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.


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!


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!



  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]
  2. 20120422-232753.jpg

    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!]
  5. 20120422-232938.jpg

    Sisters! Doin' it for themselves!


    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!


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.


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.


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:


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.


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…

And your prize is a Sock Club kit containing:


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


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.


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



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!


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

March On or Week 9

12Shawls in 2012

So, as promised, a daylight picture of my Laminaria in all its finished glory. Still not a great picture – and certainly not doing justice to its fabulousness – but at least it gives you a better idea of the size and colour of it.




Regular readers here, and followers on Twitter, will already be aware of my efforts to maximise my skein of Ivy Brambles Romantica Merino Lace with StashDown2012 in mind while making Laminaria. As mentioned before, the designer gives a chart for what percentage of yarn you’ll need to do another repeat of the Blossom Chart and the edging. My problem with this is that it didn’t relate the figures back to what 100% was. It meant a significant difference in yardage needed depending on whether 100% was:

a) the total amount of yarn I had used so far – I could easily measure this by weighing the remaining skein and subtracting from the total

b) the total amount of yarn the shawl would need – a more abstract figure and only measured by means of a bit of algebra.

c) the total amount of yarn I started with – I got a lovely comment from Rubysasha that advised me this was the answer (Go have a look at her blog – she makes the most beautiful lace shawls. A knitter with such breath-taking skill.)

@Clarabel assured me (b) was the answer and, since she’d knit this pattern before, was more likely to be correct than me. After mulling it over for sometime I realised going with her logic (b), instead of my logic (a), meant that one repeat and the edging would take more yarn and thereby I would be less likely to run out of yarn. All credit to wanting to maximise yarn for Stashdown but nobody wants to run out during the cast-off!

So I worked away, weighing my yarn at the end of each repeat of the blossom chart and doing my algebraic calculations. In the end, I figured out I could do 10 repeats in total of the Blossom Chart and the edging with 1% to spare. As it turns out I had circa 5g or yarn left over and my shawl weighs circa 111g.

Now, a curious thing has happened: I based my calculations on the ball band which indicates that it has 4oz of yarn or – by my calculations – 113g. The ball-band also states that the skein contains 1000yds. Weirdly, the Ravelry database says that a skein is 85g (3oz) for 1000yds. My skein definitely weighs 4oz. So, which is correct? Should the Ravelry Database say 4oz = 1000yds or do I have 1.3 skeins and therefore 1300yds?

Why does this matter? Well, firstly coz I’m a pedant! But mainly because I don’t know whether I have knit 1000yds or 1300yds in stashdown. For now, I’m going with the latter.


Viola dress from LK Bennett above and Malabrigo Lace, Emerald Blue below


With one Lace-weight project done and dusted I’m quickly moving on to the next: Summer Affair by Carol Feller from her eBook Wearable Lace. I’m using Malabrigo Yarn Lace in Emerald Blue, which (supposedly) has 430m in a 50g skein. I cast-on last Monday and my cake currently weighs 39g, which means I have knit 95m in the past week.

You would think after all the new Estonian Lace stitches I conquered doing Laminaria that I would be Queen of Lacework but this pattern is just not going into my head, so it’s slow going. My knitting buddy, Bootie, has knit this before and assures me that the rhythm begins to sink after repeating the chart the 2nd time. I hope she’s right.

Knitting with Malabrigo Lace, however, more than makes up for my inadequacies. They don’t call this yarn Mmmmmalabrigo for nothing! I have a specific plan for the FO – it’s to go with this dress I got last year:

I’m pretty confident the colourway will be a good match.


While the course has finished up, @MaryLD invited us to her studio this weekend to continue working on our quilts if we wanted to or just to hang out, if we preferred. I couldn’t make it over though and, since she was looking forward to hearing about my London-trip, I’ll use this heading to fill you all in. (Also, since my sewing machine is still broken, I have no recent to show quilting to show.)

First off, the picture below is the lobby of the hotel we stayed in – Millennium Bailey Hotel. A bit Downton Abbey, don’t you think? It was right across from the Gloucester Road Tube station – which is on the Piccadilly Line – which comes from Heathrow – which we flew in to. How fantastic was that? So handy you’d swear DH planned it 🙂


Millennium Bailey's Hotel, Kensington

Our main reason for visiting London was to see the Golden Spider-silk display in the V&A. It did not disappoint. The fibre that can be produced by the Golden Orb spiders is just astonishing for its fineness, colour and strength. I don’t know if you can make out the thin line from the bobbins of golden thread at the top of the following picture? Well that’s some of the spider silk, supporting a 200g (or 7oz) weight! See the colour? That is the natural colour. Can you imagine what webs of this are like? And I mentioned fineness. That thread that you can hardly see? I’m not actually sure if that is a single or if it has already been plied into the 96 ply thread that was used to weave the fabric of the cape.


