Drowning or Waving?

View from drillsite at Moylisha

Actually, most of the time I’m waving, but a passing lifeboat would still be welcome…

The last two months could be visually portrayed as the slow- motion toppling of a long line of dominos;  just as one crisis seemed to be over, the next began, and I’m fed up with feeling overwhelmed! I would love to just freeze-frame my life, take time for myself to regroup, then come back and count my blessings. They call this notion holidays, I believe – not a concept that is very familiar to lone parents such as myself, but a great idea in principle. Daydreaming while knitting is the closest I’ve been able to get, but is doesn’t last long enough (a fortnight would be favourite…).

Ah well, sure it could be worse.

Oh Lord, I’m turning into my mother- I always wanted to scream when she trotted that one out, and I’m very sorry for all the starving babies in Africa, and I know I have the use of my eyes and limbs, and haven’t been run over by a bus or kidnapped by white slavers or whatever, but is it so self-indulgent to wish for a bit of good luck? For that generation of Irish Mammies, it was- or at least, saying it out loud was close to jinxing yourself entirely (you never knew when Himself Upstairs might be listening in and give you a clip around the ear for ingratitude, if The Mammy hadn’t already done it for Him).

View from Moylisha

Mind you, every now and again,  a ray of sunshine/hope has been piercing the clouds: GF had an appointment with a mining company in south Wicklow (south of Dublin, on the western side of the Leinster Granite/mountains), so I was invited along on another mineral and yarn expedition a couple of days ago. It was great: away from the city into peaceful countryside which, as you can see, is not particularly exciting or photogenic, but full of undulating green calmness. Very soothing, I loved it, especially as all sorts of buds and blooms were just unfurling- really late, thanks to the harsh late winter we’ve had (see, the whole country is miserable, I think it’s catching…).

Spring is late

Primroses in May! Believe me, that’s unusual.

Primroses in May

Aren’t they lovely, though? I felt myself smiling right back at them, the brave little dotes.

Darling buds of May

And the trees are recovering too, three cheers!

Gorse in bloom

Even the scary gorse is looking lovely at the moment, though childhood trauma prevents me from getting too close….

Desirable residence


And how do you like my latest “this is the house I want when I grow up”? It’s built of the local granite and looks so snug….  A lot of the houses that were built down the country during the Celtic Tiger, when quite a few people suddenly had a lot more money than sense, are huge, pretentious, tasteless monstrosities, but this one gets my seal of approval. It’s right beside the swath of national forest where we were to have a look at the drill site and local geology- the couple of lumps of bedrock that aren’t covered by said pine forest.

Setting off into the forest

Our colleague L collected us at the gate, as of course we weren’t allowed to drive in, and off we went. I should mention that unfortunately in Ireland “national forest” almost invariably translates as “pine monoculture”, as biodiversity was an almost unknown concept when the State finally started its reafforestation projects (back in the 60’s and 70’s, I think), the original oak-ash-mixed deciduous forests which blanketed Ireland having been cut down by the English to a) build ships for the Royal Navy and b) flush out the rebels hiding in them (think Sherwood Forest times 100, without any Hollywood actors prancing around in tights). So now we have huge areas of depressingly dark and boring scratchy pines, brr! No outlaws though (those pine needles are murder on tights).

Collecting a sample

If you’ve ever been to the Black Forest in Germany, you’ll know what it’s like: they have to carve lumps out of the forest so that you can see the view, otherwise you wouldn’t know whether you’re on a hill or in a valley, the visibility is so poor. Luckily for all concerned, this part of the forest had already been designated a “regeneration area”, where a genuine forest is to be allowed to develop, even if it does take a couple of hundred years. In other words, it had already been felled, so the mining company is not causing environmental damage (they’re not always bad guys, you know, even though no-one wants them in their backyard).

Drilling the core

The actual drillsite is pretty small.

Collecting Water from Spring

Collecting water from a stream, so we can look at the core samples- they’re easiest to see properly when wet.

