Sunday, 27 March 2016

Happy Easter!

I can't believe that we've already reached the end of march - maybe that's because the weather doesn't exactly feel like spring. the daffodils are out in force, but it's pretty nippy out there, lots of rain - the day before yesterday we had a storm etc... we did have 10 dry days in a row, some with lovely sunshine, but it was too short - and of course the bad weather was back in time for easter. we have our own small tradition here that I dye fresh easter eggs early on sunday morning - and hide them in the garden before breakfast. and even though Stefan is 18 now - he still wanted me to do it:) the easter bunny might not mind, but I didn't fancy going out in one of those spring downpours, so today was the first easter without that tradition - after 16 or 17 years! I think the disappointment wasn't too bad - he was out late yesterday and too sleepy to care much about anything:)
another tradition is to grow some cress - to have a nice "grass" background for the coloured eggs (of course, cress does go well with hard-boiled eggs). some daffodils and the usual flowering branches with painted eggs (blown out and decorated many years ago!) have to be on the breakfast table, too. and the knitfelted egg cozies that I only use once a year:)  
easter wouldn't be the same without daffodils! at this time of the year they grow everywhere here, some seem to pop up out of nowhere, no houses in sight, not even old ruins - so I think birds or ants must have spread the seeds for them to grow - as far as I know there are no wild growing "native" daffodils in our part of the world. these I picked as deco for today - but I leave most of them outside, esp. the dwarf varieties that don't suffer from wind damage so much. after the storm many of the longer stemmed ones are flattened to the ground - the one drawback with this flower, because once they're flattened they don't recover:(
 those little ducklings were the result of seeing a photo on pinterest... each of them decorates a cadbury's egg - and they have moved out of here and live in Berlin now. they are open at the bottom, so they can be refilled every year with a new sweet bounty! I had to hurry up when I took the photo, because the cat seemed to be veeeery interested with those newcomers in the garden!

of course I didn't only knit little ducks - I also tried out the cotton sock yarn I was given a little while back. it looks the same as woollen yarns, but the yardage is slightly less and the knitting is a bit denser on 2.5 mm needles. it feels nice and wears well, but I think one would need 2 balls for socks larger than maybe size 43!
and I only discovered in the photo that a line runs along the sock where the needles changed - I think that isn't so visible with woollen sock yarn, because it is more elastic than the cotton? the colour in the upper picture is too blue, the one on the left is a better match. I like that the leg slouches nicely - but the feet are tight enough to stay put.
but now it's time for "dinner" - a rather non-festive thing, after we ate some nice rhubarb cake and quite a few easter eggs of the chocolatey kind:) have a nice and colourful easter!

Wednesday, 24 February 2016


this is Dobby - outside, in the wind, enjoying herself as usual. she was born in our porch and lived here for over 12 years, but we had to put her down on monday:( a week before she seemed to have suffered a stroke - or side effects of a tumor, we don't know for sure. the vet thought she might improve if it had been a stroke, but after a week of getting progressively worse we had no choice after all:( now there is a Dobby-sized hole in the house - we all still call her, look for her in her favourite spots and have to get used to a one-dog household again. and we're glad that Minnie and Mr Pringles have chosen us as new family - it would be even more empty without the two of them!
and of course I did collect a lot of Dobby's fluff - so there will always be a little bit of her left - apart from our memories!

Monday, 15 February 2016

how embarrassing!

I was up early today - brilliant sunshine outside, even though everything was covered in hoarfrost. but after many grey days sunshine always gives me an instant boost, so I started to sort out a corner in the shed... where I discovered a large plastic box. I thought it was only a few bags of unspun fibres in there - but no, it wasn't ! out came this lot:
 ehm, yes, I had totally forgotten about all those yarns! most of them handspun, some handdyed commercial sock yarns... how on earth could I forgot them? I think I should knit more and spin less - at least for a while! I put them out to get rid of the moth ball smell - and now I have to think hard about what to do with them. a lot of the purple ones are from a cochineal dye session some years back. the white stuff is half wool, half silk, plied with a fine commercial silk. the black on the left is pure alpaca, some naturally "honey" mohair etc.. I blame DH, because the studio isn't finished yet - and I have to spread out all my materials:)
I also found some commercial and hand dyed sock yarns in balls - and I thought I had sorted through the lot and put everything in one box. apparently not... I was desperate for some lighter green, when I did the spring wreath - found it now, just a little bit too late:(
to change the topic - Mr Pringles wasn't too sure about that odd white stuff on the grass! you could see his doubts already, when he ran across the gravel - which normally crunches and moves, but was frozen tight this morning! so he veeeery carefully checked out this odd grass, one foot at a time - and when he noticed that it's somehow still wet, but also "crunchy" he did a mad dash across the road and up the wall on the other side:) I think cats are absolutely hilarious, when they try to avoid cold or wet feet!

