Saturday, 20 April 2013

the last batch - for now

 this truly is the rest of my "new" books (do they still count from christmas?:) and I have to admit that several of them fall under "not strictly necessary"... I try not to ask for too many coffee table books, instead go for those with  new techniques. there's only so much shelf space (or rather: by now there's plenty of lack of space:), so I should really use it wisely. this is one of the books that is very nice to look at - but not absolutely necessary if you can make up your own patterns. I do like quite a few of the projects, but I don't think I'd do any of them for myself without change. judge for yourself... unfortunately one of the most beautiful patterns isn't on show - it's a "bridal cardigan" in white, with pink and green inlay and lace at the sleeve bottoms and along the lower edge. not for me, that's for sure - but gorgeous to look at:)
 when I saw the announcement for the book I was very keen on this one. another book about colourwork. this is in german, but the same book is available in english by now (I just couldn't wait any longer - for some reason the english translation took ages to be published). the knitting patterns are inspired by medieval murals in swedish churches. sounds odd, but the patterns are nice! a preview for the english book is here. the one odd thing about the projects is that nearly every pattern has bits in odd colours that don't really go with the main colours - at least for my taste. easily rectified though, no reason not to like the book:)
 and yes, another one about colour knitting:) obviously I do like knitting with several colours... this one is definitely more a technique book. all colour knitting techniques are described in some detail, plus there are nice patterns in it, too. I have to say though that it doesn't quite match up to my colour knitting "bible" by Margaret Radcliffe. that's not to say that it is a bad book - it's just not as in-depth as Radcliffe's book. on the plus side it does contain more complete projects (pillows, garments etc.) - and a preview is available here.
one not (only) about colour knitting:) the odd one out...  when I put it on the list I wasn't sure about the contents, I just found the under title "colour, structure and design" interesting. and the book gives plenty of ideas for this - if you're into making up your own patterns this should be interesting for you. but when you hunt for complete patterns to follow - you'll find that pretty much all the garments in this book are worked in modular style! I am not necessarily a fan of this, but I think some of the ideas the author shows can be used for "normal" (ie not modular) knitting as well. and she gives plenty of information about how to construct knitted fabric for a project, lots of knitted pattern samples, too. definitely a keeper...
another odd one out - I received this book in an exchange:) I like doing exchanges once in a while; you get rid of something you don't need any longer for something you want (and hopefully also use at some stage!). because I've planned to do some more rigid heddle weaving eventually, I was looking for a book that gives more ideas about how to add patterns to "plain weaving". Jane Patrick is well known in weaving circles and the book didn't disappoint me! I think I could spend a very long time trying out all the different ways to add pattern to fabrics on a simple loom. given that this is most likely the furthest I'll ever go in weaving, I think I can put this book to good use....
the last one - for now:) I have plenty of crochet patterns here and there in mixed craft books, but I lacked a single "encyclopedia" with all the basic information I might need. this fills the gap. all the basics of how-to are well covered, also plenty of separate patterns - plus a completed project for each chapter. those aren't necessarily sensational, but I wanted the book more to have an overview, something to check when I need to know something and don't want to hunt around on the net. the book has been revised and updated and I think it's well worth the investment.
those are my last books on the list - but never fear, I am sure I'll put a few on the wish list for my birthday:) can't help it, I am a book addict!
btw - the mystery of the missing fire pix is solved. not satisfactorily - but solved nevertheless. it wasn't a hacker - it was DS, who put up his own fire pictures - and deleted mine in the process:( the annoying thing is that I took the trouble to dig out the tripod to do the night pix properly - his are all wobbly and out of focus:(  teaches me a lesson... hide away all your pix in folders straight away - and hope for the best!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

