Link to this post at new aranbrew.com site. Please update links and rss feed readers, thanks!
Here's my latest crochet creation, it's a dinky little headband with a flower on. I was in Penneys the other day and they have loads of headbands which are just a bit of elastic with a fancy flower on it. I thought I could do something similar in yarn.
I mentioned at the very end of this post that I was trying out Aoibhe's Rasta Kitty hat. I'm using mini mochi yarn and while it's supposed to fingering weight I think it's a lot lighter than the yarn used in the pattern so it was turning out more like a beany than a floppy beret and I want a floppy beret. When I ripped it back I was left with the grey band that was the brim of the hat and I thought it could be given a new life as a headband. I crocheted a little flower using the grey yarn and a contrasting purply pink yarn and sewed it on. I think it looks quite well. I must make more of these as they are quick and look great. I might even write up the pattern too.
I'm off on my holidays on Thursday. We're off to the Passy/Chamonix area of the Alps in France. We're getting the ferry and driving through France. There was a bit of drama this week as I have some sort of lung infection and I had really bad chest pain. I then became allergic to the antibiotics the doctor gave me which isn't surprising as I've reacted to all the antibiotics I've ever taken. A trip to the A&E yesterday confirmed I have nothing major wrong. I still have other stuff that needs to be checked out so the battle with the Irish health system and waiting goes on. The A&E doctor was very nice and she is also a mountaineer so she gave me some good advice and most importantly told me to go on holidays. I may have to take it a bit easier than planned. Sitting in a nice house in France knitting and looking at mountains while eating mountains of cheese still sounds good to me. I've even discovered there is a Phildar yarn store near where we're staying.
Today I've been figuring out what knitting to bring on holiday. I may have no other packing done but I know what knitting I'm bringing, my priorities are straight! I'm going to knit the Gaia shoulder hug shawl (Ravlery Link) using a ball of Noro sock. It was either that or Damson by Ysolda using my Malabrigo sock yarn. I think the Gaia is a bit easier and I won't have to be constantly looking at the pattern so that swung it. I'm also bringing the scribble lace shawl which is easy mindless knitting so I should be able to finish it. I'll bring along my spindle as you can always find time for some spindling. I'm also taking my knitting without tears by Elizabeth Zimmerman so I can buy yarn to make something from it. Why? Check out Knitting Elizabeth, a blog where Irish knitters are knitting their way through the Elizabeth Zimmerman books. I'm hoping to join in and maybe even design my own jumper.
Talk to you all when I get back and happy knitting.
Link to this post at new aranbrew.com site. Please update links and rss feed readers, thanks!
August 31, 2010 at 12:53 PM
Yvaine Labels: Craft, Finished Objects, Handspun, Knitting, Spinning, WIPs | 0 comments»
Link to new aranbrew.com site.
I love Neil Gaiman. Though you guys already know this after the presenting Neil Gaiman with a crocheted bee incident. I've read almost all his books at this stage. I do like to space out the reading of Gaiman as when I've finished them all I'll be bereft. I still have Good Omens left to read. A recent read was Stardust which I really loved, it's a great all ages story. I watched the film too and loved that as much as the book which is rare for me. I prefer books to film versions of books and also if I've read a book I know what happens so why see a film of it too? Stardust was an exception as they really captured the spirit of the book and there was some great acting too. I loved the section with Robert De Niro most of all.
Anyway all this rambling brings me to the Yvaine shawl that I mentioned briefly here. I saw this pattern when I used Ravlery's snazzy search feature to search for patterns that used about 330m of sport weight yarn. It's really useful to be able to search like that especially when knitting with handspun as you only have a limited amount of it. You can't go and get more of the yarn if you run out. Yvaine is a versatile pattern and I thought it would suit the texture of the handspun well. Also since there is no lace or patterning I could just keep knitting until I ran out of yarn. There are supposed to be moss stitch panels on the shawl but I was lazy and just did some garter ridges instead. I have a problem with moss stitch even when knitting it in a rectangle shape I usually get it wrong. I tried a row of it but couldn't work out how to deal with moss stitch and increases so I just left it. I think it looks fine without the moss stitch. I finished it this week so that's another quick knit. At this rate though I think there might be another force at work. I think after all this time and practice I might be getting quicker at knitting. It certainly seems so. I'm pretty happy about that as I've always been a slow knitter. Even as a kid I didn't get my regulation tea cosy done in time for parents night, I think my Mum finished the last few rows for me!
