Potential

I was struck recently by a very strange and disturbing thought. Cue the ominous music… doo-dee-doo-dee…

I was having lunch with one of my colleagues and noticed his hands, which are frail and  - well – old. It dawned on me that these people I work with are the people I will grow old with. It struck me that the likelihood of me having a life-changing event  - such as getting pregnant and going on maternity leave  - was fading fast. (For the record, I’ve no desire to get pregnant but it is a pretty life-changing event!)

(Aside: This is assuming I’m lucky! I could have a life-changing event – such as an illness, either me or a member of my family – if I’m unlucky. That doesn’t bear thinking about, not here anyway.)

In short, the potential for change was disappearing.

I’m in my early forties. Up until now I’d always assumed the world was my oyster and anything imaginable was possible (within the bounds of physics!). To reiterate the warning from the opening sequence of Stingray “Anything could happen in the next 30 minutes”.

Stingray Annual 1993

Stand By For Action!

It’s disconcerting to face-up to the realisation that I know exactly what will happen in the next 30 minutes! Even worse, established daily or weekly routines are likely to remain unchanged for the foreseeable future.

I’ve always said that I wanted to grow old disgracefully. “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” and all that. I’m happy to let my hair go grey and let my mood grow cantankerous. Most of all, I want to be healthy enough to enjoy living vibrantly. So growing old doesn’t worry me, other than acquiring some health conditions along the way.

But I don’t want to grow bitter. I want to be able to look back with pride on my achievements. And I do – mostly. I have three wonderful children, who make me so proud and happy as I watch them grow into decent and honourable humans; my husband and I have worked wonders on our home over the past twelve months to make the very fabric as happy as we are; and I have enjoyed a rich and varied career (if we gloss over the past five years).

An aside, in part explanation of my reference to the past five years: Since the collapse of the Irish economy in 2008 I’ve been waiting for the “other shoe to drop” as the phrase goes. The work I do is heavily based on funding from Central Government, who in turn have been in hock to the Troika (The IMF, European Central Bank & the European Commission). Our Department has lumbered along, keeping our roles meaningful by trying to be as indispensable as possible, all while under a cosh of the euphemistically titled “Workforce Planning” i.e. that our Department might be disbanded and the staff reallocated.

As my sister pointed out to me, I have taken up knitting (and crochet, spinning, quilting, you-name-it) over the past five years to the extent that I have (for which read “somewhat obsessively”) because of an inherent need for creativity that was no longer being satisfied in my Architectural career. When I first got back into knitting during 2007 and discovered resources for learning such as Knitty’s Coffeeshop and Ravelry my creative juices exploded!

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Lacy Cropped Cardigan being re-sized to different gauge

Each new technique I learned led to new design ideas: a striped, felted bag using short-rows; a double-knit vest; a top-down hat with a lace pattern generated using Debbie New’s Cellular Automatoms. I saw everything in terms of knitting or crochet patterns. In the queue for a lunchtime sandwich I could reverse engineer the sweater of the person in front of me. I could then spend the afternoon snatching moments to sketch ideas in my notebook. I was fascinated, enthralled, energised!

Today, that same notebook, which I always keep in my wallet, is so tattered and worn that I have decided it needs to be retired. I went through it and marked all the design ideas. I was surprised to discover how far back they all date from – 2008 to 2010. And absolutely nothing in it after my failed Knitty submission (read it and weep!).

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Potential Energy

Also today, I read a fabulous post by Elanor King of Catchloops.com all about how she became a designer in a recent publication by CoOperative Press, Hitch. She’s achieving exactly what I hoped would happen for me. But she went out and actively grabbed it for herself. With gumption and obvious design talent, she dared and won. Me? Other than the two months I spent preparing my Knitty submission I haven’t done much more about establishing myself in the knitting milieu than faff about on twitter. Did I imagine I would be randomly discovered and propelled into stardom, like some bus girl working in a dive in Hollywood? Actually,  yes, that would lovely, thanks.

