Felting.

A few years ago I took a felting workshop in Switzerland. I was in heaven – a whole week of being in the mountains with like minded people playing around with wool.
Sadly, since then I have done very little with the knowledge I gained.
Living in Saudi I only wear warm clothes for a short time in the winter so now that the days are a wee bit cooler I decided to wash some of my cardigans in readiness for cycling to school in the cooler mornings. One of my cardigans was becoming a bit holey so I thought it would be fun to have a go at felting it.

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So in my usual slap dash way I chucked it in the washing machine on the hottest setting and waited to see what happened. Success – it shrunk! Next a dry off in a hot tumble dryer and I had a felted cardigan to play with.

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I set to with scissors and cut it up into all its original pieces.
With a piece from the back I’ve made this cafetiere cosy.

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I’m really pleased with how it looks.
At the moment I’m not sure what to do with my other pieces. Ideas very welcome:)

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Harris Artisans

Many years ago, when I first visited the Outer Hebrides there was very little in the way of art and craft items for sale. Possibly, there just wasn’t the tourist trade and anything made was very much for personal use and most people made their own knitwear and tweed items. Since then there has been a growing community of art and crafts in the islands and especially on Harris. Many of these talented people have settled there from mainland UK and have very much embraced the local way of life. Visiting in the summer when the days are long and the sun is shining it seems a very desirable option, but knowing how long and dark the winter months can be when the Atlantic gales are battering all in its way I’m not so sure I would last very long.
This summer, I visited a few new (to me) artisans and enjoyed some lovely chats about their work and general life in a remote area of UK. A shed definitely seems to be an essential addition and a great asset for a personal place to work. 3 sheds I fell in love with were-
The Scalpay Linen shed which smelt so good with all the wool that was being worked as well as the linen.

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The weaving loom.

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Hand spun art wool.
The food shed at Northton where you can be tempted by home baked bread, scones, cakes as well as fresh caught shellfish.

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All the purchases here are made on trust- loved the box which asks you to roll pound notes up tight to feed into the hole on the top!

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And thirdly this cheekily called ‘Northton Trading Co’ shed with an eclectic mix of items. Again, trust is an essential part of its success as you are asked to ring the bell if you want to buy anything!

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Handbags for sale.

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An inside view.
How heartening it was to think that there are still areas where people can live in harmony without taking advantage of each other so readily and that they extend this trust to us,the visitors, who come from very different backgrounds.
And how do they survive? I’m not too sure. I know that for some the Internet is a vital link for selling their goods, and perhaps for others, who have partners with regular paid jobs, the financial reward isn’t the ultimate goal. Whatever, I know I met some very happy, contented people living on the Island of Harris this summer and hope when I return next time they will still be there …and their sheds of course!

Socks and darning!

So here I am back in Scotland- my home country. Unfortunately, I live in an area where the Internet isn’t very reliable so it gets a bit frustrating to try and blog regularly, as often by the time I’m finished writing the connection goes and it seems impossible to get reconnected- hmmmm! Who knows if this will actually go later?!
Anyway, it’s lovely being at home and so far the weather has been great with lots of opportunity to be in the garden.
My sock presents are slowly being presented. First, was my father’s pair. He actually looked very happy to receive them- whether he ever wears them is another story!
Someone who might appreciate their socks a bit more is my sister-in-law. I have just sewn on some buttons down the side to add a little bit of a special feature. I actually recycled some buttons I got on a couple of clothes price labels from ‘white stuff’.

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The other socks that I’ve been working on are a wee bit different- I’ve just found out they were knitted by my maternal grandmother for my grandfather at least 55 years ago! I really don’t know how they came to be in my house but I started wearing them last time I was home and they became quite holey! Last night, I decided it was time to do something I hadn’t done in perhaps 30 years- darning! I remembered I used to used a darning loom thing, but having moved house 18months ago had no idea where it was. After a little bit of searching and rummaging through a few sewing repair type boxes I unearthed not one but 2 of the darning looms. I was back in darning business!

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Today I asked my mother about the darning loom as I remember it being in her house when I was a small child and I reckoned 5shillings in those days was quite expensive. She was pretty sure that it had only belonged to her and not my grandmother, but couldn’t remember how she got it etc.
So now the socks are darned I will carry on wearing them around the house for a long time to come.
I wonder if my newly knitted socks will still be worn in 55 years time by someone not born yet!