Geological Treats

Inspecting the sticks of rock, aka core.

Inspecting the core

I can’t show anything closer up, because of confidentiality issues (industrial espionage is not a career path that has ever attracted me), but I can show photos of the type of thing we were looking at, lying around at the surface:

Cataclastic deformation in Leinster Granite

Major shearzone-related deformation has affected these rocks, and presumably the way the valuable minerals have been deposited- the thin sections will be beautiful!

Graphic texture quartz and feldspar Moylisha Ireland

Now I’m in complete nerd-mode, but the graphic texture at the top of this photo fascinates me, and it’s going to turn into a great knitting pattern, I can feel it wriggling in my subconscious (in a nice way)!

Muscovite in Leinster granite pegmatite Moylisha

And for those who like their minerals extra sparkly, here’s some muscovite mica.

Happy geologists

And finally, some happy geologists in their natural habitat!

But what about the yarny part of the expedition, you (patiently) ask? Well, I had planned to explore The Yarn Room in Ashford, and do you a report, because I’d heard great things about it, but they’ve gone online only, to my disappointment, so as a default option we dropped in to see Aimee Rose in the City West Shopping Centre. It has expanded hugely since the only time I was there (ca. 2 years ago), when I discovered Midara yarns from Lithuania (remember the magenta shawl for DS’ graduation?). Well, I love to hear of a yarn shop doing so well, when the entire country seems to be groaning under the recession, so I had high hopes. However, almost all the yarns were synthetic or at best blends with up to 20% natural fibres, because apparently that’s what is selling in the current financial climate, though not to me. Even the very inexpensive yet natural Midara range is not stocked regularly any more (and now I don’t know where else to find it!), but there is a happy ending. A few balls were tucked away and almost forgotten in a far corner, until I liberated them.

Midara Happy Shiny Cotton

“Happy Shiny Cotton”- how could I resist, even if the colours weren’t so pretty? It might just as well have been labelled “Cheer Up Pauline”! We are now engaged in creating my variation on Marianne Isager’s Waves summer top, from her excellent book “Classic Knits”- this is one of the first knitting books I ever bought myself, and I love it. Knitting therapy is working, can you tell?




Yarn Quest

Advent Wreath

Well, this has been a busy and productive week, hurray! How do you like my budget Advent wreath? Ingredients: one basic wreath acquired last January in the sales for 2.08Euros (90% off), some poinsettias and Christmas roses made using patterns from Lesley Stanfield’s lovely books, some ribbon from the local supermarket, et voila! A bit fiddly, but worth the effort- for once I hope to be ready in time for the holidays. Mind you, if I manage that, it’ll be because my present-knitting is going to be severely rationed this year- I need to be concentrating on designing.

And now, I have a confession to make. Look at this:

Coolree Yarn

Sumptuous hand-dyed alpaca-silk-cashmere lace yarn: Reader, I bought it! Remember I mentioned that my LYS This is Knit showcases the best in indie-Irish yarns? Well, a few months ago I wandered in there to drool and dream, as is my wont, and there, seductively coiled and gleaming, were a collection of delicious Coolree yarns pleading to come home with me. Now I have years of practice at resisting the siren call of such goodies, which is why I allow myself near TIK in the first place, but this time I was lost. Do you know how difficult it is to find the perfect shade of teal? Well then, I rest my case! I decided that “early Christmas present” was sufficient justification ( it was July at the time), and decided to find out who was responsible for making my resistance crumble.

The culprit turned out to be a young Wexford man, Alex Mc Leod, who learned to knit last year, graduated to spinning and dyeing this year, and is now producing subtly coloured masterpieces for sale. This I had to see, so this Thursday I went on a fieldtrip to Wexford (SE corner of Ireland), a combined mineralogical and yarn quest. They go very well together, honest. The mineral in question was lithium-bearing spodumene (for e.g. energy-saving lightbulbs), I’ll have some photos for you next week, ok?

