Thursday, 29 January 2009


My other half has gone off with the camera today, so I'm a bit stuck, but might as well use the opportunity to take a break from the daily (almost!) photo shoot. Well, I was half asleep this morning when he asked me where the camera case was . . . so my fault really for being a lazy so and so!

I'm going to finish off yesterday's project of my 'Big Grrrrr!' dinosaur and doing my favourite part of hand sewing the applique features and the finishing details. It's amazing how the features of a soft toy can make or break the project. Put the eyes in the wrong position or the mouth too low down or too high up can ruin a perfectly made toy - so it's really important to get this part right.

I'm gradually getting back into my sewing projects now and hope to build up my stock - which I may use to fill my Folksy shop for immediate purchase. Or even for that evasive craft fair - well you never know, I might actually manage some this year!

Here's a pic of my very first craft fair, over two years ago - the table looks a bit sparse, the dinosaurs (my first) look rather cumbersome now (but sold 2 out of the 3 that day!) - but I look very proud of my efforts! It felt like a big achievement at the time - mostly getting the family out and sorted that early in the morning and bundling all my creations into the car! I hope I can show another updated picture sometime this year of a current event. There, I've made a half promise to myself - we'll see!!

Hope you're having a nice day!

Wednesday, 28 January 2009


Today, there is an organised 'Blog In' regarding the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act). This American law is due to come into force on February 10th and will be devastating for all the small to medium American businesses who are involved in making children's products. The ruling came into being as a result of mass import of toys from China which contained dangerously high lead content. If the law comes into force, many of the sellers on the American website, Etsy, will have to shut up shop as a result.

The prohibitive costs of testing and certification will simply put them out of business. Even the manufacture of books will be affected by this bizarre ruling! I truly hope this ill-thought out law will be amended to accommodate the smaller businesses and my heart goes out to all the wonderful crafters/designers on Etsy who have been such an inspiration to me. Let's hope the powers-that-be see some sense and come to an agreement which will keep children's products safe but not penalise those least likely to produce unsafe products, many of whom are parents themselves!

If I were an American citizen, I would no longer be able to sell items such as these:

. . . made from 100% wool Harris Tweed, hand-embroidered features, soft polyester fibre stuffing (conforms to all safety standards), ribbon hand-stitched for extra security, no detachable parts. None of this would matter if I were an American citizen as, if the law goes through on February 10th, I would have to shut up shop. I really hope this all gets sorted out for all concerned. You can read more here.

Although I have not added my name to the list of bloggers involved in the 'Blog-In', I thought it was as good a time as any to bring the subject up!

I'm off to make a Harris Tweed dinosaur now (while I still can!) - Cheerio an Drasda!

Save Handmade Toys

Monday, 26 January 2009

Website Merry-go-Round

Sorry, I haven't blogged in 3 whole days!! I've been beavering away, filling up my little Etsy shop, taking photos, writing copy, repricing, regrouping, rethinking, not much re . . . laxing !! As many of my fellow crafters/bloggers are women, I guess we're all used to this multi-tasking milarky!! I've been focusing much of my attention on my websites for the last couple of days.

I finally decided at the weekend to link up my Etsy shop and my (as yet unstocked) Folksy shop to my own website. I thought this would give customers a choice of either buying made-to-order items from my own website with the advantage of being able to choose colour options and a wider choice of products OR purchasing ready-made, or one-off, items from Etsy or Folksy.

I've also update my own website with some of my new products eg. 'Beastie' Tweedie cards and a pic of 'Big Grrrrrr!' who I hope will be making his debut appearance very soon (I'll be tackling him later this week!).

I think I've sorted all this out in my little brain now, so I can concentrate on some good old crafting - after all, that's what it's all about!

(Sorry, if this post sounds like me thinking aloud a bit - I'm trying to clarify my online presence for my customers (and myself!!).

I can now get the scissors, thread and tweed out again and get stuck in - Yeah!

Hope you are having a lovely day wherever you are!

Friday, 23 January 2009

Any Ideas?

