When Mojo is a Mo’fo’!


No less than seven WIPs have turned bad on me lately.

Count ’em: SEVEN !

I started gloves for DD’s teacher. The pattern (from my library) is I-chord gloves by Meg Swanson. The yarn (from my stash) is Textiles A Mano Caricia in Nightfall. The pattern is written for worsted weight. The yarn is fingering weight. Ergo, the project needs maths.

The maths is not really the problem. The measurements for the maths is the problem. The model for the measurement i.e. my husband, specifically his hands, has been travelling a lot lately.

So this project languishes.

I decided, while I was waiting, I should get on with one of my design ideas. So I cast-on an experiment. It went like many experiments do… in cartoons: it made odd jolting movements before juddering to a halt.

It has been ripped out and is no more.

I met one of MCs new teachers and immediately decided she was a slouchy beret kind of gal. So I started Phoenix (from my library) in LuLu’s Yarns BFL Sock (from my stash).

I thought the Tunisian Crochet / linked crochet stitches would play nicely in the mottled yarn. I swatched some of the band and the eyelet pattern and concluded I was sadly mistaken.

Phoenix in Phlames!

This Phoenix smoulders and has not risen from the ashes of my defeat


In desperation at being thwarted by four WIPs at once I decided to fall back to socks. However, rather than go with just vanilla socks to get my mojo back, I had to try another experimental idea and cast-on the socks in a weird way.

That prototype crashed rather spectacularly. It’s so bad it will be a challenge even to rip it out!

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on a quilt top for a blanket for a baby grandchild of a friend of my mothers. The blocks for the quilt top demand a bit of accuracy around the depth of seam. My sewing machine didn’t feel like complying so I’d completed 90% of the blocks by fudging it. I’ve just found the instruction booklet for my sewing machine and figured out how to set the 1/4″ seam.

Now I’m wondering should I rip out the other blocks and redo them with the correct seam allowance. Or fudge the last six blocks and fudge sewing the blocks together. It’s hard to know which would be more challenging to do. It’s pretty depressing that WIPs in knitting, crochet AND sewing are ALL conspiring against me 😦

Having worked into a dead-end on all the things I need to make it was time to retrace some steps and get back on track. I decided the slouchy beret was the easiest to tackle. A new pattern – Pizzelle Beret by Linda Permann (from my library) would also be a great slouchy beret. But it had to be in a solid yarn. I decided on Textiles A Mano Caricia in Sea Glass – green which I had got with Nightfall (above) when I was in Janel Laidman’s Illuminations Sock Club. They were intended to be used together in colourwork sock patterns so it made sense (to me) that if I was using one skein for a pair of gloves for one teacher I should use the other skein for a present for another teacher. Perfectly logical, no?

And then I got all illogical. The more I worked on the pattern the more the yarn – despite being luxurious, with 10% cashmere – began to remind me of Baby acrylic double-knitting yarn that I *used* to have in my stash yonks ago. I got so illogical, I had to stop working on the pattern even though I was really enjoying it.

Pizzelle in Textiles A Mano Caricia "Seaglass" colourway

I’m prejudiced against this colour

Since there was nothing wrong with the pattern I decided to poll a few other colour options on twitter.

Alternative colour options

I opted for the Raspberry colour (bottom left) because someone suggested “Raspberry Beret”

After making good progress I realised I had somehow managed to set up SEVEN repeats rather than the six required in the pattern. There was no redeeming this and the whole hat had to be ripped back to the start.

So there you have it: I’m being thwarted by no less than seven WIPs at once!

What’s my answer? Why, Start another WIP, of course! Lucky number EIGHT, eh?


Week 7: Twilting at Windmills


Good news (finally) on this front: I had a hunch that my “Hideous dress of wrong” might actually be a “tolerable dress of ok” on a different body shape than mine. Someone taller, for starters, and better endowed so that the fabric would be stretched by positive ease. Mulling it over I wondered if one of my Swords Knitting group, @MaryEnthuses, might have the winning combination. Last Thursday was the first time in ages that we were both at knit-night at the same time. Good sport that she is, Mary tried on the dress and not only does it fit, she actually says she likes it! The added bonus is that Mary works in a yarn-shop that sells Killcarra / Studio Donegal and a lot of what she makes to wear in the shop is to showcase yarn they sell there.

