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!

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Tour: Tunisian Crochet in-the-round

It sounds like such a makey-uppey craft, doesn’t it? It’s the kind of thing that DH would tease me about learning: “when are you going to you lesson on Morrocan Knitting while standing on your head?” “Tunisian Crochet in-the-round, ack-shilly!” I might reply, snottily. Not that we talk to each other like that, of course! It’s makey-uppey!

I’ve mentioned that I went to The Yarn Room recently for a class in Tunisian Crochet in-the-round by Irene Lundgaard. When I say it was a mind-blowing experience, I’m not exaggerating! Usually, when I’m being taught something new I have a pre-conceived idea of how the technique works. Generally, in the middle of the class, I pre-empt the ending: the fog will clear and the dots get joined; the mystery is solved and I can see it coming. Not so this time.

We have phrases for when this happens – gentle, calm phrases like: “The penny dropped”, “It dawned on me”, “It’s just clicked” or “A light bulb went on in my head”. Not so for me.

I already knew how to do Tunisian Crochet and for those of you who don’t: it’s like a cross between knitting and crochet and each row involves a forward and return pass. With the over-and-back process required for creating fabric in Tunisian Crochet, I couldn’t visualise how you could keep going round. That was, until I met Irene! Instead of the proverbial light-bulb switching on quietly, innocently; I had the opening scene from “Saving Private Ryan” going on in my head as Irene lit fireworks and threw them around my brain.

  • To knit in the round, you never turn your work.
  • To make Tunisian Crochet you never turn your work.
  • To make Tunisian Croceht in-the-round you turn your work before each return pass.

BOOM!

To be able to turn your work in Tunisian Crochet you use two separate balls of yarn.

Ka-BOOM!

Even though you’re turning your work you’re always working in the same direction.

WHEEEEEEEE-BOOM!

One yarn is chasing the other around in a spiral.

RAT-a-TAT-a-TAT-a-TAT!

As you can imagine, I was quite exhausted by the end of the class. I hope Irene recovered to fight another day!

Good Day to Hit The Road

According to Flickr, “Góðan daginn” is how you say “Hello” in Icelandic. It looks a bit like “Good Day” (if you squint and tilt your head sideways!). But while this day may be all about Iceland, it’s not exactly good, is it? How many of us knew that the volcanoes on Iceland were active? Or would start exploding? Or when they explode, planes can’t fly? Not me for one – but I’m learning fast!

Thanks to Iceland, “Good Day” is not how I would describe this day because the non-flying-ness of the planes means a non-coming-home-ness of the DH. So let’s not focus on how far from Góðan daginn this day is. Let’s ignore the fact that we’ve yet to learn the Icelandic for “Thanks, we’ve had enough!”

Let’s instead focus on a recent, very-good-day-indeed: my trip to The Yarn Room on Saturday 10th April.

The Yarn Room, Ashford, Co. Wicklow

I set off for The Yarn Room on a beautifully sunny afternoon. It’s a very easy drive – motorway almost all the way. I had to take it a bit “on faith”, as I got closer to my destination. My map isn’t sufficiently up-to-date to show the latest motorway extension and I began to worry that Ashford wouldn’t be clearly sign-posted. Thankfully, I didn’t get too “jittery” and stayed on the motorway long enough for the correct turn-off. I was impressed to discover it’s exactly 59mins from my driveway – in North County Dublin – to parking outside The Yarn Room – South Co. Wicklow. That’s sticking to the speed-limits the entire way – thank you, cruise-control!

Oh! What a haven awaited me! The bright, sunny shop reflects perfectly the dispostion of the owner, Stephanie, and her staff. I was greeted like an old friend, even though I’ve only met Stephanie once before. I was and made feel very welcome and very-much at ease. Being surrounded by gorgeous yarn and fiber also helps, of course. I had a great browse and quickly assembled a pile of potential purchases. I was particularly interested in the Lett Lopi, an Icelandic Yarn (funny that – how prophetic!) because, so far as I know, Stephanie is the only shop in Ireland that stocks it. She also stocks a great range of fiber for spinning and felting; so I had a good poke around of those as well.

I wasn’t just there for the yarn, however. I was there for a class: to learn Tunisian Crochet in-the-round from Irene Lundgaard (the fiber-artist formerly known as WonderWanda). What a blast that was! The class, and meeting Irene for the first time, deserves a separate post all of its own. I mention it now by way of noting that The Yarn Room is a great space for a class. In fact, there were two classes taking place at the same time – our class around the large table, and a weaving class seated on a sofa on the other side of the room. I can’t wait to find a reason to get back to The Yarn Room again. Learning how to weave is suddenly attractive – The Yarn Room offers classes in it and it’s the only thing I don’t know how to do… yet!

