Friday, 11 October 2019

One Summer Dress Three Ways: Taking Clothes From Summer To Autumn

Long gone are the days of bare legs, sandals and sunny weather. It is cold! We have recently returned from a weeks holiday in beautiful Scotland and I was so happy for the sudden drop in temperature, dark nights and rainy days that greeted us when we got home. Yes I know, I'm very odd but I love Autumn and Winter and I couldn't wait for knitted jumper weather get started properly. What I was a little more sad about was having to say goodbye to my gorgeous summer dresses.

Every year around this time I pack away my summer wardrobe and all the pretty dresses replacing them with boots, woolly tights and thick knitted jumpers. I realised this year however, there were a few new additions to my wardrobe that would work really well as transitional pieces and could certainly be taken into the next season.

I am super passionate about getting as much wear out of your clothes as possible. I can't at all claim to be a capsule wardrobe kind of girl but I do love it when I can style my pieces for multiple occasions and seasons. And so I thought I would share one dress which I took from the height of summer right through to a very cold day in Scotland. Hopefully this will help give you some ideas on how you might be able to style your own pieces for multiple seasons.

This first picture was from the height of summer. It may not look like it with those grey clouds but this was a warm day in August. No need for a cardigan and I decided to pair it with my trainers for our walk. I did also wear this dress a lot with my sandals. It is the perfect loose swishy summer dress and I loved wearing it all through July and August. 

As we went into September we were blessed with more sunny days but the temperature dropped a little so I paired with a cardigan and some ballet flats. Putting on a bright layer is such an easy way to take a summer dress into that first part of Autumn. 

This was the afore mentioned freezing cold day in Scotland. Up until then we'd had a few days of 14/13 degrees but by the end of the week it had come right down to 11 degrees with a sharp cold wind. I seriously questioned my outfit choice when I first got out the car but quickly realised I had a lovely long sleeved white top with me in the car. You can't see it in the photo but I popped that on underneath the dress which looked so cute. I then added a jumper over the top to keep me snuggly warm. A pair of natural tan tights for my legs and a more sturdy pair of leather shoes for wandering the walls of Stirling Castle. 

As the weather cools down even more I'm looking forward to styling this into Winter. Obviously adding a coat is a great way to take any dress into the colder season but also Chelsea boots, cropped jumpers (as above), thicker tights, underskirts and tops underneath. 

I hope this post has given you a little bit of inspiration to take your summer wardrobe into Autumn and always make sure you can rack up those 30 wears. If you have any tips on how you take your summer dresses into colder seasons I would love to hear in the comments! 

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Friday, 20 September 2019

My First Hat

Being quite an experienced knitter now able to make lots of jumpers and cardigans some of which I sell over on my Etsy shop, it seems strange that I've never made a hat before. Hats, scarves and mittens are often the first few knitting patterns you go through when you are learning to knit but I've never been one to take it slow. I always want to be able to do everything right now and so it was with knitting. I jumped straight into cardigans a few years ago when I started to knit again after a 10 year break and I haven't looked back since.

If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen I was lucky enough to attend the press launch of Mode at Rowan, a new collection by Rowan which has recently launched. It was such an exciting day and if you'd like to see more go check out my instagram stories under knitting. Part of the press package was a goody bag (always love a goody bag!) and in this bag was a ball of beautiful Big Wool by Rowan and the Daisy Beanie Pattern.

Knitted up on 10mm needles this is a super easy pattern and perfect for a nice relaxing evening or weekend knitting session. I made up my Daisy Beanie in the gifted Big Wool but unfortunately it wasn't really a colour that suited me but I loved the pattern so much I decided to dig out some other super chunky yarn from my stash and make a white one.

I used two balls of Paintbox Super Chunky Wool Mix in Champagne White which worked perfectly. I also decided to add a pom pom because I can never get enough of pom pom hats.

I am super happy with the outcome and I can't wait till it's actually cold enough to wear this. Being white it will go with all my coats and it's tempted me to have a go at making my first ever pair of mittens to match.

If you're looking for an easy hat pattern I would definitely recommend the Daisy pattern and making it up in Big Wool means you get a beautiful 100% merino wool hat. If you want to add a pom pom like I did though I would suggest buying two balls as there isn't enough left from one ball to make the pom pom.

