Saturday, 1 December 2012

Its December, what happened

Wow, its December, what happened. The last 2 months seem to have passed by so quickly. So, lets see, what did I do.

Ok, October started with getting ready for the next 2 months. Housework all needed to be done; there was a plumbing problem that needed sorted out; the house and Studio had to be ready for visitors and a few projects; the shed needed to be tidied up before winter and ready to take in the winter supply of hay for my 2 sheep; the garden needed a tidy up (and that didnt happen); orders to be finished and the next work items to be sorted. So, what was I getting ready for?

It started with Wool Week. The studio was open for a spinning clinic on Mon, Tues and Wed. So was I going to be busy or not? Luckily there was a nice steady steam of people through each day, not too many at any time, just nice and time to talk to everyone.

Then I had to miss the end of wool week to head off to the States - I was teaching a Fair Isle class at John C Campbell Folk School in North Carolina the following week - bad planning. I love the Folk School though, I have taught there several times. The class went well, each student choosing colours and planning their design. Hats, gloves, and ipad covers were all knitted.

A hat nearly finished. This was a fairly new knitters first 2 colour knitting, first knitting in the round, first hat, and all designed - colour and pattern - by herself.

The 3 stages of designing Fair Isle - maybe - charting, knitting the sample, and scratching your head and needing more coffee when it looks as if it is going wrong - sorry, Mary Jane, both your designs worked beautifully.

An ipad cover nearly complete

A sample knitted as a wrist band.
Not my colours but my favourite design of the week. 

After a couple of days off to go to a craft fair in Ashville, do some Xmas shopping and repack the suitcase, I set off with Martha, a friend from North Carolina, for Seattle and then out to Whidbey Island to teach another Fair Isle class.

Visit  for a very good report on the class by one of the students.

That was the teaching over so it was holiday then with Martha and Wendy, except for the knitting we did round the fire in the evenings. We hired a log cabin overlooking the beach right out on the Olympic peninsular on the Pacific coast. Big beaches, big seas and big sky with huge trees as driftwood.

This was our beach. Can you spot the eagle - the big eagle? It gives you an idea of the size of the beach and the trees piled up on the top of the sand.

Cant see the eagle?

Try the next photo.

Can you see the eagle now?

Can you find it in the photo above now?

Big beach isnt it.

Check out the same eagle in the next photo.

Big eagle

Walking the beaches was great but then there are the forests, - and yes, you guessed it with big trees.....

Here is Wendy with the big Cyprus....amazing.

But then we were here in the fall and there are also rain forest here.

After a wonderful adventure, I took a flight from Seattle to Aberdeen, via Amsterdam, and with a couple of days to recover with family, I took the boat home with only 2 days to get ready for the Craft Fair in Lerwick.

I had visitors the next week to work on the warp-weighted loom so still no days off to settle in back home.

So now it is time for more housework, and I will forget the garden that did not get done, and work on more of those orders. It is also freezing outside and I have seen a few snowflakes this morning so inside is the best place to be.

Sunday, 23 September 2012


Two of the allovers waistcoats I made this year were commissions.

I mostly work from a portfolio of designs, but these can be changed, the motifs can vary and the colours can change. These two allovers are from my current designs but with changes that the customer requested.


Njuggle dags in original colours

customers colour choice

The customer wanted changes to the colours used in the Njuggle design. There were 4 onion colours, 2 greens and 2 very soft orange/yellows which she liked and wanted to include in the allover. Then she spotted 4 lichen dyed colours which she liked as well. The lichen colours were 3 shades of rust, 1 rich rust and 2 lighter shades and 1 grey/green.

The dark onion green and light onion yellow were used for the ribs, and the dark green and rich rust used in the motifs. The remaining colours were used for background colours replacing the greys in the original colourway.

The result was a beautiful blend of colours.

SELKIE in greys

Selkie design in grey colourway

Original Selkie colourway

The request for a second commission was to change the colourway of the Selkie design from Fawns to Greys and include a madder red and an onion yellow. I used the dyed colours mostly on the ribs but using also them alternatively for the centre row of each pattern.

