Friday, 30 April 2010

Merry Go Round - April

It's the last Friday of the month, which means it's 'Merry Go Round' post time! I have joined with a lovely group of crafty/arty ladies who meet up once a month to discuss a chosen theme or topic. This month we each had to make something for another 'Merrier' in the group and then show what we have received in this post.

The handmade gift I received from Agathe was absolutely amazing, and as I mentioned to her, I think I gasped when I opened it as it was so unexpected and so fabulous! Agathe was keen to note the link between Scotland and France, and used this amazing hessian fabric which features a thistle emblem and a 'Fleur de Lys' emblem, to create this lovely and roomy shoulder bag - how cool is that!!

Agathe and I don't really know each other that well, so I thought it was quite amazing that she made something which appealed to me so much - she must have a little ESP I think! Here's some pics of the lovely bag:

Lovely button feature . . .

. . . and roomy pockets inside:

and her own classy designer label too . . .

Thank you Agathe - it was a lovely gift to receive and I know I will get lots of use out of it! My handmade gift was for Fabienne, if you want to check it out :)

See what 'goodies' the other 'Merriers' received below:

Mitsy at ArtMind
Kim at Vilt a la Kim
Sara at Saras Texture Crafts
Fabienne at Easterya Jewellery
Mariana at Florcita
Agathe at Le Bar du Vent
Lily at Lily Pang Art and Design
Ruth at Birdland Creations

If I'm a little more absent from my blog over the next couple of weeks it's because I'll be trying to get some of my Gallery shop stock together - I MUST be disciplined and get down to some hard graft, hehe! Well it's nice to get that occasional cheque in the post and it keeps my little business ticking over (just!). I'm sure I'll manage to peer out from my mountain of tweed from time to time though :)


Thursday, 29 April 2010

my creative space . . . is very quiet

My creative space is a very quiet one today - Thursdays quite often tend to be my 'catch-up' day, when I try and do the 'other stuff' which I haven't got round to through the week, as I've either been too busy crafting, or at my office job. My youngest had a sleep-over at his grandparents last night, so it is extra quiet this morning - how weird does that feel! I have to say that last night I really missed having him about - I hope he had fun though and I'll soon hear all about it when he returns shortly, they have to grown up, don't they!

Here's some lovely leather buttons I got in the post yesterday - they are new ones as I was too impatient to wait to come across any old, unwanted ones but I'd love to use vintage ones too as they have such a lovely history attached to them.

I just spotted this piece of tweed in my stash this morning, so thought it would make the perfect background to take a pic of my new buttons. The tweed has been stamped with the official Harris Tweed Authority trademark - quite a cute memento to have - I'll frame it or something some day!

Visit some busier 'creative spaces' here :)

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Old Tweed Jackets!

I was rummaging in the family button tin last night and came up with a new design for my Harris Tweed i-phone pouch. For a while now I've been wanting to come up with a more traditional/masculine version of my 'embroidered button detail' design which is very much a feminine i-phone pouch in appearance.

I've been musing about how to add a design feature to a more traditional style of pouch without it looking too 'girly' and I'm hoping this one, inspired by 'old tweed jackets' will fit the bill. I used a double thickness of strong black felt as a tab closure with velcro fastening - the leather button is a design feature. I can understand why they used leather buttons on tweed jackets now - I think they're lovely! The pouch would look very classy in some of my traditional herringbone tweed I've been using recently - once I source more of the buttons I'll add it as a custom design, but hopefully some 'ready-made' ones will pop up in my Etsy shops soon too!

Not just for the boys these - if you're like me you probably have a secret passion for these traditional 'suiting' tweed patterns, there's something very romantic about them!

Sheeeeesh, just look at me making gadget pouches, it's enough for me to remember to charge my mobile phone, at the best of times - funny old world!

Cheerio an Drasda - off to scramble about for more old leather buttons :)

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Something Old, Something New

It's been a while since I purchased any craft books - I find such a wealth of inspiration through blogs, Flickr, etc - but I still love to leaf through a good craft book. These are two I rediscovered this week, well I found one and searched the other one out as I knew I bought them both together. I meant to have a look at them yesterday but ended up working on my sewing machine all day - well I learnt a few things, and managed to simplify one of my 'tweedie' designs, so hopefully that will pay off in the long run!

