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    Today I was in the mood for a little bit of reminiscence. Sometimes the body and mind just crave a tender walk down memory lane. For some time I have wanted to revisit the family croft. Its not far away, just over the water in Bressay, and every time we drive into Lerwick I see it there  – not so picturesque – next to the fish meal factory – crumbly and grey and even at that distance it looks in need of a wrecking ball, but so many childhood memories are there.

I remember…. A white washed house, inside a tiny kitchen with one cold water tap….A hay loft that made me feel like Heidi….a kaleyard with tall walls….an old tin bath and Belfast sink in the garden…..lots of out buildings to play and hide in…feral chickens and even more feral factory cats…yelllow fields….sheep everywhere…family everywhere….dipping, clipping, lambing…jostling about in the back of the hay cart, being carted downhill in the tractor….

    As we walked along the road and got closer to the croft house the ground was still the same deep, spongy marsh that, as a child, you felt might swallow you up if you stood in certain places. Even though there is a brand new road that goes on past the house, my feet carried me instinctively along the well-walked track. The last time I was at Annfield was before dad died, probably about 8 years ago, and although I knew the place had fallen into disrepair it was sad to see it so run down in those few years and even further removed from my minds eye.


  Even if I screwed up my eyes out of focus I could still see that it was vastly different from how I remembered it, or how my mind wanted me to see it (those kaleyard walls don’t look particularly tall, could it have been that I was just too small to see over them once?

   The Belfast sink and bath are still there, but looked more sad and discarded than fun farm objects. I found the hay truck too…doesn’t look like it would be very safe to travel on these days!

   

Sadder still it was to see that someone had broken the door in and had a wee trash. I wouldn’t have gone inside anyway as the roof is rather unsafe, but seeing that was a little like having ones childhood memories stomped all over. So, there was no whitewash and no family and no feral animals (though still some sheep!)

But I couldn’t help feeling connected still. Even if my remembrances were fading into reality.

And then I laughed…because, as I told my lovely time travelling companion, We usually hated going to the croft when we were wee! It might have meant a 3 mile walk there (a lot for little legs), we might have been dragged there in our summer holidays when we had better things to be doing, we might have had to suffer spending time with older family members (one of whom, breathless and hopelessly rotund my 7-year old little sister pushed at least a couple of yards in a wheelbarrow once! Fact!), it might have meant eating spam sandwiches on the beach or at the peat hill and getting sand and peat mould in places that no-one wants to get sand or peat mould…

How fickle the mind! That it only lets us remember some things and sugarcoats other things. But I am sure we always enjoyed ourselves really! Since leaving Bressay today I had some vague words by Norman Maccaig floating around my head..

‘…The circle of this year.

the smaller of the last year.

the smaller one of the year before last –

They narrow down to a point

and balance on that crystal.

I see in it

with exact clarity

endless things

and endless meanings of things…’

I think that as the years go on and the memory adapts to retain new information only the honey of memories remain, so I’ll take that and remember it just as I do.

Walking away from the house, we went down the park towards the beach and the old fishing station. I do like a pebbly beach and this is a pebbly beach! Not very stunning (with the Lerwick Power Station in close view) but lots of treasures were found.

       

 I love nothing more than puddling around a pebbly beach and coming home with a carrier bag of treasure….and today’s was put to good use straight away!

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I think I have been in a time warp peeps! I cannot believe how long it’s been since I last allowed myself the time, between lectures, essays, revision, exams and life to blog!

 Well, I suppose to catch you up, the last year has been a bit of a whirlwind, but I’ll try to keep to nutshell proportions.

 University: after having two years off, due to having as much motivation as a small, wet square of toilet tissue and a period of fragile mental health, I was absolutely chomping at the bit to get back to my course.

 My courses for my final year included Scotland and Heritage, Cultural Revivals and Traditional Drama and I was pretty fired up about all of them, until my old adversary Doubt came creeping in.

 ME (Gleefully): Revivals and Drama and Heritage, oh my! Revivals and Drama and Heritage, oh my!

DOUBT: Do you really think after two years you can do this?!

ME (positive): Aye! After what I’ve been through I can handle anything!

DOUBT: Are you sure? Really sure?

 ME: …er… yes!…I think so!

DOUBT: What about finding time to study in a shared house? What about working to pay the bills too? (in a creepy evil voice) What about your 10,000 word dissertation?????

 ME (frowning): Oh!

Doubt laughs evilly as I ran and hid in the corner for a little while.

Yes, whatever I seemed to undertake, Doubt was there, pointing and sniggering. But you know what? I did it. And I couldn’t be happier with the marks I’ve got this year and the progress I made. I think in first year I was thinking, “Right! Got to work for a first!” and to be completely honest I don’t care if I get third class honours. I did it, and I’m very proud of myself – if it’s a sin, I don’t care about that either! (unless God’s reading, in which case, Sorry!)