Not only does this happy event save me from having to rip several kilometers of yarn – for a second time! – I have a reason to finish GlenvArgh!! and send it to a happy home. Yay for Cinderella-esque happy endings.

StashDown / Lacealong2012 / 12in12

My cake of Ivy Brambles Romantica Merino Lace currently weighs 32g, which means I have knit 124m in the past week. I have finally started the edging and would love to be finished this in time to wear it to London next Thursday. Considering that could involve up to 283m of yarn, and given my track record meters-per-day to date, this would not seem likely!

Gems from the Web

Speaking of London (I was, wasn’t I?) DH and I are going over next weekend ostensibly to see the Golden Spider Silk Cape in the V&A museum. This was a gem from the web that DH came across and knew I would be interested in. It’s a treat for my 41st birthday on Thursday. The kids are going on a mini-holiday to their Granny’s house so we are really getting a weekend away. Can’t wait!

Kimono Print


Today was the last day of my quilting course. We had an exhibition of all the work that each student has been beavering away on. I made a piece which has been dubbed “a self-portrait in fabric”. I had two starting points. The first was this piece of fabric that I had got at the Knitting and Stitching show two years ago.

The second was this image from The Irish Times Travel supplement, “Go”, which became my colour inspiration. I also love the twisting movement the image suggests and, in particular, the boy on the right who is out of synch with the rest of his class.

© 2012 irishtimes.com

I started with the concept of a Bento box:

bento; bento box
A thin metal or lacquered wooden box divided into compartments. The bento box is used in Japan for storing separate small dishes that comprise an individual meal (most often lunch).

Read More http://www.epicurious.com:80/tools/fooddictionary/entry#ixzz1mrfLr1gx

In the same way a bento box provides a whole meal made up of smaller dishes in separate compartments, a person is the combination of several elements determined by their interests and experiences. Being a technique-freak, I knew I wanted to try my hand at a variety of piecing techniques. I used the compartment structure of the bento box as a way of tying together the five diverse blocks that I made. Here are the blocks, in the order that I made them.

Block 2: Rush Runner


Block 1: Wabi-sabi

Block 1: “Wabi-sabi” based on an improvisation technique used by Weeks Ringle & Bill Kerr in their book “Quiltmaker’s Colour Workshop: A Practical Guide to Understanding Colour and Choosing Fabrics”. This block is about the particular place that Japan holds in my heart. I’ve long been fascinated by Japanese Art and culture. DH worked there for 18 months in the 1990s and still has friends living there. When DH and I got married our Honeymoon seemed like the best excuse yet for me to visit Japan. We spent three weeks there, relaxed in many ryokan, visited several temples and had many adventures. I hope that I get a chance to go back there again.

Block 2: “Rush Runner” is the most formal and precise of all the blocks that I made. I followed the directions given by Elizabeth Hartman in her book “The Practical Guide to Patchwork” for a quilt called Rain or Shine. It’s about being a runner and how I love moving through the local landscape, often running in all weather. Running has helped me appreciate my locality for its richness of landscape. It has also taught me new back-roads and short-cuts. I selected the material for this block very carefully, to represent the colours that I see as I run in the local landscape: grey clouds, ploughed fields, crops of winter vegetables, sandy beaches.

Block 4: Blow-in


Block 3: Mo Thinteán Féin

Block 3: “Mo Thinteán Féin” is an adaptation of the classic log-cabin block using an improvised technique that @MaryLD demonstrated to us one week. I read somewhere that the traditional log-cabin blocks were built around an orange or red square at the centre, which represented the fire or hearth. I started with a trapezoid of orange and built out from it with five sides, representing the five people that make up our home. I used lots of strips and was careful about how the colours changed in value/tone/saturation as I worked outwards.

Block 4: “Blow-in” I was struggling with what aspect to focus on for one of the compartments until I came across a string-pieced pinwheel in my trusty “Ultimate Quilting Bible: A Complete Reference with Step-by-step Techniques” by Marie Clayton. Only days before I had been describing myself to an old acquaintance as being a blow-in my whole life. I really like being a blow-in. It means I am taken for what I am and not for what my parents, grand-parents, siblings, relations did or didn’t do. You can also contribute a fresh view of their world to locals that will listen. So this block is about variety and combining and helping to order chaos.

