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?

 

 

Still standing

Pensieve shawl Yeoman Janeiro

Sorry I’m late, but you can probably guess why; yes, the testing saga continues. It’s been a rough two weeks, and I’m not very good company at the moment, so this is just a quickie to let you know that I haven’t forgotten the fun side of the Internet, I just haven’t had time to enjoy it. Look how far I got with my beginner’s version of the Pensieve shawl (above)- I’ve been too tired even to knit! Now that is a sure sign of a lack of work/life balance….

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not an oncoming train. One tester has almost finished (and is still happy she took it on!), so hopefully by the end of March at the latest I’ll be a published designer, bouncing around happily with not a bother on me…. (just quite a few new white hairs).

Templeton Square competition Donegal soft

Now this is a teaser: this yarn is Donegal Soft single ply merino tweed (from Donegal Yarns), and I’m using it to knit an entry for a competition in Knitty.com, but I can’t show you yet what I’m at, because that would probably disqualify me (because a photo here would count as a publication). Anyway, Franklin Habit (yes, the Franklin Habit) announced a competition (Templeton Square, Knitty Winter 2012) and I had an idea, so here goes. Of course, the world and his wife would give their eyeteeth to get published in Knitty, so the standard will be sky-high, but this is part of my getting-back-on-the-horse therapy and I’ll still have something pretty at the end of it. Still, you may wish me luck!

One thing I particularly like about this competition is that the results will be made known really quickly: in the Spring/Summer 2013 ed. Now that’s considerate! Last year, I entered two designs in a Rowan competition (deadline was end of April or May) and they still haven’t bothered to announce the winners, or even that the winners have been selected, so no one who submitted a design can do anything about publishing it. Again, I didn’t expect to win but needed the practice, and yet I’d like to be able to follow up on the hard work that went into my entries. So 3 cheers for Franklin and Knitty, and I promise I’ll show you my attempt soon!

By the way, you still have a week or so to enter. Go on, keep me company!

Swatch for Hermione textured hat

I really only have been fit for swatching and the like this week. This one’s an idea for a Hermione-style hat that came to me when I was re-reading (and watching) the Harry Potter series. You know the fuzzy bumpy mauve one she wears in the graveyard in Godric’s Hollow- that one. I have a ball of Cushendale alpaca which is sumptuous and should do the trick, when life returns to normal again.

Vogue Scarf pattern in Cushendale Alpaca with Hermione swatch

Here’s the swatch on top of a Vogue scarf  I did a while ago in the same yarn (Cushendale 70% alpaca, 30%wool, 200m in 100g). You can see that it is best for very simple stitch patterns, because the wonderful halo blurs stitch definition- but it is incredibly soft and warm and I love it!

Actually, what with all this planning a life after testing I’m feeling chirpier now, thank you very much! I’m going to devote the evening to my Knitty Mystery project and a healthy dose of Star Trek (well, Jean-Luc Picard, mainly…..)

and I’m looking forward to being better company next Monday- it’s a date!

Good quality yarns

Coolree Shoulder Flashlight

This has been another week of tidying up loose ends and finishing off miscellaneous tasks. Remember the luscious Coolree alpaca-silk-cashmere lace I turned into the Strawberry Beds shawlette  (called after an area on the left bank of the River Liffey)? Well, I had to block it while folded, because of the built-in Faroese shoulder shaping (see above, moulded around the end of the ironing board). This left a bumpy crease down either side- not a good look- so I had to bend my cardinal rule of never letting an iron anywhere near one of my knitting projects.

Puckers in Faroese Strawberry Beds

See that line of puckers? Sorry about the photo, it was much worse than it looks here, honest! so I dug out the ironing board, dusted off the iron- that’s right, I don’t iron, life’s too short- and I soaked a little towel to protect my delicate creation from the worst of the dragon’s steamy breath. Seriously, it’s so easy to spoil textures, never mind ruin weeks worth of work with an iron- I am definitely not a gambler. As you can see, simply holding a warm iron in the general vicinity of the fabric did the trick nicely, and my nerves have almost completely settled down again, thank you very much, though I still haven’t managed to capture all the glorious shades of colour in this yarn….

Strawberry Beds Shoulder shaping

..and the strawberries are standing on their heads. But they’re the right way round when worn, so that’s all right. By the way, if any of you are going to the Knitting & Stitching Show in London next month (14-17th March), keep your eyes peeled for the Coolree stand- Alex will be there with a selection of his latest goodies.

