Saturday, 29 November 2008

Hot Choccie anyone?

My little boy made a request for hot chocolate the other day - fair enough I thought and proceeded to get the tin out of the cupboard. "And can I have marshmallows on the top please?", he proceeded. Well I'd never thought of doing such a thing but he'd had such a confection in a local cafe recently and obviously wanted to relive the moment!

We had some marshmallows left in the cupboard left over from Halloween (an unopened packet I might add!). So if you're looking for something extremely calorific and extravagant, pop a couple of marshamllows on the top of your hot chocolate - yummmmmmm! He made the request again yesterday when he had a pal in to play so I took this photo of the finished confection offering!!

I completed a set of these little fellows yesterday which will hopefully be brightening up someone's wall pretty soon. One of a number of orders from "Not on the High Street" - more to do!!

Have a good weekend and enjoy your hot choccie if you have one!

Friday, 28 November 2008

Jack Frost

It's frosty, frosty here in the Western Isles today and my kids are on half term hols. Lots to do - how to fit it all in??!! Hope you like this frosty pic anyway!

I'm planning to make some of these little fellows today - well that's the plan, as I have four of them to do - better get buzzzzzy! (sorry that was such a lame joke!).

Hope you are having a lovely day wherever you are (and if not, I hope my little bumblebee cheers you up!!)

Cheerio an Drasda!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Felt, glorious felt!

Given that I titled my blog "Tweed Thoughts", it probably doesn't look like there's a lot of thinking going on at the moment! My posts will probably be a bit more sparse leading up to Christmas as there is a lot more 'doing' than 'thinking' going on! I am still being kept busy with the British website Not on the High Street, which is great as its my first Christmas with them and really encouraging. Meanwhile my Etsy shop sits quietly, but Rome wasn't built in a day and I know it needs a lot more attention than I'm able to give it at the moment.

I really enjoyed making my "Grrrrr!" monsters - I'm holding off showing a pic of the large version until my 'customer' sees it first. I was pretty pleased with it, and may use it as a new pattern. I haven't decided the fate of the smaller versions and may try it out locally first. I received this lovely felt in the post on Saturday from a website called Myriadonline which is a great site for toys and crafts in natural materials.

I wanted to use 100% wool felt on the "Grrrrr !" monsters as there's quite a lot of felt decoration and I want it to be of good quality and hard wearing. I ordered some sheets in the colours I need at the moment but will probably get some more colours later as the quality is superb and feels fantastic to use. I love to use felt in conjunction with Harris Tweed as they both have such a different tactile quality.

Sorry this is a bit of an 'uneventful' post but there's a lot going on behind the scenes (honest!!!). I'm off to get my hair cut now - well you've got to look your best while you're toiling away at home over a needle and thread!!

Cheerio an Drasda!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Christmas Doodles!

Last year was the first year in I can't remember how many years that I DIDN'T make my own handmade Christmas cards. I was deeply mortified when I went to purchase the very last, cheesiest, cheapest ones off the shelf in a local store! I was highly embarrassed to send them out. The reason I bought them was that I was so busy trying to get my creative business off the ground, I didn't have time to make my own!! I'll never live it down. My other half actually started the family tradition of making our own Christmas cards, with lino cuts, potato prints etc. - all very creative stuff.

Anyway, I hope it doesn't happen again this year, so I started doodling a couple of weeks ago - I hope to make some with my youngest son and get the sequins and glue stick out - or maybe get him into doing some doodles of his own. I like the idea of sending out one of HIS designs out this year. Are you doing your own cards this year?

P.S. My scribbly doodles say Merry Christmas in Gaelic, by the way!!

P.P.S. The sequins are some I ordered in error for my Christmas baubles - I'll be covering everything in sequins to use them up!! (I'll be using the correct ones for my baubles!!).

Thursday, 20 November 2008


I made this little fellow earlier today, leading on from my custom dinosaur pattern earlier on in the week. After making the prototype, I really liked the size and shape of it so decided to go along with this simple profile. It feels great to hold, is firmly stuffed and being Harris Tweed is very tactile. So if you're feeling a bit "Grrrrrrr!" today, it could be just the job. It's my slant on the executive stress ball idea! It's also for kids who just like saying ..... "Grrrrrrrrr!"

