Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The Buyer's Archive - June

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.

It seems June is a pretty quiet month for me where shopping is concerned.  Except when it comes to handbags...  First up is last June's purchases.

next handbag H&M ankle boots

  • Next handbag - £34 - I am the biggest fusspot around when it comes to handbags.  They have to be the right colour and size, have the right amount of pockets and the right handle length.  They have to be big enough for my regular junk but also hold my camera when I decide to bring it along.  They have to be easy to zip up (the zip is non negotiable - I'm a paranoid Peggy when it comes to trusting others not to steal the aforementioned junk).  They have to have the right shape to sit comfortably on my shoulder or my arm without causing pain.  It's a tall order, and this bag ticked some of the boxes.  Not enough, as it turned out, since I spent all year looking for a replacement.  
  • H&M ankle boots - £10 - These boots were a fantastic sale bargain and a winter favourite.  They have good grippy soles and no zips - funnily enough the thing I need on bags is the thing I hate on boots.  My brain, ladies and gentlemen.  H&M didn't think it was necessary to make these in a 7 though - the label actually lists all the sizes, going from 6.5 to 7.5 - so they have some thick fleecy insoles to keep me even warmer.
  • M&S black bra - £12 - I couldn't even remember what this was at first, then I realised it was the bra that I found on sale, wore once, hated it and consigned to the eBay pile, where it still sits, making me feel bad for being too lazy to deal with it.

So the total spend for June 2014 was... £56.  Considering the only thing I liked from these purchases was the boots, it wasn't a great month.  I did use the bag just about every day though, so I'd call that getting my money's worth.

On with this month's purchases.  I thought there wasn't anything until I glanced up and saw the new bag, but it was still a pretty light month on the clothing front.  June seems to be accessories month over here!

vintage bag leather brown charity shop black tights tesco opaque

  • Charity shop bag with matching vanity case - £5 - This bag has no label.  I think it might be menswear?  I'm not even sure that the matching case is a vanity - for all I know it could be some fancy artist bag (she says, knowing full well that it will become travelling knitting storage.)  I've used the main bag a few times - the strap is longer than my last one (good) but it doesn't feel very strong (bad).  There are only two main pockets and a small side one (bad) but it's the perfect size for the junk plus camera (good).  Honestly, I'm not convinced this bag is the one, but at least it didn't set me back much and was second hand.
  • Tesco black tights (2x 80 denier, 3x 40 denier) - 2 packs @ £2.80 each - Not much to say about these...  I'm stocking the winter drawer from the summer sale section, my usual practise :)
Total spend for this June was... £10.60.  Time will tell if the bag was worth it but I'm certain the tights will see some regular use!  (Just...not yet...please?)

What's everyone been buying this month?  Let me know if you do a similar post!


Friday, 26 June 2015

Friday Threes - Reading, Feeling and Blogging

books magazines tent reading

1 - Testament of Youth is finished!  It was pretty awesome until I realised Vera Brittain had written many more books about her life and this one was only a small part of it.  I think I'll pass on the others for now...  There I am in the tent on holiday, looking sleepy but making good reading progress (not seen - the bottle of whisky I was drinking from to keep me warm.)

2 - Next I'm reading the first book in the Mistborn series, The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.  I ordered this at the library a while ago thinking it would take it's usual long time to arrive, and it turned up about a week later.  One renewal later and I've finally started it.  I wouldn't normally follow one huge book with another, but I'm hoping the change of genres (from memoir to fantasy) will speed things along.

3 - Apparently I'm collecting magazines lately.  The National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland ones showed up a couple of weeks ago, I'm about three issues behind in Empire, and my friend brought me the Shetland magazine 60 North back from her holidays and it hasn't even been opened yet.  Tam brought me Shortlist and Stylist from the train station and I picked up the Tesco one with my shopping last night.  Oh dear.

1 - Overwhelmed.  Everything seems to be happening at once this month.  My flatmate has moved out, and I finally picked a new one who'll be moving in next week.  All the bills were in old flatmate's name, so I've had to call a bunch of people and switch things over.  EE were lovely but not very helpful when I got a new broadband box and just needed the line turned back on.  They eventually got around to doing it the day I went on holiday.  Scottish Power were lovely AND helpful when I finally got through to the right person (and after giving the guy my date of birth, he told me that he was born a few days before me and is not looking forward to turning thirty next week.  We commiserated together.)  The council tax have been completely unhelpful so far but I'd expect nothing less from them.  Oh, and my MOT and car insurance are due on Tuesday and Compare the Market keeps changing my quotes.  I pretty much spent half the week bemoaning how non adult my brain is about coping with such dull tasks.