No. Today as I retired my old Moleskine I resolved to release “so much potential in such a small space” (as @Knitterotica put it). There are at least 12 potential patterns in there: a mixture of women’s and men’s sweaters, some hats, some accessories. A collection, if you will. I’m resolving to transform the potential into reality and to publish (either self-publish or through the establish venues) one pattern per month – on average.

Will you cheer me on?

Posted in Pattern. Tags: . 18 Comments »

65km for Crumlin

Last time I spoke with you I was preparing for the Flora Women’s Mini-marathon on the June Bank Holiday weekend. That was a 10k race that I was taking part in to raise money for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin. What I didn’t mention is that the 10k was part of 65k I decided to run for the Charity this year.

It all started with a friend of a friend of mine mentioning her training for a half-marathon. Despite the fact that she said it nearly killed her, it put the notion in my head. Combined with the realisation that neither my sister or my niece (her daughter) could run the Mini-marathon this year, I decided I should up-the-anti for myself a notch: I should run a half-marathon!

Every year as part of the training schedule for the Dublin Marathon the organisers run a race series in the Phoenix Park. Starting at 5 miles and finishing with a half-marathon, the race series is run over several months and the distances tie in with typical training schedules. I decided I would run all of the races in the race series – 5 miles, 10k, 10 miles & half-marathon. Combined with the Flora 10k it totalled 65k spread over 5 races.

Off to a bad start

The Women’s Mini-marathon went well – I ran it one second faster than last year. 10k down, 55 to go! However, on the eve of the 5k race I came down with a mad stomach bug. Now, I never get sick (thank goodness) so the uncontrolled vomiting and diarrhoea threw me as much psychologically as it did physically! Enough said already… Though I felt recovered by morning, DH threatened to sit on me if I tried to go in to the race.

Triumph to Misery and back again

Because of this unexpected set-back my bid to complete the remaining 55k of my 65k challenge couldn’t get underway for another 3 weeks. In the spirit of a picture says a thousand words may I save myself a lot of typing, and you a lot of reading by presenting you with this:

Yes, action-shots of me running – more specifically (from left to right) during the Fingal 10k, the Frank Duffy 10 mile and the Half-marathon.

I ran the Fingal 10k with my knitting buddy, @orlamcgann. It was her first time to run this distance and I was very proud to do it with her.

I ran the Frank Duffy 10 miles after coming back from holidays in France and – more importantly – after not being able to get out for a run in two weeks. As the picture shows, I had a fairly miserable time of it! Before I had even gone halfway my feet started aching. My hips started giving me grief around 7 miles and when I had been running for 1 hour & 40 minutes I tried to walk for five minutes instead. In fact, I was worse off when I tried to run again and I struggled over the line after 2 hours and 5 mins. (2:04:37 was my official time).

I learned from my mistake and before I ran the Half-marathon I put in a few 2-hour running sessions and I got on fine (i.e. was not a crock during or after). Surprisingly, I got a cramp in my calf after only one hour of running. I had another 8 miles or 90mins of running to go and I felt quite panicked. I pulled in and stretched; I walked for a few minutes; I even changed my running style back to striking with my heel first. Mostly, I just gritted my teeth, reminded myself there were kids in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, who would love to walk, let alone run; and I kept ploughing on towards the finish line. I even managed to look like I was smiling for the camera (though it may be the gritted teeth). I made it in 02:34:39, which amazed and thrilled me!

To make up for missing the 5mile race in the Phoenix Park Race Series I signed up for a 5 mile race in the Docklands on 30th September. This was a really well organised race AND FLAT! and I thoroughly enjoyed it. DH’s cousin was running the 20mile race that day i.e. he ran four laps of the course I ran. After I had run a mile or so we passed each other, going in opposite directions – he was nearing the end of his third lap. Before I had even reached the halfway point of my lap he over-took me!! A month later he ran the Dublin Marathon in 03:09:33!!! He only took up running a year ago! *grumblegrumble* And before you try to console me that maybe he has an advantage of age, he doesn’t. He does have longer legs than me – which wouldn’t be hard.

