Friday, 4 August 2017

Sunshine, crochet, staycation . . .

I must admit that blogging over the summer months has been a bit tricky - time seems to be running away this summer, school holidays will soon be over!

I've had a couple of weeks at home with the boys on a 'staycation'.  We had a fun city break earlier in the summer so I was happy to spend some time at home - in beautiful sunny weather no less! So no complaints :)

I planned just to chill out, work on a summer crochet project and a little crafting if I could squeeze it in.  We also had some lovely family visitors at home so plenty to fill the time.

Here's a peek at the crochet throw I've been working on . . . the colours are inspired by the flowers and fauna of the moor near my home, a favourite place to take a relaxed plod :)

I think I started it at the end of May, you might remember me showing the initial blocks/experiments . . .

This was the first picture I took on the 27th May - I'd forgotten it was that long ago!  The project has evolved a bit since then.  The lacey squares above turned out really pretty but were quite intricate and after a while I decided to use them as a centre panel and to outline them with simpler blocks.   I'm making 35 blocks in total to make possibly a settee throw or something like that.

Above shows the three different blocks I chose.  The bottom left square is going to be placed on each corner and the traditional grannies around the edge - well, that's the plan.  I'm using Leonie Morga's book 100 Bright and Colourful Squares and it's just brilliant!  I think it will become a firm favourite :)

Here's some moorland photos I took the other day to demonstrate my colour choices . . .

We've been so lucky with good weather these past two weeks - makes a nice change!

A nice trip to Gress beach which is very close to my home the other evening - completely deserted apart from another lady with a lovely bouncy springer dog.  The sea was flat calm - I think this seagull thought I was stalking it, hehe! . . .

This old boiler from a ship has been on the beach since I can remember . . . having just googled it, it seems the ship (the Glenesk?) ran aground in the 1920s.  It's  quite a landmark on the beach . . . and of course a good viewpoint for a passing seagull :) :)

Hope your holiday time has been enjoyable if you have been having one.  I'm back to some more regular crafting soon I hope.  Two lovely craftbooks were my birthday pressie - both fabulous, but the textile collage book is just wonderful!

Lots of inspiration in both of these :)

Back soon,
Alison x

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Crochet and sunshine

Hmmmmmm - somewhere, sometime, I forgot to blog about anything I've been making, doing, etc - not for the lack of being creative - just waiting for life to settle down a bit :)

This week we've been blessed with some beautiful sunny weather - I crocheted the above square after work on Monday just because I couldn't wait to try it!  It's a giant block (about 10 inches square) and came from a free Red Heart (Super Saver) pattern on their website.  I would LOVE to make an entire afhgan/blanket with these - this one was made using oddments in my stash and worked quite well, so a thrifted blanket might be on the cards.  The centre is made using cheap acrylic yarn so that could be purchased easily but it would be nice to use odd bits and pieces for the rest in combination with some bought yarn.  I love the idea of acquiring a nice collection of hand crochet blankets around my home :)

Eldest is back home from University having graduated in June - it's a relief to have him home again :)  I feel far more inclined to get back to crafting, both commercial and otherwise, whoop!

Last weekend I made one of my collage, tweedie brooches and decided to rejig the packaging a bit - inadvertently it seems to have triggered a new range of gift ideas for my Etsy shop - funny how one small change can lead to some new ideas!

Off to enjoy some lovely Hebridean sunshine - have a lovely weekend :)

Alison x

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Intarsia knitting and other stuff . . . :)

Life has been busy lately - not so much for me in a way, but for my boys sitting exams and I've not felt relaxed enough to blog or to take time out for commercial work.  That said I've been doing a lot of craft recently which (a) I've been finding very therapeutic and (b) very educational as I've learned a lot of different techniques in crochet and knitting of all sorts, some sock knitting of course too!

This last week I had a go at some intarsia knitting.  This differs from colour stranded/fair isle knitting as the different colours are left hanging and NOT stranded to the back.  I only found my self doing this after coming across a pattern for argyle socks . . . .

It's an old 1950s pattern for "The socks Mrs America loves to knit . . . . The socks Mr America loves to wear" - how funny is that!

The pattern instructed to wind all the different colours onto bobbins, so I did (two of each colour) . . ,

I used clothes pegs as bobbins so I could catch the yarn between the peg to secure it.

Here's how it looked after a few rows . . .

It didn't take long before I ditched the bobbins (which were a pain to use) and after a little research just cut long strands of yarn (for me that was about 125 cm long approx) which was easier to work with by just running my fingers through the yarns to untangle them - it speeded up things a lot :)

Here's the back . . .

All going well so far . . .

Seemingly Argyle socks are the 'holy grail' of knitting, hehe!  We'll see :) :)  I'll keep you posted off my progress . . . .