Wait ’til you see where the yarn is dyed, it’s hard to imagine that something so delicate comes from a centuries old outhouse without electricity or running water (except for the rain coming through parts of the roof….). Here’s Alex, warmly wrapped up to prevent his turning into an icicle, in his workplace:


Alex's Logo

He and his new sign share the space with kayaking gear.

The Beginning

The first skeins were produced using pretty basic equipment…..

Work in Progress

…..but now, with the addition of slow cookers, the process continues to be refined. I particularly liked the concern Alex shows for the environment: note the white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda, which he has chosen to use as being by far the most environmentally friendly way of fixing the dyes.

Teal Yarn

I think this kind of subtle colour blending is just perfect for lace, because it gives an extra liveliness to the stitches without distracting from the pattern- some hand-dyed yarns completely overwhelm anything more complicated than stocking stitch!

Silky Green Yarn

Here are a few colourways, drying in the conservatory, alongside the geraniums:

Skeins Drying

and just one more close-up, ‘cos the colours are so cheerful:

Skein Rainbow

Now, I know my photos aren’t doing the yarn justice, so if by now you’re thinking “early Xmas present” too, have a gander here.

And bye for now to Alex, relaxing at his spinning wheel (and before you ask, only very lucky family and friends receive the results, which are predictably rare but stunning!). I for one did not want to leave, I was having such a good time.

Alex Spinning

Nevertheless, back in Dublin, progress has been made. I’ve tried out some new ideas, like this teal sock-yarn shawlette based on an Estonian lace stitch pattern, a variation of Lily-of-the-Valley.

Teal Lillies Shawlette

The edging still needs tweaking though, before I’ll be pleased with it!

Teal Lillies Detail

The Waterlilies stitch pattern below is also Estonian, and I’m experimenting with a Faroese- style shape, which is why the shawl is being blocked doubled (shoulder shaping so it doesn’t slip off ). I used a single 1000m/100g skein of hand-dyed Fyberspates merino(55%)-silk(45%) -blend lace, from my yarn diet/bargain stash (all but approx. 5m- that was an exciting finish!).

Waterlillies Shawl Blocking

I’ll have to steampress the sides of the shawl once I’ve unpinned it tomorrow morning, but I’ve no idea if this is going to work, never having attempted a shape like this before. Wish me luck!

Waterlillies neck blocking detail

You must be sick of the sight of these by now, but this time I have really, truly finished testing my Gothic baubles, and will get that pattern published in time for Xmas, I promise, regardless of health or domestic crises.

Gothic Bauble Finale

Yes, THIS Xmas!

Golden Oldies

The sun was shining (!!), so I thought I’d treat us to a wander around Trinity College, in the centre of Dublin. See the doubledecker in the bottom left? well, its brothers keep coming between us and the building, traffic is hectic out here.  So off we go, into an oasis of scholarly peace…

OOPs, sorry- first, a SPOILER ALERT! this post contains a couple of photos, after the Trinity Tour Part I, of a Vintage Mystery KAL (Knitalong, to the uninitiated) which Christelleb posted on Ravelry this week. I have her permission, but I don’t want to spoil the suspense for anyone who wants to wait for the official start in January, so for those who don’t care about that I’ve included a photo-tutorial for casting on the centre of a circular piece of lace (trying not to give anything away, here!), which can be a bit fiddly.

Alright, let’s start walking again.

…through the front door (student for scale), into the porters’ lodge….

..which is floored with ancient wood (bog oak, perhaps) hexagons. The doorway itself is constructed of massive glittery Leinster granite, and the quad beyond of limestone cobbles. The latter are treacherously slippery, especially when wet (i.e. most of the year!), so recently some paved paths have been added (practicality beat tradition on that issue). Now welcome to the front Quad:

Don’t forget to get off your bicycle, or the porter will hound you out!

Would you believe I ordered that procession of fresh graduates, just to add atmosphere for you?