 My final marks are posted on the 3rd of June, so I am going in with my two pals Mojo and Mighty L for moral support!

Right…What else…Oh yes…

Knitterly: Truth be told, I thought I would do a lot of knitting to help me relax during revision, but I quickly found that I couldn’t focus on a pattern after staring at books and a computer screen. So in order to unwind I began to wind. Spinning was a completely brilliant way to still be creative, but also relax. I found a great website for combed wool at really good prices, I bought a few bags of merino in delicious colours from knitshop and that really kept me going.

As soon as my last exam was finished I started on my first lace project which was also my first shawl.

The Mezquita shawl  is a lovely, and very quick project.

I ordered some nice lace wool from Jamieson and Smith, but wanted to try it in a thicker wool first to practice. I had some Artesano 4ply. It is so soft and I have hardly been without it on these blustery spring days.

I like the practice one so much (with my own little mistakes…can you see?) that I am using my J&S wool for an Anniken Allis shawl, which is on the pins as I type.

 Lately I have been trying my hand at felting, just a couple of wee samples really, but I seem to have go Mojo interested in it (maybe she’s only humouring me to shut me up!). She had her new kitchen put in and is thinking about designing a wall hanging or several small pieces to frame.

I have a lot of odd wee samples of wool so we have decided first to dye and hand paint the combed tops. I am not sure how we got on the the subject of plant dyes, but last saturday we went for a walk along the old Rosewell railway and picked a wee selection.

I should add that we only picked or cut flowers that were either blown over (what a wind it has been recently!) or horse trampled, or on their way out, so that the vergesides were kept pretty and blooming for others to enjoy.

When we got back to the kitchen we laid them all out, and realising we didn’t know the first thing about producing dyes from plants we did a bit of googling. Obviously all yellow flowers will not produce a yellow dye (in fact dandelions produce pink!) but we decided to put all our lilac and blue flowers together to see what our experimentations would produce.

  

Most hits on google said that the microwave method was quickest, so we picked our petals and bruised them before covering them with water in a bowl with a teaspoon of vinegar.

The method we used was to cover the bowl with cling film and blast for 2 minutes on high, then take out and bruise again with a pestle, and repeat this until your water begins to colour and the petals seem drained of colour.

This is the end product on banana fibre!

We were quite please with that and set about with our yellow flowers, which produced a sort of new baby’s nappy green colour. But after testing the colour with yarn it produces a lovely lime colour! we were quite gobsmacked. We felt a bit witchy, or at least ancient domestic goddess-like!

The quantities that we made we will use for hand-painting the wool tops before felting.

Today I am trying my hand at kool aid dyeing on a 2 ounces of different natural shades of Shetland wool. What great fun it is!

I bought the drink mix (this stuff is actually called Mixade) on ebay ages ago and forgot about it. So today I thought I would give it a go.

For anyone who hasn’t tried it, I recommend it! You can dye hanks of wool as well as the combed tops and for each wee sachet of drink it will dye roughly and ounce of wool.

There are varying methods but I prefer the stove top method.

Firstly you soak the wool in some tepid, soapy water (I use handsoap) and you prepare your pot (soup pot, Tattie pot, anything that is large enough, but use an older pot, just in case any colour is left on afterwards).

Half fill the pot with tepid water and add your sachet/s. I used two sachets of Tropical Punch Mix-ade…oh! A tip! Don’t go by the colour of the drink on the sachet. The Tropical punch shows a bright pink drink, but I would say the water was more orangey.

Give a wee stir to let it dissolve and then give your soaking wool a squeeze and add it to the pot.

You will need rubber gloves, unless you want brightly coloured fingers…like me! 🙂

Turn the heat up and let it get to almost boiling and then switch off the heat and let the water cool.

Get your gloved hands in every now and again turn the wool so that it dyes evenly.

 In this case I am not too fussed if it doesn’t dye evenly as we will be hand-painting it at some point too.

Give it 30-60 minutes standing on the hob – with no heat under it – to absorb the dye. If after an hour the water is not clear (or almost clear) , you can turn the heat on again and bring it to almost boiling again and let it cool for another 30-60 minutes.

 I have just rinsed mine, which should be in water that is a similar temperature to that in the pot, so that you don’t felt the wool and this is the result!

The reason I wanted to use the different coloured natural Shetland was to see what colour variation would be like with the dye. It is unfortunate that my camera doesn’t pick these up so well, because the Shetland black has gone a dark aubergine colour, while the fawn and brown have gone almost heathery tones and just look at the white!

 

 

I have just rolled them in a towel to blot them dry and I’ll probably leave them there to dry for a while.

 I have to say that the pot was left with a pink tinge, but I used a bit of salt on cloth and it went away with a light rub.

