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

Fun-Fair Fun

Just to let you all know that the Fun-Fair Fund-Raiser was a huge success. It was very well supported by the whole town, who turned up in droves. Everybody seemed to have a great time and there was no trouble.

We got great feedback from people who were delighted to have something to do locally, after the parade. I’m delighted for the committee members of the Parents’ Association too. This was a huge thing to have taken on and they pulled it off. Understandably they all feel cock-of-the-walk right now. And deservedly so.

I was running around all day, doing what I could to help out. For the morning, I was working in what DH called “the Food-Court”. He was being perfectly serious, I might add!

I quickly learned that, despite my spinning knowledge and experience, candy-floss is quite a different game. I left that to others and stuck to selling crisps & sweets.

My next posting was as face-painter. I don’t know how many flags I painted on kids’ cheeks. I think I was pretty rubbish at that too and occasionally couldn’t bring myself to charge the full €2 for my efforts. I’m just glad the Irish flag is so straight-forward.

When the queue for face-painting died off, I went to help out in the coffee-shop – more normally known as “pre-fab classrooms for 5th class”. That looked like a bomb had hit it and I believe it had been heaving earlier in the afternoon.

At some point I also did “crowd-control” at this baby: the inflated caterpillar/ obstacle-course at the back.

I was helped by a team of 11 year-old girls who were managing quite well without me. They just lacked the “Mammy-voice” needed to keep the lads their own age in check. They’ll learn that in time!
The only chance I had to run-around taking photos was before the hoards arrived. I took one snap while the people were milling about:

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

I Muse, Your Muse, We Amuse to Bemuse

There’s a thread over on the Irish Knitters Group on Ravelry at the moment that has me a bit puzzled. It’s eleventy-billion pages long by now so I’ll give you the Executive Summary:

  • An Irish-American related her tale of a knitter on the Aran Islands, who believes the art will die with her generation
  • That Traditional Aran Knitting is an inevitable victim of progress inIreland is discussed as well as…
  • The Virtue in preserving traditions vs knitting being a living thing & people knitting what reflects their tastes and sensibility
  • Cyril Cullen gets a mention & a mini-review of his book “Knot Sure”
  • The infamous myth of the Clann or Family Aran Pattern gets a going-over
  • Digression into the meaning and origin of various family names
  • Aran Knitting is alive and well in Japan! & Gozo!!! & Newfoundland!
  • A  digression into the appropriate yarn for knitting baby clothes thows up the idea of knitting an aran jumper in Noro (… interesting! – making mental note)
  • Gertrude Sampson, Glynis Robins and Lainey Keogh get a mention
  • Alice Starmore’s book “Aran Knitting” is to be re-published in October 2010; various other books on Aran Knitting are also given
  • Someone may, or may not, have tried to deduce something meaningful regarding the decline of Aran Knitting from the projects chosen by Team Ireland knitter to knit in Ravelympics; and later admits that you can’t
  • Someone else would love to learn the secrets of the craft, but hasn’t the time to read the thread!
  • The reduction of Irish culture to Twee-ness is discussed, as well as a detailed de-railment of the thread into what is twee!
  • We learn much about St Patrick and other national saints such as St. David (Wales) and St. George (England & others)
  • Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland Vs by Irish Americans in the US gets well thrashed out.
  • The OP gets accused of dictating what Irish Knitters should knit and what Irish people should value
  • Various foods get a mention, including: Rhubarb, leeks, Mexican flour and corned beef & cabbage pizza
  • What it means to be Irish comes under the microscope

I’ve come away from the thread contemplating two things: a) that there will always be those who want to reject tradition as much as there are those who want to preserve it. Traditions are subject to the same market forces as everything else, these days. If enough people are interested, it will continue.

The other thing I’ve got my head in a knot over is what exactly it means to be Irish. Is my Bit-of-a Give-Away too twee? or is it just a bit of fun? Are we getting a bit up-our-own-arses about how Irish-Americans chose to celebrate the day? Other than the obvious gastronomic and environmental concerns, what exactly is wrong with green beer and dyeing rivers green. Surely, it’s just a bit of craic.

Years ago, through my Dad’s work, we got a rare opportunity to view the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin City Centre from the vantage point of a 1st floor window on Dame Street. For the most part, it was an embarrasing affair (pre-Macnas) and the only parts of it I remember were the group of people pushing supermarket trolleys as part of  the SuperQuinn float (wtf!!!), the fantastic brass bands that had travelled from the US and another group of 50 or so people wearing green jumpers & waving manickly, obviously thrilled to be there. (My assumption was that they were American Tourists and mainly I just thought “whatever ye’re into, folks but my days of walking in a parade ended in my early teens”.)