2 - Frustrated.  About the above, but also because our landlady very nicely put in new sofas (the old one had literally fallen apart) but failed to consult any measurements, so we now have two cheap, ill fitting IKEA couches in the lounge.  Since she uses the flat as a dumping ground for all her old furniture, we also inherited a scratched up old TV table.  The place is now so stuffed with junk that it's making me twitchy, so I just closed the door on the lounge and am hanging in my room.  It's also fairly full, but much more pleasant in there.

3 - Excited.  In an odd contrast to all the drama, I'm excited about having today off work (three day weekend!), giving Tam birthday pressies on Sunday and hopefully finishing a couple of knitting and crochet projects at the weekend.  Also I get to go see my mum next week, which means parking myself on the couch, catching up on all the gossip, and watching nonsense on TLC for two days.

1 - Jo made this awesome crocheted pineapple garland, and now I need to make one too.

2 - Andrea has been killing it with interesting posts lately (and, let's face it, always), but my favourite this month was 5 things you can do right now to help save the planet.  Simple, easy to implement suggestions.

3 - Jessica's post about book snobbery and the 'classics' that she very much did not enjoy was funny and informative and had me nodding along in agreement with each one.


Thursday, 25 June 2015


My favourite wee fluffy friend passed away last week.  He'd been ill off and on for a little while and finally we found out that it was incurable.  He'd just had his twelfth birthday last month, so he was a pretty old man in dog years, but he still liked to behave like a puppy, especially when his favourite squeaky toys came out.  He really belonged to Tam and his mum, but I like to think I won him around in the two years I knew him with an abundance of hugs and biscuits.  Mostly the biscuits, let's be honest.  He would do any number of tricks if he knew there was a Markies in it as a reward.

He always had a knack of avoiding the camera, but Tam managed to catch us chilling out in the garden in Orkney in the lovely sunshine.  I think he liked it there.


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Yarn Along

multi colour wool crochet hook red orange heart bella yarn ball

Crocheting - Another lace scarf.  The last one took me an absolute age to get through, since I was working on it in between a few other projects, but this one has made much swifter progress.  I started it the night before we left Orkney and the first ball of yarn was almost finished on the journey home thanks to various detours on the already long drive.  The second ball was half used up on Sunday between a trip for grocery shopping and eh...not much else actually.  Much crocheting was done that weekend!  Annoyingly, I've not had a chance to touch it since (more damn house stuff needs sorting - being an adult is getting me down this week!) but hopefully it'll be in my hands again soon, and maybe even finished this weekend.

The yarn is Red Heart Bella, found on sale at Deramores a few months ago and, I must admit, I'm liking it a lot more now that it's been made up into something.  I was in two minds about the colours when it first arrived but now I love it.  It reminds me of autumn leaves and cosy log fires.

Reading - I'm nearly finished Testament of Youth!  Hallelujah!  According to Goodreads, I've been reading it since April 23rd, which is just insane.  I didn't actually read it exclusively in that time (I had a bit of a mental block a couple of hundred pages in and switched to smaller books for a few weeks) but I'm glad I persevered until the (almost) end because it's a wonderful, in depth look at life for a generation of young adults before, during and after the First World War.  I've read a lot about the second war but not so much the earlier one, so it's interesting to get a better look at what went on at that time.

What's everyone else been reading and creating lately?

Linking up to Ginny's yarn along 


Friday, 19 June 2015

DIY: How to make a tote bag into a drawstring

how to make a tote bag into a drawstring bag

Today's post is another little DIY I came up with recently.  When I was testing out some fabric dye a few months ago, I got a plain tote bag to dip dye with the tshirt, just to see how it turned out.  Because the colour of the dye was a pale blue, it's not terribly noticeable on the white fabric, but I liked it anyway.  Still, a tote bag isn't exactly something I'm short on at the moment...  When I was at Edinburgh Yarn Festival I saw some great drawstring bags for holding a knitting project or yarn stash, and I filed away the idea for later, thinking how easy it would be to make my own.  And it really is, especially since I cheated slightly.  Um, pattern hacked that is.  That's the one.  Read on for my super easy tutorial...

Supplies list
- Tote bag (mine was £1 from Tiger)
- Unpicker/small scissors
- Thread
- Ribbon (2 x lengths measuring the circumference of the bag plus about 12 inches)
- Safety pin
- Sewing machine
- Iron

sewing drawstring bag panel

1 - Make sure the bag is ironed flat before you begin, especially the handles.  This will make things immensely easier in the sewing stage.

2 - Unpick the handles from the body of the bag.  They may also be stitched under the hem - I just cut them off here to avoid more unpicking and re-sewing.

3 - This part is optional, but I turned down the top hem once and sewed around the top stitching, just to hide the holes from where the handle was unpicked.

4 - Take each of the handles and pin them in place along the width of the bag, lined up with the top stitching.  Fold each end under by approximately 10mm.

threading ribbon drawstring safety pin

5 - Stitch each strip in place along the top and bottom edges.

