Showing posts with label Blog News. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blog News. Show all posts

Blog Migration

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!

Quick post about an Irish Times mention

I told you all about the Porterhouse award for best Irish beer in this blog post. Now you can read a professional account of the day. John Wilson is the wine correspondent with the Irish Times and his account of the day is here. I think he captured the day well and I thought it was interesting that we all concluded that the bottled versions of many of the beers were better than their draught counter parts.

I'd have to agree with his point that most Irish breweries seem to make the same range of beers and that maybe small quantities of more unusual beers would be the way forward. I think this is certainly true. When Galway Hooker's IPA came along there were was nothing else like it on the Irish micro market and it has achieved great success. Perhaps because the sorts of people who try Irish micro brewed beers are the type who try different beers anyway. So maybe the Irish micros should be more adventurous.

There are signs that this is happening. Sadly study prevented me from making the Franciscan Well beer festival this year. But reports tell me that many great beers have been launched this year including White Gypsy's oak aged imperial stout. I think that definitely qualifies as adventurous. Carlow Brewing have been releasing some cracking new beers including their tasty Easter stout that was part of the Porterhouse competition. There's also Whitewater's new Copperhead ale which was one of my favourites at the competition. The Irish micro brewing scene is definitely in great health. Two new breweries launched at the Franciscan well, Trouble Brewing and Dungarvan Brewing Company. Both are fellow Irish Craft Brewer members. I wish them both well and I hope when all my study is done that I will be able to relax and enjoy their beers over the summer.  

While flicking through the paper I noticed that 9 Bean Row also gets a mention in The Times. Hopefully this will cheer her up as she is stranded away from home due to the volcanic ash.

And the winner is...

Thanks to everyone who entered the Aran Brew is two competition. I really enjoyed reading all your comments and thoughts about spring. I've also discovered new readers with blogs too so I'll check them out. For fairness I decided to draw the winner out of a hat.

So drumroll please... The winner is...

Chic with stix!

Congratulations and I'll contact you about getting the yarn to you. I look forward to seeing what it becomes.

Aran Brew featured in Mail on Sunday article

I discovered that Aran Brew was featured in the Irish Mail on Sunday yesterday. I did an interview with Caroline about home brewing a while ago and had almost forgotten it. The article is published in full on the Bibliocook blog here. Great to see an article about modern home brewing dispelling the myths that it tastes awful and is only for people making beer on the cheap. She also captured the sense of community and enthusiasm that goes along with home brewing. It's such a fun hobby and I think more people should try it out.  

If you've just come to this blog and are wondering why all the posts seem to be about knitting and where the hell is the beer, well here's a link to all the posts tagged with brewing and a link to those tagged with beer. My most recent brew was an alt beer called Polar Beer and I'm going to bottle it this week. From the preliminary tastes I've had it seems to have turned out really well.

I'm also going to use this post to link to Ireland's newest micro brewery Dungarvan Brewing Company. I know the people who have set up this brewery and they are true beer enthusiasts. They were home brewers originally and are now living the dream by setting up their own brewery. The beers will be featured at this years Franciscan Well easter festival and I'm really looking forward to tasting them especially the copper coast red ale.

 

Aran Brew is two! Blog Giveaway.

It's been a long cold winter and spring has been slow coming in this year. On Thursday evening when I found myself with some spare time I decided to dye some yarn and fleece. I wanted to cheer myself up with some spring colours. I wanted to capture the colour of a daffodil bud just before the flower bursts out. I ended up with this.


I'm really happy with how it turned out. It's such a lovely fresh spring green colour. The yarn is from Cushendale woolen mills and it's a lovely sock yarn spun from Irish fleece in a traditional woolen style. I visited the mill in Graignamanagh when I went walking by the river with my Mum and aunt recently. It's a lovely village in the first place and the mill makes it even better to visit. Unfortunately I forgot my camera so I can't show you photos of the place or even the glorious sunshine and views we had when we walked by the river side.

I just looked back at my post history there and have discovered that next week Aran Brew is two years old. It doesn't seem like it, maybe that's because I've had so much fun writing this blog and documenting my adventures in brewing, knitting and all the other crafts I try. I love seeing comments and hearing that people like reading what I write. There is another reason to celebrate this week, the blog has made the (not so) short lists for the Irish blog awards. Congratulations to the other fibre related blogs on the list, Dublin knit collective, She knit up that ball, Clasheen and Etsy Ireland. Also congratulations to Live at the witch trials, The Beer Nut and 9 Bean Row. Well done everyone. I'm going to the blog awards in Galway so expect a report on that.   


