31 October 2010

Yarn Balm

Last night, for me, was Hallowe'en Party time, and today, as you can imagine, I'm suffering from lack of sleep, too much junk food and a wee over-indulgence in wine, so, today I am going to spend relaxing, eating toast and making more of this, cabled-project-without-a-name.

I find crochet cabling so soothing when my brain just won't co-operate. It's the perfect combination of simple rules and detail that help ease my way towards being an alert, productive person again.

I hope you all are having an awesome Hallowe'en weekend!
Still looking for a costume idea? Why not try whipping up a pair of these for a Harry Potter themed night?

29 October 2010

The Knitting & Stitching Show 2010

When I woke up this morning, it was to the sound of a repetitive, electronic, high-pitched noise. For a moment or two, I thought it was part of my dream, before I realised it was the real world intruding on my sleep. Having scrambled my way to the sitting room, and pawing frantically towards the noise, it stopped. Then, another, very similar noise started, in the bedroom.

Brrr brrrr... brrr brrr!

It was then that it dawned on me; My phone! (I don't wake up fast...)

On the other end, a very cheery mother wanting to make arrangements for meeting to go to the Knitting and Stitching Show in the RDS, Dublin. We had decided last week to make a day of it on Friday, but at half nine on a Friday morning, I was still asleep.

Really, on gazing out the window, still bleary-eyed, caffeine only just starting to wake my brain up, I marvelled how nothing in this world could enduce me to leave the apartment and step into the lashing rain EXCEPT the prospect of a huge, vast room full of yarn. And, boy was there a lot of yarn!

I found some Hedgehog Fibres:

Some Delicious Dublin Dye in lots of new colourways:

Saw some spectacular quilting:

Bumped into the lovely Laura Hogan up on the balcony:

Saw lots of Schoppelwolle:

And managed to come away with only two skeins of Blue Sky Alpaca Silk. I'm very proud of my self restraint. See how pleased I look? That's half smugness, half yarn drunkedness you see in my eyes.

At the show, I also found fellow bloggers, Playing with fi(b)re, She Knit Up That Ball, Aran Brew, Jewelan'darlin', and the lovely ladies in This Is Knit. Phew!

All in all, it was a great few hours spent flitting around like a happy little elf. If you're planning on going, the show is on until Sunday and tickets are in the region of €15. Well worth the trip.

...and yes. I did wear my winter boots.

28 October 2010

Boot Weather

The fastest project ever

This leaf was just waiting to be photographed

So, as the days draw in and the leaves fall all around, it's time, methinks to take out the winter boots. But alas and horror! I forgot that at the end of last winter, the laces on my thigh-high Docs had snapped, leaving me to fix them in an emergency with knots, making the laces virtually impossible to work up at speed. So, what's a girl to do?

It's windy

Using my awesome chaining powers and a healthy stash of Noro Kureyon, I chained and lightly felted two, 3-meter-long strands, and voila!

Yea, I'm just standin' here...

Totally bespoke laces!

These babies will hopefully see me through the winter. I love the rusty, orangey, yellowy colours in them. They feel right at home among all the fallen leaves.

Laces, blending riiight in

They're a little stretchy, so I'm hoping they won't snap too soon. But, sure, if they do, I'll let you know.

23 October 2010

Food for the ragged brain

And what better than warm, home-made comfort food?

It's six o'clock in the evening here and already it's twilight outside. Today is the first day that I have felt the coming-on of winter. It was cold today. Actually shivery cold. I put on a pair of socks hand-knit for me by a wonderful friend, I worked on some more glove pattern stuff (mostly the mathematics behind sizing) and I gazed outside at the puffy but wet-looking clouds.

Cozy Toes

We technically have another half a month of autumn in Ireland, but already the bite of those winter months is starting to show itself.

And with the cold comes the nesting instinct.
I should clean the apartment.
I should sort out my yarn stash.
I should do a big food shop (like I live in Northern Canada, and might get snowed in at ANY second!!!).
I should trim back the plants on the balcony which have been very neglected while I write this book.
I should BAKE!

And so, I baked. The smell of freshly baked bread, or scones, or buns always chases bad weather away. Baking smells make a place feel welcoming, cozy, friendly. Why is that? The simple act of mixing a few ingredients together and bunging it into a hot box for a while brings so much comfort to a room. Especially when it's winter baking. Spiced cakes, pies filled with blackberries and apple, barm bracks. So good for the soul.

I've been a fan of this blog for some time. It doesn't get posted in as much these days, but it's a great reference for those of us no longer gifted with a neighbourhood of fields, the smell of cattle, and the sounds of sheep. I go there sometimes for a breath of fresh air. For me, if I can't muck around in vegetable beds all day, it's at least nice to know that someone is.