6 - Now take each length of ribbon in turn and, using the safety pin to pull it along, thread it through the end of the strips and back to the start.  The second ribbon should start on the opposite side from the first one.  Take care not to twist it.

7 - Tie off the ribbons with a knot and trim any excess.

handmade DIY drawstring bag wool needles

8 - Stuff your bag with wool and you're good to go!

Bias binding works just as well for the drawstring, but I didn't have a chance to make or buy any at the time.  Using ribbon from my stash kept costs down and the only expense I had was what I paid for the bag initially.  Not a bad money saving (and speedy) project!


Thursday, 18 June 2015


polka dot shirt H&M long tall sally skinny jeans black white converse

spot polka dot shirt chains

black hi-top converse

This outfit combines a bunch of my favourite things in one look - black and white, polka dots, skinnies, Converse.  It's hard to go wrong when that's what I'm pulling out of the wardrobe.  The shirt was one of those last minute purchases made when there's one thing missing from your Christmas party outfit and you're not sure what it is. Turns out this shirt is it.  Well that was the Christmas before last and I'm still loving it.

And look!  Jewellery!  I have a habit of ignoring the box with all the shiny things and multiple hair bobbles (Goody, always Goody.  My thick heavy hair thanks them every gym session.) I don't even know why, since these chains clearly bling up my outfit to perfection.  In fact it was a bit of a wasted one though since the furthest I went that day was down to the bin sheds to empty the hoover (which obviously caught the wind right as I released the dust and it flew back into my face.  Awesome.)  Still, it was at least a step up from my normal working-at-home uniform of whatever I've slept in the previous night...

shirt - H&M
jeans - Long Tall Sally
shoes - Converse
chains - Topshop


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Finished Knitting - Vintage waistcoat

vintage knitted waistcoat red floral dress pattern

vintage knitted waistcoat floral dress 1940s

vintage knitted waistcoat 1940s red fair isle

I wrote a bit about my knitting of the waistcoat before but I may as well summarise again, since I have the finished garment here and all.  I used Rowan Pure Wool 4 ply for the main colour (best charity shop bargain ever!) and Red Heart Margareta 4 ply for the patterned section.  I wanted to go for a vintage style waistcoat but couldn't find a pattern that was quite right, so I took a 1940s one from the V&A website and adapted it a bit.

Since I was using 4 ply rather than the required worsted, my gauge was off when I tested it out, so I increased my stitches by half again.  The Fair Isle type design I found on Pinterest - I'd originally planned to do a row of sheep above the ribbing but in the end I fancied something more colourful.  My actual knitting of the pattern into the waistcoat isn't perfect, but I like the overall effect anyway.

I knitted the body on circular needles then split it into sections for the back and front panels.  After that I followed the pattern more closely, even if I sort of guessed my way through the decreases, a tactic that seems to have worked...  The shape is pretty close to how I pictured it - not too fitted but not too giant either.  I'm still deciding whether or not to add buttons - I made buttonholes in one of the front bands but it wouldn't be too much trouble to sew them up.  In fact I didn't block the bands flat because I like how they look curled up and button-less at the moment, but maybe I'll change my mind when I've worn it a bit.  Or the first time I get cold and want to bundle up more...


Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Awesome movies I've watched lately

clueless pitch perfect 2 hunchback of notre dame cape fear double jeopardy little princess movie

Pitch Perfect 2 - I saw this completely on a whim, but I'd liked the first one and thought it would be worth a look (plus it was the only thing on at that time...)  I must admit, I didn't realise how not great the first half was until the second half really picked itself up and shouted 'Let's do this thing!' in the form of a hilarious lakeside serenade.  Obviously, the singing was on top form the whole way through, with the burst of Mmmbop being a special highlight for me (die hard Hanson fan over here) and I'd totally go see the next inevitable sequel.

Clueless - This movie never gets old, does it?  Well, the part with Cher's computerised wardrobe dates it a bit, but the humour, the settings and even the style seem as relevant as ever.  Although in my head Paul Rudd is one of those people who never seems to age (see also - Jennifer Connelly), Tam pointed out how young he looked and blew my theory out of the water.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame - It popped up on Netflix a few weeks ago and I stuck it on for some split screen action while I was editing pictures.  I still know every word, every line of every song.  My childhood self had a problem.

A Little Princess - This was one movie I only saw a couple of times as a kid, but it had a safe, familiar vibe to it this time around, so I thoroughly enjoyed re-watching it as an adult (plus I was all 'Davos!' every time the dad appeared...  Gotta love a Game of Thrones reference in the most obscure places.)  The ending must have been too tense for me though, because I full on sobbed when Captain Crew got his memory back just at the right moment.  Sorry, no spoiler alert - it is a kids movie after all, you all knew where it was going.

