Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Still trying to play 'catch up' with my crafty goings on . . . .

My crafting escapades are jogging along apace at the moment . . . . just don't seem to get the time to blog about any of them!  I still haven't shown my tweedie makes which will be added to the shop soon I hope.  I did, ahem, jump into another personal project as I was so pleased with my lace shawl that I wanted to try another one with some yarn I had in my stash for sock-knitting.  It never got used as it was quite fine and I couldn't really be bothered making socks on such small needles - lazybones!

Here's the second shawl blocking beside my ugly toes, hee hee! . . .

This is yet another very ornate shawl - almost Victorian in style, but a very fun knit.  Again I used only one ball of yarn which I think is part of the attraction!

A little close up . . . .

The lace opened up beautifully after blocking as you can see above.  I pinned out all the peaks individually - a bit back breaking but worth it in the end.  This one was called Haruni Shawl by Emily Ross - you can see it here.

I sort of  flew through this one in a week and a half - I just couldn't wait to see how it turned out :)

I'm now going to 'behave' and slow down a bit and concentrate on 'shop' things - I promise!

In between all that, youngest had a birthday . . . 

He's such a fun kid - all 14 years of him! (Not really 'Little S' anymore as I used to refer to him here!)

Here he is with 'Ji-ji' the cat on his birthday - she looks a little restless!
Well, must dash and NOT do any more crafty stuff until I get a bit more organised - who am I kidding, it's not going to happen!

Cheerio an Drasda :)
Alison x

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Learning Lace - a lovely journey!

Helllloooo again after a long extended Summer break :)  I've waited until both my boys got back to school/Uni before I started blogging/crafting in earnest - that's not to say I haven't been crafting over the Summer!  I concentrated on two larger personal projects - my crochet quilt, which is all ready to be sewn together (that's another post I think!) and a second project which I didn't even think I'd embark on, let alone finish.

Here's a detail of the project . . . .

I wish I could have documented this project but the Summer flew by and I didn't really want to spend time on my laptop while we were all on holiday.  I showed a ball of Malabrigo Sock Yarn in an earlier post which I had earmarked to make this shawl by Jenny Johnson Johnen.  To be honest I really wasn't sure I'd get round to making it as I'd missed the deadline I'd intended to make it for - I had decided it would be for me! (well , why not :)).

This is a really beautiful pattern which I thought would be beyond my capabilities but I think it's very well written and having made two shawls earlier in the year, I had a bit of background knowledge.

After a few false starts I finally got underway - it didn't take long before I realised that 'lifelines' were going to be a very good idea!  This is the practice of inserting a length of yarn/thread after completing a correct pattern sequence and if you've ever tried knitting lace you'll know that unravelling work is a nightmare!  Trying to pick up stitches where there are yarn overs (which create the holes in your lace) is to my mind almost impossible.  I used a darning needle and some white sock yarn for my lifeline after each correct pattern repeat - you know then that you can unravel the work to the point your pattern was correct - pheeeeew!  It's worth the bother believe me :)

Anyhoo, enough technicalities - here's the finished shawl before blocking it - looks a little bit rubbish doesn't it??

The lacework tends to scrunch up as you are using larger knitting needles with fine yarn.  Believe me I was delighted to have reached this point though - I think it took about 3 weeks to complete, but a wonderful learning process.  The pattern has Estonian Lace elements, using 'nupps' - sort of bobbles which add texture to the open lace.  Anyway once finished I couldn't wait to block it - this opens up the lace magically!  I simply immersed the finished shawl in lukewram water for 20-30 minutes and gently squeezed the excess water by placing it on a large towel, rolling it up and stepping on it (barefoot!).  It was then ready to pin out - stretching the scallops out and pinning a straight edge - voila!  After leaving overnight . . . .

Sorry not very good pics!!  Here's more detail of the lace itself  though . . .

I am really happy with this shawl - it was a great learning experience and weirdly turned out exactly as I wanted it to!  Size, colour, everything!