I liked this pattern a lot, it taught me how triangular shawls are constructed, it's always nice when it clicks in your brain how it works and I'm pretty sure I could knit a shawl with no pattern now. This project perfectly filled the gap between finishing my Easkey wave wrap and going on holidays next Thursday. We're off to Chamonix and the Alps and I can't wait. The Yvaine shawl is blocking so hopefully I can get some nice photos of it with mountains in the background. I've picked up a nasty lung infection of some sort and that's why I'm here blogging instead of busily packing for the trip. I'm on antibiotics and strong painkillers so I'm ensconced on the sofa. I've started watching Doctor Who though so that's cheering me up. I've also made a sneaky start on a project I was saving for the holidays, the Rasta Kitty hat from Aoibhe. Maybe I'll finish that in time for wearing on my trip to the Mer de Glace.
at 12:51 PM
Blog Migration Labels: Blog News | 2 comments»
Plans have been afoot for a while now to redesign the blog and move it to it's own http://aranbrew.com URL. I got the URL ages ago but didn't manage to move the blog. I'm quite good at computers but for some reason web design and css evade me. I decided to try out wordpress and found it's pretty easy to design a blog that looks well. In an evening I managed to get the blog looking better than it ever has on blogger. Wordpress has a few other advantages, images seem to behave better and the whole layout is nicer. Another big plus is that there is a very nice android app which makes it easy for me to blog from my phone. I wonder why there is no nice blogger app, blogger and android are both run by google so you'd think they would integrate them a bit better. I decided to pay wordpress to redirect to the aranbrew.com URL as working out how to host it would take another three months.
Now that is all done and I've moved I have to ask you all to point your links this way and update your rss feeds and all that jazz. I'll still blog a link to new posts for a while in blogger and put in a big arrow pointing here. I'm hoping to work out how to get blogger to redirect here for old posts but again that may take me some time to figure out.
I'm hoping you will read the posts over at the new aranbrew.com and comment over there. I'll still be importing comments over there but hopefully everything will move to the new URL.
Thanks for reading the tech post!
August 26, 2010 at 1:47 PM
A Star Is Born Labels: Craft, Crochet, Finished Objects | 0 comments»
I fell out with crochet some time ago and ever since we've been on the rocky road to reconciliation. I wanted it to do things it wasn't comfortable with, it accused me of not understanding it. I've come to accept that crochet was right all along. I was trying to bend it to work in ways it didn't want to. Crochet and I have accepted this and we're ready to move on. I used to subscribe to Interweave Crochet and while it has nice patterns I think it is too focused on jumpers. Lace is where crochet shines, there are so many beautiful knitted lace shawls but more beautiful modern crochet lace designs are needed. After all isn't Irish crochet lace one of the most beautiful forms of lace in the world? Dora Ohrenstein explains all in this wonderful article. I promised crochet that I would go and learn more about it's roots and also my own as the history of crochet is tied up with Ireland's history. I started Aoibhe's rose rock which is an ideal first Irish crochet project. A trip to the Sheelin lace museum is also on the cards when I'm next in Fermanagh visiting a friend who lives near there.
I recently got the happy news that my sister in law is pregnant! Obviously a baby gift needed to be made. They live in Jamaica and post there is very unreliable, anything good is likely to be swiped and I wasn't taking that chance with something hand made. Luckily they were over visiting last week so I decided to make something quickly in time for the visit. So what to make? I couldn't make a wool jumper or a hat now could I? The poor baby would melt. I decided to make a blanket, I figured blankets are always useful even if they're not needed for warmth they can be used as a rug or even a sun shade. Now a blanket is a bigger project than I'd usually take on and I hoped I could get it done in time. I decided I'd crochet the blanket as it would be quick. I found the cutest baby blanket in Beth's little star afghan. It's actually a very simple pattern but it looks really effective. If you can make a chain and a double crochet you can make this blanket. I used Patons baby fab DK yarn in green and grey and I changed colour every five rows. I used a 5mm hook. It worked up really quickly and I managed to finish it in a mere three weeks. Last week my niece and I went to Dublinia and the zoo so there was some frantic hooking when I got back from days out. The zoo is really good these days, I loved the new elephant enclosure.
