Sunday, 18 September 2016

Life Lately

Hello, all.  It's been a while.

Summer happened in a bit of a hazy whirlwind over here.  One minute I was snuggled in a giant scarf and the next I was sitting on the beach for the last time, knitting a woolly cardigan and accidentally letting the sun turn my legs a fierce shade of pink.  Despite having almost no plans all season, blog writing kind of fell by the wayside.  It seems ironic that when I actually had time to write, I had no notion whatsoever to do so.  Even now, I don't really miss blogging, but I suddenly felt the urge to return to this wee space and type things out properly, instead of fitting a couple of sentences around a snapshot on Instagram.  So, what's been going on?  I'll tell you!

My brother got married.  He has a WIFE.  It's still blowing my mind that one of us could be mature enough to take a life step as big as this one.  Weren't we just flinging Action Men around the garden and clinging onto my gran's perilously sloped driveway for dear life as we starred in our own live action version of Jumanji?  I think I might be old now.  Although, if I'm old, so is Michael.  The wedding itself was beautiful and took place on the hottest day of the year, so the plans for an outdoor ceremony extended to everything but dinner happening outside.  I wore vintage Laura Ashley, had a dance off with one of Mic's co-workers and was in the shower after midnight.  The groom fell asleep in the bath.  Breakfast the next morning was the best thing ever.

There were a lot of visits to castles and beaches and lighthouses.  A museum of lighthouses, in fact.  Tam and I went to Crovie, followed by many other places on the north-east coast, and probably used our Historic Scotland and National Trust passes more than on any other trip.  The close proximity to Sarah meant a lunch date could be squeezed in, so we hung out at the playpark with Matilda and ate donuts.  Good trip.

Lots of walking happened, but also lots of sitting.  My knitting productivity was higher than ever, but I still got to hang with lots of my favourite people (and dogs).  Tam's birthday scarf was knit in record time and I spent many mornings reading library books and many evenings binge watching whatever TV series took my fancy.  I listened to music - well, I listened to the same three songs over and over.  Standard.

Best of all, I got to hang out with my mum all summer.  It seemed like forever since we'd had any quality time together and, although I have lots of favourite people, she's my ultimate favourite, so it was good to be back in each others daily lives again.

And then I went and got myself a job.  In England.

Now, I'm not one of those Scottish people who hates the English and believes we must claim back our homeland blah blah blah, but I am very Scottish.  I'm all about the scenery and the local culture and telling everyone that Scotland is the best place on earth (we'll ignore the weather situation for now) and now I live in Newcastle.  So that's been a slight culture shock, although mostly because I've never lived anywhere before that I didn't already know pretty well, and I knew nothing about Newcastle before I arrived.  It's too soon for me to form an opinion on the area yet, but I do like my job.  I'm a film technician again, although back in a cinema and with a lot of extra skill requirements!  I've worked three shifts so far and I still can't understand people's accents through the work radio, but luckily I don't need to quite yet.  I can still turn a projector off and on but there's so much else to learn.  It's nice to feel my brain working again, I suppose!

So, that was summer.  How did everyone else's go?

(There's a chance things might remain sporadic over here but I'm on Instagram most days if anyone feels like joining me over there)


Wednesday, 15 June 2016

FO - Sheep cushion

sheep cushion knitted bobble stitch finished knits purl soho pillow

This guy was on my 'to knit' list for a loooong time.  I'm a bit of a sheep fan - when I was a kid I collected anything sheep-shaped, from soft toys to ornaments to notebooks - and I'm also partial to a good pillow, so it seemed like an obvious choice for some selfish knitting (I use that terminology merely to illustrate that the knit in question was for me, not because I think knitting for oneself is selfish in any way.  It might even be the best form of crafting, in fact.)  It was a slightly bigger undertaking than I initially expected due to all the bobble stitch, which caused a bit of a strain on the wrists at points, but it was totally worth it.

sheep cushion knitted bobble stitch finished knits purl soho pillow

sheep cushion knitted bobble stitch finished knits purl soho pillow kitchener stitch

Pattern - Bobble Sheep Pillow by Purl Soho

Yarn - cream-coloured Aran found in a charity shop (just shy of 400g, held double) and charcoal-coloured Aran leftover from Tam's Christmas sweater (around 30g)

Needles - 10mm (body) and 6.5mm (head and ears)

Additional materials - 1.5 old cushions for the stuffing

Notes - Both of these yarns are the gifts that keep giving since I seem to have knit various projects with each and still have piles left!  There's nothing I love better than using up bits of my stash though, and this cushion was perfect for that.

