A year on the blog of Dilly Tante

I thought I’d round up some of my favourite, and some of my most read posts from this year. This is both timely for this season, and also a great excuse for me to produce some content without having to do much work. Bonus.

My most popular post is one about a crochet flower and snowflake pattern. This one gets the most hits and crochet flower pattern is the most searched for term for people visiting my blog. Other popular search terms are ‘tante sex’, ‘homemade dog sling’, ‘naice craft for kids (not that is NOT a typo!) and ‘freaky rings’. I can’t help but feel many of these visitors would have been disappointed.

Mumsnet Logo

As always my posts about Mumsnet get lots hits. I bather on about it a lot but this one on the Kindness of Strangers hit a chord with many people.

Town hall yarn bombNot so much a favourite blog post post but a favourite event was when Stitch This, Georgia and I yarnbombed the town hall. It was great fun, and the town hall staff were dead chuffed too!

Capturing the zeitgeist of the Olympic Jubilation this post about the Golden Girls of the Olympics was very popular. If I add up all the variations of her name Jessica Ennis is my most popular search term. I really hope these people are young girls looking for inspiration. Please don’t anyone dispel that notion for me.

Crochet framed Butterflies

Coming just under the wire of the new year these Birthday Butterflies were a gift to my friend who I saw at New Year and am about to go and see again. I was very proud of how they turned out.

cross stitch mbti type badge

A personal favourite was my experimentation with combining two of my passions, craft and psychology. With my upcoming psychology degree dominating a lot of next year I shall have to find more creative ways of keeping my hand in with the craft while studying.

And finally a feminist rant at over privileged male politicians, lacking self-awareness and empathy. Some of my best posts have been rattled off in the heat of emotion, and this was one of them. I don’t tend to edit my posts, but after listening to Caitlin Moran at Mumsnet Blogfest, I realised that like her, I let the posts mature in my head, constructing and editing them as I am running the kids’ bath or driving to work.

Hope you have enjoyed my posts this year. I’d like to know which ones have been your favourites?

Please link in the comments with some of your favourite posts from your own blogs too.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year y’all!

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A catch up

Beautiful Snowdonia. We will be here for New Year. Not climbing up mountains though, obviously. Just drinking wine.

Hello y’all. I have been very neglectful of my blog of late. I have spent the last few months Doing Too Much, culminating in a mini nervous breakdown, involving me throwing stickle bricks across the room in front of the kids. It was then I decided to Stop for a while. I did no Christmas craft, I made no presents, no hand made decorations. And Christmas was actually relatively stress free as a result. I realised that I was trying desperately to live up to some ideal, an ideal that I often see on other blogs, and one that makes me feel both envious and inadequate. But I have the start of my new Masters degree looming, and I am going to have to be more focused about how I use my time, and about how I use my blog.

I have missed writing, missed the thrill of trying to cohere an argument and write about it in an engaging way. I have taken the very unusual step of not writing unless I have something interesting to say. This is completely contrary to real life. The spoken word is hard to edit, but there is nothing like seeing the written word on the screen in front of you to show you how boring you can be!

Christmas was lovely and relaxed, the rampant consumerism dampened down on all fronts thankfully. I, a resolute atheist, read the kids the nativity story. I made it clear that some people believe in it, but for some people it is just a story. People who believe in it are called Christians “Yes, I’m one of them,” Betty piped up “I’m a Christian”. There have been several difficult conversation with her recently, including one at 6am on a Sunday morning when she woke up from a bad dream where I had died. Cue discussion of death; what happens when you die? Are you going to die mummy? I’ll prepared at any time of day, let alone so early, for such philosophical discussions, I blundered my way through different options such as heaven, star dust and reincarnation, ending with “no one really knows what happens when we die” which seemed a little unsatisfactory for her. All I could think was “Don’t promise her not to die!”.

Anyway, I just thought I would touch base, and tend to my blog a little. Hope you all had a marvellous Christmas. We are off to North Wales for the New Year to see some lovely friends. It will no doubt be wet and cold, but the feeling freedom from being halfway up a mountain, yet close to the sea, instead of in the middle of landlocked suburbia, more than makes up for it.

