Post Christmas “lull” and other stuff

I have to say, it’s a real effort to get going again with “formal” learning. December was very unschooling and “crafty” and this seems to have naturally followed into January – without as much of the crafting.

It’s very “Minecraft” at the minute – although Missy did declare that “I know what eight fours are!” yesterday – it is of course 32 – she learned this as she “mined 8 clays and got 32” – I’m guessing it gives you four for each one you mine? – so I console myself and say she IS learning.

She bought her library books down and astounded me by reading two fluently – when I asked her how she knew them, she declared “when I go to bed, I read them and I work out what the words are that I don’t know”. At times like that I worry I’m pushing too hard sometimes!

In other news, I’ve expanded the business and rebranded to The Yarn Tree. I think it encompasses more about the direction I want to go with it. I’ve expanded into polymer clay hooks, stitch markers and other woolly/yarn related accessories.

I’ve been looking at some local craft fairs and I’m hoping to check out a possible regular one next month. I’ve yet to work out the feasibility without a car but there’s a good bus service – I probably need an old shopping trolley/cart to transport everything though – I’m still pondering ……….

I’ve managed to dye a couple of skeins specifically with matching hooks for shawl kits.



And the polymer clay has been put to good use making buttons and shawl pins





And playing with charms and findings to make pretty knit and crochet stitch markers. Unfortunately, I can’t keep them all ūüė¶


They are all available to buy over on the linked page though.

We learned this week that our home ed friend, Debbie, from over at Educating Nibsy is coming to see us in a couple of weeks. This is a cause for much excitement as we haven’t seen them since October. I call her our “home ed friend”, however, while it was home ed that bought us together, I think I can say with some certainty that whatever paths our respective educating lives take in the future we’ll remain firm friends.

The weather hasn’t really been “wintery” to speak of. Some places in the UK have had awful flooding and, while it’s been chilly, the sun is actually shining in a blue sky as I type. I’m wondering if this contributes a little to my lull – I’ve not really experienced the full winter hibernation and seem to be stuck in some limbo between Autumn and Spring. I’m definitely a “summer” kind of girl!

This week’s plan is to try and re-establish a sleeping routine, start compiling some form of timetable for structured learning, and remember to blog regularly again!

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you enjoy our adventures ūüôā



Why I don’t bake bread!

Before reading this, you should note two things:

1) I have a propensity to over-exaggerate;  and
2) I have a very dry sense of humour. 

I often see via friends Facebook statuses,¬† blogs, etc, all the beautiful baking they do – the endless bread they tell me is proofing, the pictures of biscuits and cupcakes,¬† sprinkles and icing and general fluffiness.¬† The arts and crafts,¬† the painting, the glitter,¬† the googly eyes, the list is endless ……….. and I often question myself and feel insecure.

Do we do enough baking and cooking and cutting and sticking?¬† No, we don’t and here’s why …………… I parent teenage boys. If you’ve never parented teenage boys, stop reading now! You will not understand.

My boys are 16, 14 and 12 (I have a 6yr old girl,¬† I’ll deal with her later). Teenage boys and puberty are a wilderness you will navigate alone. Your friends will look at you like you’re raising feral animals! This is because teenage boys are slowly turning into men, men full of testosterone and deep voices and flexing muscles. Men who have no outlet to display these traits except to each other.

When I should be proofing bread or kneading dough, I’m usually stepping between two boys who are hell-bent on killing each other because one of them touched the other’s piece of paper.

When I should be icing biscuits, I’m usually lecturing one or the other why it’s not okay to wear your brothers’ shoes to go out in the rainy mud to the bin.

When we should be cutting and sticking,¬† I usually am – but it’s plasters and bandages to repair wounds that I wasn’t quick enough to stop (NB. This hasn’t actually happened yet,¬† I don’t doubt it will one day, however).

The time I should spend googling “child friendly” baking recipes and printing off colouring pages, I’m usually bookmarking pages that contain all/some of the words “how to parent your difficult teen”.

The aforementioned six year old takes her “general grasser upper” status quite seriously.¬† She is the quintessential annoying little sister.¬† In the main, I try to leave them to resolve their difficulties and only step in when necessary (it’s usually necessary!), however,¬† she insists on providing me with a running commentary of “he said”, “he did”. Sometimes,¬† she likes to offer her opinion to them on their situation – teenage boys don’t like to hear anybody else’s opinion but their own!