Orchid Thief Isolda Teague

I finally blocked The Orchid Thief (Isolda Teague), which I knit up using a (100g) ball of Jawoll Magic sockyarn (Lang). This is very soft to the touch, and the colour transitions are long and subtle, which I like, but I don’t think this yarn would wear well as a sock, despite its 25% synthetics. I had to rip some of it, and afterwards it looked the worse for wear, which shouldn’t happen, if this was actually meant for socks. I think it was designed for lace that would be treated very gently, and was only called sockyarn because of its weight.

If you’re thinking that it looks crooked, that’s because it is- I was away with the fairies while I was knitting the body of this (diamonds are boooooring), so the fronts ended up different shapes and I can’t have you thinking Ms Teague is the root of the problem. If it was my own design, mind, I wouldn’t let on (design feature, challenging orthodoxy, blah, thinking outside the box, blah, you know the guff..).

Orchid Thief Lang Jawoll Sockyarn

I obviously wasn’t at my best while blocking  either, was I?

But I didn’t manage to banjax the neck:

Orchid Thief shawlette neck detail

Alright, I’ll admit it, I’ve had other things on my mind- my DS is not at all well, and there’s no end in sight, so while knitting is a very therapeutic help at the moment, the finished product is definitely showing signs of fluctuating concentration.

Part of the time I’m fixing stuff: a quick boost to morale is guaranteed!

Darned glove in Woven stitch

I made a pair of fingerless gloves for my DS years ago- this one has been worn while cycling approx 10,000 miles, and this is the first time it needed darning! Now that’s good quality yarn. It’s 100% merino 4ply by Yeoman and I heartily recommend it (even though they’ve never given me any freebies). The other glove of this pair got lost, and I offered to knit an exact replica (no, I don’t spoil my DS, but he’s usually really careful with things I make him, so I couldn’t be cross). DS asked for the exact same pattern (woven st), but different colours; the chartreuse and purple are from Yeoman too, but the grey is a different brand, and within one week of wear it looked like this:

Poor quality grey wool

While knitting the grey appeared just the same as the Yeoman yarn, but after a little bit of friction it fuzzed and pilled as if it were felting wool- I was disgusted!

Wool Quality contrast

You can tell the glove on the left has been using the expensive revitalising serum, can’t you?

Japanese laceweight Mohair

In order to cheer myself up, I’ve been re-reading the Harry Potter books, and of course new designs have been popping into my head. I decided to start a nice’n’easy project, using 75g of pure mohair from Japan – part of my yarn-diet stash from the sale in aid of the Dublin Society for prevention of cruelty to animals. You can tell that pure mohair yarn is made from goats: it’s got a mind of its own and is willfully contrary. See how smooth, sleek and well-behaved it sits there in its ball? Well, no sooner is it on the needles than it starts to fight back, doing its best to unravel itself and kinking at every opportunity. My stocking stitch generally looks fairly neat, not in need of much blocking, but this may be the one project I’ll happily take an iron to- I haven’t produced such irregular-looking stitches since I was five!

Pensieve shawl in progress

And this tangled web is supposed to turn into a Pensieve shawl- uh oh!

Mind you, one project did eventually go right this week, though I had to rip back a good 50% first. This is called Martina, after the dear German girl in my knitting group, who not only recommended this excellent sockyarn ( Aktiv silk, from supergarne.com) but also carried bushels of it back from Germany for us to save costs (Danke, Martina!).

Martina Sockyarn Shawlette

I was playing around with a motif from an old doily, and an Estonian lace stitch (Tower pattern), and some graph paper, and here we are:

Martina Shawlette Edging

This one turned out much better than I’d dared think- let’s hope it’s a sign….

First Snow

DS Irish Cottage Model

How do you like the holiday home I got for Christmas? Well, the scale model designed and constructed by my DS, based on a traditional Irish cottage but with added 21st century mod. cons. This is not to be confused with my main house, you understand, which he designed a year P.B. (preBlog) but won’t allow me to show off now because he’s improved on the original blueprints several times since then! That one’s positively palatial, with a studio, office, Japanese garden…. now all he needs are a couple more degrees (architecture’s like medicine, it seems to take forever), and all I need is to get rich- anyone got a lonely single millionaire uncle who loves handknits?

Ah well, it was worth trying.

Seriously, folks, I think I’m getting the hang of writing my patterns so that non-mindreaders can follow them, but it’s certainly more difficult than I expected. Still, as my war wounds continue to calm down, my concentration’s getting better, so fingers crossed!

DS Cottage Model Interior

See, inside are living room and two bedrooms, as well as scullery, bathroom and tiny stairs up to the attic- isn’t it sweet? I prefer to start the New Year with a goal, rather than a fistful of resolutions- it’s more motivating. Did you recognise the boucle scarf from last week doubling as one of Ireland’s famous green fields? By the way, they’re still green- a first bit of snow may have fallen, but it’s only sticking in the mountains and not affecting us coastal dwellers (yet!).

