Thursday, 20 December 2012

my creative space . . . . my last post this year!

Pheeeew, it's getting so close to the 'Big Day', I really must make this my last post . . . . where on earth did December go?  - it flew right past me without me noticing!!  I did mention that I had a little crafty project on the 'coal burner', but it really is a VERY little project, but one I keep meaning to try every Christmas and never have done before.  Still in progress, as I intend to play around a bit, and make some more of these . . .

As you  can seen the second orange doesn't even have any cloves in it yet - I'm still experimenting!  I love the smell of oranges and cloves and last year I bought a ready-made orange 'pomander' from the lovely craft unit at my college office job - it must have struck a chord because I decided to have a go myself.  I'm photographing them outside on a lovely frosty morning here : )

and hanging from a fir-tree in the garden . . .

I'm planning to try and make some table decorations with them, or perhaps a candle-feature - just a fun, easy thing to do in the last few days before Christmas.  Here's some of the links  I came across online to give some ideas on how to make them - of course the proper way to do them is a few weeks beforehand so they dry out properly - maybe next year ;-)

Easy to Make Christmas Decorations
The History of Pomanders
Orange and Clove Christmas Decorations
Hot to Make Orange and Clove Pomanders
Make it:  Orange and Clove Candle Holders

Well folks, I'm off to have a try at some 'orangey-clovey' decorations!  I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and fun New Year!  

Thanks to all for another bloggy fun-filled crafty year :) :)

I will 'see' you in 2013 - doesn't that sound weird!!!!

More crafty peeps here, sharing their wonderful 'makes' - MERRY CHRISTMAS/NOLLAIG CHRIDHEIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Alison xx

Monday, 17 December 2012

Wildlife on the croft

We've had the most beautiful, mild  winter weather here in the Outer Hebrides over the weekend and again today - just beautiful, it makes Christmas shopping so much easier :)  I popped outside on Saturday to try and take a photo of a beautiful little Robin Redbreast which has been visiting the garden for the last few weeks - I'm not sure if it's the same one, but in my head it is!  I got a little distracted by this scary creature in next door's croft though - he's a bit of a brute! . . .

. . . and a front view . . .

. . . sorry, blurry pictures - he was making me a little nervous - just look at these horns!  His fleece is a funny ochre colour - obviously this ram has been brought in to em . . . 'service' the sheep, I guess it's that time of year, but I can't say I'm very well up on the breeding habits of sheep - I'd really rather not know LOL :)

I thought it was very sweet that my neighbour has painted his flock in lovely festive colours though, hehe!  They look very pretty . . .

Again, more to do with, er, that scary looking ram - poor sheep!!  I don't know what the different colours of marking mean - don't go there :-0

Anyway they all looked very pretty on a glorious Saturday morning :)

I finished my 'camouflage' beanie, which fits 'Little S' perfectly but as I suspected he wasn't too keen - "it's too scratchy,' he said, I think it's a little too girly, despite the colours, the spiral design isn't 'boyish' enough . .

The magazine in the background 'Handmade Living' is really lovely - I bought it last week when I 'chickened out' of doing some Christmas shopping and beat a hasty retreat home with it, hehe!  I love this project in it for making ice-mobiles - it's featured in a book called 'Nature's Playground' - a really lovely idea for Wintry weather (which we currently don't have!) . . . 

I might try it with 'Little S' if we ever get some snow and ice! (and I can wean him off his Game console!)  You simply gather some leaves, berries, or other organic material and freeze them in dishes of water, adding string to join them -  freeze overnight and voila!! (Use pastry cutters for interesting shapes)  Cool, eh?

I did eventually get - a  very blurry - pic of that elusive Robin - they are so sweet . . . 

I'm sure it's the same one that keeps 'visiting' me - my very own 'special' Christmas Robin - everyone should have one LOL!

Off to post my parcels and cards later today - and hope to get some supplies for a little crafty project - if I manage it, I'll share it with you :) :)

Bye for now :)
Alison  x

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A bit of this . . . and a bit of that :)

Not a very original title for a blog post, but I've been busy doing lots of bits and pieces of things lately!  I seem to be a bit overly relaxed about Christmas this year - enjoying my crafting experiments so  much, but I have lots of crafty bits 'n pieces which will no doubt find their way into some Christmas parcels, so it's all good :) :)

The socks are finished - Van Gogh's masterpiece on my feet - who'd have  thought, hehe . . .

They are quite toasty, especially if you warm them  up on the top of the heater first - good for warming up the tootsies on a cold day . . .

The beach-ball is stuffed (but still not in the shop, maybe soon though, so difficult getting good shots on these darker days!) . . . 

