Who’s in charge here?

I blogged before about my WIPs rising up against me to thwart my crafting prowess. If you think I’m being over-the-top and melodramatic you might be right but it was fairly disconcerting to fall foul of no less than seven projects at once.

Now there’s been some time to lick and heal wounds I thought I should do a round-up of how (or… if) I beat back the tide:

  • 1. Gloves for teacher “B” – I progressed these to the point of joining the fingers together and starting the palms. However, I tried to do this without looking at the pattern and messed it up entirely. It wouldn’t have been much to rip back and redo but I’d really lost interest in pursuing the project as an appropriate present for this teacher. Current Status: RIPPED!
  • 2. Design Idea #1 – previously ripped out. Current Status: STEWING
  • 3. Slouchy Beret for teacher “C” – I abandoned the project in this yarn but not the pattern. I made another Phoenix in a solid grey and was delighted when I found a fabulous button at The Constant Knitter to finish it off. Like the Phoenix of its name, this gift rose triumphantly from ashes of defeat. Current Status: FINISHED AND GIVEN AWAY!

Slouchy Phoenix for Teacher “C”

  • 4. Design Idea #2 – previously abandoned but not yet ripped out. Current Status: STEWING
  • 5. Baby quilt – I’ve been warned not to rip out the seams already made. I think this can be rescued with some sashing. Current Status: HIBERNATING
  • 6. Mint green Pizelle – previously abandoned but not yet ripped out. Current Status: RIPPED!
  • 7. Raspberry Beret for teacher “D” – I ripped it out and started again. Current Status: FINISHED AND GIVEN AWAY!

Raspberry Beret

  • CONCLUSION: of seven troublesome WIPs the final score is FO = 1; Ripped = 3 and Hibernating = 3

    Status: stable

    Speaking of presents for teachers, in the end, Teacher “B” got a scarf in Tunisian Crochet and Teacher “E” got socks.


    Tunisian Scarf for Teacher “B”


    Faux Fair-isle socks for Teacher “E”

    Unfortunately, I spent so much time on failed hat and gloves I ran out of time to make a present for Teacher “A”. Knit-night buddy Watermemory came to my rescue and sold me one of her felted bags. She’ll be launching them on her etsy shop shortly so stay tuned!


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!

FO Friday: Leaving It

I’ve been plodding slowly along with Turbine diligently ignoring the glaring fact that if you knit an Aran-weight pattern in a DK-weight yarn it’s going to be too small. I really astonish myself, at times, for my dedication to the ethos of the ostrich.
After slogging it out for another few hours at knit-night and appearing to be no nearer to the crown decreases, I tried it on DH when I got home and he confirmed: it’s too damn small.

After five days of delusion I was in need of speed. It wasn’t just that I needed a project that would be done quickly. I needed to go from yarn to FO in less time than it usually takes me to mess things up.

I’d had “Leaving On The Edge” in mind when I did my recent stash-accumulation excursion. Once bitten, twice shy, as they say: I realised the Sirdar Chunky would not be the Super Bulky that the pattern calls for.

Luckily, I remembered I have two balls of Rowan Big Wool in my stash and a quick check of the pattern’s projects page convinced me others have had success with this yarn before.

I cast on in the car on the way to work (DH was driving, I hasten to add) and by the end of coffee break I had finished the first (of five) pattern repeats:

By the time I was finished my lunch I was 2/5ths there!

The rest was done that evening while watching an engrossing film, which actually slowed me down a lot!
Hey Presto:

As the designer herself tweeted:

yay! I love instant gratification knits

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

WIP Wednesday: Turbine

I asked the Twitterverse the following question:

“Imagine if you were a teacher from Donegal: what would you like me to knit for you?”

I got a very good suggestion back, almost immediately, from @WrapNturn of a Bree bag “in a delicious tweed”. A brilliant idea – and one I must remember for the future – but I had a slight problem: I forgot to mention that the Donegal Teacher in mind was male!

