Sunday, January 26, 2014

an edinburgh getaway (sort of) - country

I recently told you about going to Edinburgh, but one of the days we took a day trip out to Loch Ness and Uruqhart Castle, stopping briefly at Glen Coe on the way up. It was really lovely, we had really amazing weather for the whole trip, and the sunset over the loch on the boat ride back to the coach was really lovely. I highly recommend taking a trip outside of Edinburgh if you're visiting - however I think the time you're there needs to be taken into account. We were only there for two full days, and spending most of the day travelling (about five hours driving) probably wasn't the best use of our time, but it was really lovely to see some the countryside, and I did get to do some bird watching (fairly certain I saw an eagle!).

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

fair-isle fun

Things I have learnt about fair-isle knitting (or stranded colour work, if you will) from my first item that I have knitted in this way..
  • Tension is everything: and it's tough. It's something I've always struggled with - my mother says I knit tightly, but it lapses into something sloppy far too often.
  • Making a little card with a sample of each colour (particularly when they're so similar) is such a godsend! There are so many similar colours in this project, it was driving me crazy.
  • So many ends to sew in. So. Many. Ends.
  • My respect for fair-isle knitters like Alice Starmore has expanded incredibly, and also increased my interest in visiting the Shetland isles ten-fold. 
  • It looks harder than it is! Two colours on each row is actually pretty easy to handle, once you get into the swing of it.
  • I also learnt the hard way the importance of keeping the same colour on the top or the bottom, there are hundreds of posts out there about this!
  • I think good needles are important. I was using Knit Pro's Nova interchangeable ones, because the tips are so smooth because they're metal, and they have a good point on them without being too sharp. 
  • Did I mention I have a lot of ends to sew in? Sigh.
I finished the hat about two weeks ago and I still haven't sewn in the ends. When I get it all finished and blocked I'll show you a better photos!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

sour cream choc-chip cake recipe

Now I'm not one to blow my own trumpet, but this is one of the best cakes I've ever made. Perhaps even the best. My mum was looking for a recipe to use up some rhubarb we had in the freezer and I came across this Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffee Cake by Smitten Kitchen (I really love all her recipes). It sounded interesting with the sour cream, although I'm not sure why it's called a coffee cake, as there is no coffee in it... is this an american thing? Anyway, it takes a while to put everything together because you've got to beat eggwhites and mix ingredients in separately etc, but it's an amazinggg cake when its made. It's really light and fluffy and tastes a bit like muffins due to the sour-cream in it. It also makes a huge tray full so it would be good to make to take to a party or something like that. 
I'm not going to re-type the recipe here because it's long, and she explains it pretty well, and I highly recommend baking it, it went down particularly well in my family, even with my dad who doesn't really like chocolate cake!

(I made this a little while ago and I'm well on my way with my diet now (lost 7lbs!) but I found these pictures on my computer and it made me so so hungry!)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

an edinburgh getaway - town

I recently came back from a far too brief visit to Edinburgh. I've been struggling a lot with my mood of late (as I do every January and February - they are bad months for me) and it was a great little trip to take my mind off a few things. It's been somewhere I've wanted to visit for such a long time, and finally got the chance too. Me and a friend managed to squeeze in a lot in the two and a bit days that we were there, but I really enjoyed it, overall. It was a very beautiful city that I could really see myself living in, in the future... 
These photos are from the first day we got there, we walked up to the castle and the sun was setting over the city, stopping in St. Giles Cathedral on the way back. It was great to see the city on the first day like that, thankfully we were staying just off the Royal Mile so it was a really good place to get to-and-from locations. 
So it wasn't exactly a 'winter sun' break, but we were very lucky with the weather and it was a lovely little time away.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

the cowl to end all cowls

I posted these photos on Instagram and got a few nice responses, so thought I would show you guys: this is the first thing I knitted when I started knitting again, back in 2010. I originally knit it as a scarf, but it was a bit of a weird length; whilst being long enough to wrap around three times, it left these weird ends hanging down, and I never really wore it that much, except when it was super-cold. So I recently sewed the ends together to make it into a giant, super cosy, super comfy cowl or snood. I can't be quite sure what wool it was (it's been a while) but I have a feeling it was Rowan Big Wool. I just knit a knit one/purl one rib all the way up, which because it is a super chunky wool, you can only see the knits and looks like a double sided stockinette. But yeah, I'm quite pleased that I now get a lot of use from it, due to reworking it slightly!

(Fun tangent: here is a picture of me knitting this in a knitting club at university. I say club, there was only one or two meetings and I spent most of it teaching other people how to knit haha.)

fresh starts

I spent my New Year on the toilet. Genuinely, I went for a pee not knowing the time and then heard all the fireworks whilst I was there. I think that perfectly sums up how I feel about 'New Year's Eve' in general, a pile of piss. I just don't care about it anymore, and my grand-old-age of 23, and have resolved to never do anything special because it is simply another year, and another night and do nothing special. However, I want to use the opportunity of a new year to try and make some changes in my life - I know I am a few days late, but I thought I would update you all on my 'resolutions'. 

I wrote this big long post about how I want to change all these things about me, but I know that realistically they won't happen. Basically, I want to work on myself, essentially, however cheesy that sounds. Hoping that if I sort out these aspects of my life, I will lead to a happier, healthier person.

Essentially, I want to swear less, read more, think nicer things, be more generous, buy less stuff, own less stuff. be better to the environment, be healthier, shop more ethically, knit more, be happier. I want to work on being more well-rounded, but we shall see how it goes. 

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

here's to 2014

2013, I have recounted to my friends many times, has been the shittest year I have had in a long time. It started badly and continued on a sour note for most of the year. Don't get me wrong, I have had some nice days out to castles and continental cities and although I didn't jet off anywhere fancy this summer, I had the most nostalgic English summer to a town that I used to visit every year. But the inbetween times were filled with the most vile year that university could bring on me, living in a horrible place with some people who turned out to be not who I thought I was, and left me with a bad case of depression that landed me back in therapy and hospital in the early part of the year. Despite all those horrible things happening (and the general post-uni haze that descends about two months post-graduation when you realise you haven't found a job yet because your university prepared you so poorly!) I have realised I have a thicker skin that I thought, that I have an amazing group of friends that even when we haven't seen each other for a month because we all work retail and have hideous shift schedules that I can talk to all evening until it's dark outside because we have so much (and nothing) to say to each other.. That even when my oldest friend moves half-way across the country I will still see her, and that my family will be there for me. My mum has been the most amazing person this last year, and has always been there in a very quiet way, looking after me when things are all fucked up. So even though 2013 has been pretty dire, there have been some golden moments that remind me to keep trying, even when everything looks very black and bleak. Let's hope 2014 runs smoother...