The result was a very striking garment. In these colours it is now not a 'Selkie' design. This colourway will be renamed and added to my portfolio, but perhaps not with the dyed colours, or with different dyed colours. 

I had thought that the changes to the Nuggle colours would be quite easy and changing the Selkie from fawns to greys would be more difficult to do. In fact the Selkie in greys was quite simple and introducing the dyed colours into the Nuggle design, was to begin with, very difficult.

Happily both customers were very pleased with the results.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Beautiful wild flowers

Coming home after visiting my daughters family was wonderful. Although I missed them all, Shetland looked beautiful, sunshine, vistas, blue seas, the rim of clouds on the horizon every pastel colour there is............and the wild flowers in full bloom were georgeous.

The hawkbit and sorrel were a carpet in this field. 

The hawkbits were electric yellow in the sunshine and danced in the wind. 

Red clover was everywhere and is always beautiful.

Buttercups, vetch and scabious were growing here with the clover.

My photos could be better, but really you had to be here to see the whole picture.

I then got involved with work and would forget to go take more photos.

The Agricultural Shows came and went. I was at one show .........  forgot the camera  ..........  but was so busy there would not have been time to take photos.

So we have had our first winter gales, early this year, but it has reminded me to get on to summer blogging. Ah well, next year.

Saturday, 14 July 2012


Well, a new baby has arrived in the family and so a new baby shawl has been spun and knitted. Really it should be called a hap. 'Hap' means to wrap warmly and so as that is the purpose of a baby shawl then it should be called a hap. Increasingly they are being called shawls but in our family they are still haps.

I knitted haps for all my children and then grandchildren as well nieces and nephews and some of their children. I have loved knitting haps ever since I knitted my first one. It is my most favourite thing to knit.

My own shawl

I have made one small hap for myself. I mixed black and white fleece to get perfectly shaded greys. It has been used for many years. As a scarf in the winter. Or bundled in a bag and easy to carry on holiday in case of a summer shower or a chill breeze. Really cosy when you feel unwell.

The first handspun hap I made (from my first handspun yarn) was started for my middle daughter but only finished for my youngest. So when my middle daughter had her 1st child she asked for a hap. I asked, 'what colour', the reply, 'doesnt matter as long as it is handspun'. Maybe as she didn't have a handspun hap she thought her children should.

Spun from a nice soft prize-winning grey fleece. The pink and blue yarn in the stripes was plyed with silk. Including blue and pink made it unisex as we did not know if it was a boy or a girl.

Then a second baby was due and she said, 'I need a hap', my response, 'you have one', her response, 'new baby, new hap, it needs its own hap'. And so a second was made.

This one was in fawns and we didn't know if this was a boy or girl either so we kept it neutral.

That was 2 girls, then came a boy and she needed a blue hap,......

We knew this one was a boy, and so it just had to be blue. A very soft fleece with 4 colours of grey and an almost black shade  and I had 5 colours to dip in the indigo vat. The result was gorgeous shading and something in the indigo seems to make the wool softer. It just felt as if it was melting.

......and now another boy and the order was - light with a little blue if you want. Well, I love blue.

I raided the lace yarn oddments box and found leftovers from the 3 previous haps, two greys from no.1, a fawn from no.2, and little bits of all the blues from no.3 and so with a mid grey and a silver grey spun from a soft and very silky fleece I had the colours for this next hap. 

These are family haps, but I have made others for sale and for commissions. I will take an order for a hap at any time and enjoy the knitting.

I have a commission for a shawl with madder red yarn. I will post a photo when that one is finished. I am still working on getting the shades of red and orange red correct. But it is looking good.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Spinning Workshop

A group of girls from Norway visited for a week for a spinning workshop. We have a direct flight from Bergen through the summer. The girls came in on the first of these flights which coincided with Norwegian Independance Day on the 18th of May. So before we started spinning we had a great day out at Scalloway for the celebrations there.