Sunday, 14 February 2016

just in time....

... the weather has improved a bit, but only for a day or two! it's not only valentine's day - but my son's birthday, the 18th this time! so this time it wasn't only birthday cake and candles, but a pub/bar party beforehand - and I am quite glad that all that is over, the last few days were rather... hectic:) the cake was a bit iffy as well (that's the result of trying a new recipe without testing it before:() - but it tastes great, even if the icing was a bit rough looking.

when I haven't been trying to prepare everything, pack up presents, make cakes... I am knitting, what else:) I started to work with the purple cotton blend sock yarn - which knits up very nicely, even though I had to rip back the heel once.
it is very slightly thicker than wool yarn, but not by much. I wanted the leg to be slouchy, but I didn't decrease for the heel the first time. only when I had knitted half the foot I realized that this would be far too baggy to sit well, so I frogged and decreased by several stitches - now it fits like a glove. I like slouchy leg parts (I wear those thocks only in birkies!), but not slipping feet! the first sock is finished - the second on the needles....
I began with the soft donegal tweed vest for myself - in the hope that I can wear it before the summer. but it knits quite slowly - no surprise really because it's done with 2.5 mm needles... on the other hand - the last few years weren't so hot that a sleeveless vest couldn't have been worn on most days:)
as you can see Mr Pringles is very keen to take a look at the camera - curiosity......!

I started with bead crocheting again, but I have problems with this one. the last one was done with the same beads but finer thread, which worked well. I thought I might get away with a slightly bigger thread, but the result is too loose - the yarn is visible between the beads:( I will try a finer hook first, but I think I'll have to re-string the whole lot and start again with finer thread:( couldn't be bothered to do that during the last few hectic days, so the tray is waiting for a nice, quiet day.... I had planned to work a matte black necklace with lovely gold beads - but the "cheap" beads from the show in Dublin turned out to be so uneven that they're useless for a project like this:( which proves that cheap doesn't always stay cheap:(
and I am trying out a "new" (= new to me at least) crochet pattern I found online. several years back I bought a large cotton blanket in waffle weave. I love that blanket, but I wouldn't be able to weave something like that myself. when I saw this waffle pattern in crochet, I thought I might give it a try. it's super simple (only dc/tr cr) and works up pretty quickly as well. I am going to make a few wash cloths/wash mittens first, but I think I might make a larger blanket with some of the very fine cotton threads I have been storing for several years. the only downside - the blanket will be quite heavy in pure cotton - but I don't really want to buy a blend - the idea was to use up some of my stash:) it feels very nice though, the 3D effect of the pattern seems to form pockets of air that make the fabric warm and cosy - just like my woven one!

the last picture is Mr Pringles again - the only way to catch that rascal properly is to work with the zoom - but you can see that she was just starting to run closer! I think the dangling little loop on the side of the camera is what the cat finds so fascinating - he has to come running as soon as he sees me with the camera! which makes for quite blurry photos most of the time:) maybe about 1 in 10 is useable - the rest just tends to show black and white streaks...

Sunday, 7 February 2016

new year, more blogging?

