had to pump off the first milk or he would choke and start coughing. 

About bottle feeding mother milk

I started introducing a bottle with mothermilk when he was 6 weeks. I had terrible nights back then, so it was a relief when my boyfriend could give a bottle from time to time at night or when I was at the physiotherapist for exercises. When we agreed on going on a holiday to Austria for about 9 days or so, I decided not to bring the sterilizer and pumping machine with me, since there was no opportunity for me to store my milk in a fridge at the hotel. Coming back from that holiday last week, I slowly wanted to introduce the bottle again, so within a given time I could change to formula milk by the time I go back to work. (I want to stop nursing completely by then. I work in shifts so it’s hard to nurse him every morning and night for another 2 months, because depending on my shift I won’t be there in the morning or in the night)
Guess what? Breast - lovingadoring -addicted baby refuses to drink my milk from the bottle. Since he’s also refusing every type of pacifier existing on the market I guess it won’t be much of a solution to try another bottle type. Well, I keep on 'giving' him a bottle every day. I already know to pump less, I only pump 20 cc to pour it through the gutter afterwards. My midwife advised me another type of bottle teat anyway that I could try, so I guess I’ll give it a chance.

Don't worry, be happy

So, although the nursing went well and I finally understand that it can never go perfect, I feel obliged to tell you that I’ve had my other worries too. I’ve typed numerous keywords for babycare and nursing and all the problems that come along with it in various searching engines and internet fora to found that actually, you just got to do what your heart tells you to do. In the end, it all comes down to nature. How else would our ancestors nurture and feed babies? I mean, they didn’t have the internet. Ok, they had their peers to learn from experiences and so on, but really, all the things I’ve been worrying about was more because I’ve read about everybody else's worries.

I worried that I spoiled my baby for giving him milk everytime he asked for it. Then I worried about postponing feedings because I thought it was weird he still needed another feeding just an hour after the last one. Or I worried about how much he’d sleep, or if it was bad that if the nursing didn’t go all well, that I stopped him and tried again 15 minutes later. Did I recognize his hunger signals enough? Maybe he’s tired (checking again on Google), is it normal that he still needs so many feedings? Why doesn't he drink from the bottle? Searching tips for getting breastfed baby to drink for bottle. What’s a normal 3-month old routine look like? Does he have to have a routine or not? Is it good to be putting him to sleep in his bed at daytime, or should I try to avoid that so he knows that his bed is for the night? Should I start a nighttime routine? Is it okay that I worry that much? Is it okay that sometimes I don't know what he wants and that I turn away from him while he's crying, followed by feeling guilty. Do other mommies experience the same? 

There's a huge amount of freedom when you take nothing personally

And then there are other people. The few hours of sleep, the more hours of worrying, the physical impact of nursing and the overal insecurity made me c-r-a-n-k-y. I admit it, I haven’t been the most fun person around the last months. And that in a time where loads of visitors come into your home, to come and see your baby, to flood you with the mandatory compliments about your belly and baby and sadly enough, also with their unasked thoughts about childcare, wrapped up as well-intentioned advice, but mostly to carefully hint you that whatever you’re doing at that moment, you’re doing it wrong.
There were times that I wanted them out of my house, out of my mind and pull a blanket over my head and sob. Seriously, I thought I was not going to be ‘that kind of postnatal hormone disrupted mother’ because I’ve read about it and I was ‘prepared’. Uhm yeah right. I always make such a big deal out of it when someone comes over. We've had numerous fights about it, because I can't cope well with people who want to come over and I haven't planned that. I have thought many times that those people were selfish. They wanted to see the baby, The baby doesn't care, really. All I wanted was the best for my baby at that time. I didn't want to put him in a situation where he would not feel comfortable. Being a breastfed baby with no rhythm at all, I wasn't eager to drag him along everywhere and wanted to do as many things on his time. I felt obliged to take him to family, because they have the right to see the baby and of course they miss him otherwise. But honestly, I feel really bad saying this actually but it's how I feel, I wasn't always in the mood to take my baby to them, because they wanted to see him. I felt guilty when I wasn't assertive enough to take him out of other's hands and put him to sleep, when I thought he was tired or to feed him, when I thought he was hungry.  I didn't want sound like a selfish Mommy, but I felt it in my heart that I wanted things to go otherwise. I've struggled a lot with this feeling in the first months. 