Extension of Carnegie Library, Malahide

Block 5: Library

Block 5: “Library” represents my paid job as an Architect. Using a *piecing technique I learned about from my “Compendium of Quiltmaking Techniques” by Susan Briscoe I built the block to represent an abstraction of this photograph of a Library that I designed.

The overall pieced top (it’s not a quilt yet, I’m afraid – I ran out of time) looks like:

When I finally get around to assembling the sandwich of pieced-top, wadding and backing and quilting the three layer together I will finish with a thin black binding and make it into a wall-hanging. I don’t have a name for it yet. In celebration of my birthday next week I’ll have a little give-away (haven’t done one in a while). If you suggest a name in the comments below I will put your name into a draw. I’ll give a bonus prize to you if I decide to use the name you suggest.

Week 6: Decisions decisions

StashDown / Lacealong2012 / 12in12

My cake of Ivy Brambles Romantica Merino Lace currently weighs 46g, which means I have knit 230m in the past week.

I was getting a bit “bummed” about how long this is taking me and how little progress I’d made last week despite trying to be dogged about working at it. This week, thanks mainly to being forced to take the bus a few times, I’ve managed to get closer to my target yardage (40m/day) over the past week. Boy, am I glad!

The big deliberation I faced this week was when to start edging. The designer very helpfully gives this chart for the percentage of yarn you would use if you chose to do yet another repeat of the Blossom Chart before starting the edging:

I had, at this stage, knit 6 repeats of the Star Chart and 7 repeats of the Blossom Chart. From the table above I needed 41% more yarn if I wanted to make another repeat of the Blossom Chart before starting the edging. My problem with understanding how much yarn that 41% actually entailed is that I didn’t know what the percentages related to i.e. you need to know what 100% is before you can know what 41% of it is. Was 100% a) the total yarn used so far? Or b) the total yarn you started with? Or c) the total yarn used to complete the shawl? The only quantity I could be certain of was “a)” the total yarn I had used. This I knew I could measure. The total yarn I had started with was too arbitrary, given the variety of yardages of skeins of a similar weight. And “c) – the total yarn used to complete” was, as yet, a complete unknown.

One of my knitting buddies, @Clarabel, swore she knew the answer was “c)”. Considering she has knit Laminaria an infinite number of times more than me (remember, the number of times I have knit Laminaria = 0 and anything divided by 0 = infinity) I had to give her opinion some consideration. My idea (that the percentages were based on yarn used to date) meant that the ratio of [yarn used] to [yarn remaining] was 100:41. Whereas her interpretation of the table was that the same ratio –  [yarn used] to [yarn remaining] – was 59:41. That’s quite a difference in terms of actual yardage.

I decided to take my usual Architect’s approach and follow through on the more onerous option, which was @Clarabel’s. By following her logic I needed more yarn to complete another repeat and the edging, so- assuming my calculations indicated I had enought – I was less likely to run out of yarn in the process. If, at the end of the day, I can cast off and have a chunk of lace-weight left over… well, to paraphrase Dr. Phil: maybe I was right, but at least I can be happy.

Since making that decision I knit another two Blossom repeats and – according to Clarabel’s interpretation – I still  have enough yarn to make another repeat before starting the edging. As of writing, I’m starting my 10th repeat of the Blossom chart…

Gems from the Web

This week’s Gem is brought to you by @MaryLD who sent me this fantastic link: The Craftsy Block of the Month. I’ve been hearing about Craftsy for a long time but never delved into it. Visualise me at the top of a slippery precipice if you will. I’m about to take that fateful step into the abyss, you can tell.

But it’s all in a good cause, isn’t it? Ah yes, all for…


If you recall, at a previous Knitting and Stitching show, I got a bit carried away with the Jelly Rolls in my efforts to build up a stash of scraps for the Tokyo Subway Quilt. Since that flurry of impulsiveness I have sobered up to the realisation that Jelly Rolls are somewhat challenging to work with. For a beginner-quilter, with no fabric stash, there is a limited number of patterns that can be worked from a single jellyroll. You are further limited by the selection of fabrics and colour choices included in the roll – not all of which are the same quality, it turns out. It doesn’t help if you’ve cannibalised a few jellyrolls for another project and decide to cobble the remainders into a project. As I have done!

