Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Summer of basics

summer of basics plan notebook sketch pad pencil polka dots spotty cath kidston gingham fabric sewing wardrobe planning plaid gingham denim checks stripes

Is anyone else taking part in Fringe Association's Summer of Basics make-along?  All the info can be found by clicking the link, but the general idea is to spend the next three months, from 1st June to 31st August, making yourself three wardrobe basics either by knitting, sewing or crocheting.  I've had some vague sewing plans swirling in my head for a little while but actually sitting down and getting on with things is where I falter.  Sewing garments is by no means my favourite thing to do even if I do like having some pretty handmades in my wardrobe, but I'm looking forward to getting more acquainted with my new sewing machine.

summer of basics plan notebook sketch pad pencil polka dots spotty cath kidston gingham fabric sewing wardrobe planning

Here's what I have in mind for my summer of creating...

PURPLE CARDIGAN - This guy.  I really need to make a start on it.  I've been telling myself that I have more pressing knits to finish first, which is true, but just casting on the cardi would be all the push I need to get on with it.  Hopefully.

SLEEVELESS CHECK BLOUSE - I have such a clear picture of this design in my head that a tiny part of me suspects I already own a similar top.  Or maybe it was something I was desperately coveting at one time and the image stayed with me?  Who knows.  I found the fabric in a charity shop a few weeks ago and bought it with the intention of using it as project bag lining.  It was displayed rolled up and tied with a ribbon so I didn't realise the piece was large enough to make a garment with until I pulled it out of the washing basket.  I'm going to try a pattern hack with one of my favourite blouses.  It will (hopefully) have a little gathering at the shoulders and a v-neck with false button placket.  It's been so long since I made myself a garment so I'm quite excited about trying this out!

DENIM/GINGHAM DRESS - You know that 90s dress that I'm crazy about?  I realised recently that I had stash fabric to make myself another one.  I'm still deciding whether to make a straight copy or make it more of a pinafore style i.e. omit the buttons.  There's nothing I dread more in sewing than making buttonholes.  SUCH A FAFF.  The only flaw in this plan is that the denim is currently in the form of a large pair of jeans, so the front and back panels will both have seams in the centre, which will probably be better disguised as a button down...

CROP TOP - What's that?  I already have one of those?  Yes, I do.  And now I need a fabric version.  This garment is a bit of a bonus entry but the one that would likely be the easiest to achieve.  I have some blue stripe fabric that I got in a swap ages ago (I think it might have come from Helen originally) that would be perfect and again, I can use the blouse from above to make a pattern.

blue fabrics secondhand slow fashion summer of basics stripes denim checks plaid gingham

Here's my fabric.  You'd never guess that my wardrobe mostly consisted of blue clothing, would you?  I don't even do it intentionally - it seems I'm just drawn to certain shades!  At least it makes things easier to match up.  The best thing about this fabric (and yarn) is that it's all secondhand, so the environmental impact is just about as low as I could possibly achieve (not humble bragging, just trying to offset my addiction to oft-plastic-wrapped snack food...).  I may write more about my views on slow fashion at some point, if anyone would be interested?  It's a topic I find really interesting and something that everyone seems to consider in different ways, which could be a good discussion to open up.

Right, time to start sewing!

Sunday, 4 June 2017

The Buyer's Archive - May

Back in early 2015, I started a series of posts that I called The Buyer's Archive to document what I was spending on wearable items every month.  I also looked back to the previous year to see how my purchases compared to then, and detailed what had survived and was still being worn, and which pieces had found their way to the charity shop.  I'm not usually much of a list maker but this is an area of life that I find endlessly fascinating - what drives people's shopping habits?  why do they wear what they do?  how do they decide what 'enough' looks like in terms of their wardrobe? - and although I can only document my own purchases, I love that others have joined in with the series (search for #buyersarchive on social media!)

Last May I bought three items of clothing that I love and one that got re-donated almost straight away.  It turns out giant white kaftans aren't a great look on me.  Unsurprisingly, the grey cardigan had pretty steady use all year and the dress and trousers were worn a few times last summer, although I find them a little tricky to style.  I don't own many fitted tops and I'm not really a fan of tucking tees in - my usual style is slim fit bottoms with loose tops so I'm finding it awkward to get the balance right with the trousers.  They're so comfy though and will definitely be good work trousers as the weather gets even warmer.

This May ended up being so full on that I didn't get much chance to go near the shops, let alone buy anything.  Then last week came the age old story - I went to Boots and was told the pharmacist was on lunch for another ten minutes.  What to do?  Visit the surrounding charity shops, of course!  One of the closest shops has a 50p rail that's proved quite fruitful in the past, so I popped in for a nosy.  And emerged £2 lighter and one bag heavier, as you do.


