Sunday, 15 February 2015

Shawl update . . . half term hols :)

We've been on our school half term break here in the Hebrides - not sure how this works elsewhere in the country but we've enjoyed it anyway!  My plans to document the making of my new shawl from start to finish are a little behind schedule but I HAVE been photographing it as I go along and hope to divulge any tips and info I've gleaned along the way.  With shawl knitting I feel like I've joined a new club in the same way as with sock-knitting, hehe - it's quite exciting :)  

So, I've started another shawl from another free Ravelry pattern which is specifically designed for shawl/lace 'newbies' so takes you from beginning to end with explanations along the way - perfick!  It's called 'Snowflakes and Flowers', by  Sandra Oakeshott - just perfect for this time of year, and it has three different lace patterns to practice your lace knitting techniques.  A lovely pattern to practice with and yet again I'm being forgiving with my errors - no big 'frogging' tantrums here!

This is the shawl after I've finished the first pattern of the  snowflakes - I'm using Drops Delight yarn which is a little similar to the Noro yarn suggested, yet another variegated yarn I had left from an abandoned crochet project. . . . 

Here's the start, nearer the cast on stage . . .

The lower edge of the picture is the cast on edge (the top of your finished shawl).  You can see there's a column of single knitted stitches down the centre.  Either side of this centre line is a repeat of the same pattern, which is gradullay increased row by row.  The pattern asks for a garter tab cast on method -  I think this is a good tutorial to follow if you get confused!.

Both patterns I've followed give instructions for one side of the shawl which gets repeated for the other side, so you have a centre panel (of one or two stitches) with the pattern repeated on either side.  Both shawls are triangular shaped and knitted from the top down.  I was very confused when I started the first one as I had no idea which part of the shawl I was knitting!

Here's a pic of the beginning of my current shawl where you can see the pattern more clearly . . .

Sorry, I'm holding it lengthwise here - just to confuse further!
You can see the centre stitch and also the edging along the top - the line of holes are created with 'yarn overs'.  This is the snowflake pattern - quite small motifs but still pretty.  I'm using a 32 inch circular needle with bamboo points (cheap and cheerful!) - size 3.5 mm.  In shawl lace knitting I think the general idea is to go approx one needle size bigger than the yarn suggests so you get a 'floaty' fabric, but it depends on what you want.  I had a few test rows and decided this needle was fine for my first attempt at a more floaty shawl - it's all a bit experimental!  (I actually thought I'd chosen a 3.75 mm needle but never mind).

By the way, I've found that having gotten used to reading knitting charts, I tend to use a mixture of both and sometimes write out pattern repeats to keep me right - this combination works quite well for me.

I've just finished the second pattern repeat which is tulips - let me tell you there are a couple of wonky tulips in this shawl 'garden', hehe but heigh ho, I'm learning so there!  Today I'll be knitting the 'flower' pattern if I feel so inclined!  (well, it is Sunday after all) :)

Anyway, all very technical information but I am getting into this 'shawl knitting' thing :)

Here's a nice pic of the moor yesterday - we had a lovely crisp sunny day - first moor plod of the year, hurray! . . . 

Yes, I do go outside occasionally!

Also I made some flapjacks yesterday just because.  They look a bit disastrous here but they tasted nice . . .

I'm off to have one right now with a nice cup of coffee :)  This recipe came from youngest's Dorling Kindersley's 'Childrens Quick and Easy Cookbook' - a much used copy!

Hope you had a nice weekend, extended or not!  I'll be back soon with more tales of the shawl - I'm taking a relaxed approach to this one as I know the 'ropes' so to speak so no frantic knitting sessions thankfully!  Perhaps an end-February finish-line??  See you soon :)

P.S.  If I make the flapjacks again I'll post the recipe - I'm thinking of adding a drizzle of chocolate on top, some dried apricots maybe - mmmmmmmmm! :)

Alison xx

Thursday, 5 February 2015

It's a shawl thing . . . .

