Sunday, 28 February 2016

Things I want to do in March (and how my February plans went)

sewing threads vintage wooden box

Ah, February.  You passed by way too quickly.  I did finally see The Revenant though.  It was ok.

Top of my list was to find a job.  Despite a couple of interviews and a few more leads, this didn't happen.  The second interview sounded especially like a job I would have enjoyed and could potentially have led to even better things, but I was beaten by someone with more skills and experience. (Allegedly.  I never know if people are telling the truth when I get feedback or if they just didn't like me, but they were very nice about it so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.)  I'm still trying, but it's not easy to find anything that wouldn't be a huge step backwards, career wise.  I've applied for a volunteer position and a short term contract with organisations that I really like, so maybe that will go somewhere.  Fingers crossed!

The super de-clutter is in progress, although I feel I could be a bit more ruthless.  There's still a lot of stuff hanging around.  I have a car boot pile, an eBay pile, a redistribute pile (knitting books for colleagues, returning needles borrowed from Mother etc) and a couple of things for the dog home.  Still, it seems like I own too much.

The sewing pile went down.  Albeit in a very small way, but it's still moving in the right direction. (My friend was thrilled with her project bag, yay!)  Sewing always takes longer than I expect it to - in my head it's one of those instant gratification crafts but in reality, there's so much fiddling around with threads and measuring and ironing and cutting...

I didn't even look at my pilates book.  Oops.  Next month, I swear!

I think I've had marginally more sleep this month than in January.  I've made a real effort to go to bed early(ish) during the week and although my body has developed an annoying habit of waking up at some point during the night, I can usually fall asleep again easily.  Oddly enough, in the past week I've been feeling really tired during mid-morning and after lunch, but maybe it's just my stuffy office and the general feeling of lethargy I have at the moment.

Goals for March had better be something mild.  Except for getting a job.  I guess that has to stay my main focus.

Run more - I've been loving the nice evenings (when we get them) and was taking full advantage of being able to run outside in February.  I'm still not completely devoted to regular fitness, and have a whole host of great excuses when I can't be bothered, but I love running when I actually get out there and do it, and I don't even mind having to dodge around all the pedestrians on Great Western Road.

De-clutter more - A must-do, and a task that will have to be accompanied by another car boot sale soon, I reckon.

Sew more - Gotta get that fabric pile down!  I might sort through the alterations and check if there's anything I've changed my mind about, which would take care of a few things.

Read more - In the de-cluttering vein, I have a few books that have been waiting for attention for a long time and, since I rarely keep anything for repeat reads, these could also be recycled after I'm done.  My last library order has just arrived (the first Daughter of Smoke and Bone book, as recommended by Janet) so that can be added to the list too.  One of the main things that I'll miss about Glasgow will definitely be the library service!

Hang with Sarah and Matilda - Train tickets to Aberdeen were ridiculously cheap last week (£16 return) so I booked myself in to see two of my favourites next month.  I suspect they were cheap because the station I usually use is closing over the summer and the journey now takes an hour longer each way, but it'll be worth it.  Public transport is a prime knitting location, after all.

Attend Edinburgh Yarn Festival - It's nearly that time again!  A gang of us are going on the Saturday and I'm so excited to see so many great knitting people in one place, especially Kate Davies and the Shetland Wool Week team.  I'll be looking out for Nadia too!  After last year's experience, I'd like to try and visit later in the day to avoid the most manic of the crowds, but I'm sure it'll be fun anyway.

Who has exciting plans for March?  Is anyone going to the Yarn Festival?


Wednesday, 24 February 2016

FO - Pompom beret

knitted beret with a bow helen woodward pattern hat ravelry new lanark yarn wool DK sky pompoms

At work, I'm part of a team of four archivists.  We were all hired at the same time and we share a big office and we mostly get along just fine.  With our two-year contracts ending soon, some people are starting to move on to other places.  Officially, I would have been the first to leave since I started the earliest, but N found a fab new job last month and she left us on Friday.  She was part of the Crafty Crew at work (we don't call ourselves that, but I'm just realising that we totally should) and I knew she'd appreciate a handmade leaving gift, so I whipped up this cute beret.

knitted beret with a bow helen woodward pattern hat ravelry new lanark yarn wool DK sky

Pattern - A beret with a bow by Helen Woodward

Yarn - New Lanark DK in Sky (62g including pompoms)

Additions - Two pompoms made using the extra small pink Clover pompom maker*

Notes - Obviously, I substituted the bow for the pompoms.  N's style is quite feminine but I thought the bow might be verging a bit too much on the twee side for her taste.  This was the first time I'd used the New Lanark wool, despite having a few different balls in my stash for a while, and it was lovely to use.  The colour is very pretty too.  I longed to put a pompom on crown but I thought two was quite enough!