I was feeling an urge to take a break from lace knitting this week, probably due to the sudden drop in temperature, so I’ve been playing around with 2-colour patterns. I’m not a great fan of Fairisle knitting (although I’ll always make an exception for a really good pattern),  but when I discovered Barbara Walker’s 1st Treasury of Knitting Patterns in Terenure library as a child, I was immediately charmed by her chapter on slip-stitch colour patterns, and I think I’m about to go through another phase of exploring them.

Swatch close-up

These two balls of (I think) sock-weight alpaca were another happy find at the HandmaidCraft sale last year. Together they weigh 120g, so I thought “snug shawlette”, and set out merrily. However, it would appear I’ve become so accustomed to lace knitting that I need to work on getting the proportions right in firmer fabrics…..

Two colour swatch

because even though I love the look and feel of this….

Huge Swatch

it has turned out completely the wrong shape and is currently my largest swatch ever! I’ll have to rip it eventually, but I’m keeping it to fondle and admire a while longer.

This was not the only hiccup this week- I’m finding it quite difficult to teach the schoolchildren. Their attention spans are pretty short, and some of them seem to find it impossible to sit down and/or stop talking while they’re being shown something. I’ve never had this problem before, and I’ve taught all sorts of people, but at this stage I’m open to suggestions, people…

My Wed. evening with the knitting group in the library was a great pick-me-up, though- so chatty and relaxing, with the usual laughs and being the last to be practically pushed out at closing time- we’d happily stay much later, if only we could. For New Year, the library even organised a surprise party for us, and one of the librarians baked us a cake, with sweeties on it for the children- it’s great to be appreciated!

Speaking of appreciation:

Facade, The Constant Knitter

this is The Constant Knitter, a lovely wool shop in Francis Street, just around the corner from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which I’ll show you when it’s defrosted.

Felt Dolls in the Constant Knitter

It’s run by Rosemary Murphy, who is the Constant Knitter, but wasn’t feeling photogenic (I disagree!), so you’ll just have to drop in and meet her yourselves. This Aladdin’s Cave is full of lovely natural fibres (synthetics only where they serve a purpose, such as percentages in sockwool), and there are many inspiring projects on display- felted dolls, lacy shawls, decorations…

Display in The Constant Knitter

I found the perfect yarn and needles for the kiddies here, and at least they all like them, so I suppose there’s hope yet!

Stairs, The Constant Knitter

That’s me in the background, investigating a new yarn containing several percent of steel. I suppose that’s only a natural fibre in the same sense that viscose is, but that’s good enough for me, I have to try it. It’s a geek magnet, so watch this space.

Up those stairs we find a spacious workroom covering the entire first floor.

Multi-purpose workshop, The Constant Knitter

Dressmaking and -designing classes take place here, as well as spinning lessons and courses in knitting and crochet.

Workshop, The Constant Knitter

And there’s still room for a knitting group to relax and enjoy a cup of tea- the pot is of course dressed in style, in a rosy cosy!

Knitting Corner, the Constant Knitter

One last peek from the top of the stairs (there’s a great selection of Donegal Soft tweed by the front door for souvenir hunters) – I know where my next yarn diet treat is coming from….

View from the stairs, The Constant Knitter

Right now, I’ve started into Frankie Brown’s Applecore Blanket (see Ravelry). Yes, another blanket, but this one is Aran-weight Donegal tweed, like my Windfall blanket, which is what is needed to combat current weather conditions (Arctic gales, horizontal sleet). Camilla G’s sock-weight Happy Blanket, though beautiful, will have to wait a little. Anyway, I’m stashbusting, and that’s virtuous, right? Not to mention reducing fuel consumption.

And anyway, why am I justifying it? It’s fun!

Noro apple-core patches, Frankie Brown

I’m using up a half-dozen assorted balls of Noro, each acquired during sales for their lovely colours, but to be honest, not sufficient for a proper project (even I don’t need that many gloves). I’ve nowhere near enough to make a blanket on their own (and that stuff is much too expensive to buy a sufficiency), so I’m going to embed the Noro patches in a matrix of the Donegal tweed colours that have  seduced me over the years (yes, I’m a slave to my passions, but you knew that anyway).And I’m going to knit, rather than sew, them all together so I don’t go demented.

Operation Slipstitch Colour Patterns will resume once I’m warm again!

In praise of wool in Wovember

Welcome back to business-as-usual Dublin.

Here’s a nice pub, O’Neill’s, to take a break from sight-seeing or yarn-buying, and have brunch. It’s just round the corner from Trinity College, and across the way from…..

