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.

WIPdown

StashDown

Lacealong2012

12in12

Gems from the Web

My Seven for 2011

Peaseblossom

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.

Picture

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!

WIP-Id-a-Dee-do

I’ve sacked my Super-Ego.

Some years ago, I did an evening course which covered a lot of Freud: the Id, the Ego and the Super-Ego; and it tickles me to see things in terms of this structure.

As you’re no doubt aware, the Id is our primeval self – our cravings and desires.

the id wants whatever feels good at the time, with no consideration for the reality of the situation

Sound familiar, knitters? Every time we succumb to Startitis it’s really our Id has taken control.

The only reason we don’t spend every waking minute knitting-up a storm is because of our Ego and our Super-Ego, says Freud.

The ego understands that other people have needs and desires and that sometimes being impulsive or selfish can hurt us in the long run. It’s the ego’s job to meet the needs of the id, while taking into consideration the reality of the situation.

So the Ego makes sure we put our needles and hooks down once in a while and interact with those around us, to ensure they don’t cast us out entirely. We hold down a job so that we can pay for our yarn.

Where does the Super-ego come in?

Many equate the superego with the conscience as it dictates our belief of right and wrong.

In knitting/ crocheting terms, it’s what makes us stick with a project through thick and thin and see it through to the (sometimes) bitter end.

But sometimes you’ve got to let it go: to give in and admit defeat is the triumph of the Ego, whose function is centred in reality.

When you’ve ripped back a hairy yarn repeatedly, just to rectify a mistake others might never see; when you know in your heart-of-hearts the project is not going to be fit for the purpose you envisioned; when you realise that sticking with it will prevent you from completing another project in time… then it’s time to let your Ego take back the reigns and give in to the Id.

All this is a fancy way of saying:

  • I made the mistake of timing myself doing one repeat of the edging on Petals and realised I have 20 hours worth of work on the edging alone.
  • Considering I only average one hour per day, I was never going to get Petals *and* Peaseblossom Tunic completed in time for the Wedding/Communion deadlines.
  • In the meantime, I have bought a dress that I could wear to one of the event but it doesn’t go with Petals.
  • I also have a skirt that I think *will* go with Peaseblossom.

So yes, I have abandoned Petals and started Peaseblossom.
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Muse: Book Reviews

For this Muse-on-Monday I’m going to review my most recent book aquisitions:


From left to right…

  • Knit 1, Purl 1 in Crochet
  • Learn to Crochet Socks
  • Interlocking Crochet
  • Learn to do Bavarian Crochet
  • 101 Double-ended Hook Stitches

Knit 1, Purl 1 in Crochet

by Bendy Carter, published by Annie’s Attic


I found this in the local library and was fascinated. With its assertion of knitting-through-crochet I assumed it was going to be based on Tunisian Crochet. I was wrong.

The explanations of the technique this is based on are so obtuse it took me ages to realise that it is no more than variations on crochet’s slip-stitch. Rows and rows of it on it’s side look like stocking-stitch (if you squint hard enough).

There are some nice projects but it’s all a little pain-staking when you know you could go much faster in either “proper” crochet or to just knit it, if that’s the look you’re after.

Learn to Crochet Socks

by Kathy Wesley, published by American School of Needlework


This is more of a booklet than a book but the front and back covers show you all the sock patterns that it contains.

None of them are hugely aesthetically pleasing and they’ll look like they’re going to be ill-fitting or slouchy, at best.
However, the patterns are either for a worsted- or sport-weight wool, so they’ll be fast to work up ( for when I have urgent need of hand-made socks!)

Interlocking Crochet

by Tanis Galik published by Krause Publications

I’ve been fascinated by this technique ever since I met Nic Wybourn (@nickerjac) at Stash in London yonks ago. She showed me a sampler of the technique that she was working on and blew my mind.

Of the five books I got, this is my favourite. Great, clear pictorial instructions and some lovely projects too.