Double Jeopardy & Cape Fear - I love a good 90s action movie on a weekend, and we somehow managed to fit in two a few weeks ago.  They've sort of got mixed up in my head a bit, but I think I remember the most important points.
- Robert DeNiro played one creepy mofo to perfection.  Whoever said you shouldn't judge someone one their looks obviously never met this guy.
- Juliette Lewis has always been kick ass awesome.
- If I was Ashley Judd I'd be WAY more pissed about being stuck in prison for years for no reason.
- That Simpsons episode with Sideshow Bob on the boat all makes sense now.

Mud - A special late entry, since Tam and I rewatched it last weekend.  The first time we saw it was on our first date more than two years ago, and he's still hanging around.  Must have been attracted to my fantastic taste in movies...


Monday, 15 June 2015

DIY: Hanging Fabric Birds

fabric hanging birds in frames matching curtains hillarys blinds

This nifty little DIY is my entry for Hillarys Craft Competition.  I had such good fun at the crafternoon a few months ago (I though it was in May.  It was March.  Holy hell, how time flies!) that I had to take up their challenge to create something else from one of the new collection fabrics.  I chose Safi Turquoise, a silky, leafy design, and got to work on my entry - fabric birds in vintage frames, positioned perfectly to complement the curtains and tie the room together.  Gotta love that sales patter...  Read on for my tutorial how to create your own!

hillarys blinds competition fabric vintage frames

Supplies list
- Hillarys Safi Turquoise fabric
- Two 6x4 inch frames (mine were 50p each from the charity shop) with glass and back removed
- Paper and pencil
- Circular object
- Needle and thread
- Sewing machine (optional, although I prefer it to hand sewing!)
- Stuffing
- Scissors
- 'Invisible' thread
- Command strips/Blu-Tack for wall hanging

step by step fabric birds DIY tutorial

1 - Grab your paper and pencil and draw out your bird shape.  I sat one of the frames over the paper to help me gauge how big I could make it.  Draw round your circular object (I used a cardboard ribbon roll).  Cut out both shapes.

2 - Making sure the fabric is folded to double thickness with right sides together, pin the paper shapes on and cut out around them.  I added a seam allowance to the bird for sewing but the circle was the right size already.

fabric bird wing circle shape

3 - Sew around the circles, leaving a small gap.  Turn the fabric right sides out and use the scissors to smooth out the seams by running the point around the inside edges.  Now you have a wing!

4 - Pin the wing into position between the two pieces of bird fabric, then sew around the bird, again leaving a small gap for turning right side out.  I left mine in the belly part so it could be turned out easier by pulling the wing through.  I also trimmed the excess fabric from the pointed parts (tail and beak) for a nicer finish, then used the point of the scissors (blades together!) to poke the fabric into place after it was turned out.

stuffing fabric bird hillarys blinds

5 - Stuff the bird gently, using small pieces to avoid it looking lumpy.

6 - Fold in the edges of the open section and sew along the seam using small, neat stitches so they don't show.  Stitch down the lower edge of the wing to keep it flat.

fabric birds matching leaf pattern

7 - Voila, one birdie!  Since I was making two, I repeated the process but turned the fabric wrong side up the second time to create a contrasting look.  It helped that the back of the fabric was also rather pretty...

sewing fabric bird hillarys blinds invisible thread

8 - When both birds are complete, take your picture frames and push out the metal hinges that hold in the backing so that they lie flat against the wood.  Take a length of invisible thread and thread it through the top edge of the bird, where the back starts to curve from the head.  It can be positioned further along the back if you prefer them to be more horizontal.

This is the slightly tricky part.  Holding the bird in place in the middle of the frame, you'll need to tie a knot in the thread at the right length for hanging.  The loop of thread is then hung over one of the frame hinges, making the bird look like it's flying when it's on the wall (or, you know, stuck to the wall...)

hillarys blinds craft competition fabric birds curtains vintage frames

9 - Last step!  Grab your Command/Blu-Tack and stick it to the back of the frame - I just stuck it on the top panel and they've stayed put, but feel free to be extra thorough and add it to the bottom too.

There you have it - a fun, budget friendly craft to perfectly compliment your curtains!


Friday, 12 June 2015

Friday Threes - Moments, Crafty Pins and Blog Posts

mouldy film reel chocolate tart cake cottonrake

 1 - Finding the world's mouldiest film was the highlight of my work week last Friday - we have a separate store for these reels that everyone avoids going into until we've done every other job on our lists, but this film was beyond anything I've seen so far.  Luckily my boss decided it needed a thorough cleaning before we could work on it so it's been pushed down the list again.

2 - Cake.  So much cake.  Tam showed up at my place on Saturday with our favourite chocolatey treats from Cottonrake Bakery, then there was all the eating on Sunday...  I might turn into a cake soon.