I was a bit worried that the loose style of the hat might make the fit a problem, but the band fit perfectly (on me anyway) and I think it would be fairly safe in the wind - always a major concern when making hats in Scotland!  This is not a style I'd think to make for myself but I really want my own version now...

Linking up to Ginny's Yarn Along.

*post contains affiliate link*


Monday, 22 February 2016

Photo an Hour - February

window stone heart shape winter

watching shetland catch up iplayer bbc laptop

08:38 - Did my usual weekend routine of faffing on my phone for a while after I woke up, then pulled up the blind to see if the weather would let me go for a run.  It would not.

09:48 - I remember faffing a bit more before settling down to watch Shetland from the night before.  Shit got real this week.  Poor Tosh.

soaking frogged yarn bath

frogged yarn blue wrinkled

10:39 - Faffing over (for now) and I started ticking a bunch of stuff off my 'Must get these fiddly yet useful tasks over with' list.  First up was de-wrinkling a bunch of yarn that I'd frogged the night before (from this vest).  I followed some online advice and let it soak in warm water for about half an hour.

11:29 - I squeezed out the yarn, hung it over the shower and... it was still crinkly.  Huh.  After letting it drip dry for hours, I wound it into balls about 10pm and stuck them on the radiator.  It looks more use-able now, but I guess I won't find that out until I find a use for it!  I also hand washed a knitted cardigan and sewed in a few ends from the blanket I finished the night before (Friday was also productive) before getting distracted with another task.

sewing table project bags drawstring tote vintage tea towel green tea seaside mug M&S brother machine

sewing machine project bag houses fabric offcut

drawstring tote projects bags recycled fabric houses boats tea towel charity shop

12:49 - Sewing time!  It takes ages for me to drag all my gear through to the living room but I passed a few enjoyable hours with my machine and Netflix (The Notebook and Sense and Sensibility, the latter of which is one of my all-time favourite movies.  Also, I'm having a moment with romantic movies lately.  I like a good comfort watch.)

13:28 - In the process of making another project bag - this one used fabric I bought from Char's Instagram sale and the drawstring casing was made with fabric I got at the last craft bloggers meet, although I'm not sure who was the original owner...

15:19 - Enough sewing for one day.  I made three bags - one from a vintage tea towel for my friend at work, one from a charity-shopped floral pillowcase for the gift drawer and one from Char's fabric for me!  I do love that boat one but I think my friend will appreciate it.  I couldn't be bothered making more bias binding for the drawstrings after the first one, so I'm planning to either buy ribbon when I'm in town this week or make it another time.

movie sense and sensibility emma thompson laptop netflix bedroom

16:23 - Sewing stuff tidied up and living room hoovered, I moved back to my room to finish the movie and make myself presentable for going out.

pastel colour 4ply yarn wool knitting

18:05 - Nope, not out.  I was planning to go to a free event for the Film Festival but when I checked online before getting the train, it was sold out.  Although the tickets were only available in person, on the day, evidently they could be booked when box office opened earlier, so there was nothing left by the time I planned to go into town.  So I guess I should have dragged myself there twice in one day, thus buying two return train tickets and making a free event very not free?  Great system, GFF.  (I'm still raging, in case you can't tell ;))

So, having not went to Tam's for a now non-existent reason, I decided to continue my productivity and cast on my next knitting project, a baby cardigan.

knitted baby blanket rainbow yarn

knitting project 4ply yarn lilac pyjamas

19:29 - Sewing in the ends of the latest blanket.  I love how this one turned out, pure rainbow goodness!