I've also been working on a new crochet afghan using this palette of colours (discontinued yarn so being sold cheaply) . . .

I think I chose moorland/heathery colours eg. rose heather, grey heather, etc. as I liked the idea of an afghan reflecting the flowers found on the moor.

Here's the blocks so far . . .

I've had to block them individually . . .

to get them nice and flat for joining . . . . it's working well (I don't always block squares but this time I had to).  I just pinned them to a makeshift blocking board and spritzed with water, leaving them to dry overnight.  Seems to do the trick.

The blocks weren't sitting flat enough so needed a little help - this yarn has 20% wool so maybe enough to help them block nicely.

This a nice relaxed background project for over the summer months . . .

I'm quite enjoying being methodical about them.  It's a lovely block to make from "100 Bright and colourful crochet squares" by Leonie Morgan.  I'm just making a block when I have time, interchanging the colour sequence, then blocking each one when I've finished.  I have some cream yarn for a nice border I hope :)  I'm using Lion Brand wool ease which is a worsted/light aran weight and 5.5 mm hook making a square about 5.75 inches (should be 6 inches but not with my crochet tension).  No rush with this project - purely relaxing and enjoyable!

The sewing machine has been a little dormant as it's been easier to pick up hooks and needles!

Beautiful sunny weather here in the Hebrides this week so we're all enjoying that.

Speak soon,
Alison x

Thursday, 27 April 2017

A (very!) extended Easter Break . . . .

Well, my Easter break became a very extended one with my eldest at home studying for final university exams, I just decided it would be just as well to continue plying him with cups of tea and sympathy :)  The sewing machine stayed very quiet in the meantime.

We all had a week off at Easter time and went for a lovely drive down to the South of Harris (I live on the Isle of Lewis in the north part).  We were very much tourists, just driving around little side roads and taking photos along the way - I think I've really fallen for the Bays of Harris, just a beautiful part of our islands!  We took the 'Golden Road' - doesn't that sound romantic, hehe :)  You can read about it here.

Here's some photos I took along the lovely winding roads . . . 

Just love this scenery - the colours are amazing :)

Lots of winding roads through rocky landscapes

Couldn't resist taking a photograph of this cute pony!

Rodel Church - well worth a visit.  Fascinating history :)

Scarista beach - I'd forgotten how lovely it is!

I'll keep this post short :)  Sock knitting has been featuring a lot over the last few weeks - so easy to pick up anytime and I've learned a few new techniques along the way - I'll leave that for another post!

Bye for now!
Alison x

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Eggs, socks and other stuff :) :)

Ooooh, I'm feeling all 'Eastery' and full of spring cheer!  You can tell I'm ready to take my Easter break and really looking forward to it :) :)  Our lovely hens are laying full out - here's a pic of an extra large egg one of them laid at the weekend, beside a normal sized egg - ouch!

. . . . and yes, it was a double yolked egg - three for the price of two, hehe :)

My youngest made a nice omelette for himself with these eggs - I'm pleased he's cooking with our own free range eggs, it feels nice to be able to do that.

In my last blog post I think I showed the start of a lacey sock - they're both finished now and I loved making them.  Lacey socks are something I've been keen to do and although I've made ONE lacey sock, I didn't finish the pair - ooops!  Here's the finished sock (pattern from Liz Lovicks's book The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting) . . .

Sorry, not a very clear picture!

I loved making them so much though, that I decided to try another pair of lace socks to extend my skills a bit and tried a fab pattern from Ann Budd's Sock Knitting book . . .

In between knitting socks my Other Half asked if I had any need for some plywood they were throwing out at his place of work - well, I thought I could make some sock blockers??  Really I thought this might work for photographing or displaying my socks, rather than stretching/blocking them.

This is what I did to make custom sock blockers to fit my foot leg size . . .

I drew around a pair of socks I'd made a year or two ago which were a perfect fit, so a good template.   I just cut around the sock on paper, then . . .

drew two sock shapes onto the plywood.  Other Half cut them out for me and voila, I had two sock blockers custom made for my foot size.

Here's the first sock on the sock blocker - it's a perfect fit for the sock width/length but a little too narrow at the top so not stretching the lace as much as it could (yes, my calves are wider than that, hehe!).  Anyway it was a fun exercise to try and I'm sure I'll use the blockers in time :)

Here's the second lacey sock again - I've still to start the second one but that's for AFTER the Easter break.  I've put all my needles and yarn aside for now in readiness for a lovely Easter break.  My eldest is at home from Univeristy to study for final exams, so lots of cups of tea, home baking and yummy meals for him I think (and for us!).

I won't be doing any crafting for the next week and a half, while I'm at home with the family, but will probably be leafing through some of my craft books.  I bought Free Form Embroidery (bottom left in pic) earlier in the month when I realised I was planning to take it out of the library for the second time.   It's written by Judith Baker Montano and gives great stitching guides for using in landscape textiles - I'm really looking forward to trying out some of the stitches and ideas in this book.