I won't be doing any crafting today as I have to attend a family event (not a happy one unfortunately) and would normally be at my 'other job' in any event. However, I thought I'd post this picture of a piece of embroidered text which I made in the early days when I rediscovered my 'crafty side' a couple of years ago. I'm not a great one for analysing web statistics (I haven't figured out half of them yet!) but I have noticed that this photo, which was one of the first I posted on Flickr, gets views EVERY day and more views than any of my other creations.

The text is of a Gaelic proverb which I took from a book and the blurb I added on Flickr is as follows "My first rudimentary efforts at embroidering text - recently rediscovered during a tidy-up. Gaelic proverb roughly translated says: "You don't know someone until you've shared a peat-stack with them". For peat-stack you could read "log-pile"? It's a comment on domestic bliss - or not?! I'd like to try more of these"

I'm not sure why it gets so many views - my embroidery skills are pretty basic at best, so I'm guessing it's the sentiments of the proverb or/and the fact that it's in Gaelic. All my creative efforts and people keep going back to this little piece of work! It makes me laugh to see it's continuing popularity but it's also quite intriguing. Any ideas??

Thursday, 22 January 2009


An additional post, as promised (or hinted at!). I came across a lovely shop on Etsy this week, owned by a fellow Hebridean (not many of us about on Etsy!). The name of her shop, Breagha, caught my eye - this means 'beautiful, in Gaelic - very appropriate! Mairead uses Harris Tweed in her products as well as other quality fabrics. She has a lovely selection of bags, clutches and other accessories. The styling of her products really appealed to me and just have that certain something about them - I see so many Harris Tweed bags here in the Hebrides but none quite so stylish. I love them!

I love the 'bow' styling on both of these . . .

Very, very gorgeous!

my creative space

My creative space is a bit difficult to find today because I'm in a bit of a 'burach' (Gaelic word for muddle)! A still-dodgy heating system and some other things going on. Anyhow, I've been snatching moments this week and concentrating on getting some products quickly into my Etsy shop - which made me decide on some simple collage cards.

My poor Etsy shop has taken a while to stock up but I think it's on the way at last! I'm using it for stock which is immediately available - items can be made to order from my own website. The whole process of photographing products is quite time consuming, esepcially if the light isn't so accommodating

So here's what I've been working on (this week mostly!). Yes, I'm in a different room this week and have moved from the living room! Sometimes I just work in whichever room happens to have the best light. I like to move around - much to everyone else's annoyance!!

Here's the cards I'm hoping to put in my Etsy shop:

and more here:

I might try for a double post today but I'd better not promise anything too soon! Maybe see you later . . .

See more creative spaces over at Kirsty's.

Bye for now!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

New cards

A quick post today as I'm trying to get going with my crafts today (catching up after my brief IT problems last week - something about a laptop and a hoover!). I had fun creating some complementary cards for my "Beastie Tweedie" range of soft toy collectables, at the weekend. I ordered some "joggle" eyes from Fred Aldous as I thought they would be fun to use on cards.

I think I enjoyed the 'cheekiness' of using plastic joggle eyes and Harris Tweed together - a bit of a paradox! It was quite relaxing just to get the glue and scissors out - I had anticipated using some blanket stitch embellishing but I've decided to keep them simple for the moment. Here's the lady bug version.

. . . and the bumblebee:

and a quick preview of all four . . .

I think I can safely say that I released my "inner child" with these little fellows!

Hope you're having a fun day!

Monday, 19 January 2009

A little 'Dickens'?

I'm only at home today 'cos 'Little S' is off school - we've got a big coal fire on as our oil central heating has been on the blink. Anyhow, there's a bit of a 'Dickensian' feel about the day - I lit a candle to get the firelighter started and 'Little S' was fascinated by the pattern the wax made as it melted, so we took a pic. I'm fascinated by the way children make you look twice at some things you might not normally take much notice of. Inspiration on tap!

No crafting today but I'll be posting some pics of my new cards later in the week. Hope you are having a happy Monday!

Bye for now!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

More hearts and other stuff!