I think the colours worked nicely together though - you really need to eat your porridge before stuffing these beach-balls, it's a bit of a feat of  strength and sheer determination!  I'm happy how it turned out though :)

(. . . and, yes, I had my porridge this morning, hehe!)

This week I'm onto a quick project of a knitted beanie, for ?????  Whoever it fits, most likely, and it seems to fit 'Little S's' head quite well so far (so it's a small beanie!) - he was quite obliging about letting me try it on him with the knitting needles still in place!  I love the colours of this yarn, but it's a devil to work with, like knitting with candy-floss, slips and slides all over the place, I'm using a free pattern from Ravelry knitwear designer, LoveHestia (you can see it here though) called the Hurricane Hat as  it has a spiral pattern, quite contemporary I think - we'll see how it turns out :) . . . 

I bought the yarn (Mochi Plus) as I'd been looking for some camouflage-type colours over the last year, and this is the closest I'd seen - I think it's more fern/forest-like, but interesting to work with. 

What . . . ,. Christmas is two weeks away!!!!  Don't panic, it's all in hand - she says optimistically :)  I'm not sure that I can stop knitting for long enough to complete all  my preparations - it's cool though, it's a very good way of keeping calm throughout the madness.  Hope your prep is all going well too :)

I'll leave with you a pic of the beautiful sunrise we had  here today . . 

Please excuse the bit of washing-line in the foreground!
Alison x

Thursday, 6 December 2012

My Creative Space . . . what's on my 'to-do' list today

Sorry for a very blurry pic today!  (it's very dark in the Hebrides today - oooooohhhhh!)    I'm hoping to stuff this 'tweedie' beach ball today  - it's been a WIP (work in progress) for longer than I care to remember :)  In between I'll be picking up my Van Gogh sock project - we're almost done, yippee!!  Once I started on them, well . . . I just couldn't stop hehe :)  I've really enjoyed my sock-knitting spree - these will be finished this weekend hopefully.  It's been taking me a couple of weeks on average to finish a pair, and I have to say that I love making them!  Can I now officially call myself a 'sock-knitter'?  

Sock-knitters seem to have a slightly separate identity from any other kind of knitters - I'm very eager to be invited into their world! (I think I'm bonkers enough LOL!)  I think what appeals to me most is the variety of colour, pattern, etc. you can play around with on one small garment - so much fun to be had :)  Must remember 'tweedie' work though - my lovely bloggie friend Mojca has given me a fab write-up over on her blog - how sweet is that?  Thankyou Mojca - too kind!!! :) :)

Must dash - things to stuff and things to knit - more creative peeps over yonder :)
Alison x

Thursday, 29 November 2012

My creative space . . . a Crafty Gift idea tutorial/Fun project

A chance remark from eldest son prompted me to make this last week, in a moment of madness :)  . . . 

. . . a Harris Tweed 'softie' games console controller, of course!  The boys gave me some guidance on where to put the  buttons - I had a hoot making it :) :)

To make one you will need:
Paper to make a pattern template
Fabric of your choice
Soft polyester stuffing (or your choice of stuffing material)
Felt to make the console buttons
Needle and thread

Here's how I did it:
(1) To make your own fabric controller just draw around your kids console controller, adding 1/4 inch seam allowance all around to make a paper pattern (you can see mine in the background).
(2) After cutting out 2 pieces, place  right sides of fabric together, sew along seam allowance all around leaving an opening for stuffing.  (You can hand-sew or machine-sew whichever is preferable)
(3) Turn right way out and stuff firmly (use a pencil or something similar to get into the corners) - ladder stitch *or over-stitch the opening closed.  (Credit it to for the stitch tutorial!)
(4) Have some fun adding the buttons (glue or stitch) - simple!

*  This stitch is my preferred way of closing any plush/soft toy, etc. - it gives  a nice neat finish.

I glued, then stitched mine . . . 'belt and  braces' :)

Make more than one and they can throw them at each other when their 'real' ones run out of batteries, hehe :)  Could make for a quick Christmas gift idea, or a fun crafty project with your child?  Feel free to use this crafty idea for your own  personal use ;-)

I'm back on the sock-knitting wagon this week, yeah, yeah - I know, I wasn't going to rush this pair!, but I am really enjoying making them . . .

Sorry for the dark pic - the colours are a little faded here but they're really pretty in 'real life'!  I can watch TV, chat, wonder around the house while knitting a sock now -  a very portable project :)

We're on half term long weekend which is nice before the Christmas madness begins- see you in a few days :)
More creative peeps over this way!
Alison xx

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Playing with Colours . . .