Anyway back to the yarn. Do you like it? Would you like to have it? Yes? Excellent! I'm having my first ever blog giveaway of this skein of yarn in celebration of the blog being two and the blog awards. All you have to do is leave a comment telling me why you love spring and what you'll do with the yarn. I'll announce who has won next week.

While I had the dyeing stuff out I decided I might as well dye some of my alpaca fleece. I grabbed a load of fleece from the bags in the shed. I figured I'd wash the fleece and then dye it all in one go to save myself some time. It worked really well and I'll be doing this from now on. The dyes came from Kemtex in the UK as part of their starter kit. I just dunked the fleece in the pot in laundry bags and sprinkled some dye on. It didn't look like it was going to turn out ok as the water was pretty murky and grey looking. I presume the alpaca wasn't completely clean. I took the fleece out and rinsed it and hung it to dry not expecting much. But when it dried I was really surprised, it turned out to be this lovely soft blue colour reminding me of a blue sky on a day with a few clouds.


I also dyed some silk hankies and have just started to spin them on my Zebisis drop spindle. I love silk, it's amazingly shiny fantastic stuff.  I've got lots going on at the moment so expect some new posts about what I'm knitting, the opening of the crochet coral reef, bottling my alt beer, some brewing plans and some fun beer tasting.

Fastest Stout In The World

A while ago I named my first all grain beer Lightening Bolt in honour of Usain Bolt as I watched him break the 200m world record while making it. Soon after I made a stout which would be much more to Usain's taste as I'm told he's a fan of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. Stephen, my brother in law is with Digicel in Jamaica and his wife is the Digicel sponsorship manager and looks after Usain Bolt's sponsorship. A plan was hatched to try get a bottle of my stout to Usain Bolt. I relabeled it Lightening Bolt Stout and sent it back with Stephen. The plan worked and he did indeed get the stout and while I was in Jamaica I got the photo. Here's the man himself, Usain Bolt, being presented with the stout by my lovely niece Asia.    



Isn't that just the coolest photo ever? Well I think it is anyway. I got a signed photo of him too so that will take pride of place. Big up to Stephen, Shelly and Asia for arranging that!
It's a great note to finish the year on. Yet again having this blog has led to something really cool happening.

Since it's the end of the year I want to say thanks to everyone who checks in here and reads about the goings on at Aranbrew. I really love it when people read what I write and I love all your comments. I hope you all have a great 2010. Next year the blog will probably move to a new host and the redesign should be coming soon. I'm also hoping to brew a bit more. There's also all sorts of crafty adventures planned involving knitting, spinning and dyeing.

Happy new year everyone!

Irish Crochet Coral Reef


There are rare occasions in ones life when you hear an idea that gets you inspired and excited and gets your brain firing on all it's cylinders. For me Saturday was such a day. Margaret Wertheim of The Institute for Figuring  gave a talk at the Science Gallery in Dublin about her work and the possibility of setting up an Irish Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef.  

I've talked about the crochet coral reef before so when I heard that Margaret Wertheim was coming here to talk I immediately applied for a ticket, the workshop was full in the end so lots of others obviously find the idea as fascinating as I do. A number of fellow Ravelry members like IreneOrla, Fish and Mairead came along and it was great to meet them. Orla is a woman obsessed with hyperbolic coral, I think the organizers were stunned when she produced a large bag of fabulous crochet coral.

Margaret spoke about hyperbolic geometry and how crochet was used to make a mathematically correct model of a hyperbolic plane which had never been done before. Many people switch off when maths is mentioned but that wasn't the case with this talk. Margaret is a great communicator, she explained the maths by asking us questions and showing us real crocheted examples of what she was talking about.

She then explained how coral has a hyperbolic structure and that she and her twin sister decided to craft a coral reef based on hyperbolic crochet. Like a real coral reef which is made up of millions of individual corals the crochet coral reef is made up of bits donated by lots of people. Like a real reef the crocheters adapted and evolved the basic pattern to give a huge variety of forms. Margaret also talked about how global warming and pollution are affecting coral reefs. Reefs all over the world are dying, sadly they turn from beautiful vibrant reefs into sad bleached places. In response to this a toxic reef has been created made from recycled materials and plastics to raise awareness of how waste can have a devastating effect on these fragile natural ecosystems. You can watch Margaret talk in this TED video.

