Monday, 27 July 2009

Getting the weft pattern right...

OK, today I am going to explain how to work out the weft for my new linen. So, are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin..

The Hattersley loom has a revolving shuttle box that has six segments so it can carry up up to six shuttles at a time.
The picture above shows the front of the box and you can see two segments where the shuttles sit when they are not in use. To bring a shuttle into use, the appropriate segment must be at the top of the box so it can be fired along the sley board by the picking arm. The box remains static until the shuttle has completed a second shot and returned.

Small metal cards containing either one or two holes are used to turn the box. If a card has a hole on the left side it will turn the box one segment away from the weaver, if the card has a hole on the right side the box will turn one segment towards the weaver. If the card has two holes the box will stay in the same place for the next two shots.

In this way the pattern for a cloth can be set before weaving starts.
The cards are clipped together by little wire rings that are opened and closed by means of a pair of pliers! (This is all high-tec stuff!).

The weft pattern I am going to use will be the same as the order of the warp ends, thus making up a check design.

The order of the ends are:- 2 yellow, 6 natural, 2 yellow, 6 light green, 2 yellow, 6 natural, 2 yellow and 6 dark green. This makes a total of 32 shots - and because each card accounts for 2 shots, we need 16 cards.

The order of the shuttles in the revolving box, going clockwise when looking at the batwing end of the box: dark green, yellow, natural, yellow, light green. Though we only have four colours, we need to use five shuttles, doubling up on the yellow because yellow appears next to natural, light green and dark green - as the box will only move one segment at a time, its necessary to put in an extra yellow shuttle to accommodate this. All the other colours only have yellow next to them.

Here is my completed chain....
.... along with the shuttles.

Now we just have to put the chain of cards onto the card sensor on the loom, and put the shuttles into the box in the correct order, and we should be ready to start.
Thank goodness it's ok!

Friday, 24 July 2009

Lamb, Chicks and Knitting

Not a bad day today - a bit of sun, a bit of wind, a bit of stillness and a bit of rain all mixed up together. The odd midgie nibbling around the edges, but generally quite acceptable.

Found the chicks having a morning snooze in the nettles today, and they looked so cute I snapped them looking relaxed and full up with breakfast. They are getting on outside very well. Mum is still taking them back into the nest box at night, so we know they won't come to any harm.
Another Buff Orpington has gone broody in the little barrel they use for laying. She is forcibly keeping out the other hens from laying there and is generally looking fierce and focussed on sitting there.

Remember the little black lamb who was left an orphan after her white mum first abandoned her, then reclaimed her, then died a few weeks ago? Well, here she is looking happy and well-fed. Her little friend the white lamb is out of camera shot but is also doing well. This lamb has just the two horns, and is more of a milk chocolate brown than black. But she still has the little white patch on top of her head. She is extremely friendly and is entertaining passing visitors by letting them stroke her.

And now, as promised, a shot of my new knitting. The wool is grey Hebridean, which we had spun up a couple of years ago by "Natural Fibres" in Launceston, Cornwall. Though it was spun as a 10c weaving weight, when you Peruvian ply it into three-ply it is like a heavy DK/light aran conventional knitting wool. I'm knitting on a circular needle - think its a 4mm turbo - and cast on 200 sts. After 8cm of double rib I changed to double moss-stitch to get a bit of texture into the fabric. Its supposed to be a working jumper, so there will be no seams to come undone (a really bad fault of mine), and theoretically I should be able to unravel the cuffs if they need replacing as I will be picking up round the armholes and working down to the wrists. At least, that's the idea. If it works it should be comfy, and it looks like it might even fit him - which is an added bonus!
So, that's my project for however long it is going to take.
Still tyeing in the green and yellow warp on the loom. Its going well, but I have lost a couple of ends that I had to replace with trailers, and that was a bit depressing. However, hopefully they will turn up as we carry on with the weaving.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Another Warp going in....

Today I'm tying in the next warp - essentially the same set up as the last one, so its 16lea three to a dent, 32 shots per inch and 960 ends, or thereabouts. The warp looked so glossy and gorgeous as it went onto the beam that I couldn't resist taking a photo....

My other half chose the colours for this one, so if you don't like it - well, its his fault!

Yesterday was sunny and warm and we were inundated with visitors at the loomshed, all of them chatty and friendly, so I didn't get a lot of actual work done but it was good fun all the same. Also sold quite a bit, so that makes up for lack of weaving activity!

This morning there was a midgie or two about when we were feeding the hens, but now it is pouring with rain - big drops falling straight down in a very wet way. Also, there's mist rolling down the Sound (the channel of sea between the Isle of Scalpay and the rest of Harris), so I be the view from the bridge is a bit spooky.

