Saturday, 8 August 2015

Lovely Port of Ness

We took a drive up to the Port of Ness this week.  The harbour is very scenic and the entrance is built into the natural rock formation.  Port of Ness is the most northerly village in the Isle of Lewis, about 34 miles (ish!) from my home on the East coast of the island (and about 27 miles from Stornoway - more importantly probably!).

I like the quaint feel of the village as you drive up to the harbour - the houses are quite tightly packed together giving it a cosy 'fishing village' atmosphere, quite different from the sprawling open village I live in. (Sorry no pics en route - I must have just been enjoying the scenery and didn't think to stop and take some snaps - next time, maybe!)

I'd love to see the harbour in a gale - it would look very dramatic :)  It was a lovely calm day when we visited though!

Personally, I'd love to live in the big house overlooking the harbour :) :)
. . . although I have a perfectly lovely seaview myself!

The sea was a stunning aquamarine colour - just beautiful!  We took a meandering drive back out of Ness through some little 'out of the way' villages.  

You can read more and see more photos of Port of Ness here on Undiscovered Scotland's website.   That's my 'touristy' post done!  I'll be back with some crafty updates next week when I'm back in the throes of my craft biz  :) 

Bye for now!
Alison x

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Getting organised . . . . . or how much of your workspace to show!

I can't believe how the Summer holidays have flown past!  We have split our holidays this summer, having a week at the start of the school break and just about to have another week and a half  to round things off!  In between we've had some lovely visits from family so not so much time for intensive crafting.  Instead I've ended up tweaking my new website and organising my workspace in preparation for some serious work as soon as the school summer break is over.

Here's  a few pics of some of my favourite things in my workspace . .

(Vintage Singer Sewing machine, knitting swatches, the family button tin, sock knitting books, etc . . . )

my 'modern' sewing machine surrounded by WIPs all ready to go!

My 'new' craft unit, still to have some shelving added, but just perfick!

I still love to have things in baskets for easy viewing though :)

Some doilies on display and a little embroidery piece - for inspiration.

You can tell I like my new shelving unit!  So good I showed it twice :)

Some sock yarn - oh, the possibilities!
That's all folks, hehe!
Actually the last image of one of my tweed babushkas is added because I've been retaking some images for the shop.  My big sis informed me my background photography was a bit well, er . . . . 'pants'!  You can always rely on family to be honest, haha!! :) :)  I'm beginning to realise/remember how many 'hats' you have to wear to run a crafts business - photographer, IT person, marketing manager, etc, etc. - yikes!

Hope you're enjoying a lovely summer break if you are having one.  We had to take Ji-ji, our new kitten for her vaccines a couple of weeks ago and will be taking her back for the next one while we're on our hols.  She's been such a pleasure to have around - I added her to my profile pic, she's so cute!

I'll report back when we're all holidayed out :) :)  (My Shop is still open though!)
Alison x

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Griddle scones anyone?

Last Sunday evening we had a major disaster- no snacks in the house, and my oven for some reason has just given up the ghost, so no quick bakes either!  What to do - two grumpy teenagers looking for any kind of snack - Oh Dear!

I remembered my old griddle pan lying dormant in the back of the cupboard - I've not used it that much but it suddenly came into its own.  I told my youngest triumphantly that I would make some griddle (or girdle) scones.  I had no clue how to make girdle scones but after a quick Google search it seemed that your usual oven scone recipe (which I make regularly) woud do the trick - pheeeew :)

Here they are in all their glory . . .

They don't rise as much as oven scones and they are more crisp on the top and bottom due to the dry heat of the griddle pan.

They didn't lie around for long . . .

What a life saver, hehe!  Two hungry teenagers appeased :)

Think I might be using the griddle pan again quite soon. Thinking about the scones reminded me of the old Rayburn cookery book I rescued from the family home before it was sold a few years ago.  Most Hebridean houses had a Rayburn stove - it wasn't a status thing, like the 'Aga' is today, it was just a household essential - a kitchen didn't seem the same without a stove in it!  We burned peat in it mostly and it was ''banked' up every evening, to be easier lit the next day.

This book is almost as old as me . . . ahem!

I think this must have been a favourite page - a few splashes here and there . . .

I don't ever remember having 'Bakewell Tart' - that sounds a bit too 'posh'! but I'm sure we had plenty butterfly or fairy cakes.

Here's the last page . . .

Our rayburn stove was a sort of light blue colour - it was very good for pancakes too I seem to remember (made on top of the stove) - ah, I'm getting all nostalgic!  I must make time to look through the book sometime :)

I've been busy sock-making (you can see the finished wellington socks in the side bar) and generally getting back into crafty mode.  A little techy stuff with my Big Cartel store has been taking up a little time - but I'm pleased how it's going and I think it's looking OK - their customer service/support is excellent by the way.  I've still to get stuff into Etsy but I will! (sorry, but I put the socks in my Big Cartel store in the end - I had to make an executive decision, hehe!).