So my first step was to decide on what colours I thought might work together in a project – see below – I may not have been altogether correct, refer cannibalism above.

Remaining Strips from Two Jelly Rolls

Then I consulted my trusty Jelly Roll Quilts book [which purports to be “The perfect guide to making the most of the latest strip rolls”] and found the only pattern that I could make, without getting more fabric, was a baby-quilt sized version of what they called “Pandora’s Box”. It gives a handy arrangement for making the four-patch blocks at the centres by sewing two strips together, cutting them up, and then sewing the two-piece strips back together, checkerboard-style. The rest of the block has a tatami-mat construction that appealed to me: sew two short strips onto two opposing sides of the four-patch block; then the two longer sides are sewn on to match all. What you see below are the blocks before the long ends are sewn on, so the difference in length between the centres and the long ends is the seam allowances.

Initial thoughts on arrangement

In between me playing about with the initial arrangements of four-patches vs outer strips, Mary gave me a red-light filter, known as a Ruby Beholder. This is an incredibly handy tool for patchwork. It helps you filter out extraneous information of fabric i.e. tone or hue or even colour and judge it your pieces purely in terms of value. Suddenly, I realised how some four-patch blocks were reading in comparison to others. This changed how I arranged them in the overall top. Instead of sprinkling the green-surround blocks through-out the top, I arranged it based on how the four-patch blocks appeared and kept the green-surround blocks to the centre row.

One row done: still playing with arrangements

Once I assembled the top in full I had a niggle about the block in the top right of the (appalling – and apologies for that!) photo below. In principle it all worked but there was something jarring about the brightness of the fabric surrounding the four-patch of that block. After consultation with the rest of the Twilting class I decided I had the right fabric remaining to rip this block out and remake it with a better surrounding block.

All sewn up and no-where to go!

Nike+ GPS

I’ve been using Nike + GPS since mid-September last year and I passed 300km after my run on Tuesday. The first I knew of it, though was this lovely message from the website (above). Even though I know these things are automated, I have to tell you, it made me quite chuffed that someone, somewhere thought this achievement worthy of noting and celebrating.

I finished my 5k coaching programme on the web-site, which I’d used to keep me running and keep my fitness levels up during the Winter. It surpassed my expectations by improving my pace also. I’ve signed up for their beginner version of the 10k coaching programme. This also runs over 12 weeks and will have me running 13km runs some weeks and up to 37km in a week!

Saddo that I am, I spent most of last Friday afternoon plotting runs through Hyde Park in anticipation of doing a 6.4km and a 8km run while we’re on a weekend away in London in two weeks’ time. I probably spent more time wondering about the routes than I will spend running them!

Week 2: Still Resolute?

So, how are your New Year’s Resolutions going? After the initial novelty has worn off and before the benefits begin to be felt, this can be the make-or-break week for binning our best intentions. I hope you’re winning the battle of wills.


I’ll tell you one thing that’s in the bin (the sin-bin, anyway) and that’s GlenvArgh! Now a.k.a The Hideous Dress of Wrong:


The Hideous Dress of Wrong

For those who have never met me, please understand, despite what the picture tells you: I’m not built like a barrel. For those of you who know me in real life please note: I’m not 5 months pregnant. In fact, I’m not pregnant at all!

This WIP lies! It has always lied! It coaxed me “knit me, you know you want to…” and then betrayed me by shape-shifting or changing gauge or altering reality.

As my friend, @Clarabel, wondered:

How can yarn be so bad to you? How many combinations of yarn and pattern now?

Rear view

The Behemoth

Well, this was the third incarnation for this yarn. First, after two solid months of knitting, it became the epic Behemoth. Then, I tried to make a top-down version of the same pattern. By some quirk of the gauge changing between knit fabric & frogged yarn, this turned out too small for DH. The 3rd plan was to keep knitting until it was long enough for a dress.

It’s fun to blame the yarn. Really, when it comes down to it, the fault lies with my knitting skills. For Behemoth, I trusted the pattern as written and diligently knit it in its parts and sewed it up. That was my level of skill at that time and I learned a lot from the exercise.