Looking forward to tying in the linen and getting started. WoollyWags tonight - have started knitting a sweater for my other half out of grey Hebridean wool. Not using a pattern, as is my custom, and doing it on a circular needle. Hopefully Joan from Calana Crafts will keep me right when I come to do the sleeves etc.

Enjoyed seeing our friend Harvey and his partner on Channel 5 "Build a New Life in the Country" last evening. Harvey is our local hairdresser at Tarbert and runs a campsite at Lickisto in the Bays of Harris. He moved to Harris from Leeds a while ago and has worked very hard despite setbacks to create a lovely setting for holidays as well as a hairdressing salon in Main Street, Tarbert.

Link to the web site is below:

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

New Chicks on the Block

This is the first day out on the croft for the four little chicks belonging to the Buff Orpington. They are doing very well and we have decided to let them out to see how they will get on. They are going to a new home in Luskentyre, Harris in about three weeks, but until then they will be able to get used to living with the other hens. The picture shows only three of the chicks - the little white one was out of shot.

Anyone who wants to know more about the fiasco should go to as there is a discussion going on and plenty of info flying around.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Am I dreaming???

Now, here's a sight you don't often see on Scalpay. After my post on Sunday there was a bit of a rumpus outside the shed and when I looked out......

These four little darlings had slipped out their field down the road when no-one was looking and decided to pay me a visit! Bramble took charge and soon had them pointing back in the right direction. Not sure whether they had been heading for the Sunday ferry..... but now they are firmly back where they belong!
If you are a pork lover, they are owned by a neighbour and will be available by the joint and as sausages later on next month! If you are a vegetarian, please don't read the above.

Weather super today - sunny, warm and great for weaving.
E-mail back up and running too, so all's right with the world for now!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Dial up and mail problems with

Well, just had several days in bed with the 'flu - high temperature, nasty cough, lots of sneezing etc. Have so far managed to keep it to myself, but did shut the loomshed as a precaution. Now feeling better, I decided to tackle my mails but haven't been able to access my dial-up service, which is provided by .

Fortunately I also have the connected communities wireless broadband in the shed, but when I logged in I found everything has changed. The webmail looks different and is empty even though there should be a couple of days mail on it - and the forum section where you could go to chat with other users and get some help has totally disappeared.

Breathe didn't tell us that something was going to happen - but veterans of their shenannigans know that this is their trademark - and I haven't been able to find out anything, but meantime, if anyone knows anything or comes to this page having put into google, you are welcome to leave comments, or let us know what it happening if you do.

So, anyone who might have sent me an e-mail since Friday, it is probably floating around in hyper-space looking for me, so please send it again.

Lots of rain today!

Saturday, 11 July 2009

End of a busy week

This week seems to have been really manic, culminating in the SassyGael Craft Fair yesterday. We had lots of people through the door and a good time was had by all. Now its time to metaphorically pick up all the dropped stitches and carry on.....

While waiting for the pirn winder to make up more shuttle bobbins so I can finish the natural 2 x 2 linen that I have in the loom (and which seems to be taking longer than War and Peace to finish!), I have been running in the ends and readying my new scarf design for its debut. It's similar to the one I had on the blog a few weeks ago, and which was sold before it was even finished - the buyer loved it so much she said she would run the loose ends in herself!

It's the Carloway fibre - candyfloss pink, handspun with a matching shantung silk binder. Hyperbolic crocheted so its ruffly and layered looking when round the neck -

But rolled up its just like a bridesmaids posy! Originally I named these cabbage scarves, but now I think "posy scarf" is probably a better name. I'm going to sell them with the ribbon streamers. They are about 1.25m long and 13cm wide, though this does vary according to the sort of yarn.

Today is warm and sunny with a breeze. All the chickens, chicks, ducks, ducklings, guinea fowl, turkey poult, lambs and sheep appear to be in fine form.

Still looking for an appropriate name for the little turkey. Today I will try to get another photo of it as its grown quite a lot and is starting to develop a little snood above its beak to show it really is a turkey!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Surprise visitor

We had a surprise visitor yesterday morning - Teo, from Teoshandspuns of Broadford Old Pier, Isle of Sky was sailing his boat around the islands and dropped into Scalpay for a visit. Teo has a wonderful shop in Skye which is full to the rafters with all kinds of hand spuns in all sorts of fibres. If you are a knitter with exotic tastes, or want something different for that special project, then pay him a visit and you're sure to find something to your taste. I have spun for Teo for some years - the chunky curly wurly Wensleydale which is such fun to do and gives such amazing results. Its just fabby to knit and weave with - I recommend it!

