Yarn Chicken

 

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I was chatting to a good friend this lunch time about how much time seems to be involved in getting Olann and out there.  Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining, far from it actually, as I’m really enjoying it.  It does however, seem to eat into my time and for some strange reason I was convinced I’d have more.

We’ve already touched on the things I’m doing to try and establish a better routine and some of it’s definitely working, but no matter how I try, I just can’t get more done.  Perhaps that should be my super power, I wonder who I have to talk to about getting it?

Time or lack of it really isn’t helped by making mistakes whilst your knitting either.  The test knit I mentioned last week was going really well and I was sort of power knitting my way through it, to get on with the baby knits I need (want) to get made.

With each row the stitch count grew and eventually every row was taking around the 20 minute mark to complete.  That’s OK though, I’d manage to remember the pattern and was busy knitting away, checking everything made sense as I went.  As it’s secret knitting I can’t say too much, except that each pattern repeat has 16 rows.  If you make a quick calculation you’ll come to realise that one repeat takes me approximately 5 hours knitting, give or take.

You know what’s coming next, don’t you………

Can you imagine how completely horrified I was to discover I’d messed up at the start of the previous repeat.

Very calmly, I tried my best to fix it, but it wasn’t simply a case of missing the odd yarn over or forgetting to do an ssk.  Nope, I’d completely missed out a whole section of the pattern.  To add insult to injury I only spotted my mistake two rows in to the next repeat.

There was nothing else for it, but to rip back – which took an hour in itself.

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I’d spotted the mistake at 11.30 pm and between the jigs and the reels I ended up going to bed at about 1.30am, except I didn’t go to sleep.  Instead, so angry with myself for messing up, i knitted 8 rows of the pattern just to catch up a bit.  Finally deciding to call it quits at around 3.30am.

Except the project wasn’t finished with me though and whilst working the boarder I began to question whether I would have enough yarn to complete all the rows specified.  Yarn chicken, is nobody’s idea of fun so there was nothing else for it.  The digital weighing scales came out and I calculated that I needed at least 2 grammes of yarn to work the length of the row.

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Six rows to go and I had to give up playing my game of yarn chicken and admit defeat :-(  It is finished though and I love it and think the readers will too.  This was just the test knit, to check the pattern notes though and I’m going to be casting on another this week hopefully, that’s the forever Olann and real one.

I can guarantee now, there are to be no mistakes made this time.

Happy Knitting!

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Rainbow Granny Crochet

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As you know I recently finished the last granny square blanket I’d been working on for Kye, so it’s time to start another.  Rather surprisingly, I have quite a bit of yarn to try and work my way through, so I’ve been thinking of ways to use more of it and quicker.

It’s Dina’s turn next to get a blanket, so it can be bright and colourful.  Bearing this in mind I rifled through my stash – well that’s not strictly true.  When your stash is as large as mine, it’s more like looked ‘I looked at the yarn on the shelves in the old stock room’.

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I settled on these colours and considered using each held doubled, but a brainwave hit and….

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Having looked at what I’d picked, I drew this rough sketch, very rough I know :-(

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I’m still using two colours held together, which means I get to use my 6mm crochet hook so the blanket will grow much quicker and it’s going to be so warm and cosy when it’s finished.

The colours will run as follows

  • Red & Pink
  • Pink & Orange
  • Orange & Yellow
  • Yellow & Green
  • Green & Turquoise
  • Turquoise & Blue
  • Blue & Purple
  • Purple & Red

8 colour changes in total

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I’m pretty pleased with how it’s looking so far.  As it’s my knitting group project I’m not really expecting to fly through it, they just make a lovely, easy project to work on whilst chatting and laughing.

 

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There’s test knitting happening for the next issue already, but I’m afraid I can’t tell you too much.  I can let you know that it’s going to be the beginning of something exciting for Olann and ♥ ♥ ♥ if all goes to plan.

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Last but not least, our friends are expecting their first grandchild in about 5 weeks, so I get to knit baby things.

Having cast on a Kelly Brooker Beyond Puerperium last night I just want to keep knitting.  The yarn I’m using is Stylecraft Alpaca DK, which I absolutely love.  I know I’ve said it before, but it really is surprising how lovely and natural looking this yarn is, given it’s high acrylic content.