3 - Getting Shit Done has been the theme of the past week - I have a bunch of posts (including this one) scheduled to go up when I'm on my holidays, plus I booked our ferry tickets and we constructed a sort of plan for what we'll be doing on Orkney.  I ordered the main parts of Tam's birthday pressies for the end of the month.  I found a new flatmate, sorted another bunch of flat stuff (mostly involving moving furniture around in every room) and got myself new internet.  Which left me without broadband for a week.  I like to think I don't take the broadband convenience for granted normally, but if there's one thing about modern life I have no issue with, it's the ability to connect with anything, any time, via the internet.  What a freaking marvellous time we live in, tech wise.

Crafty Pins
crafty pinterest crochet reindeer doll bead bracelets wooden photo printing

1 - I found this super cute Reindeer Doll crochet pattern on Pinterest at the weekend - it might only be June but it's never too early to start planning the seasonal crafting! (pinned here)

2 - Someone worked out how to transfer photos onto bits of wood.  My mind is blown.  See above praise for the modern world. (pinned here)

3 - Handmade bracelets are the best thing to adorn our wrists with, and these morse code themed ones are properly awesome.  I need to get some beads right now. (pinned here)

Blog Posts
1 - Sarah's post about the pitfalls of having friends who are also parents is oh so true, and a really interesting read.

2 - I mentioned the Mochimochi Land Gnome Project before, but the follow up post on what Seoul is like outside of gnome related fun is excellent, and made me want to visit somewhere I'd never considered before.

3 - Kerry mentioned recently that she uses coconut oil to tame her hair and, being prone to a bit of a fuzzy head myself, made me want to give it a go.  I bought myself a jar in Sainsburys right before this great post went up.  Here's even more uses for coconut oil, along with some great photos of jar modelling...


Thursday, 11 June 2015

Transition dressing

tunic dress matalan brogues clarks

hudson tights brogues

I'm still doing that dance between cold weather clothes and warm weather clothes this week.  I mean, it's been milder (almost warm actually) but rainy, so... tights it is then.  I had some new ones to test out when UK Tights got in touch and asked if I wanted a few pairs to review - I'd seen Kerry's awesome post and commented that 'one size' tights never fit my stupid legs, so I was pleasantly surprised when Marta emailed to say they had a range of longer length tights and did I want to test them out?  Um, yes please.  Marta helped me out by telling me what fitted her equally long legs best, so I went for a pair of Hudsons and two from the Levante range.

Above I'm wearing the Hudson Glamour Glossy Tights in Marine.  I went for a size III - not a standard measurement and the one part of the choosing process I found to be a bit confusing, although the customer reviews helped me decide for each pair.  It's always worth a look at what other people have to say about a product first!  I don't normally pick such a fine denier because they either slide down or I put my hand through them, but after a day at work of lifting heavy film boxes in and out a van and onto shelves, they had not a mark on them and were still firmly in place.  WIN. (Double win?  They have a label inside, something I think should be a standard thing in tights, although not many retailers seem to agree...)

dress - Matalan via charity shop
brogues - Clarks

long tshirt H&M polka dot skirt M&S

levante tights compression support review converse

Next I tried out the Levante Relax Firm Support Tights in Nero.  These turned out to be a fun option - they have compression technology for helping out tired legs.  Since I have a desk job I hardly need such support, but they sure do suck you in and make you stand up a bit taller!  The only part of these I wasn't fussed on were the reinforced heels - it was hard to position them so they weren't peeking above the back of my shoes, but I'm sure I can work that out next time I put them on.  Sizing on this range was different again, and I chose an X Tall which fitted perfectly fine, and the compression factor made them tight enough to stay put for hours.

tshirt - H&M
skirt - M&S via charity shop
shoes - Converse

I also picked the Levante Matisse Airskin tights to review, but that was before the temperatures decided to become more seasonally appropriate, so 150 denier no longer felt like an appealing option...  I'll definitely be taking them to Orkney though, thanks to all the horror stories people have been telling me about the weather, so no doubt I'll be able to write up a proper review soon.

(Also, how hard is it to photograph legs?  For all the outfit pictures I shoot, you'd think it would have taken me less than thirty frames to get a good shot...)

*I received the tights in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks UK Tights!*


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Holiday knitting

leather knitting case full of wool needle case vintage

For me, holidays mean even more knitting time.  And reading time, but since I'm stuck somewhere in the middle of Testament of Youth and have been for a while (I'm really loving it and read at least ten pages a day but it's so thick it never seems to make a dent...) I'm probably not going to get through many books while we're in Orkney.  Let's just look at all the knitting plans instead!

