Friday, 14 August 2015


Well that's the summer exhibition over. We had a successful event and all of the exhibitors worked hard at keeping their space stocked for the six week stint.  I'm not sure what was my best seller as I sold a bit of everything this year. 

Felt hats are always a hit although I still have the one shown in the second picture.

I had to stop knitting, hooking and weaving at one point because I ran out of wool.  I spent a happy couple of  days carding and spinning.  I enjoy the process and am happy standing at the drum carder which sits on a windowsill in the sun lounge.  We have lovely views taking in quite a few of the northern isles.  The sunsets are stunning

The antics of the sheep and kye in the neighbouring fields can be a source of amusement.  In this photograph the sheep are lying down in a line where the fence used to be (it has since been replaced).

That said I sometimes wonder who is amusing who.  Here the cows are looking in at me looking out at them.

The following sequence of photographs give an overview of the process of blending and spinning a two ply hank of wool from coloured fleece. 

Step 1 - I  pick the colours to be blended. Sometimes this is planned and at other times it's a bit random - sorry experimental.

Step 2 - The colours are blended by running the fleece through the carder . This process produces a rolag.
Step 3 - The individual colours become less distinct the more often the rolag is split and through the carder.
Step 4 - Light and airy rolags ready for spinning.

 Step 4 - A rare opportunity to spin outside.  

Having blended, spun and plied the colours in the hank were more subtle than the original individual strands shown above.

It's been a wet, cold summer this with the odd glimpse of how it could be.  That said this week has been stunning.   Pleased to have managed a camping trip with our grandchildren and their parents. 
I was standing at the kitchen sink one day and happened to look up when looking out of the window and there on one of our chimneys was a curlew.

In my next post I am going to talk about Punis - until then, cheerio. 


Sunday, 31 May 2015

'Just-in-time' management  seems to be the order of the day.  April has passed me by as far as blogging goes and May would have been the same had I not purposefully set aside some time for this 'just-in-time' effort.  I need to mark a day each month in my diary - now that would be organised, but would it work?  I don't think I will ever be as proficient as my friend Sian Thomas of' 'Life on a small island' fame.  An interesting blog worth a visit.  Go to  Sian lives on Graemsay - the land of my forefathers - well some off them at least.

Both April and May have been busy with trips off island and visitors - just grand. 

So what I have been up to craft wise?

A trip south to visit small grandchildren and their parents necessitated making two non-sew material baskets to hold a selection of chocolate eggs.  These were fun to make and quick.  All that was needed was some rope, strips of material and a needle.  I got the idea from Pinterest 

I could become hooked and I plan to explore basket making further at some point.  I have made baskets in a past life.

I have also been making a few Christmas decorations for Peedie Hansel in Kirkwall.  Yes Christmas decorations in April.  Here are some examples of my makes.  Using 4 inch embroidery hoops, felted jumpers and some fleece I needle felted a few pictures.

I also made some hearts and Christmas trees from felted jumpers

I attended one craft fair in April and one in May.  Not long now to the summer exhibition in Kirkwall. 
May has seen me working away on some hooked pictures.  Maybe I should change my name to The Happy Hooker? Then again that would possibly be a bit risqué.  I haven't goggled it yet.

I love this hen.

I have woven some scarves but hooking pictures seems to be taking over.  It's all enjoyable.

And finally...

While south in April we took our eldest grandchild for a sleepover in our camper van.  Kermit ( a well loved toy from her mothers childhood) came too.  


At the end of the trip Sheep was tucked under the bed in the camper van ready for it's trip north.  See the blog from February 1st for the history.  Sheep now sits close to our front door next to a concrete cat. 

In contrast our collie dog is real and requires lots of long walks.

Yesterday seemed like spring with our neighbours lambs munching away in the field behind our house.

Today it has rained and rained and rained.  Still a trip to Haughland Tea Room and a visit to the Heritage Centre and craft shop fair cheered up the day.

See you in June.  Hopefully it will be warm and dry

Monday, 30 March 2015

Variations on a theme ... or two

I have spent a few happy hours hooking pictures this month. 

I think patchwork pictures are my personal favourite.  I really enjoy this activity.  Images of hearts, hens and sheep are also fun to play with.   

This idea of a vase of flowers has been popular.  I think cats might be my next subject.

You may have noticed that I have modified the way I mount the pictures on to the canvas.  I have decided to cut the hessian large enough that it can be wrapped round the board.  This means that there is more picture and I no longer need the calico. 

I have also added a new style to my hand knitted with hand spun wool hat collection.  This is the point where I find out slouch hats are a bit yesterday. 

This style is great to knit.  As well as incorporating some sari silk I have also decided to introduce the odd bit of extra texture by randomly varying the stitch. I aim to do a bit more of this in the next hat. 

Talking about hats - I have modified the props I use to display my hats.  I was very pleased with the idea of placing polystyrene balls on candle sticks.  This approach works well, however, when you sell a hat you are left with a rather unsightly ball.  I decided to cover the balls in paper mache. 

Once dried I gave the balls two coats of watered down PVA which has given  a smoother, harder surface. They should survive being transported to and from various events and occasionally rolling around on the floor. 