I thought not, but it was worth a try.

Don’t they look well though? The golden embroidery is absolutely sumptuous, sorry I couldn’t get any closer…

I’m guessing the white fur on their hoods would traditionally have been ermine (they’re English graduates, FYI), but I don’t think any animals were harmed in the making of this ceremony, unless you count exam stress in Trinity students … Note the result of walking on those cobblestones for four years: those girls are perfectly steady on their high heels!

Moving further away from the main entrance, the atmosphere becomes stiller- it’s hard to remember that Dublin is buzzing just a short hop away.

Trinity was founded by Queen Elizabeth I in the late 16th century (1592); some of these trees may well have been alive then too….

I’ll show you my favourite building on this campus next week, as it’s being cleaned now, behind that scaffolding. I love the way both old and new buildings are reflected in this sculpture (“Sphere within a sphere” ,1996, by Arnaldo Pomodoro).

This is Fellows’ Square, showing how modern buildings have been added cheek-by-jowl with those from from another age. The lawn is adorned by “Cactus Provisoire” (1967) by Alexander Calder.

Final WARNING: vintage mystery about to be partially revealed, after this example of woolly exuberance. Scroll down further on your own responsibility!

(Can you tell I’m having fun with this? Good!)

And now for the beginning of a vintage mystery (posted by Christelleb on Ravelry for free!) which seduced me this week. I’ve never done a KAL before, never  mind a mystery one, but the combination of the words “vintage” and “lace” is almost certain to hook me, and this one’s lovely. The shawl is made up of medallions, which are straightforward enough for a newbie to tackle, and I already have an idea how to simplify the assembly, but I’ll let you know if it works next week.

The size of the central hole can be adjusted by simply pulling on the yarn tail- best to adjust after blocking.

Isn’t it pretty? I’m using Garnstudio Drops Alpaca-Silk Lace (800m/100g), the same as I used for my Monet Cardigan, just a different colour. When I did the sums, the original wool used was ca. 675m/ 100g, almost the exact same as the Midara Roma I used for Mwaa’s  semi-circular shawl, but I didn’t have enough in my stash, so I’m using the skinnier (and slipperier!) stuff, on 3mm DPNs. I just knit round 41 onto the circular needle for storage.

By the way, USEFUL TIP I just learned, for users of Proknit interchangeable needles: they have those little holes near the joints, for tightening up with a key, right? Well, you can thread a lifeline (safety thread) through that hole before knitting a round, and you will be automatically threading a lifeline through those stitches as you go. Three cheers for Lisa of This is Knit for that advice!

Now, casting on 8 stitches as a circle onto double-pointed needles (DPNs) is a challenge, even if you don’t make it more difficult for yourself like I did, with slippery yarn on metal needles. Wood works better, and a set of five needles is a godsend when your pattern repeats are divisible by four (see photos). By the way, I used a different coloured marker on the first needle- it helped! Here’s how I cast on for projects like this, with the help of a 3mm crochet hook (shown with 4-ply mercerized cotton so you can see better, it doesn’t look so chunky in laceweight). I find that this way the needles are much less likely to go slip-sliding away than with a pure Emily Ocker beginning, please let me know if you find it helpful. And credit to my DS, who took the following photos starring my fingers.

Start by putting a loop anti-clockwise around your left index finger as above, then insert the crochet hook from above. Put the yarn around the hook and pull it through, then….

..put yarn around the hook again and make one chain stitch (is that called the same in American? Please let me know.).

Now work one double crochet (American: single crochet, I know that one) into the loop next to the chain st.

Your chain followed by a double crochet (Amer: sc) should look like this.

We need 8 double crochet sts (scs) in total- one for each knit st to be cast on- this is what the loop looks like after 4 dcs, leave it nice and open until you’ve made 8 dcs, then pull the tail gently to close it up:

Place the loop of  the 8th dc on the first DPN, then pick up and knit a second stitch from the front loop of the very first double crochet:

See? Now pick up and knit one stitch from the front loop of each remaining dc, two at a time- you can use the crochet hook for this, it’s easier, just slide the sts off the wrong end of the hook onto the appropriate DPN.

