Getting Back to Normal

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That must be the longest amount time I’ve ever gone without blogging – seven weeks to be precise.

It was a little bit of self-imposed hiding in truth.  A couple of days after my last post we had to say goodbye to my daughter’s dog Puppy (on the left), which was incredibly difficult.  Her real name was Dope and bless her she really was.  She was far from the most sensible of animals, particularly when it came to vehicles.  She’d been in two accidents the first resulted in a big operation and pins in one of her hips and one of her legs.  The second meant she had to have one of her back legs amputated.  Despite all of this she was a very happy dog, always smiling and incredibly loyal, always circling back to me to make sure I was ok when we were out walking and very protective if a stranger came near.

Saying goodbye was a very tough decision, but having had dogs for most of my life, I understand it’s part of it.  The joy they bring far outweighs the bad and it’s true to say that mine have been my salvation, sanity and companions.  So it was horrendous when we had to say another goodbye two weeks later, this time it was to our big, old, Labrador, Rizla.  She was puppy’s mum and had been poorly for a little while and went downhill almost immediately after.

My local vets were incredible and they were very patient with us through the whole journey.  They really did make everything so much easier and now my girls, all three of them, are resting in one of their favourite sunny spots in the garden.  (very deep down obviously).

Now I only have the boys, Errol and Thom, although if you hear me calling them you might wonder if they really are boys.  I find they sometimes only really respond when I shout out ‘girlies’ like I always have  😂

The death of the dogs meant I really wasn’t able to focus on much for a while and as a result, the work started to pile up, particularly the stuff for the Harvest Moon Issue of Olann and.  So much so, that when I did feel able to tackle the ever-growing pile of items, I was so behind, that it feels like I’ve been tied to my computer for about a month.

It’s a very rare day when I won’t knit a stitch, but there have definitely been some and on others, it was all I could do to complete that day’s Knitted Diary.  Food, because I was working such odd hours, for the most part, consisted of a sandwich and a chocolate bar, with the odd hot meal thrown in.  However, despite the total lack of routine, I did manage to keep on exercising and walking the boys – score!

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Now that the Harvest Moon Issue is published, it was completely worth it.  I am thrilled with how everything came together and I’m so grateful to my friends, two of whom, Goosey Lucy and Catherina, made samples for the photographs and Helen, aka @prettyfunkyknitter, who wrote the article about the Irish Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers.

There’s no rest for the wicked though because we were behind getting this issue out it means we have to start working on the next issue immediately and October is tax return month too 😱  I’ve also promised myself that I’m going to stick to a plan of blogging and podcasting for Olann and, after that, I’m going to do my best to pop in here and continue to document my making.

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I’ve loads of makes to catch up on from the last issue, Sunny Summer Days, there’s the Carnival Hat,  the Modulation Mitts and the Baby Boatneck Sweater that I’d like to shine a little spotlight on.  There’s also a design I created for Yarn Vibes to talk about and then there are the Melange Cowl, Dream Cardi and Subalpine Hat that I made for the Harvest Moon Issue.

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In amongst all of that, there have been baby knits, both finished and ongoing and I even managed to do a little Pin Weaving after starting it at the September meeting of the Handweavers Guild of Cork.  (there’s more than what’s in the photo, not much more, but still.)

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Last but not least, I sat down this weekend and did some work on the Conifer Cardigan I’m making for my grandson due in the New Year, but I’ll give you all the details next time.

In the meantime, it’s a quick cuppa and back to the accounts for me.

Happy Making!

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My First Woven Scarf

saorimor

I’m dying to tell you all about my trip last week to Saorimor in Wales (that’s Rosie looking resplendent in her woven top outside her studio), but I’ve had this post sitting half completed in my drafts folder for some time now and probably should just finish and publish it first.

It’s pretty obvious at the moment that I’m a little hooked by weaving, not sure why it’s taken me so long to find my weaving mojo, but now I have, there’s no stopping me.  Having said that, I’m still knitting and crocheting away in between and I’ve even got my eye on a sewing pattern that wasn’t available in Cork earlier today 😦

Some of you probably saw photos of pink/orange weaving on Instagram a couple of weeks ago?

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Having only really woven the table runner previously with itchy, scratchy, coarse wool, I was keen to find out what weaving with softer knitting yarn would be like.  Traditionally, knitting yarn is too soft and has too much ‘bounce’ to be used in tapestry weaving, but lots of the modern looms available have been designed with just this in mind.  It’s also what led me to purchase my loom in the first place.  I’d hoped my ever increasing yarn stash, would eventually begin to decrease, as it’s definitely quicker to weave a large piece of cloth than knit it, but it would be less bulky than crochet.

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Unfortunately though, as quick as it is to weave, there’s just no getting round having to warp your loom.  I’m sure I’ll get quicker at it, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a quick process.  There are youtube videos that make it look like it takes minutes, there’s even one called ‘warping your rigid heddle in 10 minutes’ – total utter 💩detritus💩 for me anyway.

