Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New Year

We had the most amazing new year at a castle in Northern Ireland. This is the view from the drawing room. It was a friend's 40th birthday. He hired the castle and invited sixty of his closest friends and family.
Our friends Noosh and Rick were also there, along with other people we knew. Tim had also hired an amazing catering company to cater the whole weekend. We were first to arrive for the informal NI Afternoon Tea on the second day. We sat at the table and didn't move until we'd had our fill of soup, meringues, shortbread and cake. 
Our cottage was a short walk from the castle next to a donkey field. The donkeys were obviously used to charming people as they came running to get the apples we fed them. They were very cute.
The first night we had a meal followed by a ceilidh. The second day was FULL of activities, a couple of which we ducked out of to get some rest, as in the evening it was the Rock-aoke! As the birthday boy is a musician, and a few other musicians had been invited, the other guests had all been asked to submit a song request, which the supergroup would play live. Above - Noosh and Rick's rendition of Parklife! 
Hagos, accompanied by Heather and Mike doing a glitter song (with appropriate head gear). In total Hagos played on thirty songs! It was mega.
We are both now recovering from the most horrendous flu ever. Four days of blank existence, punctuated by a hacking cough. 
Noosh and I did a duet on Knowing Me, Knowing You, by Abba. The whole point of doing it was to do this video selfie during the middle eight. Our backing Supergroup consisted of, Hagos (Lodestar/Senser), Tim and Rick (Ash), Nathan (Snow Patrol) and Keith (We Are Scientists). It's all about the Instagram :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas

I only made two Christmas presents this year. The pink Wee Chickadee by Ysolda, for my great-niece Kelsie (in her Baby Claus outfit below), and a blue snowflake Wee Chickadee for my great-nephew Curtis. I finished sewing the buttons on Kelsie's cardigan on Christmas Eve, and only managed to knit half of one sleeve on Curtis's cardigan. It turned out I wouldn't be seeing him on Christmas Day so I decided to put it aside and finish it for the next time I'll be down visiting and give it to him then. I think the whole of Kelsie's cardigan works really well. I love the colour combination and the dark pink sparkly buttons.
I decided, three weeks before Christmas, to join Slimming World. I did Weightwatchers successfully a few years ago and lost two and a half stones in five months. I kept it off for a good couple of years, then with life changes put a stone and a half back on again. I did briefly return to Weightwatchers a couple of years ago, in which time their programme had changed, but somehow never really took to the new Propoints system.
Every year I get to December and feel sick of the glut and over-indulgence that is happening in the run up to Christmas. And when I noticed a colleague had lost weight I asked her what she was doing, and she explained Slimming World to me. It caught my imagination and I joined a couple of weeks later. 

Having done both now, I would say Weightwatchers is easier if you need to grab ready meals (most supermarkets do a range and it's easy to work out how many points there are in a product) but I actually much prefer Slimming World now. It is making me cook for the first time ever! (And actually the results are delicious!) It means planning ahead a bit more, but essentially there is no weighing and counting on lots of food I already really like and eat. The only thing I have to count is a few treats a day. There are 5-15 syns available each day, and, of course, I spend all of mine on chocolate and sugar-related items. The mince pie is home-made and only three and a half syns each, and the Mikado chocolate stick is half a syn. The violet cream is three syns (and totally worth it). 
This is Kelsie in her Baby Claus outfit on Christmas Day. She is nine months old now and is turning out to be a sweet girl. 
She loved the Chocolate Yule Log when dessert was brought out.

Today is the first day in a long time that I don't have to go anywhere or do anything (except clean out the chickens!). I'm fighting off a cold (sore throat, heavy head) and have a twitch in my eye that I only get when I am extremely tired. I don't intend achieving anything today except for sprawling on the couch, maybe reading a book, or listening to the vintage Christmas murder mystery I downloaded from Audible, drinking hot tea and letting everything go. (Like Elsa in Frozen, which I watched for the first time today.)
**Update - Kelsie wearing her Wee Chickadee cardigan and looking gorgeous in it. 