I can see some stash-busting in my future with this book.

Learn to do Bavarian Crochet

by Jenny King published by Annie’s Attic


This was possibly the most disappointing, of the five. It’s basically square-upon-square of 4-treble clusters arranged to build up into a Granny-square effect. I’ve already used too many words to describe this.

To call this “stitch” after a whole region is stretching things, I’m sure. I can imagine all Bavarian crochetiers rolling their eyes at this in much the same way knitters in Ireland grow weary of the presumption of Aran-esque cables.

101 Double-ended Hook Stitches

by Annie’s Attic

This does exactly what it says on the tin. If you want 101 ways to mess-about with crochet hooks and different coloured yarn, look no further.


If you want to progress with your newly-acquired skill, look way beyond this. The descriptions of the technique are fine here and the permutations get tedious; but the book contains only two projects and they are just pure gick!

There you go: some good, some bad but all of then I’m glad I had…

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

It’s been 6 weeks since my last confession…

I did not love Blog when:

  • I promised to write specific posts and then completely …eh… didn’t!;
  • I did all these fantastic, blog-worthy and craft-related things and never told you about them;
  • I allowed real-life time-pressures to get in the way of blogging time…
  •  

For these, and all my sins, I am truly sorry.

For my penance I will try to write circa 20 catch-up posts over the next two weeks!

I have to apologise for my prolonged absence from my blog. It all started when DH got stuck in San Francisco because of the Ash Cloud. I was due to write a blog post all about my adventures to The Yarn Room in Wicklow the previous weekend, and meeting Irene Lundgaard for the first time – and being taught by her – but the heart just wasn’t in it.

When DH is away I still work full-time and have to get myself and the three crazies up and out the door in the morning; and fed and put to bed each evening. It’s a bit like living on a treadmill but I can do it by just getting on with it. I cut myself a break or two by easing off on household chores, such as laundry, for the duration. My knitting buddies are a great help too, as they often “bring the Mountain to Mohammed” as it were, by coming over to my house for Knit-night.

I have huge admiration for single parents, let me tell you; I don’t know how they keep themselves going. I know I only have to hold it all together until DH is home again and usually we’re only talking one week. I liken it to running a marathon: it’s a hellish run but you keep yourself moving, knowing the finish-line is in sight.

On Thursday 15th April the world woke up to the news that a certain, unpronounceable Volcano in Iceland was – quite literally – hell-bent on wrecking everyone’s plans. DH had been away since the previous Sunday and was due to fly home on Saturday afternoon. Sure enough, Mother Nature had different ideas. From my perspective, it was like someone had taken the finish-line and just run off with it. I had no choice but to keep running the marathon; but there’s something disturbing, psychologically, about not knowing when it will all end.

On Saturday night, DH suggested that he could be stuck for another five days. Strangely, rather than being horrified and distraught at the news, this was exactly what I needed to gather my energies and keep myself moving. He had given me a glimmer of ribbon that I could focus on and move towards. As it turned out, his prediction proved correct and he flew in on the second flight into Dublin Airport on Wednesday 21st April. It was amazing to see a single con-trail in the sky while simultaneously listening to a news headline reporting its arrival. We were thrown back to the early days of Flying!

So he’s been home now for a month… how do I explain the past four weeks?!?!?! Hmmmmm!?!?

The problem, for a change, was not having nothing to say (if you follow me). The problem was absolutely, over-indulging in crafty, blog-worthy adventures; to such an extent that I’m spoiled for choice. The problem with this is that I haven’t yet learned how to make time – I can only make the most of it; and I’ve certainly been doing that lately, as you can see below!

As it’s Sunday Miscellany, I’m just going to list all the excitement, somewhat in chronological order. These are potential blog-posts that you can look forward to. I have a plan for when I’m going to write each but I’ve learned from my mistake – I’m not going to tell you when to expect them in case I don’t follow through and disappear from my blog again out of shame!

