Thursday, 30 April 2015

Finished Knitting - The Shetland Wool Week Hat

My Shetland Wool Week sheep hat is done!  Just in time for summer...  I couldn't resist diving right into this pattern when I got my hands on a copy at Edinburgh Yarn Festival though.  Sheep are my favourite animal and have been for as long as I can remember.  I guess if my mum wasn't a knitter already this fact would have ensured I became one anyway!  I also adore knitting in the round, and I'd been wanting to try out some colourwork for a while before I got this pattern.  I could already kind of fumble my way through a colour changing design, but I hadn't had much practise and wanted to give it a proper go.

The hat knit up pretty quickly, despite my shoddy skills.  I used worsted wool as the pattern suggests, but not the brand recommended (I had most of the yarn in my stash already and I'm a well known cheapskate) which may have been the cause of my fit problem.  The crown is much too big.  However!  I tried it on when I was done, as did Tam's aunt, and it was drowning both of us.  Then Tam and his mum tried it on and... it fits them fine.  So... maybe my head is just freakishly small?!  Either way I love it and I've worn it a few times.  I contemplated giving Tam this hat and making myself another one on smaller needles (his mum and aunt are making their own too) but I'm not sure I can part with it now.  It was my first (semi) successful attempt at a colourwork garment after all.

As far as using multiple yarns go, I carried along all the colours I needed for each row, twisting them round each stitch (this video explains it better)  I noticed when I was knitting the Christmas jumpers that my tension was a bit off when I was just using one strand at a time so Tam's aunt showed me how to loop both yarns round the working stitches and it helped a lot, plus it looks neater on the inside.  There's also the bonus point that I'm much less likely to snag the inside yarn on something since it's not hanging loose.  The only drawback to this method is that I kept having to stop and untangle my balls of wool.  I'm sure there must be a way to stop this from happening but I haven't found it yet!  Tam was pretty helpful with this problem anyway - he's now my official yarn un-tangler.

There's something to be said for selfish knitting once in a while.  I've also been doing some selfish crocheting, which I'll be showing off more next week.  Next up on my list is actually another thing for myself - I fancy a 1940's style waistcoat, maybe with a fun design around the hem.  I haven't narrowed down a pattern yet though, so let me know if there's any good ones out there!

(I'm guest posting for Sarah this week while she's busy learning how to be the world's best mum, so head over there for more crafty chat!)

(also, Ella made up the hat too and hers looks excellent, I like the grey instead of blue for the 'sky', seems a more accurate representation of Scotland!)


Tuesday, 28 April 2015

A trip to Dunoon

We had a mini holiday on the coast this weekend.  And like most of our holidays, it ended up being us against the weather.  Beautiful sunshine one minute, freezing gales the next.  It's nothing we're not used to though...  Our location was Dunoon, just across the water from Gourock and an easy commute from Glasgow.  Tam found a deal on one of the voucher sites for two nights in a hotel with afternoon tea, dinner and breakfast for a steal, so we couldn't pass up the chance for more exploring!  The food wasn't up to much but the hotel was a retro dream, complete with an upstairs lounge bar and a coach load of pensioners hanging out on the lawn.  Saturday was so warm we ate our afternoon tea on the balcony with the sun toasting us, then we hopped down to the beach for a paddle in the sea.  Looking at that beautiful clear water made me want to jump right in, but the reality of the feet-numbing temperatures put us off somewhat...

Sunday was much colder, but we managed a game of mini golf in the wind and a walk up the castle mound anyway.  Gotta check out those views!  The Castle House Museum was also well worth a visit, especially for the chance to see a great display of old postcards, something I never pass up the opportunity to have a look at.  And they had a reel of 35mm film in an old home projector, a fun reminder of work!  Strangely though, it was closed on Sunday, but we made time to pop in before getting the ferry back on Monday.

As always, the food was a big highlight of the trip for me - my favourite part of going anywhere is finding new places to stuff myself with delicious treats.  We got dinner from the Queen Street Chip Shop the first night, where Tam declared his fish the size of a shark, but managed to finish it nonetheless.  We ate lunch at The Yachtsman two days in a row, but somehow only had cake the second day, which was a big regret after I sampled the amazing bakewell slice.  No trip to the seaside is complete without an ice cream, and the coconut and chocolate flavour I got at The Dolly Mix might be my new favourite...  

Dunoon was just the start of about two months worth of weekend adventures we have planned - whoever thought to put calendars on phones has my eternal gratitude, I don't know how I'd be keeping track of it all otherwise!  Our first summer holiday is also coming up in June, when we'll be off to Orkney for a week.  I'm so excited to finally visit there after wanting to go for years!  I've had so many suggestions already, but if anyone's been and found anywhere we shouldn't miss, let me know and I'll add it to the list.


