Saturday’s Stash = U.S.A.

U.S.A. or Unexpected Stash Accumulation

Mmmmmm-Manos

Isn’t this yummy? I received it yesterday, as a present from my daughter (austensibly, at least!). DH picked it out in This Is Knit, using her strict instructions: dark puple & really nice. I don’t think she paid for it out of her savings either so – technically – I bought it for myself but isn’t this a much nicer way to go about acquiring stash?

Left to my own devices, I don’t know if I would have got this. I mean this in a good way: I’m too easily distracted by variagated yarns, which always look gorgeous in the skein but then pose such a problem when it comes to knitting them. This is a beautiful hue of semi-solid purple and I knew the minute I unwrapped it what it’s going to be. Early last year I had to throw out a shop-bought, cropped, wrap-cardigan because it had been worn to death. I threw it out, promising myself I’d replace it with a similar hand-knit. Did I? Did I, heck! Well, now I can. DH got me 4 skeins so I have 1200 yards – should be plenty. And a big “Thank You” to whoever it was in TIK that served DH – he tells me he made you dig the fourth skein out of your display. I’m glad he did & that you did – an extra 300yards makes all the difference.

I think this year – and possibly next year – our kids are at the optimal ages for Christmas. This year my daughter – off her own bat – decided she wanted to buy presents for her family with her savings. Last Saturday, this generosity of spirit produced some amazing consequences. It’s added such fun of the season to conive with her as she tries to hide the gifts and then later as she comandeers you, with all the subtlty of a starling, into another room to help her wrap them. “There’s nothing going on in here”. In addition, my eldest two are still completely steeped in Santa-lore, whereas The Earl is only beginning to become aware of “Ganka” – as he calls The Man in Red. Next year he’ll be a fully-fledged believer, whereas DD may have succumbed to skepticism by then. As long as she still has her beautifully spirit of generosity then Christmas will be safe.

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FO on Friday = Nollaig

The Big Day has finally arrived!

Nollaig is not just the Irish word for Christmas. It is also the word for the whole month of December. Considering how December gets swallowed up in preparations for today, it’s entirely appropriate, isn’t it?

After all your hard work through-out this month – knitting, shopping, cooking, baking – in preparation for today, I hope you’re getting to put your feet up finally and do whatever it is you do to relax. And if that includes “Read my blog” then good on you! Raise a glass and cheer: “Here’s to lots-more-of-this in 2010!” (Don’t worry: I scheduled this post days ago! I’m relaxing and spending time with my family today)

Nollaig Shona dhaoibh go léir agus gach dea-ghui i 2010

The Knitted Crib you see in the photo was knitted by two members of staff in the Planning Department of the Local Authority I work for . They made it and donated it to be a prize in the Raffle for the Sale-of-Work Charity Fund-raiser earlier this month. It’s fantastic, isn’t it? I didn’t win it – despite spending €10 on Raffle tickets – but the Librarian in my town did, so I’m sure I’ll get to see more of it. My guess is she’ll put it on display in our local Library the next time Nollaig comes around.

Whirly-WIP

So, I said yesterday that I’d tell you about the hat I started as a gift for my sister. I decided she needed a slouchy hat. More by chance than by design, I remembered that the latest copy of Yarn Forward had just such a pattern: Elsica Hat by Wooly Wormhead. As luck would have it, the recommended yarn for the project – Wollmeise “Molly” – has exactly the same “wpi” (i.e. wpi 9) as my planned yarn – Adriafil “New Zealand Print” . So far, so good.   

 I cast on for the largest size – we tend to be big-headed in our family. You’ve noticed it, haven’t you? This is as far as I had got last night – the brim. I really like how the colours in the yarn are coming out – there’s a subtlety to the colour-changes that I had not anticipated. It’s like the knitted equivalent of comfort food or swinging in a hammock in a warm summer’s breeze (I’ve heard rumours that some countries have warm summer breezes – they may be just rumours).   