well, I had planned to do more blogging, but that was not to be. shortly before christmas I started to write a new entry - but before I could finish and add pix - our computer was attacked by ransomware - which made me loose all pictures and files that I didn't save elsewhere - quite a lot, because I neglected moving things to other media - and got punished for this! we refused to give in and pay, which of course meant that everything that was encrypted was lost:( by now the "box" is working again, but of course all the old files remain lost. I was furious (still am, though less vocal about it:) - but decided to try and find a positive side to this: loosing all the stuff means that I don't have to sort through the whole collection to decide what to keep, what to print etc...
of course it also means that I lost the pictures of the stuff I made during the last few months, so what you see here is only the very recent stuff that was still in the camera.
Because I don't have a local yarn shop, I tend to buy my sock yarns in batches. this is the latest haul. the red and red/green/white is a special edition from here - I liked the free pattern provided, so decided to order some for a sock knitting friend in germany and for myself - we can share the red!  
I also bought some sock yarn with angora, two balls of sock yarn with cotton (not for socks, but for baby "dolls") and a sock yarn, where the photo on the homepage looked more purple and the name - something with grapes or wine? - sounded more purple as well:) turned out more blue than anything, but never mind, it will be used eventually... just not for myself I'd say!
the yarn with angora was used to knit bed socks as a gift - very cushy, soft and warm - though maybe less durable than normal sock yarn? 
before christmas I had made a seasonal wreath as a gift - but of course the photo of that one is lost. never mind, I have to admit that I like this one for spring much better anyway:) I tried to find spring flowers, daffodils, bluebells, forget-me-nots, a fat bumble bee and of course - living in ireland - a shamrock won't go amiss. the idea is to make other flowers that can be added - or exchanged depending on the seasons (sunflowers, poppies, fuchsias etc. come to mind). the flowers are only attached with pins, easy to exchange. I have quite a lot of sock yarn in storage, in colours suitable for flowers, but I think I have to dye a nice green or two myself, because I haven't found suitable greens - I don't want to pay a fortune for indie-dyed yarns, when I only need a few meters for a leaf or two!
this project took some time to finish - a denim vest for my grandnephew. it turned out to be a bit too large, but I am quite sure he will grow into it:) the yarn is real denim yarn = will change colour during washing and wearing. the problem wasn't in the knitting - I just couldn't find a suitable zipper that opens at the bottom, in the right length and colour. eventually I admitted defeat and asked a friend in germany to get one for me...  
I have made quite a few wrist warmers in similar style. for the first one I followed the pattern "elf clobber" , but with every pair I made I changed it slightly. the red is a simple k2/p2 rib, alpaca dyed with lac, the grey is a mix of silk and merino. this is the last in the series, and here I left out the crochet bit altogether to replace it with ruffles, simple increases of purl sts in between the k2 from the rib. the grey is finished with an attached i-cord, to keep the edge from rolling up.
may I introduce you to another adoptee in this household? before christmas, on a dreary, wet, windy and cold day DS came home late from school - carrying a little bundle in his bag, a bedraggled, wet and half-starved kitten! of course we couldn't just throw the little fellow out, so my son had to cycle back to town in the yucky weather to by cat food for kittens! that has been about 3 months ago - see the result:) after a bit of debate we named him Mr Pringles (part of it is from "the green mile" and the mouse mr jingles, the other part from my sons's favourite snack - pringles). he is quite affectionate, loves cuddles and purrs as if he had swallowed a small car:) of course he has silly ideas and is up to no good when bored - but he's so cute with it that it's hard to be annoyed at him for long! I did learn my lesson though and started to pack away beads, tools, yarn balls etc. when pausing in my work! too much temptation for a cat teenager maybe?:)
I also joined the online guild of weavers, spinners and dyers again. the land group, where we meet every second month, is alright, but doesn't give me much in the way of inspiration and certainly not much in learning new techniques. we seem to cater mostly for beginners of all kinds of crafts these days - and given that I dabble in most of them myself, I rarely find anything that interests me and provides a challenge. so I am looking forward to several of the courses online during the coming year - and hope that I'll find enough time to try my hand at some new things!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

the "two entries a year" blog....

hello again! long time no see, I know... they say that the days are getting shorter and it's true! somehow there are never enough hours in a day:) by the time I've finished everything I meant to do (and often not even that!) the day is over and I haven't blogged - again. so - I'll try to be better!
anyway, of course I've finished many things during the past few months. I didn't exactly count all the socks I finished, but there must have been at least 10 or more pairs... some went out so fast that I didn't even take pictures. I did a few for myself, tried out a few new patterns and one new cast-on.
difficult to see here, but I started by doing the shells on top of the rib. it's done with a cast-on over a crochet hook, easy to do, found it somewhere on pinterest. the green sock on the left has a pattern that's called laburnum, and the "christmassy" looking sock on the right - is from the same book (Charlene Schurch), but I forgot the name:) both hand-dyed yarns; I think the green was done with food dyes, and the red with the colour crabapple plus leftovers from Gaywool Dyes. 
I am also working on a men's cardigan, made from soft donegal (from Donegal Tweed Company in Kilkarra). the pattern is from the new book by Anna Zilboorg, splendid apparel. there are lots of different patterns, all shown "naked" and also embroidered, the main feature of the book. I will finish the pattern first and see how much adornment via embroidery I'll add - it's for a man, so shouldn't be overly much decorated! I did a gauge, which I often skip, but I thought that the pattern will draw in a bit - and it does!
I also used up the yarn blend yak/silk, dyed with lac, which I originally used for knitting the Morvarch shawl. it was a bit too smooth/silky to my liking for the morvarch, but it drapes perfectly for the "rosered" cowl from "enchanted knits". and it's very soft and lovely to wear. 
I wasn't sure if I could finish another small cowl with the little bit of leftover - but it worked. I had about 5 m left, when I did the cast-off on this feather-and-fan cowl. oddly enough this is my favourite just now - not quite as close to the neck, good for the not yet very cold days on the bicycle:)
this is the pattern "olive garden", free on ravelry. it drapes beautifully, esp. due to the many beads that are used in the design. I added two pattern repeats to make it a bit larger and it is nice to wear - and very nice to knit! the only drawback to the pattern is that the last row (crocheted!) takes ages - because of all the added beads. but it's worth all the work, I think! 
I also started to use up some of the "tons" of leftover bits of sockwool. I quickly got hooked on the beekeeper's quilt pattern, lots of little hexagons, filled with polyfill. I didn't think of a use for them at first, but suddenly realized that they'll make nice covers for my garden chairs. they are washable, but soft and squishy, nice to sit on - and use up bits and pieces. I need about 10 m for each and it takes approx. 20 minutes to finish one hexie. bit by bit the bag filled - and after about 100+ hexies plus a bit of sewing and an attached i-cord all around....
.... the pillows were finished:) in the meantime two more bags of sockwool bits have arrived, so that I'll probably have enough to start a small cover/blanket from it. I think I'd sort the colours a bit though, less higgledypiggledy, more colour coded, maybe mostly blues? I don't have enough of purple sock yarns for a big project:)
 I also finished a table mat in EPP. the recipient loves ox-eyed daisies, so I picked out different whites (some pure white, some with white-on-white prints), some yellow/orangey tones and the green/white/yellow base fabric. I didn't fussy-cut the background, but I did try to have the pattern match a little bit, to avoid odd cut-offs. after finishing the top, I made a ring out of hexies in background fabric, which followed the edge pattern. when folded over, it makes a nice edge, instead of a regular binding. another thing I found on pinterest:) there's no quilting again - I just knotted embroidery floss into the yellow middles to fuse the thermolam and the background fabric to the top. but for some reason blogger doesn't allow me to push the photo to the left, like the rest... maybe that's my punishment for not blogging for so long?:)
anyway - that's enough for now, I think. I hope to blog more regularly again now that monsoon season is upon us again!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