It knits up beautifully :-)

Back to my knitting now as I think we’ve been separated from each other for far too long.

Happy Crafting!

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Revealing My Knitting

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The madness has abated round here again at least for a little while now the second issue of Olann and is out there, floating around for all to see.

I’m happy, Deirdre’s happy, we hope you’re happy too (sorry I realised I was listening to David Bowie, when I wrote this).  I imagine our friends and family are slightly worried they’ll be the next to get a call to model for us.  A g♥♥d friend has already been persuaded to lend us a child or two and we’re going to be looking for a volunteer or two, later at knitting group.  (Ssh, don’t tell any of them yet ;-) they might decide not to come)

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If you’ve seen the second issue, you’ll know I’ve been incredibly busy knitting and although I shared snippets, I wasn’t able to reveal my work before hand.  I knitted the silver grey sample of Patricia Cox’s Sunset Cardigan for the photographs in the magazine.  It’s actually a lovely pattern, with it’s detailed stitch panels, complimented by smooth stocking stitch.  It was great to knit, the pattern has been extremely well written by Patricia, with a lot of care and attention to detail.  Little things like the few rows of short row shaping around the neck, really help the whole garment sit much better.

The eagle eyed among you, will notice that I worked the decreases to create an obvious raglan line as I favour that look.  Having used a solid shade in place of the beautiful Soft Donegal tweed Patricia used in her original, it also adds a little more detail.

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The yarn itself, Sublime Extra Fine Merino Worsted  was a pleasure to knit with.  It’s smooth construction, meant it just slipped through my fingers and as you can see, it knits with great stitch definition and produces a fabric with a lovely drape and bounce to it.

 

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The other knitting I’d been busy beavering away on, was the Turners Cross Cable Twist hat, one of my own designs.  I knew what I wanted to make, having drawn some rough sketches out and armed with Barbara G. Walker’s Pattern Treasury books, I got down to some swatching.

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Several samples and two and a half hats later, plus one test knit (thank you to my good friend Dr. Sock), I was satisfied with the design, except I wasn’t.  Having had the shop for 10 years and spoken to literally thousands of knitters during that time, I know the majority of knitters still prefer to knit flat.  However, there are a good few of us now that enjoy knitting in the round, myself included.  So I re-worked the pattern to include the instructions for knitting the hat in the round using circular or double pointed needles.

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Those of you that know me, know I love Tivoli Celtic Aran, see the review here if you don’t believe me.  It’s an extremely underrated yarn, it’s a fantastic workhorse yarn, that is till 100% wool, doesn’t cost the earth, wears well and feels lovely.  I’d love to see more colours available, but that’s only going to happen if everyone jumps on my Tivoli Celtic Aran bandwagon.

Anyway, it worked up just lovely for the hat, the stitches look great, especially the slipped stitch cable, which sits raised up proudly on the knitted fabric.  It’s warm, woolly, easy to wear and will keep your head nice and snug.

In case you’re wondering about the name?

It’s because the handsome fellow (Shane), wearing it in the photographs for the magazine is from Turners Cross in Cork City of course :-)

There has also been more knitting….

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New socks, that I finished yesterday evening.  What a great way to round off a very good day ♥♥♥

I’m hoping to get a little weaving in today, after some more work.  Hope you get to spend some time doing what you love too.

Happy crafting!

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Good Intentions

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It’s been 17 days since I last wrote a blog post, which is blooming terrible, especially as I’ve actually made a rough plan for the next few too.  How do I know it’s been 17 days exactly?  Well the last one was on New Years Eve (seems like ages ago now) and because I’m currently keeping track of some of the things I do regularly, in order to see the places areas of my life than ‘need work’.  More about that in a minute.

Did you think about a One Little word for your 2016?

Despite my concerns about ‘putting it out there’, several friends have mentioned how positive they found my last post.  How it made them think about their 2016 and have picked words too, including CONFIDENCE, RESTORE, STRONG and HAPPY.  Each word definitely reflects the individual that chose it and I can’t wait to see how it impacts their year ahead.

I’ve been busy test knitting a garment for the next issue of the magazine, due for release on the 26th January – eek!  Deirdre and I have also been swatching samples for the Yarn Review feature, but I’ve spent the best part of the last fortnight stuck in front of my pc or unpacking and sorting out craft supplies, in order to begin scrapbooking my One Little Word.