I've noticed that this year I've been making a lot of larger projects and managing to finish them pretty quickly which I'm really pleased about. This blanket turned out pretty cute but I'm sure it won't be a patch on how cute the new nephew is going to be. He'll be arriving in November!
at 1:24 PM
Mittens With Pints On Labels: Craft, Knitting | 5 comments»
I don't usually do 'here's a cool thing from the internet' or 'I want to make this' type posts. Today I make an exception to bring you both a cool thing on the internet and something I really want to knit.
I discovered Spilly Jane a few days ago and I've been oohing and ahhing over her designs ever since. She has the most wonderful colour work mitten patterns. There are ones with gnomes, cupcakes, strawberries and all manner of whimsical little things. For obvious reasons I've fallen for the ones on the left and I must make them. I don't have the yarn to make them though as I don't have a collection of lots of yarn all of the same weight in different colours, I can only wish! The pattern calls for knit picks yarn which isn't available in Ireland. I think I've found the perfect substitute yarn in Jamieson and Smith though.
Jamieson and Smith are a yarn company that are based in Shetland, one of the Scottish islands which is famous for knitting and for their native Shetland. Their jumper weight yarn spun from Shetland fleece fits the bill perfectly. It's fingering weight, 100% wool, comes in smaller 25g balls, has a brilliant colour range and is really cheap. It's designed for fair isle colour work jumpers after all. I suppose I could go entirely mad and attempt to dye some yarn I have into enough to make these but I'm not confident enough of my colour matching skills to do it. I think I might just have to order the yarn if there is to be any hope of these mittens getting made in the next few months.
I posted a link to this pattern on facebook and it made me smile that the people who liked and commented on the mittens with pints on were people who are interested in beer. It made me think about how knitting acts a kind of filter for people. Many of my non knitting friends send me links with knitted and crocheted things they think are cool. Or they mention something they saw about knitting being trendy again as they know I knit. It sometimes says more about them than me which I find interesting. A friend Luke (who writes and hopefully won't mind me using him as an example) sent me on a very cool knitted R2D2 pattern he found. Luke is into sci-fi and gaming so of course he finds this cool. I am nerdy person but I'm not into Star Wars as I didn't see it until I was an adult so it doesn't mean as much to me as it does to someone who grew up with it. Another friend obsessed with cycling sent me a photo of a knitted bicycle. All the cavers love my crocheted caving helmet.
It's funny that people who aren't into knitting will notice it when someone knits something that touches on a part of their life, where knitting intersects with what they think is cool. They then pass it back to me. It's maybe their way of saying wow you knit and I never realized it was cool and useful to stuff in my life. But still I wonder do they really understand what I love about the knitting process. I don't really do it because I think I will end up with a finished product that reflects my interests. Though that is part of why I do it. I love beer and knitting and a pair of mittens with pints on are what I dream of pulling on after a fun night with friends at the Bull and Castle. But if I just wanted some clothing with beer on I could get it without going to the trouble of knitting it. I like the whole process and creative design parts of knitting just as much as the finished product. Picking the perfect pattern like the mittens with pints on. Then picking out the perfect yarn to make it with, choosing my own colour palette for the project, maybe even deciding that I should spin the yarn for it myself. Then the technical side of the knitting. A plain knitted item is much easier and quicker to make but I don't usually do that. Lace and colour work or an interesting construction always make a project much more interesting to make even if it is more complicated and takes longer. Learning something new with each project means I don't get bored of the knitting. The fact that I end up with something cute and wooly that I can wear to keep my hands warm is just the icing on the cake.
August 20, 2010 at 7:25 AM
Recently I told you about my Easkey wave wrap knit using Carol Feller's lovely captiva wrap pattern. Progress went very quickly after my last blog post. I almost didn't know I was knitting it. It knit up so quickly and easily and then...
