Wednesday, 31 December 2014

December


My, but December was a busy month!  It began with me guest blogging on Two Days The Same with Sarah - today is my last day so do check out the pictures and show her some love.  There was a vast amount of knitting done too - mostly Tam's jumper, which I'll be blogging about soon. 


The window competition at work was a huge part of last month's knitting, so by the time December rolled around all I had to do was set it up.  It paid off though, because I won!  Personally I thought the Lego people stood a better chance (above we have Lego A decorating a Lego Christmas window) but I'm also really glad all the crafting paid off.  Except now I'll have to up my game for next year...

The window was judged on our Christmas night out, where we all had an excellent time, even when a couple of people claimed they didn't recognize me dressed up.  Maybe I have to up my game on the getting-dressed-for-work front too...  The night ended with me getting the worst sore throat ever and kick started over a week of illness, of which I wasn't the only casualty unfortunately.


The weekend after our party night, a few of us got into the cleaning on Monday morning then sat down for an early breakfast of tea and cake.  It didn't help the cold much but it sure was good cake.  (A colleague sent it to us from Sponge - four cakes in one!)  I wore my most cheery cardigan one day, possibly when I was sick of the rain...  Tam's mum made a penguin from one of the Save the Children Jumper Day patterns and we decided he was an explorer who wanted to scale the heights of the Christmas tree.  He's still up there surveying the room!


Last year Tam got me a less than tasty ale for Christmas, so when I spotted this one I had to buy it for him.  I think it matched the quality of mine...  I went to the library the week before Christmas to stock up on reading material for the holiday - I love that there's so many libraries in Glasgow and that you can borrow from and return books to any of them.  There's a few in close vicinity to me so I tried a new one and it's definitely my favourite.  The staff were lovely and helped me re-order books that the app had got mixed up.  I'll be back there next month for more!


Tam and I exchanged gifts the weekend before Christmas, hence the rush to finish the jumper!  One of my favourite things I found for him was a book called '642 Things to Draw' - I find wandering around Waterstones a good source of inspiration for Tam gifts, and he loves this so I'm pretty pleased with myself.  (And it has a follow up book so if he ever finishes it I have a great idea for his birthday ;))  I got a book about Glasgow cinemas and a handmade Blackpool zine, a Scotland calendar and a canvas of one of my photos.  Tam is also good at the gift giving.


The same weekend, we went to see the local football team play - I haven't been to football in years and it was a lot of fun, if super cold by the time we ended the game victorious.  Worth it though!  Possibly just trumping football though, was a trip to see It's a Wonderful Life at the local cinema.  It sold out last year so Tam's mum bought us tickets a month ago to be sure we got in.  It was as great as ever and I left feeling very festive and warm.

And then it was Christmas!  Then Tom Weir day, then lots of chilling out, walking Parsnip and eating sushi for lunch on a week day.  Holidays rock.

Happy New Year everyone!

:)

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Christmas









So, the first half of the holiday season is over already.  It seems to be going both too quickly and kind of sleepily...  The weekend before Christmas I was at Tam's, then I was at my mums for a few days. The festivities started when I left work at Tuesday lunch time and popped in to see a couple of friends on the way home.  Christmas eve we went to my uncle's place for dinner, then it was off to the pub and church with my one friend who also made it home.  What is it about getting older and people neglecting all the traditions we made growing up?  Pah.

Christmas day started when Mother got home from work around 9am, and we opened presents together before heading down to see my brother and his fiancee.  I was thoroughly spoilt with gifts, including perfume, smellies and books, and an awesome dressing-gown-and-pjs set from Long Tall Sally.  Mic and Lucy got me a perfume from M&S that smells just like Issey Miyake (it's called Isis, for anyone else looking for a bargain!) and the usual Body Shop haul (Spiced Apple flavour this year, which also smells LUSH.)  Then it was back home for more pj time and testing Mother's new coffee maker before she had to go back to work for the afternoon.  She works in transport for a hotel, somewhere that doesn't care that it's Christmas, so I had to hang out by myself and watch movies before dinner.  The hardship.

On boxing day we were back at Mic and Lucy's, this time for an amazing dinner with fish tempura and many potatoes and veggies on the menu.  Since I almost never blog about food, probably no-one here knows that I'm the world's fussiest eater.  Luckily Mic is well aware, and they sportingly prepared an alternative to the cottage pie almost everyone else ate.  And it was awesome.

