31 October 2008

Knitting and Stitching Show 2008

I'm going! Well, that's not too amazing, I guess, but I won the ticket from these lovely people and it is my first crafty show since my Mam took me to one when I was a wee teen. That time, I was just starting out in crochet (wow, can it really have been 15 years ago?) and I thought I knew it all... which I patently didn't.

Now, at least I think I know how little I actually DO know. I won't be trying to show off, I'll just be there to enjoy the loveliness of yarn and the millions of ways people are using it that I'd never have thought of. I know I'll come out with several new hobbies to pile on top of the ever-increasing lump of projects. It's going to be exciting!

I have also started on my sister's Christmas present; a hat crocheted out of my own homespun. I'm taking a chance creating a hat out of such precious yarn without first testing the pattern on junk yarn, but I can't help myself. I'm calling in the Perfect Wave hat at the moment.

30 October 2008

I felt like a flower

First thing this morning, on the 7.30 bus into town for work. No better time to do a bit of experimental felting, I say!

I tell you, nothing wakes you up faster than the prospect of getting a dirty great needle stabbed through your finger! Luckily, that didn't happen, and this is the result of my first ever foray into needle felting.

28 October 2008

Teaser

Do you have a problem with cranky neighbours who just can't stand the sound of you rockin' out with your socks out on your make-believe drum kit? Are you kept awake at night by your boyfriend/son/father/husband/local squatter thrumming away to Freebird? Do you just happen to think your Rockband drumkit looks a bit cold now that the weather's getting freezy?

Well, you're in luck!

I'll soon be making the pattern for these fun drum cozies available.


the loooong weekend

The weekend has been busy so it's a good thing indeed that it was a long weekend over here in Ireland. Bank Holidays; is there any greater gift a government can give to its country?

The following have been taken off my to do list.
Macramé - make net to hang Ppiderplant from window hook.
Knitting - start into raspberry cable jumper for myself
Knitting - learn a new stitch (Irish Moss)
Spinning - finish up the last of the turquoise merino / silk blend roving to make into a Christmas present scarf.
Cookery - learn a new dish - Colcannon
Being a kick-ass girlfriend - make brownies for the guys in bf's work.

The aformentioned Spiderplant:



The roving in question:



The Colcannon was a success. The bf hates cabbage with a vengeance that seems unnatural at times, but he tried this Irish traditional meal and declared it to be quite tasty, indeed. Colcannon is more widespread towards the north of the country and it's something my family has never made. I found it in a cook book over the weekend and decided it was time to delve into the murky depths of traditional cooking. Plus I love the taste of cabbage, so it was win-win for me.



I improvised the recipe to reduce the number of pots used, but it's essentially the same.

1 lb curly kale/dark cabbage, well washed with stalks removed.
1 lb peeled potatoes (preferably a floury variety, they make better mash)
6 scallions (spring onions)
a large knob of butter,
milk.

1. Peel and chop potatoes, and prepare cabbage by shredding.
2. Boil potatoes in a pot of salted water, and boil the cabbage in another pot until both are tender. Drain both pots.
3. Add a good knob of butter to the potatoes, a dash of milk, and mash together well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Strip and chop scallions into small discs. Add to potatoes.
5. Add cabbage to the potato, and mash again.
6. Leave to sit for a few minutes and serve with a well of butter in the middle.

It's great on its own, but also works well as a vegetable accompaniment to a main meal. Colcannon is usually made around this time of the year when cabbage is readily available and it's lovely and warming on these cold days.

Enjoy!

23 October 2008

Spinning: The virtues of the nettle

Waking up this morning brought home to me that it is truly winter, and I smiled with glee! I love dark mornings, I love the wind, the rain, the cold... and the occasional need to bring a hot water bottle on the bus to work.

It's also, oddly enough, got me thinking about what lovely fibre opportunities I may be missing at the end of the growing season; notably, the untapped uses of the stinging nettle.



