Monday, 31 July 2017

Seaside Stitches

Hello there!
If you have been reading this blog for a while you may remember that I have a seasonal shelf which I am filling with different stitched smalls for each month. Now some months have quite a full shelf and others are barely started, June falls into this last category and this year I really wanted to do something about that. The seaside is June's theme and I spotted some lovely little designs on Pinterest that would be perfect for it. A little more hunting on the internet revealed they were from a book published a few years ago called Sand, Sea and Cross Stitch by Anna Field, a little more hunting and I discovered Highland Libraries have a copy which I promptly requested. It arrived at our local library when we were in Arran so I picked it up the morning after we got home. Oh what a lovely book this is!!! After a first look through I seriously wanted to just sit down and stitch half this book straight off! Plus, as a lot of the designs are filled with small motifs, there are others which caught my eye with a view to swapping out motifs and changing things about. One thing which makes this easier is that the whole book uses just one color palette -  what a neat idea! It also means once you have your floss picked out you are good to go with any (or all!) of the designs. Plus, as there are only 24 colors, if you wanted to change the color scheme it would be relatively simple to do. All in all I was very impressed and soon realised there was no way I would be done with this book by the time I had to return it - I dropped some very unsubtle hints and was lucky enough to receive my own copy for my birthday in July ;-)


Pippa is not so impressed with this book, I think she feels it should have some cats in it, or mice to chase at the very least! But I fell to stitching and soon had three of the little designs finished which had first caught my eye...





I stitched them on white and navy 14 count aida with the listed DMC colors, finished them as flat ornaments, and they joined the one small I already had on my seasonal shelf...


Although I could've just kept stitching out of this book till Christmas I decided to limit myself to just one more at the moment and this time I was going to change it up a bit. In issue 319 of Crossstitcher magazine I was very taken by the seahorse alphabet designed by Durene Jones. I wanted to stitch the word "Summer" with it but thought it would look even nicer with a seaside picture above it. I looked through my files of magazine charts and one caught my eye - it turned out to be taken from the Sand, Sea and Cross stitch book!


I remember when this was in the magazine I liked a lot of the design but not the wording under it so I decided to replace the wording with the seahorses. The blues used in the seahorses design were the same blues used in the book so I didn't need to change any of the colors used in either chart. I chose some white 28 count evenweave from my stash to stitch it on because there are lots of fractionals in the seahorses and I prefer working them on evenweave. I started off with the waves from the book chart and then centered the seahorses underneath...


Isnt' he sweet?! I decided to stitch some of the houses next and discovered something strange...I have two copies of this design at the moment, one in the library book and one from a back issue of WOCS magazine and the picture in the magazine and the book match. The chart that was printed in the magazine matches the picture. But the chart printed in the book is slightly different in a few places!!! I thought I was seeing things at first but it turns out to be one of those "the more you look the more differences you spot" deals! So I am going to pick my favorite bits from the two versions of the chart and you can have fun spotting the differences when it is finished! Right now this is where I am up to...


I used the jade color from the seahorses in a couple places in the houses and will probably use the gold of the letters somewhere in the houses too just to tie the two designs together a little bit more. I will be back soon with my 17 UFO's in 2017 post but just before I go I wanted to draw your attention to a stitchy blog I discovered a few months ago. Blogger of the Week is run by Jo from Serendipitous Stitching and is a great way of discovering new cross stitch bloggers (or learning more about ones you might already read!). Have a great week!




Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Arran part two and yarny progress!

Hello there!
Today I want to share with you some of the other places we explored during our short break on Arran. Over by Blackwaterfoot on the southwest side of the island is King's Cave, one of the locations in which Robert the Bruce is said to have encountered the spider. We chose to walk to it from the forestry car park which makes it into a nice hour and a half circular walk. When you reach the shoreline there are a series of caves in the sandstone cliffs...


But there is no doubt as to which is King's Cave!


I can honestly say I have never seen such a grand entrance to a cave before! Inside the walls are covered in carvings of various ages...



Some even have dates on them...


We were glad we had brought flashlights so we could have a good look around. Then on the way back out I spotted something else...


Probably not a descendant of the famous spider but proof that someone has a sense of humor!
After walking back to the car we drove over to Whiting Bay for a picnic lunch. Afterwards, just as we were getting ready to set off from the car, the rain started, but we live in Scotland (!) so on went the waterproofs and we walked on past the soggy tourists huddled under the trees looking miserably at the skies. It turned into a very wet walk but actually it was rather nice to be under the tall trees in the torrential rain as we climbed up the glen to Glenashdale Falls. Another bonus of the weather was that we only met one other couple the entire time (a welcome change as Arran as become a lot busier with visitors since the RET scheme was introduced). The Falls themselves were quite spectacular and well worth the climb...