And that was Christmas!  Now on to new year...  Did everyone have a good holiday?

:)

Monday, 29 December 2014

A trip to Tom Weir country





Earlier today, Tam and I paid a visit to Balmaha Bay at Loch Lomond to see a statue of Tom Weir being unveiled.  Google Maps was not keen to get us there without a bit of faffing first, but we made it without missing too much of the ceremony and with time to spare before the unveiling.  Today would have been Tom's 100th birthday, so it was a fun time to be there in the crowd with a bunch of fellow Weir's Way enthusiasts (as evidenced by the sea of red bobble hats!).  Tam was duly clad in his Tom Weir hat, which meant he was allowed into the official pictures at the end - if you're on the BBC website, he's the flash of dark hair behind Tom's head!  It was too busy for me to get a decent picture of the statue so head there to see it properly.

Afterwards we headed back along the road to Drymen, where we had sandwiches and cake and watched a fat robin hanging out on the tree outside.  We've had a few days relaxing at my house so we're now at Tam's for the new year, and I have not very much to do other than read and knit and crochet my fingers off.  Bliss!


:)

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

A thrifty gift swap




I'm finally getting a chance to blog again.  This week has been crazy!  Lots of present finishing and wrapping and giving and receiving.  Plus finishing up at work for the holidays - I get Christmas holidays for the first time ever!  That might be the highlight of the festive season this year ;)  I've also been to the library to stock up on some light reading, although when my parcel from Janet's gift swap arrived, I found a new title to bump to the top of the list - Hercule Poirot's Christmas.  I finished it this morning and actually managed to work out who the murderer was for the first time ever, although it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the story.  The other book should come in handy for next years crafting!  Also in the box was a few handmade items which are all awesome - a stuffed heart, a candle in a tea cup, a Christmas card and a Pride and Prejudice themed 'print'.  I send my recipient the book so it was a 'great minds' situation!

Below is what I sent to my swap recipient - she doesn't have a blog so I decided to just share it on here.  I'm not sure why my crochet snowman turned out to be so menacing looking but hopefully she likes him anyway...

:)

Monday, 15 December 2014

Finished Knitting - Irish Eyes Beret


My latest finished knit was something that was on my 'To Make' list for a while - the Irish Eyes beret.  I don't really wear berets myself, what with the wind here and my natural instinct to just pull up my hood whenever I set foot outside.  My friend at work requested I make her one though, and it was originally a Post Christmas Plan (there's a lot of those floating around here at the moment...) but when I drew her name for Secret Santa, I knew it had to be done now.  I'm crazy pleased with how it turned out - look at those squishy wee bobbles!

For some reason I expected knitting bobbles to be mega awkward, but they weren't at all.  Just turning the knitting a few times for each one, easy.  In the process it seems like there's going to be a hole on one side of the bobble, but when the pattern takes shape the hole side is out of sight.  I used double knitting wool with merino (this one, in colour 12) and it was so soft and easy to work with.  I picked up five 100g balls when we went to Blackpool and after making this, and a jumper for my cousin, I still have nearly two balls left!  I think another hat for me is in order...

Of course I added a pompom - I used the yellow Clover pompom maker, but probably the pink sized one would have worked better.  They always turn out bigger than I expect!  My friend loved it anyway and put it on straight away.  I didn't do much good at the 'secret' part of the gift giving, but I'm not a big fan of a mystery anyway...  (I also got her the photo mug and book, and since she's a chocolate snob, some Hotel Chocolat goodies.)

(I'm guest blogging over at Two Days The Same with Sarah this month, check it out for daily photos!)
:)

Thursday, 11 December 2014

A trip to Craigtoun Park









Funny story about how this day trip came about.  My colleague was reviewing a film from the 1960's featuring that little building in the lake, and she couldn't figure out where it was.  I was having a slow day and was instantly intrigued when I saw it, so I helped her out on a Googling spree until we found it.  It turned out to be the Dutch village at Craigtoun Park near St Andrews.  Well, once I get obsessed with something I can't rest until I've found out as much as I can about it, which led to me persuading Tam to take us a day trip to St Andrews and the park.  And here we are!