The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight…

The events in Connecticut yesterday are almost incomprehensible. I won’t try and put into words things that either can’t be said or that have been said better elsewhere like here and here. The only thing I can even begin to express is my disgust at the journalists interviewing young children, fresh from witnessing the horror of seeing their classmates gunned down. Almost as bad are the news outlets that then broadcast them, including Radio 4. These children need protection and support, not microphones shoved in their faces, with journalists asking them to explain something even a grown adult cannot fathom.

Instead of adding even more trite words to the morass, I recommend to you the words of writer Aaron Sorkin, through the mouth of fictional President Josiah Bartlett:

Eager Reader

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”
― Jane Austen

I’m rather snobbish about books and reading, oh not about what sort of books people read. Ok, I think 50 Shades of Grey was misogynistic crap, but mainly I don’t judge people for what they read. I have even been known to enjoy a bath time devouring an old Sweet Valley High book, just for nostalgia’s sake!

But people who claim they never read books astound me, and I’m afraid I do judge them. Books can teach us so much. Yes, living real life can also teach us, but books can take us outside our own small spheres, opening worlds we might never otherwise know.

Good writing can conjure up a scene even more effectively than a photo or a painting.

I am very fussy about books I read actually. I like escapist books, I like books to lift me, not tug at my heart strings. However I am still drawn to the bittersweet novels of Edith Wharton. Though all that I have read so far seem to end sadly, Wharton’s prose is so descriptive and evocative that the journey really is better than destination.

Anyway, my reason for this post is really to celebrate the fact that Betty seems to have developed my insatiable appetite for reading. Like me she is often to be found with her nose in a book on the stairs or under the bedcovers with a torch.

At a little over five her reading is outpacing her emotional development so I am struggling with what books to get for her. But I couldn’t resist these classics that I found in Emmaus, Gloucester, for 25p each:

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Enid Blyton was my favourite author as a child, though sadly they don’t always stand up to the test of rereading as an adult. We have recently read the Faraway Tree trilogy to her and there is rather a lot of slapping and smacking for my liking. And Blyton demonstrates a clear dislike for outsiders of any kind. However the whimsical stories have captivated Betty and she has read each boom herself as soon as we finished reading it to her. Hopefully she will see them as historical pieces, describing a bygone era. Either way, she couldn’t wait to get stuck in:

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And talking of historical fiction I have just ordered this for Iris for Christmas:

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It’s never too early to get them started on Jane Austen!

The heir that’s hard to bear

pregnant queen princess

Bring back confinement and allow pregnant women to suffer in peace. And with servants.

 

I’m fairly ambivalent about the news that the Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant. It’s welcome news for them but has very little relevance to my life.

I do feel sorry, however, to hear she has been hospitalised with hyperemisis gravidarum, an excessive form of sickness beyond the common symptom of morning sickness. Sufferers often can’t even keep water down which is obviously a worry when someone is pregnant.

“Pregnancy isn’t a illness” I often hear, usually from men, and usually right after they have finished telling me that their wife cycled right up until the day she gave birth.

Well, I’d like to counter the notion that pregnancy isn’t an illness. Yes, there are some people who suffer no symptoms, experience increased energy and even “bloom”. But every pregnancy is different. Mine wasn’t even a difficult pregnancy and I suffered many problems.

First there was the morning sickness. If you’ve never suffered the best way I can describe it is like a hangover, nausea, headache interspersed with raging hunger for very specific food stuffs. A hunger that if not satisfied in the space of 10 minutes turns back into stomach churning nausea. I remember crying in the middle of Waitrose because they didn’t have the pasta sauce I was craving. Fortunately it was Waitrose where crying is considered mildly eccentric. If it was Asda, which is my post-children haunt, they might have called social services. If you felt that sick outside of pregnancy you wouldn’t be expected to go to work and function normally. But pregnancy isn’t an illness!