Yesterday this lovely ball of yarn was waiting for me when I got home from work - it's sock-yarn inspired by the colours of Van Gogh's painting, Bedroom in Arles (you  can  see it on the yarn label) - I couldn't resist the concept of a pair of handknitted socks with such a fabulous colour palette from one of the great masters!

   No rush with this project though - I know exactly how long it takes to make a pair - a  VERY long time!!  (especially with size 2.5 mm needles - a bit ambitious I know!)

. . . on the tweedie front, I whipped up this mini patchwork cushion this week . . . 

Sometimes it's nice just to make something very simple - I think the beautiful tweeds speak for themselves, I just had to sew them together, no further embellishment required!  I do love the colours though :)  It's in the shop here.

I'm taking a relaxed approach to tweedie-business at the moment, popping items into my shop when I can, and trying to sneak a little personal crafting in too - my plans to make Christmas gifts is running a little late to say the least - perhaps I'll manage one or two yet :) 

How's your Christmas list going - faster than mine I bet!

Off to have a cuppa and a little peek at my new yarn - just looking . . . . honest, hehe!!!  I do like a little drool over my crafting supplies  from time to time :)  

I'll keep you posted on any new items I pop into the shop - I have a few more ideas for 'tweedie' creations to make (and some to finish - ooops!) :)

Have a lovely weekend :)
Alison  x

Monday, 19 November 2012

It's the little things . . .

I crocheted up a little pair of the mini Christmas socks from Le Monde de Sucrette's lovely website, at the weekend.  They're such fun to make - I had big plans to make a whole heap of them for Christmas but actually it feels quite  nice to have managed to make just two of them as decorations or whatever :)  (Teenage son is a little worried I'm turning into a 'granny-type' with my sock-making, hehe!)  I think I might have some fun customising them with a little bling bling!

(BTW don't look too closely at my crochet stripes - they're more than a little 'wonky'!!!)  I have no idea how to crochet stripes 'correctly' :)

Talking about socks, I was really delighted that the author of the book I used to make my stripey Noro  socks, Ann Budd (Getting Started Knitting Socks) put a comment on my project page on Ravelry.  I had noticed that she sometimes comments on people's creations of her sock patterns, and secretly hoped  she might spot mine, and hurray, she did! :)  I feel like a big kid LOL  - so chuffed :)  Sometimes these little things can really brighten up your day!  It's a little blustery and wet in the Hebrides today, hence the dark pic - ooops :)

Off to package up a tweedie order and various other  'tweedie' work today - enough weekend hilarity methinks!

Happy Monday :)
Alison  x

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Festive fun :)

I've been busy making Christmas puddings this week - but not the fruity kind!  A little idea in my head at the weekend came to fruition (pardon the pun, hehe!) on Monday and I came up with this Christmas pud decoration . . . 

My sock knitting project (now finished - yes, both of them!) - must have jogged some creative juices because I also decided to try out some 'tweedie' sock decorations . . .

. . . and then, I really thought it would be nice to have a set of three different decorations so I went completely traditional with the classic Christmas tree decoration - I tried to give it a nice rounded shape, I quite like how it turned out . . . 

Well, that's why I haven't been here for a little while - it's been a full-on week!  I don't do things by halves and generally in threes LOL!!!!  I had a lot of fun making these, as always it's quite intensive when you  are trying to make little batches of stock - there are five of each of the stockings in the shop, and five of each of the Christmas  trees.  

The Christmas Puds are on hold briefly while I add the brandy, hehe!  (actually I'm waiting for the tartan ribbon to arrive in the mail - hopefully today, pleeeeeease Mr Postie!)

Here are the sets of socks and trees, numbered  for your  convenience LOL . . . 

Five were as  many as I could  make at one time - I think that's enough in one go though!  The decorations are in the shop with the Puds marked 'coming soon' while I wait for Mr Postie with the ribbon delivery!

Must dash now - I have a lot of catching up to do after my fervent festive decoration making - the Christmas  Puds might be on hold today!

Bye for now :)
Alison x

P.S.  I came across a  lovely pattern at the weekend on Ravelry for little Christmas socks - too cute! - they're worth trying out if you are into crochet.  I made one with my left over Noro yarn, but I think I'll have another go as I didn't count the rows properly, ooops - it still looks quite cute though I think . . . 

They don't take anywhere as near as long as to knit an adult pair of socks - pheeeeew!  I read on someone's blog that handknitted socks can take up to 20 hours to make - that was about right in my case, I finished them in 10 days with probably an average of working two hours a day on them (some days I did none and at the weekends I did a lot!) but I was really proud of them when I was finished.  