I'll Seek A Hat

 

 However, I’ve a few comments to make about the pattern:     

  • If you knit in the round to avoid purling then this isn’t the hat for you – three out of every four stitches in the brim are purled. Luckily, I haven’t got Purlophobia so I’m happy to keep going.
  • If you want a super-quick gift that will knit up in an evening then this isn’t the hat for you – the stitch pattern involves cabling two stitches in every six, which slows progress a bit. Lucky for me, I’ve a super-fast way of making the cables – more about that later – so I’m happy to keep going.
  • The stitch-pattern in the brim is a slipped-stitch rib but doesn’t seem to specify whether to slip the stitches knit-wise or purl-wise. I always go on the basis that you slip purl-wise unless otherwise stated. However, I noticed one inch into the brim that the slipped-stitches in the photograph were tight and possibly twisted. If you wish to make this pattern, you might consider slipping your stitches knit-wise. As it turns out, I like my sloppy-big slipped-stitches so I’m continuing on. Plus, I haven’t time to rip back and start again.
  • The pattern calls for “M1P” but the notes and chart legend only describe “M1”. I took the “P” to mean “purl-wise” and so I purled into the back of the lifted horizontal loop, rather than knit as the notes and legend says. This was PITA to do so perhaps it makes no difference, either way.
  • It seems to me that there’s a jolt in the transition from the brim to the body. In the photograph, the slipped-stitch rib of the brim flow into right-leaning knit stitches in the body, forming swirls. In the pattern, the first round of the body starts with the instruction “T2B” i.e. the first stitch (the slipped-rib stitch) would be sent to the back and purled while the second stitch would be knit over it – breaking the flow. In order to get the slipped-stitch to begin travelling right-ward, without interrupting the flow, I would suggest the following change (and this won’t make sense unless you already have the pattern):
    1. Last round of the brim – the increase round – reads: “*K1, P1, M1P, P2, M1P; rpt from * to 2sts from marker then P2. 125 (143, 161)”
    2. First round of the body – a set-up round – reads: “S1, M1P, P4; *T2B, P4; rpt from * to 6 sts from marker then T2B, P3, RSM. 126 (144, 162)”
    3. Round 1 of the body as written can then be repeated as required.
  • The notes and chart legend describe making the “T2B” using a cable needle. My heart goes out to any novice knitter who may attempt to complete this pattern while using a cable needle to form a single “cable” stitch every six stitches. I think I’d sooner eat it! In recognition of this – credit where it’s due – the designer gives a detailed tutorial on how to form cables without using a cabling needle. Glancing at the photographs I was expecting this to be akin to Elizabeth Zimmermann’s description of a right-leaning travelling stitch in her Almanac – because that’s essentially what a single “cabled” stitch is. In fact, it involved grabbing the second stitch, dropping the first off the left needle and doing a quick switcheroo, before continuing on. This method is quicker than using a cable needle (and it’s how I’m making my “C4F” in Glenvar) but for two stitches it’s still very fiddle-y. Here’s what I’ve been doing:
    1. With yarn to back, knit into both sts as though to K2tog. Don’t drop sts off left-hand needle;
    2. Bring yarn to front, purl first stitch and drop both sts off left-hand needle.
    3. Et violá – a right-leaning “cable” a.k.a travelling stitch – E.Z. as always!

I hope this doesn’t come across as me finding fault with the pattern itself; I suspect a lack of editorial control rather than errors by the designer. I’m loving Wooly Wormhead’s design. It’s working so well with my yarn choice, but that’s just down to sheer luck.  However, I know if I’d tried this pattern a two years ago I’d be stumped. I’d be frantically scouring d’Interneh’ for answers as to “whyeeee is it not like the effing picture!!!” and DH would be herding the children into a different part of the house because of the thick blue fog that enveloped me.    

But I’m a different knitter now. I’ve learned a lot over the past two & 1/2 years – mainly because of trawling the Web. I’ve been exposed to so many new methods and techniques that I know how to knit my way out of, or around, a problem. I know how to “read” my knitting now, so I can anticipate issues like differences between the photographed sample and the pattern as written. Most of all, I’ve gained the confidence that doing things my own way may be better – for me at least – or if nothing else I’ll learn something in the process.

I’ve learned through reading other people’s blogs and learning from other people’s experiences. I’m hoping you find this post because of a late-night, last-minute, frantic trawl and that the light that goes on in your head is: “It’s not you, it’s the pattern. Go to bed and sleep on it. It will all be fine in the morning”. If this is you, you might like to come back again later because  I’m still working my way along the body and I haven’t got as far as the crown yet. Perhaps, I’ll have more comments for you then.

Chooseday’s Choice – Star Attraction

Last Tuesday I had a bit of a dilemma:

Pink or Blue?

These two balls /skeins of yarn were each intended to make a hat as a gift for Christmas. The problem was, I only had time for one of them.