Thanks for reading all about my adventures as I followed through on my self-imposed challenge. I’d like to remind you that it was all for a worthy cause: the Crumlin Medical Research Fund (and not, actually, about what I have gained emotionally or physically!). If you have sent them a donation thank you so much – it makes the effort worthwhile. I really appreciate it.

If you haven’t had a chance yet to sponsor me, here’s the link again: http://www.cmrf.org/sponsorshipPage/show/1055

Remember, I run for charity so that you don’t have to !!! :-)

I’ve been meaning to…

I’ve been meaning to post here a few times recently. There were communion weekends (actually two communions in one weekend – I kid you not!) and confirmation-with-Grandmother-birthday-weekends and #twilting days and lots of lovely things to distract me from posting here.

What can I say?

Mea Culpa (which I always assumed was a phrase in Irish, when I was growing up)

So, I’m here now – and with good reason! I’m looking for money off you.

“Whu?” I hear you say, bemused. Well you can quit your obfuscation! I do this every year – or, at least for the past four years.

Yes, Since 2009 I have taken part in the Flora’s Women’s Mini-Marathon, raising funds for CMRF. I use “taking part” in the loosest meaning of the word. The first year – 2009 – I had two training buddies and we walked/ran the route as I assayed the limits of my pelvic floor!

The next year I trained on my own but only managed to reach week 7 of the Couch to 5K programme. So I walked for 5 minutes, ran for 20, walked for 10 minutes, ran for 20 and walked the five or so minutes that was left to get to the finish line. By this stage I had bitten the running bug so I kept running until the 8k run for Simon Community in the Phoenix Park in October 2010.

When it came to the Women’s Mini-Marathon in 2011 I managed to run it (to my surprise!) in less than 60 minutes.

This year I’ll be starting the Mini-marathon in the fast-runners section! I’m frickin’ flabbergasted! Last year my sister and her daughter ran it also and all three of us came in within 90 seconds of each other.  I had envisaged the three of us starting off from the same point, and at the same time, this year but – alas! – it is not to be. My neice has her Junior Cert this year and my sister has to attend a conference that weekend. So this year it will be only me – raising money for a worthy cause: Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital via their charity: The Crumlin Medical Research Facility.

If you would like to support this worthy cause – through my efforts on June 4th – please click on this link: http://www.cmrf.org/fundraiser/show?id=56

I would really appreciate the support and the hospital will really appreciate the funds – thanks in advance.

Procrastination

It may amuse you to know that I decided on the name of this blog post a week ago. Yet… here I am… only getting to it now!

You may also not be surprised to learn that when I was reading the book “Time Management for Manic Mums” I got stuck on the chapter that dealt with procrastination.

Yes, somehow, Procrastination and I are long-time, close companions and I can’t say that I feel much benefit from the relationship. Today, I am attempting to get the upper hand by using it as a theme and thereby – perversely – as a motivation to tackle this long-outstanding blog-post.

WIPdown

Petals Wrap and the Hideous Dress of Wrong are Procrastination’s best allies and despite taking Petals with me on a week away after Easter I haven’t done much to make a dint in either WIP.

‘nuf said!

StashDown

It’s acutally surprising how reticent I’ve been on my blog in the past month because I’ve accumulated no less than four FOs!