I did intend to get someone to take a photo but ended up taking it myself - never mind!  My shawl and I are very happy, hehe!

And all from one ball of sock yarn - I call that magic!

I think I will definitely making more lace shawls - Yay!

Here's the Malabrigo Sock Yarn (Ochre) before I wound it u p into a ball - I wrapped it round the back of two chairs in my kitchen to wind it up.

The shade was Ochre - it looks mustardy in some pics but is really a lovely old yellowy gold colour - just gorgeous!  I used a 5 mm needle and it created a nice open lace texture for the final piece.

The moral of the story is - don't be frightened of knitting lace!  It's magic :)

I'll be back with some tweedie makes for my shop later in the week - it wasn't ALL fun and games over the summer, well actually tweedie work IS fun and games too!

Cheerio an Drasda :)
Alison x

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Lovely Port of Ness

We took a drive up to the Port of Ness this week.  The harbour is very scenic and the entrance is built into the natural rock formation.  Port of Ness is the most northerly village in the Isle of Lewis, about 34 miles (ish!) from my home on the East coast of the island (and about 27 miles from Stornoway - more importantly probably!).

I like the quaint feel of the village as you drive up to the harbour - the houses are quite tightly packed together giving it a cosy 'fishing village' atmosphere, quite different from the sprawling open village I live in. (Sorry no pics en route - I must have just been enjoying the scenery and didn't think to stop and take some snaps - next time, maybe!)

I'd love to see the harbour in a gale - it would look very dramatic :)  It was a lovely calm day when we visited though!

Personally, I'd love to live in the big house overlooking the harbour :) :)
. . . although I have a perfectly lovely seaview myself!

The sea was a stunning aquamarine colour - just beautiful!  We took a meandering drive back out of Ness through some little 'out of the way' villages.  

You can read more and see more photos of Port of Ness here on Undiscovered Scotland's website.   That's my 'touristy' post done!  I'll be back with some crafty updates next week when I'm back in the throes of my craft biz  :) 

Bye for now!
Alison x

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Getting organised . . . . . or how much of your workspace to show!

I can't believe how the Summer holidays have flown past!  We have split our holidays this summer, having a week at the start of the school break and just about to have another week and a half  to round things off!  In between we've had some lovely visits from family so not so much time for intensive crafting.  Instead I've ended up tweaking my new website and organising my workspace in preparation for some serious work as soon as the school summer break is over.

Here's  a few pics of some of my favourite things in my workspace . .

(Vintage Singer Sewing machine, knitting swatches, the family button tin, sock knitting books, etc . . . )

my 'modern' sewing machine surrounded by WIPs all ready to go!

My 'new' craft unit, still to have some shelving added, but just perfick!

I still love to have things in baskets for easy viewing though :)

Some doilies on display and a little embroidery piece - for inspiration.

You can tell I like my new shelving unit!  So good I showed it twice :)

Some sock yarn - oh, the possibilities!
That's all folks, hehe!
Actually the last image of one of my tweed babushkas is added because I've been retaking some images for the shop.  My big sis informed me my background photography was a bit well, er . . . . 'pants'!  You can always rely on family to be honest, haha!! :) :)  I'm beginning to realise/remember how many 'hats' you have to wear to run a crafts business - photographer, IT person, marketing manager, etc, etc. - yikes!

Hope you're enjoying a lovely summer break if you are having one.  We had to take Ji-ji, our new kitten for her vaccines a couple of weeks ago and will be taking her back for the next one while we're on our hols.  She's been such a pleasure to have around - I added her to my profile pic, she's so cute!

I'll report back when we're all holidayed out :) :)  (My Shop is still open though!)
Alison x

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Griddle scones anyone?

Last Sunday evening we had a major disaster- no snacks in the house, and my oven for some reason has just given up the ghost, so no quick bakes either!  What to do - two grumpy teenagers looking for any kind of snack - Oh Dear!

