Thursday, 27 April 2017

A (very!) extended Easter Break . . . .

Well, my Easter break became a very extended one with my eldest at home studying for final university exams, I just decided it would be just as well to continue plying him with cups of tea and sympathy :)  The sewing machine stayed very quiet in the meantime.

We all had a week off at Easter time and went for a lovely drive down to the South of Harris (I live on the Isle of Lewis in the north part).  We were very much tourists, just driving around little side roads and taking photos along the way - I think I've really fallen for the Bays of Harris, just a beautiful part of our islands!  We took the 'Golden Road' - doesn't that sound romantic, hehe :)  You can read about it here.

Here's some photos I took along the lovely winding roads . . . 

Just love this scenery - the colours are amazing :)

Lots of winding roads through rocky landscapes

Couldn't resist taking a photograph of this cute pony!

Rodel Church - well worth a visit.  Fascinating history :)

Scarista beach - I'd forgotten how lovely it is!

I'll keep this post short :)  Sock knitting has been featuring a lot over the last few weeks - so easy to pick up anytime and I've learned a few new techniques along the way - I'll leave that for another post!

Bye for now!
Alison x

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Eggs, socks and other stuff :) :)

Ooooh, I'm feeling all 'Eastery' and full of spring cheer!  You can tell I'm ready to take my Easter break and really looking forward to it :) :)  Our lovely hens are laying full out - here's a pic of an extra large egg one of them laid at the weekend, beside a normal sized egg - ouch!


. . . . and yes, it was a double yolked egg - three for the price of two, hehe :)


My youngest made a nice omelette for himself with these eggs - I'm pleased he's cooking with our own free range eggs, it feels nice to be able to do that.

In my last blog post I think I showed the start of a lacey sock - they're both finished now and I loved making them.  Lacey socks are something I've been keen to do and although I've made ONE lacey sock, I didn't finish the pair - ooops!  Here's the finished sock (pattern from Liz Lovicks's book The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting) . . .


Sorry, not a very clear picture!

I loved making them so much though, that I decided to try another pair of lace socks to extend my skills a bit and tried a fab pattern from Ann Budd's Sock Knitting book . . .


In between knitting socks my Other Half asked if I had any need for some plywood they were throwing out at his place of work - well, I thought I could make some sock blockers??  Really I thought this might work for photographing or displaying my socks, rather than stretching/blocking them.

This is what I did to make custom sock blockers to fit my foot leg size . . .


I drew around a pair of socks I'd made a year or two ago which were a perfect fit, so a good template.   I just cut around the sock on paper, then . . .


drew two sock shapes onto the plywood.  Other Half cut them out for me and voila, I had two sock blockers custom made for my foot size.


Here's the first sock on the sock blocker - it's a perfect fit for the sock width/length but a little too narrow at the top so not stretching the lace as much as it could (yes, my calves are wider than that, hehe!).  Anyway it was a fun exercise to try and I'm sure I'll use the blockers in time :)


Here's the second lacey sock again - I've still to start the second one but that's for AFTER the Easter break.  I've put all my needles and yarn aside for now in readiness for a lovely Easter break.  My eldest is at home from Univeristy to study for final exams, so lots of cups of tea, home baking and yummy meals for him I think (and for us!).

I won't be doing any crafting for the next week and a half, while I'm at home with the family, but will probably be leafing through some of my craft books.  I bought Free Form Embroidery (bottom left in pic) earlier in the month when I realised I was planning to take it out of the library for the second time.   It's written by Judith Baker Montano and gives great stitching guides for using in landscape textiles - I'm really looking forward to trying out some of the stitches and ideas in this book.



I've left my Etsy shop up and online while on my break as everything in it is ready-to-ship, so no problem with shipping any orders I may have.  Hopefully I'll be ready to add some new items when I get back, feeling rejuvinated and super creative!!

Bye for now :)
Alison x

Sunday, 19 February 2017

February - get knitting!

Well, hello :)  No posts for a month - I've just been crafting a bit intensively I think!  Spending a lot of time making items and photographing them for my Etsy shop - it's left me little time to take any photos for my poor wee blog!

Last month I seemed to have been bitten by the crochet bug.  February seems to be the month for getting knitting - hurray!  I've been struggling at times to get knitted items in my shop.  Time constraints as knitting is more time consuming than crochet or sewing I find anyway, the cost of buying yarn of course, and finding patterns which knitwear designers give permission for the finished items to be sold - so nice to have found some of these!

This week was the week of the bobble hat - these were such fun to make . . . .


