Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Harris Tweed Boy in Space!

I wasn't really sure what to call this post, but it's self explanatory really!! (Hope you all had a fun festive time by the way, if you were celebrating!). I got back to some crafting yesterday after my Christmas break, maybe to retain my sanity more than anything - I do get a bit tetchy if I haven't been creative! Anyway, I had the idea of making a doll out of tweed as opposed to being dressed IN tweed.

I love the tactile feel of Harris Tweed so wanted to make a simple, soft toy that would be nice to hold and cuddle. I decided to use the dogtooth check for added bizarreness! Anyway to cut a long story short, the doll turned into a space-boy doll with added features, glove, boots, etc. I had fun doing it - and it incorporated all my favourites - hand-stitching and hand-applique, with a bit of humour thrown in! He's really a prototype and might get a few tweaks and twinges yet - he will be joined, of course, by Harris Tweed space-girl, space-rocket, space-dog ...... Hee Hee!

The 'bubble' on his tummy is just asking to be personalised, of course, which I love to do. Harris Tweed space-suits - what could be better. (I wonder if NASA would be interested???).

Bye for now!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Hebridean Living ..... (Last Part!!)

Here's the view from my kitchen window - sheep and some more sheep!! What can I say! They kept turning their heads away every time I tried to take a photo!

So just a quick re-cap: bobban socks, some peats, the Stornoway Gazette, Lewis Chessmen and a few sheep - my Hebridean compilation! Ha Ha! (It's actually a lot more interesting than that but I don't have the time to go into it all right now!).

Hope everyone has a fun-filled festive season and thanks to all the visitors to my blog these past few months. It's been great getting feedback on my crafty creations and sharing some new ideas along the way.

Back to some crafty musings after all the celebrations are over - I'm sure you'll be relieved to hear!

Cheerio an Drasda!

Monday, 22 December 2008

Hebridean Living ..... Part 2

I find myself at home today with a 'poorly' child, so I might as well do another post on my Hebridean Living - seeing as I promised! These two grumpy fellows on my laptop are replicas of the Lewis Chessmen which were discovered in Uig on the West Coast of the Isle of Lewis around 1830. The originals are now on display in the British Museum in London and the National Museum of Scotland. There is some controversy about returning the complete set to Scotland but I'm not a political animal and not much of a historian to boot so I won't go there!!

You can find more info here. I love them just as pieces of history and art - there's something magical about them. These two are from two different sets in our house - they seem to appear and reappear in various parts of the house as the children seem to find them quite fascinating too!! And no .... I'm afraid I don't play chess!! But they are cute!

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Hebridean Living ..... (Part 1)

As promised, some posts on Hebridean Living:
Here's a photo montage of our local 'rag' the Stornoway Gazette, a 'bobban' sock and a peat. This is my interpretation of Hebridean Living!! Actually I just had a few items in my head which I thought were quintissentially Hebridean to me! All three of these items are things I was brought up with. There can't be many Hebridean homes without a 'bobban' sock somewhere in a drawer! Peats are not such a common commodity these days but they're coming back into fashion with the rising cost of oil and, well, the Stornoway Gazette is the Stornoway Gazette - what more can I say!! - births, deaths, marriages etc., the usual kind of thing!!

'Bobban' socks are made from locally dyed and spun 'bobban' wool which Harris Tweed is woven from. Great for wearing inside your wellies! Peat was the main source of solid fuel in the islands a few years back and are cut, dried and stacked by hand. We used to cut peats when I was little and it was actually a nice excuse to have a day out on the moor with a flask of tea, some sarnies and some good old fresh air. (It wasn't quite so amusing when I became a teenager though!!!). If we could have bottled the smell of peat smoke (peat reek) it would have been a real money spinner - check out Angus Og cartoons. (Courtesy of An Lanntair website).

Hopefully, I will do some more posts with local images of interest - it's a nice excuse for me to whip out my camera during the hols, if nothing else!!

Cheerio an Drasda!!

N.B. Wikipedia definition of peat here!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Fabric Buttons and a Gale!

I've often admired fabric covered buttons but had no idea how to make them until a kit caught my eye in my local hobby/crafts shop recently. Ahhh, the penny dropped. Anyway, I didn't get back to the shop, so ordered some 'blank' buttons online. Got back from my office job yesterday (decided to give the post Christmas lunch celebrations a miss - I was feeling so knackered I would probably have fallen asleep in the pub!) and there was my button kit in the post box.