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    Spring-time

  1. Spring as Spun – you may remember me finishing off the yarn for this in the previous post. While I procrastinated about making the yarn for months, and then about plying it for a few more months, making it into an FO took only two days. I cast-on on March 19th and was casting-off the following evening. I made 198 yds. of Heaven and had literally only enough yarn. Though I enjoyed making it, and I’m delighted with the FO, I do think the yarn would have been better used in a faux-fair-isle project of some sort: the colour changes were so delicate, and my decision to nav-ply the yarn so that these subtitles would be preserved, meant the yarn could have worked very well in colourwork with a strong contrast colour. [Yarn knit = 184m]
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    Lesser Spotted Socks

  3. Golf socks – after my last post (mid-March), I realised my mother’s birthday was fast approaching in early April. She has been a happy recipient of my knit-wear in the past so I decided on a quick pair of socks: Golf Socks from the book Socks, Socks, Socks in Austermann Step. I started them on March 24th and finished them on April 3rd – just in time to post them off for her birthday. The hand of this yarn is great, infused as it is in Jojoba and Aloe Vera but I didn’t care much for the measley-look of the colourway. However, my mother pronounced my workmanship as fantastic and – I think – was delighted with the idea of handknit socks especially for her golf-obsession. [Yarn knit = 210m]
  4. 3 wombs – suffice to say that after much jiggery-pokery (no pun intended) I finally managed to find someone in the US willing to receive my wombs and pass them on to “worthy” public representatives. Much thanks to Elise Cohen, one of the moderators for the Ravelry Group government free v-jj, for hooking me up (pun intended) with Laura Hirsh of Day Spa & Gift Boutique, Sierra Madre, CA. I believe Laura has put one on display in the window of her business to raise awareness of the effort. I’ve promised her a more-carefully-crafted womb in a chunky yarn (to make it larger) for her to put on display instead. [Yarn knit = unknown!]
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    Sisters! Doin' it for themselves!


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    Pheasant Enough

  6. Multnomah – I started this (I don’t remember why) in early March and put it away again after a day when I realised that deadline-knitting was looming. I was on holiday for a week after Easter Sunday in West Cork and brought this project with me. It was a good choice since most of my knitting time was also chatting time and there would have been no way I could have focussed on the Petals Wrap, which I also brought. I finished it a few days after returning to Dublin. I had some struggles with the cast-off but all worked out well in the end. [Yarn knit = 373m]
I’ve managed to de-stash at least 767m of yarn – more if I knew how much yarn I’d used in the wombs!

Lacealong2012

My last post contained images of me wearing Shrug for Blue Dress and my concern about whether it fit. I was persuaded by commenters, here and on twitter, that it does so I have determined to extend the sleeves with the remaining 14g of Malabrigo Yarn Lace. I’m using the ribbed lace chart in the pattern for now; and intend to finish off with the scalloped lace chart when I have only a gram or two of yarn left.

12in12

So between Multnomah and Spring As Spun I’m now up to three shawls this year. Considering we’re nearing the end of the fourth month I am a little behind. My next shawls will both be for my children’s teachers. I just need to decide what they might like – colour-wise, especially – and what yarn I have in my stash to sufficient quantities. One teacher likes green, apparently – DD asked her straight-out what her favourite colour was and then pretended she was doing a survey of how many people in the class liked green. MC advises his teacher wears the colours of France, which I take to mean the French Flag. All I have gathered is that her coat is black and that she has, on occaision worn a red hat or a blue hat.

I had initially thought about Haruni by Emily Ross but this requires more skeins than I have available. I liked Gingko too but on closer inspection I wonder if it’s not just another version of Ishbel. Nothing wrong with that, really, but I do like to try new ideas rather than variations on a theme.

I’ve been doing a bit of drilling through Ravelry’s database, looking first at what fingering weight yarn I have in green and then at pattern ideas for those yarns. It has been a useful exercise that has thrown up some suggestions I would not have automatically considered.

Gems from the Web

I had the pleasure, last Saturday (14th April) of not just meeting Kate Davies but of also learning a cool new technique – the Steek Sandwich (or as us Irish are calling it “The Schteak Sangidge”). If a person can be described as a gem from the web I’d have to use the term for Kate. If you haven’t come across her blog or her patterns before now please click on the previous links. I’ll wait here until you come back, honest!