@WrapNturn again came up with a winner: “Turbine hat [by Wooly Wormhead] again out of a delicious tweed.” What’s more, I already had the book – Twisted Wooly Toppers – that the pattern was in.

Donegal TurbineThe teacher in question is not *just* a Donegal-native. It is his insistence that he comes from a mystical county, shrouded in mist and mystery, called… “Donegaaal…”. This, said in hushed, Clannad-esque tones and with arms out-stretched as though casting a spell, has been a running joke with my DD since she first joined his class last September.

How to best honour his beloved County? After further deliberation and consultation on the Twitter-machine I decided to knit Turbine in the colours of County Donegal’s GAA team: green on gold. And if I could source said colours in yarn made in Kilcar, Co. Donegal, so much the better.

Since there was nothing remotely suitable in my stash, I put a call out on Ravelry for a yarn-swap. Hawthorn and MaryL came back with offers of beautiful greens – perfect for the Donegal Colours – but they weren’t sure about what yellow they might have. The GAA team-strip has a gold background with a green stripe, so I needed more yellow/gold than green.

In the following week DH was away, one of my dogs became ill and I was in my last week of training for the mini-marathon. Not only did my computer time become limited, my ability for decision-making went to nill!

With a week wasted and the end-of-school-year deadline looming I panicked and hit my nearest LYS. In their bargain-bin I found some a pretty-close estimation for gold in yarn terms. The only green that was even remotely suitable was more moss-coloured but I think they make a good team. What’s more they’re Rowan Cashsoft which is sooo soft. Not as rugged or hard-wearing as Kilcarra / Donegal Tweed but for someone that I don’t really know it’s a nice soft yarn for a hat.

I cast this on last Saturday with a Latvian Braid in the two colours at the base. I’m using intarsia to make one set of stripes in the contrasting green. I’m only halfway through the body, so it’s slow going. I’m hoping when I reach the decreases in the crown, it will speed up sufficiently that I can get this finished in a week. Though after two evenings of blogging and not knitting I’m hampering my own chances.

Going for Seven in 2011

Towards the end of 2009 someone proposed the concept of “Ten for ’10″ listing ten things to achieve in 2010. My list was the bones of my knitting/crochet plan for the year.

  1. Finally knit a cardigan for DH that actually fits him (I’m on attempt no. 3 by now – not counting all the frogging) DONE!
  2. Knit something lacey DONE! (twice over: Ishbel and Annis)
  3. Review sock yarn I’ve used to date to establish one or two preferred makes …DONE! Winners were Mega-Boots Stretch by Lana Grossa Meilenweit; Jawoll Silk by Lang Yarns; Ranco Sock by Araucania
  4. Set up template for socks for DH using Cat Bordhi’s Personal Footprints Method DONE! Nutty Socks for DH that I’ve just realised I never blogged about (oops!)
  5. Go to at least one Knitting Meet-up DONE! What I had in mind was Knit Nation or I Knit Weekender. Going to Rhinebeck, or being taught by Annie Modesitt was beyond my wildest knitting fantasies when I wrote the list.
  6. Meet some more online knitting friends in the flesh DONE! Boy, did I? I had a blast from beginning to end in 2010 meeting so many people I’ve been chatting with for so long.
  7. Publish a pattern on my blog / get a pattern published Not done
  8. Bust a lot of my stash by using Tunisian Crochet to make a few shawls & scarves as gifts Not done
  9. Design and knit a cardigan for DD with variagated-blue Lamb’s Pride bought in TIK last WWKIP! Not done
  10. Knit jumper for DS1 using brown cotton bought at Knitting & Stitching show DONE!

So, my final score is 7 Done and 3 to Do! Those three I’m carrying forward to become the bones of my crafting plan for 2011:

  • Design and knit a Cardigan for DD
  • Publish a pattern and
  • Stash-busting

In fact, these three are linked since it’s the design for DD’s cardigan that I hope to write up as a pattern and the intended yarn has been in my stash for 18 months already.

To help me put meat on the bones of my crafting plan for the coming year, I’m using this motto (or “rallying cry”) from FLYLady:

“Go for Seven in 2011!”