Anyone who's familiar with the original pattern (or indeed, the basic structure of a sheep) might notice that I made a few changes.  Try as I might, the tail was not turning out to my liking, so I decided that sheep don't need tails after all.  The same goes for the legs - I didn't even realise the design included legs until I was part way through the body, so they were also deemed unnecessary.  There's a chance my cushion is a representation of a sheep rather than anything based on reality...

Another difference in my version was to hold the yarn double and use my biggest needles to get a super chunky sheep.  The original calls for chunky yarn and mine used two strands of Aran, so there wasn't a huge variation in size, but it did make the 'knit 3 together' sections a bit awkward!

In what turned out to be fantastic timing, my mum was getting rid of a couple of circular throw cushions.  One of them filled most of the sheep shape, then I tore a few handfuls of wadding from the other and one perfectly stuffed sheep appeared before me.  I've also saved the old zips and covers for other projects, so there was some extreme recycling going on!

sheep cushion knitted bobble stitch finished knits purl soho pillow

Has anyone made this cushion?  Or anything else sheep inspired?

(My sheep will not be going to any garage sale, contrary to what Tam's t-shirt might be telling you...)

Linking up to Ginny's Yarn Along.


Monday, 13 June 2016

This Little Big Life

There's a new link up on the block.  Sarah of Sarah Rooftops and Louise of Squished Blueberries have created a fun photo sharing project documenting the little moments in a weekend that make up the bigger moments in life.  Since I've been feeling a bit uninspired with my Photo an Hour attempts recently, I thought I'd join in with this instead and see how things turned out.  Would I still remember to take pictures without the enforced regularity?  Read on to find out...

morning knitting blanket charity blue moss stitch little big life

sheep pillow cushion knitted pirl soho free pattern bobble stitch black and white little big life

minion won arcade amusement crane machine toy stuffed little big life

on the floor picture taking socks football weekend little big life

funky fish fingers spaghetti hoops hash browns dinner weekend little big life

Tam came to visit and I set off to meet him at the train station, not anticipating much adventure and therefore not bothering to take my camera.  Oh, how foolish I was, not least because this happens on a regular basis.  We didn't do anything especially thrilling but we had a nice little wander and I would have liked to take nice little pictures of the places we went to.

There was lunch and ice cream cones, graveyards and 2p machines and another minion from another crane machine.  There was knitting and spaghetti hoops and lying on the living room floor, just to see what the view through the lens looked like from down there.  There were pictures taken for a post about a sheep, coming up later this week.  There was football.  Of course there was.

seagulls attack seaside scotland couple little big life

lion statue yarn bombing knitted mouse tiny white scotland little big life

jar of beads upcycling reuse charity shop find little big life

On Sunday, we actually had options of which event to attend in my wee little hometown.  There was a food festival nearby, but we went for live music on the promenade - listeners got to make use of the deck chairs, after all.  The seagulls were particularly lively that day, especially when a naive couple tried to unwrap their chippy lunch.  It was a cloudy but calm day, my favourite type of weather.  We did some yarn bombing with a few crochet animals I had sitting around at home - the mouse joined a lion statue, the whale was hung from a tree by the harbour and the duck found a place on the railings by the boating pond.  I'm planning to walk around town again this week and see if any of them are still there!

After walking Tam to the station, I did a few sewing jobs, including de-beading this top I found recently.  I save all my crafty rejects for Tam's auntie (she does all the crafts) and my face cream was finished just in time to provide a good bead home.

There's more info on the link up here and anyone can join in on social media too.  I doubt I'll remember to capture every weekend but it's fun to see what everyone else is up to!