Above is my case full of goodies.  I have all my wool - there's a couple of current projects, a couple of quick ones and a couple of crochet things to start.  Plus my new 20p sheep needle case!  It's holding my double pointers and my short circulars quite well, although since it's made for straight needles there's only so much I can get in there.

project drawstring bag aran chunky wool wooden needles

I finally finished my waistcoat at the weekend (more on that soon) and my next project is another baby blanket.  I just can't stay away from them!  This one was inspired by Purl Bee's Eleventh Hour blanket and I'm using some leftover Aran wool that's been in my stash for the longest time (it might even be the oldest thing in there) and for the trim I've got a ball of Bergere De France Recyclaine in Orangeade (best shade name ever).  The Purl Bee pattern claims I'll need 100g for the trim but since I'm working on a slightly smaller scale, and I only have that one odd ball I got on sale, I'm gonna try and wing it.  Deramores is my go-to for this stuff usually and I noticed they have Orangeade in stock, so I'm all set if it doesn't stretch far enough.  And even if it does, I might need more anyway - I used the Recyclaine in a cream colour for my sheep hat and it's my new favourite!  I'm doubling the Aran up to make it nice and cosy, so it should be a pretty quick knit.

(I also put together a tutorial for making this handy project bag, more on that soon too!)

small wool bag baby booties

Baby booties.  They're my default train knit.  I have this little make up bag that I keep stocked with my favourite pattern, needles and a couple of balls of wool, so that I always have something to stick in my bag to keep my hands busy on a journey.  I may not get around to making more pairs but I like to keep it to hand anyway, just in case.  Plus it takes so little wool to create them (less than 50g a pair) that I can use up all my odd bits.

yarn leather case wool multi coloured chunky

Yes, even more projects.  The chunky Stylecraft Allsorts yarn I bought in three colours when Deramores was having a mega sale in January - I got 150g of each to make chunky hats for everyone for Christmas.  I love love love making hats.  With the chunky wool, all it takes is some circular needles and couple of hours, and voila!  One hat!  A few more minutes with a pompom maker and what do you get?  An even better hat!

The Red Heart Bella wool was also from the mega sale - it was one of those moments where I thought 'I don't know what I'd do with this wool but I want to buy it anyway and find out.'  Then of course, I forgot about it until I was looking for holiday projects at the weekend.  I fancied making another lace crochet scarf  (most likely a slightly different design but maybe the same one if I can't find anything better) and I think the colours will look great in something like that.  If anyone's found a lovely triangular scarf pattern, let me know!

vintage knitting leather case bowling bag pompoms

Here's the case holding all that lovely wool together.  I found this old bowling bag in a charity shop a few months ago - I love the design of these cases but they always seem to come with bowls in them and, although I could have just bought one and donated the bowls back, I could never quite pull the trigger on an actual purchase.  Then this one came along with a broken plastic insert and the beginnings of mould under it, for a very reasonable £2.50.  The plastic went in the recycle bin, the entire case got scrubbed with anti-bac spray, and now it makes a perfect travel sized project bag.  As evidenced above, I decided it needed just a little something to jazz up the brown leather, so the pompom stash was raided and a few were tied on to the handle.  It reminded me of tying ribbons to my suitcase handles when I was a kid - my gran's method of finding our suitcases quickly on an airport luggage carousel!

This will likely sound ridiculous, but I'm not sure I have enough wool here...  Hear me out though.  I've picked projects that (mostly) use thick yarn and big needles, so, while the crochet will certainly take me a while to complete, the knitting could be done in a few days.  I expect to be sharing driving time with Tam, but a journey to Orkney is at least eight hours from home (not to mention the ten days of holiday), so in half of that I could knock up a hat or two, and the blanket has already been started.  I might add some yarn for another chevron blanket as a back up, or stick in more hat wool.  Or just finally plough my way through Testament of Youth.  Any thoughts?


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

A trip to the West End Festival

kibble palace glasgow botanic gardens west end festival 2015

kibble palace west end festival botanic gardens glasgow 2015

botanic gardens glasgow greenhouse leaves

byers road glasgow west end festival 2015

west end festival glasgow balloons bunting

I feel like I'm a proper Glaswegian now that I've experienced the West End Festival.  Well, a small part of it anyway.  Sunday saw Byers Road closed to traffic and full of food stalls and, if the crowds were anything to go by, half the population of Glasgow.  I'm not usually a fan of putting myself in such a busy environment, but it was pretty easy to walk around and see what was going on, despite the masses of people.

We started off at the Botanic Gardens to check out the market being held in the Kibble Palace (that big building in the top pictures).  There were some fantastic vendors and although I didn't buy anything, it was great to see so much local talent on display.  We made our way down Byers Road afterwards, where a lot of food purchases took place.  I saw a sign for Pizza Cones - CONE SHAPED PIZZA!  I'm a sucker for a gimmick and these were totally worth it.  Delicious.  Next came a more traditional cone, a chocolate dipped one filled with ice cream from the University Cafe.  Also delicious.