20:16 - Back to the knitting, using 4ply and smaller needles than usual.  I'm not one of those people who hates knitting on a small scale but the fine yarn takes a bit of getting used to.  This one looks lilac in some lights, grey in others, but it has a colourful yoke design so that should save it from looking too bland.

the year of living danishly book library paperback bed

23:36 - The missed hours included more knitting then winding the aforementioned blue yarn, so bed was a bit later than usual.  I'm liking this book so far, although I find it hard to believe that an entire population shares what seem like very generalised views.  There's lots of fun facts and silly anecdotes though.

Productive things I also did but didn't photograph
- gave my bookshelf a mini clearout 
- found a couple of things to stick on eBay
- used up three nearly finished spools of thread
- did a washing
- didn't take my pj's and dressing gown off all day

Productive things I did the next day
- bought a replacement bulb for my sewing machine
- stumbled upon a cute outfit combination
- took my knitting on the train
- hugged Tam
- figured out where to take my broken space heater for recycling (by calling my mum.  Google was surprisingly unhelpful.)
- wrote this, and Wednesday's, blog posts

Thanks to Jane and Louisa for hosting!  Check out their blogs for the date of the next Photo an Hour day if you want to join in.


Thursday, 18 February 2016

Cold weather days

cold weather outfit scotland winter cashmere cardigan vintage topshop M&S charity shop long tall sally jeans snow boots pajar

Saturday and I seemed to be getting along fine at the time.  I woke up early, caught up on my TV shows, finished my scarf and took a bunch of pictures, including the outfit pictures that I only seem to get about one chance a fortnight to capture.  There are various, highly dull reasons for this but I thought I was good to go this week.  I was not.  I was making a stupid face or twisting my body in some weird direction in just about all of the pictures I took.  You'd think that after five years of doing this, I'd be a bit better at getting good shots, but I guess not.  Still, the best part of this rather practical outfit is the top, and that photo worked just fine.

I like this top.  It makes me think of summer and the seaside and the 1950s and the imaginary puffy skirt I want to wear with it.  Perhaps best of all, it was £2 from a charity shop before Christmas.  That's the problem with finding out of season items in charity shops - I just want to wear them now!  A cashmere cardigan and my current favourite jeans made it work though.

pajar snow boots lace up TK Maxx winter

The rest of Saturday was actually pretty nice too, so I guess the rubbish photos were just a tiny blip.  I went along to The Yarn Cake for the first time to get a gift for Tam's mum's birthday (the guy at the counter suggested a Glasgow School of Yarn cowl kit that I ended up choosing) and then I found some lovely Scottish cards at Penny Black - I don't want to link to the awesomely appropriate card I got Tam for his birthday but I'm fairly confident he'll love it.  In June.  Hey, I'm organised.

My main reason for going out in the sleet (aside from present buying) was to get chocolate tarts from Cottonrake Bakery and find something yummy for lunch.  I ended up at Crollas and somehow didn't have ice cream, although I did have delicious flatbread that fuelled me up for the walk home.  And then, of course, I ate the cake.  Saturday was tasty.  How was your weekend?

cardigan - M&S via charity shop
knit top - Topshop via charity shop
boots - Pajar via TK Maxx


Wednesday, 17 February 2016

FO - Chorley Wrap Scarf

chorley wrap rowan knitted cable scarf red pompoms chunky

My newest, giantest, cosiest knit is finished and not a moment too soon, judging by the weather.  Are we at Storm Z yet?  Surely we must be running out of letters when a new storm appears every few days.  Saturday morning saw me putting the finishing touches on my scarf version of Rowan's Chorley Wrap.  As I caught up with the last two episodes of Shetland, I knit the last section and made a couple of pompoms for the ends.  Because of course I needed pompoms.

chorley wrap rowan knitted cable scarf red pompoms chunky

Pattern - Chorley Wrap by Rowan (get it free here)

Yarn - Robin Chunky in Claret (409g including pompoms)

Size - 140 inches long

Additions - Two pompoms using the large blue Clover pompom maker

Notes - So... I got carried away with this guy.  I wanted a scarf that I could wrap around my neck a couple of times but not necessarily one that dragged on the ground if I didn't wrap it.  Oh well, I'll manage!  I ended up really liking this pattern once I got used to the cabling.  A lot of my first burst of knitting on the scarf was when I watched Outlander last month, so in my head it's my Outlander scarf.  Does anyone else have knitting memories tied to TV shows that were on at the time?  I don't always remember them but my plans to start a knitting notebook mean I should really take notes on all these funny little quirks that go along with the creative process.