Asda pjs via charity shop - 50p
Possibly my favourite find of last month - new pjs!  I can't even remember the last time I bought pjs (they're so easy to make and they last forever, plus there's the tall person length issue) but I couldn't resist for that price.  I don't think they're actually a set (the top and bottoms are different sizes) but I knew I could pass them on to either my mum or Tam's if I didn't like the fit.  The bottoms are definitely in falling-down territory but I reckon I can unpick a side seam and pull the elastic in tighter, and the slim leg style means it doesn't matter if they're slightly short.


Eastex check shirt via charity shop - £2
I'd just started a casual search for some summer work clothes when I found this shirt.  It's just the right amount of oversized and the fabric is nice and drapey, and the fact it's nearly identical to one that my co-worker wears only makes me love it more.  I didn't realise that when I bought it, I hasten to add - it was only when my boss appeared and commented 'hey, you and K are dressed the same!' that we noticed it.  Mondays are now Check Shirt Day in the office.

Red jumper via charity shop - 50p
I grabbed this in the bargain frenzy haze but in hindsight, it's not quite right.  I always find it difficult to judge how something will fit if I can't try it on in store - I can work out pretty easily if a garment will suit my body shape but it's definitely harder to work out whether fabric will cling in the wrong places etc.  I don't think this top will be staying in my wardrobe but I can refashion it into something for one of the many winter babies that I'll be meeting soon.

Primark tshirt via charity shop - 50p
Not a brand I'd buy new clothing from but secondhand with the tags still on is another story.  I wore this tshirt on a particularly hot day last week and really liked it.  The fabric is lovely and soft and the colours are very me.


Sainsburys chinos via charity shop - 50p
I was looking for some trousers to wear to work when it's too hot to be doing anything in jeans and these ones are just the right style.  Originally from the men's department, they'll be having a meeting with my sewing machine soon to remove some of the excess fabric around the waist.

Next jeans via clothes swap - free
Free clothes!  We organised a clothes swap at work a few weeks ago and the last thing I expected to walk away with was jeans.  They're not from the tall range but a longer length, so they'll be fine for summer when I don't mind my ankles getting some air.  The waistband is ridiculously massive, which might explain why they were donated, but I'm cool with wearing a belt now and then.

Total spend for May - £4

Total spend for 2017 so far - £225.99

Thursday, 1 June 2017

FO - Nordic Wind shawl and a speedy cropped top


I've had the idea for a knitted tee in my head for a pretty long time now.  The Léger top was fine and I like it, but it doesn't really go with all the things, which was what I prefer from my handmade garments - if I'm going to put that much effort into creating something then it better be able to be paired with as many clothes as possible.  Something fairly plain in both colour and style and preferably made from stash materials.  Not that much to ask for, surely?

In the end, I decided I wanted a cropped tee to go with my denim skirt, summer trousers and dresses, and I wanted it NOW.  I knew top-down would be the quickest way to achieve this, so that was pretty much the only criteria I searched out on Ravelry.  When the Angela sweater popped up, I was sold.


Pattern - Angela by Purl Heroine (knit in size small) 

Yarn - Craft Aran by Aldi (242g)

Needles - 4.5mm and 5mm

Notes - First point to note - I knit up this sweater using cheap acrylic yarn from the charity shop, which pleases me since it's the ultimate slow fashion garment (in my mind) but I knew even before I started that it wasn't the best fabric I could be using.  However, nothing else in my yarn drawers appealed to me and, as I explained above, I wasn't hanging around this time.  However, after feeling fairly 'meh' about it when I cast off and tried it on, it's growing on me slightly.  I think it helps that it looks better in the pictures above than in my mirror...

I like the slightly oversized fit and the length is good.  The style works well with a fair few things in my wardrobe, another plus point.  On a less positive note, the neckline sits a bit higher than I would like - I'm quite broad of shoulder so I tend not to suit any styles that sit too high on my chest.  Also, the fabric ended up being quite stiff, although I've not attempted to block it yet.  I've not had much luck in the past with improving the shape of acrylic knits after finishing but I'll likely have a go anyway to see what happens.  

Right now, I'm on the fence with this guy.  The pattern was well written and I'd use it again (with some neckline modifications) but I think I'll try something in a DK weight next and see if I like the fit any better.  I purchased Ellison by Melissa Schaschwary a few months ago to knit into a striped sweater so I could knit another tee as a tester.