It's a nice generous size at about 7 inches x 6 inches (18 cm x 16 cm). I think they would be fun in lots of different colours or even checks/patterns. I handstitched him which is my favourite method of crafting, so I hope he'll exude lots of loving, relaxed and calming vibes from the Hebrides! Fun for little hands (and big hands!) to grasp. He's also got that lovely, woolly smell of Harris Tweed!

Guess what I've called him ??!!!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

On my floor today ...

I am working my way through a relatively small amount of orders today from a British website, NOTHS (Not on the High Street). It's enough to keep me busy for the moment and hopefully there will be more coming up as I don't think craft fairs are an option for me right now. Yesterday (Tuesday) is the day I'm supposed to set aside for my 'domestics' eg. housework, laundry, etc. but I always stray from the path and end up doing some sneaky crafting. Yesterday was no exception and I decide to launch myself into my custom order for a dinosaur with gusto! This was no small project as I redesigned a new dinosaur from scratch - but it turned out pretty well (at the expense of a messy house!!).

Anyway I passed this pile on my living floor this morning - I was too exhausted after my crafting exertions to put it back in place (I don't have a workroom as such, just the entire house!!). I love this emerald green tweed and use it quite a lot and was the choice of colour for the custom dinosaur. On the top lie my pattern templates for another dinosaur. I've accumulated a number of my own patterns now which is really satisfying. It would be nice to think that someone else might use them some day. After the festivities are over, I hope I'll be adding more items to my Etsy shop and have some ideas for some new products running around in my head as we speak!

(Are all crafters so obsessive as me about finishing projects?!!)

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Dddddd .....dinosaur!

Just a quick post, as along with everyone else in craft blogging land, I'm trying to juggle production, fulfilling orders, designing and generally keeping up with everything at this time of year. I was asked by a family friend last week if I could make a dinosaur for her little girl's Christmas present (from Santa!! - no pressure there then!). She had a particular dinosaur in mind from her favourite tv programme, so I had a look last night and decided to do a quick prototype of it. (It's the slightly scary one in the foreground!!)

I was really pleased how it turned out and although it was a supposed to be a smaller version of the final design, I really liked the size as it was. It seems to be a midway ground between my larger dinosaurs and my little dinosaur-tweedies, and has a lovely tactile shape for little hands to grasp. It's too small for a main present though so I may be adapting one of my larger designs for her - she might get a little one thrown in for good measure though!! It's not really a good time to be designing from scratch as it's so near Christmas but it did turn out to be a really good way of coming up with a new design, so Yay! for custom orders! - my first!!

P.S. The prototype was my own interpretation.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Pancakes, Pomegranates and Puppets ...

We made some pancakes/crepes this morning. I didn't get round to taking a photo the last time we made them, so here's one now! We used a recipe from Delia Smith's book and they always turn out pretty good - very yummy with some sugar, lemon and maple syrup - mmmm!

This pomegranate on the kitchen table was just begging to be photographed too. I thought the colours of the lemon beside it looked really nice too (inspiration for something or just plain pretty!):

We woke up to a beautiful, sunny, wintry morning too, with that lovely light you get at this time of year so I rushed out and took a few pics, but I'll just post one or you'll get bored of my landscape photography! This is the view of the moor a few yards up from our home - beautiful in the right light, but pretty bleak in the wind and the rain!

The colours actually reminded me of some swatches of tweed I've had on my desk for the last couple of months. I've been meaning to get more of these shades but haven't got round to it yet. I love the way that Harris Tweed reflects the colours of the landscape.

Ah, yes - puppets. I mentioned in my last post that I had been making hand puppets. I had been asked if I would be interested in showing some schoolchildren how to make puppets. Initially I guessed this would be with young children so set to designing something a child could make easily with some minimal adult supervision. I'm not going to set this out as a tutorial but just a simple project idea to do with a young child.

I started out by drawing a simple teddy-bear shape on an A4 piece of paper. After the first attempt, I realised that the arms had to be oustretched to accommodate the shape of an outstretched hand - the pinky finger and thumb will go into each arm (pretty obvious probably, but it took my seven year old boy to demonstrate this to me as he modeled the first attempt!!). I made the puppet out of felt for ease of use.