  • Trip to the Yarn Room Co. Wicklow
  • Met Irene Lundgard
  • Learned Tunisian Crochet in the Round
  • Made a pair of wrist-warmers using what I learned
  • Went to the April Spin-in at Powerscourt
  • Stash Accumulation after the April Spin-in
  • Chose between finishing my April Socks and making a hat for a co-worker
  • Attended Combination Knitting Workshop by Annie Modesitt at TIK
  • Met Samsaradh and had great time catching-up with SusyMcQ
  • Stash Accumulation after the Combination Knitting Workshop
  • Met Averil
  • Stash Accumulation to celebrate meeting Averil (yeah, I’m totally out-of-control, by now!)
  • Choosing Crochet over knitting lately
  • Some Chemo caps I’m making and why
  • Choosing not to cast-on until current WIPs are whupped
  • Progress on Better Mousetrap socks
  • Progress on GlenvarAgin
  • We get Broadband means Spinning Tutorials on YouTube
  • Stash Accumulation from The Yarn and Fiber Company
  • Getting into running, the “Couch to 5K programme” and The Flora Women’s Mini-marathon

That’s kinda enough to be getting on with, I think you’ll agree!

To Dye For

It’s probably 18 months ago that I went to a dyeing workshop at This is Knit and I never posted about it.  The class was given by Elana (Elana on Ravelry) and Charlene and it was a blast; I couldn’t believe how quickly the time went. I was joined by some lovely people taking the class: Geraldine (Gerryberry); Mara (she’s on Ravelry, but she couldn’t remember what her name is) and Mary (Fezzik) whom I also know from the Swords Knitting Group.

We started by practicing on two small hanks of Aran-weight wool. The dyes we used are Gaywool Dyes from Austrailia, supplied by Derryaun Crafts. There was a wide seleciton of colours to choose from. For my first effort I used Iceberg (light blue), then Tomato (red) and finally Mulberry (purple). I over-painted one dye on another, to get some interesting gradations. My second effort was Wattle (lime green) and Mulberry – zing!

   

We then graduated to our sock yarn. I decided that I would attempt to do something semi-solid, in honour of how I always buy madly variegated sock yarns but yearn to do heavily patterned socks. I find it’s the knitting equivalent of “Rock, Paper, Scissors”: the colour variations kill the pattern. I used Iceberg with Meadow (light green) and Lily (dark green). I’m not sure if I was successful from the point of view of semi-solid but I absolutely LOVE what I made. I’ve decided it’s destined to be Pomatomus.

I tried to make a Calorimetry with one of my practice hanks but was halfway through the ball after only eight rows or so. DD and DS have requested butterflies – I have no idea where this notion has come from. I also have no idea of how to knit a butterfly. I have an inkling of how I might crochet one. One of these days a chrysalis may form…

Wednesday’s WIP-Pawade

When I mentioned recently that I had very few WIPs languishing I was lying – to myself! I had completely forgotten about this:

It’s a pair of crochet socks from the last copy of Interweave Crochet – Adirondacks Socks. I’ve been interested in crochet socks for a while but most patterns that I came across were just a bit too “out-there” for a first go at it. This pattern, on the other hand, is just the ticket. On the same day that my copy of Interweave Crochet arrived in the post, a parcel also arrived from my favourite ebay shop P2tog. It contained – amongst other things – a ball of Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball in this lovely colourway “Blackberry”. It was meant to be, don’t you think?

I am just loving the colours and how they change as they move along the pattern. I’m loving the pattern too and I’ve learned two new crochet stitches into the bargin: foundation double crochet (what an ingenious stitch to start things off?) and extended single crochet, which is used on the sole.

I had got as far as starting the toe on the first sock when I put this away to focus on some knitting for Christmas presents. I am such a one-WIP-wonder it went out of mind as soon as it was out of sight. I’ll pick it up again as soon as I physically can – my feet are yearning for these socks.