I hadn't intended to cast on this shawl so soon after my last one, especially knowing that I wouldn't get to wear it until autumn rolled around again but when I saw a KAL was in progress on Instagram, I was determined to join in (and oh my goodness, there's some gorgeous shawls on there right now). It would have been finished much sooner if I hadn't decided it was the ultimate cinema companion, saving it for all the times I popped in to watch something after work, like those three times I saw Beauty and the Beast.  (I'm hopelessly addicted, much to the amusement of my boss.  It's just absolute perfection and I'm now listening to the soundtrack on repeat until I can get my virtual paws on a download)

Pattern - Nordic Wind by Cabinfour

Yarn - New Lanark Aran in Woodland, Pebble and Oatmeal (280g)

Needles - 5.5mm

Notes - No surprises about my yarn choice here - New Lanark is my ultimate favourite right now.  It's gorgeous to work with and they have so many rich colours to choose from that I think I'd be quite happy knitting all my future garments with it.  I knit each colour until I only had scraps left, although the pattern does give instructions for when to change skeins to ensure an even spread of each colour.  I just knew I had the yardage to make a slightly bigger shawl and I wanted to take advantage of it!  I also omitted the garter stitch edging which doesn't seem to have been an issue since I blocked it - no curling up at the edges so far, although time will tell how it behaves after wearing.

The pattern itself was so simple that I only read it through once and didn't have to refer to it again.  If I was more of an experienced shawl knitter, I might have been a little bummed about paying nearly £5 for such a basic pattern but now that I'm learning more about shawl construction, I can use it as a base to experiment with.  I'm definitely not opposed to paying a reasonable amount of money for patterns, generally on a sliding scale of how intricate the design/colourwork is and how likely I am to repeat knit it, and I know I'll be making more of these for Christmas pressies.  All the shawls, all the movies.  That might be my new mantra for life.

:)

Monday, 29 May 2017

On the needles and future plans

Remember when I used to be a monogamous crafter?  That's not a thing any more.

More and more these days, I find myself planning a future project as I'm casting on something new.  I like to think a few steps ahead when it comes to knitting and crochet (and, to a lesser extent, sewing).  Some projects fly off the needles and the next thing on my list could be taking its place within days.  Others are more of a slog and I find myself looking for something simple to knit on when I have limited time to spare.  And then there's the portable projects. It's rare that I go anywhere these days without a fabric bag stuffed with yarn (^^^casual promotion of my Etsy shop there) - small crafts for the win!

So what's next on my list?  Short answer - all the baby things.  I have three close friends/family expecting babies within a few weeks of each other in November and two others due in August that I might gift a blanket to, depending on how generous/motivated I'm feeling!  Long answer - scroll down...

(right) image from here
Jewel-toned baby blanket
I'm on a mission to use up as much of my DK yarn stash as I can right now, for no reason except a need for more storage space.  Blankets are one of my favourite gifts to make - they're quick to knit/crochet up and the more colours you use, the less of each one you need.  Perfect stash busters.  The Rippling Rainbow pattern above is actually for a scarf but I think it would make a great blanket.  I haven't been very adventurous with my blanket knitting lately, preferring to stick to simple stripes or a granny square design, but I think this would be perfect for pulling me out of my rut whilst retaining the slightly minimalist style I like so much.

(right) image from here
Raglan sleeve baby cardigan
I picked up many 20g balls of yarn for a steal at the market a few months ago and these colours have been sitting together for ages, coaxing me to turn them into something soft and squishy and baby-sized.  This pattern popped up on Let's Knit's Twitter feed last week and I knew it was time to get to work.  I'm not sure if I'll be using the pink as a contrast or a lemon shade I found earlier (I swear the stash is breeding...)  I'm of the opinion that anyone can wear any colours they like but I guess when it's hard for a casual observer to differentiate between boy babies and girl babies, parents might not be willing to confuse things by putting a boy in pink/girl in blue.  I'll find out the sex of at least one of my soon-to-exist baby friends before they're born so I guess I can decide at that point who's receiving the cardi.  Or my unsympathetic brother ('nope, not telling, you'll just have to wait!') will just be getting a pink trimmed cardi whether he likes it or not.


Preemie hats
I made a bunch of these last year when I was doing all my charity knitting in June and really liked the instant gratification of finishing a few in one day.  I keep finding random pastel skeins in my stash (I told you, it's breeding - I don't even like pastel colours!) which works out just fine for these.  My goal is to finish as many as I can before the end of July so I can post them out before my lease is up and I have to move house.  The pattern for these hats doesn't appear to be on Ravelry but it wouldn't be hard to find something similar.