We decided to take the option to walk out to the Giant's Graves instead of going straight back down the way we had come. The rain had stopped by the time we got there and the views were pretty good too!



We said goodbye to Arran the following day after a morning of steady rain and a high volume of midges (UGH!! My major reason for staying away from the west coast in summer!). The skies seemed to be brightening over the island again and I bet they ended up enjoying another lovely evening. 


Once again we opted to sit inside on the crossing and I made a little more progress on Stormy Seas...


After looking at various patterns on Ravelry and having a good think I decided to put armholes into my Vortex circle, give it sleeves, and thereby turn it into more of a cardigan (something I do wear). I measured the distance across the back of one of my sweaters from one armhole to the other and when the diameter of my Vortex matched that I cast off all the stitches between markers 2-3 and markers 6-7. On the next row I cast on the same number of stitches and continued going round in pattern again. I bought another Colourwheel, had a play around with front shaping and ended up ripping a lot of knitting out - twice!- before deciding to just stick with making a big circle . When it was almost the diameter I wanted I stopped knitting in pattern and knitted 16 rounds in garter stitch so the border would lie flat. I cast off with a picot cast off (thanks Youtube!) to give it some extra stretch and make a pretty edge. Now I am happy with it, but when directions say the picot bind off is time consuming they sure aren't kidding! At the point where I was ready to begin casting off I had 488 stitches which was taking me about 20 minutes to knit all the way around once. It then took me 20 minutes to cast off between the first two markers, which was just one eighth of the way round! It also really gobbled the yarn - I had 93g left of the second Colourwheel by the time I was finished. Then it was time to pick up some stitches and make sleeves. I had two balls of Patons Fairytale Soft DK in blue left from knitting a sweater for Little H a couple of years ago, the color is now discontinued so I can't get any more but I figured there was enough there for sleeves? We will see! This is where I have gotten up to now...


I also joined the squares I had made for Ebee's Flower Square Blanket so now I have eight rows completed...


My goal is to make and join 2 rows a month for the next few months so it will be ready for my daughter by the time the temperatures really start to drop.
Lastly, spurred on by all your kind comments about the Seriously Southwestern Socks, I made an effort and finished the second sock! Hubbie is really pleased with them, has declared them the comfiest socks he has ever worn, and requested more! I have yarn and a (much simpler) pattern picked out for him, but am hoping to finish Stormy Seas before I start something new. (I really would like to get three more things finished off my WIP list before I add something else to the mix but I'm sure you all know how the daily struggle with temptation goes! ;-)). Anyways here are his finished socks...



I hope to be back soon to show you what I worked on in June when I should have been working on UFO's! Until then I hope you are enjoying a lovely week with lots of creative opportunities :-)







Friday, 7 July 2017

17 ufos in 2017 - June update

Hello there!
I am really late with my 17ufosin2017  post this month, mainly because I was going to miss June out. Why? Because I have not worked on a single UFO all month!!! *Hangs head in shame* There were a few reasons  excuses for this but the end result - no progress. So I thought what's the point in writing a post? Then I thought this is the half way point through the year so it might be good to have a look at The List and see where I am now.
Off of the original list I have completed numbers 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 15, 16, and 17. I also have made substantial progress on numbers 12 and 13. This leaves seven projects I haven't looked at yet and two I would like to try and work on some more before the year is out. So the updated list looks like this:

  1. Black cross stitch Christmas decorations - set of four started October 2012, one completely finished, another one and a bit now stitched
  2. Popcorn bear cross stitch - started October 2013
  3. Little knitted hedgehog - knitted 2 (or was it 3?) years ago, needs put together
  4. Yoyo pumpkin - yoyo's made, all parts cut out, needs sewn together
  5. Sugar Plum fairy -  knitted 2 (I think?) years ago needs assembled
  6. Lion for little C - partially made amigurumi started last summer
  7. Crochet bag - squares made April 2015
  8. Stocking for little H - started for his first Christmas, he will be 5 in May!
  9. The wave cross stitch - started June 2011 (my oldest UFO)
Is this still doable to finish everything by December 31? Well if I could stay away from temptation then possibly, but in the real world probably not! Especially as my favorite times to craft for are just coming up - Fall, Halloween, Christmas. I have a bunch of WIP's I need to finish and then I am going to try and be good and get some more done off the list before starting anything else!!!! Watch this space! 