With out further ado, here are the Seven things I intend to target in 2011:

1. Present a pattern for publishing – I’ve wanted to send a pattern to Knitty ever since I first saw it. I have three different ideas, one of them being this cardigan pattern for my daughter; the other is the hat I failed knuckle-down to the design of during Ravelympics last February. Even if I don’t get published publicly I want to put myself through the process of writing up a pattern and submitting it. It will give me something to put up on the “Free Patterns” page of my blog at the very least (don’t look now, there’s little or no point!).

2. Bust my stash – recently I realised could list my Ravelry stash in order of yardage. This year I’m prioritising projects based on using big-yardage stashes first. So coats, dresses and lace shawls are going to be the order of the day year.

3. No more USA – my stash-busting efforts will be undermined if I continue to have splurges like I did last year. So this year I’ve deliberately signed up to two “Yarn Clubs” which will send me a skein of sock yarn at regular intervals through the year. My theory is that the knowledge that yarn is on its way to me will stop me from impulse buying when yarn-fumes over-whelm me. Excluded from this are a) skeins purchased to complete a project and b) a skein or two bought as a souvenir on holidays

4. Spin more – We’ve set up a skein-a-month Spin-along over on the Irish Spinners Group on Ravelry. I’m trying to be disciplined about spinning for at least 10 minutes every evening. I’ve been advised by a spinner more talented and experienced than me that I’ll learn more from this than I would from an hour-long spinning session. Having struggled to connect my fibre the other evening after a 6-week-hiatus, I’ve learned this lesson the hardway. WIPdown proved to me I respond well to peer-pressure and the power of a band-wagon; so the SkAM-SpAL should be the incentive I need to stick at it. For now, I’m telling myself that this also comes under the umbrella of “Stash-busting”. When I have 12 new skeins of yarn waving at me from my stash drawers, I’m sure I’ll think differently!

5. Quilting – I may yet rue the day I ever clapped eyes on the Tokyo Subway Map Quilt but what can you do with love-at-first-sight, even when it is unrequited. I now have two full drawers given over to the materials I purchased at the Dublin Knitting and Stitching Show for making it; so this also comes under stash-busting. By taking baby-steps each month, I plan to have the quilt finished by the end of the year.

6. Gifts – This is partly under the stash-busting umbrella and partly under the design/publish umbrella. This also has a little to do with an economy drive. I have an idea of a gift I could hand-make for each of the female members of my immediate (mother & sister) and extended family (Mother- and Sisters-in-law). The first Sister-in-Law’s birthday crops up in early February, so I’d better get cracking with this kinda soon, eh?

7. Darn Socks – This is another “economy-drive” driven element of my plan. I have put several socks belonging to DH and me out of circulation (i.e. I’ve hidden them!) in order to darn them. The trouble is… I haven’t got around to the actual darning. There’s a bit of a viscious spiral at work here in that the less socks in circulation, the more wear on the socks in circulation, the sooner they get worn out and put out of circulation. So Phoo-ey to viscious spirals! One pair of socks is to be darned each month this year.

An FO-making extravaganza

So, regular readers here will have seen my mentions of WIPdown. Today is the day for the big reveal of all the FOs it got me to make:

In chronological order of finishing during WIPdown – which started on St Stephen’s Day and ran on until The Epiphany:

Pilates Socks:

Started these tabi-toe style socks on the plane over to Rhinebeck.  My plan was to have a quick knit that would be done by the end of the month for the Sock-a-Month KAL and I made excellent progress over the Rhinebeck weekend. They’re based on Lickety-Split from Knitty and I worked them according to the that pattern from the toe to the heel.  I thought I’d make a cabled pattern for the legs – just to jazz things up a bit. To my horror, when I was cabling with out a needle – Annie Moddsitt style – the yarn snapped in the row below the one I was working on. They were shelved for a while until I figured out what to do with them. I had picked them up again and was torturing myself with a tedious 1 x 1 rib on the legs when the WIPdown call went out. Being egged-on by other Tweeps is all that made me perservere. 