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Nearly forgot to mention that I made Deirdre a hat.  It’s the Orbitus Hat by and I love it.  Hopefully she does too :-)

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This pile of ends is also an indication of things completed…

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I’m happy to report that I’ve finished the granny square blanket I had been making for my youngest, Kye.

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He was thoroughly chuffed when I told him it was for him and he loves it.  I might add another couple of rounds to it some time in the future, but for now I think the 75″ square is the perfect size for that extra bit of warmth.  Much needed at this time of year, especially if you live in an old farmhouse that seems to eat the heat.

Talking of cold, it really has been rather chilly of late.  I finally gave in on Thursday and broke out the thermals, unable to take the sensation of numb legs anymore.  It’s lovely to get out for a walk in the Winter sun, but I’m finding no amount of layers are keeping my hands or ears (?) warm.

 

Today the sun hasn’t even been able to poke it’s way through the grey overcast cloudy sky, but I’m happy to see the fog lifted after last night.  It was so thick that I found driving home in it close to terrifying and I would never think of myself as a nervous driver.  I took my dogs out for a walk on the farm at 10pm last night, because I hadn’t had time earlier in the day and I couldn’t even see two fence posts ahead along the track with my torch.

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We’re in full ‘getting ready to publish mode’ and we keep getting messages from people telling us they can’t wait for the next issue.  It’s easy when you’re so busy to forget to look after yourself and I’m extremely guilty of doing this, part of my hopes for the year ahead was to try and stem the chaos a little and have faith in myself.  Putting this plan into action late again as per usual (but better late than never), I’ve started to keep a track of some of my daily routines and habits so I can see where I’m falling down.

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The table is basic a diary of sorts, there’s plenty of lines to fill in the things you want to monitor and the boxes on the right represents the days of the month.  By checking or colouring in the boxes for the things you’ve achieved that day, you can see at a glance what’s happening.  I only really started it on the 9th of this month, but it was easy to back fill some of the boxes.

For me personally, I’m trying to establish a ‘baseline’ in some areas of my life, so I can work on them in the coming months.  In no particular order I’ve tried to include things that I like doing, things that need doing, social media is there to ensure I remember, things I have to watch and things I’m aiming for.

Knitting & crochet is there at the top as this is my sanity, meditation and mindfulness time all wrapped up in one.  A day without even a little time spent with my needles or hook can be too long for my head.  As you can see, I haven’t spun or wove since the beginning of the year.  I have worked on other crafty pursuits which is great, but I desperately want to try and make spinning and or weaving part of my daily routine, in order to improve my technique.  I also find I totally switch off whilst doing either, which equals a happy head too.

The next section is all dedicated to the magazine, Leftfootdaisy stuff, social media and blog posts, which is why I know it’s been 17 days and having the chart hanging next to my desk has been a constant reminder.

The next group of items are areas that I want to or should be watching.  Walk the dogs, is so I do just that, it would be rare that I wouldn’t and if I couldn’t someone else would.  Keeping tabs on it, just gives me that little extra nudge to do it myself.  Washing (clothes not myself) is listed because it seems like my washing pile is never ending and I’m hoping that by seeing ‘washing free days’ it will help me to realise this just isn’t the case.

I’ve added ‘eat’ and ‘pain’ and have included a traffic light system for keeping check because these are two areas in my life that are a interconnected, a bit of a priority and in need of work.  I’m planning to use this months results to make changes in the coming months.  (more about in another post)

The next few entries refer to actually getting in the car and leaving my house, it’s rural so you have to drive and although I’ll invariably have gotten out to walk the dogs it’s not really the same.  Looking back at the last post, in which I mentioned trying to create some more ‘joy’ in my life, I thought it would be good to note how often I see my friends, even if it’s for the briefest moment.

Bed before 12 – the X’s are because I haven’t achieved it.  It doesn’t even mean bed and sleep, I’m just working on trying to train myself to actually go upstairs to bed before 12.

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Last item for this month says ‘read or listened to’, because I always enjoyed reading a book and can’t remember the last one I actually completely read.  I started listening to audio books about a year ago as a way to fill this need, but even that has begun to fall by the wayside now I’m not driving backwards and forwards to Midleton several times a week.