Pattern design by RusticWillowCreation



Pattern design by Knifty Knittings

In between I've been making a few tweedie collage items which I've loved . . .



One of three collage brooches I've made for the shop.


This collage purse was inspired by a little textile art collage piece I'd made last month :)

Last weekend I popped into my local yarn shop to see if I could get some wool to finish off one of the bobble hats.  The wool wasn't there but I know the lovely lady who owns the shop and couldn't leave empty handed so purchased some very reasonably priced sock yarn.  I was thinking a lace shawl maybe but ended up starting to knit some lace socks from one of my Shetland Lace Knitting books (The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting by Elizabeth Lovick).

It doesn't look like much but I think it'll look very pretty once complete . . .


The lace pattern is a Shetland traditional one called candle light - it's really pretty once you see a few repeats of it.  This could be a long project though as I'm just taking my time and enjoying being a little medatative with something very intricate - you can't rush lace knitting!

We've just had half term holidays last weekend so back into the swing of things in general.  Looking forward to Easter holidays already though as we've had lovely mild weather here - it feels like Spring already!

Speak soon
Alison x

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

First Post of the Year :)

Well, we're into the third week of the New Year and January has just flow in - not sure where it's gone but . . . . :)

I'm a little late to be saying Happy New Year, but well I've said it anyway!

We had a lovely relaxing holiday - some time spent batting down the hatches due to bad weather, which was a really good excuse not to go anywhere, hehe :)  It was just really good to have time to do a bit of cooking, baking, generally chilling out.  No schedules to follow - bliss!

With a little Christmas cash I invested in some balls of acrylic yarn to practice the granny squares in one of my crochet books.  The blocks are all 6 inch square and use aran/worsted weight yarn.  I've made some of the squares before in a mix of wool and acrylic with good results, perfect squares and no need to block (which I've never had to do before with my crochet squares).  

However, with my new acrylic yarn the squares seem to end a little 'curly' so some blocking is obviously required . . . 


I've made a make-shift blocking board with a piece of board (I think it's an old blackboard my kids had!), covered with a couple of layers of foam packaging, then wrapped in an old towel.  I used some string to wrap the towel around the board - yes, very rustic!

This is my second attempt to block the acrylic squares - my first ones did block OK but the yarn went very flat and lost its softness and fluffiness - flat acrylic squares - not good :(

Here's two I think I've blocked . . . 


I'm pleased with the squares but disappointed at how the blocking affected the yarn.  Maybe I was too impatient, I did finish off the blocking with a hairdryer - ooooops!

It's really nice having the correct weight of yarn to practice all the squares in the book though (100 Bright and Colourful Granny Squares by Leonie Morgan) and some lovely colours too.  Just the job for passing the time in January - maybe that's where the time went!

I think one of my New Year resolutions will be to try and purchase more of my craft supplies locally - we have a lovely hobby and craft shop in Stornoway that also sells yarn.  It's near my place of work and the owner who I happen to know anyway is really lovely - great to see everything in front of you and be able to buy direct from a local shop :)  Also quite dangerous, haha :) :)

Another resolution which I think I'm following already is just be as creative as possible with my Etsy shop and follow my gut instinct to make things I enjoy and am inspired to make - it's been fun so far anyway!  I'm enjoying making more collage and mixed media pieces - here's a detail of one . . . 


. . . embroidery, buttons, fabric, tweed - very enjoyable!

Over the holidays and throughout the Winter, the hens have carried on laying bountiful eggs - really great, especially over the Christmas break.  Here's one enjoying her porridge on a wintry morning . . .


We had lovely snow last week . . . 


All gone now though - but can't complain it's so mild today it could be Spring!

Well, best dash - probably lots more to say but enough already :)

Speak soon
Alison x

Monday, 19 December 2016

Seasons Greetings! Still here :) :)

Yes, still here although I haven't been here very regularly of late! I really must get Instagram for when I can't get time to blog - it really is a must and top of my 'to do' list for the New Year hopefully :)

Here's our cuddly festive Robin which comes out every year without fail - he always gets placed somewhere around the home at this time of year . . .


He used to tweet when you squeezed his tummy but I think he lost his tweet some time ago - never mind, he still looks cute!

I've been a little busy for the last month or so since I got back online after the laptop crash - ooops!  After putting my Etsy shop back online I made a few unexpected sales which was lovely!  I thought I should build on that and made a few more items to replace the stock I sold.  One of the items came from a little doodle of a Robin redbreast . . .


I then developed it into an applique tweedie purse which I had fun making . . .


All very festive, hehe :)

I'm enjoying going with the creative flow and just making things I enjoy!