still no sign...

... of spring:( but the sun is shining, which makes winter more bearable, I guess. there wasn't much snow last night, just a sprinkle, but icy roads are never far away - which means that I am chickening out of cycling to town:) the whole week is supposed to be fairly dry, just a few snow showers here and there and sunny intervals - but the Nephin (806 m high!) is covered with a white blanket. it looks very close in clear weather, but as a matter of fact it's more than 60 km away! I've been there once, but never climbed up - but when snowfall is threatened we always look out the back to see if the Nephin is covered. if it's white - we might get some snow as well:)
and in the sunshine I could finally take a few pix that weren't too far off the real colours.
the sweet pea jacket has reached its new owner - and apparently it fits, so phew:)
the "knubbelchen" is a small knitted "doll", and because there are no parts that could be swallowed, it's perfect for the chewing stage, where anything and everything gets covered in dribble:) easily washable - like the cardie, which is spun and knitted from superwash wool.
in the details you can see the sweet pea seeds (bobbles) and a little attached tendril on top of each pod. I just couldn't resist the pattern, it's by Mary Scott Huff, one of my favourite knitting designers (famous for a lot of colourwork...). should I ever knit it again, I'd change the design though - it was difficult to find suitable ribbons and I don't really like the ones much, that I finally attached. or maybe I'll hunt for the perfect ribbon first - and paint and spin the yarn afterwards?  
this is a work in progress, but I'll be finished soon. the shawl has a very interesting cable pattern in the middle and a bit of lace at the edges, but other than that the part in between is worked in stockinette = very tv suitable:) the yarn is gorgeous, soft and silky at the same time - I am looking forward to seeing the pattern blocked out! 
 this is one of my cones of kilkarra tweed again - without flash the colours are much more accurate! I think this will be the yarn for my next project - I am just not sure whether to knit cables or ribs or plain or....  I think a few book browsing sessions are in order:) it knits up pretty quickly and the tweed colours make knitting more interesting than with just plain yarn.
those two might be around for a long time! the plan is that double knitted cardigan/jacket for myself... but I haven't decided yet about a pattern. ornamental? flowers? more browsing sessions coming up....but I already know that it will take me ages, because I usually have to interrupt stuff for myself to make gifts etc.  
gardening ist still on the back burner with the snow and ice, but of course we have to feed the birds, esp. in this weather! unfortunately magpies, crows and probably also rats try to escape with the fat balls I hung up in the branches! all I found was the ripped netting... when I saw this idea, I thought I might make my own. no recycled wire cage in stash here, but we had enough strong wire to wind our own. I push the netting over the bottom end of the wire spiral and fix the one on top with a little plant peg. has worked fine so far, though the shop ran out of fat balls last week:( to give them a bit more than just seeds I made my own mix of fat and seeds etc... - and filled coconut shells with it. the first one went down a treat - the second one vanished over night - again (just like the fat balls)! I think it must be a rat, because I doubt that birds could snap through plastic covered wire to free the shell! to avoid any more rat parties under the trees I found a different spot - with only vertical, overhanging branches... unless rats can fly or climb up trees hanging off branches - it should be safe! I did find the emptied shell - so I can try again with another batch. luckily (in that case, though I love watching them!) we don't have any squirrels - no doubt they'd laugh at my attempts to keep the birdfeeders safe:)