I think the photo is pretty much the shape of the A4 sheet to give you an idea of the dimensions of the shape. Once you have this basic shape of pattern you can adapt it to different variations:

Once you've decided on your pattern, simply cut out the shape (Im sorry I don't have a PDF version or pattern for this but I think you can see the basic dimensions on the A4 sheet) and draw around it on a double thickness of felt fabric. You can then simply handstitch about 0.75 cm in from the edge all around the shape. This doesn't take long and you could do it on a sewing machine for even more speed. I used simple running stitch which a child could attempt if patient enough! (You don't have to turn it inside out or anything, just use matching thread).

There's lots of scope for creativity with this and lots of yummy surface decoration ideas you could use - felt, sequins, buttons, ribbon, just about anything - so go to town with it! As long as you use the basic outstretched arms pattern shape, there are countless possibilities with head shape, design - and it only took half an hour to get going with it. Voila!! One for a rainy day, I think!

Later ..... S. decorated a white felt glove puppet we'd made, adapted to a human shape. He was a bit lazy and simply drew his design with pen (I think that's tight underpants he's wearing!!). I loved they way he draw the mouth from one ear to the other! You can see how we stitiched around the shape. I wish I could draw in this fashion - I'll have to start paying him soon!

Hee Hee!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

At last ..... !

At last, the baubles are in my Etsy shop. I'm so exhausted now I'll have to go and lie down! I'm sure I took the long way round in the way I listed them but I did want to have them for individual sale and as a set of 3. I think it's nice to see the exact colours, so I hope I achieved this!

We made some fun glove puppets at home yesterday with my kids so I'll maybe post a pic of them later on today as I'm sure you've seen enough of the baubles by now! A chance e-mail forced me into designing some glove/hand puppets which I'd been meaning to do for a while. We made them out of felt, and were more of a fun project for kids really. Well I'd better go and lie down now - exhausted!!

P.S. I'll try and list them in my original website later on, when I've recovered!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Harris Tweed Bling

This is just a quick post as we have been hit by winter bug syndrome (again!) and my son is off sick today, but here are are my pics of my Christmas tree baubles as promised. I will try and get them into my Etsy shop this weekend (and hopefully my original website, too). I settled on two different colours/patterns for the panels and some glitzy sequins for a bit of Christmas bling!

I'm quite pleased with the effect, overall - a bit of an ethnic, Outer Hebrides meets India thing going on. I've done these in traditional festive colours but will probably make them in less traditional colour combinations too with mutlicoloured panels.

And here's some green ...

And a whole bunch of them .....

Ooooh, I've come over all Christmassy! Well, not quite as I'm one of these people that doesn't acknowledge Christmas until at least the end of November!! ... And then panic!

If you have time, why not pop over to Kim's blog, where she is doing a lovely giveaway of a wonderful, woolly, Christmas tree (beautifully handsewn, of course!) I am a big fan of her work and I think we have a mutual (cross Atlantic) obsession .... of tweed!

Cheerio an Drasda!
I'm off to mop a fevered brow (well not quite!)

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Bonfire Night

We had a fun bonfire last night, which was not quite on November 5th which is traditionally Guy Fawkes night, but we managed to slot it in at the weekend. The weather held out too, which was pretty amazing. It was just a family affair and we had some fireworks left over from last year, so it was all quite spontaneous, which is usually the best way in my experience! We had some marshmallows left over from Halloween too - so all in all a cheap and cheerful affair.

Some old palettes did the job!

The boys enjoyed their sparklers.

I've been diligently working on my Christmas tree baubles (the pressure's on now!) over the weekend, in between making up some online orders. I will post some pics at the beginning of the week and hopefully put some on Etsy and my own website too.

Bye for Now! (busy, busy!!)

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Christmas Bauble Prototype!

This is a very quick post as I managed to do a very speedy prototype of my Harris Tweed Christmas Bauble earlier on today. It was one of these things - I made a quick sketch of the bauble panel, hoping it would be the right size and lo and behold it was! It's the size of a golf ball approximately and I think it has a lot of potential for some lovely embellishments.

It would be fun to do a tutorial on this cos I think it's a really simple idea and could be achieved by most crafty folk, but has the scope to become a really elaborate piece if you used embroidery skills, etc. Not being such an accomplished embroiderer (is that a word??), I think I'll leave that to the professionals! I threaded some raffia through the completed ball to give it a natural looking finish. I'm thinking: sewn on silver/gold sequins, pretty ribbon tied round the middle, applique decoration - the list is endless!! Lots of possibilities. Decorate with french knots?