Whenever I know I'll be seeing my mum the next day, I have a standing order to get her a meringue or two from one of the many bakeries around here.  I've found a few good ones so far but I managed to get to a couple of new places, so she has a giant plain one and a strawberry one to keep her going.  She did request raspberry though but I might be forgiven when she sees them ;)

My old bosses now own a fudge stall and I ran into them in the middle of all the eating.  They were awesome enough to donate me a few yummy flavours but I could only face sampling the strawberry champagne one after I stuffed myself on other goodies...  It was fab though - sort of fizzy and sweet, so...like strawberries and champagne...

We didn't stay for the parade at three, but there's tons more stuff happening in the next couple of weeks if anyone's heading over for a visit - walks and concerts and exhibitions and probably lots more food.  I'll just be eating Orkney cakes instead of Glasgow ones...


Monday, 8 June 2015

Super Summer 2015

summer 2015 list pier sea

My Super Summer plan is a bit later going up than last year's one - it just didn't feel like winter was going to let go until last week.  June has arrived anyway, so we'll call it summer.  Here's what we have planned for summer 2015...  Lots of adventures and exploring and random stuff, unsurprisingly.

  • Swim in an outdoor pool
  • Lie in a hammock
  • Start Sunny Friday Ice Cream Club at work (done!)
  • Visit three Scottish islands (started!)
  • Knit on the beach 
  • Do something fun for Tam's birthday
  • Do something fun for my birthday
  • Film our adventures
  • Enter the National Trust for Scotland photography competition
  • Go camping in East Neuk of Fife
  • Find puffins (definitely done!)
  • Visit Sarah
  • Have many picnics
  • Yarn bomb something somewhere
  • Have a BBQ
  • Drink beer outside (in the sun?)
  • Walk across the Forth Road Bridge
  • Roll down a hill
  • Try surfing
  • Swim in the sea
  • Light the chimenea in the garden
  • Build a sandcastle

We carried over a few from last year's list that we didn't get around to - but really, it's not that easy to find a hammock or a surf school in Scotland.  (Now that I've said that, I bet someone tells me many places that would be willing to teach me how to surf...)  The filming of the adventures has been started - well, on the odd times we actually remember to use the video function of the camera.  I got some great footage going across the Forth Bridge on Arbroath day, so if I keep going I can do some editing at work and maybe share a video on here!  No one hold their breath though, okay?

Is anyone else making a summer list? 


Friday, 5 June 2015

Friday Threes - Moments, Food and Sheep Themed Knitting Patterns...

As you can see from the title, I went pretty specific on the sub headings this week...  There's just too much good stuff out there on the internet!  So here's my latest 'three lots of three things' in life.  Might as well start with the most delicious one.

kancho chocolate biscuits

1 - Kancho biscuits - This box sort of jumped out at me from the foreign aisle of the supermarket, and when I went in for a closer look I got all excited and thought they were the Asian equivalent of Cartoonies (remember them?  They were the shizzle.  Yup, I said it.)  Sadly, they didn't live up to the legends, but they made a good post-dinner snack the other night.

2 - Scottish strawberries - It's that time again!  Mine came from Islay and as usual I didn't eat them quickly enough and they went all soft.  Still delicious though, if in need of an ice cream garnish.

3 - Morrisons pasta salad - I have a confession to make.  I'm obsessed with the make-your-own-salad bar at the supermarket.  I've been eating two a week since March and it's still not enough.  My favourite thing is the spicy chicken pasta, which is strangely not the same in every store - the version in my local Morrisons is perfection, but the stuff in my mums local is gross.  Go figure.

island book illustrations flowers nature

1 - My new book - I've blethered on about this on Instagram plenty but I couldn't resist sharing pictures on here.  I found this gorgeous book in an antique centre on Doune Castle day.  Island is a completely hand drawn diary of a year on Easdale, taking in all the nature elements of the place.  It makes me want to get out my drawing pencils and make my own!  Although I'm not sure Glasgow is quite as an appealing subject...

2 - Emails from bloggy friends - The awesome Jo knows a bit about Orkney and she send me tons of good info on where to go and what to do.  And we realised we shared a love of Nicholas Cage, which could probably count as a third excellent moment, but the actual third one is excellent too, so I'll just lump him in here.

3 - Cinema and sushi - I had a bad day on Saturday.  Like when one thing goes wrong, followed by another and another until everything I touched jinxed me.  So when I feel like giving up on life, I go sit in a dark room with a giant screen until I feel like myself again.  This was the first thing that went right that day - I realised I suddenly had two hours to kill (don't ask) and there was film I sort of wanted to see starting in five minutes (Pitch Perfect 2), so I made straight for the cinema.  The only one at my disposal was a Cineworld and I'm a die hard Odeon devotee, but it served its purpose and I left the screen feeling a million times better.  And lamenting the fact that I'm a dreadful singer.  Oh, then I met Tam and ate sushi and tofu and curry and it was bloody brilliant.  Bad day cured!

