Don't mention the horses
I made the grown-up's stockings first, because I couldn't decide what direction to go in for their baby, Ella's. For Charlotte's stocking I used four of my favourite fabrics, one of which featured heavily in Zebra-girl's room scheme when she was small. When I started on Kevin's though I was slightly more indecisive about the fabrics as I wanted it to be manly, without being gloomy and dull for him next to the girlier stockings. In the end I laid out some fabric combinations, photographed them and then emailed them to Ian at work to ask him which he thought I should choose. When he didn't reply immediately I rang him (for these midday school pick-ups make morning sewing a pressured business)...but he was in a meeting. 'I'm in a meeting' he said tersely when he answered the telephone. I always think meetings where you are still able to answer the phone are probably fairly informal. And horay for meetings where they end up crowding around the computer screen and providing me with more than one opinion...it was almost like a special stocking conference call summit had been called. They chose the colours above and Kevin has them to thank for saving him from other more dubious colour schemes.
For Ella's I wanted a design that she might like while she's very small, but that might also be acceptable if it is still in existence when she's a teenager. I have no idea why I have such a strong association between rocking horses and Christmas, but we had a wooden one on our tree when I was a child...so perhaps it comes from that or perhaps because in my mind a rocking horse is the most perfect gift that a child could possibly be given...my father found a beautiful antique one for my mother and smuggled it into the house on Christmas Day a couple of years ago - her reaction suggested that it may well be the most perfect gift for a girl of any age. Below is one of my favourite photos; Zebra-girl two years ago at the height of her love affair with Disney Princesses resting on the head of Christmas, my mother's just-received horse. What a digression that turned out to be...I shall refrain from mentioning anything equestrian in the future for fear of taking myself off on tangents further still...and all this from a girl who dislikes horses after being kicked to the ground by a wild pony on an adventure in the New Forest!).
So here is the little family of stockings and they are now safely in Canada. I almost felt like I was there as they unwrapped them as Charlotte's lovely parents were visiting and thoughtfully photographed the unwrapping. Charlotte's photos often make me feel a little tearful, but in a good way, just because she is so lovely and I miss her and I'm so proud of how brave she has been in setting up a whole new life in a different country. I enjoyed making these stockings so much that I have now made another three which will soon be appearing in my shop.
I think I'd said in my last post that I would share some photographs of the curtains that I'd made for Zebra-girl. After hacking the old ones down with some shears so that I might use them as quilting material, my mother said that she would love to buy the fabrics for me to make some new ones so that she could give them as a birthday present. We picked this pink flowery loveliness together, discussed the merits of many of the colours on my velvet swatch chart (a prized possession) and then did some stressful shop-based research into which lining should be used (actually a new one that has a fleece thermal layer on one side - it faces inwards so you don't ever see that bit of unsightly furriness - and looks like normal curtain lining on the other side).
The pictures have a strange gloominess to them, so please imagine them with lovely streams of dappled evening sunlight on them and they will look much more appealing. Zebra-girl has the largest room in our house and her bay-window measures four metres long. I believe it is quite possible that I may still be suffering from post-traumatic stress as a result of the battles I had just attempting to move such a volume of fabric from the floor to my sewing machine (18 metres of fabric when combining the print with the lining and 18 metres of velvet to be stitched on), so I am yet to look at them without feeling slightly exhausted. I think that making excessively large curtains may be one of the few things that doesn't carry the same trick as childbirth of instantly forgetting the horrors - I haven't forgotten and I don't ever want to do it again...so if we ever move house again I shall have tiny windows on my wish list.
When we first moved in we put Zebra-girl's bed in the length of the bay window and painted the ceiling of the bay in a warm pink to create a cocoon-like feel, in an otherwise cream-coloured room. I loved how cosy this felt...but sadly Zebra-girl has the bug that I too suffered from as a child: she loves to change her room around as often as I will allow it...
I have yet to tell her that these are the curtains she will have until she leaves home...I do hope they have long-lasting appeal.