How was everyone's weekend?  Full of chances to get out and embrace the summer?


Friday, 10 June 2016

Travelling the Angus Coastal Route

harbour flowers pansies gourdon scotland angus coastal route seaside

It's the same every year.  June approaches and Tam and I finally give into our desperation for a holiday, making a snap decision about which Scottish coast we'll be exploring this year.  There was a lot of talk about Skye in the past few months but, with one of us unemployed*, ultimately we went for the cheapest option we could find.  And it turned out to be a boat-load of fun (you'll see why this terrible pun becomes relevant in a minute).  One minute we were chatting about Stonehaven, the next we had a pitch booked in a campsite at Inverbervie and I was texting Sarah to schedule our next meet-up.  Sorted!

It turns out the route we took actually has a name - the Angus Coastal Trail - and I'd actually been to a few of the stops on the journey.  The trail begins in Dundee, home to many statues and a cosy tea tram, so head on over to that post for more info about the town.  This time, we skirted around Dundee and stopped for lunch not too far away in Broughty Ferry.

broughty ferry lamp post seagull blue sea water harbour scotland angus coastal route seaside

broughty ferry beach by the sea blue water tay bridges scotland angus coastal route seaside

Broughty Ferry
Our main reason for the pit stop here will come as no surprise to regular Elise and Life readers - we'd been told this wee town was home to nine charity shops.  After a picnic lunch by the sea, we set off on our mission to find them all.  It ended up being the easiest mission of all time since we happened to walk up the side street where one of them sat (right across from a wool shop, I might add) and the others were all lined up nicely on the small main street.  Admittedly, not many bargains were found, but it's as much about the thrill of the search where bargain hunting is concerned.

We took another wander to the sea front before leaving and came across the castle down by the harbour.  There was also a great view of the Tay Bridges - it turns out Broughty Ferry and Dundee are only 7 minutes apart on the train so it's the perfect place to escape the city for a few hours.

old hotel carlton montrose architecture scotland angus coastal route seaside

old wooden sign eroded vintage montrose scotland angus coastal route seaside

eroded window frame net curtains old wood montrose scotland angus coastal route seaside

vintage clock 1960 montrose scotland angus coastal route seaside

Next on our Charity Shop Trail (I decided to rename the trip at this point) was Montrose.  Technically, Monifieth, Carnoustie and Arbroath were next on the Coastal Route, but since we both really wanted to see Montrose, we decided to bypass these places and head straight there.  We did visit Arbroath last year though so if anyone wants to learn more about it, click on the link!

The highlight of Montrose for me ended up being not the vast number of charity shops (all in one street again, unless there's some we missed.  I love that kind of layout!) but the architecture.  Ooh, it was good.  Lots of vintage signs and wee local shops and quietly decaying properties.  Since we arrived later in the day, there wasn't much time to explore before we had to find food and the campsite, but it's somewhere I'd love to revisit in the future.

harbour gourdon boats scotland angus coastal route seaside

fishing pods nets cages harbour gourdon scotland angus coastal route seaside

harbour gourdon fishing boats couple scotland angus coastal route seaside

seaside harbour fishing boat popeye gourdon maggie law museum scotland angus coastal route seaside

retro vintage sign harbour bar gourdon scotland angus coastal route seaside

Tam had requested a stop here since it was somewhere he'd been on holiday as a kid.  When he found out there was a chip shop on the harbour, I voiced no objection.  We had a good poke around the harbour area, finding more boats and retro signs to photograph, then it was time for food.  The Quayside Restaurant more than met our expectations - I think the sole goujons were one of the best things I've ever eaten - and we left with full bellies, ready to pitch the tent!

Somehow we visited half the coastal trail in one day, so I'll leave the rest of our adventures for another post.  Come back next week for more seaside chat and a picture of a giant fish...

Who's been travelling on the Angus Coastal Route?  Any favourite stops?

*Obviously, I prepared myself with a reasonably generous safety net by the time my work contract ended.  I did not get into debt just for the sake of a holiday!