When I'm not on my blog for an extended spell, it usually means I've got so completed obsessed with making something, I can't stop long enough to write about it!  That's sort of happened the last couple of weeks and January was such a long difficult month, financially-speaking, I just pulled down the hatches and knittted my way through the month, pretending it wasn't really happening -  it seemed to work for me :) :)

I've had a real breakthrough by learning to read lace knitting charts - well, its just opened up a whole new world of patterns to me!  It started with a pair of lace socks (more of them later), but led me on to making a lace shawl - gasp!!!  I've never had a notion to make a shawl but a funky free pattern on Ravelry has been sitting in my 'fave' list for a while.  I bashed on with this so quickly I couldn't stop to blog about it, but here it is in its full glory . . . . 

I used some yarn/wool called Aire Valley Aran Fusions from West Yorkshire Spinners - from a previously ripped out project from last Winter!  The colours are lovely though - this is Autumn Mix.  I used a 6 mm needle.

If you thought knitted lace shawls had to be floaty, intricate, flyaway things - think again!  This pattern by Sylvia Bo Bilvia is written for worsted weight (btw DK and aran) and is a fab introduction to shawl knitting.  It's got me hooked anyway :)  I've still to block this (seemingly lace shawls MUST be stretched and blocked) but I will possibly just stretch it out and spray block it with a water spritzer thingy (I found a finished kitchen cleaner spray bottle under my kitchen sink) - you've probably got one too if you look ;-)

I've started another shawl in a lighter weight yarn, so I'll try to document it as I go - it's such a lovely process to make a shawl.  There's a little bit of magic involved in it in the same way as sock knitting has - the finished piece seems to emerge triumphantly at the end!

Here's the lace sock by the way . . . 

Sorry, slightly dark pic - I told you January was grim, hehe!  A lovely leafy pattern by Stephanie Van der Linden from Around the World in Knitted Socks, a really lovely book.

It looks sort of medieval in this picture - my other half thought I was knitting a shoe!  I wasn't using the suggested yarn, but some Guernsey wool I had in my stash - I think it's still pretty though.  I'm on the second sock but the ball of wool is running out fast . . . 

Anyhoo, sorry for the absence but now that yukky January is out of the way I hope to be here a little more often :)  I've promised to document my current shawl project (another fantastic free pattern from Ravelry!) so a promise, is a promise!  It would be nice to document it from the cast-on all the way to the blocking process (which is quite new to me).  I'll try and throw in what I've learnt so far about lace shawl knitting too :)

See you soon :)
Alison x

P.S.  BTW I do have errors in my shawl but this variegated yarn is VERY forgiving - I think the errors make it more unique, haha!

Friday, 2 January 2015

Happy New Year to One and all :)

Sorry, I missed the post where I was going to give a little countdown to Christmas and wish you all festive greetings!  The countdown went at a stupendous rate, preceded by a little vist to Glasgow to catch up with family and then travel back home with my eldest son for his Uni Xmas break - proceedings gathered pace as soon as I got back and it was Christmas day before I knew it - pheeeew :)  And, as everyone knows, once you are caught up in the festivities - well, you've got to hold tight, and jump in with both feet - so we did!

Our break has been smattered with family visits, meals aplenty, long lie-ins and late nights.  I decided to take up a little knitty project at the beginning of the hols so I would come out at the other end with some sense of achievement, other than long hours spent in the kitchen, overdose of chocolates and other such festive delights, ahem . . .   

While in Glasgow I visited a little yarn shop near eldest son's student flat and picked up a couple of balls of yarn in an earthy copper blue/green shade (yes I did go to Glasgow and come back with only two balls of wool, and no other shopping - what an achievement!!)  I set to making this pattern which I'd got on Ravelry last year, and had a notion for . . . 

Really enjoying making this although I wish I'd chosen a more feminine colour (I must have been homesick for the Outer Hebrides when I purchased it in the Glasgow Yarn Shop!!).  It's my first time following a knitting chart as opposed to written instructions, so a really good learning experience too.

Here's where I'm at with it today . . . 

Clock the little lego figure at the top left of the pic - actually there's only half of him left, hehe :)

Very traditional Celtic/Hebridean/Scottish etc. - liking it a lot!  It has a 3 button fastening, so looking forward to choosing some nice buttons to complement the pattern/colour :)

We've had a very relaxing break in between dashing back and forward to Stornoway to replace food supplies!  (OK, and drink!).  The weather here has been great just up till the New Year - and now we can just curl up in front of the open coal fire for a day or two before going back to work.