I was pretty lucky they survived as the gales had blown open the lid of the box - I'm not sure if any important letters got blown away but my buttons were there and that's all I was bothered about!! I chose some pale pink Harris Tweed and got to work - I thought the tweed would be too thick and tricky to work with but it was really straightforward and they worked out perfectly. I might add them to my online shops after the festivities are over.

We had a two hour power cut shortly after I got back from work. It was quite nice though as we'd lit the open fire so we just got a few candles out and everyone just got on with doing stuff without electricity. My youngest seemed to find a new found passion for lego again, my oldest son picked up his guitar and strummed away and my husband got to listen to his music loudly (without any protests, for once!) and I got to read my magazine in peace and quiet with a candle. It was a pleasant change without the telly on and I have to say, I quite enjoyed it (telly addict that I am!!).

I thought it might be fun to do a few blog posts on 'living in the Hebrides' while I'm on my hols so keep a look out - I might actually get it together to do it, for once!!

Bye for Now - Christmas shopping awaits!!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Sneaky Little Devil!

Well, I thought I was done with custom orders for this year and meant to shut up shop on Not on the High Street and my own website yesterday. I didn't quite get round to it though and got back from the School Christmas concert last night to a sneaky little order which I didn't expect - not that I'm complaining though!!

Anyway, I've got so much Christmas stuff to do today that as soon as I got up this morning I gathered my tools and materials together in preparation for "one last bumblebee" - (there's a title of a book there somewhere I think!!).

Sorry for the poor quality photo - it's so dark here this morning. I quite like these little still-life compositions though when you get all the tools of your trade together and arrange them in a nice little pile - it's sort of encouraging somehow! Especially when everything else in my house seems so chaotic!!

This is my "To Do" List for today:

1. Complete custom order
2. Tidy Up
3. Wrap presents
4. Tidy Up
5. Write Christmas cards
6. Tidy Up, tidy up, tidy up ...........

The list trails off in a tidy up frenzy!! Better go and .......

Bye for Now :D

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Cute Finds at Work!

Well, it's not often you can say that you did some Christmas shopping at work! Yesterday there was a lovely stall on display at the local college where I work (in the office) and I couldn't resist picking up a few goodies. I'm saying 'Christmas shopping' but I'm not sure that anything except the cards will leave my house - Hey, I've been working hard!!

All the items on display were handmade in the college by the OFTTI project which helps people with special needs gain access to training and employment in the local community. The arts and crafts department make some beautiful Harris Tweed crafts, which really made me drool yesterday!

I bagged this beautiful hand embroidered Harris Tweed cushion and most fab of all this lovely embroidered needle case (which is definitey for me as I'm always losing needles and pins!). They remind me a bit of Kaffe Fassett's colour schemes which I love.

I also bagged these lovely handmade cards (my photograph doesn't do them justice) which will come in very handy to send to some special people!

It's not every day you can say you did your shopping at work! Aren't they lovely? I've been so busy finishing off orders recently that it was nice to buy something that someone else had handcrafted and I really appreciate the work that went into them!!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Odds and Ends ...

This weekend I'm busy trying to tie up all the loose ends in my order list and hope to have them all ready for the beginning of the week. This is what was on my desk this morning and I though the combination of colours looked quite pretty so I took a quick photo. The brown envelope underneath which is my tax bill maybe isn't quite so pretty!! However, I think I've got a handle on self-assessment and all that now so it doesn't seem quite so daunting this year. Another learning curve.

These are all individual orders on my desk ready to be shipped off - it's been fun fulfiling orders especially for items which didn't seem quite so popular earlier on in the year. I'll be closing up my shops by the middle of next week and taking a three week break. Not so sure that I'll manage to keep away from my blog for that long though!! In fact I'm pretty sure I won't - if I'm not crafting I'm sure I'll find something else to blog about, compulsive blogger that I've become!!

I'm hoping to put some more local pics in my blog ..... "Aaaah, Stornoway at Christmas-time" - if I remember, I'll pop my camera into my handbag when I go to my office job and take some photos of our lovely, little town!

Bye for Now and have a nice weekend!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Return of the Dolls!

I've made a few of these ragdolls in the past but decided to remove them from my website shop as they were so time consuming to make and therefore difficult to price - I now make them on request. I hate having to charge extortionate prices for children's toys so it's a bit of a dilemma! I think my way around the problem is to have a few pre-made (at my leisure) so they're ready to dress and personalise, etc.

This is exactly what happened with this doll as I had the body ready and just had to add the clothing and the personalisation details - for that reason it's been a pleasure to do. In the photo it's not actually finished but this is what it looked like a couple of hours ago.