After the talk we did some crochet. Those of us who can crochet started making hyberbolic planes and pseudospheres. Those who couldn't crochet started learning. The hope is that we will organize workshops and get others involved so that we can all build an Irish reef. A Ravelry Group (Login Required) has been set up to help with this, so come along and join. The reef will be exhibited at the Science Gallery. I've already made two small bits of coral. I think I might spin some plastic yarn and make some toxic coral with it. It was such an inspiring day. After it I got out my books on the emergence of biological forms to see what other kinds of things I could possibly crochet. I saw a cool article about nudibranchs in the National Geographic, I think they could be crocheted in some wild colours. I think crochet coral will be coming up again on the blog, watch this space.


My talented friend Eddie from Beanstalk has promised to help out with my blog. He's going to redesign things so I'm really looking forward to having a shiny new look.




Spinning some art

When I first got interested in spinning the first book I got was Lexi Boeger's Intertwined. I hadn't even got a spindle yet but the yarns in this book were so cool and unusual that the book was great just as a coffee table book. I checked out the art yarn spinners group (RavLink) on Ravelry and loved everything I saw there. People like Studioloo, Insubordiknit and Velma Like Velvet have made some really inspiring stuff.

Since I'm getting better at normal spinning I thought I might have enough skill to attempt an art yarn without it turning out looking like something the cat got at.



I got a lovely batt from Rockpoolcandy for my birthday but was too scared to spin it in case i made a mess of it. I finally decided to core spin it, this involves drafting the yarn sideways and wrapping it a core yarn. Ask The Bellwether has a great tutorial about how to do this. It turned out well for a first go, the batt was really lovely and I hope I did it justice.

I loved the results of the core spun wool I decided to try out another technique from Intertwined this time supercoils. Having loads of alpaca fleece to play with is handy for trying out things like this. I had this green merino which was too green for me so I carded some of that in with the alpaca. Mixed with white alpaca it turned a pleasing minty green colour. I also used pieces of lilac merino for the coil parts.



Supercoils are fun and look fantastic when the yarn is done but they take ages to do. The yarn also has a normal part to it as well. When I finished the coil part I navajo plied the remaining single. I'll knit it up into a scarf so there will be normal fabric then all the mad supercoiled parts.

Here's some more spinning. This time normal stuff. It's this merino I got from Scottish Fibres, it's lovely and soft but I wasn't so keen on the colour of the roving. Magically when spun up and navajo plied the colours mixed and I now like it. I think this yarn would make a nice pair of mittens or a hat. It's worsted weight and there's about 84 metres of it.



More photos here.

One of my crochet projects and I have broken up. The seasilk shawl and I just weren't getting on. I wasn't sure if we were compatible for the long term partnership needed to finish it. If we could just get through a couple more pattern repeats then my doubts over whether the yarn suited the pattern would go away. My feelings about the drape not showing off the silk well enough weren't real were they? There were too many doubts, I wasn't sure. I started looking at other patterns, ones with more drape, ones written especially for seasilk. So we split. It was for the best. The shawl was frogged before I was too far in, too committed to it to turn back. The yarn is now being turned into Montego Bay Scarf.

Blog News:
The lack of blogging recently was caused by me needing to upgrade my picasa account so I could have more pictures. I'm also hoping to upgrade the template and make it all look a bit prettier in the near future.

Summer Ramblings, a bit of everything

Things have been busy here at Aran Brew recently.

A few weekends ago we went to Eddie and Riona's wedding which was great, congratulations guys! Read their travel blog, it's great but it does make me very jealous of all the cool places they went to see.

We were driving home after the wedding and stopped to take a look at Lough Derravarragh just outside Crooked Wood. There's a great view from above the lake and we stopped to take a look. There's a field there and as you can see in the photo there's alpaca in the field!

I got to wondering if the farmer ever sells the fleeces and then I noticed a post box. Oh dear. I got out a pen and a paper bag as I had no paper with me and wrote a note with my contact details to the farmer saying I was a spinner and asked if he ever sold the fleeces. I apologized in the note for bothering him if he thought I was mad. Which wasn't unlikely given the state of the paper and the request.

I forgot about it and presumed they had rightly dismissed me as a madwoman but yesterday I got an email from the farmer and he said he's shearing the alpaca next week. He says I can come along and buy some fleece. Real alpaca fleece in Ireland, complete result! Sometimes it pays to write random notes.

