Jewelery Making Workshops - Weeks 5,6 and 7

I haven't posted any pictures of the last three jewelery making workshops so thought I better catch up. I've been busy making my own jewelery at home in addition to the classes. I like it a lot as it's very fast to design and make a piece of jewelery.

Week 5 - Charm Style Jewelery

In this class we made lots of charms which we then attached to a chain using jump rings. Making the charms is a lot of fun. Choosing the beads and the order to put them in takes a while though. I turn magpie as I try to choose my beads. It's usually best if I pick a colour scheme or theme or else I'd be there all evening trying to pick them out. When we had the beads picked out we set to work putting them on head pins and bending the wire into eye loops. The eye loops were then attached to the chain using jump rings. I hadn't used jump rings before and found them pretty fiddly to open and close properly.

I went for a black theme for the bracelet and ear rings and millefiori beads for the necklace. They are lovely to wear and jangle when you move.

The Bracelet and Ear Rings


Week 6 - Spiral Cuff

In this class we made a cuff using memory wire and a spiral wire tool. The spiral tool was used to wind wire into curled sections. The beads and pearls were then threaded on three pieces of memory wire using spacers. This was pretty difficult since the memory wire doesn't want to do what you want it to do. The cuff looked great at the end though.

Week Seven - Get Jiggy Jewelery

The jiggy jewelery class was a lot of fun. Mostly because I got to bash wire with a hammer. The jiggy board is used to wind wire into patterns. Then the fun part, bashing the wire to set the pattern. We then connected all the pieces into a bracelet. We also made ear rings. In the class the website Wig Jig was recommended and they seem to have loads of free project ideas.

Next week is the last class. I'll be sad when the course is over, it's been great and I've learned so much. The stuff I make myself looks so much better now that I have the knowledge and tools.

Cowl Up, Cowl up

At the knitting and stitching show I bought a lovely skein of hand- spun, hand-dyed silk from Di Gilpin. I want it to turn into a lovely cowl for my Mum.

I love cowls. They are one of the very best things to knit. I always advise beginners to knit cowls. A few of my friends have taken up knitting and they usually try a scarf first. If you are a beginner I'm sure you get massively bored and just give up knitting altogether as you struggle to finish a scarf. Cowls are knit in the round, knit up quickly and give you a chance to try different skills like lace and cables. Then when you finish you have a very useful and stylish end result. I wear my moebius cowl all the time.

So back to the silk, I thought that it would be lovely made into a lacy cowl. So first I tried the Ridged Lace Cowl which looks lovely. But when I knit up a repeat of the pattern I decided I didn't like it so much. The silk is variegated in colour and the yarn is quite thick and thin. So it didn't work with this pattern which is a pity.

So then I went searching for something more suitable. Something even more airy and lacy might do but then that wouldn't make a great cowl. I then happened on the Darkside Cowl which I thought fitted the bill. It looked as if it would show off the colours in the yarn. So I tried it and so far I'm really happy with it. When it's finished I'll put up the photos.

New Dog, Brew Dog

I can't really connect this to brewing or knitting or crochet but anyway here's the news. We got a new member of our house today. We adopted a dog from Meath Dog Pound. We saw him on the website and I went to see him today. He didn't bark like the other dogs but he came over to me and gave me the paw. What a great dog. I brought him home and after a quick garden inspection he seemed happy with his new home.

Have a search for breweries with dog in the name, there are loads of them. The Drunken Duck Inn calls all their beers after their dogs. So now it feels like we have a proper home brewery with a dog around. I hope the hamster doesn't mind too much!

Belfast Beer and Cider Festival, King's Hall, Belfast, November 2008

The Belfast Beer and Cider festival organised by Camra Northern Ireland was held in the King's Hall in Belfast. We drove up and after some getting lost we got to the hall. There was a massive selection of beers on offer. I didn't get to taste that many though. I also had a cold sore so couldn't take any sneaky tastes of anyone else's beer which wasn't so good.

The Irish Craft Brewer table had a good showing of people including The Beer Nut and Adeptus and many others. If you want some proper reviews of what the beers were like you should check out their blogs. There was much fun beer nerding, discussing and reviewing the beers throughout the afternoon. It's not often you get to talk beer without people thinking you are a bit mad.

I seemed to be having a bad beer juju day. I just didn't love any of the beers I tried. I started off with a Dark Star Hophead which I thought didn't have the carbonation to carry off the hops it had. I had the Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby which was nice but I found it hard to get through the half pint due to a clove/cough medicine type flavour. I went for a lighter beer after that, Valhalla White Wife, this was a perfectly passable real ale.

Then it was the Mayfields Auntie Myrtle. I was a little concerned about what happens when Myrtle* and Anti Myrtle collide. Would a massive annihilation take place that would wipe out the hall and all the real fans?

(*On Irish Craft Brewer my username is Bog Myrtle)

I took the plunge. And was rewarded with a fruity strong ale that tasted a bit like toffee. It had that same cough medicine taste that I had just discovered that I didn't like towards the end of the glass though.

After this I had some Hook Norton Hooky Dark. I liked this dark balanced drink. I met someone who worked in Hook Norton once and the production of this beer sounds very old school and interesting. They ferment in traditional open wood tanks and use a steam engine to power the brewery.

This was a lot of halves for me so I finished up with a Hanby Golden Honey. This would have been lovely but I think it suffered from being cask conditioned. It wasn't fizzy enough to lift up the lovely honey flavour and make it stand out. It tasted a bit too much like mead for my liking. I love still mead but in a beer a flat honey taste isn't so good.