Doing this on a table helps, especially if it’s your first time.

Now you’re ready to rock and roll, have fun!

And I have 3 more medallions to knit before I can try out my construction idea, so I’m off, bye….


Although there’s not always an obvious link between the sights of Dublin and my knitted designs, my subconscious clearly flourishes when I treat it to a wander around, so I like to switch of my analytical brain and just potter where my legs take me. Plus, I love hearing from non-knitters who enjoy the same sights as I do, so here are a few pics for youse…

There’s just no point waiting for a blue sky to show you some more of Dublin, and besides, this is a more realistic view of the city- nobody comes here for the weather! This is Christchurch Cathedral, originally founded c. 1030, although it has obviously been modified since.

It’s relaxing, just to stop by and think of those 10 centuries of history right on this spot  (even if you haven’t any knitting with you).

I particularly like the little gargoyles (e.g. centre left, above), they look as if they get a lot of job satisfaction from spitting on people.

Saturdays (in season), market stalls are set up in the grounds and weary sightseers can partake of assorted local delicacies. If , however, like me you prefer not to swallow live animals whole, I suggest you head off down Dame St…..

…taking one last glimpse back at Christchurch, …

….. a close up look at the lamp posts with their shamrocks and Dublin’s coat-of-arms ……

….and away we go down Dame St., and left into Temple Bar, in search of wholefood that doesn’t wriggle.

I couldn’t resist taking this photo of City Hall, with the European flag flying on the right, and the golden Harp of Ireland on a green background on the left. Yes, you’ll have to take my word for that, I know they’re not clear, but I’ll have you know this photo was taken at risk of life and limb, in the middle of Parliament St. traffic, and I had to promise my poor son not to give him any more grey hairs by trying for a second one. It was either that, or he’d have confiscated the camera. So, stop for a second and appreciate this once-in -a -lifetime photo, this is as good as it gets!

Here we are in the quiet back roads of Temple Bar, noting in passing the beautiful proportions of the Georgian shopfronts. I think a lot of those bicycles were parked here at the beginning of the cobblestones, because they are truly uncomfortable to cycle on (trust me on this).

A few more steps, and we’re at Saturday’s Temple Bar Market, abounding in healthy snacks for all tastes, organic whatever-takes-your fancy, and designer crafts. It was so crowded I decided to leave it to your imagination and focus on the umbrellas over the umbrellas- which is a fair metaphor for the last few months/ years!

It feels as if it’s been grey and rainy forever, and that is why this post is entitled Wanderlust- I’ve decided I just have to go travelling! Writing this blog and hearing from you people all over the world has underlined the fact that I haven’t been away by myself for over two decades (well, apart from work, geological conferences and such, and they don’t count). Mind you, wanting a holiday and affording one are two separate things, especially for a lone parent whose offspring has another four years to go at college. Still, the decision has been made, so the way will be found- I’ve got us this far!

Ok, back to real life for the moment. Most of my best ideas come to me while I’m knitting, and most of my Leafy Canopy shawl variation (original by Anniken Allis) was knit while my head was in Thailand (how’s that for budget travel?). I’ve had some queries about finishing or blocking shawls once they’re knit (or crocheted), so here’s a mini-tutorial for ye!

This shawl was knit from the bottom upwards, and before being finished looks misshapen: this is par for the course with lace shawls in particular, so don’t panic! The top edge is composed of what were the two sides while it was being knit, and should form a straight line. The shawl will be (gently!) pulled into shape after being washed,and held this way by nylon yarn/cords and lots of pins while it dries.

Before washing (or more accurately soaking), the strong synthetic yarn or cord is threaded once through each pattern repeat (through the the same stitch, in the same direction, for best results). Each of the three sides of the triangle has its own separate cord.

