Illuminations Sock Club Stash – Dawnsinger

Timing is everything.

Last month I got the first instalment of the Illuminations Sock Club from Janel Laidman. I knew it was coming and was beside myself with excitement as I opened the parcel. I was in for a surprise… an anti-climax.Dawnsinger

This is a hard thing to say, but my first reaction was disappointment. I think, mainly, this was due to my over-heightened expectation. I’ve blogged before about how much I idolised this designers work. I was expecting complexity, ingenuity and “delight” in the Vetruvian / Architects meaning of the word.

I was also expecting two sock patterns. What I got was a basic-looking, cuff-down, sock pattern with two charts for alternative designs around the leg. I felt this was not a good opener for a year-long sock club of six instalments. I immediately regretted signing up for the colourwork sock club. My kids can colour in squares on a grid to make a picture of a bird or a leaf – where’s the ingenuity in that.

More than this, the colours didn’t “Wow!” me. I had planned a whole blog-post about their arrival at the end of February and… well… you can see the photo I took for it. Dull, drab, lifeless. For me, this says it all about my lack of enthusiasm. The blog-post never happened and I put the kit away wondering if I would just gift it to someone.

Then – as I say – timing is everything. The other day, Spring arrived in my garden. The sky was blue. The leaves were a shocking green. These were the exact colours of the skeins in my kit… as you can see:

Stacatto Sock

Suddenly, I love them! They are the perfect encapsulation of Spring. *Now*, they sing to me. I realise that my timing had been all wrong. I needed to see them in the context of blue skies and fresh leaves; and not the dull skies and lifeless trees of last month.

This new look at the skeins made me look closer at the sock pattern(s). I realise they’re not so basic after all – there’s something interesting going on with the ribbing of the foot. I’m willing to give the Sock Club an open-mind again. I’m willing to hope that the next installment will knock my socks off!

In a Quandry

I can get quite paralysed by indecision. So paralysed that I procrastinate myself into missing the boat entirely. I’m on the cusp of this again.

But first a bit of background…
At the end of May we have two major family events: brother’s wedding and then – two days later – my daughter’s First Holy Communion. Having two family event separated by two days means two completely new outfits for me. And you know how much I love shopping for clothes for me. Bleughch!

As part of my stash-down knitting-plan for the year, I identified Peaseblossom Tunic by Kirstin Omdahl…

…as a good pattern to use my Fyberspates Lace.

I thought this could be a starting point for one of these out-fits. This puts me on a dead-line to try and have it complete by early May so that I still have shopping-time to buy the outfit to go with it.
Ingenious plan, no? Eh… no. Highly risky plan that may well back-fire. Grab your time-machine and return in a month’s time to witness the debacle.

The thing is… ideally, I should also be advancing the Petals Wrap as the basis for a second (as yet also un-purchased) outfit.

My dilemma? Keep going on Petals or get Peaseblossom up and running?

Until I figure this out I’m quite likely to do neither. By which time the procrastination will determine the outcome. Go me!

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.

I Love Rhinebeck in Fall; How about You?

I can’t believe that it’s already a week since I was at Rhinebeck. I also can’t believe I haven’t blogged about it yet. So much to say and so litte time back in the hum-drum of the real world.

Yarn as Padding

I think many of the experiences that Clarabel and I had will be stuff of posts to come so for now I’ll try to give you a taster with what were the high-light moments of the weekend.

From the knitter’s viewpoint the following were the jack-pot:

  • Shaking Casey’s hand at the Sunday Ravelry Meet-up and thanking him for Ravelry on behalf of all Knitters & Crochetiers in Ireland (yes… I was *that* dorky and uncool! BUT… exactly how much was I going to beat myself up with regret if I didn’t? Only my entire life! HAD to be done) 
  • Shaking the hand of the Tsock Tsarina herself and asking her to pass on my regards to Helen Of Troy – a regular reader here (thanks Helen) who, I remembered in the nick of time, is her regular Sunday Knitting buddy;
  • Buying an Ashford Joy – with the carry-bag thrown in – for less than I’d buy both here, thanks to the suddenly favourable exchange rate;
  • Nan Kennedy and Seacolors Yarn

  • Having a chin-wag with Nanney Kennedy of Seacolors Yarns who gave me “Shear Spirit” (gratis): a book that features her “living the dream” as a yarnie on her idyllic Meadowcroft Farm. I bought three skeins of her solar-dried yarn in “Coral” colourway to make a funky dress for me;
  • Meeting Jonathan Bosworth – of the beautifully crafted spindles and cleverly engineered spinning wheels and chakras – and inviting him to Ireland on behalf of all spinners here (yup, more of the uncool groupie vibe!) Also, picked up one of his spindles for BionicLaura
  • The Fleece to Shawl Competition – and the spinner / weaver who told us about it in the first place – is all worthy of a post of its own;
  • Getting a demo on how to start drafting a silk hanky from the dyer Gale who also sold me a Trindle

Bosworth and Spindle

  • Meeting “The Librarian” from the “Completely Pointless and Arbitrary” Group on Ravelry and his gorgeous chaparones Pixisis and Golrizjoon on the Hudson Walkway
  • Meeting Jesh at the Ravelry meet-up and then snapping up one of the last of her gorgeous spindles
  • Generally chatting to as many fellow fiberistas as I could (and wangling into the conversation that we’d travelled all the way from Ireland just for this weekend – just to see their reaction)

Other fantastic treats any traveller would appreciate:

  • Driving through Mannhattan alongside all the yellow cabs (more fun and less stressful than I expected)
  • Staying at Jenny’s Country Manor (Donna, the proprietress, is incredibly hard-working; we never saw her husband, Ezra, but his cooking is to die for!)