On the rare occasions she isn’t acting in her “annoying little sister” role, she’s quite keen on changing her clothes, endless times a day.¬† She enjoys make play dough (and leaving whatever chaos ensues all over the kitchen worktop – this works for chocolate milkshakes,¬† sandwiches and basically anything else she touches in the kitchen!). She loves to play with make up (mainly my one-off purchase of ¬£20-a-pot foundation), she loves art (usually graffiting her name on household objects or adorning walls with make up), she enjoys organising and arranging (mainly by taking everything off my bedroom shelf and putting it all over my floor). She loves water – so much so that her sheer excitement of a bath results in puddles on the floor and water dripping off the ceiling – she’s also quite insistent on using every bottle of shampoo, conditioner,¬† bubble bath, shower gel,¬† etc.¬†

So,¬† when I’m not refereeing some “alpha-male” testosterone-fuelled, muscle-flexing demonstration,¬† I can usually be found washing, drying, scrubbing, cleaning, soaking, rearranging or reorganising something.

Now add in shopping (trust me, teenage boys can EAT), knitting orders, home ed, dogs/muddy floors, answering endless questions about the world and everything in it, lecturing about tidy bedrooms,¬† sleeping, alarm clocks, finding shoes/coats/a pen and this, this is why I don’t bake frigging bread!!!

December ……… in a few brief paragraphs (hopefully! )

So I realise I haven’t posted one jot over the festive period (and prior!!)

December is just a bit “meh” for me – lights,¬† noise, shouting,¬† pushing people, LOUD music, dark nights,¬† stress,¬† lists,, shopping,¬† no “proper” conversations as nobody has time. I’m pretty sure I was a¬† hibernating animal in a previous life. I tend to go into shutdown until after Christmas when normality resumes.

I appreciate that when you have children,¬† you’re meant to be swept away with the excitement but it just never seems to happen. I’m not religious so I don’t really see the point in celebrating the birth of the son of God and,¬† one day, I will have the fortitude to stand by my morals – until then,¬† I guess I’ll do what I’ve always done – grin and bear it and feel an overwhelming “duty” to perform as is expected of me.

It hasn’t helped that I’ve had a cold which managed to wipe me out for a week and did it’s best to knock me off my feet for a few days before it got a hold and then stuck around for about another week in the form of overall sniffles,¬† snuffles and a VERY annoying cough.

Anyway, I kind of knew deep down that this was possibly the last “family” Christmas as the teenager is off to basic training in a few weeks now and may not come back for Christmas next year and it’s possibly Missy’s last one “believing” so I made a tremendous effort (I did!) to engage a little more than normal in the festivities.¬†

Ellie the Elf got up to all kinds of mischief (including disappearing to see our friends in Scotland ……… Unfortunately,¬† their incoming elf didn’t make the mail before we had a spot of weekend camping so he spent most of his time here in a brown padded envelope!¬† ūüėÄ )


I managed some crafting – mainly an order for some Christmas stockings and a couple of animals for a farm I was making for Missy (unfortunately,¬† I ran out of time and yarn for a whole farmyard but I plan on adding to it ūüôā )

I also squeezed in a couple of pairs of wristies and a tadge of yarn dyeing.

I also decided to try something a bit new and funky and came up with these tablet/iPad tank tops/vest which I utterly adore.


I managed to catch up on three issues of my Stitch and Sew magazine squares (only 7 more to go!! :-O :-O )


I’ve been looking at expanding my business and possibly going with a new name which encompasses more of what I “am”, along with a new logo design and website and I’ll hopefully have something functioning in the new year – keep your eyes peeled.

So to the Big Day itself – it was a success I guess.¬† Everyone ate too much but didn’t drink enough! ūüėČ – chocolates were munched,¬† games were played,¬† family visited. As ever, I was compleletely drained and slept like a log last night but,¬† hopefully,¬† normality will now resume.

We had a break from formal work and I’m slowly finalising next term’s timetable which is going to involve Minecraft homeschool (YIPPEE!), a new history and geography project,¬† continuation of Missy’s bugs project and maybe a new language for her ūüôā

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful festive period. I’m off to make some plans for Squash’s FOURTEENTH birthday!¬† I don’t know where the years ago, I certainly don’t feel old enough to have children this age ūüėÄ x


I am running a yarn club (initially for a three month period).  The colourways are themed and available on either a basic or luxury base.  You can subscribe for any length of time and order as much or as little as you require.  .