I’m currently listening to The Way of the Kings by Brandon Sanderson, all 76 chapters, 0r 45 hours and 34 minutes of it.  I’ve a little over 33 hours left, but am getting a little confused with the names of the characters.

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I’m trying to read Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, but I haven’t managed to get that much read.  The basic principle of the book is doing less, but better, which kind of ties in with some of the things I’m trying to fix.

I’ve made my ‘Daily Habit’ chart available to download as a pdf if you’d like to try keeping a check on your daily routines here.

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For now I’m dreaming of knitting this yarn up into an Orbitus Hat for myself and working on my first prompt of the Ali Edwards One Little Word workshop. and thinking about my word FAITH.

accept what is let go of what was and have faith in what will be

Doesn’t she and the view look lovely?

Look a little closer and you can see it’s ice in the tyre tracks because it was freezing and bless her, she was sitting because she was tired (she only has 3 legs).

Happy :-)

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Something New For 2016

Happy New Year!Are you a New Year Resolution kind of person?

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m not really into the whole thing, purely because I’m not so good at sticking to things.  If we’re being honest, I’m really one of those people that stumbles through life, I’m not a planner, in fact the only thing I’ve ever planned (truthfully), were 2 of my three children.  You’ll guess wrong, promise.  My happy and much loved surprise is never the one people assume it must be.

Anyway, if we look back to last year the only goal I actually set myself was to knit more socks, preferably a pair every 2 months (think I managed, but will have to check), but as 2016 approaches I think it’s time for a change.  Not least because 2015 has actually been a year of great change for me  The decisions I made, none of which I really planned of course, we’re made to try and improve my life and let in more joy.  Joy is important, everyone needs to have joy in their day, somewhere.  No matter how dark life gets, finding the joy is probably what keeps us going when things get tough.

So without even realising what I’ve been doing, I can see now that I’ve been taking more time to reflect over my life of late.  Where I am, what I’ve achieved, what I’ve yet to do and I’ve come to the realisation that things are a bit chaotic.  They always have been and I’m not sure it’s going to really change, but I think it might be worth a try.  So I started to think about how to make changes and a New Year is as good a time as any to begin.  Still, I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of a list of New Years Resolutions.  Then I heard about One Little Word and liking it, but being too busy to look into it properly, I filled it away in the recesses of my brain, never to be found again.  Until the other day when I was listening to the Elise Gets Crafty Podcast episode 79, in which Elise talks to Ali Edwards about her One Little Word Workshop and I really began to think about it again.

The idea is that instead of setting yourself a list of goals in the form of New Years Resolutions you pick a word, just one, with which you’re going to try and keep your focus on throughout the coming year.  There’s a great video on Ali’s website abut choosing your word and if you listen to the podcast Ali and Elise talk about what their words were for 2015, what they meant to them and how there words for 2016 differ.

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It’s an old photo, sorry

Ali’s course is a scrapbooking one and yes I use to scrapbook and have kept all of my supplies hoping to return to it one day – eventually.  Truth is, I haven’t scrapbooked for over 4 years and I think I’ve only printed out photos once  year since then.  So I wasn’t convinced it was really for me, but the idea of this one word thing wouldn’t let me go, especially as the word I’d though of is really quite a strange one for me.

I forget things easily and then get fed up with myself for doing so.  I was full sure I’d remember so much more about my kids growing up than I do and I always tell friends that have babies to get a notebook and write things down.  All the silly stuff you think you’ll remember, the crazy things they say, the daft things they do, those are so more important than the big things at the end of the day

So I’m going to do it.

I’ve bought the workshop at the early bird price of $26 (normal price is $31) and I’m looking forward to trying something new.  Having one word to focus on throughout the coming year, will I hope, help me to focus a little more on the things that are important.

So what word have I chosen?  Or rather what word chose me?  It’s not a word that would usually be a part of my vocabulary.  So I’ve tried really hard to ‘like’ other words with a similar definition, but they’re not sitting comfortably with me and this one just won’t let me go.

So…..

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My One Little Word is Faith and the reason for my astonishment is that I would usually associate Faith with religion and I’m not religious.  Like I say, I’ve tried other words like strength, trust and believe but I’ve come to accept that it has to be Faith.