Courage, dear heart

All those feelings made me think about who I am and what I wanted in life. Of who I want to be. Because, now as a mother, there's someone who looks up to me. Who thinks I'm his whole world. That scares me, it scares me because I have to set the right example. And I'm still such an unfinished product myself, working hard on myself every day, to be kind, to be tolerant, to be happy. And then suddenly it strikes you, that you will never not worry in your life again. And that the responsibility and love you’re feeling for this little human wonder can cut off your throath and make you gasp for air. It’s such a strong experience that it scares me so much.

* I would like to say that there are people who really understand me in my wish of being left alone sometimes, and actually those people are the ones I miss the most and have no trouble with them coming to visit me because I really feel at ease with them. I think she's knows I'm talking about her.
** I also want to thank my dearest parnter for taking so many beautiful breastfeeding photo's and encouraging me to breastfeed all those months.

Wednesday, August 10

Knitting lately

I know it's a bit early to be thinking of Autumn but I'm so looking forward to that because it's my favourite season! I can't wait, I'm not that much of a Summer's person (I think lots of people in Belgium are going to dislike what I say now: I loved the rainy days in July and August so much more than the hot sunny days). It's also because since E. is born, my psoriasis on my arms and knees got a lot worse and I still can't do much about that since I'm still breastfeeding. I don't feel comfortable wearing short sleeves and skirts or shorts at the moment. Anyway, this year I wanted to be prepared for the colder days, so I finally knit the shawl I've been wanting to knit for a long time: the Shawl en Mousse et Vagues. The fact that it wasn't a pattern and originally more a guideline, written in French, kept me from knitting it before.

Because the 'pattern' has now an English translation and an extensive research through Ravelry projects of this shawl made me take the plunge and start knitting. Looking back at it, it was actually really easy and logical, and I would like to encourage everybody that hesitates for the same reasons as me, to knit it. You can go to my Ravelry notes if you want to give it a try yourself. I've noted my total number of stitches and placements of the markers. I'm still searching for a nice name for this shawl, something 'sea-like'.

Another project I've finished and haven't blogged about is the Flax Light pullover from Tincanknits. I knitted size 6-12 months in Drops Alpaca, colorway Olive. The pullover is great, but my yarn choice wasn't. I don't think the 100% alpaca is suited for a children's pullover. Next time I'll knit a fingering weight pullover in a merino/superwash yarn.

The lovely illustration and pouch in the first photo are some of my purchases from The Blue Rabbit House. The designer and illustrator makes such beautiful things and she's from Belgium too! An extra plus, since I didn't have to pay that much on shipping costs this time!

Thursday, May 26

Knitting lately: Paraphernalia Socks

Paraphernalia Socks

Yarn: Katia Olé Socks Komfort Tweed and Schachenmayr Regia 4ply (white)
Needles: 2.5 mm
Pattern: personal, incorporates Antiquity from Alicia Plummer
Ravelry notes here.

Wednesday, May 25

A suitcase full of dreams

I recently found this children's book online. It's one of my old time favourite children's book from the 80's, I had it when I was little, but I guess my mother gave it to our nieces and nephews when we were too old for it. I believe you can never be too old for children's books though. A french teacher once told us, while teaching about Le Petit Prince in class, that you should never get rid of your children's books.

I could not resist ordering it for Emiel and already read some stories while breast feeding him. He doesn't understand anything yet, but my voice calms him down I guess. At this moment he's going through a colic stage I'm afraid. In his room I framed some of Jaklien Moerman's (the illustrator) drawings, just above the changing table.