(right) image from here
Summer cardigan
Look, something for me!  This yarn was a charity shop find from last summer and I've been searching for the perfect tee or cardi pattern ever since.  When it comes to making things for my own wardrobe, I get ridiculously fussy about every little detail.  At the moment, the Alice Blue cardigan is the frontrunner so hopefully it'll be on the needles soon, as long as I don't decide I want cables instead of lace, or I just can't be bothered knitting bottom up, or a tee would be more practical (it won't, future Elise, it really won't)

(right) image from here
Dishcloths
I've had a bunch of cotton yarn in my stash for the better part of a year.  Some I inherited from Andrea and some came in a bag of mystery yarn purchased on eBay (most of which was rubbish.  Lesson learned)  Cotton is not my favourite thing to work with so small was definitely better when it came to finding a use for it.  Everyone needs cloths in their life, right?  I'm planning to save a bunch for Christmas and buy some nice local soaps to gift with them.  Yup, I said the C word in May.  Oops.

(right) image from here
Crochet shawl
Oh, this project.  I've made this shawl/scarf a few times and when I found some mystery lace weight yarn in a charity shop, I decided right away that it would become my fourth one.  I got off to a strong start and then just...stopped.  Unusual, since I don't let projects hibernate - I either finish them or frog them.  I just can't make a decision on this one.  Every time I pull it out to unravel it, I decide that actually, it's too pretty and I want to finish it.  I just have no desire to put in the work to get to that point.  It's stuck, and I still don't know what to do.  I never work with such fine yarn so I have no idea what else to use it for - if anyone wants to take it off my hands that would really help with the decision making process... anyone?

(left) image from here / (right) image from here
Rabbit cushion
My sister-in-law sent me this pattern and asked if it was something I could make.  After I got over my initial 'arm knitting? But I'm a REAL knitter!' reaction, I tried it out and yup, arm knitting is an utter faff.  Not gonna happen.  However, I did liberate a metal pipe I found lying around at work (I wish I was kidding - all the junk finds its way into the tech department) that I'm going to attempt to split in two and use as needles.  Wish me luck!

Up blanket
My friend is a huge fan of all the Disney movies and I know she'd go crazy for this blanket.  I'm planning to make the balloon/house decal bigger and omit the 'writing'.  I think I'll also need to stitch on a fabric backing to hide all the stitches from the design but luckily, my fabric stash is looking pretty healthy at the moment.

There's a couple of other projects I have in mind but they'd have to come with a spoiler warning - Tam can't be allowed to see his birthday gifts in progress after all!  Besides, I think this is quite enough to be getting on with...

Tell me I'm not the only one who plans my crafting to this level of insanity?

:)

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

The Buyer's Archive - April

Back in early 2015, I started a series of posts that I called The Buyer's Archive to document what I was spending on wearable items every month.  I also looked back to the previous year to see how my purchases compared to then, and detailed what had survived and was still being worn, and which pieces had found their way to the charity shop.  I'm not usually much of a list maker but this is an area of life that I find endlessly fascinating - what drives people's shopping habits?  why do they wear what they do?  how do they decide what 'enough' looks like in terms of their wardrobe? - and although I can only document my own purchases, I love that others have joined in with the series (search for #buyersarchive on social media!)

After the bumper beginning I had to my shopping year, it was somewhat unsurprising that I found myself not very interested in buying anything new last month.  In fact, if it wasn't for the terribly ridiculous purchase I made on Saturday, I'd have been home free in April.  First though, a summary of how last April's finds have held up.

I'm still completely enthralled with both the navy and polka dot dresses.  It took a while for the shirt dress style to gain my affections but I loved layering it up with cosy knits all winter (who am I kidding, I'm still doing that)  Both are good for Friday night drinks if I've not come straight from work and have time to brush my hair/not look like a lazy scruff.  Last week I wore the navy dress with a summery cardigan and my boss told me 'it's weird seeing you in lady clothes' so I'm gonna take that as a very roundabout compliment.

The grey dress fared less well - it seemed to walk an odd line between being smarter than the rest of my clothes in style, but the jersey made it seem a bit...lumpy.  I don't know.  It didn't go well with cardigans and wasn't something I could really wear to work, so I sold it on eBay last week.  The knit waistcoat was given to Tam since it seems I like the idea of waistcoats more than I actually like wearing them.  Oh well.  Only keeping half the items I bought isn't a great turnaround but it's helping me to become more intentional with my wardrobe.  Just keep that last sentence in mind when you see my one and only purchase from this April...