I remembered my old griddle pan lying dormant in the back of the cupboard - I've not used it that much but it suddenly came into its own.  I told my youngest triumphantly that I would make some griddle (or girdle) scones.  I had no clue how to make girdle scones but after a quick Google search it seemed that your usual oven scone recipe (which I make regularly) woud do the trick - pheeeew :)

Here they are in all their glory . . .

They don't rise as much as oven scones and they are more crisp on the top and bottom due to the dry heat of the griddle pan.

They didn't lie around for long . . .

What a life saver, hehe!  Two hungry teenagers appeased :)

Think I might be using the griddle pan again quite soon. Thinking about the scones reminded me of the old Rayburn cookery book I rescued from the family home before it was sold a few years ago.  Most Hebridean houses had a Rayburn stove - it wasn't a status thing, like the 'Aga' is today, it was just a household essential - a kitchen didn't seem the same without a stove in it!  We burned peat in it mostly and it was ''banked' up every evening, to be easier lit the next day.

This book is almost as old as me . . . ahem!

I think this must have been a favourite page - a few splashes here and there . . .

I don't ever remember having 'Bakewell Tart' - that sounds a bit too 'posh'! but I'm sure we had plenty butterfly or fairy cakes.

Here's the last page . . .

Our rayburn stove was a sort of light blue colour - it was very good for pancakes too I seem to remember (made on top of the stove) - ah, I'm getting all nostalgic!  I must make time to look through the book sometime :)

I've been busy sock-making (you can see the finished wellington socks in the side bar) and generally getting back into crafty mode.  A little techy stuff with my Big Cartel store has been taking up a little time - but I'm pleased how it's going and I think it's looking OK - their customer service/support is excellent by the way.  I've still to get stuff into Etsy but I will! (sorry, but I put the socks in my Big Cartel store in the end - I had to make an executive decision, hehe!).

Anyhow it's school hols so we're all a bit more relaxed - Yay! :)  Hope you're enjoying some nice weather - it's all very hit and miss here - never mind!  (more 'miss' than 'hit' -hmmmmmph)

Speak soon
Alison x

P.S.  Note to self - must get the oven fixed, Oh Dear! (the good news is that the grill still works LOL) I should get a Rayburn :)

Friday, 3 July 2015

Making, thinking, planning, playing . . .

I couldn't decide what to call my blog post today, so I tried to call it everything I've been up to over the last two weeks!  Well, 'making' has been as usual the main aim - I'm trying to get some hand-knits in to my Etsy shop (Yarns on the Croft), primarily at the moment a pair of handknit wellington boot socks as they are quintessentially a Hebridean accessory - wellington boots are essential for many purposes here on the Isle of Lewis - from crofters, to gardeners, to just general mucking about - we all have wellies!

Here's the start of the pair I'm working on - a medium/large size mens boot sock - long enough to tuck into your wellies (of course!) . . 

One completed last weekend and hopefully the other after this weekend - it's not really knitting weather at the moment so I'm doing these in the evenings and in between other projects.

As knitting is quite time consuming - I've been 'thinking and planning' about some other textile creations I can make alongside.  Yesterday I made this little tweedie/vintage corsage brooch . . . 

The colours were lovely to work with and I enjoyed rummaging in my doily collection for bits and pieces - it will go in my Etsy shop soon when I have enough items to make it look decent!

A lot of 'thinking and planning' going on but at the end of the day I hadn't taken out the sewing machine so I decided to whip up a little coin purse just to make myself feel productive!  It turned out quite cute though (I embellished it with a crochet flower, handstitched in place)  . . . 

I seem to have picked up on similar colour schemes of blues, browns and greens - as you can see I pulled out some of my older Japanese designer cottons - I like how the little puppy is just peeking out of the zipper there, hehe :)

Sometimes I'm feeling I'm not getting a huge amount of work done especially as both my boys are now on Summer break but I'm sure I'll speed up soon!  We have a very exciting new addition to the family though who is having us all 'playing' and here she is . . . 