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For this project, a scarf, I really wanted to use a yarn that I’ve knitted with to be able to compare the finished fabrics.  I opted for the Cotton Premium sock yarn from Opal, that I used to make a pair of socks earlier in the year.  The sock yarn is as we know, rather thin (4ply) and so I decided to use a finer reed than before.  My 40/10 gives me 40 ends to each 10cm or 4 ends per cm – oh yes, I’m begining to sound like I know what I’m talking about 🙌🏼 Having warped up my loom and wound some bobbins, I knuckled down to a spot of weaving.

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I love the texture of plain weave (under one warp, over the next and repeat) and to be fair, I’m not sure I’m ready for twills, waffles and dogtooth checks just yet.  The first thing you’ll notice, is that having used the same multicoloured yarn for both the warp and the weft, a sort of chequered pattern forms where the same colours in the yarn cross.

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This pattern, adds to the overall effect of the weaving and makes it look a lot more complicated than it really is 💃💃💃

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The finished scarf is over 1½ metres long by about 25cm wide and the material feels very different to that of the socks.  The socks are much softer and have a squidgyness that the scarf just doesn’t have.  The scarf took approximately 1¾ 100g balls of yarn and is light, incredibly warm and I love it, even the mistakes.

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Of which there are a few 🙈 🙈 🙈

Technically I could have fixed them and if it was a piece of knitting I’m sure I would have, but for some strange reason they just don’t seem to bother me as much.

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Rather oddly I’m also loving tassels as a way of finishing off my weaving too and they’re not something I would have been too fond of in the past.  Maybe it’s because I know they’re functional, who knows?

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On the loom next, is a cotton something or other, but it’s going to be a gift if it works out – possibly.  Blues might just end up being the completely wrong colour though, if you catch my drift 😉

Happy Fibre Fun!

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Weaving Ways

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You might have noticed by now, that my knitting needles haven’t been getting much use of late?

Don’t worry, I’m not ready to put them away just yet, it’s purely an enforced pause due to the dreaded hayfever season.  Sadly, along with thousands of other people I suffer horrendously at this time of year.  To add insult to injury, I become sensitive to everything including dust, wool, my dogs and even the Vaseline you can dab on the outside of your nostrils to catch the offending pollen particles 😦

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My poor puppy, ♥Errol♥ is having to make do with sitting on the sofa with me rather than on or next to me and the knitting, which is mostly pure wool, as it tends to be my favourite, is staying in my project bags most of the time.

However, a life without fibre, is in my opinion just not right and happily, I still seem to be able to play in other ways, with just the odd sneeze here and there 🙂

I’m rather ashamed to admit to owning quite a lot of fibery equipment that, in most cases, has never really been used.  Some of them were ‘complete bargains’, gifts, specially made (sorry husband), or bought with the best intentions, but a lack of time to learn how to use them.

Weaving, is something I love and have been fortunate to attend a couple of tapestry weaving classes now and I always get far too carried away when I do basic weaving with the children I teach.  Since Christmas we’ve made wall hangings and Gods Eyes and I’ve bought Hula Hoops to try and use them for a group project at some stage.

So it probably will be of no great surprise for you to hear that I own a few looms?  One of them is a little bit intimidating (a floor loom, disassembled and stored) and falls into the ‘absolute bargain’ category.  I also own a peg loom (thank you husband), several tapestry frames (husband again) and a Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom that I’ve been dying to play with if only I could find the time.

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Cue hayfever and cut to the loom →

Along with the ‘complete bargain’ loom, there were several boxes of weaving yarn, warp thread, tools and equipment, which all just added to the ‘deal to good to pass up on’ feel of the transaction many years ago.  The yarn is mostly the heavy weight, rough rug weaving type of thing that makes your neck itch just looking at it.  I love the colours though and find the more than slightly rustic look of the yarn, quite appealing, I just don’t see myself wearing it.

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After selecting my three colours  and watching the Ashford How to Warp Your Rigid Heddle video on Youtube several times, I began to warp my loom.

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10 wpi’s but when it relaxed it was more like 9

At this point,  I could lie and say “I’d checked the thickness of my yarn by wrapping it round a ruler to see how many strands it took to make a inch (WPI’s) and then selected the appropriate reed – that’s the plastic bit that determines the set (lay man term – spaces) at which your warp (up and down) threads run through your finished fabric.  I didn’t though, I took the picture after.  Instead I winged it and used the 7.5dpi (I think I barely understand what this means myself, certainly not enough to explain it yet) reed that came with the loom, which is basically the one for medium thickness yarns

Having warped my loom, which took much longer than it should have, I was able at last to get on with some weaving.  I completely forgot to take photos of the process which was more experimental than anything, but happily it ended up being usable.

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I didn’t make my warp long enough for my table runner to stretch the full length of my kitchen table, because it’s purposefully over long and rustic.  If you’re wondering, my ever suffering hubby made it for me, it’s based on my dads work bench which I loved and reminds me of him every day 

The weaving was an experiment after all, even the pattern ended up being a happy accident, one which just evolved and then I repeated.

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I think it’s rather lovely, even if I do say so myself.

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Look at those tassels too (don’t look too closely at my edges please).

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I found I’d enjoyed myself so much I couldn’t resist warping up the loom again.  This time I’m using sock yarn and I’m hoping to make a scarf.

Happy Fibre Follies!

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