Thursday, 9 June 2016

The Buyer's Archive - May

vintage 90s C&A dress aztec tribal pattern summer dress crochet panel buyers archive charity shop

Two years ago, I started tracking my spending on everything that went into my wardrobe to see exactly how much of my outgoings went on non-essential items.  It's been an interesting experiment and one I plan to continue indefinitely.  Check out my journey here.

Oops, I'm slightly late with this month's post.  Let's blame my poor organisation skills combined with all of the stuff happening in the past week.  I'm going to try my best to be more punctual next month!

First up, a quick update on my purchases from last May.  I spent £6.25 on two sweaters, one of which I still own and love (the beige cashmere one).  The other wasn't a very flattering fit on me so it was filtered out, either to the eBay pile or the car boot one, I can't even remember now.  This May, I spent just a tiny bit more than that...

vintage C&A aztec print maxi dress button crochet panel wool cardigan M&S charity shop finds buyers archive

C&A Aztec pattern maxi dress via charity shop - £4.99
I took a bit of a risk with this dress - there were a couple of small seam holes and I wasn't sure I would suit the style and let's face it, I need no more dresses in my life, but I kinda love it.  Annoyingly, it's slightly see through, so I'll have to wear a slip with it - not something I'd usually bother with in the summer.  I'll see how much wear it gets in the next few months and possibly shorten it in the autumn to a more flattering length for wearing with tights.  The little crochet panels on the bodice make me happy though, as did the C&A flashback moment I just had when I was reading about them online - the Clockhouse brand still exists!  That was the cornerstone of my wardrobe back in the late 90s.

Vintage M&S men's wool cardigan via charity shop - £4.50
Another thing I need no more of - cardigans.  I just can't help myself - when I see a cosy woolly knit in great condition I buckle.  It might be time to get out of the shops since my overall charity shop luck has been excellent in the past few weeks.

new summer clothes charity shop finds white smock tunic top f&f wide leg cropped trousers east buyers archive

F&F embroidered tunic via charity shop - £4
I was searching for a white, 70s style smock top last month.  I'm not sure this is the perfect one - it's veeerrry big on me - but I might fiddle about with the shape of it and see what works.  Possibly losing the sleeves would help, since the voluminous style is drowning me a bit.  Stand by for updates!

East wide leg cropped trousers via charity shop - £1.99
Another case of finding just what I was looking for that day.  I fancied some wide leg crops for the summer months since I found myself wearing trousers much more last year (Apparently I'm living in a wind tunnel, oh well).  These are so comfortable and I love them to bits.  I had to take them in a bit at the waist but someone had already shortened them to the perfect length, so it was a fairly quick alteration.

Total spend for May 2016 was £15.48.  Not bad, but I think I might need to start selling off some of my lesser worn items - we're into minus numbers where coathangers are concerned now.

Who joined in this month?  Don't forget to use the #buyersarchive hashtag on social media so I can share your posts!


Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Yarn Along

knitting reading charity knits commit to knit tiny hats egg cosy kate morton the forgotten garden

I'm all about the charity knitting right now!  I talked about it a bit on Instagram but I thought I'd summarise over here in case anyone missed it.  (Maybe some people aren't on Instagram?  Crazy.)   June is Commit to Knit month, an initiative set up by UK Hand Knitting to get more people knitting for charity.  My mum subscribes to a few knitting magazines so I pinched her copy of the pattern booklet that came free with The Knitter and formulated a plan to spend the whole of June creating some cute knits to donate.  It's going pretty well so far!  The lack of phone signal when we were on holiday last week helped keep my productivity up and I came home with two full sized hats and a bunch of egg cosy-sized ones, as seen above.  They still need pompoms but I figured I'd get a production line going for them at some point.

My plan for the rest of the week is to make more adult hats, finish my sheep cushion (it just needs a tail, so it should be done today) and maybe start the scarf I promised Tam for his birthday at the end of the month.  Oh, and I have some sewing to crack on with.  Lots to keep me busy!

Last week I finished The Light Between Oceans and I loved it.  I'm even more excited to see the film now.  Oddly enough, my next read, The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, has a lot of the same themes - Australian family finds abandoned child, believes them to be orphaned, raises them as their own, finds out parents are looking for them, struggle with moral dilemma...  Obviously, anything more I say would require a huge spoiler warning but I'm also liking this book so far.