Anyhow it's school hols so we're all a bit more relaxed - Yay! :)  Hope you're enjoying some nice weather - it's all very hit and miss here - never mind!  (more 'miss' than 'hit' -hmmmmmph)

Speak soon
Alison x

P.S.  Note to self - must get the oven fixed, Oh Dear! (the good news is that the grill still works LOL) I should get a Rayburn :)

Friday, 3 July 2015

Making, thinking, planning, playing . . .

I couldn't decide what to call my blog post today, so I tried to call it everything I've been up to over the last two weeks!  Well, 'making' has been as usual the main aim - I'm trying to get some hand-knits in to my Etsy shop (Yarns on the Croft), primarily at the moment a pair of handknit wellington boot socks as they are quintessentially a Hebridean accessory - wellington boots are essential for many purposes here on the Isle of Lewis - from crofters, to gardeners, to just general mucking about - we all have wellies!

Here's the start of the pair I'm working on - a medium/large size mens boot sock - long enough to tuck into your wellies (of course!) . . 

One completed last weekend and hopefully the other after this weekend - it's not really knitting weather at the moment so I'm doing these in the evenings and in between other projects.

As knitting is quite time consuming - I've been 'thinking and planning' about some other textile creations I can make alongside.  Yesterday I made this little tweedie/vintage corsage brooch . . . 

The colours were lovely to work with and I enjoyed rummaging in my doily collection for bits and pieces - it will go in my Etsy shop soon when I have enough items to make it look decent!

A lot of 'thinking and planning' going on but at the end of the day I hadn't taken out the sewing machine so I decided to whip up a little coin purse just to make myself feel productive!  It turned out quite cute though (I embellished it with a crochet flower, handstitched in place)  . . . 

I seem to have picked up on similar colour schemes of blues, browns and greens - as you can see I pulled out some of my older Japanese designer cottons - I like how the little puppy is just peeking out of the zipper there, hehe :)

Sometimes I'm feeling I'm not getting a huge amount of work done especially as both my boys are now on Summer break but I'm sure I'll speed up soon!  We have a very exciting new addition to the family though who is having us all 'playing' and here she is . . . 

Ji-ji (it's a Japanese name seemingly!) arrived last weekend and we all absolutely adore her.  After holding my ground with a list of excuses why we couldn't have a cat for many years I finally caved in and I think I'm as smitten with her as everyone else in the house (even although I'm a little allergic it seems!).  Anyway we love her to bits, but she's not allowed anywhere near my craft-room although she would dearly love to get in there :)  She is adorable though isn't she!

Well, starting a new crafts business and getting a kitten does seem a bit, well - mad!, but I think it will be lovely to have a bit of company when I'm working at home on my own after the Summer break is over.  
She would love to be amongst my yarn and fabrics but sorry 'Ji-ji' it ain't going to happen much as I love you :) :)

You can see in the photo above that she likes a game of Trivial Pursuits - clever cat!

Hope you have a lovely weekend - I'm planning to take it easy, with just a little knitting and crochet here and there (maybe!) - Cheerio!

Alison x

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Starting afresh . . . :)

A bit of a time-lapse on my blog since the beginning of the month. But so much happening!

After months of continual crafting, knitting, crocheting, I realised I'd forgotten to stop creating even although I was no longer operating as a crafts business (having closed down last year for various reasons - too long a story!).  Well, I thought, it seems if you're going to carry on regardless - you might as well see if anyone wants to buy any of this stuff!  So after my hiatus I finally came to the conclusion that a new start was inevitable.  A bit of a scary decision but one I'm glad I've made.  

I have now started a new crafting venture called 'Handmade on the Croft'.  This venture will have more of a focus on handmade crafts with a strong emphasis on traditional crafts such as knitting, crochet, embroidery, intermingled with creative textile crafts (Yes, my beloved Harris Tweed will still feature!).  It's really just a gentle transition from my love of creating handmade textile crafts in home to selling online and possibly to retail outlets.  

I've opened a Big Cartel Shop entitled Handmade on the Croft (just click on the image of the sheep in  my sidebar) and an Etsy shop called Yarns on the Croft where I plan to sell more of my 'yarny' type creations eg. knitting, crochet, etc.but I'm sure I'll sneak in some creative textile stuff there too :)

I'm now ready to go (after confronting the perils of setting up my Paypal checkout for both shops - oooops that was a bit scary!).  Enough of the business, blah, blah, blah - I'm up and running again.

Here's a detail of one of my tweedie collages in my Big Cartel shop (items are still to be made available but will be in the next few days, once I get my postal rates finalised - ah, the finer details!) . . . 

That's all the biz news - the personal crafty stuff in general is still going on.  Here's my very satisfying pile of crochet squares beside my sewing machine . . .