On the personal front I came across THE  'go to'  scarf pattern for men (and women!). I always find it difficult to find a 'manly' scarf pattern but I think this one is just perfect and so simple!  You have to try it!

I made this one for my son - the cat tried to get in on the act by 'helping' . . .


how long??? . . .


It's a lovely stretchy scarf which would look great in a muted colour for men, but I just used an oddment of multi coloured chunky yarn for my son at Uni - I think he might wear it for fun if nothing else!  I'm knitting a bright pink one for myself now :)

Well, we are not having festive weather here in the Outer Hebrides - it's more like Spring!  Here's how it looks today from the back window . . .


Well, I hope everyone has a lovely festive season - a time to eat, drink and be merry!  I plan to do all three :) :)

Merry Christmas from the Outer Hebrides!
See you in 2017,
Alison xxx

Friday, 25 November 2016

Grumpy Bunny!

I've been AWOL for sometime now due to a disastrous laptop crash which really was an accident waiting to happen - it was slowing down to a ridiculous pace and shutting down on a regular basis.  Well, the inevitable happened and one morning last month it decided it had had enough and refused to come on at all.  A self imposed break from all online pursuits ensued - not a great time of year I admit to cease my crafty trading on Etsy but necessary until I figured out what to do (apart from borrowing my children's computers of course!).

Anyway I'm back with a nifty little budget notebook (popular with impoverished students I believe, haha!) which I finally decided to go for.  Just as well I'm getting spectacles for close up work - I'll need them on this little screen! 

In my imposed break I spent some time leafing through some of my fave craft books and finishing off the crochet cushion covers I'd started earlier. I had a go at making this little fellow from 'Homemade Gifts Vintage Style' . . .


He looks pretty disgruntled - poor thing! (maybe this is what I looked like without my laptop, hehe!)

But the one on the book cover did too . . .


Here he is on the settee surrounded by the finished crochet covers which I really enjoyed completing (at last!) . . .


I actually cheated with attaching the crochet covers - the square one was stitched onto a very old tweed patchwork one which had seen better days but the zip was intact and it was just asking to get reused . . .


The other two were simply stitched on to backing fabric without any opening - when they get grubby they'll just have to be unstitched!

Grumpy Bunny was made from an old fleecy hoodie so is quite soft and cuddly . . .


He was just an experiment - I might give him to a passing toddler!  I really love how this book reuses old and unloved fabrics and objects - very inspiring!

We've had some lovely frosty mornings this week, the chooks have been enjoying pecking about without being battered by rain and gales.  They didn't seem to mind the frost too much . . .


I love seeing them pecking about amongst the trees and shrubs :)

We've enjoyed a bounty of eggs from them since we got them - really lovely to be able to collect the fresh eggs and use them ourselves and pass some on to friends and relatives.  Last weekend I decided to treat myself and made 'Eggs Benedict' which was something I've seen on countless cookery programmes but never tried eating or making it.  It was very yummy :) and so much nicer with our own eggs . . .


You can get some recipes here.  Excuse the rather scruffy plate but it's just the right size for some things!

Hope I'll be back a little more regularly now - my Etsy shop is back open again so I should really get off and make some items for it!

Speak soon,
Alison x

P.S.  'Homemade Gifts Vintage Style' is written by Sarah Moore.  I might be using it this Christmas given my very tight budget LOL!

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Playing Hooky :)

I picked up an old crochet project at the weekend . . . . and decided to finish it off, yay!  On thing led to another and I'm now trying to incorporate it into a little ensemble of cushions on my couch . . .


The cushion on the left is the one I finished at the weekend . . .


The block patterns were taken from Leonie Morgan's lovely book: 100 Bright and Colourful Granny Squares.  I had sewn the four blocks together and they had sat there for a good few months - on Sunday I added another round of double crochet to 'tie' them altogether and then three rounds of treble crochet all round.

The middle oblong cushion is a few years old I think from when I started to learn to crochet!  It's been lying dormant ever since - oooops!

The cushion on the right is my current work in progress . . .


The pattern is from Susan Pinner's fab book - Granny Squares - a lovely inspiring book of crochet projects for the home.

It's nice to get back to some crochet - so easy to pick up and drop whenever - just a wee bit addictive though :)  I'll be back to getting some 'tweedie' work this afternoon.

My latest addition to the ship is a personalised Harris Tweed cosmetics purse - quite fun and funky I think :)  Very pastel, sorbet colours - with a fresh gingham lining . . .


Better get the sewing machine out now for some tweedieness athough it would be good to get some crochet and knitted  items in there soon too!

Bye for now :)
Alison x