Then there are the cramps; shooting pains through your calf waking you from an already fitful sleep straight into excruciating agony. That’s when you are not suffering from insomnia which makes you bone shatteringly tired. And tearful. I cried on the pharmacist in Boots when she refused to sell me even a herbal sleeping aid. “It’s preparation for when the baby comes” people would say without a trace of irony. I didn’t need preparation, I needed more than 3 hours sleep a night to prepare myself for getting no more than 3 hours sleep a night for the three months after the baby was born. If you can sleep between the cramps and the insomnia is a broken by a constant urge to wee, and every time you get out of bed, or just want to turn over a military operation ensues to reposition multitudinous pillows holding up the sagging parts of your body.

Another early pregnancy ailment I had was sacroiliac joint problems. When you become pregnant all of your ligaments soften which mean it is easy to damage them. At one point, even before I weighed the same as a baby elephant, I could barely put my feet on the ground because of the pain in my sacroiliac joint. I rather embarrassingly had to be rescued from a residential course I was on with work, by my mum!

Heartburn, piles, itchy skin, not to mention a mental health so fragile you make Michael Jackson look normal. Plus the heart stopping fear that grips you when you worry that something might go wrong. Then the equally blood chilling fear when you thing that what if it actually all does go right and you end up with a baby – then what the frig do you do?

So you’ve carried round a squirming parasite using just your abdominal muscles for 9 months. Then you have to get said parasite out of your body. I’m not going to dwell on the excruciating pain and fear that often accompanies labour, suffice to say for those who have never tried it, imagine pushing an orange up your nostril and you have an approximation of the experience. “That’s they call it labour dear” is a favoured quote from a midwife.

Finally, many people forget that after labour there is the recovery, often major stitching right on the most delicate of body parts, those you spend a lot of time resting your weight on. Or in the case of c sections you learn just how much you used those stomach muscles on a day to day basis for things like getting out of bad. And coughing. Ah yes, coughing and sneezing. Best not to risk either with a full bladder after pregnancy has had its way with your pelvic floor. Oh how we laugh at the Tena Lady adverts. Less funny when you quite literally crap your knickers in front of your husband because things ain’t holding up down there any more.

I paint a bleak picture of pregnancy don’t I? I’m sure there are some positives to it, but I can’t really think of any right now. Except I recently saw a picture of myself when I was pregnant and my skin and hair looked AMAZING. But I totally didn’t appreciate it because I was spending most of the time trying not to vomit. Or fall asleep in the loos at work (don’t get me started on my irrational fear of going into labour at work.

Everyone’s experience is different, some people will sail through pregnancy, making those of us who suffered with it feel pretty crap and inadequate. All I ask is that people remember that growing a life inside of us is a pretty complicated and exhausting business with many complications, some which I have not even mentioned. I hope that the media leave the Duchess of Cambridge to herself during this time, and refrain from commenting on her behaviour, her appearance, and other private matters surrounding her body. To be admitted to hospital for hyperemisis is no laughing matter, she must be feeling dreadful. And the knowledge that cameras and journalists are camped outside the hospital must just be adding to the stress.

As for me, would I do pregnancy again? Not if I can help it. I loathed every minute of it. Was it worth it? Absolutely. I have two amazing miracles of nature that I grew for nine months and fed exclusively for 6 months after that, carrying on nursing till they were both over 13 months.

But pregnancy is not an illness? My torn and sewn up back side it’s not.

Oh Happy Days

Last week I had a very lovely freelance journalist called Ruth Stokes came all the way out to the sticks to see me and have a chat about yarn bombing for a book she is writing on alternative activism. She wanted to see me in action at quite short notice. I didn’t have anything planned so had to come up with something quick and easy. You know they are my watch words!

I decided to do some sort of writing with strings of single rows of crochet that I could tie around a fence, something suitably twee and uplifting…

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I made sure Ruth got her hands dirty too! We managed this in about 20 minutes while poor Iris looked on bemusedly from her buggy, pacified with Pom Bears and Milky Way Stars. When I did my interview on R4 last week they asked why I do yarn bombing. There are many reasons but this one was definitely just to make people smile!