Thanks a lot for all the nice comments here and on Instagram, about Emiel's birth.

Tuesday, May 10


People on Instragram already know, but we became proud parents of this little fellow: Emiel, born on May 2nd at 10.13 AM. It was a fast but heavy delivery and we all are home and well now!

Friday, April 29

Knitting lately...

While waiting to deliver, I've spent my time mostly by knitting. First I knitted an Open Windows Mitt. And I loved the look of it, until I tried it on. The mitt stretched out and I wasn't pleased with how the stitches looked on my hand. So I started another mitt pattern designed by the same designer, with the same yarn: Antiquity by Alicia Plummer and this yarn-pattern combo was a great match!
I had the same problem with the Blueberry Waffle Socks pattern by Sandy Turner. I've been wanting to knit these for quite a long time and thought they would look great in a fingering yarn too (original pattern is in dk weight). So very eagerly to start knitting when I received my wonderful fingering yarn I ordered at Studiomeez, I started the cuff. I'm not a big fan of k2,p2 ribbing, but it was the best for this pattern since the pattern is an alternation of knit rows and k2,p2 to create a waffle pattern. And again, while knitting I loved the look of how the pattern was coming along. Until I tried it on of course, a k2,p2 tends to stretch out and I don't like the look of that on my foot. The beautiful bumpy waffle pattern was nowhere to be found while wearing the sock... .
And there was another nice surprise while knitting the sole of the sock: I was falling in love with how the colors of the yarn in stockinette stitch. So I decided to rip it out, save the Blueberry Waffle Pattern for a dk weight sock and start searching for a sock with lots of stockinette stitch. And that's when I found the Impossible Girl Sock pattern by Madeline Gannon. Even the name of the pattern matched my feelings at the time, since I was kind of feeling like I was behaving impossible and being to picky about everything :-)

Wednesday, April 20

38 weeks

Okay, I did the best I could. I cropped off my face because it's rather bloated and I just feel uncomfortable. But I didn't want you guys to abstain from another -maybe last one - baby bump shot, so here it is :-)
I have been feeling rather tired and just plain exhausted the last weeks. That's not all pregnancy related but I thought I had this flu over me, seems like it was more my yearly hay fever that's been bothering me that made me feel all headachy and like the beginning of a flu.
It's not over yet, I spent a week in bed just to rest a lot and it's a bit better now. Picked up some knitting again and some last preparations before our baby arrives. We're all excited yet a bit nervous too. 
Thanks for the comments on the last post by the way. I reknitted the Bits+Pieces hat and even made a slightly larger one in another color.

Tuesday, April 5

A new hat...or not?

Once I saw Lisa's newborn hats I was in love with this pattern! It knits up really quick and is an instant gratification! BUT...I'm not so please with the result and it's my own fault: I was knitting while watching tv and I didn't notice the decreases didn't match on both sides. I've looked through project photo's of other people's Bits+Pieces hats and they don't have this problem. So I guess I did something wrong though I just followed the pattern. I found notes on Ravelry of one knitter decreasing with k2tog in stead of ssk and k2tog, so maybe that's the mistake I made.

I'm still thinking about ripping it and knitting it again. All against my partner's opinion who thinks it's adorable just the way it is. But the knitter in me is kind of rebellious. Of course he doesn't notice the dismatched decreases, but I do. Everytime I look at it. :-)

Yarn is Buckaloo View by the way in a fingering weight. I love this color. Liesl dyed it with Osage Orange and it's just so perfectly yellow!

Linking up with Nicole.