So… should I choose

a) the Merino Blend Anti-tickle in pink for a lacy berret for a co-worker and fellow knitter; who would appreciate the effort – and to whom I feel endebted because of her friendship and support through-out the past year?

or

b) the New Zealand Print Classic in blends of green and blue for my Sister; who is also a fellow knitter, would appreciate the effort – and to whom I feel endebted because of her friendship and support through-out the past year?

Yes, it wasn’t an easy one.

In the end, the choice was made for me – by the afore-mentioned co-worker / knitter friend. I had shown her the purple star that I had made for Averil (thankfully, I can reveal this now as she’s just told me that she got it). But she thought I’d made it for the Charity Sale-of-Work and wanted to buy it. Easy peasy choice for me: Star now, Hat later.

She's a Star

 You’ll have to wait until Wednesday’s WIP Pawade to see the hat I started for my sister last night – don’t be greedy!

Stash on Saturday

Donations for Le Grá, Fingal

Le Grá, Fingal

One of my work colleagues came up with the idea that we could have a Sale-of-Work of items all Hand-made and donated by staff of the Council I work for. 100% of the proceeds would go towards the Crumlin Medical Research Fund, which is attached to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin – the same charity I ran the Mini-Marathon for in June. She called the venture “Le Grá Fingal” which means “With Love, Fingal” in Irish.   

It was astonishing to see the volume and the quality of the work that poured in. In our department alone, two of my colleagues do lino-cut and drypoint printing and sell their work through Etsy. Another makes homeopathic balms and essences. Yet another made cards using photographs she’d made and another made chutneys and preserves with produce from her allotment. From the other departments, there was hand-made jewelery; framed water-colours and photographs, hand-knitted and crocheted scarves and baby clothes; a carpenter in the depot made bird-boxes; someone else’s mother made candle-holders from hole-y limestone pieces.   

This was the reason behind making the Advent Wreaths that I said I’d explain later. I also donated “Mole”, some Christmas Fiddle-Faddle from Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Almanac; and my Wine Bottle Gift Bag. I made the gift bag two Christmases ago and gave it to DH, but he agreed he didn’t really want or need and would be happy to donate it.   

Tree from EZ's Almanac

Who needs a Wine Cozy, it's a Gift Bag

The Sale took place last Tuesday, 15th December, and the original idea was that they would be selling to staff only. By 10:30 they had already made €1,000. When they’d whittled down the number of items to one small table’s worth they moved the display to the reception atrium and managed to clear everything by the end of lunch-time.   

In total they raised €2,083. This includes ticket sales for a Raffle, which was drawn by the County Architect on Thursday. One of the prizes in the raffle was a fabulous knitted crib. It was made by two talented knitters in the Planning Department that I’ve been lucky to get to know recently, through the Nimble Fingers Crafting Club that one of them set up.  

Star from EZ's Almanac

I’m delighted to know that Mole has finally found a new home – he was bought to be given to a baby who’s due in January. Two of my closest friends in work bought two wreaths each. I didn’t hear who bought the gift bag but I hope they enjoyed the bottle of Mulled Berry Punch, that I bought in The Hopsack last Saturday. I bought back the Fiddle-Faddle myself and put it into my Secret Swap Parcel. [Aside: I like to include a little bit of hand-knitting in my Secret Pal Parcel for the Irish Knitters Swap. In 2007, I made some wash-cloths for Sue (SusyMcQ) and last year Heather (Nearlythere) got a Moebius Cowl. It’s very conceited of me, really; but this year’s theme was The Seven Deadly Sins so “Pride” it’s totally allowed. Anyway, I can report that Mairead (Fourboys) received her package yesterday and was genuinely thrilled with its contents. Yeay! + Phew!]

In the Charity Sale-of-Work I also bought:   

  • a jumper for DS#1, knit by a member of the Nimble Fingers Crafting Club;
  • a hand-pulled lino-cut print of Bosbok Strand in South Africa, made by a colleague in our Department;
  • a jar of Green Tomato Chutney – made by another colleague of mine;
  • a jar of mincemeat, made with plums and Calvados by a friend of the organiser;
  • four cards made by three different colleagues – three of which I’ve already sent off;
  • a combination pack of lavender barrier cream and clove oil balm – made by the organiser.
  • two decorated gingerbread biscuits
  • a sachet of “Magic Reindeer Dust” – basically porridge oats mixed with glitter and edible confetti. You leave it out for Rudolf to eat – the glitter is the magic dust that helps him fly.

So the stash I’m letting you know about today is not yarn but lots of hand-made goodies, made by talented members of staff in my place of work. 

