Delicious Dublin Dye

It seems lots of Irish are heading to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, are you going Stew? I had really hoped to go, I thought it would be a fun visit but it didn’t quite work out. I hope to hear all about it and see lots of pictures :) The Dublin Dye Company are going to be there and Dearbhla of the newly-started Blasta podcast. Check out Dearbhla’s interview with Yvonne of the Dublin Dye Company as she prepared for the festival. I’ve knit a few of Yvonne’s patterns and love them. I’ve a Blackrock vest languishing on the needles at the moment and I’m dying to knit her new sock pattern Howth. I’ve spun her roving and love it too, have you tried yours yet? I haven’t actually knit with Dublin Dye Company yarn yet despite buying a few skeins. She has also collaborated with other Irish designers to create patterns for her yarn, like the brand new Concentric Collection from Playing with Fibre. If you’re going to Edinburgh Yarn Festival definitely check them out!

I’ve blocked my Hap for Harriett and it grew hugely, which is brilliant as I was disappointed by the size when I cast off. I’ve also finished the 198 yards of heaven, knit with purple alpaca I received from my Knitmas pal. It’s blocking now in the sun, I’m pleased with how it turned out and I hope the recipient likes it. I’ve two socks knit for Greg, each sock the first of a pair. If I can finish one second sock this month and one next month then I’ll still be on track for 12 pairs this year. I also want to finish them because I’m dying to knit some socks for me for a change! I really miss my commuting time for sock knitting.

I’ve also finally cast on Greg’s first jumper! More on that next time!




Yarnista in Seattle

Seattle was the perfect yarnista holiday, exactly what I needed. I had just finished correcting the first semester exams and was looking forward to my first time off since starting the job in September. So I packed up my two sock wips, a skein of lace and the requisite patterns to accompany me. I threw in an extra skein of sock yarn ‘just in case’ I ran out. There was certainly no need for that – I should have kept the space to bring more yarn home. My plan was to relax and knit my way around the cafés of Seattle, touring the yarn shops and museums. I did have some work to do but nothing too onerous, a few hours a day.

I did my research in advance, by reading two articles from Knotions and PomPom. My biggest adventure was taking the ferry out to Churchmouse Yarns on Bainbridge island. I had checked out the Churchmouse group on Ravelry and knew this was a must-do for any fibre craft enthusiast visiting Seattle. I felt like a celebrity when people I’d contacted online came over from the office to say hi. Everyone was so welcoming and I spent half a day there chatting and knitting and admiring all the beautiful yarn. The yarn there was the absolute epitome of luxury. There were two huge antique bookcases with little baskets of yarn on the shelves. An exquisitely curated exhibition of the most rare, unique and artisan yarns. There was a huge selection of Rowan yarns, which are always lovely to behold, alongside lots of gorgeous alpaca yarns (pity I’m allergic). The Handmaiden display was just divine, with the most beautiful sample cowl. I really want to try Seasilk someday. When I saw a skein of Socks-that-Rock, though, I couldn’t put it down. Well, I put it down long enough to pop next door for a delicious muffin in the bakery. I also picked up a really cool DPN-holder and a little hook/needle tool. Knitting in the sun on the ferry back to the city topped off a wonderful day.

Ferry Sun

I read so much about the lovely neighbourhood Ballard and it had been recommended by a few Seattlites I’d met, so I hopped a bus out there one day to visit the Tea Cosy. It came highly recommended by the yarn-guides to Seattle I’d read, and with good reason. I received a warm welcome to a relaxed and friendly local yarn store. The first step was a full browse of the shop. It was overwhelming with so many beautiful yarns, many of which I had not been exposed to before. The Madeline Tosh especially had me swooning. And the people could not have been more nice! I spent half the day sitting at the round table in the window, joined by various other knitters chatting and drinking tea. It was a wonderful day. I know I said that I was going to try and knit up my lace this year, but some MadTosh Lace simply had to come home with me.

I happened by Stitches on my hunt for lunch one day. It’s a fabric and notions mecca, especially for buttons. They had a great selection of Cascade – something I really wanted to try. I was really tempted by the hand-dyed long-striping yarn, especially the Sea-hawks colourways for the Superbowl the next day. However a solid green sock yarn with 25% nylon by Cascade simply could not be refused. I came away with a great lunch recommendation too.