JANUARY BASIC SEMI-SOLID (4 available @£10.00 each) :                         

JANUARY BASIC VARIEGATED 1 (4 available @£12.00 each):                     

JANUARY BASIC VARIEGATED 2 (4 available @£12.00 each):                    

JANUARY BASIC FULL SET (2 available @£30.00 each):                                

JANUARY LUXURY SEMI-SOLID (4 available @£15.00 each):                      

JANUARY LUXURY VARIEGATED 1 (4 available @£18.00 each):                

JANUARY LUXURY VARIEGATED 2 (4 available @£18.00 each):              

JANUARY LUXURY FULL SET (2 available @£45.00 each):                         

JANUARY COMPLETE РALL 6 SKEINS (1 @£70.00)                                       


FEBRUARY BASIC SEMI-SOLID (4 available @£10.00 each) :                       

FEBRUARY BASIC VARIEGATED 1 (4 available @£12.00 each):                    

FEBRUARY BASIC VARIEGATED 2 (4 available @£12.00 each):                  

FEBRUARY BASIC FULL SET (2 available @£30.00 each):                              

FEBRUARY LUXURY SEMI-SOLID (4 available @£15.00 each):                    

FEBRUARY LUXURY VARIEGATED 1 (4 available @£18.00 each):              

FEBRUARY LUXURY VARIEGATED 2 (4 available @£18.00 each):            

FEBRUARY LUXURY FULL SET (2 available @£45.00 each):                        

FEBRUARY COMPLETE РALL 6 SKEINS (1 @£70.00)                                       


MARCH BASIC SEMI-SOLID (4 available @£10.00 each) :                       

MARCH BASIC VARIEGATED 1 (4 available @£12.00 each):                    

MARCH BASIC VARIEGATED 2 (4 available @£12.00 each):                  

MARCH BASIC FULL SET (2 available @£30.00 each):                              

MARCH LUXURY SEMI-SOLID (4 available @£15.00 each):                    

MARCH LUXURY VARIEGATED 1 (4 available @£18.00 each):              

MARCH LUXURY VARIEGATED 2 (4 available @£18.00 each):            

MARCH LUXURY FULL SET (2 available @£45.00 each):                        

MARCH COMPLETE РALL 6 SKEINS (1 @£70.00)                                       

FULL THREE MONTH BASIC (3 SKEINS P/M Р2 @£80.00) :                

FULL THREE MONTH LUXURY (3 SKEINS P/M Р2 @£125.00):          


You can sell items made from this pattern,  however,  the pattern cannot be copied or reproduced in any form.


I haven’t weighed/measured yarn exactly but 100g of main and 100g of contrast in dk will easily suffice.


Cast on 68sts with main colour and join in the round.

K1, P1 rib for 10 rounds.

Join contrast (DON’T BREAK YARN)

Work 2 rounds ss in contrast
Work 2 rounds ss in main.

Repeat last four rounds until piece measures 18″ (or desired length), ending with two rounds contrast.   Break contrast.

Shape heel flap:

With main, knit 17sts, turn and purl 34 sts

Sl1k, k33sts
Sl1k, p33 sts      

Repeat last two rounds 16 times total.

K23 sts turn
P 12sts turn
K 11 sts ssk turn
P 11sts ssk turn

Repeat last two rows until all heel sts have been worked (12sts).

Knit 12, pick up and knit 18sts down heel gusset, knit 34 from front of foot, pick up and knit 18sts up side of heel gusset, knit 6sts from left hand needle, this will now be the beginning of the round.

Knit 25, place marker, k34sts, place marker, k25 sts

Join contrast:

k2 rounds
Switch to main,

Decrease round:  to 3sts before marker, k2tog, k1, slip marker, k to 34 sts, slip marker,  k1, k2tog, knit to end.

Continue in striped pattern working decrease round every third row until 68sts remain.

Continue in striped pattern as set until foot measures 6″ (or desired length).

Toe shaping:

Decrease round:
*K to 3sts before marker,  k2tog, k1, slip marker, k1, k2tog*, repeat from * to *, knit to end

Knit three rounds
Work decrease round again.

Knit two rounds
Work decrease round again.  
Repeat the last three rounds once more.  
Knit one round
Work decrease round
Repeat the last two rounds twice more.    
Work decrease round five times.

Graft remaining sts using Kitchener stitch.

Hanging loop:

Cast on 6sts, k 20 rows, cast off.  Join cast on and off seams and attach to the inside of the stocking.

Weave in ends, hang and wait for Santa.

x Mel x

Weekly round ups

So, I’m seriously behind so I’m going to try and condense it all into one!

We managed a week of “formal” work including maths, science, English,  bugs project, geography,  history,  D&T and some bible studies.



Last week, we started to wind down our formal studies ready for some Christmas festivities and I managed to conclude some knitting projects:

1. The last two pay it forwards of the year.


2. The scrappy longies:


3. And, most importantly,  our Christmas elf:


She (Ellie) arrived on Saturday night,  put up all the Christmas decorations and left a yummy breakfast;


Last night,  she wasn’t quite as well behaved and invited all of Missy’s teddies (including the Brownies mascot who is staying with us! ) for a cheeky drink and a film on the tablet.