stormy weather

our weather has changed a lot. from cold, but dry to april showers - and storms! I don't mind the showers so much, but three storms in three days is a bit much at this time of the year! all my daffodils are flattened - and the lovely tulips, who looked perfect just a few days ago (see header) are shreddered, some broke off and the rest of them look so bedraggled that I don't think they'll recover. and my spring bulbs in the front garden look really odd now. they have full-sized flowers on very short stalks - their reaction to the cold and strong winds maybe? keep your head down and you might survive:)
 on tuesday I was invited to a "hunt for wild garlic" trip - and luckily we didn't wait until wednesday after all. it was still a bit windy, but mostly sunny - quite a nice day. in contrast to wednesday, where we had one shower after the next plus the 3rd storm!
we didn't only pick lots of wild garlic, we also found a few nice plants in a local nursery. I hadn't found any muscari in our local shop, so I snatched up this little pot, when I saw it. isn't it a lovely blue?
the skein beside it is the first batch of the teeswater I dyed on easter sunday. the colours have blended well and I chain-plied it to use as sock yarn. the teeswater fibres give a lustrous, very strong yarn, but they don't fill out very well, so I am not sure that they will be too cozy to wear... time will tell! not much good if the yarn keeps well - because they are itchy to wear:)
 after a lot of debate about what to do with our lemon harvest (and yes, they do grow in ireland - but only inside or rather in an unheated glass house) the owner of the lemon tree asked for lemon jelly (marmelade?). so I peeled three of the lemons thinly, cut the peel into the tiniest strips and sliced one nearly ripe, very small lemon. I used jam sugar and made a jelly including the peel/sliced lemon - and ended up with a little more than one jam jar full. it's really delicious - not as sweet as most jams, just right on a piece of (slightly burned:) toast! I also used the peel of the other lemons to make lemon sugar - nice for baking etc. so we used up all our lemons to the fullest - apart from the bitter white skins inside:) I have to admit I added the juice of 2 "normal" lemons though - because I was afraid I might not even fill one single jam jar....
I picked quite a big heap of garlic leaves, but just before we left I found a recipe in a german gardening magazine: pickled garlic buds. my own plants are still quite small, no buds in sight yet - but I managed to pick a small bowl full to try this out. the closed buds are put into sea salt for 2-3 days to draw out the water. afterwards the salt is rinsed off and they are pickled in a vinegar/herb/spices mix. they are supposed to be very tasty after a few weeks - we'll see about that! like capers really, just bigger in size.
I also wanted to show you photos of a big fire in the bog a few days ago. someone apparently took advantage of the long, dry spell and lit a fire in the dried out bog. it was sunday night and we watched for quite some time how the fire grew bigger and bigger until it stretched all along the little river in the valley:( this wasn't an isolated incident, we've had bog fires all over ireland during the end of the dry spell! the fire brigades were stretched to the max trying to keep it under control, but it made no sense to call them out here, because it is next to impossible to reach the area down there and there are no houses in the vicinity anyway. but it does destroy a lot of the wildlife and I don't understand why people light the fires in the first place. nobody is cutting turf down there anymore - I suppose somebody might have dumped rubbish and tried to "hide" this by lighting the fire:(
to cut a long story short - I am absolutely sure that I uploaded all the fire pix - but apparently my computer didn't like the fire either and "ate" all my pictures:( I hunted through every folder - but they're gone:( maybe the pyromaniac is also a hacker and took my pix????very mysterious....

Monday, 1 April 2013

Happy Easter

I can't believe that it's april already - though the weather still doesn't let up. windier than the last few days - still as cold and unfriendly as it was.... yesterday morning I hoped that DS might be too old for an easter egg hunt outside - he may be a cool teenager, but with stuff like that  he still behaves like a five year old:) luckily Dobby is too lazy now to "help" with the egg hunt - when she was younger you could always hear her successes - loud crunching meant that she had found an egg:) when I see all the work people go through to colour their eggs I have a bad conscience - but I don't like cold boiled eggs, so I have to do the job right before breakfast on easter sunday. not enough time to go fancy with tights, leaves etc. - just enough to use food colours and a simple dip:
 I put some food colourings into a mug, add a bit of water and some vinegar and dye the hot, just-boiled eggs for maybe 2 minutes. the yellow needs a bit more of the dye, because all the eggs I can buy here are brown. and I never get proper purples - they always turn out brown with a purple tinge:) luckily we found all the eggs - a few years ago we missed one and much later, when Michael cut the grass he hit it with the mower - you wouldn't believe the disgusting smell! the dogs were delighted though....
 the leftover dyes work well on wool - this is teeswater top that I "painted" and steamed after breakfast....
 and to prove that the lemon tree didn't only do one lemon (and to make you envious:)  - my whole harvest:) for now.... the last one is still a bit green - but what I find odd is that apparently all the fruits ripen now - even though some are still extremely small. we discussed our first pickings for some time - and decided to do a marmelade with it..... they are untreated, so there's no problem with using the peel in it.
on saturday we had a group meeting with the Connacht Textile Crafters again. the demo this time was the making and decorating of felt beads. not the usual round felt balls; you first make the bead from a piece of dyed felt (like the paper beads kids make), roll it up into different shapes and then start decorating. with metallic yarns, fine wires, beads etc... I am not really a jewelry buff, so I decided to skip making a necklace - and just made two beads, for a pair of earrings. I finished the first, but ran out of time for the second. I still have to do the embroidery and put everything together, but I can do this at home, because I took some materials with me. other than that I was extremely unproductive at the meeting!:( I already know that I never finish much, but making a single crochet hexagon must be the absolute low point for me:( and even though they are extremely simple to make - I even managed to choose a wrong colour once:) maybe I shouldn't take anything at all and just chatter and watch and do nothing at all?