I did love my old Singer sewing machine and don't think I've bonded so well with my new one (a Janome) but we were quite 'pally' with each other by the end of the day! It's a good machine really, I'm just a bit of a 'hand-sewing' fanatic - I like the peaceful, meditative nature of a sewing needle and thread - it can be very relaxing. Anyway these are the two books, one is all about doll-making - various techniques, styles, etc - I think I'd managed to teach myself the basics by the time I'd bought the book, but it's an interesting resource nevertheless. The other is really a compendium of crafts - really well illustrated, published by Dorling Kindersley and written by Miranda Innes - I love all the different crafts it covers, from mosaic to quilting, to glass painting, really good fun!

Well that was the old (books) and onto the new . . .

. . . a little set of matryoshka dolls which I made earlier in the week - they are about 3.5 inches tall, so quite dinky - I had a notion for making a set of mini-matryoshkas! I am lucky enough to have three shades of pink Harris Tweed at the moment, so I thought I'd make a 'raspberry ripple' selection of little dolls. They aren't listed yet - maybe later today after I've browsed through my books, as I'm relaxing today after all that slaving over my sewing machine yesterday - I have two 'tweedie' laptop sleeves made as a result though, so I'm feeling quite smug, hehe!

I'm going to start work on an order from my local Gallery shop (An Lanntair) this week - I wasn't sure if I was going to go the 'retail outlet' route this year, but it's good to have a presence in a shop, and even nicer to get a cheque in the post from time to time, so . . . :)

Off to have a nice relaxing day now and browse through some of my crafty books - think I deserve it after yesterday's 'sewing marathon'!

Happy Sunday :)

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

their creative space . . .

I'm all 'tweedied' out this week, so I'm handing over to my 8 year old who has been doing some far more interesting stuff! After giving his bedroom a good 'gutting-out', my Other Half and he, unearthed a kids art book with heaps of papier mache model instructions/ideas - a great book which has been used a number of times by both kids already. So this is what they are making . . . in the middle of the living room floor of course!

This is what it will look like when they are finished and I'll get my living room rug back - I'm sure we'll find some other kiddie junk to fill it with though!!! Bring back the lego - all is forgiven, hehe!

More creative peeps over at Kirsty's fab place :)

P.S. He is very excited about the gold belt buckle which we had to purchase a special tin of Airfix gold paint for - it had better work well or there'll be tears at bedtime, mark my words! : /

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

New 'tweedie' Matryoshkas

I had a real notion for making a 'tweedie' matryoshka doll in jet black Harris Tweed, so I made this largest one at the weekend. I held back from showing it on my blog yesterday though, as I really wanted to have a go at making a threesome, nesting on the little hessian bags I use for packaging. There's something about making three of them like this that I like - they look so cosy all together! There's a hint of the orient here - it emerged from nowhere but I quite like it.

I used wool felt for the embellishments and had more fun with sequins - Oh, I do like a bit of bling! They look quite cute with their little heads popping out of their hessian bag . . .

I would love, love, love, to try them in different colours - so for this reason I'm going to add them as a 'made-to-order' item on my own website and also on Etsy. They do look quite slick in the black though. Next weekend I would like to have a go at making them up in some of my 'winter white' Harris Tweed - yes, I AM going to cut into it, hehe! These are such fun to make - I enjoy the whole process, and embroidering the faces gives them their own little personalities.

Pink, red, yellow, green, blue, traditional herringbone, plaid - I'd love to try them all!

Later in the day I decided to make a little set of miniature Matryoshkas which I think would be really fun for little girls (or Big girls!). These ones won't have any sequins, just a bit of embroidery - I'll show them later in the week :)

I will, will, will, get some 'froggie' kits made up this week - as soon as I pull the reigns in and make myself 'behave'! Coming soon I promise :)

P.S. I think I will be handing over 'my creative space' to 'Little S' this week - he's got some interesting things going on, will make a nice change from my 'tweedies'!

Bye for Now :)

Monday, 19 April 2010

Using Felt - Eureka!

Over the past four years since I started making 'soft-toys/softies', I must have spent hours trawling the internet for the perfect felt to use in my projects. I've always loved using felt with Harris Tweed - the contrast in the textures is lovely! At the weekend I decided to try a little experiment which seemed to work really well.