Obviously, I deviated from the original pattern, but only in a minor way - I used slightly finer yarn than recommended (chunky instead of super chunky) and didn't hold it double, and I also did more repeats than the wrap required, therefore ending up with more of a narrow scarf shape.  I just love how the cables look, especially the ones on the edges - I'd never really seen that before so it made the design even more special.  I also loved the selfish knitting!  Not that knitting for oneself is selfish in the slightest, but that seems to be the phrase to use in the crafting community.  It made me want to knit myself a whole range of accessories...

Check out my progress here and here.

chorley wrap rowan knitted cable scarf red pompoms chunky

As for my reading progress this week, I'm still on the same two books.  I'm just not feeling it with the Kate Atkinson one.  I'm getting into it very gradually but it's still a bit of a slog.  The timeline keeps jumping about and confusing me, although the story is good when I can figure out what's going on!

Linking up to Ginny's Yarn Along.

*post contains affiliate links*


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Yarn Along - works in progress

I have four knitting projects on the go right now.  Four.  For someone who was a very monogamous crafter until recently, this is pretty much my definition of madness.  My mum was horrified when I told her, so I guess that's where I get my one-project-at-a-time mindset from.  I also have another couple of things to cast on, but they're just going to have to wait their turn.

cable knit scarf chorley wrap rowan chunky yarn red

Cable scarf
I wrote a bit about my rare 'knit something for myself' project a few weeks ago so I won't repeat myself too much.  I'm using the Chorley Wrap pattern by Rowan, a design full of cables, which is not my favourite thing to knit.  It's about half way done and I must admit, I'm liking the pattern a lot more now that I've had a few good runs at it.  The cabling is still a little slow but it's made a nice accompaniment to a rather boring video collection I've been digitising at work.

rainbow coloured yarn baby blanket striped knitted

Baby blanket
The blanket is also coming along nicely, although I can only work on it at home since it's being gifted to a guy at work for his soon-to-be-born son.  I'm fairly confident it'll be finished before I leave, but I want to make another thing for him so I'll need to devote more time to this one.  There's a chance I might run out of the bright blue wool but my mum has backup supplies of a lot of Robin's range of double knitting yarn, so a quick phone call to her meant I have another ball coming in the post soon!

dublin bay socks knitting double pointers needles coloured yarn

Dublin Bay socks
I was looking for a portable knit to take on the flight to Cardiff last week and I had some sock yarn in my stash.  Easy.  I ended up knitting less than I expected on the trip but it was nice to have something there anyway, just in case the notion took me.  I did the cuff before I went to Wales and got a few rounds of the lace pattern in at the airport and in the air.  I think I'll keep these as a portable knit so who knows when they'll be done.

silver rowan knitted baby cardigan aran yarn stripes

Silver cardigan
Another Rowan pattern and another backup project.  I started this baby cardigan a while ago to use up some yarn I had sitting around.  I love these colours together but again, it's not something I'm making with a specific recipient in mind, so it'll go in the gift drawer when it's done.  The baby cardi I sent to Louisa was made using the same pattern but DK yarn instead of Aran.  I loved the colour combo on that too - this pattern seems to be my default for testing which of my yarn shades go together!

So, how many of these projects can I get done by the end of the month?  As long as the first two get done, I'll be happy, although I'm kinda hoping that by the time I finish the scarf, it'll be too warm to wear it.  Well, I can dream, can't I?

I also have two books on the go and another pile waiting to be read.  Apparently I can't settle my mind on just one thing this year.

currently reading yarn along call the midwife paperbacks

Farewell to the East End by Jennifer Worth
The last in the Call the Midwife trilogy and a book I've picked up and put down multiple times since Christmas.  I tend to prioritise library books, for obvious reasons, but I really like this series and I'm looking forward to getting back to it.

Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
My friend loves this book and I thought it sounded interesting so I borrowed it a while ago.  Last week I finally got around to starting it and I have to admit, it's not grabbing me so far.  I'll give it a few more chapters and if it doesn't improve, I'm going back to the midwives.

Linking up to Ginny's Yarn Along.

What's everyone knitting and reading this week?


Tuesday, 9 February 2016

A trip to Cardiff and Barry Island

cardiff city centre flags

national museum of wales exterior architecture building

cardiff wales architecture tk maxx shops

vintage shop front cardiff wales j bowles

cardiff castle wales exterior

animal wall cardiff wales castle

cardiff train station vintage signs platforms frontage

In hindsight, I should have split up this post, because I took so many pictures and wanted to stick them all on here.  No prizes for guessing which part of the trip I was most snap happy about - I do love a trip to the seaside, after all!

Let's start at the beginning, though.  Tam and I headed down to Cardiff on Thursday for a couple of days.  It's been forever since we took a cheap flight anywhere and we thought we could visit his cousin in Barry while we were there.  We explored a bit of the city centre on arrival, then I saw a Pieminister and had a mini heart attack - we need one in Scotland so I can get over my obsession.  I must admit, Tam and I seem to have perfected our pie-making to such a standard that it might be better than Pieminister...  I know, that's crazy talk.  Still, I should probably make another one just to be sure.

That afternoon we paid a visit to the National Museum which, while interesting, confused us since it wasn't on the same scale as the Scottish one.  Definitely worth a visit though, especially since there's a cool map exhibition on right now.  Friday morning we had another wander around the city before catching the train down to Barry Island.  The castle looked amazing but we slightly ran out of time to explore it.  That crazy bear statue sitting on the wall did a good job of guarding the neighbouring park!

barry island seaside seafront promenade palm trees wales

vintage beach seaside viewfinder viewpoint barry island wales

barry island wales promenade seaside hut

beach huts barry island colourful seaside wales

barry island sign wales climbing wall promenade beach

barry island sign wales climbing wall

Ah, Barry Island was pretty.  Super cold, but very colourful.  See that sign up there?  It's a freaking climbing wall.  I was so mad when I realised my choice of footwear was going to hinder my chance at fun.  Stupid cute boots with pointed toes.  My scarf even matched the decor nicely.

Tam's cousin (sister to his Nairn cousin - we're well-travelled thanks to them all!) came to meet us with her two little girls.  Their nanny is from Barry so she told us all about its history and the plans for the new funfair while we walked on the beach, then it was hot drinks all around at Calwaladers.  I'd been told to try their ice cream but it was too cold even for me that day, so it was substituted for green tea and coffee and walnut cake.

colourful doors barry island promenade wales

vintage bandstand barry island wales

After hanging at Tam's cousin's place for a while, we went back to the city to visit a cinema that charged a mere £4 a ticket.  I finally got to see The Revenant, which was... fine.  Domhnall was wonderful as ever but man, that's a bleak movie.

Saturday morning we were checking out of the hotel and flying back home with a bunch of rugby fans for company.  I always forget how accessible the rest of the UK is by plane, maybe I should take advantage of it more often.

Who's been to Wales?  It definitely beat my first trip there...


Thursday, 4 February 2016

Umbrella weather

pluie umbrella knitted cardigan interweave knits

Mother's superb knitting skills strike again!

I got a lovely surprise on Saturday when she presented me with this umbrella-themed cardigan.  How ridiculously cute is it?  It's not blocked yet (Mother never blocks anything so it's down to me to fix that curling button band) but I couldn't wait to wear it.  So this was Sunday's outfit!  

umbrella cardigan knitted red pluie interweave knits button denim skirt M&S brogues

knitted umbrella cardigan pluie interweave knits red

clarks burgundy lace up brogues shoes vintage style

The all-important centrepiece of the outfit was created from this pattern in an old issue of Interweave Knits, although it can be purchased online via the link.  The sleeves were lengthened to Elise-friendly proportions, my favourite feature of anything my mum makes for me.  I actually have to wear the cuffs rolled back on my black cable-knit cardigan, which is still a glorious novelty.

Other bits of my outfit include the best denim skirt ever and the most painful brogues ever - yup, I'm still wearing them.  They rubbed my feet again on Sunday after our long-ish walk along to the People's Palace and back into town, but I might give them just one more last chance...