. . ., and beside this some lovely Malabrigo sock yarn which was going to be my background project (ie. a lace shawl for me!) before the 'grannying' took over.  I'll have to reserve this for later on in the year I think . . .

. . . It is lovely though and I have such a gorgeous pattern waiting in the wings for making this into a shawl.

And today, at the last count I have 34 granny squares - ie. almost 4 rows (I have to make 10 rows to complete the cover) . . .

Great fun and a real challenge to make every square different - so far so good :)

Well, that's my update - back to crafting online.  A bit of a vintage vibe going on in my shop I think you'll agree - my collection of lace doilies has been well and truly utilised :)  I had a lovely time designing these items though.  More on them later, once they've been made available to purchase.  My Etsy shop is empty at the moment until I get some yarny goodness in there - we'll get there though!

Thank goodness it's the end of school term - I have the whole of the Summer hols to get to grips with crafty biz again - hurray! :)

Speak soon,
Alison x

P.S.  Sorry for such a blurby, text-laden post - we're over it! - back to shorter crafty posts and the odd shop update here and there :)  Thankyou for following this em, rather bumpy, unpredictble crafty journey of mine - well, it never gets boring, hehe :) :)

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Go granny squares :)

It's all been about granny squares this week.  A three week break from any kind of crafting (well that did feel a bit odd - not quite right!) finally ended when I picked up a lovely book in the library last weekend.  A very wet/dreich afternoon in Stornoway saw me dashing in to our local library to see if they had any nice craft books and they did - excellent!  I picked up Crochet Squares by Susan Pinner -a lovely inspiring book full of great granny square project patterns.

It didn't take long before I was, well . . . . grannying away!

I love this granny square pattern.  I'm using some oddments from my stash of worsted weight yarn (a US weight somewhere between DK and aran) - I've acquired various colours in this weight from crocheting beanies, slippers, scarves, etc using American patterns.  A couple of balls of yarn leftover from Christmas crafting which didn't quite get done in time too!  

The author of the book seems to use two yarns held together (one merino DK and one acrylic DK) quite often but I found that using my worsted weight did the job.  I am using two yarns held together for the cream background as I came across some DK acrylic yarn in a VERY OLD stash of  yarn (recovered from the family home when we were clearing it out a number of years ago) and also some lovely bottle green yarn from this same stash - this should give my crochet blanket some  "genuine vintage granny" credentials - don't you think!

My plan is only to use what's in my stash - the beauty of it is that is contains all my favourite colours of course!  Mostly I'm using quite soft landscape colours - greens, browns, mustardy yellows, a little dash of beige, and to add a little 'pop' to my colour scheme I'm adding a cheerful sky blue in small amounts here and there.  The lovely soft pink and golden yellow are Vannas Choice I think - purchased to make crcochet slippers, but alas . . . . anyhow they haven't gone to waste now!

This is a fab book - I think it will be one to buy for my craft book collection when my birthday comes around later in the summer as I really don't want to have to return it to the library!

I'm using a 5.5 mm hook with my worsted weight yarn (and sometimes doubled up yarns) - each of my sqaures measures about 13.5 cm (about 5.25").  If I make 100 squares I would have a blanket approx 135 cm x 135 cm - that would be cool for a bed throw I'm thinking - I'm being VERY optimistic though but I'm going to see how it goes - it's a great background project anyway, yippee!

Here's where I am so far . . . .

I started this as I was waiting for some yarn to arrive for a special knitted project for myself.  This yarn has arrived but I've got so wrapped up in my blanket (ooops, pardon the pun!), it''s been sidestepped a bit - I'll leave it for another post :)

Do you think I'll ever finish my blanket - it would be great if I could.  I'm thinking it will be a lovely Summer project to pick up and drop whenever the notion takes me.

Speak soon
Alison x

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Tiglar complete!

Ta Dah!  My Tiglar sweater is complete and now gifted so I can put it on my blog :)  Mot sure that my photos do it justice but anyway this first one is one I took the day I finished it - a lovely sunny Spring day!  (not sure what's happened to our weather since then - it's almost back to Winter now, so good lopapeysa weather) . . .

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out - it was a perfect fit as I used an existing sweater as a template.  The only finishing to do once I'd completed the pattern was to graft the underarm stitches together using kitchener stitch (and darn in loose ends of course). This is a technique I'm well used to during my sock knitting so it stood me in good stead - I still follow written instructions for it though!  It gives a lovely neat finish and it worked well - no lumpy, bulky underarm seams. 

Love that this style of sweater is done entirely in the round and in one piece - I'd definitely make another one :)

If you're thinking of making a lopapeysa, I'd definitely recommend giving it a go - they're great fun and quite straightforward (you might need good arm and shoulder muscles though - they become quite heavy by the time you reach the neck shaping!)

See you soon!
Alison x