Farfield sheep fleece via charity shop - £4.50
I know.  Isn't this just the daftest thing you've ever seen?  Fleece jackets don't usually come close to being on my radar when I'm charity shopping (unless a particularly hideous one invades my eye line) but this one has sheep.  Sheep!  And look how happy I am to have those sheep adorning me.  Or maybe it's because I found the jacket for sale online and it costs £69.50 to purchase new.  What?!  I very much thought it was something I could have picked up down at the indoor market.  I'm all for a practical purchase now and again but I suspect this jacket will really earn its place in the wardrobe around camping season.  In the meantime, I might wear it to work one day and see what my boss thinks of that outfit...

Total spend for April - £4.50

Total spend for 2017 so far (idea nicked from Hazel!) - £221.99


Friday, 21 April 2017

Knit New Lanark - bunting, (yarn) bombs and biscuits


If you've visited this blog before, you'll know that New Lanark is one of my favourite places in Scotland.  It has it all - history, gorgeous scenery, a yarn shop, cake...  So when I was asked to be their knitting blogger for World Heritage Day, there's no way I was going to refuse.  There were six sites taking part and celebrations on the day were all planned to fit in with Scotland's themed year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.  This is a great initiative that encourages people to connect to the history of our country and delve a little deeper than a quick glance at a museum exhibit (although you should definitely do that too!)  I already wrote a bit about the Scotland-wide activities that were planned for the day so let's dive right into the good stuff - Knit New Lanark!





My task for the day was to try out all the fun activities on offer and share them with the world on social media, giving everyone a taste of what we were up to at New Lanark.  I arrived bright and (somewhat) early to meet the events team and some lovely ladies that were very eager to start yarnbombing.  Much time was spent admiring the decor already in place outside the visitor centre before we headed inside to start creating, workshopping and eating biscuits.  The stash was mighty impressive...

Our first class of the day was all about spinning.  Bex was our expert instructor and she taught us all about different fibres and how to achieve a variety of thicknesses with the wool.  Then I found myself behind the wheel.  Guys, spinning is hard!  For the first few minutes.  Then suddenly my fingers worked out what they were supposed to be doing and I was gleefully turning fibre into woollen strands.  I'm not sure I'm ready to take up spinning quite yet, but it was a surprisingly therapeutic way to pass the time.





After my brain had exhausted itself with all the learning, I decided to have a quick wander up to my favourite New Lanark spot - the spinning room.  I love that it's possible to see yarn being made right there on site in glorious technicolour.  Or...um...black, which was the colour they were spinning on Tuesday.  Somehow I resisted a woolly purchase (I can only assume that the six skeins I bought a few weeks ago have briefly curbed my appetite for more) and made my way to the cafe for lunch, where I stuffed myself with delicious veggie pizza and a biscuit-y, coconut-y cake.  Then it was time for our next workshop.

Ann Ross was our teacher this time as we learned how to dye fibres naturally, using plants, berries and rusty nails.  Yup, rust!  The most beautiful colours came from the most unlikely looking sources - a dusky pink was produced from lichen, a rich yellow from eucalyptus leaves - and I was left wanting to conduct some leafy experiments for myself.  Afterwards, there was just time for a final shot of yarn bombing before I had to dash for my train home (I say dash - I strolled across the car park and the free shuttle bus appeared, so my plans to walk to the station were usurped by this guy's timing and my laziness).  Once again, I've been trying my hand at vlogging so there's a video of all my adventures below - apologies in advance for the often shaky camera work, one day I'll learn that my hands are not as steady as I think they are!  Check out the other #ScotlandinSix bloggers to see if they had more fun than us...








If you missed out on all the World Heritage Day fun this time around, never fear!  Dig It! 2017 have launched a Bucket List so you can visit the sites at your own pace and tick them off one by one.  Has anyone been to all of them yet?  My current total is 5 out of 6!  If only boats to St Kilda weren't quite so difficult to come by...  If that wasn't enough excitement, there's another stage to Scotland's Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology launching soon, the tantalisingly titled 'Hidden Gems'...  Keep an eye on the Facebook page for more info and catch up with all things Scottish in the Visit Scotland online community!
post written in collaboration with Dig It! 2017


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

FO - Bobble Shawl


When I started reading knitting blogs, it seemed that every knitter in the world was always making either a shawl or a pair of socks.  In fact, it still seems like that sometimes - my Instagram feed is awash with pictures of beautiful speckled sock yarn and fine lace shawls draped artfully over shoulders.  Obviously, my childish impulse to never do what everyone else is doing kicked in and it took me until fairly recently to cast on my first pair of socks, and I only did that because Tam requested a handmade pair the Christmas before last.  Although I didn't care for the stop-start motion of using double pointed needles, I surprised myself by returning to sock knitting again.  I'm still not convinced that I need a drawer full of Elise-made socks (although Tam might have a different opinion on that) but I like the portable-ness of the projects.