Nettles used to be a well-used source of spinning fibre, similar to flax. Apparently its preparation is the same, too. The fibres in a nettle are very long and strong. Nettles, I have learnt, have been used for over 2,000 years as a clothing fibre, only losing popularity in the 16th century thanks to the surge in cotton growth. Cotton, however, appears to be a nasty plant, guzzling water and requiring intensive spraying to control weeds and insects. This naturally end up in local water sources. Nettles on the other hand grow in abundance, provide food for wildlife without damaging the crop, grow in temperate regions and produce a soft, silky fibre.

For the record, they're also an excellent source of vitamin C, and make a very tasty tea. I found this great page and this one while having a root around the net.

Who could ask for more from their local demon plant?
I'll have to experiment with some over the coming months.

22 October 2008

Knitting/Felting: I can cable/I can't felt

So, usually this time of year has my mind spinning with "great ideas" for presents to make for people. But! Usually, I find that the things I already know how to do just aren't special enough, so I end up taking up new crafts to make a particular style of thing for someone.

This year I'm determined to learn how to knit properly, and thanks to Rogue's Yarn Vomit scarf, I'm on my way to learning the ins and outs of cabling. Knitting has been my Everest for several years now. Fear of Dropped Stitches being my primary reason for staying away from the needles. Recently, I decided to give it a go, with the support of The Anticraft people. I don't really intend to make a full, usable scarf, as I don't use them as is, myself, but still, maybe once I get a look at all that lovely cabling falling away from my needles (and no dropped stitches, please?) I'll change my mind. Learning cabling is top of my Christmas-Present-Making list, so, we'll see.


But, I also saw this wonderful hat by Presents on Ravelry, and now I have ordered felting needles online.



I'm a sucker for things I can't do yet...

21 October 2008

"Look, I can eat my own nose!"

The boyfriend has started to make a puppet; so last night was spent mostly watching him carve little triangular bits off a block of upholsterer's foam. This is his first, so we're both learning as we go. Hand position was an issue, and the poor test-head ended up more full of holes than foam. Still, after much searching online, and with very little actual practical success finding real, good instructions (I assume the making of puppets is a reasonably well-guarded secret) he found a very informative page that, in conjunction with his efforts to make a pose-able head, gave us a few very decent pointers.

It seems that the foam he's using is known as "junk foam" in the industry, but as this is an experiment in puppetry, that's not an issue right now.

Still, having him turn to me and ask me what shape muppet nose I think he would have, left me giggling a little. Any answer to that question is going to be insulting, you know?

20 October 2008

Spinning

OK. I have got the handle on this, now. My poor drop spindles lie idle as I sit, watch (or rather listen to) BBC's show, QI and spin away on my Baynes Wheel. It's funny just how soothing it can be when it goes right. At the start I was spinning a mess akin to the bed-head of an ill-kepmt Rastafarian, but now I'm gaining skill at it and only end up with the occasional moments of panic as I spin too thin and the string breaks.


I got this lovely merino / silk blend roving last week from this lovely seller on ebay. It took a while to get used to spinning with silk as it spins very differently from the merino rovings to which I had become accustomed. I can't seem to get the handle of long-draw spinning with it (though is it the method I most prefer when I have fleece that behaves itself); it bunches up too often, so I have reverted to a much shorter draw, and a slower spin of the wheel. It seems to be working and is producing a most lovely, soft plyed yarn.

Ideally, I'd love to be able to spin enough yarn to work into Christmas presents. I guess, starting in October gives me a decent amount of time... but who, I ask you, deserves a homespun AND homemade gift? That stuff's like giving away a kidney!

10 October 2008

Ravelry- here I come!

I have myself set up as a designer on Ravelry. I've managed to get one design up so far, and it seems to be going down well, which is very gratifying. I decided to make it free because, as my first design, I can't be sure how up-to-scratch it is. Last thing I want is people demanding their few bob back because I failed to tell them to add a slip-stitch at the end of a row!

I present; Strips of Bacon, an adventure in ribbed crochet!

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