Let me know if any of you have tried this pattern and I would love to hear your mitten pattern suggestions too.

Happy knitting guys!

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Friday, 13 September 2019

Just Begin

"If in doubt, begin"

Those of you who follow my instagram and blog will know that the last few months have been anything but easy. 2019 has been a ridiculously hard year due to very poor health and unfortunately the struggle is still on going. I have both chronic pain and chronic fatigue which means my days are spent alone, at home struggling through trying to find some meaning in life when all that I loved and worked for has been taken away. It's been the hardest challenge of my life so far.

When your body lets you down in such a big way it becomes very easy to be terrified all the time. You cut your life down in a bid for survival trying desperately to find a way of coping. This has been me for the last 8 months. I've lost pretty much everything that made me me. But recently I decided no more. I didn't want to be terrified to live. I didn't want to be kept captive by my chronic illness. Enough was enough.

Of course, this is much easier said than done. I made this decision in my head one night, felt very strongly and then thought and now what? I'm still in pain, I'm still struggling, I'm still exhausted and can barely function. And then I remembered...

"If in doubt, begin"

Just begin. Just begin. Little by little. Step by step. Start reintroducing more and more of you back into your life.

I started reading again. Just half an hour a night was all I could manage with my foggy chronic illness brain but it was good to be doing it again. I started walking again. Small country walks barely fifteen minutes but it was a walk. I started cooking again. Delicious meals from the many recipe books that had sat stagnant on the shelves for months. I even started new things like dress making and dog owning.

But the scariest thing of them all... I started to write again. Tiny little ideas fluttering around my head that never really left me even in my darkest moments. My imagination always there, always waiting.

And so dear reader I want to encourage you today. If like me you are in doubt, you are confused, lost, unsure of yourself I suggest you just begin. After all beginning is the hardest step of them all.

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Friday, 16 August 2019

Introducing Pearl

If you follow me over on Instagram you will have noticed we have a new addition to the family, little Pearl. Three weeks ago Pearl came to her forever home with us to enjoy retirement after working as a racing Greyhound for the first few years of her life.

The last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind to be honest. I have never had a dog before only a cat and a few small furry creatures as a child. I had absolutely no idea how hard it would be and for the first few days I did really struggle. My husband has had dogs his whole life and so for him it was very normal but everyday he went off to work and I was left alone with Pearl trying to figure out how on earth to teach her how to behave.

Rescue Greyhounds are very different to normal rescue dogs. Most of the time they haven't been hurt or abused they have simply been working dogs that now need a forever home to retire to. That means they don't come with a lot of the issues normal rescue dogs have which is great but it does also mean they have never lived in a home before. Getting a retired Greyhound is basically like adopting an overgrown puppy. You have to teach them everything about home life.

In those first few days I was at a total loss as to what to do. She didn't respond to her name, thought all the food in the house was for her, didn't understand no, would plonk herself in the way and wouldn't budge so I was lifting a 25kg dog around which is very hard for someone with M.E. and chronic pain. She also cried all night when we left her downstairs, scratched at our doors and took all the paint off and kept jumping on furniture in the night to steal hats and place mats off the high shelves to eat.

I ended up becoming quite low about the whole situation. I had desperately wanted a dog my whole life and now I finally had one I felt completely overwhelmed and kept thinking I'd made a huge mistake. I seriously considered giving her back because I thought I simply couldn't cope and maybe I was just a cat person after all.

I shared some of these feelings on my Instagram account feeling like the worst dog owner in the world. I couldn't believe it when I was inundated with a flurry of messages from friends and followers saying they too had had those feelings when they first got their dog. They told me it was totally normal and that it would get better and sticking it out would be the best thing as soon I would have a furry friend I loved more than I ever thought possible.

And they were right. After the first week she had already improved so much. She was responding to her name, to whistling, to the commands of No, Wait, Stay and Off. We've obviously still got a long way to go when it comes to training but all that work I put in in that first week really paid off. We now have a gorgeous cuddly loving dog who wags her tail every time we get ready to go for a walk, climbs on the sofa for daily cuddles whilst I'm knitting up orders and loves being part of our family.