So anyway, I think I have filled a yaking and maaking quota for one blog. I hope everyone is awful well, I have thought of you often, even though I haven’t been blogging!

Next time hopefully I’ll have wool hand-painting and felting news as well as results getting and boyfriend arrival…more soon! 😉

 

 

 

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Well it’s been another fruitless job search week, but I haven’t let it get me down too much!

On Sunday I went to Glasgow with three of  my friends to see Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Road Show which was filmed for the BBC! It was a great show, our sides were still sore the next day and not to mention the aching jaws. He had five guests including the brilliant Kevin Bridges. 19 year old Daniel Sloss was also a guest, a very funny wee fife laddie who we think will go a very long way.

i had a wee break on Monday…and needed it as we were knackered after all the travelling and laughing! but on Tuesday I headed through to North Berwick with Mojo and Dr Dudders to Fringe on the Sea to see Eddi Reader! After, or course,  Fish and Chips on the beach! The concert was excellent (even if we were packed in like sardines in the speigel tent!) and we went home singing!

Mirlinlass is down this away at the moment…hope your having a good holiday honey!

So! To the moment you’ve all been waiting for!

The winners of the second great Knitcircus giveaway are as follows 🙂 Thanks to www.random.org the winners of the knitting pattern collections are Nan, Rachel Crosbie and Jill! Very well done girls I will be emailing you your pdf very soon. The winner of the Sunvalley yarn is maj! very well done haj. I will pass on your details to Jaala Spiro and she will be in contact with you re: where in the world you are and when you will receive the lovely wool!

Congratulations to all 🙂

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Good Morning my lovlies!

And just see, see what I have brought you!

A great crafty and knitterly magazine has recently been brough to my attention. It’s called Knitcircus, an independant quarterly magazine which has recently gone over from print to digital format.

It is a gorgeous collection of  knitting AND sewing patterns AND recipes AND interviews and it’s like picking up a favourite book (well not picking up, cos is online) as you’ll re-read and re-read.

Jaala Spiro is the editor in chief of the Wisconsin-based Knitcircus and in order to promote the new format, and bring Knitcircus to the attention of us craft lovers over the pond  she’s giving away a one year  subscription (PDF) to the full magazine and five PDF pattern collections of the summer issue, which is out on Saturday 1st May.

Jaala has sent me some pictures from the forthcoming issue, and if you need tempted further take a look at the website.

I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a fanbloomingbrilliant offer so here’s what you need to do… There are no set questions so lets have a bit of fun instead ;D

Leave a comment following on from mine below and lets write a little story! The first person to comment after me please put #1 at the begging and everyone else follow suit. I’ll then take the numbers and pick at random that way. The story is just for my amusement!

So, come on EVERYONE! Even if you don’t knit, craft, cook, read i’m sure you know someone who would!

CLOSING DATE  SUNDAY 2nd May: so comment quickly, as many times as you like (although not directly after your own comment) I’ll post the winners on Monday!

Look at my blogroll and catch up with the Knitcircus blog too! AND DON’T FORGET TO CHECK BACK TO SEE IF YOU’RE A WINNER!

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Hot off the pins is a cute hat to match the owl jumper i knitted for my new wee pal, baby Suilven.

I had a few problems sizing down the pattern from 9 months, think i got it down to about a roomy 6 month size (…no?…oh alright then, i think its still 9 months!)

It needed something to match it though so i adapted the cable pattern into a hat, (which is made for 3 months +, so no before you say it, he probably won’t strictly be able to wear them both at same time, but hey! its the thought lol)

and…since it’s my own pattern (and the cable pattern has been adapted from the vest pattern) I don’t see why i can’t give you the pattern. I was dead chuffed with the end result… and if anyone tries it suggestions please!

I used Paton’s Fairytale Colour 4 Me , as its baby yarn (wool from babies???!) but any DK would do….cotton would be lovely!

4mm dpns or circular needles

Size = about 3 months

Cast on 80 and join in round, place marker. begin with 2×2 rib for 6 rounds then join main yarn (if, like me, you’re using a different colour for rib) and commence with the owly cable as so….

Round 1 and 2 – P2, K8 to end
Round 3 – p2 C4B, C4F to end
Round 4-10 – repeat round 1
Round 11 – p2 C4B, C4F to end
Round 12 – P2, K8 to end
Round 13 – p2, k1, p2, k2, p2, k1 to end
Round 14 – repeat 13
Round 15-16 – repeat round 1
Round 17 – repeat round 3
Round 18 – repeat round 1

…I’ve not done much cabling, but it’s nice watching the pattern form…

after round 18 continue in stocking stitch for two more rounds before decreasing. til 6 inches. errata

Decreases:
1. K 8, K2tog to end (72 stitches)

2.  (and every other row) Knit

3.  k 7, K2tog to end (64 stitches

5.  K6, K2tog to end (56 sts)

7. k5, k2tog to end (48 stitches)

continue decreasing in pattern after k1, K2tog (16 stitches) and last round K2tog all round.

