Sunday, 29 April 2018

Sock knitting and spectacle cases . . .

Sock knitting and spectacle cases - now if that's not a sign of my age, I don't know what is! :)  :)

Seriously, sock knitting is an ongoing passion and source of great relaxation and a constant learning process.  Also, you don't need much yarn to make a pair of socks, so it's a relatively cheap hobby!

Here's my last completed pair of knitted socks - a wonderful pattern by Nancy Bush, called French Market socks - never thought I would achieve making these but I did - I was delighted with them . . .


I read up all the notes from other knitters on Ravelry before starting on these - really useful, and they fitted perfectly :)

Currently working on these socks (Lambs, Chickens and Bunnies Oh My! by Ros Clark) - great fun to knit . . .


Both socks have a Latvian braid cast on - basically twisting three different colours of yarn together - looks very cute.  I braided the yarns left to form a little toggle detail at the back of the sock - just to be a little different!

Last week I decided it was time to get the sewing machine out and do some 'tweedie' work.  The last cosmetic purse I made made me think, if it was just a little narrower it would be prefect for storing spectacles/glasses as it's very well padded, so off I went to designing a few spectacle cases.  I came up with three designs all based on some previous collage work . . . a sneaky peak . . .


My eldest son helped me with my labels yesterday - I thought they came out quite cute! 

I'm hoping to add these three designs to my Etsy shop next week - that's the plan anyway!  At least one more design in the pipeline (maybe two) based on previous artwork.

I would love to add some hand knits to my shop too but struggling with the time constraints of doing both sewing and knitted items - heigh, ho!

I thought our two cute hens had stopped laying a couple of weeks ago but seemingly not - it's been lovely going out to collect the eggs in this nice sunny weather . . .


Enjoying the simple things in life this morning . . . daffies growing outside the kitchen door :)


Catch up soon (youngest has been 'borrowing' my laptop hence sparse blogging activity!)  Here's to shorter, more regular posts :)

Alison x


Thursday, 22 March 2018

. . . . Well that was a long, unintentional break :)

I might very well be talking to myself here after such a long absence but never mind . . . . a very unintentional break from crafting and blogging - I think my last post was in August 2017!

Lots of stuff meant that my crafting activity changed - lots more knitting and crochet due to less time/space to get the sewing machine out or to consider any commercial work.  

Must admit that I slipped back into 'Mummy mode' a bit when my eldest returned from university after graduating last year.  I've really enjoyed having both my boys at home but it has meant less 'head-space' for keeping up my blog although I have done a LOT of colour work knitting and the usual crochet projects : )

The last few months have been a bit difficult however as my youngest was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition which flummoxed us for quite a long time.  He was finally diagnosed with Addison's disease last month after being referred to our local hospital with unusual symptoms.  Addison's is a rare endocrine disorder where your adrenal glands no longer function - it is a life threatening condition but treatable with daily medication.  God Bless the NHS - I can't praise the fantastic care he received during his 4 day stay at the Western Isles hospital - they were all lovely, doctos, nurses, auxiliaries alike - couldn't fault his care one bit - just amazing :)

Both my boys have now been diagnosed with autoimmune conditions in their teenage years - eldest with Type 1 Diabetes (5 years ago) and now my youngest with Addison's.  Happy to say that they are both doing well . . . . their mother . . . . well, let's just say I've just about come to terms with this recent turn of events.  Onwards and upwards! :) :)  Just grateful they are both doing well and keeping us, er . . .  entertained/exasperated in their 'normal' teenage/'young-adult' ways - pheeew!

Having got all that off my chest, my two lovely hens have been keeping me amused - during the very cold weather snap recently I thought they'd gone 'off-lay' but not a bit of it!  I found a lovely hoard of eggs underneath our oil tank . . . 


I think some omelettes are on the cards, hehe :)

Previous to the aforementioned family health issue, earlier in the year I finished this colour work scarf which has been well worn for trips to feeding the hens, collecting eggs etc. 


Taken from a pattern called the 'Popham Neck Warmer' on Ravelry - great fun and I added several of my own colour work motifs - Scottie Dog, Wee Hoose, and Hen (adapted from an online version).

I might use my own motifs in other knitted projects eg. zipper bags, etc.

Another very quick project was these foxy mittlets - done as a wee break from the scarf - it was also great fun, but tricky in parts using 4 different colours at certain points - quite challenging! . . . 



I haven't worn the foxy mitts when out feeding the hens though . . . . I don't think they would like it and might definitely go "off-lay"!  Another Ravelry free pattern - I highly recommend it :)

BTW how cute is this bunny pattern from Julie Harrison - I'm very tempted!

Well, nice to be back blogging - I might even get some crafting done today - if I have time after writing this post hehe :) :)

Cheerio an Drasda
Alison x

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