We chose a Greyhound as we had heard from many people and online that they were incredibly relaxed dogs. Everyone thinks because they are racers they have lots of energy and need a lot of exercise but actually it's the opposite. They need about 20 mins walk a day, a little run around in the garden every now and again and a comfy bed to spend the rest of the time on. They are so gentle and calm. She never licks, jumps or barks. She simply stands there being cuddled. She's been amazing with every family member and friend she's met so far and we know in years to come she will make the perfect family dog.

It's been a hard few weeks and we are still having some very early starts which is exhausting on top of M.E but I am so glad we have this gorgeous girl in our family now. We love you Pearl.

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Monday, 22 July 2019

New Beginnings with Stitch and Pearl

Some one you may have noticed over on my instagram that I've been keeping myself busy knitting over the last few months of ill health. When my chronic pain became quite severe in December I started to struggle to do a lot of the things I had been able to do before. I developed chronic fatigue syndrome/M.E. in the January and I soon found myself unable to read, write or blog. I was stuck at home feeling pretty awful but also incredibly bored by my sudden debilitating illness.

I had already been knitting quite a bit in 2018 but as we moved into the new year and my chronic illness only got worse I started to knit a lot more. I found it was the one thing I could still do even with such extreme exhaustion and pain. I found it relaxed me, calmed me when the pain was bad and helped give me a real sense of purpose each day stopping me from falling into a downward spiral of depression. In all honesty it saved my life. I know that sounds terribly dramatic but when you've lost nearly everything that made you you because you are suddenly unable to do it and your days are spent simply existing in pain and exhaustion you do start to wonder why on earth you're still alive at all.

Knitting saved me. It gave me a purpose and soon I was being told by friends and family that the things I was making were good enough to sell. They encouraged me to start a little online shop selling all the little baby knits I'd been making just for fun. And so Stitch and Pearl was born.

It's taken me a little while to get up the confidence to start selling things as I am such a perfectionist. I worry about tiny little imperfections or things not being completely 100% perfect. But my friends and family have encouraged me that this is the beauty of a hand knitted item. It hasn't been made on a machine and its imperfections give it character.

I've had such an amazing response with so many people telling how much they love the knitwear and my shop launch post on facebook was shared over 15 times! It's really given me the confidence to keep going with this idea. I'm not sure where it will lead but for now it has given me a real sense of purpose. No longer am I just knitting to keep me going but also as a mini business. Chronic pain and fatigue has been a horrible thing to go through but one positive thing has come out of it. It's opened up a completely different door for me and I am so excited to see where this leads.

Please do go over and check out my Etsy shop and my new instagram page. I have already sold one item so there are only two up at the moment but many more coming soon including some adult accessories in September!

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Friday, 10 May 2019

Turning Twenty-Five

As you will probably be able to tell from the title of this post I recently turned 25. I don't know why but 25 feels like such a big number. Maybe it's because it's a quarter of a century but it feels so grown up. I had dabbled with idea of having a big 25th birthday party but with my health being as bad as it is I think I made the right decision to take a week off in Scotland instead. 

We had a wonderfully slow and relaxed week full of lots of treats. It was a week of celebrations with my birthday on the Monday, my mother in laws birthday on the Saturday and Easter Day on the Sunday. We ate, and drank (yes I actually drank alcohol on my bday, turning 25 must be getting to me!) and laughed lots. After an incredibly hard few months of my chronic pain getting worse and worse, moving house and the stress of what we will do if I'm not well enough to go back to work, we really needed this holiday. 

Seeing as I have now hit the wise old age of 25 I thought it would be interesting to share some of the things I feel I've learnt about life, particularly in the last few years. They say you change completely from the age of 18-25 and I think I would definitely have to agree. I've gone from a fast fashion clad Liverpool party girl living life at 100 miles an hour to a woman who enjoys slow and natural living, nature, knitting, buys only ethical and sustainable clothing and dreams of living in the countryside. I definitely prefer who I am now and have found my heart is much more full then it ever used to be. So here are the things I've learnt about life so far... 

1. Slow is always better - I've been forced to slow down over the years having suffered from mental health problems and now physical health problems. It's been hard but I can also see the huge benefits in taking time to actually enjoy life. I was always so stressed, so worried about getting everything done that I never took time to just be. Now my priority in life is taking time to be in the present and connect with the world around me. This time will go very quickly and you never know when it will change, it's very important to take the time to enjoy what you have now and not to always be looking to the future. 