Anyway, my abiding memory – and my point – comes after the parade was over. A pair of black teenagers were walking down Dame Street, still wearing their Band Uniforms but casually – with the jackets unbuttoned. A man standing behind me – presumeably a work-colleague of my Dad’s commented: “You’d wonder what two lads like that are doing in Ireland on today of all days”. I took him to mean that to be Irish you had to be white and, most likely, Catholic; and St. Patrick’s Day – for this man – was a preserve of this conservative view of what it means to be Irish. No Blacks need apply.

I was sickened and the thought has stayed with me. That Ireland has had a recent influx of a variety of nationalities, cultures and religions is welcomed by me. Part of The Good Friday Agreement stated that every baby born on the island of Ireland was legally an Irish Citizen. What they had in mind were Orange Protestants born in Northern Ireland. What the authorities didn’t expect was boat and plane-loads of very heavily pregnant women arriving from far-flung places, giving birth and claiming residency due to being the parents of Irish-born children; or using Irish Citizenship as a back-door in to the rest of the EC. Naturally, (tongue-in-cheek) the authorities had to hold a referendum to claw-back on the situation.

The way I see it, Ireland is about to embark on yet another adventure in cultural assimilation. The Normans were often considered in History to be “More Irish than the Irish themselves”. In the same way that the US has Irish Americans and African Americans Ireland will have Latvian Irish and Polish Irish and Nigerian Irish. This is not something to be feared. Yes it will change Ireland. So what! We’ve done it before, we can do it again.

At the weekend I visited the Crafty Market off Cork Street in Dublin City Centre and among the things I bought was a knitted & fulled green shamrock, from Hazel Donnelly a.k.a. DubSpinner on Ravelry. It’s kitch and OTT but I bought it thinking I’d put it in with the prize for the Give-Away (despite the fact that by the time I post it St Patrick’s Day will already be well over – it’ll do for next year!). The purple pouch on the left is for my mobile phone.

from Hazel Donnelly a.k.a. DubSpinner at the Crafty Market

Anyway, a second-generation Irish person, Bridgit, has given me a blog-award and here are my answers to the questionaire that goes with it:

1. Where is your cell phone? Generally in it’s new purple pouch and in my back-left bum pocket. DH & I often play the “can you ring my phone so I can find it” game.
2, Your hair? Curly & un-dyed. Still waiting for some grey hairs to show up and help me look my age!
3. Your mother? A golf- and bridge- obsessed super-woman
4. Your father? Looking out for me from Heaven and giving God some advice.
5. Your favourite food? Anything I can cook from scratch in less than 20mins that my kids will eat – I have a few recipes.
6. Your dream last night? Don’t remember.
7. Your favourite drink? Sparkling water, closely followed by wine (I’m talking quantity, not a time-line).
8. Your dream/goal? to retire early and enjoy it
9. What room are you in? I’m in the Study;… with the dagger and Col. Mustard…
10. Your hobby? Knitting and crochet. I plan to get back into sailing this year.
11. Your fear? I can’t bring myself to write it down but it’s related to DH’s father dying only aged 54 & genes etc.
12. Where do you want to be in six years? Still above ground. (stole this answer from Bridgit!)
13. Where were you last night? At home w/ DH & family
14. Something that you aren’t? Afraid of what others think of me.
15. Muffins? Poppy-seed Lemon
16. Wish list item? Set of Interchangeable Tunisian Crochet hooks
17. Where did you grow up? Won’t give exactly location, since Ireland is such a small pool of people but here’s a clue: “it’s a long, long way to…” this place!
18. Last thing you did? Tried to watch a Horizon documentary about Freak Waves
19. What are you wearing? My crocheted cropped-cardigan (haven’t debuted it here or put it up on Rav!)
20. Your TV? Mostly documentaries about ancient history; Antiques Roadshow and Mythbusters also popular.
21. Your pets? 3 dogs
22. Friends? A hand-full of close soul-mates that I trust.
23. Your life? Busy, knitting keeps me sane and relaxed.
24. Your mood? Bemused
25. Missing someone? Lemme check… nope all here, phew!
26, Vehicle? A Mammy-bus
27. Something you’re not wearing? Shoes.
28. Your favourite store? IKEA – it only opened in Ireland last July & the novelty hasn’t worn off yet!
29. Your favourite colour? purple
30. When was the last time you laughed? earlier today, reading posts on Ravelry!
31. Last time you cried? About a month ago: work was really getting me down.
32. Your best friend? My husband.
33. One place that I go to over and over? My home!
34. One person who emails me regularly? Knitting Daily!
35. Favourite place to eat? Wagamama or Yo Sushi in Dublin City Centre

I’m meant to tag six people – and I know exactly who they’re going to be – but waxing lyrical about Irish-ness has meant I’ve run out of time for linky-goodness to other people’s blogs.

Lá Fhéile Padraig Shona Dhaoibh go léir


Have a lovely St. Patrick’s Day

Be-the-Hokey, I will! ;-)
Be-the-Hokey, I will! 😉