Top-down version (left) compared to left-front of Behemoth (right)

When I tried the top-down version I did not know that fabric lying around relaxing for a while can not be relied on as a guage swatch for yarn that is subsequently ripped, stretched and re-knit. I learned that lesson the hard way too.

Third time lucky, they say. Not this time, it seems. This time around, I just thought I could knit on, throw in some increases, not really think about it and all will be well. Wrong again.

There are things I could do to rectify this. Mostly they involve ripping back or ripping out the middle section so the increases at the hips are positioned higher up. Or I could find someone taller that it might fit? With more curves so that the fabric has negative ease. No. “Strike three & you’re out!” I say. Now to bring myself to rip it… all… over… again… I find I’m all out of resolve to whip this WIPs butt.


Flash The Stash


We’re having a bit of  #flashthestash fun on Twitter. I tweeted this picture to demonstrate what stash lurks under my bed. This, I acknowledged, is only half of my stash.

During the week, I pulled everything out and re-organised it all again. In the two under-bed storage on the far right of the picture are my highest yardage yarn that are not lace-weight. I have identified projects that I want to make for each batch and am calling the two boxes “Stashdown 2013”. I realised that I’ve made a fundamental error in focusing only on lenght / yardage for Stashdown 2011 and 2012. I should have focussed on volume. The lace-weight yarn I have put aside for 2012 takes up one-eighth the space as the yarn for 2013.

However, I feel committed to my plan for this year and am excited by the beautiful shawls and lace that are going to emerge. Perhaps this will work for the best in the end. It will be good to remind myself that I have no room to store more yarn as I wean myself off yarn purchases this year.

Also, there will be 21 balls of Studio Donegal Kilcarra Aran Tween coming available… free to a good home (see WIPDown above)!


I started one of the sleeves for the Petals Wrap Cardigan. I’m not happy with it, it seems too tight to me. I’m going to start the second sleeve and add an extra shell to the round, to see if that makes things better before ripping back what I’ve done on the first sleeve.


In the meantime, I had put Laminaria to one side while I focussed on WIPDown. With my WIPDown projects giving me problems I’ve picked it up again happily. I’m a bit behind on my 12 Shawls in 12 but I think I can redeem myself.

Week 2: In Conclusion

This week, I may not have an FO as I had hoped, but at least I now know where I stand with GlenvArgh! And I may not have knit 40m per day but I have resolved to dispose of 1.8km of yarn – eventually! That’s progress, isn’t it?

Talking ’bout my Resolutions

As regular readers here know, I’m a fan of the enthusiasm and vibrancy a New Year brings that helps steel everyone’s resolve to become a better person.

I’m only making one resolution this year: to be better about blogs. I want to blog more regularly. But, I recognise this is a two-way street. I also want to do better about reading my friends blogs.

I’ve decided the most feasible way to keep a regular blog going is to blog once-a-week, with a review of my progress under a few headings during the week gone by. The headings reflect a number of crafting agendas I’m partaking in this year. Let me know if you find this gets tedious after a while.





Gems from the Web

My Seven for 2011


Peaseblossom Tunic

It’s that time again when we look back over the year that was and make plans for the year to come. At the start of 2011 I posted about Going for Seven in 2011 and even came up with a programme for the year. Time to look at how it all panned out, eh?

1. Present a pattern for publishing – DONE! I presented a pattern for a cardigan for my daughter to Knitty. It took an arduous two months of early 2011 but I did it, including all the maths for grading it to fit all sizes from toddler to teenager. Unfortunately, it was rejected and languishes still. I’m unsure of my plans for it. I still believe it’s worthy of publishing. I think I’ll get a few of the sizes test-knit – perhaps make one of the teenager sizes for one of my neices –  and take it from there.

Swirl Shawl

2. Bust my stash – NOT DONE! The year started well with the stash busting. I made my Peaseblossom Top in Fyberstpates Lace, the yarn with the highest yardage in my stash (1010m used out of 1796m). I also used Jojoland Melody Superwash in Teal Whirl, a shawl I made for Viola (744m used out of 1006m). In addition, I de-stashed ALL my cotton from Lidl  – a whopping 1.914 kilometers of  it – by making up Tunisian Crochet dishcloth kits for sale at HandmAid Craft Day in September. However, I have yet to finish my Petal Wrap using Alpaca Lace from Dublin Dye Company and I didn’t touch any other high-yardage yarn in my stash.