In the afternoon the drop spindle session went spinningly. We started with some pre-spun, progressed to carding and hand made rolags, which we spun on the spindles and then finally learned Andean plying which meant we could twist up what we had spun into a nice stable yarn that could be used. A final spell round the fibre box examining loads of different fibre types that I have collected over the years - qiviut to bamboo, soay to nylon as well as loads of sheep breeds, and everyone felt they had learned plenty and were full of enthusiasm to continue at home.
It was great fun and I'm looking forward to the next three sessions with different learners.
Today the weather is windy, wet and a bit chilly round the edges. Bit of a shock after all this heat we have been enduring over the past weeks!

Chicks are all thriving - the found with the Buff Orp have quite a few feathers; the two with the little bantam are still fluffy but are coming on; and the turkey is becoming more and more gorgeous as the days go past. He has very long legs and a slightly dozy expression.
Will get pictures when I can get near.

Thanks to those who have suggested names - there have been some good ones, but not yet any that have really fitted. Please keep going.

Something is eating my runner beans at the loom shed - think it might be slugs or snails but I can't find the little blighters. Grrrr..

Saturday, 4 July 2009


Here's the celebrity turkey poult, posing for the camera.

This little one will not end up on anyone's table ever, as the only hatch from a clutch of 12 eggs it is much too valuable, so we will keep it as a permanent resident. Now we need to find a name, so I'm going to have a little competition...... if you can think of anything suitable (no Christmas names please!) I will offer a piece of hand-woven cloth, or some fibre as a present to the winning name. Just e-mail me with your suggestions. No closing date, just carry on till something appropriate turns up.

This week the island sheep have been having their wool sheared. Today was the turn of the south side, which is the lighthouse area, so the sheep living on this side of the common grazings were gathered into the fank which is at the side of the peat road. Everyone except the lambs are sheared, inspected, tagged and then released back onto the grazings.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Time to celebrate!

We have one very small, very gorgeous turkey poult hatched sometime during the night. Sadly all the other turkey eggs the little bantam was sitting on did not show any signs of development, but we are immensely pleased with our beautiful little Norfolk Black who looks just like a tiny penguin at the moment. Too soon to take piccies as mum is being quite protective, but maybe tomorrow........

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Some good news and some bad news....

Well, do I start with the good or the bad news?

Probably best to begin with the bad and then things can only get better after that!
This morning as we were feeding the hens we noticed an extremely horrid smell coming from the nest box that housed the light sussex hen sitting on 6 turkey eggs. On opening it we found that several had obviously gone rotten and smelled just revolting. Just in time I got the rest into a sealed bag before they exploded with a sound very much like gun shots.
The light sussex hopped out of the nest and was last seen relaxing in the nettles eating a large breakfast!
We don't know what's happening with the other six eggs under the little bantam, but she's sitting tight. It must have been the very hot weather that killed the eggs. Anyway, Saturday is estimated hatch day so we will know if there is any future to our turkey plans then.
It has become much cooler here today and is quite misty and drizzly - a welcome relief from the past few days.

So, onto the good news.
When my other half picked me up from the Craft Fair in Tarbert yesterday evening he said he had a surprise for me - and he did..... The other little bantam who had been sitting in a basket in the byre for the past three weeks had hatched out two little chicks! One is the most delightful little naked neck chick with a mop of blond hair and a stripey back. Just like its daddy!

The other is black - with an extra toe and bearing a remarkable resemblance to our late, great silkie/araucana cross cockerel . This little chick had been ejected from the nest box by another hen who was anxious to get in and lay her egg for the day without interference from anything as irritating as a newly-hatched chick! It was found on the floor almost dead. Remarkably, the little bantam had spent the entire incubation period being chased out of her nest on a regular basis by other hens who also wished to use the nest, and in the evenings I would lift her up and remove the extra eggs. Its amazing she hatched anything at all!

The new family is safely housed in a run by the house where we can keep an eye on them. Its really good to see new additions to the croft arriving.

To cheer us up after the exploding turkey egg incident, we discovered where the guinea fowls have been laying for the past four days - in the centre of a large patch or wild iris, stinging nettles and giant thistles down by the duck pond - and took out twelve eggs which are now being incubated by our old black naked-neck hen who turned growly yesterday morning and was still hogging the nest basket at feeding time this morning. Do we really need a dozen more screeching screaming guinea fowl? Well, probably not, but then again, why not...?