Jenny's Country Manor

  • Seeing the incredible array of autumnal colours that New York State puts on display
  • The Walkway over the Hudson an old railway bridge at Poughkeepsie that was recently re-vamped as a pedestrian walkway

  • Lunch at the CIA – the Culinary Institute of America, in this instance
  • Dinner at the Terrapin Bistro, quaffing craft beers while enjoying their deliciously interesting re-interpretation tapas

There was more – so much more – but if I don’t stop and publish something soon it might never get done. But before I go, a taster of the Stash Accumulation:


Rhinebeck Stash

May Round-up

Yet again, the last day of the month falls on a blogging day. A “Muse on Monday” this month so I’m being retrospective rather than introspective:

  • 2 F.O. – Better Mousetrap Socks, Baby Blanket for Bootie
  • 3 WIPs-not-whupped – GlenvarAgin Cardigan (insert sigh here!) in fairness, I finished the body, only the sleeves left to do; Chemo Cap #1; Bamboo wash-cloth;
  • 2 Meet-ups with others that I’ve only previously “met” online – Annie Modesitt’s Workshop on Combination Knitting and meeting Averil in Café Bell;
  • 3 new techniques learned: Combination Knitting, Grandma Cast-on; cabling without a cable needle – Cinderella-style (all at Annie’s Class);
  • 2 U.S.A. (unplanned stash acquisition) – after each of the meet-ups mentioned previously – no really, I didn’t plan on buying yarn, honestly!
  • 1 S.E.X. – online expedition to The Yarn and Fiber Company; carried out in April, delivered in May
  • 1 Major House Task advanced: went out to Tender for demolition of garage and building of deck (yay!)
  • 1 hall floor re-floored and phone-line found (double-yay!)
  • As a result we now have broadband – which means I can access spinning tutorials on YouTube (triple-yay!)
  • 1 birthday cake made – a big hit
  • 1 DD turned 8 and birthday celebration went off well

It’s been quite a month, as you can see. It’s not every month you get taught by Annie Modesitt; or learn a new techniques – that you actually go on to use.

It was a very special month to have finally got the chance to meet with Averil too. Other Ravelry names that I finally got to put a face on in May include: Samsaradh and Anonany; I was in the same room as MaryL at Annie’s class but I didn’t realise it until later.

I haven’t been great at keeping track of the knit-o-meter these days. I suspect, with all that Stash-Enhancement (planned and otherwise), I’m way off my plan to knit or give away more yarn than I buy or gain. Must try harder!

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!

F.O.: A Saga

It all started one Thursday, when the world woke up to find a certain unpronounceable volcano in Iceland had brought hubris to man-kind:

If we thought human-kind could gad about in aeroplanes, defying the laws of gravity; Eyfjajökull brought us back down to earth.

If we thought European Member States could act decisively and efficiently, thanks to the instruments brought in under the Lisbon Treaty; the five-day delay in agreeing a cohesive strategy put pay to that delusion.

And if Scientists thought human-nature could be defied, and multi-national companies would tolerate losing billions of euro daily in the interest of human safety; they were asked to think again.

Those of you who read here regularly might have been surprised by my sudden silence – did the ash-cloud eat me? Then again, many of you also read Ravelry and Twitter; so you already knew that the infamous ash-cloud prevented DH from returning home from San Francisco for five days – leaving me to wrangle the three crazies and keep down a job. Needless to say, more people expressed concern for me than for him! San Fran is not the worst place in the world to get stranded, eh?

I should have kept a better track of the week but I guess these are the high-lights:

  • We wake up, of a Thursday morning, to find the world taking a sudden interest in Secondary School level Geography: volcanic activity, constituents of an ash-cloud, wind patterns and weather systems are hotly discussed topics of conversation; 
  • Not since Sigur Rós‘s last album have so many people tried pronouncing Icelandic names;
  • realising DH is “stranded” near yarn-shops I’ve never been to, I put a call-out on Ravelry for suggestion for some compensation yarn:
  • Tales unfold from fellow-Ravelers on Irish Knitters Group of stranded boyfriends unable to see their girlfriends; brides flying in for a wedding they’ve been waiting 25 years to do; parents not being able to see their daughter graduate. It was astonishing to realise just how much we take flying for granted;
  • Meanwhile, on Twitter, people were having incredible adventures: driving from the south of Spain back to England;
  • I get some great yarn and shop suggestions; which I promptly pass on to DH
  • DH’s yarn buying field-trip is in vain – three out of five yarn shops on his list have moved; the fourth doesn’t answer the phone;
  • The fifth yarn shop – the one he didn’t visit or ring – turns out to be the “golden ticket” yarn shop!
  • The same day, DH gets word that Delta Airlines have re-booked him on a return flight to Dublin, via New York;
  • At that stage Irish Airspace is still closed so DH doesn’t want to take the flight – being stuck in SF near his customers is better than being stuck in NY near no-one he knows;
  • DH takes a leap of faith and gets on the plane to NY, fully expecting his onward leg to be cancelled
  • Dublin Airspace opens at the last-minute – while DH is in the air on his flight from NY! His is only the second flight to land at Dublin Airport in seven days.
  • When I get the call that he has landed safely, I skive off work to pick him up (bold, I know)
  • Parking at the “Set-down Area Only” at the Airport I burst into tears when a Garda taps on my window to move me on (wtf? I never burst into tears – obviously more pent-up anguish than I’d allowed myself to admit! The Garda was very nice about it, very apologetic – though I still moved on)
  • DH & I are re-united and, after I splurge for yarn online at The Yarn and Fiber Company, I forgive him for coming home with no “Compo” yarn!

And so, a happy ending! I got DH home eventually; I got to come off the strict yarn-diet (having difficulty getting back on it, mind you) and the balance of my Brownie-Point Deposit Account is so high the crafty-world is my oyster.