I don't think I'll be making socks as Christmas pressies though, perhaps the mini-socks above will have to suffice!  I'll finish with a pic of my finished socks - should I frame them or wear them - I'm not sure which!!!!!

Must dash now - I have a lot of catching up to do after my fervent festive decoration making - the Christmas  Puds might be on hold today!

Bye for now :)
Alison x

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

I should really be doing something else, but . .

For the last few days, I've known there are a hundred and one other things I should really be doing, I've been completely immersed in this project . . . 
. . . Ta Dah!!!!  The first of my knitted Noro socks, completed yesterday morning - who  knew knitted socks could bring such joy LOL!  I'm now on the second sock (I quickly cast on in case I suffered from the dreaded 'SSS' - second sock syndrome, don't you know ;-)

Sock knitting must now be restricted to evenings, tea-breaks, lunch-time and any other time I can do it while no-one is noticing that 'I should really be doing something else . . . ) Sssshhh, don't tell, hehe :D

Must get back to 'tweedie' work as usual today - I 'lost' last week somehow - if anyone has found it, please send it to the usual address :) :)

Bye for now
Alison x

P.S.  Of course some socks for the rest of the family will  be on the cards, but I really thought I should test out the first pair for myself . . . well, just in case, you know :)

P.P.S.  Yes, that is an Aerobic Step underneath my work-desk - very handy for reaching obstacles on high shelves - invaluable, hehe!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

my creative space . . . . twice :)

I took this pic twice by accident this morning (happy snapper!) - just noticed the subtle colour difference between the two shots . . .

. . . a passing cloud completely changes the depth of colour.  Loving these Autumnal hues :)

Not too much creativity this week - I made a pincushion with some of my woollie felt from the weekend - well, it's something, hehe :)

Somewhat sidetracked by the whole Hallowe'en thing this week - youngest wanting the perfect (for him!) costume - sheeeesh, we just threw on an old mask and some old clothes when I was a kid!

Must dash and catch up on some creativity today though!  More creative spaces here :)
Alison  x

Monday, 29 October 2012

More Noro knits and some great felting results . . .

I went on to make a second pair of Noro mittens over the last few days - I was determined to master the (for me!) slightly fiddly thumb-hole part of the pattern . . .

. . . they turned out fine, and I didn't have to use my darning needle to, ahem, 'mend' any errors this time!  Great pattern - quick to knit, and the yarn is like knitting with a palette of paints - just lovely (with a little yarn left-over too) :)

I was absolutely delighted with the results of my 'felting' experiment at the weekend - the cardigan felted like a dream and I'm  now left with some beautiful felted applique squares . . .

not a frayed edge in site, just perfect for lots of crafty uses (very seasonal too!) . . .

. . . these felted squares will look fab next to my Harris Tweed as appliqued motifs - I'm converted to felting woollie sweaters, what a great discovery!

You can see the thickness of the felted fabric here, and how smooth the edges were after being cut . . . 

. . . 4 mm thick woollen felt for free - just brilliant :)

We had a nice chilled out weekend after the first week back to school - clocks went back an hour, the open fire was blazing yesterday - I have so many crafty ideas in mind, I'm not sure I'll even notice the shorter days and longer nights though.

We'll be cutting into this perfect specimen of a pumpkin this week . .

I'm almost loathe to touch it, it's such a lovely colour - I'm sure we'll manage to transform it into something ghoulish though!  

Happy Monday :)
Alison x

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Felting a sweater . . . . or what to do with a drizzly Saturday afternoon :)

. . . or should I say felting a cardigan.  I've been looking at this cardigan for the last week or two . . .

. . . it has some sentimental value, so I didn't want to put it to the Charity shop, and I don't want to wear it myself either . . . so what to do with it?

It has some lovely applique detailing . . . 

. . . and some nice buttons . . .

Turns out I think they look like coconut husk? . . .

It's made from 80% wool and 20% acrylic.  Eureka! - why don't I try to felt it - I've never tried this before but this seemed the perfect opportunity - a decent wool garment, with some nice features (and buttons!).

Looking at the care label, I think I just about did the opposite of what you should do to look after a good woollen garment, so I'm thinking this is the way to go!  This is an easy craft, just do the opposite of what you're told to do, I like it - hehe! . . . 

I put it inside a pillow case so that any loose fibres wouldn't clog up my washing machine - then put it on a setting of 60 degrees centigrade, tied the pillow case closed and threw it in with a couple of towels and a  pair of jeans, and left it to its own devices!  An hour or so later . . . 

