Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Christmas Baa-ble

As the festive season seems to be rushing towards us at high speed, last week my thoughts turned to Christmas decorations, and in particular knitted baubles.  I ordered polystyrene balls last year and didn't have time to make any.  When I saw a post by Shetland Wool Week on Face Book asking folk to create a textile bauble for the Christmas tree in Lerwick,  this gave me the perfect excuse to pick up my needles and cast on.  It was very early one morning when I couldn't sleep for thinking about all the things I have to do. 

 Spent a couple of hours this morning knitting this bauble instead of doing the things I should have been doing. Shetland Wool Week
 
What better way to sort out your thoughts than to knit.
 
I based the pattern on one by General Hogbuffer, you can download it here for free.  My first thoughts was to create a bauble with a Shetland theme rather than the traditional red and white stars you would traditionally see, the most obvious thing was sheep! 
 
I used Shetland jumper weight yarn (fingering) I had in my stash so I don't know the colour details, I just chose ones that sat nicely next to each other.  I cast on eight stitches with the green for the bottom half of the bauble, then basically 8 stitches are increased evenly every second row until you get 64 stitches! 
That is followed by a straight section where you insert the pattern.  I have designed the sheep to be 8 stitches wide so this motif is repeated 8 times.
 
                13
                12
                11
                10
                9
                8
                7
                6
                5
                4
                3
                2
                1
8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1  
 
 
Finish the rest of the bauble in blue, following the pattern again at row 14, basically decreasing by 8 stitches every second row until you are left with 8 stitches! 
 
 
The only thing I did differently to the pattern was I knitted them all the way up on 5 size 2.5mm short double pointed needles, when it came to the part where you insert the ball, I couldn't get the opening to be wide enough without the stitches coming off the ends of the needles, so I transferred the stitches onto a small circular needle, placed the ball inside and then transferred the stitches back to the DPNs.
 
The pattern gives nice instructions for creating a hanging loop on top using I-cord.  I made 12 rows but you could repeat it as many times as you wanted to have any length of loop you wanted.
 
Here is a teapot version - not as successful I think, I made the motif 32 stitches so it only repeats once.  The spout and handle curve around the ball making it difficult to photograph - it actually looks better in real life as you move your head generally when looking at things!
 

Motifs of 16 stitches would look good, there would be 4 motifs placed around the bauble.
 
You can collect a polystyrene ball from the Shetland Wool Week offices at the museum in Lerwick, as the tree is very big, it needs big baubles, these are 20cm high!  Or, you can make any size of bauble you want. 
 
 
 
I plan to get some thicker yarn and large needles so it will knit up fairly quickly.  The baubles have to be sent to (or handed into the offices by Wednesday 26th November), they will be entered into a competition, the bauble will be photographed and placed on their Facebook page.  The bauble with the most likes will win a copy of  the book "Shetland Textiles: 800 BC to the Present'  
 
There's not much time left but it would be great to see you (or your bairns) being creative with wool, you can knit or crochet a cover, stick wool on, felt over them, really anything woolly.  I am going to try to get my 3 year old to stick on felt shapes, he will probably love that as he is very "handy" with a stick of Prit stick.  It would fantastic to see the tree in Lerwick covered with woolly decorations, so it would be great if you would give it a go!
 
  You can read more details on the Shetland Wool Week blog here.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Friday, 7 November 2014

Christmas Closing Time

Firstly, I would like to apologise for saying in my last post that Kate Davies book was going to be launched during Shetland Wool Week, I was wrong but the good news is it is available for pre-order from today!  I have ordered my copy and can't wait to see it.  You can pre-order it from Kate's website here.

My problem often is that I read things too fast and don't actually take in the actual information, plus I was going on holiday just after Shetland Wool Week and there was so much to do I hardly had time to think!

I am back now (spent a lovely 2 weeks in Tenerife with family) and after a bit of thought have decided to close my Not On The High Street shop next Sunday 16th November for Christmas.  It's earlier than the last couple of years but I don't have a lot of time to make brooches at the moment due to family and other work commitments.  The only craft fair I will be doing this year is one in the local village hall in Hamnavoe on Sunday 30th November.  Sometimes you have to pull back and realise your limitations.  Plus, I haven't taken any trade orders in the past month, thankfully all my buyers are very understanding as most of them are small business owners themselves, and as one of them said, sometimes you are just too busy.  And, I don't want to spend every minute of the day working, I have done that to much in the past.

There are a few new brooches in my shop this year, all made up of tiny pieces of felt.

Wool Felt Spray brooch

Wool Felt Posy Brooch - inspired by a mirror with a moulded, painted surround that used to hang in my Granny's sittingroom.
 

Wool Felt Rose Bouquet Brooch - inspired by vintage ceramic brooches.
 
You can get them here until midnight on Sunday 16th November, I have a ten day lead time so you will get your order in plenty of time before Christmas!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Yokes


 I spent a lovely evening with knitwear designer Kate Davies a few weeks ago.  Kate is the author of Colours of Shetland and many beautiful knitting patterns and was in Shetland recently to do research for her next book "Yokes".  We spoke a lot about knitting and wool (of course) and we looked through some of my old photos.  