This is just the basic model, but I think there's scope for some fun with this! Ah well, back to fulfilling my orders - it would be fun to spend all my time inventing new ideas. This one might have to wait a couple of weeks before I manage to take it further. (I think it would be lovely in different fabric too).

I hung it on a fir tree outside to get the basic idea, but it's difficult to get a good view of it - there's four panels in four different colours (not very traditional colours, I know!).

Craft Blog Inspiration!

I love the way that reading other people's craft blogs can inspire you do go and create - be it along the same lines, or something completely different. I've sort of resisted doing seasonal crafts directly, but having just seen some fab "soft sculpture Christmas trees" on a lovely lady's blog, it started me thinking of Christmas decorations.

I make soft balls in various sizes out of Harris Tweed and it suddenly struck me, why don't I try making Christmas baubles in the same way. I like the idea of working on a very small scale, so these may be fun to do and maybe embellish them with little images in felt. All handsewn, of course, which would be my favourite way of tackling them. I have no idea yet how this would turn out, I just thought I'd share my flash of inspiration with you!!

So many ideas .....

Here's my Harris Tweed 'juggling balls' which has given me the idea of going a lot smaller and trying to make a bauble, in the same way. This may never come to fruition but I'll find it hard to resist, now that the idea is in my head!!

Ooops - I lost my pics!

I just accidentally lost my entire post on Halloween - so here are the pics again! They are mostly of my little boys Halloween drawings and design for a pumpkin - I've edited one of the pics as I had reservations about posting photos of him on my blog. I think this is a purely personal choice - but the element of doubt was still there, for me. I was really proud of his drawings and designs though and was a bit gutted when I managed to delete the entire post! He may appear in profile or in another subtle form yet (as above) - it's difficult to keep my little ray of inspiration out of my blog altogether :-) Hope you understand the predicament!

Monday, 3 November 2008

Please, please, let me craft!

Do you ever feel that outside forces are permanently conspiring against you to prevent you from sitting down and getting on with some much loved crafting and creating!!? Tee Hee! I can't really complain as I've just had a couple of orders come in from a British website I joined earlier this year. It's a bit like watching the kettle boil - I always seem to get an order or interesting e-mail the days I'm out at work at my office job which I do two days a week. Nothing happens for days and days until I go to work, then the little elves come out to play in my e-mail inbox! (which remains deathly silent while I'm at home!).

I've just had an order for some of my Harris Tweed ladybirds (ladybugs), which I love to make. I'm thinking of putting a couple or so in my Etsy shop but maybe I'll experiment with stuffing them with pure sheep's wool which is something I've played around with before. I love the idea of making an entirely natural product. This pure red Harris Tweed is so gorgeous and rich that I've decided to reserve it for making smaller items as I probably won't be able to get it again (due to changes in the Harris Tweed industry, there is not the same variety of colours and patterns being produced - but that's another story for another post!)

I also got an order for one of my Harris Tweed Beach Balls which I love to make too. This is all great news but this week is my in-laws 50th Wedding Anniversary and we have the much loved uncles (my brothers-in-law) home from their adopted home of Austria (it's a long story - Outer Hebrides to Austria) to celebrate, and a favourite Auntie from Inverness (my sister-in-law). All in all, things seem to be conspiring against me from sitting down peacefully and making/creating in a leisurely and enjoyable fashion - Aaaargh!

Anyone else have the 'outside forces conspiring against my creativity' syndrome??!* :-)

Sunday, 2 November 2008

.... and the winner is!

And now the nerve wracking moment of announcing the winner of the Giveaway - I used the number generator thingy and it came up with the number (2). I hope my screenshot looks OK:

(Sorry if it's a bit small! - you'll just have to take my word for it!!)

That makes the lucky winner: Micaela, from the State of Maine in the US. I will be in touch by e-mail to get your address details, Micaela, and hopefully your little green dino will be with you very soon!

Thanks to everyone who took part in my Giveaway - it was fun to do and fantastic to think of my little dino going all the way across the Atlantic.

Next week I will be back to some serious crafting as I have been nursing a sore finger all week (suffice to say: never try to break the seal on a bottle of wine with a sharp knife - lesson learned! Ouch!!*)