Thursday, 23 February 2012

This is Wiss Celebrates World Book Day 2012

Next Thursday, March 1 is World Book Day!

World Book Day is a celebration of books, illustrations and reading which takes place in over 100 countries (apparently!) Since having a child I have (re)discovered a whole world of fantastic books, and we read every day. Often we read the same book over and over every day....but hey, that's part of the fun too! Reading is one of THE most important skills we can teach our children, and it will give a lifetime of pleasure.

I want to join in the celebrations here on This is Wiss, and I've asked some very special guests to participate! Starting on Thursday 1st March there will be a whole week of posts from me and some of my favourite bloggers, including Beth from Miss Magpie Makes, Emma from Lemons for Lemonade, Lisa Rye, and Kelli from Tales From Homemade House plus others.

I am very excited about this collaboration and know that there will be great posts to read and inspire you so please make sure you come back and visit every day starting from the 1 March!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

I'm running the London Marathon!

I thought it was about time I got round to writing a post about the London Marathon. In case you didn't know, I'm currently in training to take part in this years event on the 22 April. I'm half way through a 16 week program and although there have been a few hiccups and missed runs, my cumulative total stands at 118.5 miles so far!
As well as it being a personal challenge I am running to raise money for a very special charity.  ARC (Antenatal Results and Choices) provide information and support to expectant parents throughout the antenatal screening process. I really hope that none of you ever need to turn to them for help, but for those that do they provide an amazing service.

Here is my story. In August 2008 I discovered I was pregnant. It shouldn't have come as a complete shock as although we weren't actively trying for a baby, we hadn't actively been trying not to have a baby either! But nothing had happened for some time so it had sort of slipped my mind. We went through what I guess are all the usual emotions: panic, fear, nerves, and of course excitement! We were going to be parents and although that sounded terrifying it was also amazing.

Apart from telling close family and a couple of friends we kept it to ourselves. We were going to wait until after the first scan to tell everyone. Unfortunately, for us that wasn't going to happen. We were both full of anticipation at the start of the scan - we were going to see our baby! I started to worry when the doctor didn't turn the screen towards us. I started to cry when she called in more doctors. They were very good and explained clearly what the matter was. Our baby had anencephaly, a neural tube defect. But I was in shock. All I heard was the phrase "incompatible with life".

We learnt more about anencephaly over the following days (Google is both good and bad!) Our baby was developing without a forebrain and although could continue to grow inside the womb, and possibly could survive birth, she would not be able to live. Learning all of these facts meant that we really felt like there was only one choice to be made, but that didn't make choosing it any easier. Although there were no outward signs I was pregnant, I was surprised at how strong my maternal feelings were already. I wanted to protect my baby, I had imagined holding her, thought about her name, even thought about what school she may go to! It's hard not to get carried away. And yet I also wanted it all to go away. I can't begin to explain how many conflicting feelings were going on in my head.

I had the termination at the end of October and a few days later we went away on a pre-planned holiday. I came back three weeks later and started to get on with 'normal' life. Most people hadn't known I was pregnant and it seemed odd to tell them I wasn't now, so nothing was said. On the outside everything was the same but on the inside I was screaming. It wasn't until mid January that I realised I wasn't coping and I asked for help. Luckily, I work for a fantastic company who have a great employee support system. They organised a series of counselling sessions and gradually I began to manage all the feelings I had been struggling with.

Unfortunately, throughout all of this we had no idea that ARC existed. I really feel that they would have been able to help us at a much earlier stage, and although our decision to end the pregnancy would have stayed the same, we would have had more information and support afterwards. More than anything it would have helped to know that we were not alone.

I came to know about ARC through a close friend who regrettably had similar devastating news at her 22 week scan. They provided support through a helpline, a web forum, newsletters and counselling advice. The amazing thing is ARC provide this support for as long as it's needed, not just at the time of the screening. This is so important as it takes time to process all the feelings and other events can trigger things off. For example, trying for another baby can be an extremely difficult time.

I had enjoyed running for some time but throughout the grieving process I channelled a lot of energy into it. It made me feel good, gave me time to think, and to not think but just get away from it all for a while. Once I decided to run the London Marathon there was only one charity I wanted to raise money for. If I can help just one couple with the money I raise, or even by someone reading this story then it will all be worthwhile. If you are able to donate any money to support ARC you can do so by visiting my page here All donations will be hugely appreciated both by me and ARC.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. A very good friend of me told me at one of the low points that "it will all be alright in the end. And if it's not alright, it's not the end." If you have read my blog before you will know that we now have a beautiful two year old son. I hope he will be proud of me on April 22nd!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly!