I've also been sewing a lot recently. My Mum and I made a skirt using a pattern we made up ourselves. It's really nice but I have no photos of it yet. It was harder to do than I thought but I learned loads. In the photo is the beginnings of the spring ruffle top. This is going well, I did the top of it in an afternoon. I just have to do the bottom and join them together now. Hopefully it will turn out ok. I also bought some more fabric in Ikea when I was in Belfast, it was really cheap and I might turn it into some funky stuff for the house.

I also racked my Raspberry Wheat Beer onto secondary. I sterilized the better bottle then just put the frozen fruit into the end of it and racked the beer on top of it. I used 400g of raspberries and 400g of mixed summer berries. I tasted a bit last night and I think it's ready to bottle now. It's an interesting beer, unlike anything I've ever had before. It's light and not hoppy and pretty fruity, there's also a lot of chamomile going on too, maybe too much. I'd love to dry hop this with cascade as I think it would be lovely but that would disqualify it from the ICB all grain challenge. It's a quandary as I want to enter the challenge but I also want the beer to taste the best it can.



Dave and I went away for the June bank holiday weekend and lo and behold the sun came out. At one point it was 26 degrees which is very hot for Ireland. It was the best weather we've had in two years and luckily we were camping at the seaside for it. We headed up the causeway coastal route on saturday morning having been at a barbecue in a friends house in Belfast on friday night. I can recommend the Torr Head cliff road for anyone who likes driving along tiny roads with huge drops beside them. The view of Scotland from the head is pretty cool too. I didn't realize it was that near.

We brought the dog camping with us and he seemed to love it. We stayed at a campsite between Portrush and Portstewart. I think I'd prefer Portstewart for an evening out or something to eat. Westley was even left off his lead for short bits in the campsite and he didn't run away. We brought him along to see the Giant's Causeway. We'd been told it wasn't great but we really enjoyed the weird hexagonal rocks.

The dog didn't love it when we dragged him into the sea for a swim though. We went to Downhill, it's an amazing long beach with no stones, you can park your car on the beach too which is handy. There are also decent waves to play around in. It's just a pity the dog didn't like the water more. We also discovered a good way to cool the dog down on the hot days, we gave him ice. He loved it.

I also found time to sit outside doing some crochet while sipping a lovely cold Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. We bought some beer up north as it's much cheaper up there. English ales are especially good value, in some shops there's a two ales for four pounds deal. Down south it's not unusual to pay 3.50 to 4.00 euro for an English ale.

It was a great weekend. Here's a photo taken near Carrick A Rede rope bridge. The sea was incredibly blue and clear with the sun beating down upon it. I've rarely seen the sea this colour in this country.



As we came home a friend of mine rang inviting me to go camping with her for a few days during the week. So I snuck off for sneaky mid week break. It was great to see her and her young son. He had great fun in the campsite which had a playground and a pets corner. We had a barbecue one of the nights and sat down and relaxed outside in our camping chairs. It was a week that really reminded me of what summer is all about.

Here's hoping for more hazy lazy days...

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas!

Or happy whatever over eating festival you celebrate at this time of year. I hope you all have a nice break. I would like to thank anyone who reads this blog. I love writing it, it's nice to have a place to keep a record of all the crafty things I do. It's really great when someone comments on a post.

So I'll raise a glass, of homebrewed beer of course, to you reader over the festive season and I'll see you here for more brewing and knitting/crochet adventures in 2009.

In our house during December the Fat Bottomed Santa makes a majestic journey around the room dropping presents as he goes.

He crocheted our turtles some festive santa's helper hats...



He made Monkey a dapper new waistcoat



He helped with the brewing



He brought some festive brews



He also expressed a wish to see more handmade gifts in the world



Even the dog isn't forgotten

From The Fat Bottomed Santa's Majestic Christmas Journey


He's off tonight to make the final leg of his journey. He's been quiet the last day and muttering things about space time and presents. I hope he makes it to your house to drop some presents by your tree.

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!

Hello and Welcome

So hello and welcome to my new blog! This blog will be about my crafty hobbies of knitting, crochet and brewing.
I've been home brewing on and off with varying degrees of success for about a year now. At this stage I'm making some nice beers but want to do more. Irish Craft Brewer is the website for finding out all about the craft brewing scene in Ireland.
I learned to knit and crochet in school and made some stuff under duress until I gave it up. Last year I took them up again and surprised myself by not only remembering how to do both but actually making some nice stuff.

So this blog is to chart my progress and put up pictures of finished projects be they beers or jumpers! The name is a mix of an Irish style of knitting, aran and brew. I'm not sure there is any connection at all between knitting and brewing though I suppose I could knit some sort of beer cosy. This blog isn't about the connection between the two.