I've left my Etsy shop up and online while on my break as everything in it is ready-to-ship, so no problem with shipping any orders I may have.  Hopefully I'll be ready to add some new items when I get back, feeling rejuvinated and super creative!!

Bye for now :)
Alison x

Sunday, 19 February 2017

February - get knitting!

Well, hello :)  No posts for a month - I've just been crafting a bit intensively I think!  Spending a lot of time making items and photographing them for my Etsy shop - it's left me little time to take any photos for my poor wee blog!

Last month I seemed to have been bitten by the crochet bug.  February seems to be the month for getting knitting - hurray!  I've been struggling at times to get knitted items in my shop.  Time constraints as knitting is more time consuming than crochet or sewing I find anyway, the cost of buying yarn of course, and finding patterns which knitwear designers give permission for the finished items to be sold - so nice to have found some of these!

This week was the week of the bobble hat - these were such fun to make . . . .

Pattern design by RusticWillowCreation

Pattern design by Knifty Knittings

In between I've been making a few tweedie collage items which I've loved . . .

One of three collage brooches I've made for the shop.

This collage purse was inspired by a little textile art collage piece I'd made last month :)

Last weekend I popped into my local yarn shop to see if I could get some wool to finish off one of the bobble hats.  The wool wasn't there but I know the lovely lady who owns the shop and couldn't leave empty handed so purchased some very reasonably priced sock yarn.  I was thinking a lace shawl maybe but ended up starting to knit some lace socks from one of my Shetland Lace Knitting books (The Magic of Shetland Lace Knitting by Elizabeth Lovick).

It doesn't look like much but I think it'll look very pretty once complete . . .

The lace pattern is a Shetland traditional one called candle light - it's really pretty once you see a few repeats of it.  This could be a long project though as I'm just taking my time and enjoying being a little medatative with something very intricate - you can't rush lace knitting!

We've just had half term holidays last weekend so back into the swing of things in general.  Looking forward to Easter holidays already though as we've had lovely mild weather here - it feels like Spring already!

Speak soon
Alison x

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

First Post of the Year :)

Well, we're into the third week of the New Year and January has just flow in - not sure where it's gone but . . . . :)

I'm a little late to be saying Happy New Year, but well I've said it anyway!

We had a lovely relaxing holiday - some time spent batting down the hatches due to bad weather, which was a really good excuse not to go anywhere, hehe :)  It was just really good to have time to do a bit of cooking, baking, generally chilling out.  No schedules to follow - bliss!

With a little Christmas cash I invested in some balls of acrylic yarn to practice the granny squares in one of my crochet books.  The blocks are all 6 inch square and use aran/worsted weight yarn.  I've made some of the squares before in a mix of wool and acrylic with good results, perfect squares and no need to block (which I've never had to do before with my crochet squares).  

However, with my new acrylic yarn the squares seem to end a little 'curly' so some blocking is obviously required . . . 

I've made a make-shift blocking board with a piece of board (I think it's an old blackboard my kids had!), covered with a couple of layers of foam packaging, then wrapped in an old towel.  I used some string to wrap the towel around the board - yes, very rustic!

This is my second attempt to block the acrylic squares - my first ones did block OK but the yarn went very flat and lost its softness and fluffiness - flat acrylic squares - not good :(

Here's two I think I've blocked . . . 

I'm pleased with the squares but disappointed at how the blocking affected the yarn.  Maybe I was too impatient, I did finish off the blocking with a hairdryer - ooooops!

It's really nice having the correct weight of yarn to practice all the squares in the book though (100 Bright and Colourful Granny Squares by Leonie Morgan) and some lovely colours too.  Just the job for passing the time in January - maybe that's where the time went!

I think one of my New Year resolutions will be to try and purchase more of my craft supplies locally - we have a lovely hobby and craft shop in Stornoway that also sells yarn.  It's near my place of work and the owner who I happen to know anyway is really lovely - great to see everything in front of you and be able to buy direct from a local shop :)  Also quite dangerous, haha :) :)

Another resolution which I think I'm following already is just be as creative as possible with my Etsy shop and follow my gut instinct to make things I enjoy and am inspired to make - it's been fun so far anyway!  I'm enjoying making more collage and mixed media pieces - here's a detail of one . . . 

. . . embroidery, buttons, fabric, tweed - very enjoyable!

Over the holidays and throughout the Winter, the hens have carried on laying bountiful eggs - really great, especially over the Christmas break.  Here's one enjoying her porridge on a wintry morning . . .

We had lovely snow last week . . . 

All gone now though - but can't complain it's so mild today it could be Spring!

Well, best dash - probably lots more to say but enough already :)

Speak soon
Alison x