So, when this post went up a while ago, I thought "Hey! I can do that!", and so, Berta was born.

She's very friendly

Berta is my sourdough "starter". Her yeasts are completely natural, Baldoyle yeasts that happened to float past when she was being made. I've had her for about a month, feeding her with flour, keeping her nice and luke-warm, making sure she doesn't dry out, and yesterday was the first time I tried to make bread using her. I followed the directions, added a cup of flour and a cup of warm water to Berta, stirred well, and let her floth up. This took all day.

Then, I mixed 2 cups of her (the rest went back into her jar, was fed and watered for next time) with more flour, some oil, salt and a scattering of sugar, kneaded it all up, oiled it on the outside and went to bed.

When I woke up this morning, lo-and-behold, but hadn't the bread more than doubled its size! Well done natural yeasts! I punched (my favourite bit of bread-baking), kneaded a second time, set in a pan, crossed (to let the fairies out) and set in a slightly warm oven to rise again.

Once that was done, I popped the oven on at a temperature of 170-ish C (350-ish F) and after 30-ish minutes, this is what I got!

I tried to take a shot of the full loaf...

...but by the time I'd found the camera, we'd eaten this much...

I'm very proud of Berta. She did so well!

21 October 2010

Hello, Kitty!

Things with ears are cuter. They just are

So, while I hardly have a lot of spare time these days, it does seem I'm getting a fair few projects done in between the work on gloves. I'm determined not to see this as procrastination, but that it is, in fact, merely my brain taking a much needed rest between busy days.

Today's little break came in the form of these cute little kitty ears! I'm such a sucker for things with ears on, as this avatar a friend made in college for me can attest...

aaah, so many years ago

Back then, the ears went onto hats, now, they go onto hairbands.

aren't they just so dinky?

20 October 2010

A Proper Autumn Day

Perfect for a bit of pattern browsing...

This is, literally, a snap-shot view from my window of the beautiful autumnal sunshine crisping up the leaves and warming up the air just enough to take the edge off. It's a day for a walk along the coast, for time spent outside before the wintery months arrive and take the gold away.

I know I've said it countless times before, but I love Irish weather. I love how just as you start to get bored of one set of meteorological conditions, another comes along to give your tired eyes something new to marvel at.

Right now, it's the colour of the leaves, in a few short weeks, it'll be the bareness of the trees and the sense that everything is settling down for a long sleep, then, before you know it, spots of green appear here and there, followed by splashes of colour as petals begin to unfurl, and soon enough the sky is full of migratory birds return to their summer nests and the whole country warms up by a few precious degrees.

And for a fibre fiend such as myself, all this means even more because for every season, there's the perfect project.

I've decided today's post should be about some of the lovely patterns my friends have created over the last while. I know some very talented people!

The first is a very cozy knit cowl by R. It features chunky garter stitch, and really pretty autumnal leaves for good measure. I may even try to make this one, myself, despite it being knit and not crochet...
Leafing on the Edge is available here

The second is a very fun tea cozy, perfect for keeping your brew nice and hot during these cold months ahead. It even features a colourwork teacup, in case you forget what's under it! D thinks of everything.
Irish Breakfast is available here

And thirdly, now that you have your neck, and your insides nice and toasty, is a classic red hat by A. I love the look of this chapeau and think it'd top off any winter look very nicely.
Zissou is available here

19 October 2010

Totally Winging it

A project just sort of starts to happen

Work on the ebook is proceeding at a slow and steady pace and I'm delighted that, despite all the things I'm having to keep track of, I'm not a fuzzy ball of stress yet. It's nice to know, even on this new level of activity, that crochet is relaxing, calming and enjoyable.

so soft!

And it's for that last reason that I'm being bold, taking a short break now and then to create a completely unplanned project. I'm at the stage with the gloves that I have to work on them in front of the computer, but in the evenings, I still want to settle down on the couch, feet up, shoes off and relax with the boyfriend. And at those times, there's nothing better than an easy-to-remember, repeating pattern to keep my twitchy fingers happy and fulfilled.

60% merino, 40% baby suri alpaca, 100% delicious

Hopefully, it'll grow up to be a warm shrug for cool summer nights, but might also come in handy indoors during the winter. I'm using some gorgeous, gorgeous Louisa Harding Thistle in Colour 8 (That's Blood Red to you and me), on a 4.5mm hook and I'm just working a very traditional pattern over and back, over and back for a few rows. With any luck, I'll be able to fold this strip one way or another to create a 3-dimensional garment, but if not, no worries! It'll grow up to be a pixie scarf instead.

18 October 2010

Yarn Towers gets a tidy

I can see the carpet now

My nose is running a marathon, my eyes are streaming, I can't finish a single thought without - aaa-choo! - but I don't have a cold or 'flu.