Thursday, March 24

34 weeks & mixed feelings

34 weeks. I have mixed feelings towards this pregnancy since the terrorist attacks on our capital city Brussels on March 22nd. I'm so happy to bring new life into this world, yet I worry a lot in what kind of world I'm raising this child. However, there are far more worse countries to be born in than Belgium. So I guess I'll have to try and look at things positively and try to put things in perspective because war will be of all ages and you can't protect your children from everything. I just hope that one day this will all be over. So I'm thinking about all the people that lost their lives, lost relatives or were hurt, physically and emotionally, during the attacks, Belgian or not. No doubt that what happened is horrible, but we must go on. There are so many good things in the world to live for.

Saturday, March 19

Hardangervidda Socks

Almost two years ago, we went for a hike on the Hardangervidda plateau in Norway during our roadtrip through South Norway. I remember we just drove by and saw this magnificent piece of nature and decided to stop the car, get out and walk. I also remember it being very cold! When knitting these socks in a tweed yarn, the speckles in different colors reminded me of all the colors I saw there. However at first glace it was quite greyish there, the colors of the rocks, grasses and weird mosses during that time of the year gave the surroundings some color. When climbing a bit higher, we drank our soup in the snow.

Ravelry notes about these socks can be found here.

Friday, March 11

Organizing & decluttering

Sometimes I can't get my head clear, it's like I have too many ideas or projects I want to start and they are all in my head, but blurry. I even dream of it at night. Time for some decluttering and organizing!
I saw this lovely mintgreen basket at the shop a few days ago and thought it could be a nice yarn stash basket. I stash my unused yarn in plastic bags to prevent moths eating it - but recently heard that they just eat through plastic?! - and I keep the yarn I work from in a project bag. But this basket is actually pretty handy to knit from, because now I don't just throw my needles and scissors in it like I used to do with my project bags or fabric baskets. The holes in this basket makes me want to keep it organized and clean.
I also persuaded myself to wind up most of my yarn I currently work with into center pull skeins. What a difference! Everything is so much neater. I also like looking at it and an extra plus is that my man already complimented me about the basket, two times already... . So now the basket got a showy spot in my living room and not tucked away beside the sofa.

I was actually looking for a rope basket in a creamy like or pastel color. But until I find the perfect one I'll use this basket.
How do you stash your most used yarns?

Sunday, March 6

Grateful for maternity leave

I am so thankful for my longterm maternity leave. As a nurse working on an intensive care unit, we're sent on maternity leave as soon as we're 12 weeks pregnant. It actually depends on the head nurse and hospital management to make that decision (in our hospital on regular units, you're sent home immediately. I think that's weird since on an ICU you're much more at risk for contacting X-rays, arterial blood and other human fluids - and in one of the most prominent universitary hospitals of our country you have to work until 24 weeks, even on intensive care units). So there's no federal law that states when a nurse can be put on maternity leave exactly. There are laws about pregnancy leave and maternity leave for employees though, not working in healthcare and I'm sure there are other exceptions too, because, well it's Belgium :-D we live from exceptions in laws and only get on the frontpage of world newpapers when it's about pedophilia or creating the perfect circumstances for terrorists to make their plans to attack the world. ;-)
Back to maternity leave: I do enjoy it and think this advantage is very welcome, since through the year, for the last 11 years, I've been working one out of two weekends, one out of two holidays (yes, even Christmas and New Years, Easter, evenings, nights,...) and do a lot of irregular shifts. So while I'll be almost home for a year until I go to work again - if I plan to breastfeed - it might be that I won't even celebrate my baby's first Christmas, because maybe I'll have to work on Christmas Eve this year. So despite all the overload of free time I've been given - and really, physically I could have worked much longer, but maybe not in the circumstances of hospital care - I really think I deserve it :-)

I spent my time being creative, like knitting - duh - drawing, preparing birth announcements, doing the household chores - cooking - drinking tea and coffee with fellow pregnant colleagues and other friends who come and visit me, and basically planning almost everything for the baby. Within a few weeks, our lives' rhythm and organisation will change so much! But I'm looking forward to that. We've been together for 13 years now and have had enough time to do all the things we love together.