..a lovely display of hyperbolic crochet, much admired by maths-lovers and used to teach environmental awareness in a very immediate way.

I love the attention to detail and , having studied marine ecology for years, I must say it’s pretty realistic, too!

Did you know that Ireland has its very own offshore coral reef in the Atlantic? Well, now you do! It’s a relatively rare cold-water type; when I was doing my first degree (in geology), its existence could only be deduced from the small bay on the west coast whose white sand, on closer inspection, turned out to consist 100% of recent (i.e. fresh) coral debris. As that stuff is not only fragile but also easy to dissolve, it was clear that a living reef had to be nearby, but it took a while to pinpoint it. See how fascinating geology can be?

When things go wrong: a bleached reef has been almost completely killed off by dissolved pollutants- a graphic argument against waste disposal at sea….

Very beautiful skeletons, but it’s still a graveyard.

This toxic reef was constructed entirely out of plastic rubbish (my hands twinge just to think of working with that stuff!) that ends up in the oceans.

Apparently, there are huge rafts of stuff like this floating around out there, accreting new garbage into them as they are carried on oceanic currents and blocking sunlight from the phytoplankton as they go, with knock-on effects for the foodchain…

Oops, must be the rain, I’m getting dismal here- let’s have another healthy one, because it’s so pretty:

…. and speaking of healthy (though pretty is not an appropriate word), here’s a prime example of why wool is wonderful:

I knit this gansey for myself over 2 decades ago, from a Christian de Falbe pattern (Designer Handknitting Collection no. 2), using original accept-no-substitutes Donegal Tweed, back when big sweaters were in and I was still doing my best at camoflage in the all-male work environment of field geology. It has withstood field work in many countries, kept both of us warm simultaneously during my pregnancy, functioned as an improvised blanket for small DS, been through the washing machine countless times and now, in its third decade, looks better on my DS than it did on me! I can’t think of any fibre that might rival that …..

(Spoiler Alert: more photos of my WIP for the Vintage Mystery KAL are approaching!)

No, I didn’t fill this one out, either, even at 9 months. Truly.

After all the interesting times this gansey has lived through, it has only needed a little mending. See the neckline? Back then, I had no clue that there were different cast-ons for different purposes, and I used a knit- (aka lace- )cast -on for everything, even necklines and hemlines. Boy, what an innocent I was…. Anyway, after a decade or so, even my beloved wool cannot take that kind of misuse, so I mended the frayed bits by crocheting around all openings (crab claw st: it’s just a row of double crochets (American: single c.), worked backwards i.e. left to right).

This is another Christian de Falbe design from the same era, which of course had the same construction flaw:

This one is done in a handspun pure wool thick-n-thin yarn found in a Donegal grocery shop, tucked in next to the fishing tackle, with recently reknit cuffs and the telltale round of crochet at the neck. No washing machine for this old dear, though- there are limits to my adventurousness!

To top it all, I introduce the NorOShea hat, made out of one hank of Noro Blossom, a large selection of scraps and a dash of gay abandon while knitting! This one practically made itself up as I went along…..

Mind you, the tension was a bit dodgy, so I had to add a wedge in the seam so it would fit, and then a turquoise tree silhouette started twining around it- don’t ask me where that came from, it just took on a life of its own!

Now for some technical lacy stuff, primarily for all those doing the vintage medallion KAL ( by Christeleb78, free on Ravelry), or anyone who likes lace knitting:

first, a couple of picture of how not to do the central motif between the roses. This experiment may have failed, but it clarified my ideas, and confirmed that it is a very good idea not to fasten off any ends until the entire project has been assembled and blocked!

Note that round 42 (plain knit round) has not been worked, so that yo’s will be grafted, as well as ordinary sts.

This means that there isn’t a skinny band of stocking stitch (a total of 3 rows) between motifs, which is what I wanted to avoid by leaving out round 42- see? It’s just a matter of taste though…

Please note that the grafting isn’t perfect, and that I have since abandoned the idea I had, of placing the rose petals at the corners of the motifs:

It was worth trying, but not keeping.

Yes, frogging was scary, but I tinked the last couple of rounds and didn’t lose any stitches, yay! A certain amount of bad language was involved, but nothing that I hadn’t learned from my DS when he was in Kindergarten!

So here’s attempt no. 2:

I’m happier with this one, but it still needed tweaking, so no instructions yet!

Version no.III is now in the final testing stages (it has to work for the edges and corners of a triangular shawl, too), but my recent political activities, some  of which I touched on in my last post, have interrupted work: we all have to prioritize, on occasion…

More next week, I promise!

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!