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The definition of faith seen here at number 1 is how I hope to live in 2016.  I want to have Faith in myself to do what’s right for me in all the areas of my life including my family, my home, my career, my health and well-being.

I’m actually looking forward to trying to keep my One Little Word at the forefront of my decisions and have signed up to the closed Facebook Group that you can become a member of if you take the workshop.

I hope you’ll follow me in my pursuits throughout the year and maybe even join me?

Have Faith and believein Yourself

If the One Little Word thing isn’t really for you, I’ve some other ideas too that I’ll write about over the next couple of days.

In the meantime here’s my midnight kiss X and I want to wish you all you wish yourself in 2016.

Happy New Year!

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A Visit to Dublin at Christmas

Mrs BrownI do hope your houses are all still standing and that you and yours are safe and warm after the battering of storm Frank?  I’ve just heard that Gertrude is on her way now and we all know there’s nothing worse than an angry woman (maybe that’s just me?)

I’ve been busy trying to do a spot of research for this post, but am sad to say I’ve drawn a blank.  I wanted to tell you all about our trip to Dublin to see Mrs Brown’s Boys at the 3 Arena and how it was for charity, but I can’t find anything specific to quote, so I’m hoping what I’ve been told isn’t too far off the mark.

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I’ve never been to Dublin to see the Christmas Lights before and can safely say, I’ll be back.  The city wasn’t as crazy as we’d expected, sure there were queues for parking, but they weren’t too bad and yes there was more traffic on the roads than usual, but I’m a Londoner and that never phases me anyway.

Love it or hate it, most people have a very definite opinion of Brendan O’Carroll’s Mrs Brown show.  I’m a child of the 70’s, a Londoner (as previously mentioned), SE1 to be precise, the cheapest place on the Monopoly Board to be exact.  Despite moving away, I would return weekly, even as an adult to spend time with my grandparents.

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My regular visits always consisted of Pie and Mash from Manze’s (still there and the oldest eel house in London now I think)  and tales from when they were younger. As two of the most important people in my life they influenced me with a diet of Carry on Films, Hancock’s Half Hour, Norman Wisdom and that silly, slightly naughty humour that was around at the time.  I was never allowed to watch Benny Hill though and having seen it now I’m older, I can see why.

Mrs Brown’s Boys taps into that genre in a way that others have tried and failed to do.  It has a feel of a program from the 70’s or early 80’s and it works.  I can’t say I’d go out of my way to watch it ordinarily, but in the main it makes me laugh and my son Kye, like many others his age loves it, so as a ‘Christmas Treat’, why not?

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We left Lismore bright and early on Saturday 19th to be in Dublin for the 2pm matinee show of How Now Mrs Brown Cow.  Of course, no trip to Dublin is complete without a stop off at Avoca for tea and cake though.  I wouldn’t mind a large slice of that ow actually.

The 3 Arena was packed and parking was a bit of a nightmare, but we had a great time.  The show was laugh out loud funny and it was obvious from the uncontrollable laughter of some of the cast members, that the performance went ‘off script’ on more than one occasion.  There were lots of families in the audience and I guess for the most part all they see is a man dressed up as a woman, using bad language and personally, I don’t see the harm although I know it offends some people.

The thing I didn’t know about the Mrs Browns Boys Live Show and what I’ve been trying to research, is the money it raises for charity.   I was unaware when I booked the tickets,  that the cast and crew take no wages for their Dublin matinee performance and the 3Arena doesn’t charge for the show either.  I’m not sure if Ticketmaster donate their fee (I imagine not), but all in all, the Saturday Matinee performance raised approximately €250,000 for Irish Charities.  I think there were three mentioned, but can only remember Crumlin Hospital and Irish Autism Action and haven’t been able to confirm the third (I’m actually hoping those two are correct too).  If you know I’d love to hear from you.

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Like it or loathe it, there’s no denying the good it’s doing and 15million fans worldwide can’t be wrong can they?  I for one will be keeping an eye out for when the show returns in the hope that we can go again.

All the Christmas running around also meant I was able to get a little knitting done in between Magazine projects, including these two hats.

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This is Barley from Tin Can Knits, one of those quick knits that really shows of the beauty of multicoloured yarns.  This Rainbow Drops looking yarn is Genie from Hedgehog Fibres, that I purchased on my recent visit to attend Stephen West’s Colour Workshop.  It was for Dina and she loves it.