I've had an 'interesting' week, concentrating on smaller projects and actually managed to tick off most of my "To Do List" - which makes a change! I was also featured in two lovely blogs this week, which I was really delighted about.

At the fantastic Cuteable blog, which is always one of my daily reads and also in Linda Boucher's lovely blog. Linda paints beautiful paintings of glamorous women and shoes! I love her glamorous artworks but I'm particularly drawn to this print of sneakers - they seem to conjure up an image of relaxed Brighton living, somehow.

This week really made me realise how much you actually learn by running a small business - I managed to overcome some laptop 'hiccups', so I'm now an IT 'expert' (Haha!), as well as book-keeper, blogger, maker/designer - there's always some new hurdle to overcome and resolve! I definitely wish there were less hurdles sometimes though!! (OK - I took the hoover to my laptop, but that's another story!!)

I continued with my Harris Tweed hearts and managed to add more to my Etsy shop - I particularly liked the sequin version - I always like a bit of bling! I've been working on some new cards to accompany my 'Beastie Tweedies' - some 'googly' eyes were involved in the process - more on them next week!

Still on the topic of stocking my Etsy shop I've been looking at my crafting stash and realising there are items just waiting to be listed like this aran wool hand-knitted doll's jumper. So I'll have to have a good old rummage and see what other 'goodies' are sitting waiting to be listed! Seeing my huge ball of aran wool yarn is making me think of getting the needles out again - maybe later though, I'm not the world's most patient knitter!

P.S. It's snowing outside! (and we didn't get blown away by the gales after all!)

Thursday, 15 January 2009

my creative space

HaHa!! I actually managed to remember the Thursday "my creative space" slot. So here I am revealing my creative 'guddle' to the world! I had high hopes of a crafting frenzy this week, but it's ended up more of a crafting 'trickle' between one thing and another. I decided to start on some simple projects though to get back in the way of things.

Yesterday, I started work on some simple Harris Tweed decorative hearts. I love to hand sew and predominantly sit in the living room with simple projects like these. You're getting a good view of the living room chair which I've monopolised to keep my stash of crafting goodies. Needless to say nobody actually gets to sit on this chair! My note book is propped up at the back - I've been jotting down some ideas this morning for new applique cards to compliment my "Beastie-Tweedie" range of soft toys.

Scraps of tweed, thread, fabric glue, some old tweed rosettes, pens, notebooks, scissors .... It's all there - on my living room chair! I'm off to oggle some other crafters' crafting mayhem at kootoyoo now - bye for now!

P.S. If you have time you could always pop over to the fantastic Cuteable giveaway! It's a cracker!!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Happy Valentine

I was going to make collage cards today but realised I had run out of glue just as I was about to start! So I did a bit of a body swerve and decided to get into the Valentine mood instead and made this little Harris Tweed heart instead. I even managed to get it into my Etsy shop here! What a feat! I'll probably make some more of these (possibly in different colours) and add them to my own website. Maybe even my Folksy shop if I get it together - Valentines here we come!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Just an Update!

I'm all set to start a crafting frenzy this week - so just a quick post with a pic of the view from our back 'garden' today. I sometimes walk down the croft in the foreground to catch my bus to town.

You can just see the lamp post where I wait for it to arrive - not much shelter on a gusty, rainy day! Anyway, that's island living for you - the weather is a dominating force here, but I love it (most of the time!!).

I might be making some of my collage cards this week - they were inspired by looking out my bedroom window at the headland, sea and sky beyond. They're an abstract design but I love playing around with the colours and patterns of the tweed and they seem to tie in with our landscape views here - big skies!

Hope you're having a nice day, wherever you are!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Oranges in the Rain

Well, it's been a really dreary, wet, blustery - think I've run out of adjectives!! - day today here in the Hebrides. I bought these lovely, fresh oranges (they're tangerines or mandarines or whatever actually ...) at the supermarket and wished I'd taken a pic straight away as they had lovely green leaves on them and looked fab.

Even by this morning the leaves had begun to wilt in the warmth of our kitchen but they still looked great. The colour cheered me up on such a dreich (Scottish for wet??) day!

