Tuesday, 16 December 2014

It's begining to feel a lot like Christmas...

... well almost.  The Christmas Craft Fair season is in full swing.  I attended one craft fair near the end of October (Shapinsay Parents Association comes to town). This was followed by a fair in November and two in December (Orkney Arts and Crafts).  I didn't make the last one in December but I think it went well despite the wet and windy weather.

Here are some of my Christmas craft offerings

A day in the Town Hall Kirkwall.

A different day in the Town Hall - having sold a hooked picture and in response to the lovely comments made by various people I pressed on and made a few more.

Note the finished hen picture - very pleased with it.  Also keen on the sheep.  My friend Sian bought one similar to the small one here.  Sian also bought a small chicken and they are now adorning a recently refurbished room.   I put a larger version of the sheep into Castaway Crafts, Dounby which is owned by Fiona Mitchell.  To find out more about this Aladdin's cave of handmade goodies follow the link.

There are always woven scarves

And here are some random photographs.

This posy is one of two which were handmade and carried by my granddaughters at their Uncles wedding in August. I knitted some flowers, others were made from felted jumpers and some from buttons and beads.

This is a small pink Christmas tree decorated by my granddaughters.

A bit of a blustery day in Orkney captured by Alastair Skene.  This picture was published on the News Scotland website.
yesnaby storms
Well it's time to get on with the festive preparations.  I will be back in the New Year although I think I will refrain from making any rash promises to myself or anyone else that I will post on my blog more frequently ... then again.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Hooking, hens and hand spun wool

Looking out of the kitchen window I am greeted with a scene which reminds me we are moving towards Autumn.  Summer posts haven't been a feature of this blog despite my best intentions, nonetheless, I have had an action packed crafty time.

The summer craft fair at the Town Hall during June and July went well and kept me busy right up until the last day.  Hats seemed to be the most popular item.  As I sort through my stash for the next event in October I realise that my knitted and woven scarves also went well.  I  need to build up my stock for the various fairs to come - the local schools parent council event in October and two Orkney Arts and Crafts Fairs in November.

August saw a flurry of activity centred around Show time.  I joined in a modified version of the Back to Back Wool Challenge at the East Mainland Show.  The idea is to have a fleece clipped (not shorn) from the back of a sheep, spun, knitted and on the back of a person as quickly as possible.  There are exacting rules around this activity which have to be followed.  Google Back to Back Wool Challenge to read more about this.  Other search engines are available.

We didn't follow the rules to the letter as we weren't mounting a serious/official challenge.  That said we weren't that far off either.  It was with mixed feelings that a group of three spinners and four knitters sat in a tent in the middle of a field and set to work.   Five and a half hours later, or there about, one of the happy spinners holds up the completed garment.  We did well and it could be looked on as a practice run?


In quieter moments one of the knitters was also demonstrating an antique sock knitting machine. 

All in all it was a good day.  I didn't see any of the animals but spoke to lots of interesting and interested people. We took £170.97 in donations which went to a local charity.

A few days later at the Shapinsay Show I was again sitting in the middle of a field spinning.  This time I was on my own and the only challenge was sorting out a firm base for the chair and wheel.  Heath Robinson eat your heart out.  I managed to raise roughly £27 for the RNLI.

Since then I have been hooking pictures with my hand spun wool.  There will be two hens in this picture and some sort of border I think. I drew the image from a photograph I took of my friend Gill's hens.

I have also done three smaller ones which are roughly three and half inches by four inches.  Yes I can count, the missing picture is a hen.

I will sew the hooked pieces onto calico and then stretch them over a canvas board. 

I have also been experimenting with heart shaped wreaths made from wire and small pieces of felted jumper.  More about these efforts the next time. 

Until then Keep Calm and Keep Crafting.


Thursday, 3 July 2014

Hats, hats and more hats plus the odd scarf

The craft selling season is in full swing.  Orkney Arts and Crafts holds a summer exhibition in the Town Hall, Kirkwall for 5/6 weeks during June and July.  The run up to this event sees me indulging in bursts of intense crafting sessions fitted between holidays and social happenings.  The trouble is you never know how much you are going to sell and what is going to be popular.  I try not to get bogged down (or perhaps that should be wound up) as I find the making aspect enjoyable and want to maintain that feeling. 

This season my hats made from woolly jumpers seem to be popular.  My hand woven scarves and hand knitted hats using yarn that I spin are also selling.  I have to make it clear at this point that I'm  not talking big numbers but that doesn't detract from the sense of amazement I experience when I find another hat/scarf or brooch has been sold.  That said the brooches, hair slides and key rings are moving more slowly - if at all.   I must say I am surprised that I haven't sold more key rings but there you go.  Perhaps they will be next years 'thing'.