All in all it has been a successful month.  April is going to be no less busy.  The pictures are destined for Casteaway Crafts, Dounby so I will need to make some more.  I put two woven scarves into Peedie Hansel, Kirkwall and spent some time weaving a scarf as a donation to the silent auction for Orkney Creative Hub  The auction runs till Monday April 6th.  Instructions for bidding are on the website so please go and have a look and bid if you see something you fancy.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that jazz.
Cheerio till next time.


Friday, 13 March 2015

Complements from Seattle

I received a positive response from Ian in Seattle.

'Wow! I love the new scarf and hat, you have my complete trust and respect. Your work is original and amazing, you make ordinary daily items special. I have had many compliments on my blue beanie hat, from LA to Tokyo, but the compliments are for you. People respond to the weaving and colors, me too'

Pleased and relieved that the scarf and hat went down well.  You sort of know when someone buys something from your stall that they are happy with their purchase.

I have made some brooches, hanging felt hearts and small key rings for a new shop opening in Kirkwall. The shop is called Peedie Hansel, which translates into Small Gift, and can be found at 45 Albert Street. This adventure is being undertaken by Jean Ross - so good luck Jean.

I have a new line in scarves for the summer craft fairs.  All comments welcome.


I have cut the ends to make a fringe...

and added a bit of needle felting which I then sewed round the edge.

Talking about needle felting, I made this wall hanging while spending an enjoyable crafting afternoon in a local artist bothy.  My efforts now hang on the kitchen wall.

And finally, a new main for an old(ish) horse.  I spent a fun afternoon with my eldest granddaughter renewing the mane of the rocking horse her Mum and Uncle used to play on.  We used ribbons of sari silk and pieces of woollen jumpers. The mane may be developed on their next visit. I was thinking about some button along the edge of the mane on the 1st image below.  Any comments welcome.

The bells make a lovely noise. 

I'm full of the cold so off to enjoy a mug of warm honey and lemon - yummy.

Friday, 27 February 2015

From Shapinsay to Seattle...

Two postings in one month!
Well how excited was I when I received a request through Orkney Arts and Crafts from a man living in Seattle.  He had been on holiday in Orkney during the summer and bought one of my hats that were hand knitted with my hand spun wool.  He was now making a request for another knitted hat (slightly smaller than the one he had) and a  knitted scarf in earthy tones. In the end it was agreed that a woven scarf would be better.  It was also agreed that it could be narrower than the original request. It's quite tricky negotiating via email but we got there - I think . There is no quick way of checking things out or showing a variety of yarns and saying 'which would you prefer?'  The colours here don't truly reflect the actual colours.  I was pleased with the end product though.  The scarf is 7" wide which is wider than my usual but wide enough without being too bulky.  

The final garments modelled by my husband.  It was at this point I wondered if the scarf and hat were for his wife.

Other exciting news is The Orkney Creative Hub. 

Here we are - The Project Team.  Funny thing is I don't feel short - good things come in small bundles and all that jazz.

The three founding organisations

Operating as a registered Community Interest Company (CIC) The Orkney Creative Hub will provide a central location for education, development and innovative enterprise opportunities for Artists, Designers and Crafters of all ages and abilities across many disciplines, from within and outwith the Orkney community.  By incorporating an active outreach programme The Hub will support artists and makers across the Orkney Isles

This will be the first time there is a central focus for established artists and makers to promote their work and for the community to have access to resources to explore and develop their individual creativity.  The proposed facility will facilitate access for a far wider audience that is presently possible to a range of education, facilities and equipment.

We need all the support we can get both in terms of funds but also support in relation to the numbers who are taking an interest in what we are doing. 

We can be found at  The website is still under construction.  Please note the Donate Button.  Every little helps.  In the unlikely circumstance that the project does not succeed, the money raised will be returned or donated to a charitable organisation depending on the preferences of individuals who have supported us in this way.

I'll keep you posted. 

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Handknitted, hooked and other stuff

January seems to have flown passed (in more ways than one - it's been a bit blowy) leaving me rather surprised to find it is February.  

I have little stock and having made a list of 'must makes' I now need to prioritise my crafting endeavours.  Fun activities such as spinning, sewing, hooking, weaving and knitting are competing for my time.  That said I need to spin in order to get started.  So much for being ahead of the game.

I have a very good reason for taking time off  during January.   A new granddaughter arrived in the wee small hours of Christmas Eve morning.  Please note the jumper, my hands haven't been totally idle.

 I also completed a  'Welcome to our home' wall hanging.  The picture is hooked in hand spun wool and some sari silk.  I hand stitched the names onto small pieces of calico which were then sewn on to the canvas along with ceramic heart shaped buttons.   I think I will do a few more of these hangings but back them with calico rather than use artists canvas.  I will either sew a sleeve at the back or make tags so it can be hung up. 

I have also fulfilled an order for two felted hanging hearts similar to this one. 

So that's enough for now.  Before I go let me introduce you to Sheep - a birthday gift.  Many thanks I love it and am looking forward to bringing it home.  This sheep is 24" high, 31" long and 14" wide.