Sheep Themed Knitting Patterns
shaun the sheep knitted blanket sweater scarf kate davies wool and the gang

This theme sounds specific, but it pretty much wrote itself after I somehow acquired two sheep patterns in the space of a few days.  And found another awesome one.  Gotta stick to my chosen number!

1 - Shaun the Sheep blanket (free from Deramores) - I saw some chat about this pattern before it was released, and when it hit my inbox on Wednesday I had to download it.  I love anything Shaun the Sheep (case in point) and even if I don't make the whole blanket, I may have to make a few sheep head squares...

2 - Wool and the Gang 'Sheep Thrills' Sweater - I must admit, I think Wool and the Gang is pretty overpriced considering how basic their patterns are, but this design is super cute and I really want my own (with matching hat!).  I think some pattern hacking may be in order...

3 - Kate Davies 'Rams and Yowes' lap blanket - Kate was selling her patterns half price for a day last week to celebrate eight years since her first blog post - that's some good blogging stamina right there!  I adore Kate's designs and have been going back and forth for ages on which one I want to make first, so when the sale came up I jumped on the sheep one.  It's labelled as a lap blanket but I'd probably make it into more of a shawl shape so I could wear it.  I'm a bit scared after reading through the pattern though - the word 'steek' was mentioned (cutting the knitting) and now I'm just ignoring it until I build up the courage to have a go...


Thursday, 4 June 2015

Summer, but not

M&S red loafers deck shoes

grey wool sweater navy patterned trousers red loafers

wool sweater jumper pattern trousers red loafers

This was my outfit on the third day of June, when even Scotland has usually edged into the summer season.  Ha!  Not so much this year.  It was mild, but sweater wearing was still necessary.  Part of this outfit was covered in my latest Buyer's Archive post but it's always nicer to see things being worn, don't you agree?

I love these H&M patterned trousers for an easy smart/casual vibe, and the loafers I own in three colours cause I'm just that crazy.  They go with everything though!  Oddly enough, after wearing the cream ones and the navy ones, these red ones cut my heels to shreds on a couple of occasions before deciding that, actually, they don't really mind my feet after all.

My old internet is now officially gone (SOB!) and my new one is taking a suspiciously long time to show up, so I'm back on the dongle for a few days.  It's probably the only time that my past cowardly self has proved to be useful - I've not even used the dongle since August but I'm too much of a baby to call up Three and have a giant argument about cancelling it.  I can't deal with their pushy customer service yet...  On the bright side, EE have upgraded my phone data from 4GB to 10GB and I'm now very 'GOOGLE ALL THE THINGS!!!'  Whatever useless facts the internet has thrown up in the past 24 hours, I've probably read them.  It can't quite make up for losing Netflix access, but it's cushioning the blow somewhat...

sweater - EWM via charity shop
trousers - H&M
loafers - M&S


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

A trip to Doune Castle

doune castle exterior inside walls

doune castle lords hall

doune castle giant padlock gate

doune castle roof view

doune castle roof portcullis

doune castle brickwork roof 1992

doune castle stone wall

Sunday was one of those awkward days, with rain one minute and sunshine the next.  A challenging mixture when trying to plan an adventure!  We decided to go to Callander and get some amazing cake, with a trip to the Scottish Antique and Arts Centre we'd pass on the way.  Our pessimistic view of the weather was basing this plan on it being raining, but when it dried up on our way past Doune Castle, I made a snap decision to visit there instead of going to Callander.  Don't worry, there was still cake.

Doune Castle is one of the famous Outlander filming locations, and going by the display they had up with the others on it, I've now visited them all!  I've still not seen the actual TV show, but it's on my list for after the holidays.  (My internet is being replaced this week and apparently I could be up to a week without broadband.  I was having a hard time preparing myself for the one day I thought it would take, so I'm now in full scale panic mode over what the hell I'm going to do without Netflix and blogs for that long.  It doesn't bear thinking about...)  The other castles are Linlithgow Palace (check), Aberdour (check) and Blackness.  Oh, and I also read somewhere that there was filming done at Culross and Preston Mill - I'm practically in the show!

We didn't manage to walk through the grounds (I was convinced it was about to rain again any second) and we didn't even see the whole of the inside since there was a wedding taking place, but the bits we did see were pretty cool.  After climbing a lot of tiny steps up to the roof, we were rewarded with a spectacular view of Doune and beyond, and the hall at the bottom had some excellent glass panes and wood paneling.

After we climbed/tripped our way down the spiral steps again, we were rewarded with lunch at the Buttercup Cafe (good not great, although it was plenty busy) and a wander round the antique centre.  I found a gorgeous book full of illustrations of Easdale in my budget, and plenty of gorgeous jewellery that wasn't.  Not a bad day out after all.

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