Saturday, 30 January 2010

New Brothers for Pippin

It's always great to hear news of new babies whether they be human or animal, and this week we had a lovely surprise to receive a picture of Pippins mum with her new brood - two gorgeous little boy puppies now around two weeks old. Pippins mum is called "Breagha" which is Gaelic for "Lovely". The pups are looking for good homes in five weeks or so. If you are local to the Hebrides and wanting a new pup, contact me and I'll pass it on.

Today we are back in the grip of Siberian weather. Daisy the bottle-fed cross-Cheviot from Bunnavoneader has decided to grace us with her presence at the dinner trough now. Does this mean she has increased appetite because she is in lamb? Or because its turned cold again? Or she just like shredded beet? We will wait and see...... I see a Frisian hen got in on the action - they like the beet too. Wonder if it makes the eggs taste sweet?

And here are three other ewes, heads down in the bucket of "Topflock" lick which we bought them from Lewis Crofters Ltd in Stornoway. They are looking like they are enjoying it and we hope it will provide the extra minerals and vitamins required to produce lively little lambs when the time comes. The first is due around 27th March I think, so there is still a bit to go.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Starting on the new CSM Cylinder

Remember my new 72 cylinder and 36 ribber dial for the Berridge circular sock machine? Well, yesterday I decided to pay a visit to my good friend Joan at Calana Crafts in Kyles Scalpay (, as she can always be relied upon for inspirational yarn for sock knitting and with the bigger cylinder we can now use regular sock yarn which is great. As usual Joan did not disappoint - and I came away with enough to keep me quiet for a day or two! What I'm really after is Joans very special hand-dyed yarns which are going to look really wonderful knitted up on the machine. But because I don't yet know how much yarn I will need for a pair I only took a couple of matching hanks of that. Joan is going to dye up bigger quantities of the yarn if I need it. I could have come away with much more, but you have to draw the line somewhere!!

As you can see below - Heather found the whole situation just too exciting! sent me some ideas for making linsey-woolsey socks on the machine. Where will I find the time to do all this?

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Making Progress- and a day out in the sun

On Friday we nipped up to Harris Tweed Hebrides at Shawbost, Isle of Lewis to pick up the Hebridean wool spinning they had done for us. I was expecting just a few tubes and was very excited to see three big sacks full of beautiful yarn which qualifies to be woven into Harris Tweed as it was spun in the Outer Hebrides.

Below is a picture of one tube - it smells like a fank full of Heb sheep, and is a gorgeous dark chocolate brown colour. I am just over the moon with happiness! Thank you to everyone who helped to make this possible - the folks with the sheep (including my O/H), Harris Tweed Textiles who did much of the preparation work, and HTH of course. Unfortunately the downside is that this is a one-off production - apparently the carding was a real pain in the neck and very time-consuming, so HTH said they aren't going to repeat it. Apparently the wool is too coarse for the cards they usually use (these days most Harris Tweed is principally Cheviot which is quite different in character to Hebridean).

So - Plan B (or maybe X or Y) is that in future I shall send my fleeces to Natural Fibres in Launceston, Cornwall and they will process them through to pre-spun cheeses (everything except the twist). Then I will hand-twist it from the cheeses into a yarn. If I could get a small spinning machine that would be super, but meantime I will do it on the Ashford spinning wheel jumbo flyer. This will qualify the yarn for use as Harris Tweed. Ahhh, progress at last. Now I just have to start weaving......

Changing the subject totally, yesterday was a fabby day - sunny and not too windy. It was one of the days each month that I travel round South Harris to deliver the latest edition of the free local newspaper "Events Monthly" published by Intermedia Services Ltd, Stornoway. Our route takes us from Tarbert through the Bays of Harris - Grosebay, Leacklee, Geocrab, Manish, Finsbay, Leverburgh and finally Northton, stopping at lots of places to deliver papers. At Northton we stop at a quiet little beach to exercise Bramble and Pippin who have been sitting patiently in the back of the van. Here's a picture of Pippin trying to avoid the surf.

Later in the afternoon we walked to the end of our croft and I took a piccie of the three little standing stones. Legend has it that they mark the burial place of several shipwrecked sailors. Not sure about that, but our last cat is certainly buried at the side of one.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

More about Socks knitted on the CSM

Since my last blog I've been a busy bee indeed! Bought a cone of 2/17s Lambswool from Uppingham Yarns which arrived in double quick time. Though its not sock yarn, it is good to practice with on the 84 cylinder and produces a lovely soft sock which is suitable for people who don't walk a lot - the elderly and disabled for instance. Anyway, it was great for practising on and getting handy with the grafting needle again.

Above is a picture of my first three pairs - before washing. They are folded carefully to hide that they have two heels and three toes per pair! (Only joking).
The best bit of news though is that I've located a 76 cylinder with matching ribber dial from which looks like its going to fit my Berridge CSM. So I shall be shortly geared up to use re-inforced yarns in the machine and will have another product for my shelves this season! Must get in touch with Joan at to see if she has any of her gorgeous hand-dyed sock yarn that I could use.
Raining here on Scalpay tonight, but I don't mind - I have my sock machine to keep me warm......