I hand embroidered the child's name on to the hand-knitted aran bonnet. There is a lot of work involved in these but I love the end result. It's a very leggy rag doll made to my own design - I really do make a rod for my own back sometimes!! Just as well I enjoy it!

P.S. I started 'twittering' last night - "Ha Ha!", I hear you cry - "thought you were doing that anyway!!". Well, probably, but 'twittering' is another social networking system which I thought I wouldn't take up but there you go. It's quite fun if you're working away on your own at home and ... SOB, SOB .... don't have many conversations!! (and are living in the Outer Hebrides!)

But apart from that it's a quick way of updating folk about what you're up to through the day - my comments may be full of mundane things like 'having a cup of tea now' or 'off to make the dinner' - so if you see anything like this in the sidebar of my blog, you'll know I'm just "twittering" - you can join in if you like!! I might occasionally have some interesting news too! Like an Etsy sale last night - Ha Ha!!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Have a Heart

I'm going to be making some of these today, which are featured in my own website, so I'd better get cracking! I've put my cut off date for Christmas orders as today, 10th December and I've got a little pile on my desk to get through so "Cheerio an Drasda!"

P.S. I got a lovely e-mail yesterday from Rose asking if she could feature my Christmas baubles in a blog which she writes for called Autonomous Artists. I accepted .... of course!! Rose has some pretty lovely, tweedy items herself!

P.P.S. The 'gaol' lettering refers to the Gaelic word for 'love', not any reference to public prison!! - no, it's not some bizarre, welcoming present for prison inmates - how sweet if it was though - Oh Dear - I'm laughing so much now, I've got to go .....

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Wonky Tree

Every year our Christmas tree looks more wonky than the last - my excuse for this is I usually let my kids put up the decs with a minimal amount of guidance. If anyone comes in and observes on its wonkiness - I'll just say "Oh, the kids did it!". (This has a double whammy effect of making me look like a "wonderfully creative hands-on mummy" - whereas it was just a really good excuse for keeping the kids amused and getting the tree up in a hurry - Ha Ha! - while I had a cuppa!!!)

But I do like a little chaotic decoration and symmetry and perfection aren't my cup of tea where Christmas trees are concerned. I've had these cute little wooden toy decorations for a couple of years now. I love having the same ones year after year, taking them out of the box and going - Aaaaah, remember these, picking up a slightly dog-eared old santa or crumpled red crepe paper ribbon. Well, that's my excuse for not getting new X-mas decs and I'm sticking to it! If I have any of my own Harris Tweed baubles left at the end of the week I'll sneak them on! (my wee boy was against me putting them on - they're too 'Harris Tweed' he seemed to be suggesting - kids!!)

I'm busy with orders this week which is great. This is my first Christmas with my online shops so it's been a fab (if sometimes slightly hectic) experience - big learning curve!! I think I've had a good balance of a reasonable amount of orders to keep me ticking over and to get a handle on the whole online experience. Maybe I'm just easily pleased but ..... I'm happy!!

(Oh! and "Big Grrrrrr!" has left the building - I hope he has a safe journey down South!!)

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Spot the ladybird!!

Famous at last - well not really!! My little Harris Tweed ladybird appeared in Grazia magazine's gift guide this week - Hee Hee! It's a little small and dark- looking, but it's there (No. 37). Not on the High Street contacted me a while back to send a sample to this magazine, but I never thought it would really make it! Anyhow, I was doing my weekly shopping during my office job lunch hour yesterday, feeling a bit weary, and decided to pick up a copy 'just in case' - and there he was, nestled in the corner of the pic. I think some kind soul sneaked him in at the last minute :-)!

Busy with orders this weekend so I'd better get my head down - I'm trying not to let my new found fame go to my head - Ha Ha!!

Cheerio an Drasda!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Toys, toys, toys ....

Yesterday was a busy day for me and the few days leading up to yesterday in prepraration (if that makes sense!). I was asked a while back if I would be interested in giving a talk to some schoolchildren about my soft toy making business - yikes!! So armed with my box of toys as props, off I went ...

In the afternoon we did a short workshop on puppet making with the children and I think they did pretty well in the short turnaround of an hour or so. Lots of glue and glitter ensued and they came up with some pretty colourful work! (Being the dork that I am, I forgot to take my camera to document their wonderful creations!!). They all managed to make a finished puppet which I think was pretty good going in the short time they had. Pheeeew!

Anyhow, now back to crafting, orders, (Oh, I think I'm supposed to squeeze my own Christmas shopping in somewhere!!) and all the other stuff that everyone has to do at this time of year! How many days till Christmas??!!*