Firstly though, I thought I'd share a little of the knowledge I've gleaned over the years about purchasing felt on the internet. I've always found this to be extremely hit and miss - there's a multitude of quality, weight, acrylic/wool, etc. I've used all types - acrylic, acrylic/wool mix, 100% wool, I think they all have their own individual use, depending on what you're using them for. The one thing I've recently taken notes on is the thickness of the felt, which for one reason or another is quite important to me.

Apart from using felt in my 'softies', I also use it as a lining fabric. If you're looking for felt of a specific thickness, this is the guide I've taken notes for, for myself. Not hard and fast rules - just a guide!

Felt Thickness

1 mm felt - your standard acrylic felt craft sheets tend to be about 1 mm, useful for anything - applique, embellishments, etc. Not very heavy obviously, but you can get it in all sorts of colours and it's fun to use.

2 mm felt - I've purchased quite a selection of 2 mm felt recently, partially for use as a lining fabric. I needed a stronger, heavier felt so 2 mm thickness seemed about right.

3 mm felt - now you're talking!! Some of my 'softies' require felt of an almost rigid thickness/quality eg. the antennae on my ladybirds, the bee-sting on my bumblebees, well you can't have a floppy bee-sting, can you , hehe!! 3 mm felt seems to be the correct thickness to look for if you're wanting a heavyweight thick felt.

'Sandwiching' Felt - Eureka!!

Sometimes I have to resort to sandwiching felt together using fabric glue to get the thickness I require. It's a bit of a 'faff' but sometimes necessary. However at the weekend, I decided to try another method of 'making' thick felt. I've had some Bondaweb in for some time - I only use it occasionally. I'm not sure what the US equivalent is, but you know the stuff I mean - fusible web for bonding fabrics together eg. for doing applique work, etc.

Well, it occurred to me, why not try using Bondaweb to fuse two layers of felt together to create a double thickness - Eureka!!, it worked! Quite often I use felt from Myriadonline - a lovely 100% wool felt in really pretty colours. It's probably about 1.75 mm thick, lovely quality but I wanted it to be thicker and the Bondaweb experiment worked - I was delighted to get the weight of felt I wanted at last! A lovely 3 mm+ thick felt. I've ony tried this once, so it's not a guaranteed success but it's a good start!

So if you're using felt in your softie-making, craft projects, etc, I hope this is of a little help. If you have a rough idea of the thickness of felt you're looking for, it makes it so much easier to purchase it online if you know the difference - thickness is often described in millimetres (mm). I'm off to 'sandwich' some felt now, well perhaps after I've done some darned chores, hehe!

Happy Monday!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Thinking . . .

'Smaoineachadh' is the Gaelic word for 'thinking'. I haven't embroidered any text for a while and this weekend I planned to take a little time out to think about what crafting projects I want to concentrate on, rather than rushing in madly like I sometimes do! Now, where was I . . .

Have a lovely weekend :)

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

my creative space . . .

At the old 'office job' today - but got home to a lovely delivery of tweed. The weaver lives to the north of the island in a village called Ness. I'd spotted a beautiful 'natural white' tweed amongst his selection, so I just had to . . . :) I was struggling to take a photo of it to show you how beautiful it is, so I draped it around my shoulders and now I really love it even more - darn you 'Creative Space'!!! - I'll have even more difficulty cutting into it now :D

Here's the lovely card which came with it . . .

It tells the tale of this beautiful cloth . . .

. . . I love this fabric - it makes me feel completely in tune with my culture and surroundings. Why wouldn't anyone love it - it's beautiful!

More creative spaces here :)

Oidhche Mhath!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

All the Greens (almost!)

I'm trying to squeeze the last few days into one post - it's probably not a very good idea, but!!!

We've been busy trying to do a declutter of our little house on top of the hill - I think April has been officially earmarked as Spring-cleaning month, so I have to grab the urge before it dissipates, pheeeew, I'm tired just thinking about it! Horsing on though . . . . :) (Hope any family members are impressesd by this new impetus, if they are reading my post, hehe!)

On to more interesting topics though! I grabbed a quick unexpected hour or two at the weekend (we still had a couple of days of family holiday left) to cut out some froggie legs and eyes for my new kit - it was great to get this part done, as the instructions are all ready, it's just the donkey work of cutting and assembling remaining to do.