Spider silk, naturally golden in colour, supports 200g weight

The next shot is of the tassels at the end of the shawl, which was displayed with the cape. It gives you an idea of the fluffiness of the fibre.


Tassels on the shawl show how fluffy the fibre is

The next picture shows the embroidered design that covered the cape. While I didn’t love the cape as a garment the woven fabric and the embroidery were beautiful. The accompanying shawl was woven with traditional relief patterns and – to my mind – showed superior skill.


Emboidered design on the finished cape

We spent the rest of the day in the V&A and I took some really atrocious pictures of lots of interesting things that I will spare you from suffering. That evening we had dinner at The Pig’s Ear in Chelsea – which I recommend – and afterward I spotted this Crochet Table in the window of a design institute (I think!) down the road. Basically, it’s made from crochet motifs using cotton, and then assembled in a box shape and stiffened with epoxy resin. A google search reveals it was designed by Marcel Wanders in 2001.


Crochet Table retailing in Chelsea at £1,559

I did make a trip to Liberty and acquired some gorgeous fabric, which is intended for a baby-quilt in my near future. Another blog-post in my near future, too, I think – assuming my sewing machine is up and running.

Gems from the Web

I’ve gone on-and-on enough, already so just a little gem this week courtesy of @elana, @rozanna_banana and @theelfyone who came up with a knitters’ blessing on Twitter during the week.

In line with the traditional Irish blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

We worked out the following:

May all your SSKs be left-leaning
may your tape measure be always at your side
May your stitch count remain constant; and no stitches dropped – unless it’s meant to be otherwise
and before you cast-on again,
may it all block out.

Week 8: A quickie


Thank you all so much for the great name suggestions. I only have time for a very quick post today (a day late, as it is!) so I’ll do the draw for the winner in time for next week’s post – I promise.


The Edging


Star Chart transition to Blossom Chart

StashDown / Lacealong2012 / 12in12

My cake of Ivy Brambles Romantica Merino Lace currently weighs 5g, which means I have knit 239m in the past week. More importantly…

I finished my Laminaria!

I cast-off ON THE PLANE home from London. Yes, you read it right: I was knitting ON THE PLANE!!! Not only that but using METAL needles. I’ve always been a stickler for rules and have always stuck to crochet for plane trips when I read that needles are listed as forbidden items for carry-on baggage. I made an exception for my Laminaria – it was just too tempting to put away for the plane trip.

I have some terrible shots here, that I took on my iPhone while it was blocking. I promise, when I have daylight, a proper camera and photographer I will post better shots.

So that’s my first shawl for my 12in12. It took me two months rather than one but it is greater than 800m and one of the shawls in the challenge has to be that large – at least I’ve got it out of the way early.

It’s also my first entry in Lacealong2012. I must take a look at who has cast-on and off a lace project in lace-weight so far this year.

I want to chat in more detail about how much yarn was used for StashDown. There was quite a discussion about how to calculate how many repeats to do to maximise usage. I got some helpful comments, which I’ve held off on publishing, in order to give the topic more time in a later post.

Gems from the Web

My gem from the Web this week is actually a person – Kersti Anear and especially her FourSquare activity. As I was waiting for a taxi to take us to the airport, she tweeted that she was on her way to London for the weekend too. I have to admit, I took note of her FourSquare check-ins and actually tried some places purely because she had gone there. (Yeah, that doesn’t sound weird or stalker-ish at all…)

Honestly, it made sense: we went to Liberty (I got some lovely fabric, that I think will become a baby-quilt) and she had tried a dim-sum place nearby called Ping Pong. So, I convinced DH to give it a go and it was fantastic. Sake-based martinis and an excellent variety of dim-sum. We both particularly liked the sticky rice and the steamed vegetable buns.


Sake-tinis and dim-sum in Ping Pong

Nike+ GPS

I was determined to run in London. Despite a knee that started to act up during the day, as though in anticipation, I managed 6k around Hyde Park / Kensington Gardens. I really struggled and probably shouldn’t have run at all. I’ve got very blazé about doing proper warm-ups so I really felt like a crock on Friday. DH had great fun teasing me that I was taking turning 41 very hard indeed. Even though I felt better on Saturday I decided not to try running again.

All the same, I’m delighted that the map of my Nike+ runs now looks like:

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

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).

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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!