Category Archives: scotland

Alpaca!

Warning: this post contains photos of a shocking quality, this blog takes no responsibility for these, I completely blame my cr***y phone camera and deny it had anything to do with poor lighting choices, shaky hands and lack of patience. Please continue at your own risk.

I stumbled upon a lovely yarny-type place last week. We made an impromptu visit to Aberdeen that involved passing by Auld Mill Alpacas, a small holding near Elgin.

It’s a wee gem buried in the Moray countryside with a fairly large herd ( flock?) of alpacas living with various chickens, dogs and a couple of humans too. Carol and John have run it for about six years and breed alpaca for sale as well as running a small on-site and online shop.

We were warmly welcomed and ushered in for a cuppa; Carol has heard of Weaving Heart and we exchanged weaving stories and traded tips. They make handwoven scarves and throws with yarn spun from the alpaca fleece. The range of natural colours is beautiful and they try and ensure that everything is labelled with the name of the alpaca the fleece came from.

Finally I had a wander round the shop, in a shepherd’s hut; it’s perfect with a great selection of yarn, fibre and handmade goodies.

Needless to say I managed to acquire a few additions to my stash while I was there. Something I really liked and I think is unusual was some mill-spun core spun yarn. I’ve never seen non handspun yarn like this and I took a large bump home with plans to use it as weft in a rug. In the photo below it’s on the bottom row in the middle, isn’t it gorgeous? I’d be quite happy just cuddling it all day.

If this all sounds like I’m pushing you to visit, if you get chance, go! I was very pleasantly surprised and the alpacas were beautiful in their elegantly haughty ballet dancer way.

Right health update: bleurgh, life can be truly awful with ME sometimes. It’s not often I moan (??) (maybe I should leave you to decide that) but I just a little fed up with really really wanting to do stuff (like weave) and just can’t. It’s a bit rubbish getting up in the morning only to have to lie down, wait for the drugs to kick in and then see if I can manage to actually sit up so I can crochet a little. It’s tough. I do maintain a positive outlook, I am super fortunate to have a safe, warm home and wonderful people in my life but jeez it gets tedious. That is all. Speaking of crochet, I have been hooking a bit (and running out of Netflix to watch too, nightmare), here’s a little selection.

Everything is looking beautiful today, in the Spring sunshine. I love this time of year with its yellows and fresh acid greens, sounds of birds twittering around their nests and the longer days. 


The view from our house is spectacular with the gorse in full bloom and the blue sky.

Right enough of the positivity, I’m never one to wax lyrical about the joys of living for too long. Wait a minute while I shake on my cloak of darkness. Ok normal transmission resumed…

We had a week away in Skye. It’s the first time we’ve visited for some years, it used to be our yearly holiday, often more frequently if we could get the time off work. Our first introduction to the landscape of the Highlands was via Skye and it used to be my favourite place. Note the past tense; this time was very mixed.

We stayed in a super renovated croft near Uig in the north of the island, it was as comfortable as you could wish for with amazing (more superlatives I know) views over the Atlantic.


The whole week was really bittersweet though. Firstly Skye, you’ve changed. You’ve gotten really popular, like the top cheerleader everyone wants to be your friend. So we spent the whole week driving at five mph constantly pulling into passing places.

But the main issue was, of course, the fact that I can’t do the things I used to. Our holidays were spent walking; our all time favourite was the Quiraing, all the way along the bottom then up and over the top, finished with an epic slide down the end (honestly try it, whip on your waterproofs – best not to use your best ones – sit down and sliiiiide). So not being able to do that anymore was difficult when confronted with memories of past experiences. Yes I’m grateful to have been able to have done them before but, well, sigh.


This was topped off by the fact I brought the wrong knitting with me. All I had was a sock project, in yarn that I wasn’t that keen on (lovely colours, just a bit thin and hairy). We did have a visit to Shilasdair which is always good, but I’m not (shh) that keen on their yarn, it runs a lot. I did buy a few skeins of sock yarn and started a shawl, however it didn’t disappoint and I get blue hands every time I pick it up.


So all in all, we were glad to get home, if anything I appreciate our comfortable cosy wee hoose even more. So it came good in the end. 

Fibre Fests abound!

Like proverbial buses, fibre fests seem to come all at once. Two weekends ago it was Edinburgh Yarn Fest, the one I’d decided not to go to, in the name of energy and penny conservation.

However, the excitement was building via social media and I was beginning to feel very deprived so at the last minute we decided to throw the pacing out of the window and have a wee visit. Like last year, it was amazing; as much yarn as you could possibly want as well as a few (though not nearly as many as Woolfest) other quirky yarn related stalls. One of the best things is seeing everyone’s gorgeous hand knitted creations, it made me want to cast on even more projects. A Yarn Fest is the perfect place to show off that cardi that normally looks a bit crazy cat lady or wear the Westknits shawl in eye blinding neons. I took no photos, I’m afraid I was far too busy exploring everything.

I had two days of pretty frenetic activity, with lots of walking and dealing with bright lights and loud noise as well as falling off the keto diet wagon spectacularly. I thought I’d got away with it as there wasn’t a crash immediately afterwards but by the following Thursday I was pretty zonked. 

This weekend just gone was the Dornoch Fibre Fest, a slightly smaller wool event just down the road from us. The fibre fest team do an amazing job of organising it and Dornoch gets wonderfully yarn bombed in the process.


We went along to the opening talk, by Debbie Zawinski, a spinner, knitter and walker who travelled around Scotland in search of local fleece to spin and knit socks. It was fascinating to hear about her adventures and she has written a book if you’d like to know more.

I also managed a couple of hours visiting on the Sunday, the festival is getting larger and larger each year with lots of local yarny types with lovely stalls. Finally I had a happy chat with Helen from Ripplescrafts, who must be exhausted as she had also been selling at Edinburgh. I was amazed she actually had any yarn left!

I’d love to describe more details but I’m pretty fatigued today so I’ll leave you with some photos.

Silver linings

Have you come across the Pussy Hat Project? If you’ve seen the news or been on social media over the last day or so the chances are you have.

I’ve felt very humbled to be part of a community that has produced this and it’s reminded me that there usually is a silver lining to whatever happens in life.

Take my health condition, without it I doubt I’d have had the opportunity to set up a moderately successful baby wrap weaving business which in turn introduced me to some amazing women (you know who you are!).

We most likely wouldn’t have moved either, yet by doing so I’m now living in our house. You know, the one we have been meant to live in all along. 


I love living in Helmsdale, I’m a city girl at heart (disappointingly) so being in the midst of a village with all the sounds of habitation around me is very reassuring.

The house is perfect, not a kit house without character like our old one but a home filled with light and colours, quirks and comfort. I look around and have that glow of contentment every day.


Our small garden is filled with birds too, so I watch them squabbling over the feeders and strutting about in the mornings, along with two very interested dogs!


There’s a walk in the nearby hills that is accessible by car and follows an old disused road, it’s something I can manage a little of once or twice a week and it has fabulous views out to sea and across the strath.


So despite the fears I held about leaving my studio and bungalow in the middle of nowhere, everything has worked out well, very well indeed.

Now, I promised some more photos of my Find Your Fade shawl, it’s worn all the time but I managed to do without it for a few minutes in order to fulfill my commitment.

One year of hexipuffs 

I have made a decision. And a commitment. It’s that serious. 

Well in actual fact it’s really not but I just didn’t know how else to start this post. I discovered the wonderful Beekeeper’s Quilt a while ago; it’s a knitted blanket made from lots of tiny stuffed hexagons called hexipuffs and offers a great opportunity to use up all those odds and ends of sock yarn. 

I even got as a far as purchasing the pattern. However, this was during my sock hiatus, and after reading through the pattern, which involves DPNs and knitting in the round with tiny things, I decided I had neither the time nor patience for it.

About a month ago, I rediscovered the joy of sock knitting (I was inspired by a couple of friends and the gorgeous opportunities offered by speckled yarn) and have been acquiring a small pile of left over yarn.

(Quick update as I really should have blogged about these earlier but here are my recent socks:

)

In the way that several little incidences collide and create a new incidence, I also had a bad day. I’m very fortunate as I don’t have these very often and I also have a great DH who is great at listening but on this particular one I felt very pointless due to be unable to work or do anything much other than sit or lie about. Then I came across this blog post, 1 Year of Stitches, that made me realise that I can manage little things each day that add up into something that is greater than the sum of it’s parts. I loved the idea of the embroidery especially as my Nan was an amazing embroiderer, but sewing really isn’t my thing which is when I remembered the Beekeeper’s Quilt.

It presents the ideal way for me to make one little hexipuff (although I’m determined to call them hufflepuffs) each day with the aim of having 365 of the critters by next Christmas.

They’re charming little things, so cute and it’s wonderful to revisit old yarns that I’d forgotten. I found a stash of yarn, leftover from socks, that I’d kept with no idea whether or not it would ever be used that’s just perfect.


I have been posting each day’s creation on Instagram, more as a way of keeping a record for myself, but if you’d like to give me a few ❤’s along the way that would be lovely.

New toys

It’s my favourite time of year, the nights have drawn in and it’s chilly outside, the perfect season for knitting and spinning. Only this year I’m not that much. 

