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 :) :)

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Go granny squares :)

It's all been about granny squares this week.  A three week break from any kind of crafting (well that did feel a bit odd - not quite right!) finally ended when I picked up a lovely book in the library last weekend.  A very wet/dreich afternoon in Stornoway saw me dashing in to our local library to see if they had any nice craft books and they did - excellent!  I picked up Crochet Squares by Susan Pinner -a lovely inspiring book full of great granny square project patterns.

It didn't take long before I was, well . . . . grannying away!

I love this granny square pattern.  I'm using some oddments from my stash of worsted weight yarn (a US weight somewhere between DK and aran) - I've acquired various colours in this weight from crocheting beanies, slippers, scarves, etc using American patterns.  A couple of balls of yarn leftover from Christmas crafting which didn't quite get done in time too!  

The author of the book seems to use two yarns held together (one merino DK and one acrylic DK) quite often but I found that using my worsted weight did the job.  I am using two yarns held together for the cream background as I came across some DK acrylic yarn in a VERY OLD stash of  yarn (recovered from the family home when we were clearing it out a number of years ago) and also some lovely bottle green yarn from this same stash - this should give my crochet blanket some  "genuine vintage granny" credentials - don't you think!

My plan is only to use what's in my stash - the beauty of it is that is contains all my favourite colours of course!  Mostly I'm using quite soft landscape colours - greens, browns, mustardy yellows, a little dash of beige, and to add a little 'pop' to my colour scheme I'm adding a cheerful sky blue in small amounts here and there.  The lovely soft pink and golden yellow are Vannas Choice I think - purchased to make crcochet slippers, but alas . . . . anyhow they haven't gone to waste now!

This is a fab book - I think it will be one to buy for my craft book collection when my birthday comes around later in the summer as I really don't want to have to return it to the library!

I'm using a 5.5 mm hook with my worsted weight yarn (and sometimes doubled up yarns) - each of my sqaures measures about 13.5 cm (about 5.25").  If I make 100 squares I would have a blanket approx 135 cm x 135 cm - that would be cool for a bed throw I'm thinking - I'm being VERY optimistic though but I'm going to see how it goes - it's a great background project anyway, yippee!

Here's where I am so far . . . .

I started this as I was waiting for some yarn to arrive for a special knitted project for myself.  This yarn has arrived but I've got so wrapped up in my blanket (ooops, pardon the pun!), it''s been sidestepped a bit - I'll leave it for another post :)

Do you think I'll ever finish my blanket - it would be great if I could.  I'm thinking it will be a lovely Summer project to pick up and drop whenever the notion takes me.

Speak soon
Alison x

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Tiglar complete!

Ta Dah!  My Tiglar sweater is complete and now gifted so I can put it on my blog :)  Mot sure that my photos do it justice but anyway this first one is one I took the day I finished it - a lovely sunny Spring day!  (not sure what's happened to our weather since then - it's almost back to Winter now, so good lopapeysa weather) . . .

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out - it was a perfect fit as I used an existing sweater as a template.  The only finishing to do once I'd completed the pattern was to graft the underarm stitches together using kitchener stitch (and darn in loose ends of course). This is a technique I'm well used to during my sock knitting so it stood me in good stead - I still follow written instructions for it though!  It gives a lovely neat finish and it worked well - no lumpy, bulky underarm seams. 

Love that this style of sweater is done entirely in the round and in one piece - I'd definitely make another one :)

If you're thinking of making a lopapeysa, I'd definitely recommend giving it a go - they're great fun and quite straightforward (you might need good arm and shoulder muscles though - they become quite heavy by the time you reach the neck shaping!)

See you soon!
Alison x

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Good progress and a little backtracking . . .

As per usual I got so involved with my lopapeysa/icelandic sweater project that I did not manage to chart my progress as I went, but here's the next part of the 'story' . . .

I finished the main part of the sweater (using an exisiting sweater as a template for sizing - that's the grey one underneath BTW) . . .

So that was the body ready, now for the sleeves . . .

I made two, of course, hehe!  Nothing too challenging so far - just getting used to stranded colour knitting on much larger needles than I'm used to!  Basic increasing every 12th row - nothing tricky, just keep counting!

OK, so now we have a body and two sleeves ready for joining together, that's the fun part Yay! . . .