I just love how she writes with such intelligence and erudition on so many topics, be they traditional techniques or modern experiences. It is evident in how she elucidates that she has a grounding in academia and research. I’m positively “fly-by-night” in comparison. I remember reading (and commenting on) an article she wrote about Aran Knitting. I remember thinking : Finally, here is someone who has properly understood the history behind Aran Knitting and has carefully investigated and dispelled many myths.

Some time after this, Kate suffered a stroke. She has documented her recovery on her blog and it is another layer of credit to her character and personality how she has willed herself back to full health and fitness.

Wow! Such an inspiring person. One of those rare occasions when you realise you were in the presence of a great lady. Why not say it? Why be bashful on this score. She is amazing and thank all that is good that she survives and thrives.

Oh! and yeah – I want to cut my knitting soooo much now… This was the last remaining technique that I have procrastinated about. After cutting my knitting with the warm support of the other knitters attending the workshop I have driven off any scruples about doing this again.

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Cutting a crocheted steek

Nike+ GPS

One thing I have been seriously procrastinating about over the past month (and beyond) is getting out for a run. Initially, it was fear of further injury that prevented me. Then, when my knee was completely healed and I couldn’t even blame weather or bad timing, I had to force myself to assess why I still procrastinated about getting out for a run. Partially, I felt over-whelmed by the 10k training programme that Nike+ had set for me. It required me to run for 50mins at lunchtime, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. I was put off. However, that doesn’t explain why I couldn’t have got out for 30mins on some of those days instead?

I had to delve deeper and then I realised I had a fear of running incorrectly.

I know a LOT about knitting and crochet. I’m beginning to learn more about spinning. I am happy for these three subjects to be my primary areas of research and learning. For the rest of my interests, I’m happy to enjoy them without knowing too much. I can sew a few pieces of material together and thereby I quilt; I can put one foot in front of the other slightly faster than I may walk and thereby I run. I don’t really want to wonder or worry too much more about it and I don’t need too until… I need to!

The wonky-knee I suffered in after my run in London stopped me in my tracks(uit!). One of my knitting buddies – who *has* made it her business to know as much about running as she does about knitting – gave me some in-sight into why my knee was suddenly suffering as it was. Much of it was to do with my new runners and specifically the extra cushioning being given to my heel. This was resulting in my coming down too hard on my heel and putting my knee-joint into shock. She advised me to take greater care about how my foot hit the ground with each stride.

I realise now that I had to process this for a few weeks and this was the real reason for my procrastination. I recently decided on a running method that I’m calling “The Ostrich”! I visualise myself as running like an Ostrich – complete with the HUGE ass and “head-in-the-sand” tendencies – and I make sure to strike the ground with the ball of my foot first, as I imagine an Ostrich does. People that I have descibed this running style too have pondered whether it is similar to a style called “Chi-running”. Should I ever get so far as to do a bit of research on this score I might be able to elucidate! All I know is: today I ran over 6k and I’m not feeling any ill-effects in my shins or calf muscles. That’ll do, Ostrich, that’ll do!

Mid-March Madness

StashDown / Lacealong2012 / WIPdown

My cake of Malabrigo Yarn Lace currently weighs 14g, which means I have knit 116m in the past week. More to the point, I cast-off my Summer Affair by Carol Feller this afternoon. Aaand it doesn’t fit.

With a shrug o' the shoulders

Well, I guess it does “fit” – afterall it’s a shrug, so I suppose it’s “doing exactly what it says on the tin”. Buuuuut, it’s just that it doesn’t *look* like it fits.

This is disappointing. I knit the size for 36″ bust – which is exactly my bust dimension. More than that, the pattern gives a dimension of 20″ around the circumference of the opening of the shrug – which is exactly the measurement I get when I wind a tape around from the back of my neck, under each oxter and around my back. I also managed to block the initial rectangle to the dimensions in the schematic. All of this meant I was hopeful that the finished piece would fit and I pressed on.