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Over the Seas to Arran

Hello there!
Firstly I want to say a big thank you to everyone who took the time to leave a comment on my last post - it is so lovely to hear from you! Also all your positive comments on the socks have really spurred me on & I'm hoping to have a finish on them by the end of the week :-) For today's post I thought you might like to see some photos from our recent trip to the isle of Arran but when I started uploading them I realised there were probably too many for one post so I am going to split it into two. So here goes part one...
For me any trip starts with the crafty project(s) that will accompany me so a few days before we left I headed upstairs to peruse yarn and patterns and pick another travel project. I already had one packed and ready to go, yarn and hook to make more squares for  Ebee's Flower Square Blanket, but I doubted whether I would last a week without some knitting too! The Seriously Southwestern Socks were definitely not in the running - too complicated for in the car! - and I really didn't want to start another pair of socks before finishing these. I wanted something that would be small and easy to work on, preferably on circular needles, and so I gave in to the call of the Deep Blue Sea Colourwheel I bought a few months ago. As soon as I saw it in the shop I knew what I wanted to make with it, a Vortex Shawl. After the first twelve rows this pattern is just a two row repeat which would make it perfect travel knitting so I cast on...


Over the last year I have found myself increasingly drawn to shawls and have made two (which I never wear because basically I am a jeans and t-shirt girl, and no amount of shawl knitting will transform me into one of those shawl wearing nymphs dancing on the beach that you see in the magazines!). I know I will still knit more because I really enjoy making them but at the same time I wondered if I could make this into something I will actually wear.... In the meantime I was having fun working round those two rows, first in the car, then on the ferry to Arran. Due to the colors in the wheel I decided to name this project Stormy Seas so it seemed rather appropriate to work on while we sailed, and, although the sea wasn't rough, it was cloudy and too cold and windy to stay out on deck so we sat inside instead...



The ferry from Ardrossan to Brodick takes about an hour and, although much has changed in the twenty years since my last visit, this view is pretty much the same!


We got checked in to the guest house in Brodick and by then the weather had brightened up considerably. We had brought our bikes so decided to go for a cycle over to Lamlash. The afternoon turned into a glorious evening...


Complete with lots of birdlife and seals in the bay...


The next morning was grey again but it stayed dry as we drove up to Lochranza at the north end of the island. We went for a walk along the north shore of the bay where we spotted more seals...


We followed the path as it climbed up the cliffs and looped back round providing some great views down over the bay to the ruined castle...


This area is home to a large population of red deer so we weren't too surprised to see some of them as well...


Back in the car we drove down the western side of the island to Machrie Moor and, after a picnic lunch, walked out to see the Stone Circles



With the low cloud rolling over the surrounding hills bringing intermittent rain it was rather atmospheric exploring round these ancient sites.
The next day was forecast to be the best of the week weatherwise so we had decided it would be the day we tackled Goat Fell. At 2,867 feet it is 133 feet short of being a Munro (it is a Corbett instead) but in terms of relative height it is the 16th highest mountain in the UK. I didn't take geography at school so where terms like "relative height" & "topographic prominence" get involved I start to get confused! But I think that basically although it's smaller than Ben Wyvis you climb more because the bottom of it is closer to sea level (if that makes sense?). We picked to walk the route from Brodick, starting off behind the Cladach Centre, with brief views across the farmland of Glen Rosa. It is the most popular route & this chappie was keeping an eye on all those crazy humans heading up the path this morning...


Then it was back into some pretty woodland for a while...


The path climbed out into open country above the trees and the view behind us was magnificent! This is Brodick Bay, you can just see Holy Isle rising behind the headland on the left...


As you can see the cloud was pretty low and the view ahead would be hidden...


...then come briefly into view...


...before the cloud swirled in around us again...


This is a very clear, well trodden path and lots of other folks were walking it too so we were in no danger of getting lost, it just added to the atmosphere. Also it was pretty fast moving, another ten minutes and it was completely clear again! This pattern kept repeating so we were fairly sure we would still get a view at the top, we just might have to wait a few minutes for it to clear up. We made our first coffee stop in some sheltering rocks just above where the other path climbs up from Corrie...


...and before we tackled the last steep ascent...


To get some idea of scale can you see the person in the red jacket bottom right corner? There are a few other humans in this shot too if you look really hard! The path was stepped and a little scrambly in places but everything was firm underfoot so a big improvement on Ben Wyvis in my book!


And it was definitely worth it when we got to the top...



Here you can see across Brodick Bay with Holy Isle and Lamlash Bay behind, and across the sea to the Mainland...


We ate our picnic lunch here, looking across to the Mainland and the islands of the Firth of Clyde...


The cloud came rolling back in just as we finished eating so any drops were handily hidden from my view as we climbed back down the steps! As we took the Brodick path at the junction the skies started clearing and when we got a bit further down we looked back and saw this...


From here it developed into a beautifully sunny afternoon and evening, we ate our tea outside basking in the warm sunshine and making the most of the summer's day. 
We had another two days on Arran after this but I will save those photos for another post. Thank you for visiting with me today, I hope you enjoyed a little look around (and from) Arran!