Monday, December 05, 2016

Scarf

This scarf took only a few evenings to complete. It's knitted in Rowan Cocoon. Really soft and luxurious. 
I forgot I'd knitted 2x2 rib at the first end and duly knitted 1x1 rib at the second end.I unknitted rather than ripping back, so all the stitches would remain turned the right way when it came to reknitting.
I love the colours.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Knitting Frenzy

I finished the charcoal Chickadee. I've still to sew on the buttons but the (very few) ends have been sewn in. I love it, and I'm glad I decided not to include a motif. 
It's impossible to photograph the buttons to full effect but they're great.
I've been in an absolute storm of knitting recently. I can't stop. As soon as I cast off the charcoal cardigan, I cast on this gorgeous, luscious red cardigan. Another Chickadee. I go into a trance. I knit when I'm happy, and I knit as therapy, to distract myself from difficulties.
And somewhere in amongst it I knitted two Christmas balls. 
The heart ball was knitted on 3mm needles, the snowman ball was knitted on 2.5mm needles. Half a millimetre obviously makes a big difference in size! The heart ball is too big.
I decided to park the luscious red cardigan when I got to the point of knitting the sleeves, so I could knit this scarf. My coat and jacket are purple this winter, and my handbag is purple and yellow tweed, really cheerful colours, so I decided to knit matching accessories. The wool for the scarf is Rowan Cocoon. I got it from loveknitting.com and coincidentally ordered on a day it was £6.60 a ball, instead of the usual price of just under £10! I also ordered 4 ply to knit matching mittens too. The scarf has only taken 3 evenings of not much effort to get over halfway.
It has turned frosty at last. Whole days where the sun doesn't thaw certain parts of the land. I like walking to see what has changed in the countryside. There are many moments of beauty.
And this great friend of ours. She is very busy these days. She has found a cache of big, fat mice over the back wall, and she spends a lot of time out there hunting (and bringing them in - dead and alive). She is jealous of anything I give my attention to (that isn't her) and has taken to sitting on my knitting patterns so I have to STOP and pay attention to HER. And with this much beauty, why would I want to look at anything else?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Chickadee progress

My plain charcoal Chickadee cardigan is at the coasting stage. All the fiddly bits of knitting have been done (until the rib cast on) and now it's just knit knit knit until the bottom. I'm glad I didn't add a motif for this. However to pep the cardigan up I found THESE buttons:
Black, glittery - I had such a job getting them. I found the buttons I liked in John Lewis but they only had two in stock. So they offered to order me some from another store and post them direct. Great. Except when the buttons arrived they were the wrong size. So I went online and two separate companies posted me glitter buttons that were the right size but the wrong glitteriness. The first company, to be fair, advertised them as silver glitter on black. The buttons were too silver with no black glitter on them. The second company had a photo and they definitely matched the buttons I had, however they also turned up too silvery and not enough black. I finally found the last company, Marriner Yarns, and their photo matched the product that arrived. So I was very happy. I think the glitter buttons will add just enough sparkle and interest to an otherwise plain cardigan.
I finished Curtis's cardigan (except the sleeves, but they won't take long to knit). It's very sweet. I still have the buttons to choose for this. Not sure what I'll go for. I saw Curtis yesterday and he is a big boy. The cardigan is knitted for a two year old and at Christmas Curtis will be one year and three months old, so I hope it fits him okay!
And these are the pink sparkle buttons I got for Kelsie's cardigan. I might get darker pink sparkly buttons if I can. These seem a bit too light.

I have many other things I'd also like to be knitting - Christmas baubles, for example, but I'd better finish these first.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Pockets!

After the runaway success of the pockets in my pyjama bottoms I decided to make a skirt with pockets. I love pockets, particularly pouch pockets (good for egg collecting), but I was so impressed by how easy these were to sew, and how effective they are.
The pattern is Bettine, by Tilly and the Buttons. Bettine is actually a dress pattern but I'd seen a skirt version online and as I only had enough material for a skirt decided to do that. I thought it might make an easy slip-on skirt for work.

I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I had to take a couple of chunks out of the side seams as the tulip shape made it too puffy, but that was easy and I will definitely make more.

The material is lightweight cord from John Lewis.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Sewing Tetris (almost)

I so love my new pyjama bottoms. They are 3/4 length, because I only bought a metre of fabric. I didn't plan the staggering of the pink tents across both legs, they just worked out that way - a happy accident!
And, I decided to insert side pockets! I got the pocket pattern from the Tilly and the Buttons book Clemence skirt pattern, and also the instructions.
They are very silly and were fun to make.
Because I always struggle to tell the front from the back, I added a wee 'hand made' ribbon.
Next up, I hemmed my apple tree skirt. Love it too.
And finally, I also made pyjama shorts! I really love these. Haggis brought me back one metre of this material from Japan, hoping I could get a skirt out of it, but it was only 112cm wide, not 150cm, and initially I didn't even think I'd get pyjama shorts, but with very careful pattern-placement I managed it. I stupidly ran out of pyjama elastic so they are all hemmed just waiting for the elastic, and just in time for.... winter!
I have looked at this material and these patterns for ages and finally pressed the 'buy now' button when my online shopping basket had them in. I love the aesthetic of the Merchant and Mills patterns. So functional.
The weather is decidedly turning autumnal. We went for a walk last week and ended up on the scout bridge.
Meg looking cute and cheeky.
I love the countryside around here.