2. Don't sweat the small stuff - I have my husband to thank for this one. When I first met him at the ripe old age of twenty I was a little stress ball. I grew up in a house where stressing over tiny details and fussing a lot was completely normal. I didn't know that life didn't need to be this way. My husband taught me to calm down completely. Instead of shrieking and jumping around grabbing tea towels when some one accidentally pours a drink on the table I can now just calmly deal with it. There is no need to get stressed over a drink being spilt, getting lost, breaking something e.t.c these things don't matter that much. And once I learnt not to get stressed by the small stuff I also learnt to deal with the bigger stuff better. I am able to take a step back and think, does this really matter? Is this really as big as I think it is? 

I'm definitely not perfect or an expert at this and I do still have a tendency to get anxious and stressed easily but the little I have learnt has helped an incredible amount, especially recently. Life is just too short to be stressed and worried. 

3. You don't need to have it all figured out - I read a statistic somewhere that our generation will change career eleven times in their life time. I don't know if this is true but I have certainly done my fair share of chopping and changing in just the last seven years never mind a lifetime. We get a lot of pressure from our culture to be completely sorted from day one. We are supposed to know exactly what we want to do, have a five year plan at all times, be at the top of our careers or at least on our way and never give ourselves times to wonder if we are actually happy. 

For a long time I thought this was normal. I threw myself into careers I didn't really want desperate to find something that worked for me. But the reality was it took years of different experiences to form some idea of who and what I wanted to be. I've changed completely since I was eighteen and I'm so glad I had the chance to explore many different jobs and different studies. It's made me who I am today and I can now go forward making informed decisions because of the experiences I've had. 

I still don't know what I'm going to do with my life. I have a vague idea and some hopes and dreams but I know I can still live a great life without having it all planned out. In September I will go back to studying part-time and I'm really excited. That's as figured out as I am at the moment and that's good enough for me.

4. It won't go to plan and that's okay - Following on from the previous point even if you do have it all planned out it won't necessarily go to plan. I spent two years trying to get my perfect job in a school library and when I finally did I was ecstatic. After only seven months I became so unwell I have had to be put on sick leave. I keep hoping I will be able to go back but as my health is at the moment we really have no idea when and if that will be possible. The plan I had had for years of becoming a school librarian surrounding by books everyday, teaching creative writing and inspiring young people to read and then spending my holidays writing my own books, has just gone out the window. 

You never know what is around the corner. It's good to have a plan, it's good to set yourself goals but it's important to remember it's okay if they don't all go exactly as you want. That's life and it would be very boring if we could plan and predict everything right now. Having ambitions are great but also having the flexibility to cope with life's changes is essential. 

5. Go with your gut - I struggled a lot in my early years of adulthood trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I trusted other's opinions far too much and didn't trust myself enough. This resulted in two failed degrees. Looking back I always knew I wanted to go to university to study creative writing but it took me until I was 22 years old and independent from my parents to actually have the guts to do it. Obviously I am glad I hadn't done it from the get-go as I would never have met my husband and he is the best part of my life full stop. I wouldn't choose anything over him. But I do wish I'd been strong enough to trust my own instincts and trust that I knew what I wanted. 

Over the last few years, thanks to my husband being my biggest cheerleader, I have had the guts to go for things much more. I've trusted myself, my ideas and what I wanted and it has paid off. I've moved from quite a few jobs but managed to get some amazing experience. I know how hard it can be at times but I think you do just have to make a decision and jump in life. It may be ridiculously scary but life shouldn't be about taking the safe road, risks pay off and you will thank yourself later. 

My biggest piece of advice would be to trust yourself. Go with your gut and dive into life head first. None of us can see the future but we can make informed decisions knowing who we are and what we want. Just go for it. 

What I Wore:
Dress - People Tree | Shoes - Supergas | Sunglasses - Old

So there you have my five lessons learnt over the last seven years or so. I hope they are helpful to some of you and that I've encouraged you to go out and live the life you want. I'm by no means an expert and I will spend my life learning about who I am and what I want to do but for me that's the best way to live. Always learning, always improving, always living. 

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