Note that there is only one cord at the top edge (see pet rock), even though it’s very bulgy at this stage. The spine of the shawls is almost as long as the ruler (60cm / 24 in.).

Here you see two loose ends which have been woven in- don’t trim them now, but wait until the shawl has been stretched and dried, as they may well be pulled and shifted during the process.

Now it’s time to soak the shawl (c. 20 min, cold water and a preparation such as Eucalan or Soak). If you forget the cords before you wet it, you can still put them in afterwards, but it may drive you demented….. Or you could leave the cords away entirely, but it’s very difficult to pin the project out evenly without them. Some people use blocking wires, but I’ve never really seen the point in investing in them, so I can’t help you there.

Now you see the point of the cords- they distribute the stretching evenly and prevent individual stitches or strands from being snapped (alpaca is particularly vulnerable when wet, but this applies to all lace). Nice straight edges, and evenly-spaced points, are easily attained- just pull out and pin the straight top edge first, pinning the cord rather than the lace stitches which are on the cord. Then pull the spine straight down, adding a few pins (see how it’s grown?), and gently straighten out the sides, enjoying the lace pattern as it is clearly revealed…. (If you had knit a curved shawl, then you’d pull the cords into the appropriate curves at this stage)

The pins are actually pulling on the cord, so they are taking a lot of the strain off the stitches (this will be clearer when you are doing it yourself). By the way, I once invested in these extra-long and -strong quilting pins and never regretted it- they not only do the job really well but are also difficult to overlook, which is very important if you’re using somebody’s bed as a blocking board and don’t want to lose their friendship!

By the way, this is Angelina the Andesite. Now, I know it’s completely naff for a structural geologist to have a pet rock (as opposed to a truck-load of specimens), but, in my own defense, she was given to me…. To rationalise further, she’s not just any pebble, she was originally part of the riebeckite-granite which makes up the island of Ailsa Craig, off the west coast of Scotland. She hitched a lift with a passing glacier and was deposited near the eastern shore of Ireland when the ice melted. Subsequent millenia of turbulent adventures in the storms and waves of the Irish Sea knocked the sharp edges off her, transforming her into the smooth and elegant entity who now resides with me.

So there! And if Angelina can be so adventurous, then why shouldn’t I? Excuse me, I’ve got to go and raid my piggybank….

Back in the saddle

This beautiful statue is Rendezvous, by Bob Quinn. It’s sited in a bower of trees on one side of Belfield Lake, on the University College Dublin campus (my alma mater). There are many pieces of sculpture dotted around the campus, but this is one of my favourites.

I couldn’t resist draping her in a few of my designs -in-progress. This one is in single-ply Donegal Soft (Donegal Yarns), because I’ve been experimenting with lacey tweed recently. The next one is Kureyon sock (Noro), with very fine Alpaca Light (Lang):

And just to show that Niamh’s pink boucle shawl (Cushendale, see Local Colour) isn’t skimpy on an adult:

Let’s hope whoever she’s waiting for turns up….

By the way, I’ve been wondering what to do about pronunciation guides. Some of the names I write about are Irish, and are not pronounced using English rules of pronunciation. It strikes me as a bit pedantic (and irritating!) to put pronunciation tips in brackets every time, and probably no-one cares much , anyway, but maybe my followers (big hugs, lads!) would like to know? Some feedback on this question would be welcome! For example , my son Darragh is pronounced Da-ra (a “g” at or near the end just emphasises the vowel), my young model Niamh is Nee/av and my favourite crochet designer Aoibhe Ni is Ay-veh Nee (and I agree with her decision not to use her full surname, because that’s actually complicated!)

And I think it’s clear by now that Dublin English has its own idiosyncrasies, but I trust you to figure it out by yourselves…

Remember the Curve of Pursuit blanket (Pat Ashworth) I started when I was sick and dopey? Well, it has grown considerably, and the ever-longer knit rows practically knit themselves while I’m watching anime with Darragh, which is just as well, because I’m glued to the subtitles while he , enviably, hardly needs them anymore. My latest knitting-induced daydream: I travel to Japan as an established designer and tour the country, with Himself as translator….Hmmm, all that yummy food, too!