So Mr Froggie has been officially dissected - it was a very clean procedure though, no blood and guts, honest - just stuffing, tweed and felt, hehe!! He should be available as a kit, certainly by next week, just got to get a little assembly line going - now where's my youngest child gone? :)

Last night I was invited to the local church group to give a little display/demonstration of my crafts, along with 5 other crafty local ladies. Not being a regular church-goer, this was slightly alien territory for me, but it was a fun evening and I even sold a couple of my applique maps (at much reduced prices, hehe - well half my customers seemed to be relatives!!). Here's the map I was using to give a demonstration of my hand sewing techniques . . .

. . . and here's a finished one which my husband's aunt purchased off me - I'll be framing this one for her so she can send it to her daughter in Canada. I sold a ready-framed map to another lady who was also going to post it abroad to a relative (which is exactly one of the ideas behind making the maps - as gifts for Hebrideans now living further afield - the felt map is of the Outer Hebrides/Lewis and Harris).

The maps are a bit of a nightmare to cut out which is probably why I didn't really continue making them in batches, but I have a little store left of them, so . . . craft fairs coming up soon! I still love to make them though - I think they're a nice souvenir item for visitors, just pretty time-consuming to make! (they're available to purchase on my own site)

At the end of the evening the organiser of the church group asked the craft ladies to choose a free gift from their bring-and-buy stall as a thankyou for doing their displays - I spotted this lovely quilted pin/needle case and couldn't resist it - it's beautifully made:

All in all, quite a pleasant evening and I only had to go 5 minutes down the road - hmmm, perhaps I should start going to church, my mother-in-law would be delighted, hehe!! :)

P.S. One of the ladies demonstrating her craft was showing her beautifully handmade quilts (I think maybe she made the needle case) - I couldn't take photos though as it didn't seem quite the thing to do!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

The button tin . . .

This week I became the very proud custodian of the 'family button tin'. This is a collection of buttons which my late mother collected over a span of probably 40-50 years, from when we were all little toddlers. It's such a lovely thing to have and it brought back memories of me thumbing through all the buttons as a little girl - some of them were particularly familiar to me and I must admit to feeling a little bit 'weepy' at seeing them again. Funny how something as simple as a button can trigger such vivid memories!

Isn't the tin great - 'National Dried Milk', probably from the sixties I'm guessing. I think I might use some of the buttons in my crafty projects, and of course it would be lovely to add my own buttons to the collection too (I purchased the ones above last month).

It's a great resource for me to have as a 'crafter' and a fabulous piece of family memorabillia too. 'Little S' is desparate to have a rummage through the tin, which would be fun to do together. He keeps complaining that I'm putting them away back into the tin every time he arrives on the scene!

Finally . . .

Typical boy, he soon got bored of them and left me to tidy up!! :D

Have a lovely weekend :)

Friday, 9 April 2010

All good things . . .

Our Easter break is nearing it's end and our holiday-makers are making their way back to various parts of the country as I speak. Here are the boys and their visiting cousin, about to launch themselves onto the beach:

Bon Voyage to all :)

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

our creative spaces

I spent this afternoon working on a custom order for one of my laptop sleeves - it's a bit more regimented work after having fun with my 'art-dolls' earlier on this week - but, hey it's always good to have an order to work on! Gretchen's lovely decorative pins came in handy, and they look cute too!

If you have an aversion to fish, look away now! How's this for a catch - my boys, OH, brother and nephew were on a big fishing trip today, and here's the haul - pretty good, eh? Grilled trout for lunch tomorrow!!

Sorry to those who are a bit 'icky' about fish - personally, I love the markings on these brown trout :) The boys should sleep well tonight after trecking around a loch all day, but they're having a sleepover with their cousin, so . . .

More creative spaces here.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Wakey, wakey!

For someone on holiday, I seem to be getting quite a lot of crafting done - perhaps not exactly the crafting I intended either! Yesterday afternoon I decided to wake up my Matryoshka dolls up from their deep slumber - I felt there was a limit to the number I could make dozing in the sunshine:) So a greater part of the afternoon was spent redesigning the embroidered face - lots of drawing, scribbling and then just jumping in with both feet first, which seems to be my preferred way of working!

I'd had an idea in my mind to make a vivid red Matryoshka with black embroidery, so this was the one I decided to 'wake up', so to speak! There were a few attempts to get the features looking the way I wanted - but we got there eventually. I've now developed a method of embroidering the faces, with enough leeway to make variations between dolls, which is exactly what I want. I quite like the starkness of the white embroidery against the white felt - it gives them an individual 'look'. It takes time to do the embroidery, but it's really satisfying and ensures that each one will have a unique identity.