There are always some celebrations for the 18th of May here in Shetland because of the connections we have. This year was the opening of the new museum in Scalloway by Norway's Prime Minister, so there were extra events on.

Then on to spinning.......

spinning and combing

preparation is 9/10th's of.....

We were not always so serious. We had great fun as well. We covered different fleece preparations with different qualities of fleece. Then spinning on different wheels to produce yarns for a variety of purposes.

We ended with a try on the great wheel which is wonderful to spin on - such a smooth and satisfying process.

setting up the wheel for a demo

then Kristi had a go

All too soon the week was over and the girls went home. The house and studio was much quieter again. And I had to get back to spinning myself.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Handspun Tablet Band Bridle

On Monday I spent a glorious morning at Walls with Frances and Joe, a 3 mtr length of my tablet band................and of course not forgetting the models, Indy Ping-pong, the Shetland stallion and Haakon, the Icelandic stallion. The results were stunning.

Indy Ping-Pong looking regal

The band almost hidden under Indy's impressive mane

Haakon looking very comfortable in his colourful bridle

The colors of the band looked as impressive on both ponies.

The tablets were set up with handspun yarns so that the band looked like knitted stitches not a woven band. The natural dyes are those used in the traditional Fair Isle of red, blue, green and golds. The red is madder, the blue is indigo, the green is from onion and there are 4 yellow colours from lichen, onion and nettle.

The wool band is much softer than leather and has to be comfortable as a bridle. And although the ponies could easily have objected to 3 metres of stuff being wrapped round their noses, they were not bothered in the least when Joe tied on this strange colourful piece of cloth.

 I have to thank Frances for the beautiful photos. My photography skills are zero next to hers. (But she does have a better camera than me)

There are more photos on Frances blog spot at take a look.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Hats and Gloves

 Much of the winter has been has been spent working on orders - winter is always the season for that - but stock has to be worked on as well. I have worked on yarn for 3 of my designs this winter - Bonxie, Trowie and Njuggle.


Bonxie Toorie 1

Bonxie Toorie 2

The colours for the Bonxie pattern are taken from the wing of the Great Skua which we call the Bonxie. Underneath the wing it has this nice flash of light colour among the dark browns and blacks.


Trowie cushion

Trowie square hat

A Trow is a Shetland Troll. Unlike the most common image of a Troll being large and often stupid, the Shetland Trows are small, clever but very cantancerous. You have to be very carful around Trows. You must never upset them.

My Trowie pattern is almost the opposite. It may look a little difficult but is really quite simple. It is rather deceptive so in that respect it is quite like the Trows.


The Njuggle is another of our 'mythical' creatures, a mythical pony, - perhaps they are real perhaps they are not.

This design is full of the very old cross patterns, with the greek key and the small flower both of which are found round the edge of greek carvings. As these are all ancient patterns the Heart pattern had to be included, and the anchour is a must for a design relating to the sea. Mix in all the natural colours with a dash of white to show the white horses on top of the waves and you have my Njuggle design.

Njuggle Dags (gloves)

All three designs are knitted in the Toorie hats, Square hats, Cushions, Long Dags, Rib Dags and FI Dags. The Trowie and Njuggle designs are also made up into kits that you can knit youeselves.

Monday, 28 May 2012


These are scarfs that I have developed during the winter.

Two are snoods. One is in natural greys with an edge in a lichen dyes yarn. The other has 3 shades of cochineal dyes yarns. Both will wrap 2 or 3 times round the neck.

light moorit, fawn and black scarf

The Fair isle and Lace scarfs are long and twist slightly.


cochineal, indigo and silver grey scarf

Monday, 7 May 2012

Time to catch up

It is time to get blogging again. I have not been here all through the winter. This winter was just wet ........................ I cant say anything else. We have drier weather now but it is still cold. There is so little grass left in the parks for the sheep, and things are beginning to grow although slowly. The grass will be the last to grow properly, the weeds will grow first. I do have one joy in my garden - my primroses. I sowed seed a few years ago and one very small plant grew, but look at it this year - beautiful.