You now join the everything together on your main circular needle (the one the body is knitted on) - you leave a few stitches from each sleeve on a holder to be sewn up later.  Your sweater is now getting quite cumbersome to carry - it's quite a heavyweight! . . .

The instructions to join the parts together were fairly straightforward - well I managed it anyway - I definitely broke sweat at this point though, pheeeeew!.

It's now time to follow the colour chart for the yoke - this was the part I was looking forward to!  The knitting up of the main parts can get a little boring but this yarn knits up fast :)  I was a little worried about my knitting tension of the colour work - some online advice suggested going up a bigger size of needle but I decided to keep my knitting tension loose instead - this was a little tricky but turned out well . . .

So strange doing colour work on these big needles - it was a challenge to keep everything nice and even.  I decided to strand in some of the longer floats at the back after much ummming and ahhhhing.  This website was reassuring  re floats though so I didn't fret toooooo much - when in Iceland and all that (yes, I know I'm not but you know what I mean - I was trying to be authentic!)

Anyway it's all gone swimmingly - I'll reveal the finished sweater next week after the recipient receives it.  If it's too small  . . . . well I could wear it myself!

See you next week with the finished sweater - hurray!!  BTW I'm making this one here by Vedis Jonsdottir :) Great pattern :)
Alison x

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Lopi Love :)

I got this lovely bundle of yarn in the post this week . . .

It made me very happy indeed!  I'd spent a lot of time thinking about this yarn - should I buy, should I not?  I can't really afford it but . . . .  Anyway to cut a long story short I've had a little craving to make a Lopi sweater for a few weeks now - not sure where it came from, some Ravelry inspiration probably!  Anyway I realized it was Other Half's birthday next month - I had my raison d'etre or rather an excuse! to go ahead and buy the yarn to make him a sweater.  Actually I bought half this month and will buy the other half next month - split the cost, needs must!

Yarn arrived on Tuesday lunchtime . . . I had the sweater started on the needles by the afternoon, hehe!  Was in fact the day my eldest was going back to Uni - so the knitting was keeping me calm and relaxed in between packing duties!  Here's the start of the Lopapeysa (icelandic sweater - I've been doing my usual research!) . . . 

I'm really happy with the colour combinations - sorry, they're not quite clear here, but they are a charcoally black (black sheep heather to be exact!), off-white/natural (ecru heather) and a lovely earthly mossy green.  I'm using a sweater pattern from a Lopi yarn booklet I bought last month - oodles of lovely icelandic sweaters, cardigans, hoodies - swooooooon!

Here's the stage of knitting today - not far off from finishing the main body of the sweater which is knit in the round . . .

I really love this yarn - it's chunky weight so knits up fast and is really warm and lightweight.  I'm sure there was a craze in the late nineties? here in the Hebrides for these sweaters, I don't know anyone personally who owns one though so I'm very excited to be making one.  It's all going swimmingly so far- fingers crossed!  The patterned yoke will be the biggest challenge so I'll have to take extra care then :)

We should all be wearing Lopapeysas today - look at the snow here, brrrrrrrrr! . . .

Poor wee lambs will be shivering next door!

Will keep you posted on my lopapeysa progress - such a lovely knit :)
Cheerio an Drasda!
Alison x

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Happy Easter Bunny :)

I'm a very happy Easter Bunny as I've finished my Easter socks - Yay!!

Here they are and they fit just perfick . . .

These were a joy to knit - very straightforward pattern.  The self striping yarn does all the work for you.  I decided not to try and make them match exactly as I thought it would be fun to see how the colours worked on the second sock - if you look closely you can see the difference - subtle, eh!?:)

I love the flea stitch pattern on the sole too - very toasty!

It took me far longer to complete the second sock as I decided to take a leisurely pace and enjoy my Easter Hols with my boys, which I did! :) :)

We had some lovely sunny (but windy!) weather here in the Hebrides and I enjoyed a plod or two out the moor track beside our home.  Everything went at a very leisurely pace - no work or school deadlines or timescales to meet - just nice relaxed mealtimes, some homemade muffins here and there - I enjoyed my 'staycation' on the croft very much, hehe!

Hope you had or are having a nice Easter break too . . . 

See you soon :)
Alison x