Tuesday, 2 May 2017

The Buyer's Archive - April

Back in early 2015, I started a series of posts that I called The Buyer's Archive to document what I was spending on wearable items every month.  I also looked back to the previous year to see how my purchases compared to then, and detailed what had survived and was still being worn, and which pieces had found their way to the charity shop.  I'm not usually much of a list maker but this is an area of life that I find endlessly fascinating - what drives people's shopping habits?  why do they wear what they do?  how do they decide what 'enough' looks like in terms of their wardrobe? - and although I can only document my own purchases, I love that others have joined in with the series (search for #buyersarchive on social media!)

After the bumper beginning I had to my shopping year, it was somewhat unsurprising that I found myself not very interested in buying anything new last month.  In fact, if it wasn't for the terribly ridiculous purchase I made on Saturday, I'd have been home free in April.  First though, a summary of how last April's finds have held up.

I'm still completely enthralled with both the navy and polka dot dresses.  It took a while for the shirt dress style to gain my affections but I loved layering it up with cosy knits all winter (who am I kidding, I'm still doing that)  Both are good for Friday night drinks if I've not come straight from work and have time to brush my hair/not look like a lazy scruff.  Last week I wore the navy dress with a summery cardigan and my boss told me 'it's weird seeing you in lady clothes' so I'm gonna take that as a very roundabout compliment.

The grey dress fared less well - it seemed to walk an odd line between being smarter than the rest of my clothes in style, but the jersey made it seem a bit...lumpy.  I don't know.  It didn't go well with cardigans and wasn't something I could really wear to work, so I sold it on eBay last week.  The knit waistcoat was given to Tam since it seems I like the idea of waistcoats more than I actually like wearing them.  Oh well.  Only keeping half the items I bought isn't a great turnaround but it's helping me to become more intentional with my wardrobe.  Just keep that last sentence in mind when you see my one and only purchase from this April...


Farfield sheep fleece via charity shop - £4.50
I know.  Isn't this just the daftest thing you've ever seen?  Fleece jackets don't usually come close to being on my radar when I'm charity shopping (unless a particularly hideous one invades my eye line) but this one has sheep.  Sheep!  And look how happy I am to have those sheep adorning me.  Or maybe it's because I found the jacket for sale online and it costs £69.50 to purchase new.  What?!  I very much thought it was something I could have picked up down at the indoor market.  I'm all for a practical purchase now and again but I suspect this jacket will really earn its place in the wardrobe around camping season.  In the meantime, I might wear it to work one day and see what my boss thinks of that outfit...

Total spend for April - £4.50

Total spend for 2017 so far (idea nicked from Hazel!) - £221.99


Friday, 21 April 2017

Knit New Lanark - bunting, (yarn) bombs and biscuits


If you've visited this blog before, you'll know that New Lanark is one of my favourite places in Scotland.  It has it all - history, gorgeous scenery, a yarn shop, cake...  So when I was asked to be their knitting blogger for World Heritage Day, there's no way I was going to refuse.  There were six sites taking part and celebrations on the day were all planned to fit in with Scotland's themed year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.  This is a great initiative that encourages people to connect to the history of our country and delve a little deeper than a quick glance at a museum exhibit (although you should definitely do that too!)  I already wrote a bit about the Scotland-wide activities that were planned for the day so let's dive right into the good stuff - Knit New Lanark!





My task for the day was to try out all the fun activities on offer and share them with the world on social media, giving everyone a taste of what we were up to at New Lanark.  I arrived bright and (somewhat) early to meet the events team and some lovely ladies that were very eager to start yarnbombing.  Much time was spent admiring the decor already in place outside the visitor centre before we headed inside to start creating, workshopping and eating biscuits.  The stash was mighty impressive...

Our first class of the day was all about spinning.  Bex was our expert instructor and she taught us all about different fibres and how to achieve a variety of thicknesses with the wool.  Then I found myself behind the wheel.  Guys, spinning is hard!  For the first few minutes.  Then suddenly my fingers worked out what they were supposed to be doing and I was gleefully turning fibre into woollen strands.  I'm not sure I'm ready to take up spinning quite yet, but it was a surprisingly therapeutic way to pass the time.