I visited a few other places too but these are the highlights for me. Overall it was a lovely trip, lots of knitting and tripping about. Non-yarn highlights included the Chihuly Glass Exhibition, the Pacific Science Centre and the EMP music museum.

Sneaky guest post

I’m taking advantage of an unlocked laptop to make a guest post to the blog.

Living with someone who is quite yarntacular you get quite used to
seeing balls of wool turn into nice things. Socks, jumpers, gloves,
cowls, shawls, scarves, hats in so many colours and so many styles.
Sometimes with ribbons, sometimes with beads and sometimes only getting
there through blood, sweat and tears. Figuratively I mean.
Well in most cases at least.

But as is the nature with such things time goes by and projects come
and go. This ball of fluff today is next week’s ball of yarn and next month’s
toasty gloves. Many of these projects have gone onto deserving homes near
and far. Some of the pretty awesome ones we only got to keep for a day
or two but I can still picture them just as they were. Others stayed
home and were loved and worn until they became worn but loved.
And a very few went hiding in the bottom of a drawer somewhere. Either
because they didn’t quite work out, or because they were too nice to let wear out
too quickly.

Over this time I’ve been gifted with quite a few really cool things. Mostly
socks (which are a favourite) but also hats and gloves (which are awesome -and-
keep me warm outside).

But recently we’ve been talking about taking things to the next level. It’s
a big commitment. One that I’ve been putting off for a while now, unsure if
I want to make the jump. But we’re married 5 years now, so it’s probably time.
My lovely wife is going to make me a jumper.

It’s something I’ve thought about long and hard. I’ve resisted previous offers
because there wasn’t anything I really liked. And it’s a very big ask
for something you are not sure about. Also at this stage I am under no
illusions on how much time and effort goes into these things. Cables
or no.

So what changed. Did I finally give in? Or was it social pressure from the
knitting community? No, it was something much simpler in the end.
I realised I already liked it. I realised how much I like and wear the
current knits I have. Over the last two days I’ve worn five different
hand knits. They are warm and made with love and are appreciated.
And so will the new jumper be.

But it did make me think about all these things and all the
effort that she’s put into these nice things I already have.
And now I think it’s time for payback.

It’s February now, we have all the yarn-related tools I can imagine within
arms reach (well, plus a little walking). I figure I can make something
nice for Cathy by her birthday in 7 months. This is not something I’ve
done before but I do have some advantages. Needles, books and actual yarn
chief amongst them. But also access to someone with advanced medical training.
Just in case.
So internet, what should I make ?



Lofty Lacey Goals

To keep on track with my stashdown plan it seems like I’ll be knitting a lot of lace in 2015. This will also fit perfectly with my aims to knit more for learning and enjoyment. There are a few patterns and techniques that have been a long time on my list but I’ve been too scared to try them and they keep going on the long finger. So this year I will knit 5 lace things from my deepest stash.

I’ve wanted to knit an Evenstar shawl since Stew was knitting hers, and especially after seeing it finished. I decided I wanted to knit it in a silver yarn if ever I could find the right one. Both Hedgehog Fibres silk lace in Crystal and Dublin Dye silk merino lace in Icicle were in the running, but required buying even more lace yarn. So I put it off that dream until I had knit up some of the lace I already have, which of course never happened! Then last year Stew and I did a lace swap and I ended up with the perfect silver laceweight for Evenstar. It’s Grignasco Merinosilk and I also have it in lilac. I plan to knit Aletheia in the lilac first to practice the circular shawl and knitted-on-border techniques, and to test out the yarn before starting Evenstar.

I nearly cast on Kate Davies’ Hap for Harriett when she first released it but kept dithering over which lace to choose from my stash. The three options were LHogan merino lace in a cloudy blue sky colourway, Debbie Bliss Rialto lace in a cornflower blue or Skein Queen Delectable in a dark teal/forest colour. I have finally cast it on with the Rialto lace and so far it’s going well. The garter stitch body and memorable lace chart make for perfect travel knitting and I’ve knit half of it since arriving in Seattle.

The lace skeins that were passed over for the Hap will become two of Bonny, Nefertiti wrap and Almost Ovals. My remaining lace stash of a dusky baby blue Dublin Dye alpaca silk and some wine Lhogan lace will fight it out to become the left over pattern and a Cold Mountain. Though I am still open to suggestion on those!