As part of the group I do my fair share of being a sales assistant.  It is a very interesting and enjoyable experience.  Lots of visitors to the islands come into the exhibition with many spending quite some time having a good rummage.  There are roughly 60 exhibitors and some lovely crafts.  There has been a lot of positive feedback. I will post some photographs but you should visit the website to see more or if you are in Orkney take yourself along there. Possibly the face book page is best just now as there seems to be a few gremlins in the web site.  

The Smithy on Shapinsay is also open with many local crafters contributing to the a lovely and varied display.

For your interest the following hats are my most recent creations.  The first two are sold.  The others are hot of the sewing machine and heading for the exhibition later on today along with two scarves.

I have needle felted  a smaller third circle to the next hat

The next hat is a  beret style.

They are all my favourites

I went to a talk on intellectual property and copyright for crafters the other night.  More about that in the next post along with a more scarf theme.

Bye for now folks.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

April already - surely not

No it's no longer April it is May! How did that happen?

Trips away, happy visitors and the general ebb and flow of life mean I haven't been quite as productive as I would have liked. The usual story of good intentions and any excuse to do something else.  That said I am happy with what I have achieved and although this post consists mainly of hats I have been busy making other 'stuff'.

I have knitted a few more hats with my hand spun wool.  I enjoy this activity and it is transportable. 

This hat is quite thick but fun with a mixture of sari silk, thick and thin hand spun wool, hand spun with glitzy bits and some with slubs.  I hadn't predicted that it would end up this shape so it was a pleasant surprise.
The thickness of the wool makes a difference to the shape as the next photo demonstrates.  Hand spun wool again and the same pattern and size of circular needle but more of an aran weight than chunky.
I have also been playing with felted woolly jumpers.  A bit like the knitted hats I am not always sure how they will turn out.  I need to learn to plan as at the moment they evolve as I go along.  This approach can involve unpicking stitches from time to time.  This hat had two different bands before I settled on a thick rib taken from the front of a large jumper.
It sits like a beret on an actual head but you get the picture.  I am still thinking about putting a button on the centre at the top.
The next hat wasn't quite finished when I took the pictures.  I was unsure whether to put a band on it.  In the end I finished it off by edging it with buttonhole stitch and some pale grey hand spun wool.  I am tempted to keep it.
There are a few more but that's enough of hats.
And now for something completely different - spinning wheels.  I love my spinning wheel.  I have had my Ashford Traveller for 25 years or there about.  Still my thoughts wander from time to time to something different.  eBay made the purchase of spinning wheel number three (I'll describe number two in my next post) relatively easy.
As I said in the previous blog the new wheel is old, Swedish and missing one vital component - well two but the double drive band is easy to replace. 
What I need to source are some bobbins.  The regular Ashford bobbins I have aren't the right size.  I am hoping that my other half can adapt one or two, if not I will need to have them made.  Another more novel approach might be to buy another spinning wheel of a similar style and vintage with bobbins, or at least one bobbin.  I have noticed that there are a couple on eBay with a different seller.  I have a few days to think about it.  Guess I better run the idea past the other half?  Who knows it could work out cheaper than having them made and then we would have spares. 
The spinning wheel I have purchased has a not so well done mend on the wheel itself which may be sortable (is that a word?) but I am happy with it as it is.  The timing was perfect as it all fitted in with a pre-planned trip south.  A family member happened to be visiting friends near Dunblane just days after the purchase was finalised so they collected the wheel and we then picked it up from them.  It was meant to be and I am sure bobbins will be found (one way or the other).  It lends itself to spinning finer wool whereas wheel number two is good for chunky art yarn. 
Well key rings, hair clasps, brooches, hats and scarves won't make themselves and I have a line in fridge magnets to explore.  Anyone for a felted fridge magnet?   I also need to tackle the mound of washing we produced during our last trip away in the camper van.


Tuesday, 25 March 2014

What do you do with your odd balls?

 How time flies right enough.  Thanks to Blackbird for the timely reminder that March is almost at an end.  I have been busy but that's no excuse for not keeping up with my blog.  So where to begin...?

In response to a request for a slim, hand knitted scarf that could be worn all day in the same way as a cotton or silk scarf, I headed off to my stash of odd balls of commercially produced yarn that lives in my craft store room.  I enjoyed a good old rummage  and got quite excited by the different colours and textures.  Unfortunately I don't have a picture of my first effort but it was well received.  An order for a second one, with hat to match, has been placed.  