We took a relaxing stroll along Gress beach on Boxing Day, that's about the sum of exercise, but it was very nice!

It was mobbed with people, haha! . . . 

We did a little beach-combing or beach-scouring . . . 

crab shell amongst the seaweed . . . 

and clock the lovely turquoise colour of the lobster pot washed up on the beach . . . 

I hope you all had a lovely festive time over the last couple of weeks.  Ours has been fab especially with eldest being home on his hols - we'll be a bit down hearted when he goes back to Glasgow next week :(  I'll have to keep going with crafty projects to cheer myself up!

Well, off to have left over fish pie from New Year's dinner - yum!  It was very nice yesterday and should be even better today :)

All the best for 2015 - let's hope it's full of health and happiness . . . . . . and creativity of course!!!

Sorry, no resoloutions yets - I've been too busy on holiday-mode, perhaps next week :)

Bliadhna Mhath Ur from the Hebrides!
Alison xxx

Monday, 15 December 2014

A Tale of Two Scarves . . . . .

Well, I have actually managed to make a couple of handmade gifts this year . . . . hurray!!  The crochet seashell scarf is finished, complete with scallop border . . .

I'm quite pleased with my modification of adding the scallop pattern to the beginning of the scarf - I think the edging was too pretty to 'square' it off as the pattern suggested.  I finished it during a power-cut this week - lots of thunder and lightning here!

I made the scarf about 100 cm long as that seemed long enough to tuck it under a coat or jacket as I think the recipient would do :)  Great pattern, only problem is I want one for myself now!  It was so nice to see Alessandra's version here - we've been crocheting in tandem, how cool!

I really wanted to have a go at a man's scarf then, so made a simple vertical scarf using half-trebles.  It worked - I'm so delighted with this simple scarf and it only took a few hours to make . . .

I chained 165, then continued in rows of half-trebles (starting chain of 2 at the beginning of each row) - 3 rows of each colour.  I used Lion Brand Wool Ease and a 6.5 mm hook.  It measures about 54.5 inches long (138 cm) and is 5.25 inches wide . . .

I'm not sure if its manly enough or not???!

Anyway, I'm sure the recipient will tell me :)

And this weekend . . . we had snow - yippee!  Youngest made a snowman . . .

Isn't he cute?  He didn't last long sadly - as you can see the snow is melting already, aw :(

Christmas preparations are ongoing here - hope yours are going well wherever you are :) :)

Bye for Now!
Alison xxx

Thursday, 4 December 2014

So much to make . . . . so little time!

Aaaaaagh - it's that time of year again, so many plans to make homemade gifts . . .

I keep getting distracted at the moment by lovely patterns in books and online - it's relaxing not to have to come up with my own designs! 

Today I set off to my craft space to do a little sort-out and possibly look for some yarn to make a quick scarf as a pressie maybe.  I came across a stash of King Cole Big Value Chunky acrylic yarn I'd used for a previous project - hmmmmm, that looks good for a scarf maybe??  Quick dash onto Ravelry to see what came up for this yarn - came across a lovely pattern which I happened to have in a book already - bingo!!

Well, before I knew it I was standing in the middle of a guddle of craft stuff and yarn, hook in hand and a yummy ball of bright pink chunky wool . . . . . . there's no time like the present!

The pattern is Chunky Seashell Scarf by Nicki Trench (Cute and Easy Crochet).  Isn't it great when you can start a project there and then, LOL :)

This is a lovely easy pattern using a 7 mm hook - I think I'm really going to enjoy it, and it's working up a treat today already . . .

I've copied out the two main rows of the pattern so I don't have to lug the book around the house while I crochet! . . .

I've just returned to this book in the last week or so . . . . really lovely patterns!  I bought it initially when I was a beginner crocheter so only made some quite basic patterns.  Looking at it last weekend though I decided to have a go at the Russian dolls near the back of the book.  This was a lovely weekend project - I made the largest of the four dolls - it was a treat to make . . .

I'm not sure if she'll be a gift or not yet, but I loved making her and hope to make the rest of the set later - perhaps a Xmas holiday project?  I hiccuped a bit at the reverse double crochet stitch (which I Googled later) in the pattern, but managed to fudge a bit of a fix up!