I was worried that I would run out of yarn as it was since the pattern says that the smallest size would take 366m and I was knitting the next size up out of one skein which has 430m. Turns out I only used 300m – I have over a quarter of the skein left over. I could have easily knit the next size up, it seems – that’s annoying.

It’s tempting to think of starting again in the next size because this colourway is just perfect for the dress I need a shrug for. Tempting… for all of two seconds! So for now, I’m say this is done but I’ll either give it away to DD or a neice.

12in12 / #Spin5

#Spin5: days 1 to 3 of BFL sample

#spin5 has been great for getting me back at the wheel at a regular basis – daily, even! Here’s a pic of days one to three of my latest spinning – a sample of Blue-face Leicester dyed by Laura Hogan:

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1st skein wound into a cake

As mentioned in last week’s post, though, #spin5 has been especially beneficial in getting me to tackle the plying on some singles of Falkland that had been languishing on my wheel since last October. My 1st skein was 63 wraps of my Niddy-noddy - which I calcualte at 98m and a WPI of 13 therefore fingering to sport weight.

My 2nd skein was a little under-spun compared to the first so I ran it through the wheel again. It’s still in soaking but I’m hopefull I have enough for a small shawlette between the two skeins.

So I’m quickly moving on to my next WIP - 198 yds. of Heaven. This is small enough that I hope to have it finished by the end of the week.

Twilting

And the winner is...

So, a few weeks ago I looked for suggestions for a name for my quilt and offered to place all who commented into a draw for a prize. I got some great ideas from five commemorators:

  1. ALifeOfHerOwn
  2. SheKnitUpThat
  3. Mazzledazzle
  4. Treasa
  5. Mairin
Using a random number generator, the lucky winner is…
SheKnitUpThat

And your prize is a Sock Club kit containing:

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Two skeins of Lornas Laces Shepherd Sock in "Valentine" (above) and "Fiddlehead" (below)

I received these last year as an instalment in Janel Laidman’s Sock Club. These two skeins come with two separate sock patterns – Enjoy!

Gems from the Web

Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day and being online now I have become more aware of how differently this day is viewed and celebrated by those living on the island of Ireland and the rest of the world, especially in the US. A few things I’ve become aware of:

  • Americans can’t hear, let alone understand, the difference between “Patty” and “Paddy” and think anyone insisting it’s #paddynotpatty is either a) getting upset over nothing or b) just plain wrong;
  • Americans have a tradition of pinching people on St. Patrick’s Day that fail to wear green. (WTF? says everyone in Ireland!);
  • Irish people, who are used to the association of St Patrick with the three-leaved shamrock, are confused by the use of Four-leaved clover  - a symbol of good luck – and the conflation of the year-round concept of “Luck o’ the Irish” onto St. Patrick’s Day;
  • Americans assume it’s a myth that there are no snakes in Ireland and won’t accept our assurances otherwise because they’ve been caught out with the pocket-fish thing previously;
  • Similarly, pointing out that a) St. Patrick was actually Welsh; b) his name wasn’t Patrick but he had a Roman/ Latin title “Padricus” or c) he didn’t introduce Christianity to Ireland coz there was already a bishop here before him – will also be greeted with scepticism, at best.
I have concluded that continued efforts to educate the masses of the true meaning of St. Patrick’s Day will be derided by those wishing to “have the craic” and get into what ever Irish spirit they like. Let’s face it: we are a tiny, country, with a tiny population living on a tiny island and yet we have a whole day dedicated to the whole rest of the world wanting to celebrate whatever version of Irishness they feel. Seriously, why fight it?
For example: Most food we consider as Indian was actually invented in Great Britain. I’m sure people who were born and reared on the sub-continent get a surprise when they eat-out in England but that doesn’t stop the rest of us from enjoying our bhagis and aloo chat.
Yes, the name “Patty” grates because we hear it as either a girl’s name or something you put between two burger buns. Yes, pinching is stupid but at least it’s someone else’s tradition. And yes, it’s unfortunate that some think “Darby O’ Gill and The Little People” was a documentary. Why fight them? Why not just smile and nod and then take the piss when they’re not noticing.
And in this vein, may I present this audio from Irish radio – i.e. “Michael Flatley” interviewed by Ian Dempsey for Gift Grub on Today FM