I  booked a space at the table top sale held on the island in early March.  This event provided the gentle nudge I needed to try out some of the ideas I had been toying with since the beginning of the year such as key rings and hair slides.  I also decided to knit a few of the narrow scarves to add to my woven selection. 

The scarves are knitted using 4mm or size 8 knitting needles, 15 stitches and stocking stitch.  They are roughly 77 inches in length and have the obligatory buttons at each end. 

I use various postcards as inspiration in relation to the proportions of different colours and textures/mood, for example this fun lively scarf was influenced by a card I have with hens on it. 

The scarves fit quite well with my hand knitted hats.  I have sold the hat on the right.  These hats are knitted with my hand spun wool.  I aim to knit some in the same commercially produced yarn as the knitted scarves.
I am also enjoying making key rings with small pieces of felted fair isle patterned jumpers cut into a heart shape.

The key ring here is embellished with a bit of needle felting, beads and some cross stitch.
I have already sold a few of these. 
I am also pleased with these hair slides made from felted jumpers embellished with needle-felting, hand embroidery, beads and buttons.
On a slightly different but related note - I have bought a spinning wheel from eBay.  It's old, Swedish and in need of some bobbins.  I am really pleased with it.  Pictures and stories to follow. 
Well that's enough for now.  Lots of crafting events planned for the summer so I better get on with it.
Bye for now folks, see you next month.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Wooly jumpers, bags and hats

It is February already.  So ... have I meet the challenge I set myself at the beginning of January and finished my collection of unfinished projects by the end of the month?  The short answer is no.

Once I had finished the rag rug and safely delivered it to its intended owner my thoughts turned to the other unfinished projects stashed away in boxes and bags.  A hooked rag rug and a wall hanging to name two.  However, I got a bit distracted by competing thoughts of making bags and a new selection of hats from felted jumpers.  The hats and bags won out with the following results.

I made this bag from a felted v neck, 100% lambs wool, cardigan with pockets.  The cardigan was in a sorry state when it came to me.  It's previous owner had been a bit careless when washing it (lucky me).


I cut off the buttonhole and button band then sewed up the front of cardigan using my sewing machine. This seam became a side seem so that there was a patch pocket on the front and the back of the bag.  I also sewed up the bottom edges incorporating the rib into the design.  I cut out the sleeves and squared off the armhole and the neck edges.

I used the button whole band and a button to make a fastener for the pockets.  These was hand sew in place.

The handles for the bag are integral to the main structure and I applied three rows of straight stitch which was both decorative and strengthened the edges. 

I did consider using a bolder colour but on balance felt this subtle grey colour was better.  The bag can be used as a shoulder bag.

Rummaging through my stash of felted jumpers and parts of jumpers brought hats to mind with the following results.



There are so many exciting knitting, weaving and felt projects to be getting on with I am going to have to write a list and carry out a prioritisation exercise.  Having attending a spinning  day on Saturday I now want to have a play plying commercially prepared wool with material like cotton, silk, threads and hand spun wool in order to produce an art yarn.  The possibilities are endless.

Oh for more hours in the day.

Happy days and speak soon

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Felted hearts and other stuff

As I mentioned in the previous post, I made felted hearts before Christmas.  They are embellished on both sides and I attached them to various Christmas gifts.  They also made a lovely gift on their own.

My aim for January is to finish the unfinished projects I have stored in various boxes and bags. There are a few aborted knitting projects and one or two wall hangings/rugs made from rags.  It may be a case of taking a few things back and using the material for something else. 
One such project is a rug that I started a year ago.  The process isn't difficult or time consuming, I just get distracted sometimes.  Rags and Remnants by Lizzie Reakes is a lovely book which sets out 25 step by step projects including crocheted, knitted and hooked rugs.  I have a rug which I crocheted some time ago.   Having used chain stitch as the foundation I then worked back and forwards in rows using a single crochet stitch and a 8.00mm crochet hook.

I also have one constructed of knitted pieces sewn together to make squares.  The squares were then given a crocheted border before being sewn together. The completed rug was then given a crocheted border. 
These rugs have been down on various floors for the past five years or so and wash well in the washing machine.  That said the crocheted one appears harder wearing and I prefer this style.  
The rug I am finishing off is made from old cotton curtains or cotton/polyester bedding - washed of course.  The curtains below were donated to the cause by a friend.  I lay the fabric out and cut a 1" wide (or there about) strip of material.  I cut the material until I am roughly half an inch from the end and then turn and make another cut parallel to the first in order to make a continuous strip that is as long as possible.  I clip the corners where I turn making them more rounded.
Here is the newest model in the making.

The ends will be sewn in.
Well I better get on - writing this blog won't put rugs on the floor and this one is heading sooth for a special little person's bedroom.