Yoke cardigans and jumpers to a lesser extent, have become very fashionable in Shetland in the past few years, when walking across Commercial Street in Lerwick it would be very rare not to see someone wearing one.   I remember having a Shetland wool jumper with lace yoke that my great aunt knitted to match a kilt (with attached nylon vest thing to make it into a pinafore), which I had a dislike for, Shetland wool was unfashionable at the time and the pinafore thing meant that the jumper really couldn't come off when running around made me too hot.

 
I have spent a lot of time lately going through old photos and concentrating on the knitwear in the pictures.  Here is the only photo I can find of said yoke jumper, I wish I had it now, I would wear it without hesitation (if I was still that size of course).  Its funny how times change.

I recall my Granny Maggie very often wearing a yoke jumper, these jumpers were (and still are) had a machine made body and sleeves and the yoke was made by hand.  Many Shetlanders recall of the man of the house making the bodies on their knitting machine and the women knitting the yokes and finishing the garment by hand.  

This is my maternal Granny wearing a traditional yoke and being herself! My Granda is on her left.
 
 
Granny's Craft group, note the traditional yokes and cardigans
 
While looking through old photos belonging to my granny and parents I came across the first ever yoke I knitted.  It was made from Icelanic Lopi in circular wires, I think I was bout ten at the time.  We had been snowed in a lot that winter and I remember sitting next to the Rayburn knitting it.

 
Chunky yokes were also very popular as I was growing up, I remember my paternal granny, Jackie made them to sell and my Dad was very rarely seen out of work not wearing one.

You can also see some more yokes on Ella Gordon's blog  - in her latest post she documents some of her knitwear collection, make sure you click on the link at the bottom of the page, this will take you to another site showing all the lovely garments in her possession.

Louise from Knitbritish.net wrote a blogpost titled "The Charm of A Yoke" a few months back - here she speaks about different types of yokes and even features my felt yoke jumper brooches - thanks Louise! 
 
With the rise in popularity of the yoke and with an increase in people wanting something more individual, the timing of Kate's book is perfect.  It will be launched during Shetland Wool Week, on Thursday evening at Jamieson and Smith.  I am very much looking forward to seeing the finished book and patterns and you better be quick, this is going to be a popular one.





Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Summer Sewing

 I tend to find I sew more in the summer and knit more in the winter.  I have of course been knitting a little bit but certainly not as much as I would like.  In the summer evenings, if I get a chance, I like to sit in the conservatory listening to the radio and watching the sunset and hopefully do something creative.
 
 
This year has been the best summer we have had for years and sometimes I find the better the weather the busier we are, out making the most of the fine weather.  One night a couple of weeks ago I had the rare chance of several hours in the evening to myself, several late nights and days spent running around meant Peerie Breeks fell asleep usually early so I managed to cut out and sew this top/tunic.
 
I had bought the fabric at the end of last summer when I was on a sewing roll but it must have been just as the weather changed as it got packed away until this year.  The pattern is Simplicity 3835 which I think is now out of print, but I managed to track it down on a US site last year and I am glad I did.
 

I originally planned to make a top but I feel more comfortable in a tunic, I didn't have enough fabric to make the tunic in the pattern but I did if I added the bottom of the tunic to the top.  As there are no openings in this version (which I like) I quickly made up version from some calico I had previously used as curtains somewhere to check I could get it on and off before I took the scissors to the actual fabric.

 
 
I wasn't sure what I would think of elastic around the neck but I like it.  The armholes were supposed to be finished with elastic too but I just made an ordinary hem.
 
 
 


 I used French seams which helps to give a super neat finish to the garment.
 
 
 
It has handy pockets too.



Overall, I am very happy with the finished garment, I have worn and washed it several times now and it behaves very well.  I finished the tunic in about 4 hours and added the pockets the next evening so it is a fairly quick project (if you can get peace!) In fact I have just bought more fabric for another and am in the process of sewing another two dress / tunics.  I just need to keep up the momentum before the light changes too much and I can get the good of short sleeves!




Some of the other things we have been up to are trips to the beach..

 
 
Taking in the hay....



We do it the old fashioned way by putting into the byre using the 60 year old tractor...

 
 
I don't have a lot of produce this year but there is always lots of rhubarb, this is a delicious rhubarb chutney using the recipe found on the Taste of Shetland blog.  You will find other recipes and interesting articles there and it is well worth a visit....
 


Enjoying eating outdoors with some homemade rhubarb cordial.....

 
 
And - I had my first go at clipping sheep, I certainly won't win any prizes for speed but I think they were quite neatly trimmed!

 
 
New sandals - Shetland isn't known for its warm temperatures, so I do hope I get a few more weeks to wear my new sandals (I got a bit carried away and bought two pairs).


You can see the some more pictures from the summer at Instagram - I am Donna Smith Designs over there. 

I am off to Edinburgh for the weekend so hoping for some shopping, lots of coffee drinking and a chance to wear the sandals!