Shawls, though.  I love big, chunky, squishy, cosy scarves, not delicate, lacy works of art on my person.  I was committed to this way of thinking until Helene posted a picture of her latest design on Instagram - a gorgeous, clean looking pattern speckled with bobbles.  Perfection.  I half-jokingly commented that I'd test it if not for the requirement of 4 ply yarn since anything less than DK weight takes me an absolute age to work through.  Helene was happy for me to use any yarn I liked as an experiment, so that's how I ended up with my first shawl knit in chunky yarn.


Pattern - Let's Get Crackin' by Helene Zechner

Yarn - New Lanark Chunky in Slate (375g)

Needles - 6mm

Notes - My mum picked me up a 1000g pack of this yarn at a craft fair for a ridiculously low price and since it's no longer available online, I'm guessing the colourway has been discontinued.   I'd already reserved a certain amount for a future colourwork cardigan so I only had 4 balls to play with for the shawl.  The testing was pretty straightforward - the only changes I made were to skip the I-cord bind off and the last pattern section.

I was a bit worried about whether I'd end up with a big enough shawl when I was in the process of knitting it, but luckily it blocked out splendidly, the only slight flaw being my method of slipping the first stitch of every row.  It's the way I was taught to knit and something I don't think twice about doing, but it didn't occur to me that it would make the neck edge tight when it came to blocking.  At least I know for next time!  And there will be a next time - I already have yarn purchased for a second shawl...




Sunday, 16 April 2017

The Buyer's Archive - First Quarter

Back in early 2015, I started a series of posts that I called The Buyer's Archive to document what I was spending on wearable items every month.  I also looked back to the previous year to see how my purchases compared to then, and detailed what had survived and was still being worn, and which pieces had found their way to the charity shop.  I'm not usually much of a list maker but this is an area of life that I find endlessly fascinating - what drives people's shopping habits?  why do they wear what they do?  how do they decide what 'enough' looks like in terms of their wardrobe? - and although I can only document my own purchases, I love that others have joined in with the series in my absence (search for #buyersarchive on social media!)

Since we've suddenly found ourselves in April (I KNOW - this year has seriously ran away with me) I've packaged up my post to include all my purchases from the year so far.  Settle in, because February broke my bank just a bit...  But first, here's what I'm still wearing from last January - March.

The blue and white stripe t-shirt gets pulled out for work around once a week and the white canvas shoes were my absolute favourite thing last summer.  They got worn so much that they're about to have a whirl in the washing machine to see if I can get them back to their original clean selves - cross your fingers for me!

The purple dress didn't get worn to my brother's wedding (it's a long story involving a mysterious stain and a helpful but useless dry cleaner) but I did wear it to two other weddings, one in which the bridesmaids were wearing a near identical style, so that was somewhat embarrassing.

The only items I don't have any more are the navy t-shirt and the vintage floral skirt - both were worn so rarely that it made more sense to set them free on eBay/the charity shop bag.  Me and skirts are having some unintentional time apart right now.

Now on to what I've been shopping for this year...


JANUARY
M&S jersey jumper dress - £7
There's an M&S outlet shop just outside Newcastle.  This is very dangerous knowledge I hold in my hands, since all my underthings, most of my (non Converse) shoes and various other bits of my wardrobe come straight from their aisles.  Luckily, I've mostly convinced myself that it doesn't exist but when my mum came to visit around the new year, I had to take her for a dig around the sales.  This dress was the only purchase made and for good reason - it might be the comfiest thing I own besides pjs.

M&S sports bra - £14
Usual story - bought gym clothes, recurring injury immediately reared its ugly head again, said clothes don't get worn for months.  Sigh.


FEBRUARY
Ah, February.  The month where all my most worn/favourite items of clothing broke.  Hi-tops?  Acquired one hole too many.  Navy Converse?  Insole wore away too much to fix (like, how?!)  Best black jeans in the whole wide world?  Hole in the most awkward spot ever (Back of the knee.  Again, how?  Also, super awkward place to patch, but I may still try.)  That top I layer with everything?  Hole, plus super faded.  The only two light coloured tees I own?  Mysterious stains.  Most worn pj bottoms?  Ripped for the third and final time.  Luckily, the t-shirts met with some in-wash dye and look great now and the pj fabric can be recycled into something else, but really, how could that many items of clothing fall apart at the same time?  Not all of them needed to be replaced but with work requiring the most casual of attire, all my t-shirts and jeans are in constant rotation.  It was a costly month...