I'm waiting for some yarn to make some other Xmas gifts (also inspired by this book!) so I'll share them with you soon I hope :)  (Or maybe just a sneaky peek!)

I was really disturbed by the TV images of the Black Friday shopping mania in other parts of the UK last Friday - VERY scary stuff, thankfully we didn't have scenes like that here in the Hebrides!  I'm avoiding the shopping queues until I really have to :) :)  How about you?

Bye for Now . . .
Alison xx

Saturday, 15 November 2014

A little bit of Xmas crafting . . .

I can't remember what led me to Little Treasures shop/blog on Thursday, but whatever it was it led me to purchase a lovely pattern for crochet snowflakes, which I spied previously.  I know you can get lots of free snowflake patterns on the internet, but her patterns are so beautifully written and illustrated, they really are for keeps :)  I wasn't disappointed with my purchase, and it came with a freebie 'holly and berries' pattern - how cute was that!

It was great to just get on with some self-indulgent crafting!  I set to making the snowflake (there are two in the pattern BTW) straight away, using some 4 ply cotton yarn from my stash.  Later in the evening, I couldn't resist having a go with the holly and berry pattern, using some DK acrylic yarn and a 3.5 mm hook.

A little close-up of both creations (the berries are filled with polyfil stuffing) . . .

and the snowflake (I used a 3 mm hook and Lyric Puppets cotton 8/4) . . .

Just for info - I spray starched the snowflake once it was finished using Dylon spray starch - it worked quite nicely.

Some possible uses for the holly and berry decoration - adding them to one of my crochet slippers perhaps, hehe  . . .

A little bit OTT, but I was having a bit of fun by this point!

A little summary . . .

I had a little play-around with adding one snowflake to a card, which worked quite well too :)

I'm so chuffed with both these patterns!  Great for adding to Chrismas gifts, or just to add a little festive touch around the house - I'd definitely recommend trying them out.

It's a stunning, calm day here in the Hebrides - you can see the Scottish mainland hills very clearly, just gorgeous!

Wouldn't it be nice to get some lovely, mild winter weather - we'd better make the most of today in any case!

Cheerio an Drasda :)
Alison x

Thursday, 6 November 2014

A Change of Plan . . . .

A whole month without blogging - yes I do have a decent explanation though, honest!  After much head-scratching, soul-searching (well, just a little bit!), humming and ahhhh . . . ing, and all manner of other metaphors, I have finally decided to lay 'Tweed Delights' to rest. Eventually the retail side of my tweedie crafting antics has gradually petered out, just as my interest in a much wider range of crafts eg. crochet, embroidery, sock-knitting, fair isle knitting, etc. has expanded.  

So no more 'Tweed Delights' - my website has gone, but I now hope to continue with my crafting and blogging.  The journey continues, but in a slightly different direction!  Perhaps I will now get time to line this tweed jacket I made over 20 years ago - it has hung in my wardrobe all that time (how's that for a W.I.P.  - work in progress, hehe).  I'd also love to make another pair of these Egyptian Socks by Nancy Bush, which I knitted last Winter - I'm thinking another pair in red and white this time - they were such a joy to make : )

So no more online selling, but lots more personal crafting to come I hope :)

October Holidays seem a long way ago now, but we enjoyed ours anyway.  A lovely visit to Glasgow preceded by a chilled out week at home, being vaguely domesticated.  Scones, crochet, and big mugs of tea . . . .

Well, must dash now and catch up with eight years of housework! Yikes, yes, eight years since Tweed Delights started - where did that time go?? :)  Anyway, I'm pleased how things have evolved and I'm looking forward to a smooth transaction from craft retail to . . . . well, more crafting adventures - wherever they take me!  I'll keep you update here at any rate :) :)

(I have accrued a huge amount of crafty skills over the past few years - my thoughts right now are how to maintain and adapt these skills, to share them perhaps - lots of Tweed Thoughts!)

Cheerio an Drasda, and see you soon I hope :)
Alison x

P.S.  A HUGE thankyou to all my lovely customers/friends, over the last few years - you are the BEST! xx