Casting (an eye) on 2015

I have a few aspirations, not so much resolutions, for the year ahead:

  • Knit more for enjoyment, and for me!
  • Knit the big dreams!
  • Knit the pretties!
  • Keep knitting from stash!


The last point is probably going to be the hardest, although it ties in well with the others. At this stage most of my yarn stash is single skeins of lace and sock yarn. So that’s where my focus will be this year. It’s getting very hard to knit for all occasions or people from that stock so I might need a few extra skeins here or there, but I won’t have much money for yarn so it won’t be more than absolutely necessary. I already need to buy some cream yarn for a request from my mum. She loved the cowl I made her but it seems that, like me, she’s allergic to camellid yarns like alpaca.

I really want to focus on knitting for the enjoyment of knitting. This includes knitting for the challenge it provides and for the learning opportunities new techniques bring. It also means knitting nice easy projects, like plain vanilla socks, to have something to occupy my hands when my mind is going a mile a minute. Not spending all my time on baby knits, especially for babies that never wear their knits. I do have a mini-resolution to knit 6 pairs of socks this year, or more, but that ties in with my ideals.

Finally knitting those ‘some day’ projects – starting with those lace ones I have stash for! My next post will be on these plans.

I plan to bite the bullet and knit up those beautiful skeins of stash yarn that have languished, constantly admired but never used. I’m always scared of not choosing the right pattern or not making the right thing and ‘collapsing the wave’ of possibilities for them. The truth is there’s always beautiful new yarns coming into existence and I’ll get to enjoy them, and maybe even buy and knit a few, if I’ve really made the most of the ones I have already. Also, for all that they feel ‘oh so special’ and unique I can probably find another amazing blue lace yarn sometime in the future if I really make a mess of it.

I’ve already gotten a start on this, winding my most favourite yarn that I have in stash – Hedgehog Fibres Merino Silk singles in Down by the River colourway. This was an awesome PhD present from Stew and I just love looking at it. Always cheers me up when I’m down. It’s going to be Merrick (another cheer-me-up present – this time from the lovely Laura) and hopefully a hat that fits me. The only other hat I knit that has fit me got lost/stolen on the bus only a few days after I knit it. I have three skeins so I’m going to have a matching hat/cowl/mitts set for the first time! I’m so excited! And this yarn is so gorgeous I could probably knit any misshapen lump and I’d love it to bits!

Fingers crossed I can finish the hat (and all my exam corrections) before heading off to Seattle on Sunday. I’d love to hear recommendations on Seattle, especially yarn shops, from anyone who has visited. Also are there any American yarns I should keep an eye out for?

Cathy’s Crafty Year 2014

Towards the end of 2014 I fell off the blogging wagon. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to blog. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to say – I had lots to report on between the knitting and stitching show, the dyeing workshop with Dublin Dye, Knitmas presents and a new cowlette design. It was simply that my first semester as a lecturer, settling into a new job left very little time and energy. What little I had left was spent with my family or snatching a few minutes to craft. I started in DCU within a week of G starting a new position so the whole household has been turned upside down, and housework sorely neglected! We barely got enough done to have Christmas. The coming semester my time should be split more evenly between teaching and research and I hope that means I’ll have a little time for some of my crafting goals.

Looking back on my resolutions for 2014 I’m pleasantly surprised by how many I made progress on. I planned to try some colourwork and I did – I knit Snawheid, which turned out a little small, and tried my hand at some slip-stitch colourwork techniques. I didn’t quite learn crochet nupps as planned but I did learn Irish crochet lace and broomstick crochet so I’m happy with that. I said I wanted to try my hand and test-knitting and maybe even designing. I did several test knits of my own designs, as well as 4 test-knits for others and I’ve found it’s something that I quite enjoy :) I also had two of my own designs test-knit and self-published. I’ve another design that I’m looking for test-knitters for – the Elanor cowlette from my Knitmas gift. My Knitmas gift also contained my second attempt at weaving – a hand-woven scarf of sock yarn, alpaca and sari ribbon. Weaving is a new skill I’ve tried my hand at this year, alongside sewing. I’d love to get a nice folding loom for making more scarves, maybe for Christmas next year!