I hope everyone's having a lovely week.  Any exciting plans?  We're off on a jaunt to Cardiff for a couple of days - the combo of cheap flights and hanging with Tam's cousin was too good to resist.  First holiday of the year!

cardigan - made by Mother
t-shirt - Long Tall Sally
skirt - M&S
brogues - Clarks


Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Yarn Along

baby blanket knitting yarn rainbow love notes for freddie eva rice library book

My scarf is still making progress.  It's actually grown quite a bit this week but, you know, it's a fairly repetitive design so you'd be seeing exactly the same thing if I took more pictures.

I've started my next baby blanket.  I could hardly go more than a month without one on the needles, could I?  I've knitted for this guy before and now another baby gift is required.  He was nice enough to share what they're having this time, although my idea of knitting for a boy just involves my usual rainbow explosion style.  The blanket is another one of these stripey numbers - I wanted a simple design to show off the colours and I remembered liking this one last time, so out it came again.  That old post also reminded me that it's been a while since I made my favourite chevron blanket...  Who needs one?

I've read two other books by Eva Rice and loved them both (The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets might be one of my all time favourites) which meant Love Notes for Freddie was an obvious choice.  Set in the 1960s, the chapter narrators alternate between Marnie, a teenager recently expelled from boarding school, and Miss Crewe, her former teacher.  I can't quite work out where the story is going but I like the writing style and, of course, the historical aspect.

Linking up to Ginny's Yarn Along.


Tuesday, 2 February 2016

At the weekend

knitting class workshop karie westermann colourwork two stranded falkirk scotland

...I got to make use of my Christmas present from Tam - a ticket to Karie Westermann's two-handed colourwork class!  I love practical gifts like this and it's been a while since I learned a new skill.  Clearly, Tam knew he was onto a winner since his mum and mine also received the same gift, so off we all went on Saturday to flex our creative muscles.  I'd met Karie once before (at the Laura Ashley Crafternoon) and we'd been chatting a bit online, which made me even more excited for the workshop and the chance to talk in person once again.

knitting class karie westermann falkirk two stranded collage yarn

We learned all about the different varieties of Nordic knitting and decided what we'd most like to get out of the class.  I've had a mad desire to learn continental style for ages and luckily that was one of the main objectives!  We also got to try a rather fancy cast-on method before our delicious lunch appeared, then afterwards it was on to the two-handed colourwork.  Guys, it was so easy!  I went in there feeling like there was a good chance I'd forget everything a few hours later, but I left feeling confident, like everything was in fact lodged firmly into my brain.  Well, give it a week then ask me again if I remember how to do that crazy cast-on. 

Karie was an awesome teacher and so full of interesting stories that I want to go back and do it all over again.  I'm jealous of anyone who got into her classes at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival - I'll have to move faster next year!

gig ticket stereo glasgow

After meeting Tam for some delicious dinner, Mother and I hopped on the train back to Glasgow, where she went off to catch her next train home and I carried on round to Stereo to meet up with some work people and see our friend's band playing.  I forgot how bloody amazing it feels to hear live music.  We even made it to the front of the crowd, a first for me (I always feel like I'm too tall to push my way forward but we had a good side spot and honestly, I was a bit done with being polite last month.)  Since I have superb taste in friends who have superb taste in music, it was another great experience and the perfect end to the day.

washing sign wooden board vintage old people's palace glasgow

people's palace glasgow tiles stairway mirror selfie

Sunday dawned bright and blustery and kind of dry, so I met Tam in town and we walked along to the People's Palace to see the Billy Connolly art exhibit and have some food in the exotic surroundings of the Winter Gardens.  I loved Billy's sketching style and the way he created so many different looks from just a few wavy lines.  The rest of the museum was predictably chaotic but we managed a quick wander before cake time.

once upon a tart glasgow cake green tea mint chocolate brownie vintage floral teapot

Once Upon a Tart, of course!  I must admit, my mint chocolate brownie wasn't the best thing I've ever had there, but it was still better than many, many other cakes in the world.  My mug was pretty cool though, since it came with a hipster panda on it.

I really, really liked this weekend.  What did you guys get up to?

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