Break yarn and thread throught the remaining stitches and weave in ends.

I handwashed (although fairytale is machine washable) with a little wool detergent and dried flat.  I was glad how soft it was as the unwashed ball was a wee bit jaggy- suffice to say a wee wash was all it wanted as it is gorgeous and snuggly now.

ABBREVIATIONS

P = Purl

K = Knit

K2tog = knit two together

C4B = slip the next two stitches on to a cable needle and hold at the back of the work, knit the next two stitches and then knit two from CN.

C4F = as C4B, but hold the stitches on CN at front of work.

COPYRIGHT.: THIS PATTERN IS MY OWN. FREE TO USE, BUT DO NOT SELL THE PATTERN OR SELL ITEMS MADE FROM THIS PATTERN

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Hello! I’ve been led astray these last weeks hence my unusual quietness!

Brrrr, it’s FREEZIN! Bressa’ is covered in a very thin covering of the white stuff and there is far more to come if the weather man is to be believed. If he is to be believed it’ll be the first white christmas is about 3 years here I think.

I’ve had a glorious 2 weeks in that Edinburgh, it was fantastic to spend some real time catching up with my mates and not having so little time that I have to “book in” more than one reunion a day!

I also went to see Jools Holland at the SECC with his great big ol’ band! it was AMAZING! My friend Evelyn and I used to live together in Edinburgh and every year we said “Oh! Jools is coming to the Playhouse we have to go and see him”. Years later, she lives in Dingwall, I live in Shetland and we managed to see him finally in Glasgow haha! It was such a good atmosphere and his special guests were very special indeed. Not only was the Goddess that is Ruby Turner there, but the angel that is Eddi Reader also made an appearance as well as legend Dave Edmunds!  We were peckin’ after all the dancing and have booked our tickets for next year…we won’t put it off so long again! Ev’s pics are here

So in amongst shopping, dancing, winter-wonderlanding, catching upping (and a wee tiny bit of falling into mutual lusting !:wink:) I found a wee bit of time to do the (nearly) last of my christmas knitting…only two more very small items to go!

Mirln and I were at our nightclass on tuesday and we’ve both become more than just a little bit spell-bound by the whole play writing biz! The aim of the class is to write a play or plays for the Drama Festival in March and while that sounded terrifying and daunting at the beginning of the class, everyone has just become so inspired and there is so much brilliant stuff being produced. Watch this space for more in the New Year when it steps up a gear and we get into the acting side…I’m ready for my close up Mr Demille!

How’s the chrimbo preparations folks? I feel rather unorgaised this year, I have everything bought, but just no get up and go to get it done, I am off next week though, so I should get into the christmas spirit…if wrapping up the presents doesn’t do it, the snow will!

If I don’t get the chance to say so before thew new Year, I Hope you all have glorious Christmases and all your New Year Wishes come true…Have a fantastically wonderful festive season and see you for more musings next year

Loadsa Love…

oh..here’s your Chrismas card…

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

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“Oh for a muse!”

Said Wullie Shakespeare….but I’m in the market for two!
One for knitterly inspiration… I’m wearying folks! I need a knitting needle applied to my butt cheek to get these christmas presents done…and about another two months of solely knitting to do it!
While there may not be a knitting muse, my second muse definitely has experience in her chosen field. Writing!
I started my night class last week, it’s a play writing and acting class and it’s totally – and pleasantly – different from anything I’ve done before.
I have always written little things here and there, from plays for Sunday School (remember those mirln?!) to little sketches which have never, and will never see the light of day.
I’d love to get more confidence in my writing and be a bit more serious about it.
The acting part of the class, i have to admit, I didn’t really notice in the class description, and while I was a bit trepidatious at first (and thought about changing my mind) I am now of the opinion that it’s all a learning curve and, even if i’m a turkey (or a ham (hmmm…never noticed the farmyard/food similarity before!)), it’s all an experience!
I enjoyed it so much I twisted mirlnlass’s arm all the way up her back and said “come and enjoy this with me, or else!” Ha, ha!
I’m quite excited that she’s coming tonight, it’ll be like we’re back at school again. It is held at a primary school, alas not our old primary school, but I fully intend on sniffing out the raffia cupboard at the nearest opportunity!

As for knitterly things, her’s a pic of Jam’s son and the earflap hat he wanted me to make him for his birthday. No expensive gadgets, or the latest thing…he was happy with a knitted hat – how refreshing in this day and age.

I also got him his first watch and to say he was chuffed! He even wanted to cut the sleeve off his jacket so that everyone could see it when he went out!

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