You will either love or hate the second Matryoshka doll - it has a very distinct 'burlesqe'/carnival/theatrical appearance which emerged - personally I really like it, as someone who likes a little bit of the 'bizarre' and the unexpected. But I'm sure folk will have their own particular tastes regarding art dolls/matryoshkas, etc.

I had great fun deciding where to place the sequins, embellishments, etc - it's amazing how much this changes their 'personalities'. I love this plaid tweed, which isn't technically speaking Harris Tweed (the weaver possibly used yarn which had been spun/died on the Scottish mainland - this process has to be done in the Outer Hebrides as part of the 'criteria' for the cloth to be authentic Harris Tweed - fascinating facts, eh - hehe!)

The dolls are approximately 5 inches in height, funnily enough the same size as the rest of my 'tweedies', which ties them in quite nicely. Some people might be thinking, I wish she'd left these dolls sleeping peacefully - myself I'm hugely enjoying the extra dimension being 'awake' has given them, hehe!

I'll be listing these soon in my online shops, perhaps later today - I have one more doll I have in mind to make at the moment, so I'll see how that goes. These two will certainly be added to my Etsy and 'Blog Shop' in any case.

Lots of fun things happening while the Easter break continues - there were 9 'little' cousins, ranging in age from 5 years to 14 years, at my 'Big Sis's lovely Easter dinner on Sunday - it was quite a sight!! Catch up later - Cheerio an Drasda :)

P.S. I'll update this post as soon as the dolls are added to my shops.

Now listed in my Etsy shop :)

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Awwwww :)

I think this little lamb in my my neighbour's croft is a pretty new arrival - the lambs seem to be (literally!) popping up right, left and centre at the moment! He looked very sweet in the gorgeous sunshine we are having here today (I think it's a bit of a myth about Hebridean gales and rain - we have had the best, mildest, winter in the whole country this year!)

Better go and hide some Easter eggs - my boys are still in bed after a late night with their cousins! That's what holidays are for though :)

Have a lovely Easter Sunday!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Tah Dah!!!!

Well, off I went to look for the screenshot of the Etsy frontpage I was featured on last night (thank you to my kind commentors who gave me the nudge - we don't know about such things in the Hebrides, hehe!!) and here it is! What a nice surprise - little did I think, when I made my 'tweedie' matryoshkas that they would get that far - I'm tickled pink!!

You can probably see it better if you click on the pic :D

Fame at Last (well, not really!!)

Just popping in briefly before the Easter weekend descends upon us! Lots of lovely family arriving today by train, bus, ferry - it's quite a journey for some :)

Although I have been on 'holiday' this week, it's been more of a 'networking-free' break and I've been busier than I thought 'craft-wise', ain't that always the way! You decide to switch off for a bit and these darned creative ideas keep popping into your head!!! Well, quite a few have developed into finished pieces and made it into my Etsy shop - AND would you believe the Front Page of Etsy!! . . . and I missed it :(

Never mind, now I know why these ladies suddenly became very popular overnight! I didn't really make a conscious decision to make a set of matryoshka dolls - they just somehow happened! A quick doodle turned into a finished piece quite quickly, and my first patterns miraculously worked out first time, right size, shape, etc - sometimes that just happens!

I enjoyed making them so much, I made another one the next day . . .

This one's having a little snooze in the Hebridean sunshine - briefly, probably!

To finish off, I've just completed another of my Harris Tweed 'crafty' Art Dolls - the first one was snatched up so quick, I didn't have time to blog about it - thankyou Mojca, hehe!! These little dolls came about from an initial idea to make a slightly mythical, small, textural fabric doll - which would be more of an art-piece as opposed to a child's toy.

What emerged was a doll (with moveable limbs) draped in oddments of tweed (the edges have been left to fray) - they remind me a little of some kind of character from a Japanese children's animation, watching too many cartoons again! The clothes/tweed oddments have been very simple attached with a stitch here and there and can simply be removed and replaced with whatever you wish - hence the 'crafty' part of the title. Of course, they can be enjoyed in their own right as a decorative art-doll, and would look pretty cute on a shelf.

The matryoshka dolls are in my Etsy shop and 'Little blog Shop' and the 'Crafty/Art Doll' should be joining them very soon - now I really am taking a break! Hope everyone has a great Easter weekend :)

Don't eat too much chocolate now, I know I will, he he!!