We timed things a bit wrong in the end, because there was a Christmas fair on in the grounds and the place was a bit busy, but there were still a few quiet areas.  Unfortunately the Dutch village is closed for refurbishment right now, and looks like it might have been for a while, judging by the shape it was in.  That obviously drove me crazy too - I was dying to get an explore in there!  The only way in would have been taking a dip in the partly frozen lake, and even I wasn't that desperate...  There was so much else to see though, including the Italian garden and temple, that line of trees that made me feel like I was at Pemberley, and some deserted trampolines and a zip slide that had to be tested.  As a kid, trampolines and swings were my favourites, but as an adult I get almost instant motion sickness on them.  What's that all about?  Pah.

After our jaunt in the park, we made our way into St Andrews for lunch and some Christmas shopping, but it was pretty crowded so the camera didn't get much use.  I definitely want another trip up there after Christmas to explore more - it was starting to get dark at 3pm so we didn't even get to the castle and cathedral, lots more to see!

(There's some good info and some lovely old pictures of Craigtoun here.  If that film ever gets onto our website I'll add the link to it also.)

:)

Friday, 5 December 2014

A very merry Minion Christmas








My Christmas window is complete!  What do you think?  I'm so glad it's finally in place and all the pieces came together how I wanted.  In fact it turned out even better than I was hoping for, and it makes me smile every time I look up and remember it's there.

In case someone's missed my rambling on the subject somehow, here's a quick explanation.  Most of the offices in my work have these window into the corridor (not to the outside of course, sunlight and fresh air would never do!)  and, while useful, they're a bit boring.  So I came up with a plan to decorate them with some of my knitted and crocheted goodies for the festive season.  As soon as I shared this idea in October, my office mates were all jumping on board, followed by another bunch  of people around the building.  And thus, the Archive Christmas Window Competition was brought to life!  Everyone put their designs up at the start of the week, and we have a new member of staff who gets to pick the winner next week before our Christmas party.  I'm responsible for buying the prize, which at the moment is mostly chocolate filled...

I'll put up some pictures of the other windows soon but for the moment here's the details of mine...

The hanging components I blogged about before - the jumper pattern can be found here and the Christmas lights here.  The 'paper' chains I made by crocheting a chain of 20, slip stitching into the first chain and double crocheting round the chain (being sure to slip stitch it AFTER looping it round the previous paper chain.)

The minions were made from this excellent pattern I found on Ravelry, but I knitted them flat and sewed them up to save time.  The googly eyes are sew-on ones I found in the local craft shop.

All the other knitted components - the balloons, hats, cracker - came from a very old Alan Dart pattern I had of a penguin party, pulled from Mother's Woman's Weekly magazine.  Luckily, it's available to buy online right here!  I've made so many of these guys over the years so I can assure you all it's worth it.  The Santa jacket I made up and didn't write down...but Tam thought it was a wizard and my friend asked why it had fangs...so maybe it's just as well.

All the crafted bits were made using cheap double knitting wool (I use Robin Double Knit or Woolcraft New Fashion Double Knitting, both do the job splendidly.)

The reindeer I found on sale in Tesco - get them here.  (There's also penguins and snowmen!)  The bottles and glasses were bought on eBay from the dolls house section.  I had to stop myself going mad on tiny accessories, but the excess bottles are being utilised in the Lego window.

The lights are a string of battery powered ones from Home Bargains, the shelf string is party popper filling and the hanging guys are held up with 'invisible' thread borrowed from Tam's aunt.

It's a bit hard to see the layout clearly in these pictures but I hope I've captured it well enough to show everything off properly!  A few people are requesting their own minions now but I think that'll be a job for the Christmas holidays...I'm not sure I have more in me right now!

:)

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Down the shore








Last Sunday turned out to be a gorgeous (if freezing) day, perfect for taking Parsnip a walk down the shore.  He was being as cute as ever, especially when he thought I had biscuits in my pocket and came to sit down nicely in front of me.  Sadly, I'd come unprepared...  I made up for it when we got home though :)  The grown ups had their binoculars, I had my camera, and Tam had the job of being a photo subject.  He did pretty well I'd say.  Afterwards we went home for a roast dinner, X Factor results and yet more knitting.  Good Sunday.

:)

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Outfit - striped and slouchy


My profuse apologies for the extremely lightened pictures - I had to take them in the living room when it was dark outside and had only the 'big' light for brightness.  Winter is not a great time to be a style blogger.  I really wanted to share this outfit though.  It was my usual 'comfort versus smart' combination that I seem to be fine tuning with every look I come up with.  I spotted this dress in the M&S sale section last week when I popped in with Mother.  Just for a quick browse, which was never going to end with me coming out empty handed, was it?  The smallest size I could find the dress in was a 16, three sizes bigger than my measured size ten, but it's a rare time I actually pay attention to the label, so I tried it on anyway and was instantly sold on the slouchy shape.  It did have some questionable plastic jewels around the neckline but half an hour with Episodes and an unpicker and it was looking much improved.