I happily made my sock-knitting goal of knitting an average of a sock a month. Thankfully I had 6 pairs knit by September, including Christmas socks for G, because I’ve only knit one cuff since then! I tried lots of new things with my sock knitting -new constructions, new needle types, new heels and patterns. I hope to continue my sock-success this year. My lace knitting plans, alas, didn’t quite reach the mark. I completed only 3 lace shawls in 2014, finally finishing my Seascape shawl two years after cast on (though it still needs to be blocked.) I also finished my birthday cardigan from last year – the Talamh cardigan by Carol Feller. Despite lots of washed swatches to get gauge right and knitting a size smaller than I am it is has still somehow turned out loose and a bit baggy. Which explains why I also ran out of yarn and had to knit the sleeves 3 or 4 times before I was happy with them.

In contrast my Acer cardigan, knit over the 14 days of the Ravellenic Games, turned out wonderfully and I adore wearing it. The Ravellenic Games themselves were a fantastic experience. I loved captaining the Stashdown Ireland team, knitting away at my chosen projects and hanging out with my brilliant knit friends Stew and stripeycat. I even got to watch ice-skating! It’s a pity they won’t be held again this year!

I made much better inroads on my stash this year. I used up about 12km of yarn and bought hardly any. Which would have made a huge dent in my stash except that I was given a whopping 6km of yarn for my birthday! So I have another year of cold-sheeping ahead. It’s becoming exceedingly difficult as all that remains in my stash are single skeins of sock and lace yarn and a few odd balls. I’ll definitely have to get my lace-mojo back this year. It’s a pity lace shawls make such poor baby-gifts or I’d be doing much better on that front! I’ll have to have a think about my plans and goals for 2015 and then tell you about them!

Frantically Knitting

In the last 3 months since starting my new job I’ve gotten one sock knit as far as the heel. Plus most of my Knitmas project. Unfortunately that’s most but not all of my knitmas project. I went a bit mad and decided to try new things, in the hopes that my pal would appreciate the thought at least. But I’m really not sure I like how it’s turning out. I have so much more to do, not enough time to start something new and it all needs to be washed and dried and in the post by Monday. While my class have two exams this week – which means a LOT of corrections! Only two more hectic weeks of term left and hopefully then I’ll have some more crafting adventures to blog about. Also hopefully I’ll have some fun knitmas pictures to share. I would cross my fingers but I need every little second spare to knit and it’s pretty tricky to do with your fingers crossed! I’ve put so much thought into my package but I’m not able to realise all my plans.

A Brilliant Birthday

I had a wonderful day at Handmaid, chatting with friends, eating cake and browsing the market stall. I met so many crafty friends and acquaintances, and their children too, and put faces to the names and ravatars. I got to share the exciting ‘pleating’ moment with Úna for her ‘Folded’ jumper. I was very stash-conscious and only purchased one skein of sock yarn, and then rescued another skein later on :) I picked up two beautiful samples – a gorgeous lightweight cardigan in blue malabrigo lace and a lovely blue and green striped shawl. Both of which I’ve been wearing to work most days as they’re so warm and light. I spent a little time on the door, greeting people, and I even learned how to make loom-band bracelets! A great day out- I even enjoyed helping with cleaning up after. Unfortunately tragedy struck then when R’s handbag could not be found, with all her precious possessions inside, and hasn’t been found since. It seems it was taken :/

The day was supposed to end with dinner in my favourite Indian restaurant, but himself had never booked it! Instead he, along with my family and friends, had organised a surprise birthday party for me in my parents house! It was more of a shock than a surprise – it’s taken me this long to recover enough to blog it! I had an amazing night! I still can’t believe so many people made the effort to be there, and in secret too! Stew even flew over from Edinburgh! Even my in-laws made it over. So many friends I hadn’t seen in too long. I had so much fun. My Sister-in-Law arranged the cake – it was so cool I couldn’t cut it until everyone had a chance to take a picture! There’s actual knitted icing, with cables! And patterns and buttons and balls of yarn made out of icing. What do you think?

Cathy’s new week

What’s new with me this week?