Linking up to Ginny's Yarn Along.

What's everyone creating this week?


Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Five reasons for crafters to visit New Lanark

wool winding production mill new lanark heritage site scotland

Hi, I'm Elise and I'm a bit handy with a pair of knitting needles.  But you already knew that, didn't you?  The thing about being someone who's always thinking one (or five) craft projects ahead is that they tend to take over my life a bit, seeping into everyday plans until I realise I've been hunched over the sewing machine for three days straight.  In other words, it was time to get outside, so Tam and I went off to wander around New Lanark again.  Last time the crowds put us off going into the mill but this time, it was a toasty Tuesday morning and the perfect time to explore more.  However, I wasn't really straying too far from my natural habitat because, as you're about to find out, New Lanark is the perfect place for a crafter's day out.

village shop window display vintage food cans new lanark heritage site scotland

buildings mill bunting lanimer week new lanark heritage site scotland

roof garden view mill tour new lanark heritage site scotland

Everywhere you look, there's another colour palette.
From the miles of bunting strung around the buildings for Lanimer Week, to the cans in the window of the village shop, to the infinite shades of green around the Falls of Clyde walkway, inspiration really is everywhere at New Lanark.  I've already come up with a few ideas for all the knitted hats I'll be making this month!

machinery wool production winding mill new lanark heritage site scotland

cotton bales mill tour new lanark heritage site scotland

The chance to see where those squishy balls of wool come from...
I don't know about you guys but I love to see behind the scenes of anything.  It's not often the opportunity comes along for a glimpse inside the world of wool spinning but at New Lanark, it's happening all week long.  The mill dates all the way back to the 18th century, although it was spinning cotton then - wool production began in the 1990s.  The mill floor is part production, part exhibition, with plenty of interesting displays to look at and read while the machinery whirrs away in the background.  On the tour, there's also the Annie McLeod Experience. a ride that tells the story of manager Robert Owen and New Lanark back in 1820 as it glides through history, and a handful of other buildings relating to the time when production was at its peak.  

vintage british brands mugs kitchenware penguin tea custard oxo gift shop new lanark heritage site scotland

wool shop aran new lanark heritage site scotland

...and where they end up.
In my bag.  Eh, I mean, in the giant mill shop!  We've all seen the little gift shop at the end of the tour, but New Lanark does things on a whole other scale.  Peruse the vast array of merchandise, much of which is made right here in Scotland, or just head straight to the wool annex.  All tastes and needs are catered for here, although the main sections include 25 shades of chunky yarn, 45 of Aran and 48 of double knitting weight.  Don't expect to leave this section in a hurry, unless you're shopping for a man who knows exactly what he wants - I'd promised Tam some wool to make a birthday scarf and within a minute he was thrusting a couple of Aran balls into my hands.  Job done. 

As well as wool, there's also a selection of knitting kits, patterns and tools on offer and, if you can't make it to the mill, they even have an online store that can ship your purchases around the world.

ice cream cones new lanark heritage site scotland

walls ice lolly vintage style cool bag picnic tartan blanket

There's space for al fresco eating and crafting in abundance
With a new picnic area and a sprinkling of benches everywhere you look, there's hardly any need to think up an excuse to sit down, pull out the knitting needles and dig into the cool bag.  As well as wool, New Lanark has its own ice cream, so it might just be the most awesome place ever.  Look out for the bicycle-powered ice cream cart that sits outside the shop on sunny days!  If the weather isn't playing ball (and let's face it, that's a likely possibility) the cafe is well stocked with tables, cake and, yup, more ice cream.

picnic knitting outside knit in public new lanark heritage site scotland

knitting tiny hat egg cosy charity commit to knit new lanark heritage site scotland

This summer, the forecast predicts crafting fun
For the first time, New Lanark is hosting an event for World Wide Knit in Public Day this June.  What better way to meet fellow craft enthusiasts from the area and learn some new skills?  The kiddies are even more well catered for in the school holidays with a timetable of great craft sessions every week - there's a chance I might try and sneak into that monster puppet-making workshop...