After my brain had exhausted itself with all the learning, I decided to have a quick wander up to my favourite New Lanark spot - the spinning room.  I love that it's possible to see yarn being made right there on site in glorious technicolour.  Or...um...black, which was the colour they were spinning on Tuesday.  Somehow I resisted a woolly purchase (I can only assume that the six skeins I bought a few weeks ago have briefly curbed my appetite for more) and made my way to the cafe for lunch, where I stuffed myself with delicious veggie pizza and a biscuit-y, coconut-y cake.  Then it was time for our next workshop.

Ann Ross was our teacher this time as we learned how to dye fibres naturally, using plants, berries and rusty nails.  Yup, rust!  The most beautiful colours came from the most unlikely looking sources - a dusky pink was produced from lichen, a rich yellow from eucalyptus leaves - and I was left wanting to conduct some leafy experiments for myself.  Afterwards, there was just time for a final shot of yarn bombing before I had to dash for my train home (I say dash - I strolled across the car park and the free shuttle bus appeared, so my plans to walk to the station were usurped by this guy's timing and my laziness).  Once again, I've been trying my hand at vlogging so there's a video of all my adventures below - apologies in advance for the often shaky camera work, one day I'll learn that my hands are not as steady as I think they are!  Check out the other #ScotlandinSix bloggers to see if they had more fun than us...








If you missed out on all the World Heritage Day fun this time around, never fear!  Dig It! 2017 have launched a Bucket List so you can visit the sites at your own pace and tick them off one by one.  Has anyone been to all of them yet?  My current total is 5 out of 6!  If only boats to St Kilda weren't quite so difficult to come by...  If that wasn't enough excitement, there's another stage to Scotland's Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology launching soon, the tantalising titled 'Hidden Gems'...  Keep an eye on the Facebook page for more info and catch up with all things Scottish in the Visit Scotland online community!
post written in collaboration with Dig It! 2017


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

FO - Bobble Shawl


When I started reading knitting blogs, it seemed that every knitter in the world was always making either a shawl or a pair of socks.  In fact, it still seems like that sometimes - my Instagram feed is awash with pictures of beautiful speckled sock yarn and fine lace shawls draped artfully over shoulders.  Obviously, my childish impulse to never do what everyone else is doing kicked in and it took me until fairly recently to cast on my first pair of socks, and I only did that because Tam requested a handmade pair the Christmas before last.  Although I didn't care for the stop-start motion of using double pointed needles, I surprised myself by returning to sock knitting again.  I'm still not convinced that I need a drawer full of Elise-made socks (although Tam might have a different opinion on that) but I like the portable-ness of the projects.

Shawls, though.  I love big, chunky, squishy, cosy scarves, not delicate, lacy works of art on my person.  I was committed to this way of thinking until Helene posted a picture of her latest design on Instagram - a gorgeous, clean looking pattern speckled with bobbles.  Perfection.  I half-jokingly commented that I'd test it if not for the requirement of 4 ply yarn since anything less than DK weight takes me an absolute age to work through.  Helene was happy for me to use any yarn I liked as an experiment, so that's how I ended up with my first shawl knit in chunky yarn.


Pattern - Let's Get Crackin' by Helene Zechner

Yarn - New Lanark Chunky in Slate (375g)

Needles - 6mm

Notes - My mum picked me up a 1000g pack of this yarn at a craft fair for a ridiculously low price and since it's no longer available online, I'm guessing the colourway has been discontinued.   I'd already reserved a certain amount for a future colourwork cardigan so I only had 4 balls to play with for the shawl.  The testing was pretty straightforward - the only changes I made were to skip the I-cord bind off and the last pattern section.

I was a bit worried about whether I'd end up with a big enough shawl when I was in the process of knitting it, but luckily it blocked out splendidly, the only slight flaw being my method of slipping the first stitch of every row.  It's the way I was taught to knit and something I don't think twice about doing, but it didn't occur to me that it would make the neck edge tight when it came to blocking.  At least I know for next time!  And there will be a next time - I already have yarn purchased for a second shawl...




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