I’m working on the last pink square now, and the sides as you can see are longer than the needles (rubberbands would have been a good idea).

Me, rescuing imperilled stitches- D took these 2 photos, so I could also show my waistcoat design! This is a prototype and needs tweaking. Cushendales gave me the yarn specially (pure Irish wool, 400m/100g), it’s not commercially available yet (thanks, and watch this space..).

In response to requests (I love hearing what you’re interested in, lads!), here’s a brief tutorial on German short rows in garter stitch. When working short rows in garter st, knit to the end of the short row according to the number of stitches indicated in the pattern, including the stitch you would have wrapped, if the pattern calls for the wrap-and-turn method. Don’t wrap anything!  Note: the first pink ridge continues across the top of the purple wedge, the other (short) rows simply stop neatly above it, without leaving holes. Have a close-up look between my thumbs. Leave the yarn dangling at the back, then turn the work.

The working yarn is now hanging down in front of you: leave it where it is and insert right-hand needle purlwise to slip first stitch.

Now slip that first stitch and at the same time pull the working yarn straight up and over the top of the right -hand needle to the back of the work (away from you). Then insert the needle knitwise to knit the next stitch. When knitting this stitch, keep a firm tension, so that the turning stitch is pulled up a little and you get what is called a doublestitch (it looks like 2 sts interlocked at the top of the needle):

Knit the first st.

Now the turning or double stitch has been completed while knitting the first ordinary st of the return row.

When the time comes to knit across the short row, just knit the double stitch as if it were an ordinary single stitch- easy peasy! And it looks even smoother in stocking stitch…

And now for some non-technical gorgeousness:

This is the Leafy Canopy Shawl by Anniken Allis (The Knitter, Issue 49), made in so soft Drops Alpaca. It’s a real lace pattern, so I had to wait til recently to get back to it, but it’s worth it.

In fact, it’s so lovely I’m continuing the lace through out the shawl, not just as a border as in the original. Playing around with other people’s patterns = a sure sign that I’m back to myself again!

My brain is back!

and the grass is greener:

The virus is gone, the cotton wool between my ears has reverted to functional brain cells, and I can think straight, thank goodness. Mind you, now Darragh’s come down with it, and it’s his turn to be thrun on the couch under a heap of afghans and shawls, of which there is of course no shortage in this household. It’s autumn, alright!

Thanks to my dopey state, all I’ve been able to knit recently is the Curve of Pursuit throw by Pat Ashworth that I started last week, it’s been a great comfort, especially as it now keeps my legs nice and warm while I knit. I’ve been making quite a few mistakes, but it’s easy enough to catch and reverse them early on, without stressing out the invalid i.e. me. It’s a perfect design for a convalescent with the fidgets!

So, for want of knitting adventures to share (but tune in next week, I’m bursting with ideas now!), you are cordially invited to Clogher Head, to the north of Dublin, for some fresh air, and just a little bit of geology.

Clogher Head is a rocky promontory which is very geologically significant: it is thought to be part of the suture zone between two continental plates which collided when the Iapetus Ocean closed. Before this happened, the NW part of Ireland was connected to Newfoundland, and the SE half to what is now Europe.

These rocks used to be Iapetus ocean floor sediments which got squashed in the middle. A long time later the Atlantic Ocean opened up as the North American and Eurasian plates started to move apart (and are still doing so today).

Had enough science? I try to remember that not everyone is as inspired by rocks as I am, honest, but I admit that I have been known to get carried away (just ask my long-suffering son!).  These outcrops, for example, tone in with my projects because the people at Cushendales’ choose their colour palette from their natural environment, which is one of the reasons I love their yarns.