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This is another Striped Hat (even though it’s not actually striped) from Erika Knight’s Mens Knits book.  It’s the hat my son Du loves, so both Dina and I have knitted him quite a few.  They’ve tended to be in more muted colours, so the red is a bit of a break from the norm.  I used Studio Donegal Soft Donegal and can honestly say it was a pleasure to knit with.  The yarn has a lovely handle to it and forms a soft, warm fabric, with good stitch definition  Fortunately, he likes the red, so I’m thinking of knitting the next few hats in brighter shades too.

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Currently I’m working on a test knit for the magazine, so can’t show you much, except for the colour, which you can see in my little swatch here.  It’s a beautiful silvery grey, which I know Dina will be pleased to discover as I’ve promised her the garment when we’re finished with it.

I’ve also been trying to finish the crochet blanket for Kye, but the yarn is never ending.  Despite having to crack on with the test knit, I’m sorely tempted to continue on with the blanket, so it’s finished for the end of 2015.

What would you do?

Happy December Crafting!

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For the Love of Irish Craft

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I love craft, all craft (just in case you’ve failed to notice) and I’m more than happy to peruse craft fairs and events for hours on end.  I love seeing the creativity and ingenuity of other craftspeople.  We all gravitate towards certain shapes, forms and colours, often without even realising it and it’s great to see what others do.

I love blue, in all of it’s many shades and tend to prefer smooth, rounded forms rather than straight, angular ones.  I have a love of free form and am often rather smitten by items that seem almost naive, maybe ‘simple’ is a better choice of word.  So I’m always amazed when I find myself drawn to something different to my usual tastes.

At this time of year, it’s almost impossible not to hear about a Christmas Craft Fair somewhere and the magazine has provided the most perfect excuse ever, to visit as many as possible :-)

It was my first time visiting The National Crafts & Design Fair at the RDS which was on from the 2nd – 6th December.  It was an absolutely shocking day weather wise, but undeterred the lovely Du, drove us up to Dublin for the day in the wind and pouring rain.

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With over 500 designers and exhibitors, it’s certainly vast as the free Christmas Gift Guide will prove, with it’s whopping 96 pages.  There’s everything from food to fine art with a range of prices to suit most peoples pockets.

Tickets cost €10 for adults which would make it a bit of an expensive day, if like us you were travelling quite a distance to get there.  We had been given a couple of free passes and had to pop to Ikea for a couple of items too, so we managed to kill two birds with one stone.  Unfortunately, we did manage to hit every possible toll too :-(

We took our time weaving up and down the stalls and even managed to pick up a few Christmas Gifts whilst we were at it.

Some of our favourites included

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ArooDesigns look at their lovely felted bags.

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These beautiful bird feeders were among the wares up for sale from Mary Neeson Ceramics

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It goes without saying that these fantastic sheep caught my eye on the Red Rufus Sock Animal stand.  Pop along and have a look at the dogs, they’re great too.

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There was lots of lovely, lovely tweed items for sale on the Studio Donegal  stand, but I thought these Christmas Trees were too cute to pass up as were the little mug rugs at the top of the page.

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The eco printed textiles from Nicola Brown were stunning (the website is currently being updated).

Docpot are also worth a mention as I bought a couple of gifts on their stand.  They had some lovely ceramics for sale, but I forgot to take a photo, sorry.

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We also spotted Olann Hats who make the most lovely, vintage inspired hats.

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Tucked away in the Serpentine Hall was the RDS National Craft Awards Prizewinners Exhibition, which included some fantastic pieces.  My absolute favourite was this piece called ‘Wobble’, by Eamon Tobin entered in the Emerging Maker Basketry Category.

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I also loved this, but the signs were a little confusing, so I hope I’m right in saying it’s from Honor Fitzsimons and that it was entered in the Constructed Textiles Emerging Maker Category.  It’s called A Stone in Between.

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There was one thing that absolutely made my visit though and that was meeting Beth Moran, super weaver and one of the three craftspeople from RTE Juniors program Makers, if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

If you want to know more, you’ll be pleased to know that the Christmas Gift Guide is available to download here, so you can still visit even now.

Happy Crafting!

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