Who's been to New Lanark?  Any tips for my next visit?

*I was provided with a couple of guest passes for the mill for the purpose of this post*


Thursday, 26 May 2016

Photo an Hour - May

knitted sheep pillow in progress breakfast

knitting bobbles sheep pillow purl soho photo an hour may 2016

09:02 - Eating breakfast and contemplating my latest knitting project.  So many bobbles, such sore wrists.

10:13 - I was going to watch Netflix and knit more, then changed my mind and decided to get an earlier train to town so I could get some shopping done before meeting Tam.

what im wearing polka dot vintage dress on the train scotland photo an hour may 2016

scotrail train interior blue photo an hour may 2016

11ish - Obligatory What I'm Wearing on PAH Day shot!  H&M cardigan, vintage M&S polka dot dress and disco Converse.  And tights.  Boo.  The only full-length mirror in Mother's house is in the darkest spot so some fancy camera work was required here...  Then it was a dash for the first train.

12:25 - Tam fancied checking out the charity shops in the next town over so I hopped on another train an hour later.  The interval shopping trip was fairly successful - I managed to convey to the No 7 woman in Boots how utterly useless I was and she did my makeup for me.  We're off to a wedding this weekend and I thought I'd make a bit of an effort!  I don't like looking like I'm wearing a ton of makeup but my skin has been misbehaving for a few months so needs must...

Also on my shopping list was some quick-dry nail polish and a new SIM card.  The phone shop was unexpectedly closed and I bought the wrong type of polish.  Yup, one of those days.

tartan check plaid pub decor scotland photo an hour may 2016

building painting graphics design scaffolding photo an hour may 2016 scotland

13:16 - Met Tam, visited some charity shops and had lunch at this very patriotic pub.

14:42 - After agreeing that the pickings had been pretty rubbish, we went back to the main town and had a quick visit to my favourite shops.  There was some rather fun painting going on when we turned the corner.

train home scotland photo an hour may 2016

sitting log beach scotland seaside photo an hour may 2016

15:30 - There was a bit of a dash for the train home.  I know you're all completely riveted by these pictures of public transport in Scotland, right?

16:20 - Home, and we went a bit of a drive around since my car hasn't been used much lately - my bro has already jump started it once since I moved down, oops.  As always, we ended up at the beach.  Apparently there was something exciting on that log, going by the outtakes.  I've already forgotten what it was.

novelty litter bins seaside play park scotland rocket ice cream penguin photo an hour may 2016

yarn haul stash ebay job lot purchase photo an hour may 2016

17:09 - After a bit of walking and messing around at the playpark, we went off to buy dinner supplies.  Not before I'd photographed this awesome collection of litter bins though.

18:05 - A giant parcel of wool greeted me when we got home!  I won a couple of job lots on eBay last week, nothing too exciting but I think I can find a use for most of it.

new CDs DVDs charity shop photo an hour may 2016

on the couch knitted photo an hour may 2016

the knitter magazine photo an hour may 2016

19:25 - Just to make today even more about materialistic things, here's the mini enetertainment haul we found in a charity shop that was selling ten CDs or DVDs for £4.90.  When Tam and I picked up one each and that came to £4, we figured it was worth raking around for a few more.  The selection was extremely limited but we made it work.  The CDs and bottom two DVDs are mine - we needed some car music for our camping trip next week!  Clubland Hardcore is strictly for the running playlist though.

21:57 - I slightly forgot about the photos for a while there...  We spent the evening watching a Fleetwood Mac concert on TV and reading the Empire Top 500 Movies list.  There was a bit of debate about how certain films had made their way onto the list and when we realised it would take forever to watch them all, we moved onto the IMDb list.

22:41 - Bedtime was approaching.  Mother has a new magazine subscription so I had a flick through when I got bored of knitting.

And that was Saturday!  Last May was our first trip to Helensburgh, which I think might have been slightly more exciting...  For anyone who wants to join in, check out the #photoanhour hashtag on social media to find out the date of the next one.

(I'm also talking all things jeans on the George at Asda blog this week, check it out here!)

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