It was then off to see Ireland get beaten in the rugby. And after that a random trip around Belfast in a micra that involved chips and then a pretty crazy birthday party of a friend from Armagh whose accent I can't understand.

The Session

This month The Session asks What's your favourite beer and why? This is a really hard question. I like lots of different beers, my faourite can change with the seasons and my mood. When talking about a favourite beer it's tempting to go for something really unusual and say it's your favourite to impress people. I'd be inclined to pick a beer I love but sometimes these can be strong beers that I can only have one of. I should go for something I drink on a regular basis. So by that definition my favourite beer would be Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Pale ales are one of my favourite styles of beer. To me they should be well balanced, tasty and easy to drink. This doesn't has to mean dull though. Sierra Nevada pale ale is all the above but it also adds a lovely fruity flavour which I assume is from the yeast. Not all beer has to be crazy and out there. Sometimes you want something solid and tasty to drink. And this beer is it.

Knitting and Stitching Show, RDS, Dublin, October 2008

On friday last I headed to my first knitting and stitching show. It's organized and run by Twisted Thread. I heard from people that last years show wasn't great, there wasn't enough knitting and there were many irrelevant stands. I don't know about that but this year there was loads to see and I spent the entire day in a wooly whirlwind.

First off I went for some coffee to give me a caffeine boost. Then I did a quick tour around all the stands. There were loads of them and I think even after the day there were some I didn't see. The thing I really wanted to see was the Crochet Coral Reef so up I went to the balcony. I have seen photos of the reef but they don't do it justice. I got talking to the lovely girls who were looking after the reef. I met Stitch Lily in the flesh. We had a good chat while I finished crocheting my bit of coral for the reef. She's a lady with loads of great ideas.

That was enough relaxing the shopping had to begin in earnest! First off I found the This Is Knit stand which looked as good as the shop. In the bargain bin I found a lovely skein of
Araucania cotton ulmo. This will be turned into something for my Mum who is allergic to wool. She says even cashmere or alpaca irritates her. I also wanted something really special to make her a cowl for christmas. I found Di Gilpin's stand and while looking at her beautiful designs I discovered she also had yarn for sale. I fell in love with the hand spun, hand dyed silk. It's so shimmery and the colours are iridescent. The photo doesn't really do it justice. I think this will do nicely made into a lacy cowl for my Mum, she deserves it.

For myself I got some alpaca in a lovely grey which I think may become more handwarmers or gloves. You can never have enough gloves. I also got some lovely kilcarra tweed to make into a hat for the husband. I love kilcarra, the colours are lovely and all go together really well. I got the brown in This Is Knit and the orange from the lovely Stephanie of The Yarn Room. I got talking to her at her lovely stand. This was her shops first year at the Knitting and Stitching show. I wish her the best of luck and hope she'll be there for many future shows.

She had some lovely roving so when I decide I want to spin a bit more I know where I'll be heading.

At the show there were many artists and exhibitions of work. Most artists didn't want photos taken so I can't show you any of their work. Also since my camera serves as my memory aid I can't even remember the names of many of them which is a pity. I'm not sure not allowing photos is a good thing as maybe some online promotion would help artists. I suppose my photos wouldn't capture the essence of the work but a link to their site might help.

There was lots of very inspiring and different work. I was very taken with Anita Bruce and her wire knitted plankton. I have a big thing for emergence and why things take one form and not another. So I was very interested to see this. The wire creatures are very delicate and beautiful.

Another fun exhibition was Searching for Pearls. The artist (whose name I can't remember) had what looked like a button shop set up with countless jars of buttons. You could rearrange the buttons in the jars and then lock the jar so it couldn't be rearranged again with a star sticker. I met someone from my Stitch and Bitch group while rearranging jars of buttons so I went for lunch with her.

After all those buttons I felt the need to buy some. I found a lovely stall where one could fill a bag with buttons for four euro. I crammed two bags with as many buttons as would squish in. Don't all the colours look nice?

I stocked up on beading supplies at the show as well. I'm enjoying the Beads and Bling course and I have lots of things I'd like to make at home so I needed some tools. I got a good deal from the Totally Beads stand. I was especially pleased with the pliers set. I got some tubes of beads and wire. I may make some wirework pieces with them or else use wire crochet to make the pieces. I'll see which looks nicer.

Upstairs in the RDS were the stands of the guilds. I loved the Feltmakers Ireland stand with the red themed pieces. The Irish Guild of Spinners and Weavers were there too. I loved the spinning class I took so who knows maybe next year I'll do another more serious course. There was also the Braiding Society from whom I bought a braiding kit.

Now I better stop rabbiting on before this becomes the longest post ever. The rest of my photos of the day can be seen here. Needless to say it was a great day out. Plenty to see and buy. Recommended.

Jewelery Making Workshops - Week Four - Swarovski Crystal Ball

In week Four of the jewelery making course we made a Swarovski Crystal Ball using lovely shiny crystals. The ball is stitched with invisible cord. It's hard to figure out at first. I got very confused until it finally clicked with me what I was supposed to be doing. I think the result is worth it. With practice these wouldn't be so hard to make and they look amazing. I like this green and blue colour combination. I think it would look well in smoke and black crystals as well.

Ceangaltas Mittens

I mentioned before that I was hoping to make a few projects from Knitting New Mittens and Gloves. Here's the finished Ceangaltas mittens.

They were made using Lamb's Pride worsted in wild violet for the main body and amethyst for the trim. I made the trim using a french knitter instead of making an i-cord as in the pattern. They are very warm and snug. I like that they look like gauntlets.