The neighbour's barn just looked like a blur in the rain, through our kitchen window .....

. . . and I ended up making some 'blank' bookmarks in readiness for adding them to any orders that I may be lucky to get! Sorry, it's a bit of a poor pic - it was getting a bit dark by the time I took it today:

If I'm feeling organised I make up a bookmark with swatches of Harris Tweed glued on and maybe even colour co-ordinate the colours with the customer's order - that's when I'm organised!! (this is the reverse of the bookmark with the definition of Harris Tweed added).

Hope you had a nice day!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

my creative space

I came across a lovely idea today for a regular blog feature from Swirly Arts' blog today. Being a chronic commitment phobic it took me a while to decide whether to join Kirsty's blogging game: my creative space but as it's January ... it seemed like a good idea!! Each Thursday, post an image of your creative space, be it at your desk, on the floor, in the kitchen, on the settee - well that seems to fit my creative space to a tee!

If you fit that kind of bill, I'm sure you could join in too! So here's a bit of a muggy shot of my desk (tonight actually!). Left over bits and pieces from Christmas projects (that'll be the tube of sequins), my Lewis chessmen (I decided to leave them there!) and some fabric buttons - an idea in progress! Oh, the camera never lies!! I suddenly feel very exposed - Ha Ha! Hmmm - my phone looks a bit dusty too!

I also thought this 'meme' game might give me an incentive to be a bit more methodical in my crafting habits - it's good to have aspirations - isn't it!!

My Master Plan (and a mosaic!)

Just a quick post today as I am launching myself at my work area in order to get ready for some serious crafting!

Over the festive holidays I was having a little review of my online shops and trying to get my head round where I should go with each of them. My own website and my webpage on Not on the High Street are both set up to accept custom orders ie. I offer a range of products (often in different colour choices and sometimes personalisation detail) and I then fulfil the order within a set period of time - usually 7-10 days to the customer's requirements.

This month, I hope to stock both my Etsy and Folksy shops with ready-to-ship items. I'd like to use both these shops like a virtual craft fair which will leave me free to create and add whichever products I feel like. Well, that's the plan anyway!! New rulings governing the selling of handmade toys in the USA are very unsettling at the moment which is why I decided to add Folksy to my list of shops (as if I didn't have enough!!).

So this month I'm going to get my head down and get some serious crafting done - I'll keep you up to date on developments! In the meantime here's a little mosaic I did last night of some wonderful creations by artists/crafters on Flickr, going back a couple of months or so (you can click on the links below the pic to get further info on individual artists):

1. Another view of 'Little Deer', 2. New! I love making Kitties!, 3. Tiny Happy hedgehog with purple berries and little pink bird :), 4. Travel Kitty and dino, 5. Stripiest Sweater Bear Ever, 6. Giving it large for Valentine!, 7. bebé, 8. Puse Bottom, 9. detail of Sue's applique

Cheerio an Drasda!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Have a Burger!

Well, as soon as I'd posted that photograph of little S's favourite burger concoction (see previous post), the wheels had started in motion for creating a Harris Tweed version! Once I had it in mind, I just had to give it a go - and this is what I came up with. It is "actual size", constructed from separate components, just like a real burger roll - one Harris Tweed roll (in 2 halves!), one Harris Tweed burger (lightly stuffed!) and garnished with two felt embroidered cucumber slices and a little ketchup on the side. Little S wasn't very impressed with the addition of the ketchup, but I gave myself some artistic licence here! (he doesn't like ketchup!).

I added the 'sesame' seeds on top as I had to disguise the stitching holding the whole construction together. I had to sew through all the layers which was a bit of a feat, but it worked. My kids didn't like the addition of the sesame seeds but I think they were a necessary 'evil', if I can put it like that! It has a practical use as it would make a great pincushion (I stuffed it firmly) - my other half keeps complaining of finding pins everywhere!

I liked the fact that it's a real 3D piece and looks quite interesting from all angles - just like the real thing! My first genuine 'soft sculpure'! It's also very sturdy and chunky which I like. I must get 'S' to model it for me - he might need some bribery (it's the ketchup issue!).

