Spinning FO: Eyjafjallajokull

I did it!!! I have made YAAARRRNNNN!!!

Fire and Ice: Eyjafjallajokull

It was a bit of a struggle at times and really enjoyable at times. The plying was much easier than I expected. I read  – properly, this time – the instructions that Maggie Casey gives in her book “Start Spinning” and it was waaay easier than spinning.

I did have “fun” when one bobbin finished several meters before the other. In the future, I’m going to have Navajo plying for dealing with this situation. In the meantime, I consulted the Oracle that is Twitter and thanks to @Deimne, @Dianeknits and @BionicLaura for their advice and @cathyqtpi and @WrapNTurn for their encouragement.

I did I bit of a quasi-scientific endeavour with weighing scales to try to find the centre-point of  the remaining single. Of course, this really only works with commercial yarn that has a consistent “density” throughout.

I missed the centre point by a few meters so one bobbin ran out again. This time, I took a trip down the hall to find the centre point.

I didn’t quite get it then either so when I was left with a meter or so of one single I tried a few chains of Navajo.

So after soaking and snapping and hanging to dry, I did some measuring. (I immediately realised I would have been better off doing the measuring before I had fastened ties around the skein. *sigh!* I live and learn!)

I’ve got 3oo meters of yarn (give or take) and it’s turning out as (on average) 11 or 13 WPI. Kinda, sorta, DK weight (with sections of super-bulky!)

I’m now dreaming of all the possible things I could make with it…


Spinning WIP: Fire and Ice

As I mentioned, we started a SkAM-SpAL (Skein-a-month Spin-a-long, in case you didn’t know!) over on the Irish Spinners Group on Ravelry. The idea is to help motivate each other (me!) to make a dint in our roving stash by at least spinning on skein each month – on spindle or wheel.
We’ve got very loose rules after that. And while we’ve hit upon a theme for the month: “Fire and Ice” we reckon you would satisy the theme if you said “Here’s what I spun while sitting by the Fire, drinking Bailey’s on Ice”!

So, with apologies to those who’ve already seen this on the thread, here’s my planned skein for this month:


It’s Hand-dyed Merino Roving from Ivy Brambles. The colourway is called “Volcano” and I bought it online from the Yarn & Fiber Trading Company after my husband got stuck in San Fransisco in April when that volcano in Iceland erupted. When he didn’t bring home a single scrap of compensatory yarn or fiber for me I went on a bit of a shopping spree and couldn’t resist including this in my haul!

I started this last November, after I got my wheel at Rhinebeck and am thrilled with the first bobbin:

Volcano-1st bobbin

I divided the whole length of fibre down the centre length-ways and I’m nearly finished the second bobbin in the same direction.

I’m hoping that the finished plied yarn will be mainly long stipes of both singles in the same colour but with some transitions where one single takes up the next colour sooner than the other – if you follow me?

Edited to add: This evening I completed the 2nd bobbin. I’m dreading the next stage: to – gasp! – ply them.

Stash Saturday: The Yarn and Fiber Company

So I mentioned that I had little splurge online on The Yarn and Fiber Company’s website as compensation and therapy for minding the three crazies when DH got caught in San Francisco by the Ash Cloud. It was all delivered the other day, so I can show and tell all:

One Lace weight yarn:

Ivy Brambles Romantica Merino Lace Yarn. I don’t know what I’m going to make with this. All I want to do is cuddle it!

Two “goes” of Roving for spinning – previously blogged about:

Ivy Brambles Merino Roving in “Volcano” (l); Sereknity Blue-faced Leicester Roving in “Kismet” (r)

Three specific projects:

Sereknity Perfect Sock Yarn in “Jewel of Denial” for Jaywalkers (l); Kauni Effektgarn for Non-Reversible, Intarsia, Double-knit bag or blanket (r)


Jojoland Melody Superwash Fingering for their Swirl Shawl pattern – also purchased from The Yarn and Fiber Company. psst! Free-shipping to Ireland!

Giving Whorls a Whirl

I first learned how to spin

I was taught how to spin by Chicwithstix

Chicwithstix gave a spinning lesson as part of the Irish Knitters Retreat I went on back in October 2008. I gave it a go but it didn’t “click” with me so I didn’t keep at it. Hence, I can’t say I was taught or learned.

As SusyMcQ chided me, at the time – and quite correctly, too – I expected to be naturally great at it and was frustrated by being proven wrong. It’s not like me to admit defeat to a new technique but I think that because spinning involved learning a new skill set based on physical dexterity, and not an intellectual challenge; it was easier for me to put it to one side. Dexterity is not my strong suit.

Then early this year Kneehigh announced (on the Dublin Knit Collective Group on Ravelry) that there would be a spinning group meeting on monthly basis in the Powerscourt Towncentre. The attraction of meeting up with other crafters was the real motivator for me to look at my drop-spindle with new eyes. I knew I was more likely to learn how to spin if I was regulary spinning with other spinners .

Last week, I heard Matthew Syed being interviewed on the radio about his new book “Bounce – How Champions Are Made”. His book “demolishes the idea that talent is the key to success. The path to the top, Syed argues, is a combination of opportunity — being in the right place at the right time — and hard work.” As the Interviewer quipped: the joke about how to get to Carnegie Hall is true – “Practice, practice, practice”

Syed also spoke about how it’s better to praise children for their hard work in acheiving something; rather than for their being talented. If children who are used to being praised for effort don’t succeed, they are motivated to keep trying until they succeed; whereas children praised for talent won’t try again if they fail as their failure serves to “prove” that have insufficient talent. It’s an interesting, and new, way of thinking. And it’s just the kind of motivating logic I needed to hear about my spinning. If I’m to master this new skill I have to keep trying.

My New High-fibre Diet

To that end, I’ve been accumulating spinning accoutrements. Mainly roving and fibre – which I don’t count as contributing to stash since it’s yardage is (yet) unknown. (A technicallity, I know!) I’ve also acquired two drop-spindles: one small one in TIK the day I met Averil; and Clarabel’s student spindle from the same spinning lesson at the knitting retreat. She was about to throw out all her roving samples from her Knitting Retreat goody-bag so I rescued them. This give me loads of odds’n’ends to practice on before I start to tackle these beauties:

From top to bottom, we have:

  • Ivy Brambles Merino Roving – “Volcano”; bought online from The Yarn and Fiber Company purely because of the name of the colourway!
  • Sereknity Blue-faced Leicester Roving – colourway “Kismet”; bought online from The Yarn and Fiber Company purely because I’d heard Blue-faced Leicester is a good starter-fibre
  • Louet Northern Lights Wool Top from This Is Knit; Chicwithstix was with me at the time and thinks that the fibre is Corriedale
  • Ashford Merino bought from The Yarn Room, Co. Wicklow
  • LHogan Blue-faced Leicester – “Georgia”; bought from TIK after the April Spin-In
  • LHogan Corriedale – “Gabrielle”; bought from TIK after Annie Modesitt’s Knitting Class

Look fondly on them – hopefully they will be still things of beauty – and recognisable as yarn – the next time you see them.

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: http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/irish-knitters/1098908/1-25#1
  • 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.