Thursday, 20 January 2011

My Creative Space

This whole week I have been mostly finishing off the ten teddies I began last week. And they are ready! I have just finished the last one.

Here they are sitting comfortably, waiting to be packaged and posted. And if you look closely you can see five kilos of acrylic stuffing in the background... That's a lot of bears!!

See more creative spaces at Kirtsy's blog.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Iceland, wonderful Iceland!

Photo from

Ever since I started learning old Norse ten years ago I have been completely and absolutely fascinated by Iceland. My teacher, as well as opening doors on the amazing world of the sagas, part history and part wonder, told me all sorts of interesting facts about Iceland. Its use of geothermal power, its waterfalls, lagoons, the view of  blackened lava fields as you fly over southern Iceland into Keflavik airport, the friendliness of Icelandic farmers - the list is endless.
Photo from

And over the last ten years I have desperately wanted to visit Iceland, and to increase my knowledge of Iceland, its language and culture. Life in its various forms has got in the way - but still my main aim in life is to do a PhD on something a bit Norsey. And visit Iceland of course. Knitting is another passion of mine, but only for the first time yesterday did I think to put the two together, and google "knitting tours Iceland". And what did I find!!!
Nordurljos. Photo from

It is possible to do a knitting tour in Iceland. In fact there is a choice of several to cater for all different appetites! Hiking and knitting, running and knitting, knitting with your children tagging along, knitting with rock music, knitting and spa - surely everyone's tastes are catered for.  This feast of delights is provided by a company called Knitting Iceland. Founded by two knitters, Ragga and Helene, Knitting Iceland combines Icelandic knitting heritage with lots of lovely knitting stuff.  (I have also only just discovered, by the way, from looking at Knitting Iceland, that the famous Lopi yarn is not spun. The fibres are drawn out and knitting, just like that. And there was me spinning it, and ending up with quite a scratchy, heavy product!) (Duh!)

As well as the tours, Ragga also sells her own range of hand-dyed Icelandic yarn, patterns, dvds and kits on her beautiful etsy shop.

Nammi hand-dyed yarn. Photo from

She also has her own blog, full of interesting insights, and a ravelry group, full of interesting people and chat. There is a facebook page as well.
Unspun lopi. Photo from

And finally, for even more interesting information, especially about the tours and about knitting in Iceland, Ragga is interviewed on Alana's podcast at her NeverNotKnitting blog (which is yet another lovely place I found to go to on the internet yesterday!)

Frejya knitting kit. Photo from

 Esty Shop
Knitting Iceland website
knitting Iceland Ravelry Group
Knitting Iceland on FB
Interview with Ragga on the 'never not knitting' podcast
Helene's blog
Ragga's blog

Thursday, 13 January 2011

My Creative Space - zombie teddies!

Today I have been working on my first wholesale order - to a shop in York. Soon these bears will have happy little faces, and multicoloured jumpers. But as they gradually line up on my bookshelf they look a little bit creepy... a bit like mannikins on a conveyer belt, or clones in a sci-fi film... arms outstretched for a creepy hug.....

Here is a finished bear! Doesn't he look friendly!

Kootyoo's my creative space series is having a break after Christmas - but here are some creative spaces from last year! Kotyoo's blog

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Needle Felting

Needle felting - an apparently extremely dangerous hobby, especially with small children/clumsy ladies around. It involves stabbing a pice of wool repeatedly with a sharp barbed needle, until the platelets on the surface of the wool fibres are roughed up and can mesh together. Like a pantene advert in reverse. But in actual fact it is an extremely satisfying way of moulding wool, and not dangerous at all! I haven't stabbed myself once! (yet). This is one of my first experiments, which has really opened up a world of applique to me. I hate sewing, so it's wonderful to be able to felt the fibres together instead of sewing them! It is like painting with yarn! The textures are fantastic.

This is my own beret, knitted by me, specially for me after lots of thought. I chose a Shetland aran weight yarn from Jamieson and Smith in an oatmeal/beige/off white/cream colour with hints of pink and heather. The needle-felted applique is also in Jamieson and Smith's wool (it felts really very well), with yellow highlights from the ends of a lovely homespun wool from Colouritgreen.

After shopping around I bought my first needle felting supplies from Blooming Felt, an online felt emporium set up by a felter who found felting supplies to be under-represented on the internet. I recommend it very highly - you get a personal friendly service, and they have everything you need competitively priced - all boxes ticked!

Thursday, 6 January 2011

New! Teeny Weeny teddies

This is a teeny weeny teddy. He and his friends have taken up virtual residence in my shops. He is only about 5cm tall, and barely 4cm wide. But he has a huge personality! It seems to be a strange fact about teddies that even though many are made the same way, yet each is an individual. They are all made from pure wool from the Shetland islands (from Jamieson and Smith) - is it possible that after all the scouring, dyeing, spinning and knitting, they have inherited a spirit from the Shetlands? Forged in biting cold winds, sea-sprayed heather, the echoing calls of grey seals and Up Helly Aa.... Who knows.