As usual, life is getting in the way of my 'To Do' lists (but I can't complain too much, we had a lovely weekend away) It does mean, however, that it has taken me an age to get round to posting about this super cute cape.

If I was religious I would have a god-daughter, but instead I am a very special auntie. My very special 'niece' turned 2 at the start of the year and I'd been planning to make her this cape as soon as I saw the pattern. It's from Oliver & S Little Things to Sew I wasn't brave enough to make the cape in Riding Hood Red, so instead chose a red and white polka dot lining (from Ray Stitch) to flash against the charcoal grey wool suiting fabric. When I saw the over sized button in John Lewis I knew it would be the perfect finishing touch.

The pattern says it's for beginners and honestly, it was so easy to make. It did suggest sewing the exterior and lining alternately which I ignored as I didn't want to keep changing matching threads and it didn't cause any problems.

It is such a cute design and I think it could be thrown on top of any outfit and still work. I'm wondering if I could scale the pattern up to make one for me I like it so much!

Literally the moment I finished sewing, the postman delivered a package for me. The timing could not have been any better if it had been scripted. I ordered some woven labels from etsy after a tip-off on Twitter - I thought they'd be a great way to finish projects I made for fun, or for presents. Just look at how fantastic they are!

I am so pleased with how this cape turned out, I can't wait to see Holly wearing it (although I hope the button doesn't topple her over!!)

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Force is Strong with This One!

I've had a pretty productive week and managed to get a couple of things ticked off my to do list. Not all of them were high on the priority scale but that's the way things go and I'm just glad when I finish something at all!

First of all I have booked This is Wiss into a couple of upcoming events in March. Sell It Mama is back in Gipsy Hill on Saturday 3 March. I love this event (both as a vendor and a customer!) and I'm happy to be part of it once again. You can get yourself some great bargains (see here), support some new local businesses plus there is always coffee and cakes! What more could you ask for?! I will be selling all my usual products and I have got some fab new fabrics to showcase this year.

(photograph from

The other event is a new Craft Fair, organised by Emma Barrett to be held at the Balham Bowls Club on March 25. I was looking to push This is Wiss into uncharted waters and was interested by a tweet from Emma (@ebarrettdesigns) asking for makers and designers to get in touch with her. This is her first event, and the first craft fair to be held at the BBC so it's all a bit of an experiment but with 9 of the 12 tables already booked it looks like it's going to be exciting! I will post more details when I have them.

I also found time this week to finish off a very over-due birthday present for a special little girl. She was two at the start of January but I am hoping that she will forgive me for a belated present (or more likely, not remember!) I am so chuffed with how it has turned out I will be posting seperately all about it as soon as I've taken some good photos. Sorry, Holly, you will need to wait just a little bit longer before I can post it to you!!!

I felt like I was on a bit of a roll, so rather than start making new stock on Sunday night (which I needed to do) I decided to tackle another over-due project. I have been after a robe for Wiss to wear after swimming as it is so cold when we get out of the pool. My mum offered to make one so I bought this pattern from my favourite website 'Dana Made It'. All of her tutorials that I have used have been so clear and easy that I thought mum would have no trouble with it. I was wrong! She got scared off by all the talk of 'nap' and 'pile' so gave the project back to me to make myself. I am happy to report that is actually a very easy pattern and comes together super-quickly - 3 hours from start to finish!

I made it from a thin Ikea towel, and strips of jersey fabric for the binding. I could say that I was looking for a distressed, urban and modern feel by using the jersey but in reality I couldn't find the bias binding that my mum had so thoughtfully provided! The jersey looks just fine though and will roll over on itself in time. I made the robe in the Large size (3-4 years) so it had a longer shelf-life, with the half belt detail. It is way too big at the moment but that doesn't matter much. If I were to make it again, however, I would make it with a full belt so it could be tightened more over tiny bodies. I would highly recommend this pattern though and not only did it keep Wiss warm after his lesson, it made him look like a Jedi Knight too. Not bad for a few hours work!

Hmmm...not sure abut the smile Obe Wiss Kenobi, but I'm glad you like it!