Ah, it can only be one thing! I've tidied the study and the dust bunnies are out to get me with a vengence. This morning, the study reached an epic level of messiness when I couldn't lay eyes on my crochet stitch bible. Not on the bookshelf, no-where to be seen on the floor. This could only mean that it had been lifted up with a pile of other things, put down somewhere else and forgotten about.


Really, the detritus on the study floor sort of follows the same rules as sedimentary rock layers. Leave it there long enough and it'll find its own level, will become part of the landscape and won't move an inch without some outside force.

So! Out came the feather duster, open went the windows, up came all the ribbons, lost buttons, comics, half-filled notebooks with reminders to self like "dc2, not 3. NB: repeat not equal!!!" which no longer make sense, and now, finally, I have a tidy(-er) study.

where the ribbons, hooks and buttons now live

I have also retrieved not only my stitch book, but also a half-finished knitted sock, several half-concieved projects (they'll be handy later if I'm short of an idea...) and have all my yarn back, where it belongs in Yarn Towers...

yarn towers, no vacancies

And now, it's time to pull out the tea set I got for my birthday and enjoy a well-deserved cup of tea, with some chocolate biscuits. Nom nom nom.

pot o'tea, well deserved

...and chocolate shortcake biscuits

Of course, everything would be even prettier if I didn't have to share study space with a boy, but he does insist on having space to put all of his stuff, too. It's such a bother!

16 October 2010

Baz Luhrmann and the art of not crocheting...

How to crochet without yarn

So, last night I had the pleasure of driving over to a friend's house for wine (lots, red), chocolate treats (many and various) and Baz Luhrmann movies (three... not "Australia").

Now, I was told time and again as I grew up that crocheting in company is "rude", and in some cases it is. Like now. I've been invited over for a party. It'd be rude if I gave half my attention to my hook and the other half to my friends, so I left the house without (gasp?!) any yarn at all and without a single hook secreted about my person. If I were to be totally honest, and I think you, my readers deserve at least that, I'd say that on stepping out my door I felt a wave of nerves. Seriously, I was worried what might happen if I was THAT far away from my stash overnight. I took a deep breath and continued on my way, but I felt the pang, I'll tell you, of seperation from Yarn Towers.

But, I had a great night, and am a little worse for wear today which is no bad thing.

We watched Strictly Ballroom, and afterwards I wanted to crochet flowy skirts.

Then we watched happily as Romeo & Juliet made their way along their tragic path, and afterwards I wanted to make angel wings;

And finally we watched the visual extravaganza that is Moulin Rouge; and afterwards, depspite being very sleepy, I had a tonne of ideas for different corsetty tops and boleros...

So, really, despite having no yarn in my hands, I still had loads in my head, and it was so distracting! As the heroine on the screen was delivering a heart-felt speech about dancing, or love, or being an actress, I was thinking "Poor her! Life is tough when you're a - ooh! I like her top. Turn around, turn around, come on, I wanna see the back!..." etc.

Does this happen to us all?
Has not having crochet on hand ever distracted you this much?

15 October 2010

I just don't know!

It's only words, after all

Just a quick question...

You know when you get to one of those words that you've read, you understand, but have never heard aloud before? Yea, it happens more when you're little, like the time my little sister said "Oooh, look at that tiny little cha-hooa-hooa", meaning chihauhua.

Or the day I told everyone chattering loudly in a room that I couldn't stand the "kak-a-phoney" they were making.

But, right, this is one I SHOULD know. I'm a crochet nut, so... Filet Crochet.

Do you say "Fillay", or "Fill-it"?

11 October 2010

Yarny Happy Person.

Monday is the day of the week most of us could do with a bit of cheering up. And what better way to get that glowy feeling back after a lovely weekend than to think about yarn!

Anything will do. The smell of it, the feel of it, the million things we can do with it!

My Yarny Happy Moment this week happened when I finally got my first ever published pattern... framed. Looking at the top (that I had struggled over for aaaages) on the front cover always makes me smile.

What was your Yarny Happy Moment?
I wanna hear 'em!

ISO Tech-Editor for pattern fixing, walks in the park... and maybe more!

So, the search for a tech editor continues.
I don't exactly blame myself for waiting this long in the game to think about finding someone to "fix" my patterns. I mean, this is my first foray into the world of collection publishing, so it's a steep learning curve and to be honest, I'm finding it difficult to get much useful advice from other, more experienced designers, with one huge exception.

It's nice to know someone out there is willing me to succeed at this. You know who you are, and I'm very grateful. : )

But, yea. I have discovered two places which may be the key to my finding a good, experience techie who is willing to start a beautiful relationship with little 'ole me. The first is a ravelry group, Indy Pattern Designers Resources. There are pages and pages of Tech Editors on there. Far more for knitting than crochet, but they're in there if you look for them.

The second is a Yahoogroup. Not sure if it's still up and running, but I emailed it anyway. I said nice things about editors in my email all true), so I hope to get some replies to my call for an editor. Really, these people, these human calculators, do something that I will never be able to do. Numbers are mysteries to me, really. I'm not a maths person, never have been, so I have huge respect for anyone touched by this gift.

So, we'll see what happens next.

In the meantime, writing and sample-making continues...

09 October 2010

Girl can't help herself.

So, last night, at a very fun Fibre Fun Friday, I brought along ONE ball of yarn and ONE hook, to ensure I got the glove I was working on for the book...done. Which, I did.

But, then, I got bored, and having exceptionally limited resources and unwilling to start begging off my fellow fibre fiends, I began wondering what I could do with the last of the yarn and the one hook. This is the result of a very productive 24 hours.

Tullow, named after the coldest spot in Ireland this year is a crochet sock which uses a handy bit of tunisian crochet to ensure a good fit early on in the sock-making process.

I have no idea if this is a technique which I have just invented, or if it's one that's already done the rounds in the crochet sock world, but one way or another, it's new to me, and I'm very pleased. My toes are pleased, too. I am totally converted to crochet socks.


They're warm, not nearly as bulky as I'd have imagined, stretchy and so... so fast. Super fast! 24 hrs fast! Surely that's the perfect cure for 2nd-sock-syndrome...

Tullow, as with all my patterns, is available on Ravelry here.

07 October 2010

Y'know? I bet. I BET the boyfriend had hidden it on me.
I bet there is a small, tiny, half-finished pink glove hidden, on purpose, in this apartment, and my only recourse now is to tidy until I find it.

Ooooh, he's devious!

The needle, the haystack, and the very small project...

It'd be a lie to say my apartment is the cleanest. It'd be a lie to say it's tidy. Infact, it'd almost be a lie to say that I can tell you, by looking, what colour my carpet is.

There is yarn everywhere at the moment.

That's what "working on a book" seems to do to my mind. All writing, no vacuuming; and up until this moment, the boyfriend's complaints that he couldn't find any of his stuiff under all of my stuff and the fact that not a single room could be crossed in a straight line without the possibility of walking on a crochet hook hasn't bothered me that much.

Love me, love my yarn-splosion.

But now, I can't find any of my stuff under all of my stuff!
I have a small, pink, lace-weight, half-finished glove... somewhere in here and I can't find it!

02 October 2010


Growing up, as I did, in the countryside, I knew that nothing came easy. The "local" shop was a mile or so down a busy road, friends were a car-ride away, every winter storm brought the very real possibility of a power cut, but I'd not have changed it for the world. Even now, as I live in an apartment in a Dublin suburb it actually annoys me that the shop is just outside our gate (too convenient!), and that I don't have to jump into ditches to avoid getting run over when I go for a stroll (my wits will dull!).

But right now, I find myself once more in the depths of farmland Ireland with two dogs and two cats. And, joy of joys! It's harvest time! I'm surrounded on all sides by blackberry bushes and elder trees. Fantastic!

I ventured out today and yesterday to pick berries, something I have done since I was old enough to own my own pair of wellies. Out I went, jeans tucked inside green Hunter wellies, sleeves rolled up, hair in a scarf and with a small and big plastic bucket in hand.

Picking blackberries is not easy. In fact, sometimes, it's downright dangerous, so, yep, you have to have your wits about you which, I think is why I prize it so much. It's as close to being a hunter/gatherer as I will ever likely get. I twist and pull; twist and pull; twist and pull; each berry unwilling to give up too easily, making it all the more precious. The thorns tangle in my jeans as I lean forward, pulling me in; hands get scratched; arms suffer the occasional splinter which has to be removed by hand despite the juice staining everything. Wind might whip up suddenly, causing a thorny truss to swing at my head; lean in too far and I could end up in the bush; cold fingers will fumble the odd berry, losing it forever in the undergrowth.

But, despite the discomfort and danger, I find it so relaxing and rewarding. I works the same for me as crochet. A lot of effort for a small thing, but boy is it worth it! You have to concentrate but at the same time it's just monotonous enough to let your mind wander. Perfectly cathartic.

And I have learnt three important lessons:
1. A blackberry with eight legs is not a blackberry.
2. Keep your mouth closed or you'll end up swallowing flies.
3. If you insist on jumping in surprise, do it slowly!

And in the end, all I have to do is wash the 2 kilos I collected, remove the spiders and bugs gently, and hand them over, clean, fresh and delicious, to my Dad who will proceed to preserve them for winter as jam.


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