Ji-ji (it's a Japanese name seemingly!) arrived last weekend and we all absolutely adore her.  After holding my ground with a list of excuses why we couldn't have a cat for many years I finally caved in and I think I'm as smitten with her as everyone else in the house (even although I'm a little allergic it seems!).  Anyway we love her to bits, but she's not allowed anywhere near my craft-room although she would dearly love to get in there :)  She is adorable though isn't she!

Well, starting a new crafts business and getting a kitten does seem a bit, well - mad!, but I think it will be lovely to have a bit of company when I'm working at home on my own after the Summer break is over.  
She would love to be amongst my yarn and fabrics but sorry 'Ji-ji' it ain't going to happen much as I love you :) :)

You can see in the photo above that she likes a game of Trivial Pursuits - clever cat!

Hope you have a lovely weekend - I'm planning to take it easy, with just a little knitting and crochet here and there (maybe!) - Cheerio!

Alison x

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Starting afresh . . . :)

A bit of a time-lapse on my blog since the beginning of the month. But so much happening!

After months of continual crafting, knitting, crocheting, I realised I'd forgotten to stop creating even although I was no longer operating as a crafts business (having closed down last year for various reasons - too long a story!).  Well, I thought, it seems if you're going to carry on regardless - you might as well see if anyone wants to buy any of this stuff!  So after my hiatus I finally came to the conclusion that a new start was inevitable.  A bit of a scary decision but one I'm glad I've made.  

I have now started a new crafting venture called 'Handmade on the Croft'.  This venture will have more of a focus on handmade crafts with a strong emphasis on traditional crafts such as knitting, crochet, embroidery, intermingled with creative textile crafts (Yes, my beloved Harris Tweed will still feature!).  It's really just a gentle transition from my love of creating handmade textile crafts in home to selling online and possibly to retail outlets.  

I've opened a Big Cartel Shop entitled Handmade on the Croft (just click on the image of the sheep in  my sidebar) and an Etsy shop called Yarns on the Croft where I plan to sell more of my 'yarny' type creations eg. knitting, crochet, etc.but I'm sure I'll sneak in some creative textile stuff there too :)

I'm now ready to go (after confronting the perils of setting up my Paypal checkout for both shops - oooops that was a bit scary!).  Enough of the business, blah, blah, blah - I'm up and running again.

Here's a detail of one of my tweedie collages in my Big Cartel shop (items are still to be made available but will be in the next few days, once I get my postal rates finalised - ah, the finer details!) . . . 

That's all the biz news - the personal crafty stuff in general is still going on.  Here's my very satisfying pile of crochet squares beside my sewing machine . . .

. . ., and beside this some lovely Malabrigo sock yarn which was going to be my background project (ie. a lace shawl for me!) before the 'grannying' took over.  I'll have to reserve this for later on in the year I think . . .

. . . It is lovely though and I have such a gorgeous pattern waiting in the wings for making this into a shawl.

And today, at the last count I have 34 granny squares - ie. almost 4 rows (I have to make 10 rows to complete the cover) . . .

Great fun and a real challenge to make every square different - so far so good :)

Well, that's my update - back to crafting online.  A bit of a vintage vibe going on in my shop I think you'll agree - my collection of lace doilies has been well and truly utilised :)  I had a lovely time designing these items though.  More on them later, once they've been made available to purchase.  My Etsy shop is empty at the moment until I get some yarny goodness in there - we'll get there though!

Thank goodness it's the end of school term - I have the whole of the Summer hols to get to grips with crafty biz again - hurray! :)

Speak soon,
Alison x

P.S.  Sorry for such a blurby, text-laden post - we're over it! - back to shorter crafty posts and the odd shop update here and there :)  Thankyou for following this em, rather bumpy, unpredictble crafty journey of mine - well, it never gets boring, hehe :) :)