Long Tall Sally long sleeve tops - green £7.50 / grey stripe £9 / white stripe £6
To add to the awkwardness of the wardrobe massacre, being long of limb means I can't just pop to any high street shop and buy replacements that actually fit.  Luckily, I caught the end of LTS's winter sale and bagged myself some pretty tops to layer up with my dresses and short sleeved tees.

Blue stripe scarf via charity shop - £1
I found this on a rail with a bunch of fabric and since there's no label, I'm not even sure it is a scarf, but it's the right shape and style to replace my favourite summer scarf that died last year.  I swear I don't subject my clothes to undue torture, they just keep falling apart on me!


Long Tall Sally legging jeans - £30
These jeans are utter perfection.  High of waist so I'm not constantly pulling them up (seriously, these are the only pair I own that don't slip down as soon as I move, which is not so handy for all the crawling about the floor I do at work.  Disclaimer - I'm not a mad creep, I just have a pretty physical job!) and made in fabric with just the right amount of stretch, I want five more pairs.  I did actually order another pair in black but had to send them back as the fabric was different and did not allow much space for breathing.  Weird.

Vintage denim/check dress via Beyond Retro - £10
I do like a rake around all the vintage stalls whenever I end up in London and this time I found a giant store full of goodies when we were at Brick Lane market.  I was very well behaved and only made one purchase, a 90s-tastic pinafore dress.  Or is it more smock like?  I can't decide, but I like it so much I'm thinking about using it as a template for sewing up another one.

Zegerman sheep t-shirt - £10
Another London market purchase.  As if I was going to leave behind a t-shirt with sheep printed on it.


Converse black hi-tops via Spartoo - £35
Replacing my wrecked Converse with a new pair was a no brainer.  I spend half my week in these shoes year round and they last for years so I need them in my wardrobe!

Converse burgundy trainers via Spartoo - £36
Since these guys were on sale and I'd fancied a more trainer-like pair of shoes for a while, I took a risk and ordered them.  I'm not entirely convinced I love them yet - they're taking forever to break in (mostly because I need at least two weeks to heal my skinned heels each time!) and the style is pretty different from what I'm used to.  Right now I'm torn between wearing them more to mould them to my feet and just suffering the pain, or sticking them on eBay and making a bit of money back.  Thoughts?

Converse black lo-tops via charity shop - £5.99
I know.  Second hand shoes?  Ick.  But how often does one find a pair of almost new Converse, in the right size, in the style that gets worn to death over here?  Not that often.  Possibly my best find of the year.


Regatta rain jacket via charity shop - £2
I was always casually searching for a waterproof summer jacket that I could roll up and stuff in a bag, preferably from the menswear section due to the aforementioned Tall Person Issues.  A charity shop sale rail delivered just what I was looking for, so now I'm ready for the summer showers to come at me (I'm really not.  Please don't rain all summer, Great Britain.)

Handknit chunky sweater via charity shop - £6
In the same shop as the rain jacket was spotted, I found this awesome sweater.  The rational part of my brain kicked in though, and I convinced myself I didn't need yet another knitted thing in my wardrobe.  It took about two hours for me to realise my mistake, by which time the shop was closed, so I sent Tam's auntie on a mission to pick it up for me when it re-opened after the weekend.  Annoyingly, fabby knits always seem to come into my life off season, but it's all ready to be pulled out again this winter.

M&S floral jersey dress via charity shop - £1
I have a bit of a gift where sale rails are concerned.  If there's a hidden gem hanging there, I will find it (and probably buy it).  This dress was seriously marked down because the wrap fastening is a bit torn, but a few minutes with my sewing machine and it'll be wearable again.


MARCH
Is anyone still here?  This last section is short, I swear.

M&S longer length navy swimsuit - £25
Another semi-essential purchase.  My existing swimsuit really doesn't fit well after being worn to the gym for the past few years and M&S have finally realised that tall ladies exist, so I went off to try on some styles.  This was the only one they had in store in the longer length and my size (or rather, the size up - that secret slimming fabric is tiiiight!) but it's a very Elise style so I'm happy.  Meaning, it's navy and I needed a swimsuit so I bought it.

M&S black and white embroidered bras - £12
Same visit, spotted the sale section, needed a black bra, was excited to find a set in a bigger cup size with pretty straps, purchased them, skipped off into the sunset.

Phew.  No more shopping for me for a while, right?  My t-shirt drawer is stuffed and my summer wardrobe is back in rotation, meaning I'm set for bottoms and dresses for the foreseeable future.  Well done if you stuck with me until the end and don't forget to share your purchases too!