Return to Normal Viewing

StashDown / Lacealong2012

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Summer Affair Blocking

My cake of Malabrigo Yarn Lace currently weighs 27.5g, which means I have knit 98.9m in the past week. I finished all three repeats of the leaf lace chart for Summer Affairand blocked it out to the dimensions in the schematic. It took some serious stretching of the fabric to get the correct height. I expected stitches to break and a great big hole to arrive in the centre of my work. The next stage is to graft up the seams for the sleeves and knit the edging. Hopefully this evening, depending on how quickly I can get this blog post finished, to be honest.

WIPdown

The WIP-count is mounting:

  • First up, as I posted last Thursday, I’ve been knitting a Uterus. I made a mistake on the Fallopian tubes (I didn’t read the pattern and didn’t realise that I was meant to put decreases in). This pattern is incredibly quick and I could probably knit a uterus a night. I intend to make a few of them before posting them off to the “expectant” knitter in Texas.
  • While Summer Affair was blocking – and my womb was recuperating – I succumbed to a little startitis and cast on for Multnomah in Artesano Hummingbird 4ply that @bioniclaura gave me towards the end of last year. This is on my list for the 12 Shawls in 12 but I’d intended on getting to it much later in the year. I could give you all sorts of arguments about needing something portable, or yarn that didn’t need to be wound into cakes, or mindless knitting but when it comes down to it I just wanted to cast-on so I did! Let’s just gloss over the fact that I could have progressed…
  • GlenvArgh! and
  • Petals

12in12

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Laura Hogan Falkland in Joan colourway

I went to the Sunday Spin-in today and met @Cathyqtpi, @Whirl123 and @SheKnitUpThat in Accents Lounge on Lower Stephen’s Street. While there, I nav-plied my LHogan’s Hand-dyed Falkland in the “Joan” colourway. My plan for this is 198 yds. of Heaven. This was my first time to nav-ply a whole skein of yarn. It went well, then really badly and then well again.
My first bobbin was nav-plied with really long loops. I encountered a problem when my single wasn’t robust enough for all the friction involved in going through a loop for ages so I switched to small loops for my second bobbin. The two resulting skeins are very different from each other and I hope some soaking and thwacking will sort them out.

Mainly, though, I’m delighted at having finally plied the yarn. It’s only been sitting there since last September or so! Now I can take part in #spin5 – a twitter thing that gets you to spin for at least five minutes a day. If I do I’ll make that a new heading here instead of #twilting.

Nike+ GPS

I’ve been pathetic about getting out running lately. I could claim it’s mainly because I’ve been worrying about my knee but really I’ve been less inclined to get out. I’ll try to tackle this next week.

Gems from the Web

Tina Murphy, founder of Run With Tina, posted this fantastic photograph yesterday. She was driving through the Wicklow Mountains with her family and they passed this scene and knew they had to drive back to capture it on camera.
I have to agree with another commenter that it looks like a painting. Definitely, this was the high-light of my week on the web.
Well done, Tina!

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Sheep on a hillside in Co. Wicklow Photographed by Tina Murphy used with kind permission of Tina Murphy

Why I Am Knitting a Uterus

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A Womb in progress

Today is International Women’s Day.