Thursday, 2 April 2015

Finished Crochet - Cthulhu

Another monster from the Creepy Cute Crochet book is completed!  He was sitting about for a while, waiting for me to glue on some eyes (kindly provided by Tam's aunt again), but now he's back on the mantelpiece with his Grim Reaper pal.  This one's name is Cthulhu which, lovely reader Jennifer informed me, is a creation of H.P. Lovecraft, the horror author.  I feel like I need to go read some of his books now to get a better idea of what I'm dealing with here!  

This little guy was so easy to make, even if I did mess up the wings and make two the same instead of reversing the pattern, but meh.  Having went up a hook size from the body to do the Grim Reaper's head, I did the same here.  As you can see, I probably didn't need to, but he looks fine anyway.  It was constructed in the same way, except with three holes on the front of the head where the stitches were picked up afterwards to make the tentacle things.  Overall, I'd say he's really rather cute for a monster, even if I still can't work out how to say his name...


Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The Buyer's Archive - March

Last year I started keeping a note of the clothes I was buying.  My spending habits had decreased in recent times and I was craving more space and less stuff.  Being mindful about what my money went on with regards to non necessities seemed like the logical place to start.  I had an idea to compare my purchases from this time last year to the ones I've made this year and see if there's any change, and if I wasted my money on stuff that didn't last, or that I changed my mind about.  I talked about all my purchases last month, but I have to limit it to clothing this month.  I don't think my purse had much of a rest in March!  I feel a bit terrible about that, but when I looked at last March's purchases, they told a pretty similar story, so maybe I'm just an extreme seasonal shopper...

Starting with last years buys, here's what I got in March 2014...

  • H&M knits - Navy £5, Grey £10, Burgundy £10, Pattern £10 - I had a bit of sale mania here!  I discovered if I went up a couple of sizes, the sleeves would be long enough, so that explains it.  The only one I still have is the pattern cardigan though.  The grey and burgundy jumpers stretched out of shape after a couple of washes and caused the biggest fluff storm in the washing machine.  Seriously, some of my face cloths are still suffering.  The navy one I just went off the style, although I did send it to E in the clothes swap and she seemed to like it.  The cardigan is a bit stretched in the sleeves too, but I like the overall style so it stays.  For now.
  • H&M stripe blouse £14.99, burgundy mini skirt £12.99 - I can't find a picture of the blouse annoyingly, but it's oversize and navy and white striped and I love it.  The skirt I fell out with though.  I don't know why I keep buying skirts from there, they always seem to get shorter over time.
  • Monsoon floral dress - £27.50 - I wore this dress just the other day, so it's still in rotation and getting some love! 

  •  M&S loafers in Navy and Red - £25 each - I wore those cream loafers constantly when I first got them, so when I found other colours in the outlet I had to pick up more.  I thought I'd wear the red more, but I've hardly touched them, instead going for the navy or cream.  They're really only summer shoes so they'll come out again soon.  Three identical pairs of shoes may seem excessive but I have narrow feet that usually don't work with loafers so I take my chances when I get them!

Last March's total spend was... £140.48.  I do not feel good about that, especially since a few of the items lasted so little time.  On the bright side, I tend to just shop H&M for tshirts now, so I learned a lesson there.  Speaking of which, let's move on to this month's buys...

  • H&M tshirts - 4 @ £6.99 each - I love the fit and variety of their basics range so it's the only place I bother to look for tshirts on the high street now.  My natural instinct for dark colours was present when I was shopping for these but I did manage to get a slightly brighter blue shirt too.  The burgundy one is this long style, the two grey ones are these v necks and the blue is the round neck with a pocket.
  • Charity shop tshirts - 3 @ 99p each, 1 @ £2.49 - I wear tshirts just about every day when it gets warmer outside, so I can kinda justify this one.  Two of the 99p ones are mens shirts that will be cut into vests and the other was for tie dyeing.  The more expensive one was a light coloured one with longer sleeves in new condition, which was a good second hand find.

  • Hand knit cable vest from charity shop - £2 - I love this top.  I have no idea how to wear it.  It hangs in the wardrobe, staring at me,  Sigh.
  • M&S stripe shirt from charity shop - £3.50 - My love of the shirt is also well documented.  I suspect it'll get a lot of love in the future.
  • Dresses from charity shop - 99p, £3.99 & £5 - My most recent purchases, the two cheaper ones are vintage styles.  One fits perfectly and the other will need a slight remodel...  The more expensive one was a Matalan number in navy (my favourite) with a drapey style (also my favourite) and is just waiting to be ironed.  It was one of those things I picked up and couldn't wait to wear, so I suspect it'll appear in an outfit post soon.

Yeah...that was another shamefully long list!  I realised it's not often I shop the high street these days, but staying out the charity shops seems like it might be just as good an idea.  Total spend for this March was... £48.90.  I actually hadn't added it until now and thought it might be more, so I guess I got a good amount for my money.  I'm just not sure I need that many clothes though - April might be the time for a clamp down on unnecessary spending!

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