By the way, please note that I have my son to thank for a lot of these photos, there’s a lot of teamwork involved in the photographic part of my posts, ‘cos he’s my teacher when it comes to publishing the pics, even when I take them myself.

These rocks have a turbulent history, despite their calming colour.

This one even looks like lace to me: after being compressed it was also sheared, opening up regular arrays of cracks (FYI: these are called en echelon tension gashes, if anyone wants to look them up…).

This is a good way to get ideas, I find.

Here I can see a shawl in green silk, and a textured scarf in brown and gold.

Time to say au revoir to the Irish Sea for now, and the last of the rock roses for this year.

A quick close-up of the pink heather which inspired the Cushendale Lace I used for my Rose trellis shawl (remember last weeks’  Slane pics?):

And now for some lovely feedback, that really cheered up when I was at my most sneezy- thank you to Susan Bahr for all the encouragement and this token of appreciation:

As a new blogger, and one who is not at all social media-savvy, it means a lot to receive such support, and I am thrilled. I get a real kick out of hearing from people all over the world, and discovering how much we have in common (and I don’t mean just knitting!).

So here’s my short list of blogs that help me, make me smile, give me ideas and are generally good for me:

www.aoibheni.com/blog.htm      Aoibhe is the only crochet designer who can tempt me away from my knitting needles, because her designs are gorgeous. Her posts are practical and great fun to read, and she has been a huge help to me in getting started here. Thanks, Aoibhe!

 knitlab.wordpress.com      Kieran Foley posts loads of marvellous photos which I find inspiring, and I love his designs (knitting), too, because he combines colours and curves in a particularly sensuous way….

By the way, both Aoibhe and Kieran are on Ravelry, as well.

katedaviesdesigns.com       Kate posts great photos of Scotland and writes beautifully on many aspects of the history of knitting- addictive! And her designs are legend.

malcolmscorner.wordpress.com      I recently “met” Malcolm and am enjoying the series of short essays in his archives, which cover a wide range of topics which provide me with plenty of food for thought about life, the universe and everything, while I’m knitting up the straightforward bits.

And now for the requested seven things about me:

  • I love dark chocolate with chili
  • I am an avid reader of science fiction
  • A holiday spent sitting on a beach would bore me to tears(yes, even with my knitting)
  • Ditto a cruise (well, maybe in 30 years time I’ll reconsider…)
  • My idea of fun is heading off into SE Asia with a map, plenty of time and no fixed destination
  • The last time I did that was 4 years ago, and I’m raring to go again.
  • I am the proud Mammy of The Best Son in The World TM!

Normal transmission will be resumed shortly…..

Unfortunately, I’ve spent most of this week nursing a massive headcold and feeling sorry for myself, i.e. an utter waste of space. You really don’t want to know…. So, with major help from my favourite technical assistant/nurse/graduate Darragh, here are some photos from Slane (NNW of Dublin) to let you know you’re in my thoughts, even if they’re not very coherent!

There’s a ruined church and graveyard on top of what is referred to as Slane Hill. This being the Midlands, which are flat as a pancake, even a glorified pimple like this counts as a hill….

…..and to be fair, it does have a view. Welcome to the Midlands!

Note that the VIPs got buried inside the church.

We were there to look at the geology of the area (very interesting, trust me!), but grasped the opportunity (i.e. the rain had stopped) to take some photos of a few designs in Cushendale Lace that I’m working on.

The following photos were taken in the ruined monastery.

More details will follow when I’m no longer a vegetable.

This Cushendale Lace comes from Irish sheep and is like Shetland yarn in many ways, for example, it blocks beautifully!

I only beaded the edge of this stole, ‘cos I didn’t want it too fussy.

There’s a huge variety of lichens on these old walls.

I’m proud of the way I got the leaves to start falling in the opposite direction in the middle of this stole,that was a challenge!

And now, the grand finale:

And now I’m off to bed with a hot water bottle, a girl’s best friend at times like these. See you in October!