I will admit that I did not know that until I looked at my Twitter stream this morning. My lack of awareness about it, and the apathy of a handful of women in my Twitter stream towards it, could be considered as a triumph for International Women’s Day:

I, and the three or four other women, live in Ireland – a society that legislates against discrimination based on gender. We can vote, we can go to University, we can stay in a public-sector job after we get married! Clearly, in the 101 years since the first International Women’s Day was called for, Ireland has made huge progress for Women’s Rights. But, as the well-worn phrase goes: “a lot done, more to do” (one area of which I have discussed previously: “Over-educated; under-valued“).

It is amazing to consider a society where International Women’s Day is irrelevant. That should be the aim of our society – of any society: that all of its citizens could take “parity of esteem” for granted. That rights are “a given” not something “to be given”.

For the past few weeks, through the power of the Internet, I have become aware of a worrying threat to the rights of women. It comes from a surprising quarter, too – the United States of America. If you would like a quick, and witty, overview of recent events please read this article from Times magzine by Jessica Winter: “Subject for Debate: Are Women People?”

One of the more odious developments, to my mind, is the State of Texas requiring a woman to have a vaginal ultra-sound prior to allowing her to have an abortion. [To read more go to: "When States Abuse Women" an article by Nicholas D. Kristof in The New York Times] To simplify: she must choose between having a medical device inserted into her or have an unwanted baby come out of her.

A similar law was also *nearly* passed in West Virginia and Alabama, but was muted to requiring abdominal ultra-sound instead. After the ultra-sound the woman is required to go home and sit-out a 24 hour waiting period before the abortion can be performed. This woman, who has presumably suffered at least eight to ten weeks of mental anguish already about her pregnancy must listen to the foetal heartbeat, listen as all of the organs are described to her and mull it all over for another twenty-four hours. Quite far for being supported in her time of need a woman must be preached to and lectured as though she doesn’t quite understand what being pregnant really means.

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Where it all began

As I read all of these developments – the War on Women, as it has been called – a growing sense of despair overcame me. Butting in on Donna Druchunas talking to Annie Modesitt about the article I posted above, describing the legal procedure in Texas I asked:

when will women in US start chaining themselves to railings/ burning bras? Or are we less feminist than sisters of old?

As you can see from the screen-shot of the twitter conversation, within a few tweets a new Women’s Movement had been born (deliberate pun!):

@druchunas: Snatchel Campaign: Let’s knit a uterus for each male rep in congress. If they have their own, they can leave ours alone!

In no time at all a Ravelry group had been set up and I have become a surrogate womb-knitter for a knitter with tendinitis who  (co-incidentally) lives in Texas. What serendipity?

You may well ask: what on earth am I doing worrying about legislation being passed on the other side of the Atlantic? (ETA: especially considering how far behind we are in Ireland e.g. abortion isn’t legal Ireland except in extreme circumstances – good point, R!)

To which I say: Let’s re-cap…

This procedure is not happening in some back-water of Africa or China or Afghanistan. This is Texas. These laws are not being passed in countries renowned for their Civil Rights abuses. This is coming from the birth-place of Civil Rights. This debate on whether Women are People is a reasonable question in the 21st Century.

The United States of America has long been an influencing force globally and, for most of the past 100 years, a positive force. I would argue that the ripples caused by Rosa Parks when she sat on the “wrong” part of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, on December 1, 1955 ultimately led to the over-throw of aparteid in South Africa in 1994 – almost 40 years later. Certainly, for Ireland, the Civil Rights movement in the US led to The Contraceptive Train in May 1971, when women travelled by train to Belfast to buy contraceptives and smuggle them into the jurisdiction of the Republic of Ireland.

“The reason Rosa Parks’ stance was so huge in the civil rights movement is because it challenged something many just took as a fundamental rule of society. “

The fundamental rules of Modern society are drastically different now, almost sixty years after the Civil Rights movement and over 100 years since the first International Women’s Day. We should be able to take those hard-earned rights for granted. I believe we need to take a stance to resist this erosion of Women’s Rights in the US before the subjugation of women becomes – once again – the fundamental rule of society.

Thank you for reading.

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