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.

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!

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!

WIP: Wrist-Warmers

… trying saying that title quickly!

When I met Irene in The Yarn Room, for my class in Tunisian Crochet, I brought with me the ends of two skeins of Noro Kureyon I had left over from finishing my Not-so-Frou-Frou cardigan. My plan was to work with each from opposite ends for the forward and return passes of Tunisian Crochet; so that the colours would contrast as Noro does best. What I didn’t know is that for Tunisian Crochet in-the-round you actually *need* to have two separate balls of yarn. Serendipity.

Under Irene’s guidance, I cast-on a chain long enough to go around my wrist. Irene gave me the gist of how to work Tunisian Crochet in-the-round and I set off. Following no specific pattern other than trying it on regularly, I very quickly made these wrist-warmers:

The image on the left shows off the texture best while the image on the right gives you an idea of the colour-contrast. I love how the green continued though-out for the vertical bars, while the contrast colour changes frequently for the horizontal portions. More serendipity!

Despite the fact that they’ve been bound-off – and pressed into action in the cold weather we had recently;, I’m still considering these as WIPs. The keen-eyed amongst you might notice the decreases at the top of the rght-hand mitten. I did this mitten first and completely forgot about my ingenuity when I was finishing the second mitt. So I’ve to frog and decrease and re-finish.

Góðan daginn for a Stash Enhancement Xpedition

While I was at the Yarn Room for my class in Tunisian Crochet (in-the-round, no less!) I had a special indulgence. Time for me to…

FLASH THE STASH!

3 Skeins of Lett Lopi from Ístex, Iceland in Light Purple(1) and Violet(2)

100g of Ashford Merino Silk in Juniper for spinning

1 Plate of Plotulopi in Arctic Blue Heather - for plying practice; with 2 sets of Addi Turbo needles and 1 set of circular crochet hooks

All-in-all a good day for a Stash Enhancement Xpedition – very satisfying.

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!