. . . it has shrunk by half and I think it looks like it's felted pretty well!  The fibres look more tightly joined and the knitted stitches have almost disappeared.  I read somewhere that you should put the item in a tumble dryer, which I currently don't have, but I thought a washing line in the Outer Hebrides would do much the same job LOL . . . 

I didn't leave it out for long as the rain started, so it's now drying on a heater indoors.  I'm really excited about using the felted material - I'm not sure if I've felted it enough, but it seems OK.  There are lots of tutorials online to help, here's one of many.

I guess if the finished fabric doesn't unravel much (or at all!!) when I cut into it's good enough.  Great for using for some felt applique shapes and lots of other crafty uses.  I will update you once I get the scissors out!

Have you tried felting knitted items?  Any interesting, unexpected results?

It's turned out all Wintry here in the Hebrides this weekend - some snow and hailstones yesterday - yikes!  Perfect crafting weather tho :)

Alison x

Thursday, 25 October 2012

my creative space . . . Noro project, and the end of the hols . . .

Well, I did mange to do something with the much adored Noro yarn I've been eyeing up over the hols - I just squeezed it in at the very last minute, as the boys and I are back to work and school this week. 

I'd had a pattern in mind for the yarn which I'd spotted on Ravelry and had downloaded in my 'library' but it had a couple of techniques I'd never tried before so I was hedging a bit with it and waiting for a 'brave' moment for me to give it a try (that meant Sunday!).   

Lots of scribbled notes on the pattern . . . 

. . . yes, fingerless gloves, if you hadn't guessed!! - I loved the simplicity of this pattern and how it shows  up the beauty of the Noro yarn.  I had to learn how to make a provisional cast-on (Lesson 1!) and how to do a three needle bind-off (Lesson 2, but quite an easy one, like drawing with 2 pencils instead of 1!) so a really fun learning process - thanks You Tube!.  

More scribbled notes - I found some of the instructions a little brief -  it's a very short pattern . . . 

and finally . . .

. . . yes, I know the colours don't match - but that's the beauty of the yarn!  You either go with it or maybe try to fiddle around to get a match - I just went with it, for the fun element :)  I love the roll-up cuff - it gives a nice 'relaxed' finish to them - in my opinion!

. . . Ta Dah!

I'm so happy with my fingerless mitts - and they fitted perfectly too, an added bonus!  

The pattern is available as a free download on Ravelry and is called 'Camp Out fingerless mitts' by Tante Ehm.  They weren't a complete breeze for me to make as I had some issues with the thumb hole (putting this down to lack of 'knitting-in-the-round' experience!) but I managed to overcome this.  A very sweet pattern with a bit of a learning element - cool!  (I'd thoroughy recommend it as a 'starter' mitten-making experiment.)  

I can now go back to the office job knowing I've had a little creative 'down-time' and some relaxing time with the boys - what's not to like! :) :)

Perhaps a few X-mas pressies may arise from this pattern - shhhhhhh, don't tell anyone though! :D

Ah, well it's back to sorting out school uniforms, work clothes, etc. for me today - still, it was nice to have a break!  AND we are having the most gorgeous Autumnal  October weather - way hay!!!!

Alison x

P.S. I've added my own notes on my Ravelry page for these, if you are interested - you can find me as  'Tweed Delights', surprise, surprise, hehe!!

P.P.S.  More creative yarns here :)

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Things that make me happy this week . . . .

This weekend I found myself looking at some beautiful family artefacts which I've recently had the great fortune to come into contact with, and indeed now to take ownership of.  

My favourites were some beautiful christening robes and dresses - this kind of thing makes me positively drool at the mouth - old fabrics, amazing craftsmanship, history, culture - it's  all here . . .  

detail from two christening dresses - how old, I really don't know - lovely to me though :)

Also a beautiful christening coat/cape with embroidered details . . .

a little close up . . . 

This kind of thing makes me positively sigh with joy!

There was also a lovely selection of crochet doillies, collars, etc. . . . 

. . . . when I saw these I thought all my birthdays had come at once LOL!  Some are too precious too re-use but there are others I may consider using in some crafty projects. (I think the one on in the foreground is a baby's bib with beautiful crochet lace edging - possibly a baby gift from long ago, it's never been used and is pristine!)

Talking of birthdays, it was teenage son's 17th birthday this week - I was so tempted to post a pic but I really must respect his wishes as I know he wouldn't want me to - just to say to him though, 'You're a Star!!!!' :)

Why is that as soon as I say I'm NOT going to blog every day, I find lots of things to blog/bore you with!  Never mind - going with the flow here :)

Happy Sunday!
Alison x