Goodies Le Grá

Choose on Tuesday

Let’s talk about S.E.X., shall we? 

That’s Stash Enhancement Xpeditions to you and me, of course. In particular, my trip to Knit ‘nd Make in The Swan Centre, Rathmines, that I made with knitting friends, Claire and Caroline, last Saturday. [Aside: why are they bothering to drop the “a” in “Knit ‘nd Make”? What’s the point? Either be “Knit and Make” or “Knit ‘n’ Make”. I don’t get the reasoning for ‘nd. I thought I was the pedant!] 

Choices, choices

Knit 'nd Make, Rathmines

General Concensus: Good range of stock; managing to target a wide range of palettes and interests in a small space. Their shelves are only as deep as your average skein of yarn so they have full-height presses beside for additional stock. This means, a) less floor area has been taken up by shelving; and b) stock doesn’t get lost behind the balls to the front. Stitch in Beaumont – take note! There was no concensus about the ladies who served us. Claire and Caroline felt the lady who served me was short and not willing to engage whereas I just thought she was just being business-like and matter-of-fact. My guess is, we can’t expect to be greeted in the same way that Jacqui, Lisa or Elana might, every yarn shop we go into. 

Colour Choices for Hats

Why should you go there? If you are hankering after some King Cole or Cygnet or Balmoral or Tivoli or Sirdar  – and you live in the general vicinity – you should definately go there. They have classes too. 

Will we go again? There’s nothing madly “out-of-the-ordinary” here to drag us back from the other side of the City. So… eh… no. 

The Hopsack

The Hopsack, Rathmines

When I Googled “food, festive, Rathmines” I came across the website for The Hopsack – a health shop in The Swan Centre, Rathmines. Perusing their site I got the distinct impression that they were folk of the helpful-persuasion; so I used their comment form to ask them for recommendations for where we should eat lunch that Saturday – cheeky, I know! 

Well, they didn’t prove me wrong. Finn, of the Hopsack, came back with three suggestions – fair-play to him – and a request that I sign up to their newsletter or join them on Twitter or Facebook. Since I don’t “do” Twitter etc. I promised him I’d do one better and tell my readership – such as it is (BTW – that’s you guys, so you’d better be sitting straight and listening!!!) all about his shop and his kindness. 

A little Gift-bag-filler

After our SEX in Knit n’ Make we “swung by” The Hopsack – which is all the way around the other leg of the Centre – to thank Finn in person (and to ask directions for one of the places he’d suggested, truth be told!). Anyway, he was busy helping people in the shop – honestly, when does the man rest? So we contented ourselves with buying all-round us – for the second time that day – coughcoughcough  

I purchased the bottle of Rochester Organic Mulled Berry Punch you see photographed here. It’s a non-alcoholic drink of mulled fruit and spices. Sadly, I won’t get to consume it as I’m donating it to the Charity Sale-of-Work you keep hearing me mention (more about that tomorrow, I think). 

Can I just say, and I know that you’re expecting me to plug the shop, but still: this is a really good shop. It’s jam-packed with stuff but not in a cluttered/ clauster-phobic way. It’s bright and welcoming; but man! the range of stock is breath taking. The staff are really pleasant and helpful. The prices don’t take your breath away, and make you feel sicker than when you came in, like most Health Food Shops. I was very impressed. Even though there’s a Health Food shop near where I work I’d come back to The Hopsack again. Lucky they’re also online, eh? 

Okay, so if I’m talking about a Stash-Enhancement Xpedition I’ve got to have Yarn-Pron to show for it. Well… 

Loot!

Blue or Purple?

I don’t know how I manage to do this to myself but this loot is all about different choices. For starters, the skein of blue and purple towards the front – King Cole Aero (in Blue) and Tivoli Celtic Aran (in Purple)  – were both chosen as possible yarns to finish the hat that surrounds them in the picture. But which one would be better? Or would I be better off ripping back and incorporating stipes of one or the other – or both – from the beginning? Or forgetting this WIP altogether? Considering I’d planned to donate this hat for the Craft Sale that’s happening at lunch-time today, the last plan seems the more likely. 

Pink or Blue?

The other two balls /skeins of yarn are each intended to make a hat as a gift for Christmas. The problem is, I’ll only have time for one of them. So… should I choose 

a) the Merino Blend Anti-tickle in pink for a lacy berret for a fellow knitter, who would appreciate the effort – and to whom I feel endebted because of her friendship and support through-out the past year? 

or 

b) the New Zealand Print Classic in blends of green and blue for my Sister, who is also a fellow knitter, would appreciate the effort – and to whom I feel endebted because of her friendship and support through-out the past year? 