When the yarn arrived I ripped back the decrease section and added another pattern repeat. I'm really glad I did now as it made the wrap that little bit bigger. I finished it off with only a small amount of yarn left over. I blocked the wrap and it really made a big difference, it opened out the lace and made the garter stitch less scrunchy.
eilonwy to my mental queue, I think it would be fabulous knit with handspun.
Undermeoxter who I know from Ravelry. It's probably the first time I've been recognized because of the knitted garment I was wearing. We spent a really pleasant afternoon sitting in the sun in Avoca knitting. I even got to see the famous glenvaragin cardigan, D you can finish it, you're almost there!
Having finished two projects that were both pretty big I decided to cast on for something new. Did I pick a hat, gloves, a bag? No I cast on yet another shawl. I think I see a theme developing here. This is the fifth shawl I've cast on this year so far and I'm not getting tired of them at all. A summer of shawls it is. This one is being knitted with my Betsy Doodles handspun. The pattern is the Yvaine shawl from Feministy. To continue the nod to Neil Gaiman and Stardust I cast on for this while watching the film on RTE last Saturday. I adore knitting this yarn, just adore it. With every stitch I start thinking that I should give away all my commerical yarn and just knit with handpsun from now on. It's just so lovely to knit something you have spun and have picked the perfect pattern for. Anyway I'll leave you with a picture of the perfect Sunday afternoon. Just add friends and knitting.
August 17, 2010 at 2:51 AM
Raspberry Mead Labels: Brewing, Brewing Books, Mead | 3 comments»
I've tried to make mead on a number of occasions and try is the operative word. It just never turns out quite right for me. I have bottles of mead stashed away on my brewing shelves and I keep them in the hope they will age up into something nice. Any bottles that I've sampled don't taste great so I have my doubts that age will help.
I decided to brew mead again with cheaper ingredients and on a smaller scale. It's been pretty warm here this summer which has been great but it's not ideal beer brewing weather. I've heard from a few of the home brewers that their beer fermentations have been very warm. One of my pet hates is beer that has been brewed too warm, I can taste it a mile off. When beer is fermented too warm the yeast can produce higher weight fusel alcohols which don't taste good, they're sort of harsh and nasty. I'm hoping that mead won't really suffer the same problems and maybe a warmer fermentation will give some fruity flavours to the mead.
The primary fermentation has just finished and I'm glad it has. It was quite vigorous and made the house stink. On most home brewing forums you'll find a thread where someone is complaining that his wife is giving out to him about his brewing and the smells. In my case the opposite is true but thankfully my husband likes the results of my brewing experiments. Though this mead has turned out a lurid pink colour so maybe he won't like this one as much. I'll rack this mead into a one gallon glass carboy tomorrow and then cover it up and forget about it for a month or two before I bottle it. Fingers crossed it will turn out ok this time.
August 8, 2010 at 12:36 PM
Knit Nation, London, July 2010 Labels: Beer, Beer and Travel, Craft, Craft Fairs, Craft Shops, Cupcakes, Handspun, Knitting, Spinning | 8 comments»
Wollmeise stand. I decided to join them for a look. I heard an Irish accent and recognised Jo from Celtic Memory Yarns. I said hello and we chatted while she was deciding what colours to buy I hope you got some you loved Jo! I bought two skeins just in case they all sold out but I needn't have worried as there was loads. Wollmeise is a phenomenon, the web shop sells out like lightening every time there is an update. Having seen all the colours all at once I will say that some of the hype is definitely justified. The colours are bright, clear and well separated. Having tried some dyeing myself I can appreciate that it's amazingly well done. I got two skeins. One is a beautiful autumnal skein called Paul which may grow up to be a clapotis. The other was a mostly purple yarn called grapes for sheri. I have no plans for it yet but I seem to be on a shawl roll recently so it may end up being another one.
p/hop. P/hop stands for pennies per hour of pleasure and is raising money for the wonderful Medecins Sans Frontieres. Various designers have donated patterns and you donate money based on the hours of pleasure you get from the pattern. At the stand I met Clare who I have known online for some time, she helps out p/hop in the UK. I love meeting people that I know from the web though it can be funny as you try to explain who you are. Maybe there will be new etiquette books explaining how to deal with these situations. Clare very kindly offered that I could stay with her Friday night so thanks a million for that Clare. At her place I had the privilege of meeting the black cat, if you follow Clare's blog or twitter you will have heard of the black cat that visits her. He's a funny cat who came over and immediately demanded attention from me.