Well, I added my second pattern Milford Cowl to Ravelry. You can see the page for it here, on the top bar. Also my Oisín Hat pattern became suddenly popular last Thursday, no idea why, and this little blog was inundated with lovely new visitors. Over 10% of our reads-to-date ever came from that one day – mind boggling. I also have a new nephew Lorcan, Oisín’s baby brother, who of course deserves a pattern too. I’m planning a vest to match the Oisín hat, but I probably won’t get around to it for a few weeks because I don’t have the right size needles and….

I’ve started a new job! I began teaching at a new university this week, thankfully one closer to home than before. So far so good, except for the lack of knitting time because of all the preparation time. And no commute knitting because I have to drive there (20mins drive versus at least 90min on two buses is a no brainer.) Hopefully once things settle down I can get a little baby knitting done, and maybe a little pattern-planning too.

I did manage to complete my Seascape shawl at last. I started it 3 years ago in 2011, restarted it a few times, and only finished it thanks to September Finishing School with the Stashdown Ireland group. I still haven’t blocked it – that’s going to take a bit of work because the dye hasn’t been properly fixed on the yarn. Every time I knit it my fingers turned blue. There’s also an inadvertent ombre-effect going on – it took me so long to knit that the start is a much lighter colour than the recently finished end. Oops! Although it’ll probably all even out when the dyes run off when I wash it.

I’m really looking forward to Handmaid Craft Day this Saturday 27th September. It’s on in Damer Hall on Stephen’s Green from 10.30am to 4.30pm; it costs just €5 entry & under 12s are free. All proceeds go to the Laura Lynn hospice for children and young adults. If you’re in Dublin it’s worth a visit. I had hoped to take a class but with the new job I couldn’t guarantee I’d make it. I had also planned to finish my Talamh cardigan in time to wear it, but with a sleeve and half still to go that’s unlikely now. It’s a pity because I wanted to have it finished within a year of casting it on, my last birthday. Still there’ll be cake at Handmaid to celebrate the end of my twenties and lots of lovely people to see. And lots of craft supplies and pretty yarn to maybe bring home.

So I’ve a new pattern, new nephew, new job, new FO and a new decade ahead of me, what’s new with you?

A Grand Gradient

Hello! It’s nice to be back after the summer break. Since last time I’ve knit a shawl, a blanket and two pairs of socks. The shawl was Lintilla, a garter stitch shawl with a ruffle, for a friend who turned 60 shortly after a very serious operation. She knits lots of baby things for other people so I wanted her to have something really nice for herself. It was knit with yarn that was a present from a friend, jitterbug in cinnamon colourway. Despite using a larger needle than recommended it still came out at shawlette size because I wanted to make it from the one skein. Otherwise I was quite happy with how it turned out, though I would use a smaller needle if doing again as the looseness took away from the ruffle effect. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of it before giving it away. I bought the whole set of similar patterns and I’m looking forward to trying hitchhiker soon.

The blanket was of course Undercover again, as a mini KAL (knit-a-long) with Stew. I am very excited to see how the finished blanket looks in Marble DK, see last week’s post for her progress picture. Mine was knit with yarn I won on the 12 shawls in 2012 group on ravelry. It was designed to knit the pattern that came with it, the Secret Garden Shawl, but I ended up ripping it out as the pattern wasn’t ‘nice enough’ for the beautiful yarn. Eventually it still needed to be knit though. It’s gradient dyed to change from a bright blue to dark blue, then to dark purple and on to a bright purple. The 6 skeins formed an even progression so it would have been best to knit them with a constant-width pattern such as a long stole (or a tunic top as I once planned) for a smooth gradient. When knit from centre-out in a circle or square the transition occurs mostly on the edge of the item, quite sharply, because the number of stitches increases dramatically as you knit. I held the yarn double as it’s fingering weight, simply changing balls alternately for a smooth change without needing to alternate for a few rows. I did run short of yarn by a few grams on the i-cord bind-off but luckily I had an end of botany lace that was fine when held double with the main yarn.

I also took some pictures of the i-cord bind-off to add to the blogpost from the previous blanket where I described how to do it. This time I didn’t go up a needle size for the bind off, though I wish I’d used a larger needle for the whole project for a bit more drape. I made the corners a little rounder, by doing only one row of plain i-cord either side of the corner stitch instead of two, as I don’t plan on blocking it strongly. In fact I haven’t blocked it at all yet! It turned out so nice that Greg declared he was keeping it :)