Monday, 15 December 2014

Finished Knitting - Irish Eyes Beret

My latest finished knit was something that was on my 'To Make' list for a while - the Irish Eyes beret.  I don't really wear berets myself, what with the wind here and my natural instinct to just pull up my hood whenever I set foot outside.  My friend at work requested I make her one though, and it was originally a Post Christmas Plan (there's a lot of those floating around here at the moment...) but when I drew her name for Secret Santa, I knew it had to be done now.  I'm crazy pleased with how it turned out - look at those squishy wee bobbles!

For some reason I expected knitting bobbles to be mega awkward, but they weren't at all.  Just turning the knitting a few times for each one, easy.  In the process it seems like there's going to be a hole on one side of the bobble, but when the pattern takes shape the hole side is out of sight.  I used double knitting wool with merino (this one, in colour 12) and it was so soft and easy to work with.  I picked up five 100g balls when we went to Blackpool and after making this, and a jumper for my cousin, I still have nearly two balls left!  I think another hat for me is in order...

Of course I added a pompom - I used the yellow Clover pompom maker, but probably the pink sized one would have worked better.  They always turn out bigger than I expect!  My friend loved it anyway and put it on straight away.  I didn't do much good at the 'secret' part of the gift giving, but I'm not a big fan of a mystery anyway...  (I also got her the photo mug and book, and since she's a chocolate snob, some Hotel Chocolat goodies.)

(I'm guest blogging over at Two Days The Same with Sarah this month, check it out for daily photos!)

Thursday, 11 December 2014

A trip to Craigtoun Park

Funny story about how this day trip came about.  My colleague was reviewing a film from the 1960's featuring that little building in the lake, and she couldn't figure out where it was.  I was having a slow day and was instantly intrigued when I saw it, so I helped her out on a Googling spree until we found it.  It turned out to be the Dutch village at Craigtoun Park near St Andrews.  Well, once I get obsessed with something I can't rest until I've found out as much as I can about it, which led to me persuading Tam to take us a day trip to St Andrews and the park.  And here we are!

We timed things a bit wrong in the end, because there was a Christmas fair on in the grounds and the place was a bit busy, but there were still a few quiet areas.  Unfortunately the Dutch village is closed for refurbishment right now, and looks like it might have been for a while, judging by the shape it was in.  That obviously drove me crazy too - I was dying to get an explore in there!  The only way in would have been taking a dip in the partly frozen lake, and even I wasn't that desperate...  There was so much else to see though, including the Italian garden and temple, that line of trees that made me feel like I was at Pemberley, and some deserted trampolines and a zip slide that had to be tested.  As a kid, trampolines and swings were my favourites, but as an adult I get almost instant motion sickness on them.  What's that all about?  Pah.

After our jaunt in the park, we made our way into St Andrews for lunch and some Christmas shopping, but it was pretty crowded so the camera didn't get much use.  I definitely want another trip up there after Christmas to explore more - it was starting to get dark at 3pm so we didn't even get to the castle and cathedral, lots more to see!

(There's some good info and some lovely old pictures of Craigtoun here.  If that film ever gets onto our website I'll add the link to it also.)


Friday, 5 December 2014

A very merry Minion Christmas

My Christmas window is complete!  What do you think?  I'm so glad it's finally in place and all the pieces came together how I wanted.  In fact it turned out even better than I was hoping for, and it makes me smile every time I look up and remember it's there.

In case someone's missed my rambling on the subject somehow, here's a quick explanation.  Most of the offices in my work have these window into the corridor (not to the outside of course, sunlight and fresh air would never do!)  and, while useful, they're a bit boring.  So I came up with a plan to decorate them with some of my knitted and crocheted goodies for the festive season.  As soon as I shared this idea in October, my office mates were all jumping on board, followed by another bunch  of people around the building.  And thus, the Archive Christmas Window Competition was brought to life!  Everyone put their designs up at the start of the week, and we have a new member of staff who gets to pick the winner next week before our Christmas party.  I'm responsible for buying the prize, which at the moment is mostly chocolate filled...

I'll put up some pictures of the other windows soon but for the moment here's the details of mine...

The hanging components I blogged about before - the jumper pattern can be found here and the Christmas lights here.  The 'paper' chains I made by crocheting a chain of 20, slip stitching into the first chain and double crocheting round the chain (being sure to slip stitch it AFTER looping it round the previous paper chain.)

The minions were made from this excellent pattern I found on Ravelry, but I knitted them flat and sewed them up to save time.  The googly eyes are sew-on ones I found in the local craft shop.

All the other knitted components - the balloons, hats, cracker - came from a very old Alan Dart pattern I had of a penguin party, pulled from Mother's Woman's Weekly magazine.  Luckily, it's available to buy online right here!  I've made so many of these guys over the years so I can assure you all it's worth it.  The Santa jacket I made up and didn't write down...but Tam thought it was a wizard and my friend asked why it had maybe it's just as well.

All the crafted bits were made using cheap double knitting wool (I use Robin Double Knit or Woolcraft New Fashion Double Knitting, both do the job splendidly.)

The reindeer I found on sale in Tesco - get them here.  (There's also penguins and snowmen!)  The bottles and glasses were bought on eBay from the dolls house section.  I had to stop myself going mad on tiny accessories, but the excess bottles are being utilised in the Lego window.

The lights are a string of battery powered ones from Home Bargains, the shelf string is party popper filling and the hanging guys are held up with 'invisible' thread borrowed from Tam's aunt.

It's a bit hard to see the layout clearly in these pictures but I hope I've captured it well enough to show everything off properly!  A few people are requesting their own minions now but I think that'll be a job for the Christmas holidays...I'm not sure I have more in me right now!


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Down the shore

Last Sunday turned out to be a gorgeous (if freezing) day, perfect for taking Parsnip a walk down the shore.  He was being as cute as ever, especially when he thought I had biscuits in my pocket and came to sit down nicely in front of me.  Sadly, I'd come unprepared...  I made up for it when we got home though :)  The grown ups had their binoculars, I had my camera, and Tam had the job of being a photo subject.  He did pretty well I'd say.  Afterwards we went home for a roast dinner, X Factor results and yet more knitting.  Good Sunday.


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Outfit - striped and slouchy

My profuse apologies for the extremely lightened pictures - I had to take them in the living room when it was dark outside and had only the 'big' light for brightness.  Winter is not a great time to be a style blogger.  I really wanted to share this outfit though.  It was my usual 'comfort versus smart' combination that I seem to be fine tuning with every look I come up with.  I spotted this dress in the M&S sale section last week when I popped in with Mother.  Just for a quick browse, which was never going to end with me coming out empty handed, was it?  The smallest size I could find the dress in was a 16, three sizes bigger than my measured size ten, but it's a rare time I actually pay attention to the label, so I tried it on anyway and was instantly sold on the slouchy shape.  It did have some questionable plastic jewels around the neckline but half an hour with Episodes and an unpicker and it was looking much improved.

The cardigan I bought in August from Long Tall Sally with a voucher my brother gave me.  I went back and forth on it for a while, even after getting it home - I hardly needed more knitwear but the shape and crazy long sleeves won me over.  And despite the thin fabric, it keeps me nice and cosy in the cold corridors at work.

The brogues have finally broken in!  Well, to the point that they're not trying to kill me with every step, but I'm still not sure I could spend all day walking around in them.  Time will tell...

Dress - M&S
Brogues - Clarks