Stash Accumulation from Freckledpast

3. No more USA – NOT DONE! I was very strong this year. Stronger than I have been for many years. So many times this year I inhaled yarn fumes but resisted consuming. Having a steady flow of yarn from the Janel Laidman sock club seems to have helped and though there was some Stash Accumulation it was all (that I can recall) for planned projects. I’m going to stick with this strategy next year: only buy for a known project that I plan cast-on within the month. I was somewhat undone by some of my knitting friends towards the end of the year, however! BionicLaura de-stashed some gorgeous Possum Touch and two skeins of Artesano Alpaca 4ply. As part of Knitmas, Freckledpast de-stashed 4 skeins of chenille, 1 skein of Rosários 4 Loopy and a ball of Donegal Yarns Aran Tweed. Then Averil de-stashed a skein of Regia Galaxy in the Saturn colourway. They are allvery bold! but I love what they de-stashed in my direction. It’s only fair, I have de-stashed in other people’s directions too (see point 2. above!).

4. Spin more – DONE! The Skein-a-month Spin-a-long was quasi-successful. While we didn’t manage to do an actual skein a month, it certainly increased my spinning efforts and out-put. My most productive month was July, during the Tour de France. A complete lull in activity followed in August when I brought the wheel with us camping in France and didn’t take it out one night! Anyway, more importantly, I spun for a specific project and knit it up too – a small hoodie for BionicLaura’s baby girl. I learned a lot from the experience – how fractal spinning helps crazy colourways; check gauge and resize to suit; even when you don’t expect to have yarn left over, you will!

BionicLaura's Funky Bear

5. Quilting – DONE! Thanks to Elana I was hooked up with quilter-extraordinaire Mary Heseltine who lives down the road from Elana. We had an introductory session in March which led to Clarabel & I doing a five month quilting course over the Winter. I am loving it though I’m a little concerned for the new stash of fabric I am accumulating now.

6. Gifts – DONE! and NOT DONE! On the one hand, most of my knitting time in the past year seems to have been gift-knitting. On the other hand, I don’t think I managed a single gift included in my original plan! The gifts I planned for the early part of the year were scuppered by how long it took me to write the pattern (see point 1. above). Then, later in the year, planned gifts were superceded by a completely unforeseen (by me) baby-boom amongst my crafting friends. The baby-knits were fun to do thought they led to some stash accumulation. I’ve decided it’s probably a good idea to keep some baby-suitable yarn always handy in my stash in future.

7. Darn Socks – DONE! I surprised myself and actually darned some socks during the year! This coincided nicely with the Sock Exchange initiative by @futuremenders to get people back to “Make Do & Mend” mentality as part of the Absolut Fringe festival in Dublin. Unfortunately, I still have more socks to mend, however. And soooo much more sock yarn to use!

Quilting: you know you want to!

Following on from the success of the quilting workshop, @MaryLD was planning to run a Short course in patchwork & quilting​

This would be a four-day course, run on one Saturday each month from 10-4p.m. starting towards the end of August/early September.

Mary has outlined the course as follows:

1. Cutting and piecing methods
starting with an overview of the main traditional types (you have to start somewhere!)
2. Starting to subvert the traditions
Create your own block for paper-foundation piecing or use a traditional method with your own “take” on fabric and colour selection
3. ​Putting it together
Adding borders -maybe; selecting backing and wadding; planning the quilting design; preparing piece for quilting; adding the quilting stitches; by hand or machine?
4. Finishing
Completing the piece; binding and finishing

​​€275.00 for the full course

Location: St Paul’s Church Hall, Adelaide Road, Glenageary. See D in the map below. This is a lovely modern building, warm, clean and spacious. We can make tea or coffee and will have a separate space to eat a packed lunch.

No on-site parking but plenty of parking in Silchester Road. For anyone coming by DART (with a sewing machine?!?! ) you can see that Glenageary station is very close.

So if you’re interested and on Twitter give @MaryLD a shout. Otherwise, drop a note in the comment box here and I’ll pass it on to Mary and pass her details on to you.

Hope to see you there.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone