26 February 2010

Puppy Party - Good For The Soul

Today, I was lucky enough to be invited by my Mam to an Irish Guide Dog's Coffee Morning to raise funds for the Puppy Walker programme. We had the lovely Ozzy in tow. We had a hell of a time finding St. Gabriel's Community Centre, mostly because the address we'd been given was way off, but eventually, we made it, stepped in and, literally, were confronted with a (...and I can't emphasise this enough...) a wall of puppies! Wagging tails, wet noses, floppy ears, all sizes, all mixed breeds, all straining to say Hi to each other. The noise was tremendous, but it put an instant, and I suspect reasonably permament, smile on my face. My God, they looked so happy. Into the middle went Ozzy, barking away, sniffing every bit of fur he could get his nose at and licking every hand in range.

Really, you could tell he was the country puppy in the mix, a little dazzled by the sheer volume of "dog" around him!

He met his sister, Ojo, who was a fair bit smaller than he was. He's the one with the lively red bow on his collar, she's the one with Ozzy in her ear. They got on great.


Here he is, modelling the latest in Guide Puppy fashion, with his little friend (who's name began with a T... "Tango" or something like that):


Then off he went, tangling himself up in countless other mirror-images.
Here he is, getting to know two other pups around his age, Tango in tow:

I'd have tried to get puppy names, but for the most part, the dogs were done with each other before the owners got to say Hi, so it was all a bit mad.

After fifteen minutes, he'd had enough, and was more than happy for me to kneel down between him and the puppy meleƩ in the centre of the room. So, the three of us crossed the road, and had lunch. Look how good he was while we ate our food.


He really is going to make someone an amazing guide dog some day.

This Puppy Walking scheme is a great idea, giving all the pups involved a happy, family start in life and allowing the general public to help out in what would otherwise be a very specialist area. It's well worth passing a few bob on to if you have it to hand.

24 February 2010

For the craic of it...

As I was fiddling around with the look of the blog yesterday, I got to playing with a few crochet-related puns, and thought they'd make funny, slightly eyebrow-raisy avatars for ravelry and the like, so for your use, comments, or disgust, I present them below.

If you fancy using them, go for it. Just right click on the one you like, select "properties", copy the full url and paste it where you want it to be.


23 February 2010

Sorry!

If you're looking at this in anything other than Firefox, sorry!
I'll have it fixed tomorrow, with luck.

Edit. I finally found someone online who was using html as I remember it from college. We should be sasty, now. If anyone's getting weird stuff happening, please let me know. I can only check on Firefox and IE...

The Heisenberg Principle, expanded


Basically, in muddled, layman's terms, the Heisenberg Principle states that you can know the position or vector of an electron at any given moment, but not both, which is pissy, 'cause if we could, we'd be well on our way to inventing Star Trek transporters and all sorts of other lovely things by now.

I'd also have less trouble with half-finished crochet projects. It seems I'm incapable of knowing both the hook-size and yarn weight on any project I have left down for more than a day. Unlike with knitting, where you need to keep the needles in or all hell breaks loose, with crochet, the hook can come out without having to call DEFCON 1. This does mean only one hook in each size is required (money saving tip), but it also leads to endless confusing when revisiting a project.



So, I have decided to make my own heisenberg compensator (yes, I am that much of a nerd) in the form of a little label. I shall pop these little pieces of paper onto a corner of any project I have in the works, and this will save me from wibbly tension down the line.

Genius!

22 February 2010

Darn It!

As I sat last night, on the couch with the boyfriend beside me watching The Secret of Kells (yea, I know, how Oirish were we?) I heard him harumph. Turning to him with an up-raised eyebrow, he explained that his favourite socks - the ones currently on his feet - had holes in them.

"Gimme them and I'll darn them up."

Half an hour later, the three vents - two toes and a heel - had been patched up, were back on his feet and the world continued along as normal, with one of its inhabitants possessed of slightly warmer feet and another infused with a feeling of slight smug superiority.

It got me thinking about the mentality the majority of us have these days. That horrible knowledge that often it's cheaper to buy a new thing than to get the old one repaired. It's easily one of the more baffling thruths we live with. We're just adding more and more junk to our own corners of the world. Things get cheaper "because we only expect them to last a year or so, anyway...", break easier and get replaced again.

I mean, the socks I fixed last night were a pair from Dunnes or Penneys. No big deal, cheap as chips - cheaper, probably. But that's not the point. The point is that in fixing the pair at hand, I learnt again to appreciate one of the small things in life that we take for granted. Where would we be without cozy socks? We'd be a lot grumpier for one thing...

So, go on, show your old, well-worn socks some love. Darn them up nice and cozy.




This is a handy little video I found on youtube. The lady uses a "mushroom", but I've had good results with a wineglass (for the sock, not me), sliotar, or just using my hand to keep the sock taut from the inside.

Well, don't I feel chuffed!
Thanks to whoever nominated me, and the best of luck to all my other fibre-related friends:
Aran Brew
Half a Dream Away
This is Knit
She Knit Up that Ball
and
Knitting Neels
(Have I missed anyone?)

I love the fact that there are so many fibre- and craft-related blogs on that specialist list. Maybe, with a bit of luck, next year will include a category all of our own?

A big thank you, too, to the sponsor of the Specialist Blog Category IQ Content without whom I'd not have a category to sit in.

I'll have to give my blog a new "do", now, tomake it fancy enough for the masses to bother looking at... wish me luck!

19 February 2010

Spring Clean!

I finished a very large (well, large for me...) crochet project yesterday which will have to remain nameless for some time to come. Still, rest assured, I feel very proud of myself for finally getting over the hump it had created in my mood!

And now, with my back to it, I see I have a bit of catching up to do - namely in the area of things I have been doing - so, come with me as I rush through a few things, like a 12-year-old girl updating her long-ignored diary...

Fibre Fun Friday, the place to be if you're down with the tea-drinkin' set, has been going great. Apart from having a lovely band of regulars, we've also had people bring new people who in turn have started to learn to knit in our midst. So, well done novice-knitters for taking the plunge, and bravo experienced-knitters for not seeming intimidating.



I'm really enjoying being at The Tea Garden every fortnight, and find by the end of the second week I'm actually craving the coming of Friday when fancy tea and fancy fibre will satisfy me for another while. I'll know it's an addiction the day I can't wait and end up crocheting and drinking alone...

Just after Christmas we had a Yarn Swap, too. Everyone looking to join in brought, wrapped, some lovely yarns they'll just never use, and got to pick other packs out of the pile, ably (or may I say admirably) modeled by our lovely assistant, Eimear. Look at her arm-waving skills. This lady's a pro...



A few Sundays later, saw the first ever meet-up of the Sunday Spin-In group, in the Powerscourt Townhouse Shopping Centre, up on the 1st floor balcony. We'll be meeting on the last Sunday of every month, starting around half twelve, one-ish (I think...) and going on 'til we get tired.







Again, I had a blast. Seeing all the other wheels whirring away, and watching all the expert spindlers work was truly a sight, and the number of people in shopping who screeched to a halt at the door to watch us was hilarious.

There were even prizes!

And last week, on a visit home, the ever-friendly, super-bouncy puppy, Ozzy, allowed me to take this non-blurry shot of him after he flopped down for a snooze on his cushion. He's gorgeous, guys. His ears are huge, his face is so expressive, and everyone who comes in the door gets an enormous welcome. He's the definition of a happy puppy.



And why wouldn't you be, with such a comfy place to nap?

17 February 2010

A breath of Spring

I've said it many times before. I love living in Ireland. I love the washed-out quality of the light in winter, the golden glow in autumn, the smell of green in summer, and the promise of great things that a splash of growth can bring in spring.

I also adore how each season lasts just long enough and changes right at the moment when you would have gotten sick of it; bringing newness, no matter what the time of the year.

All this leaves me giddy every time I spot a new sign of the season to come. Right now, I have two, tiny buds on my raspberry bushes, one tomato seed has germinated on my windowsill, surrounded by the plants that have over-wintered indoors.

I have flowers on my wild strawberries:


Crocuses basking in the mid-day warmth:


And, snowdrops peeking over my hanging baskets:


Summer will be with us soon, and likely it'll be a soft, slightly soggy affair, but you know what? I don't care. Sun is over-rated!

16 February 2010

Pancake Day!

Much like everyone else in the sphere of Catholocism, and beyond, today will involve ingesting some manner of pancake or another. Some of these will be bought from shops who are happy to make these super-simple treats for super-steep prices; some people will be subjected to rubbery messes that no amount of lemon juice and sugar can save, and some will be revelling in recipes handed down from generation to generation.


"My pancakes"

All are based on the idea that before Lent begins (tomorrow, for those of you giving up a thing...) all the tastiest things need to be removed from the house, the sugar, fruit and eggs need to be gone so as to avoid temptation.

I am the proud owner of three recipes. One, from my Mam, makes a delicious, super-flat pancake and is endless fun to flip. I actually managed a 720 degree flip in college once; it was a very proud moment.

The Second is an invention of my Nanny, which was never written down, involves no measuring of ingredients and requires a level of pancake-knowledge that the beginner should avoid, for now. But, they are so tasty...

The third, are my own invention, mostly because the boyfriend prefers his pancakes "American Style", in stacks. These, naturally, look best smothered in maple syrup and blueberries.

Stopping Pancakes from going rubbery:
Pancakes cannot be reheated. They will turn into rubbery chew-toys. If you're feeding a multitude, I'd suggest setting a pot of simmering water on the hob, with a dinner plate placed on top. This will give you a surface upon which to keep your pancakes hot while you prepare for the hungry masses...

The Chicken Pancake:
What the Hell is a Chicken Pancake, you may ask...
It's an old tradition, sadly dying out, that whenever something is made from ingredients found around you, some of it should be given back. Like, throwing a handfull of blackberries back into the bush once you've picked your fill, or, in this case, throwing the first pancake out to the chickens in the yard so they get some of their egg back. The first pancake tends to be a bit tough, so it may as well go to the chickens, anyway.

In my apartment, the Chicken Pancake, while acknowledged as such, tends to get eaten by my boyfriend. The day he starts laying eggs, I'll be mighty pleased!


I hope these recipes help you out in some small way...
All three make in or around 6-8 pancakes...

Mam's Pancakes:
1 egg,
1/2 pint whole milk,
pinch salt,
4oz plain flour.

Weight out flour in a large mixing bowl, add salt.
Mix milk and egg in a jug, and, whisking briskly, add mixture to flour gradually. Keep mixing until all the lumps are mixed in.

Heat frying pan with about 10 tbs of olive oil, once the pan is "as hot as you dare!" (don't let it start smoking...), pour excess oil into a cup, return pan to heat and add a thin layer of pancake batter to the pan, so that it reaches the edges.

Allow to cook until the shine has almost disappeared on the upper side, and with much performance, flip. Cook other side until it is brown and spotty.

Before starting every subsequent pancake, swirl oil in the cup around frying pan and drain excess back into the cup again. Pancakes soak up the oil as they cook, so re-oiling the pan, no matter how non-stick is a must...

This pancake is great with butter, chocolate spread, bacon and cheese, or the traditional lemon and sugar.


Nanny's Pancakes:
1 egg,
1/2 pint whole milk,
pinch salt,
in or around 5oz plain flour. It has to be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. A few floury lumps won't do it any harm.
Thin slices of cooking (brambley) apple, peeled. 1 apple should be plenty to make a double batch of pancakes.

Mix as with Mam's Pancakes above.
Add thin apple slices and mix well.
Heat and drain the excess oil as explained above.
Using a ladle, or cup, scoop up batter, assuring you get some apple, and cook as above, spreading apple slices out before batter hardens too much.
Pancake can be turned without fear of buring the apples, as they are coated on both sides with batter.
Pancake is ready when apple slices are soft.

I always enjoy these pancakes the way my Nanny did; with lemon and sugar, ensuring that most of the sugar ends up on the table, just like she did! (she was not a neat cooker...)

My Pancakes:
1 egg,
1/2 pint whole milk,
2tsp baking powder
6oz plain flour.

Mix as with Mam's Pancakes, adding the baking powder in with the flour before adding wet ingredients.
Allow to sit for a few minutes while baking powder begins to thicken the mixture.
Heat pan to a medium heat. Drain the excess oil as explained above.
The batter will be very thick, so your frying pan should be able to make 4 small pancakes at a time with a little practise.
Fry for 6-7 minutes per side, and serve hot, stacked in the middle of a warm plate.

15 February 2010

Wow!

I'm amazed!
I don't sell a lot of patterns online, but I have just done a quick tally of the patterns sold on Ravelry, in aid of Help for Haiti, and I'm so impressed with you all!



So far, and this will continue until the end of March for me, my pattern sales have raised a little over $100! That's a lot of cozy hands, heads and necks around the world, and a nice little tally to send on over to Concern.

So, thank you all for this lovely little spending spree! You have such big hearts. : )

14 February 2010

AND THE WINNER IS...

It's difficult to name a thing that will be with you, hopefully, forever. Honestly, I have no idea how I'll ever name a baby if it took this much effort, time and help to name my wheel!

But, it had to be done, and thank you to everyone for their great, mad and occasionally baffling suggestions!

It was funny; I was sitting beside Eimear at the FFF meeting a fortnight ago, and I was complaining, as usual, dramatically. Arms were waving, I huffed and puffed, explaining that after a year and a half with my wheel, I still couldn't decide on a name, that inspiration wasn't coming to me, that I'd have to choose a name, and not be happy with it, and it'd stick oddly whenever I had to say it and, and, and it wasn't as if (breath) a name was just going to hit me -

And then a name hit me.

So, I'd like you all to say Hi to Daisy.




But, she still needs a surname, and that's where I rooted through the suggestions and have chosen Madrigal.

Daisy Madrigal, ladies and gentlemen!

She Knit Up That Ball will be getting her prize the next time I see her... Congrats!

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