A Hyperbolic Muse

hy·per·bol·ic

[hahy-per-bol-ik] –adjective

  1. having the nature of hyperbole; exaggerated.
  2. using hyperbole; exaggerating.
  3. Mathematics. a) of or pertaining to a hyperbola. b) derived from a hyperbola, as a hyperbolic function.

I went in to the Science Gallery in Dublin City Centre yesterday to see the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef. I brought the three crazies with me, partially because DH wanted to rip up carpet and floorboards in the house in some crazed DIY frenzy but mainly because recently Thing 1 and Thing 2 have been glued to “Scooby Doo and the Great Barrier Reef” and have been quizzing each other on what they know about coral and the Barrier Reef. I thought the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef might serve as a “cross-over” medium for them; certainly it was a confluence of their interests and mine.

I’ve been hearing about the Crochet Coral reef from Crafters I follow on Twitter and elsewhere online, mainly people such as BionicLaura, Irene Lundgaard  and StitchLily (agus lucht eigin as gaeilge). Certainly, my curiosity was piqued. I was not disappointed by what I saw. Some astonishing displays of creativity and craftmanship, I must say.  

Model of Hyperbolic geometry in Crochet by Dr Daina Taimina

By all accounts, it all started in 1997 when Dr Daina Taimina “discovered it was possible to model hyperbolic space using crochet, an innovation that surprised the mathematical world.” The photo of the purple blobbiness on the right is one of her crochet models – also on dispaly – and the yellow tacking shows how parallel lines behave in hyperbolic space. Instead of staying an equal distant apart, as in Euclidian geomety; or converging at the poles as they do in spherical geometry; they diverge – getting further and further apart. It’s fascinating. It also made me wonder if Daina Taimina and Debbie New have ever met.

In coral reefs the endless whimsical diversity of forms – loopy kelps, fringed anemones, crenallated corals or curlicued sponges – are all variations within the mathematical structure of hyperbolic space. Due to global warming and pollutants these fragile marvels such as The Great Barrier Reef – an acknowledged wonder of the natural world – and other reefs face devastation. 

“In homage to these disappearing treasures, Austrailian sisters Christine and Margaret Wertheim, instigated a project to crochet a handmade reef.” The Wertheim twins have spent the past five years building on Dr Taimina’s techniques, through elaborations of her original crochet code; and “developed an ever-evolving taxonomy of reef life-forms”.

In cities where the “Core Reef” is shown, the Wertheim twins work with local communities to make their own “Satelite Reef” and the Irish Reef is the newest addition to this. The display for the Irish Contribution gets its own designated area – on the upper floor of the Science Gallery. I picked out the coral (shown in the photo on the right below) for special attention, deliberately with my knitting buddy Clarabel in mind. The fringe is done in the same green novelty yarn that she despaired of me owning, let alone using, last December!


Some “Irish Reefers” also contributed to the “Ladies Silurian Atoll” which the exhibition catalogue describes as being “made by a small and intimate group of the Reef’s most dedicated contributors.” Indeed the exhibition catalogue makes many references to some “favourite” contributors being particularly “expert” or masterly in their knowledge of the craft or of materials and I was a little uneasy with the hierarchical notions this smacks of. It doesn’t take from the overall effect of brilliant, collaborative creativity, however.

Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef, Ground Floor installation

The scientist and mathematician in me was very much intrigued and delighted by what I saw. The Escher “Circle Limit” woodcuts were almost by-the-by, however – more could have been made, in their display, out how mind-blowing they are.

The environmentalist in me would have liked to have seen more graphics about the background to “The Toxic Reef” and “The Bleached Bone Reef” – it was a missed opportunity to lay it on with a trowel how terrible it is that man has made an island of plastic in the Pacific that is twice the size of Texas.

Excerpt from The Toxic Reef

The crafter in me was a little troubled, however. I went because I knew – albeit online-ly – some of the contributors. There are no tags to say who has contributed what. So while some contributors are feted in the catalogue others’ work is piled in together. I think I’m jealous/ resentful on behalf of those that I know that have contributed a lot of their time and effort. For example, while I was on the second floor, I recognised a kindred crafter and was able to deduce from her that yes, she had contributed but no, she couldn’t find her work on display. My worry was that, due to limitations of space in the Science Gallery, that her work was not put on display at all. Because of this, perhaps unfairly, the crafter in me – an exhibitionist at the best of times – would not be swayed towards contibuting towards the Coral Reef in the future despite how much I may be chided by the mathematical, scientific or environmentalist sides of my brain.

However, I have to add, this is the perspective of someone who wasn’t involved in the process and perhaps just being involved in creating this fantastic work of art is reward enough.