Tunisian Hand-warmers:

These were started after my class with Irene Lundgaard to learn Tunisian Crochet in-the-round. I had finished them and then ripped back the last few rounds of one of them ages ago – I had forgotten to do some decreases on one before casting off. They languished for most of last year and only saw the light of day again, thanks to WIPdown.

Hamma Hamma Hat:

This is an experimental try to see if I could convert the Urchin pattern by Ysolda Tegue into Tunisian Crochet. While googling Tunisian words for Urchin (for a word-play name for the hat), I found the story of Hamma Hamma –  a fourteen year-old Tunisian street-child (an urchin) who rocketed to celebrity stardom after appearing in a Ramadan television series. Hamma plays the role of a homeless child in the series entitled “Casting”. source: http://news.meedan.net/index.php?page=events&post_id=305405

I also started this hat/experiment on the plane to Rhinebeck and ran out of yarn with one section to go. While I was re-organising my stash before Christmas I found to part-balls that I reckoned could work to finish the hat. The power of WIPdown got me back on track and while the additional yarns work very well the overall hat turned out too small. I don’t know if I can consider this WIP truly whupped but as experiments go I learned something even if the result was not a success.

Chemo Cap#1:

The story behind this hat is rather sad – it’s for a toddler that was diagnosed with cancer last year. I didn’t enjoy making it, mainly because of the yarn. I didn’t much like the structure of the hat either: you make two rectangles; one in entrelac tunisian crochet and the other in back-loop doubles (single crochet to American readers!) then sew them both together; seam the sides and gather up the top. Actually it worked out very well and I’m delighted that WIPdown came along and made me give this WIP life. Now to send it off in the post and hope the little toddler has had a nice (healthy) Christmas.

I wasn’t the only person taking part in WIPdown. If you’re on Ravelry and would like to see all the others take a look at  this search for WIPdown2010 or search under #wipdown on Twitter.


The concept of gentle concealment

I had a lovely surprise and treat when I came home this evening: a little parcel in the post from Averil in Madrid. It contained beautiful Japanese material that she got during her trip to Japan this summer.

Tsutsumi from Averil

I thought initially that it was in response to my recent obsession with quilting because of the Tokyo Subway Map; and my subsequent quest for Japanese fabric. Until I noticed she had included a book on the Japanese art of Wrapping using material: “Furoshiki Tsutsumi”. These were no ordinary pieces of Japanese fabric – these were Furoshiki: specially selected and hemmed squares of fabric, with a special purpose in mind: Tsutsumi – the concept of “Gentle Concealment”.

What Averil couldn’t have known, because I’ve never told her (though she’s quite the mind-reader, you know?) is that I’ve been long obsessed with Japanese wrapping and folding and material. Years ago – literally in the last Century – when DH and I were dating, he brought back a book for me from Japan on the whole subject:

Japanese Gift-wrapping

I was fascinated by all the “Creative Ideas From Japan” and would pour over this book repeatedly, yearning for the opportunity when I could try one of them out. Not everyone on this side of the globe would appreciate the effort and thought behind a Japanese-themed wrapping style. As it says in the book’s Introduction:

“In Japan, it is said that giving a gift is like wrapping one’s heart” 

That chance finally came when we were getting married and I designed our Wedding invitations using one of the methods in the book. I used two types of paper that we got in Daintree on Camden Street in Dublin. I’m delighted to note that they’re still around. We also got Daintree to print the inserts – the actual Wedding Invitation information for our guests – and they supplied the envelopes.

There were moments – albeit brief – when I questioned my sanity as sat folding the same thing 60-odd times. The finished invitation was worth it though:
Open InvittionInvitationUn-wrapping

It certainly garnered plenty of comment from my relatives and future in-laws. Some admitted they found it challenging to fold up the invitation again to put it back into the envelope.

So thank you, Averil, for sending me this unexpected treat. It is truly heartening to know that someone has you in their thoughts, even when they’re holidaying on the other side of the world.