The cardigan I bought in August from Long Tall Sally with a voucher my brother gave me.  I went back and forth on it for a while, even after getting it home - I hardly needed more knitwear but the shape and crazy long sleeves won me over.  And despite the thin fabric, it keeps me nice and cosy in the cold corridors at work.

The brogues have finally broken in!  Well, to the point that they're not trying to kill me with every step, but I'm still not sure I could spend all day walking around in them.  Time will tell...


Dress - M&S
Brogues - Clarks

:)

Monday, 1 December 2014

November


If I had to give it a theme, November has definitely been the month of making.  Above is a sneak peek of some of the elements for my work window competition...who can guess what they are?

I've been getting on with lots of Christmas themed makes - I've been doing everything in the order it's going to be required, which was a smart idea but means I've left a Tam sized jumper until last and...he's a giant and I'm dangerously close to becoming burnt out.  I think a dedicated day off for knitting is called for soon.  Even my reading has been put on the back burner lately.  I only finished two books in November, although both were really good (The Midnight Rose by Lucinda Riley and The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell), but I can't seem to get into anything new right now.  I got a book about Bletchley Park from the library after seeing The Imitation Game a couple of weeks ago and I'm enjoying reading a bit every night (and looking at the pictures of course, which makes the words a bit easier to digest!)


Mother and I went to the Country Living Christmas Fair with Tam's mum and aunt and had a fun time wandering around, eating many samples and crocheting these cute little wreaths at Kat Goldin's workshop.  I've been loving her blog for a while now so I was excited to get a chance to get to her class.


I never buy candles but I took a sudden notion to have my room smelling like Christmas.  I'm really in the spirit early this year!  These tea lights were a great find in Sainsbury's after IKEA failed to turn up the goods - they smell delicious and were a third off, I've had a few burning every night when I'm knitting.


The fair turned up this amazing jam - raspberry is my favourite and the flavour of this one is perfect.  There was lots of posing going on elsewhere - Sarah and I were being all blogger-y with our hot drinks in Dundee and I got dressed in a hurry for work one day (ahem, every day) and realised when I got there that I was killing it with this outfit.  Comfy and cute, my favourite combination.  (Jumper is Long Tall Sally, skirt is M&S via charity shop and shoes are Converse.)




I got six packs of loom bands for one whole pound in Poundland last week - purely because I wanted to see if I could make anything crocheting around them, or doing something yarn-y anyway.  It was mildly successful, although I want to play about a bit more.  It was just by chance that I noticed they would make good stitch markers - much cheaper than real ones anyway!  (This is my progress on Tam's jumper so far...it's not looking great is it?!)


I stayed at Mother's this weekend, which means lots of couch sitting and eating junk.  I didn't actually go overboard on the sugary stuff but I did scoff a bunch of savoury snacks, including most of that drum of crisps (deceptively less than appears though, since they were inside a bag inside the box) and some Tiger nuts.  Yum.  Oh and most of that Ben and Jerry's ice cream - I'm so glad they finally put the mint into tubs instead of just having it in the scoop shops, it's one of my favourite flavours.

And finally, here's some awesomeness I found around the internet this week.

Janet published this great post on how to have a conscious Christmas.  I definitely have a tiny voice in my head that stops me buying too much 'stuff' as presents and has me focus on the more meaningful gifts, but I'm also guilty of using Amazon out of convenience a bit too often.

Andrea is also shunning consumerism and has come up with a fun list of things to do over the holiday season.  (I'm also going to see It's a Wonderful Life at the cinema and I'm so excited already, it's one of my favourite traditions!)

Jenny has been killing it with interesting, crafty posts lately, but I'm especially glad she took the plunge and learned circular knitting - I was also hesitant to learn, worrying it would be too difficult to pick up, but it's made everything so much quicker and I'm hooked now!

Julie made this gorgeous, neon stripe knitted blanket.  It's definitely going on my post-Christmas knitting list, I love the mixture of neutral and bright colours.

Has anyone heard the song Billy Boyd wrote for the final Hobbit movie?  I'm not really a fan of this trilogy but the music is just beautiful.

:)
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