At lunch I met Sinead who had been at a sock knitting class with the famous Cookie A for the morning. We did some yarn shopping and got some food. Then it was off to meet yet another generous and fabulous knitter, L. On Ravelry I had complained that I didn't know I needed a wheel for my class and L offered to lend me hers as she was taking a class that morning and didn't need the wheel for the afternoon. So a big thanks to L if you're reading this. I could have done the class with no wheel but it was much better to have one.
Judith Mackenzie McCuin and she is a spinning genius. I learned more about spinning in the three hours of this class than I have in the last few months of spinning combined. Judith explained all about how spinning wheels work and all the tricks that you can do to make them work at their peak. She then explained how to make the spinning wheel do the work for you. Most spinners produce a default yarn meaning that they draft and treadle at a certain rate which then produces a certain weight yarn. I definitely do this and recently I've been trying to produce different yarn and was advised that I would have to treadle faster and draft finer to produce a laceweight yarn and I wasn't very successful at it. Judith says that you can't change your default yarn and when you get to that stage that it's a good time to learn what she teaches so it seems I took this class at the right moment.
After all that excitement it was time for dinner and pints with Sinead and Viola. We had great fun in the pub and there was even Fuller's London Pride on cask for me. After that I met up with Clare and some knitters I know from twitter so it was great to met them in person.
Now to shw you all the rest of my shopping loot. The marketplace was really well set up just like the whole event. It all ran so well and so smoothly. Well done to all the organizers and volunteers. I got my two skeins of Wollmeise. I got a skein of green laceweight from Krafty Koala. From Juno Fiber Arts I got some dyed Wensleydale and Teeswater fiber, I haven't tried either before. From Baby Long Legs I got some lovely smoky blue BFL fiber. From John Arbon I got some undyed yarn so I can play around with some dyeing. I also got an issue of Inside Crochet which you can't get in Ireland for some reason and a Knit Nation bag. The Loop bag was free. I also met the lovely Ysolda Teague and tried on some of her designs. I got a snap with her in her fun photo both too.
Impy Malting. I made a detour to the Hummingbird bakery for a delicious cupcake and some coffee. Impy and I had a great chat over some tasty beers at the Market Porter. It's great to go out with someone local like Impy, I'd never have found these great beer pubs on my own. I really liked the Harvey’s Bitter being in the mood for light hoppy beers at the moment. I don't know why but dark complex beers just aren't my thing at the moment, maybe it's the weather. The pub was busy but we got a seat and talked life, beer and knitting. Us knitting, brewing, beer blogging girls have to stick together you know.
We then headed to The Rake which is the beer pub you always hear about on UK beer blogs. They have a cool selection of beers on cask and many in bottles. I looked at their bottled selection and was surprised at how many of them are available in pubs in Dublin like The Bull and Castle, The Porterhouse and L. Mulligan Grocer and the quality off licenses. I always think that in the UK you can get lots more beer than here, it just shows how much the selection in Dublin has improved in recent times. For US and Belgian beer we're actually pretty well served. Of course we don't get as many English ales or cask beers which is a pity. Sadly I couldn't stay long and being sensible left for my train back to the airport in plenty time. Thanks Impy and hopefully I can return the favour with beer tour of Dublin soon. All in all it was the most fabulous two days. Knit Nation? Definitely.
More photos of the trip are here. I apologize for the quality of some of them. Usually this is where I say I took them on my phone not my camera but this time the reverse is true. My camera isn't focusing properly and seems to be crap with knitting things, maybe it's the colours. The ones I took when I got home with the phone are much better.
August 3, 2010 at 7:26 AM