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Knitting in the round - fast

Woooo, hoooo! The train now standing at platform 4 is the circular sock knitter express. We will be travelling at high speed, so please fasten your seat belt.
We're off! On with the ribber, change half the cylinder needles with ribber needles......

Do 40 rounds of ribbing, then change the ribber needles back to cylinder ones.....

And here's the view down the cylinder to see the ribbing....

60 rounds for the leg, then turn the heel......

Another 60 rounds for the foot and do the toe exactly the same as the heel.
Then we run out of pictures because I have to do a long line of socks all joined together with waste knitting, then graft up the toes and wash and block them. And I didn't get that far yet.
So, the Berridge CSM is really going good since I adjusted the yarn guide, and now I'm going to order some yarn off e-bay so I can make some really nice socks. Think I'll go with 2/16 nm as its an 84 cylinder.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Something big....and something small!

OK - today we are going to have a look at two of the Hattersley Domestic loom's big brothers, courtesy of Peter from Australia who is very interested in Hattersleys and has an amazing archive. He is going to send pictures on a regular basis for inclusion into the blog, as I know that there are more people out there who are just as obsessed with this type of machinery as Peter and I.....

The one above is the Silk and rayon loom which incorporates an automatic bobbin changer. It is driven by a band around the mainshaft wheel and looks to me like a full-width loom which would have been (and indeed probably still is) used in factories throughout the world.

This is another mechanised loom - is that a dobby I see on the top right? This photo is taken from the operators side - you can see the prickly roller that keeps the cloth straight as it comes off the reed and the cloth roller beneath around which the finished cloth is wound. Tappets to the right, for those interested.

Now something smaller - when I was in Orkney during September and during a particularly rough ferry crossing from Kirkwall to Westray I holed up in a corner of the passenger lounge with some of my gorgeous Norwegian pre-spun from which I had spun up with a spot of gold lurex and hyperbolically crocheted the whole return journey! The scarf wasn't quite finished at the time, but it is now. ...

The Scalpay Linen Bear models a cosy posy scarf which winds around the neck in a swirl of ruffles to trap warm air inside.

The true delight of these scarves is that they can be presented like a bridesmaid's posy by rolling them up, and there is even a place to put a ribbon round at the edge. This colours on this one are so warm and the glitter is so glittery that I thought it would make a nice contrast to the still cold and frosty environment we are experiencing. This scarf is going in the box to stock the loomshed next season - unless, of course, anyone would like to make an offer. Going price is £20 including postage anywhere. It's hand-spun, hand-crocheted, straight edge is 1.25m long, width 15cm.
And, on a similar theme, here is a pair of socks made with the same pre-spun, handspun. Glittery disco socks (well, not really, but warm and bright). The colour shde change is quite subtle and attractive. They take around 100g to knit and are very quick to do. I've got quite a bit of yarn already made up, so may put some of the yarn up for sale in sock quantities.
I am still working on a knitted and felted hand-spun hat with ear flaps and plaits in burgundy with my hand-spun feathery silk as an edge and a hyperbolic ornamentation on the top that looks suspiciously like a white fluffy jellyfish!
That's for another day though........

Oh, and do check out Joan's blog she's knitting amazing teeny weeny socks for key rings that are totally must-haves - link to her blog below:
She should get together with Clarks who have produced the celebration Harris Tweed Desert boot and include a tiny desert boot replica keyring - saw it on the Style Salvage blogspot (see my list of blogs to the right), the entry titled "Merry Christmas to".

Friday, 1 January 2010

New Year Moon and A New Year Offer....

We wish our customers and blog readers a peaceful new year - decade if possible. This morning at nine o clock the full moon was shining in the front of the house and peeping over a big white snow cloud. It looked so amazing that I rushed for the camera..... and I made a wish!

To celebrate the New Year and in recognition of the cold weather some of us in the Northern Hemisphere are suffering, I am putting one of my Hebridean Lynsey Woolsey wraps/throws on at a sale price. The warp is 100% linen in two gorgeous warm colours - a sand and a muted orange,the weft is 100% Hebridean wool in grey and dark brown sourced from Lewis and Scalpay, and the pattern is a 12 x 12 herringbone with the colour change in the middle of the pattern. Yhe wrap measures 2m long excluding the fringes and is 77cm wide. The cloth was woven by me, finished by Harris Tweed Hebrides, Shawbost, Isle of Lewis, and labelled with "Scalpay Linen - Handwoven and finished in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland" and the "Masters of Linen" minimum 50% linen label.

It's not available anywhere else, is warm and very tweedy looking despite its linen content, and can be washed by hand. Usual price - £65 plus postage, sale price £50 post free. A really good offer I think. The usual retail price for the cloth is £30 per metre!
Gosh, that one went very quickly. Sorry folks the wrap has been snapped up and will be on its way to the USA next Tuesday. I'll look around the loomshed and see what else I have that could go on offer to brighten up both my bank balance and the dark winter days!