Bye for now - hope you're having a nice day!

Monday, 5 January 2009

Crabbie Deluxe!

You can tell I haven't got back into 'crafting mode' when I blog about food! I'm still in 'family mode' as my boys are going back to school tomorrow. Little S assembled this huge veggie burger concoction for lunch and suggested I put it on my blog - not completely unprompted as he made one the other day and I suggested it would make a good pic! Well, it is 'art' of sorts! Just give it a fancy title and see how it would go down at the Tate gallery?!

It looked so good, I had one myself afterwards! He's called it his "Crabbie Deluxe" (Spongebob reference!), hence the title. Maybe I could make a Harris Tweed version of the "crabbie deluxe" - now that would be fun! Oh! Oh! - I feel an idea coming on. It's funny the things that spark the imagination!

Hope you're having a nice day! (I'm busy visualising my Harris Tweed/felt 'softie' burger!!)

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Inspiration ...

I picked this book up today, as I hadn't had a look at it in a long time. I bought it about a year and a half ago with a birthday book token and pored over it for days afterwards! At the time I hadn't a clue about blogging, what it was or why anyone did it, but the actual crafts and makers in the book really inspired me. The common thread through the book is crafters who blog - each chapter focusing on an individual crafter who give answers to three questions: "why do I create", "what inspires you" and "where do you work". There's a 'make' by each individual crafter at the end of each chapter too.

I was really fascinated by it when I bought it because I realised there were all these other people in the world doing very similar things to myself. I did sometimes wonder why I was sitting at home making soft toy butterflies out of Harris Tweed but this book made me realise that it was perfectly 'normal'!! Anyway, it was quite nice looking through it today with slightly different eyes since I've joined the art/craft blogging community. It has a good section at the back on how to get your own blog started. It's amazing the difference a year and a half can make!

I have to say that I won't be posting a pic of "where do you work" today as it'll take me at least a week to sort it out after the pre-Christmas rush and it looks a bit scary to say the least! That's next week's task.

Any particular book that got your creative juices going?

Friday, 2 January 2009

New Year Thoughts

It' such a beautiful, sunny day here today in the Hebrides, I thought it was too good a photo opportunity to miss and hence an excuse for a quick blog post! Hope everyone had a happy and peaceful Hogmanay. We had first-footers this New Year, which was unexpected and fun and we made the usual phone calls around the country to our family who are scattered from here to as far afield as Brighton and London! We partook of the usual traditional, celebratory drinks - enough said!!

I took this photo outside our house this morning (trying to be a bit arty - through the trees!). We live on the edge of the moor so we get some beautiful views and see all the lovely colours of the landscape.

I guess this is as good a time as any for a quick reflection on last year's achievements and some resolutions for the year coming - but I'll keep it brief!

I was lucky enough to receive some funding to start up my crafts business at the end of 2007, so a lot of the time in 2008 I was trying to figure out which way to go with my business while trying to enjoy the general activity of crafting! It's quite a tricky thing to juggle, but I think I tried my utmost to get my business started and up and running. It does, however, mean that I sometimes feel pressurised to 'perform' and be successful.

This year I think I can relax a little bit having figured out the basics of running a small business. I struggled with the whole notion of promoting my business but then blogging came along and I found this to be a really fun and practical way of engaging people with my products. Blogging didn't come easily to me - the only problem now is how to wean myself of it!! It's also a good outlet for my own thought processes too. OK - I just do it because I enjoy it!!

So my resolutions for next year are:

(1) "keep on keeping-on!"
(2) chill out a bit on the business side and enjoy my crafts
(3) try and strike a balance between crafting/working and family life - that's a tricky one!!
(4) take a walk and give myself a break in between crafting, blogging, etc.
(5) most importantly: enjoy my crafts - as I've often heard people say: "do what you enjoy and the money will follow". I think that's a good adage and seems to make sense to me!

This post could go on forever and has probably gone on too long already! I wish everyone a happy and peaceful 2009 and hope you achieve your own personal aspirations and dreams for the year ahead.

Cheerio an Drasda!