I’m not making this easy for you, am I?

Muse on Monday

Muse[myooz]  
–noun
1.
Classical Mythology.
a.
any of a number of sister goddesses, originally given as Aoede (song), Melete (meditation), and Mneme (memory), but latterly and more commonly as the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne who presided over various arts: Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Erato (lyric poetry), Euterpe (music), Melpomene (tragedy), Polyhymnia (religious music), Terpsichore (dance), Thalia (comedy), and Urania (astronomy); identified by the Romans with the Camenae.
b.
any goddess presiding over a particular art.
2.
(sometimes lowercase) the goddess or the power regarded as inspiring a poet, artist, thinker, or the like.
3.
(lowercase) the genius or powers characteristic of a poet.
–verb (used without object)
1.
to think or meditate in silence, as on some subject.
2.
Archaic. to gaze meditatively or wonderingly.
–verb (used with object)
3.
to meditate on.
4.
to comment thoughtfully or ruminate upon.

Muse = The genius or powers characteristic of a poet

Don’t forget my Ban-zai Bonanza. Write a Haiku and win a great* prize *even if I say so myself!   

Musing = Comment thoughtfully or ruminate upon

Don’t be expecting too much from me here. Ruminating is for cows and other four-stomached animals, isn’t it? I’ve got a busy life to lead that isn’t about where my next feed of grass is at; or how much milk I’ve produced today. Not anymore, anyway – thank goodness! However, I do think I should assess how well I did with the tasks I set myself to do in the past week.

  1. sort out my weekly meal planners / grocery shopping list so I can get back into grocery shopping regularly.  – Yeay, for me – I did this with the aid of mealsmatters.org. I did a shop and cooked all the meals accordingly. I know have an empty fridge – which I think is a good thing – and I’m all set to do the same next week.
  2. Start writing Christmas Cards – Boo for me! – I didn’t even so much as pull out my list of who sent me Christmas Cards last year. However, I have bought cards so I’m well on my way…
  3. Actually do something from my list of gardening jobs for December – Errr… it was cold… the ground was water-logged… the dogs ate my shovel… and my sequtares…
  4. Knit some Christmas Ornaments for a Sale of Work in our office – Yeay, for me – I’ve made five of my “Advent Wreaths with Bling” today and a hairy fun-fur/ novelty yarn tree. Most importantly!!!! I’ve used up ALL of the skank-ey yarn in the process. So my knitting friends can stop disowning me now – okay, Caroline & Claire???
  5. Post off my Secret Santa Swap parcel (yes, I can see this one getting done anyway!) – Boo, for me – surprisingly I didn’t do this one yet. The only thing that’s holding it up was a bit of hand-knitted-Pride álà Debbie New but I’m a bit wary of whether it’s sufficiently pride-worthy. I’m aiming to post it tomorrow.

I’m giving myself a 2&1/2 out of 5 – 50% success rate. Could do better. Next week? !?! – oooh… you’re a harsh audience…    

  1. Post off my Secret Santa Swap parcel
  2. Prune something! anything! just get outside with something sharp and weild it about until things fall down!!!
  3. Write Christmas Cards – no “start” about it any more! The blummin’ things have got to go in the post this week!
  4. Christmas gift knitting – to be cogitated on in a later post. Choosey Tuesday, anyone?
  5. Christmas gift shopping – ought to be fun and festive; looking forward to this one.

 

A-muse = Entertaining

All credit to… Serendipity but I couldn’t help but be amused when – almost immediately after I’d published yesterday’s post about making an Advent Wreath – I opened the Magazine Section of the paper to discover this article:   

Click on the image for a link to "how-to"

You wanna Wreath???

 

B-muse = Confusing

The Earl is two now – how time flies?! So he’s at an age where he’s completely bemused by all these Christmas traditions that – from his point of view – we’re doing for the first time. He got over the notion of “Trees Come Inside” pretty quickly. He’s still bewildered by the whole concept of the Crib. For starters he keeps referring to the figurine of the Baby Jesus – wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger – as “Sheep”. Well… I can understand it; it’s all white and has four legs. After all, being his mother’s son, sheep are his favourite animal. It was when he decided to give the Holy Family a bath in his cup of milk that we felt we should intervene.