In my usual tradition of being late to the party I’ve discovered Adult Colouring books. Up until now I have to admit being a little snobby about these, I mean it’s hardly creative is it? 

Well that’s where I was wrong, just take a look in Pinterest or on Instagram and you’ll find hundreds of stunning hand coloured pictures that prove me very wrong indeed.

As there are an awful lot of blogs specifically on colouring I’m not going to say very much about it other than it’s great for me as it requires very little energy, less than spinning for example, but still let’s me play with colour. I have started a pencil collection in a way very similar to my fibre collection and I have discovered some of the most beautiful printed books I have seen for a long time. As the quality of paper is important you can find them printed on thick creamy paper, bound with proper thread in hardback. I can’t remember the last time I bought a hardback book before now, it might have been the last Harry Potter!

Below is a picture from one called ‘Floribunda’ by Leila Duly and it’s gorgeous.


And yes I’m aware of all the stuff around infantilisation but who cares? Not me anyhow. Unfortunately there does appear to be a plethora of colouring books that contain images I’m not especially comfortable about, like mandalas and dream catchers. The colouring world is yet to catch up with the concept of cultural appropriation so I’m just trying to avoid that and focus on flowers and fairies.

Health wise I’ve been fairly good, for the very first time I’ve managed to create a semblance of balance in my life so have avoided the boom and bust cycle. Until today anyway, sigh. We had a couple of hours out on Monday, just for lunch and a wander around a couple of shops however the energy gods were clearly displeased by this as I’ve spent most of today asleep or just lying on the sofa, no knitting, spinning, colouring or anything really. So I just have to pay them my dues and enjoy being able to do this with no pressure to weave or do anything really. Without wanting to sound Pollyanna-ish I’m extremely blessed.

Wheely good


Meet ‘Aunt Sally’, my new wheelchair. She’s very light, responsive and easy to use, well as being a most fetching metallic blue.

So how did I end up here? Well, as you will know if read my blog regularly, I have been experiencing an increase in symptoms (I have M.E. and fibromyalgia), my fatigue and pain has restricted the activities I’m able to engage in significantly. But throughout the course of my illness it has never occurred to me to get a wheelchair, I mean I can walk right? Only really disabled people use one, and anyway I’m just putting it all on for a bit of attention (believe me there is still a little part of me that thinks like this).

However, the turning point was a Saturday evening, a few weeks ago combined with registering at a new GP practice and having a review.

Mr Weaving Heart whisked me off to see the Highland Military Tattoo, over at Fort George, just outside Inverness. We knew it would be demanding for me so I rested up for a couple of days prior to going and my thoughtful hubby packed various blankets, coats, waterproofs so I would be as comfortable as possible. He bought ‘disabled’ tickets so we would be able to park closer to the Fort and made sure I had my stick with me too.

Despite all of this, and the sterling efforts of the Tattoo personnel, it still involved quite a lot of walking and sitting in hard plastic seating for over a couple of hours. The actual Tattoo was amazing, I would heartily recommend it to everyone; for two hours I had no thoughts about how I felt, I was completely absorbed in the performance.

Afterwards was a different matter though, I was in a lot of pain and completely wiped out. While we were there we observed a few wheelchair users and I’d felt a little envious of them. I raised the topic with Mr Weaving Heart the following day, expecting him to tell me not to be ridiculous, except he didn’t. Instead, he spoke of how he’d thought for a while that I needed one, but he hadn’t wanted to upset me.

So after a bit of research, combined with talking through the course of my condition with the new GP which always brings it home how much my life has changed, ‘Aunt Sally’ (I always name my fibre equipment, why not this?) has come to live with us.

Oh my word, it’s completely changed my life. Really. We’ve had a couple of shopping trips, one on a very fatigued day where without it there would be no chance of me leaving the house, as well as a few walks out with the dogs. Rather than feeling embarrassed or invisible, I’ve felt empowered and have a real sense of freedom. It’s very comfy, I can wheel myself a short distance, which isn’t nearly as tiring as walking, and randomly my Mother-in-Law is over the moon (it turns out she’s also thought I would benefit from one for a good while)!

Finally, rather than reducing the amount of exercise I get, I think it’s increased it. The trips out using my chair are not replacing walking, instead they’re replacing times I would have spent resting. It’s so good to be able to get out more and join my husband and dogs on a few of their walks. I’m very fortunate as we do live somewhere quiet and safe, I’ve only encountered kindness and thoughtfulness from others towards me and I suspect it would be a little different in a big city. My next goal is a scooter, watch out Helmsdale!

Lastly, I came across this recently and want to share it with you. Enjoy your day.