(I noticed when I was linking to products available online that some of the prices are different than what I paid.  The difference in timing seems to have worked in my favour for the most part because I definitely ain't paying nearly £60 for basic hi-tops!)

:)

Thursday, 13 April 2017

A trip to St Abbs Wool Festival and Eyemouth

gunsgreen house eyemouth manor mansion scotland grand harbour boats by the sea seagull

Unusually for us, Tam and I had an actual plan to do actual specific things on Saturday.  The winter was full of good intentions and little execution but spring is when we really commit to following through on plans.  This weekend, it was a trip to the wool festival at St. Abbs which, confusingly, now takes place in Eyemouth.  I guess it outgrew its tiny original location?  Now, if you scroll any further, it'll become clear that I managed to take no pictures of the wool festival itself - I know, very bad blogging skillz - but I did put together a video for you all to enjoy!  I did a bit of editing at my last job and I really miss it, so I wanted to try my hand at filming and (digitally) splicing some clips together just to see what happened.  And guess what?  I rather enjoyed myself.  I've popped the final edit in at the end of this post so feel free to give me some feedback in the comments.

eyemouth statues black friday fishing skyline seaside scotland

eyemouth scotland beach seaside tideline cliffs

st abbs scotland eyemouth cliffs hills shore seaside rocks house on the hill

st abbs harbour from above scottish seaside coastal town boats skyline by the sea

st abbs national trust nature reserve jake rough collie dog scotland day trip sea cliffs

fishing boats harbour eyemouth scotland sea sunny hunting hall wool small business st abbs wool festival 2017

The wool festival turned out to be great fun - there were a few local yarn businesses that I hadn't heard of before and I picked up some gorgeous wool from Hunting Hall.  They had a small but beautiful selection of colours in each weight and I deliberated for ages over a rich mustard shade before defaulting to my usual combination of grey-with-something-slightly-darker.  Honestly, the gorgeous design on the labels had me pulling out my purse before I'd even made my choice - sheep and rabbit buddies!

Afterwards, it was down to the sea front for a walk and a chippy lunch in the sunshine (I can't even describe how much I miss deep fried pizza in England!) then we drove along to St. Abbs to check out the National Trust nature reserve and ogle the pretty harbour.   Jake was loving all the walking, although stopping for chips and watching seabirds were definitely not on his agenda, but I think he had fun being out in the sunshine anyway.  

The wool festival happens twice yearly and entry is a mere £2.  I think it's safe to say we'll be heading back!  Here's hoping the weather treats us just as nicely in November...


Friday, 7 April 2017

Knit New Lanark with #ScotlandinSix


Want to know a guaranteed way to gain my undivided attention?  Start a conversation about something relating to local history or knitting and I'll be hooked.  Simple.  This week, I'm particularly obsessed with outdoor swimming pools of the past and knitting bobbles into everything, but if you'd rather discuss which heritage sites you're visiting on your Easter holidays, I'm all ears.  Actually, I have a suggestion...

Come hang out with me at New Lanark on World Heritage Day!  I'm going to be their official knitting blogger for the day and I'll be joining in with all the fun (and free!) activities they have planned, including yarnbombing and learning about all things dyeing and spinning.  I'm a bit fascinated by the idea that nature can give us a plant and we can use it to make wool change colour.  And then make it into something wearable.  Suddenly it feels like I'm missing a few key skills as a knitter...  There's more info on the events page where you can also register for tickets - please do, because spaces are limited and it's proving pretty popular!  I already wrote about why New Lanark is the perfect place for a visit in case you need any further persuasion - it's one of my favourite places for a day out and I'm so excited to be heading back there.

If you can't make it to lovely New Lanark on the day, there's some other cool stuff going on around the country.  A steampunk festival at the Forth Bridge, a Battle of the Bands in Edinburgh and
a Great Roman Bake Off at the Antonine Wall in Falkirk, to name a few.  I know, that other one has cake, but we have squishy yarn and biscuits!  These fun events are planned by Dig It! 2017 as part of Scotland's themed year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, which aims to share ways that everyone can get involved in digging into our country's history.  Apparently, archaeology is about more than unearthing arrowheads and inspecting fossils using a tiny brush.  Who knew?

In the meantime, come and join the Visit Scotland community, where the chatter is all Scotland, all the time, or head on over to social media and search for the #ScotlandinSix hashtag to join in the conversation and share your favourite heritage sites.  There'll be a blogger at each site on World Heritage Day so keep an eye on the hashtag to see everything as it happens - hope to catch you there!








                                                             post written in collaboration with Dig It! 2017
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