We forgave her when we found out she’d bought Missy some fab “snowflake” sun catchers (which she’s busy painting as I type) and some North Pole writing paper for her letter to Santa ūüôā

Thank you for stopping by,  sorry it’s short and sweet.  I’ll keep you up to date with Ellie’s mischief ūüôā

Mel x

Weekly round up

So, after a fortnight slacking off,  I gave myself a firm kick up the butt and got us back onto formal work this week! \O/ YAYYYYY!


Today we started off with some Armistice Day work and observed the two minutes silence.¬† We read “In Flanders Field” and discussed the poppy and its significance.¬†¬† I’m so impressed with how Missy’s handwriting has developed.¬† I did invest in a Stabilo handwriting pen but she never quite”got” it. She now has a grip that,¬† whilst not “appropriate” seems to suit her fine.


Missy finished her KS1 Science book (6 months early) and did her “test” and Bean did some maths work on rounding off and science (nutrition).


This evening,¬† Bean went to his first “climbing club” which he thoroughly loved (sadly I wasn’t allowed to take pictures). He ached a little afterwards but is excited to go again next week.


This morning, Missy did some more of her bugs project and had a look on Studyladder at dinosaurs.  She read her last reading book and was ready for her library trip this afternoon.  Bean did some of his geography project but admitted to being tired after climbing club last night.


We went off to town this afternoon and Missy took her 10 library books back and picked up another 10 (plus three extra on my card!) – again, backing off a little has really allowed her to thrive and her reading is improving every day. I still have those days where I find it difficult to “go against the grain” and trust that she will pick it up in her own good time! ūüôā

I also picked up the KS2 Science revision guide and workbook.

Tonight we went off to look at a new scout group but I omitted to ring ahead beforehand and sadly,¬† they were doing activities off-site but we’re off to have a date to look round in a fortnight.¬†


Missy completed another unit on her bugs project (we’re both really loving this and learning so much! ). She stated her KS2 Science workbook with labelling a plant and we had a bit more timetables work. Bean covered absorption, digestion and the kidneys, and some spelling (suffixes), Literacy and maths (accuracy and estimation).



Bean mentioned today that he was struggling to keep to the hour slots alloted on his timetable and he also found it distracting when me and Missy were talking.¬† I’ve agreed we need to look at cutting him some slack and finding him a quiet study area (unfortunately,¬† we don’t have the luxury of much space so I need to get my thinking cap on!). This morning,¬† he took himself off to my bedroom and worked on rounding up to decimal places and significant figures (yeah, it baffled me too!) and this afternoon,¬† he worked on more literacy.¬† I think he’s probably better tackling maths first thing in the morning when his brain is fresh.¬† KS3 maths is HARD!

Missy has recently been asking about God and, whilst we’re not religious,¬† she has the Usborne Children’s Bible (absolutely fab book) that she dips in and out of and today, she did some work on Noah and the Ark ūüôā – she also covered photosynthesis,¬† “interesting words” and rounding off.¬† We had some difficulty with rounding and I picked the brain of my friend who has a wealth of knowledge and experience with primary children and gives fantastic alternative ideas that I’d never think of (she’s over here if you want to follow their fun home schooling ūüôā )

In the end,¬† I opted for number lines (Missy is still struggling to recognise “tens” and “units”) but it clicked with the number lines as visual aids.


Missy also went off for her first ever Brownies session.¬† She was previously in Rainbows but struggled being away from me and got so upset,¬† she didn’t want to go. The plan was to rejoin her in Rainbows but, as she’s 7 in February,¬† the leader said Brownies would probably more suitable. She had an absolute beano and didn’t miss me at all (I’m still not sure whether I’m happy about this or not!)


This week’s “on the go” has taken its toll so we opted for a lazy day and I took the opportunity to work on some scrappy shorties that were won in a competition over on my Facebook page (do pop over if you get a minute). I think they’re turning out lovely!




Phew, I’m tired just reading and writing this!

Over the weekend,¬† I’ve REALLY got to work on some “pay it forward” gifts,¬† finish off the scrappies,¬† make some buttons, dye some yarn and finish off the romper and longies that I have knitted but waiting for an I cord and ends to weave in! I’ve also got two squares still awaiting my attention from the Stitch & Sew magazine! Can I have some more hours in the day please?

Thank you as always for stopping by and do leave us a comment if you’d like.¬† It’s nice to know somebody sees all my typing! ūüėõ

Have a lovely weekend
Mel x

This post is linked with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers blog