Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Breaking news

When something exciting happens, it’s natural to want to tell people. But it’s also natural to want to manage the flow of information in some way, thinking about the order in which people are told, whether you drip feed information, perhaps with a hint a month or two in advance of the announcement, or whether it all comes out in one go. Not everyone likes surprises.

Pregnancy is a bit like that. You have an amount of time when just you and your partner know, when you get to hug your delicious secret close to yourself and daydream away about how things are going to be. My first pregnancy was a bit like that, but as it happened so soon after we were married, there was an amount of speculations around how long it would take. A (male) friend of my mum’s even asked her if I was pregnant yet, only weeks after the wedding and, I think, before they knew. The cheek!

My third pregnancy, announced when Mr Kinkatink was at death’s door in hospital came as a bit more of a surprise announcement, and accordingly was met with a variety of (slightly curious) responses, not all of them positive. That’s what comes from surprising people: they surprise you right back.

This is all a bit off the point though. I’m not pregnant. I’m emigrating. Surprise! If you didn’t already know, we’re going to DC, in the summer, for 3 years. It’s a work thing. His work, not mine.

We have managed our information flow a bit this time: mentioning it as a possibility over Christmas to see how people felt, and then telling people in a specific order, so that we got to break the news in person, rather than have people hear second hand. This hasn’t worked in every case (apologies), but has spared a few blushes.

But really the people who cause the most concern are the boys. 3 years for us is a blip. Long enough to make the investment, to get to know a place. Too long that you can just tough it out. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s a sabbatical, not a holiday, but not a permanent move either. If you’re 7 or 5, it doesn’t seem like that though. Child C is too young to know anyway, but A and B have some quite fixed ideas, and why not – 3 years is the best part of half their life times. Child A will feel the brunt of it: although he’s leaving the lower end of primary school, he’ll come back to being at secondary school. Child B will just come back to the same school, and Child C will come back to start school. But as I say, he doesn’t have an opinion.

Telling them though has been the hardest bit so far. You can make a list to deal with the other things, but little boys’ emotions just aren’t compatible with lists. And you only get one chance to do it right.

But this is what we did: We asked questions of them, to see how they felt about abstract concepts like ‘moving’, ‘new schools’ and ‘America’. Then we started planting ideas in their heads about ‘bigger gardens’, ‘the Empire State Building’ and ‘skiing at weekends’. These ideas were all quite popular, but there was an underlying current around disliking change. But then we struck gold: they didn’t like me painting over their old bedroom’s terrible paint job, but the did like moving up to their new bedroom in the attic. So we concentrated a lot on good change, the excitement of a new school, new friends, outdoor swimming pools, camping, hiking, the American dream. The real sticking point has been the length of time we’re going for, so we just stopped talking about that.

For now, they’re taking it very well. I hope you are too.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

An upcycled denim skirt

I remember a few years ago there was a trend for turning old jeans into denim skirts. But they always had raw edges, and looked just a bit like skirt versions of cut off jean shorts.

Inevitably, though, we have old jeans. I have stack of them: ones I've gone through the knees of (or the bottom of), ones that have faded too much, or been trodden down at the heel, ones that people have given me to make stuff out of. So what to do with them all? Well, denim skirts, obviously.

You cut the legs off to the length you roughly want, unpick the inside leg seam, patch them over and sew the front pieces together, and the back pieces. I put in a little triangle from the back of the thigh so it's not too short or tight.

Then, to stop it having a raw edge, sew bias tape around the bottom. I did one in navy for a colour averse friend, and ones in orange and dark red for me. All in all, less than an hours work for a new skirt. Result.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012


Oh dear, another year has been and gone. To be fair, it's been busy: finished PhD; had loft converted; recarpetted house; went camping with all 3 children lots of times; had PhD viva; Christmas...

I wasn't going to make New Years Resolutions. I never find January a very inspiring time for new starts. Too cold. Too dark. Too miserable. But, chatting with friends at a birthday party yesterday, it seemed that lots of them had made resolutions, resolutions that I could join in on: to craft more. So that's number one. Number two is to blog about it more. And whilst I'm at it, there's a number three. Number three is a topical one. This year is the bicentenary of Dickens' birth. I've read a couple of his books, but thought I would try and read a few more this year. And then one a year from now on. Hopefully that's manageable.

So, in the interest of reporting what I've done, I made a chicken. I actually made it before Christmas, for Mr Kinkatink's present. Pattern in the Guardian. One of these days I'll remember how to write links nicely.

Here she is: