Friday, 29 November 2013

A Bit of Christmas Knitting

I know I haven't posted any new projects lately but I really have been knitting. A lot. I have a deadline in that I want to finish a pair of socks by the end of the weekend so I can get them and another pair in the mail to the intended recipients.

This is my generic ribbed sock. I'm using Kroy Socks FX yarn.

In the interests of time, I decided to discontinue the ribbing on the instep just above the heel.
Just before starting the heel flap, I knit a little more than a centimetre of stocking stitch.
I really like the colours of this marled yarn. This 4-ply Kroy sock yarn is also quite thick and wears well. You can find it at most discount stores.
But the downside of that is that there isn't a lot of yardage - only 166 yd.
I purposely only knit about a 15cm (6") leg as I know these socks will probably only be used indoors on rugs or mats. However, as I was approaching the toe, I realized there wasn't going to be enough yarn to complete the sock. My solution was to finish the toe with another Kroy yarn that would look OK.

Rather than a harsh contrast, I decided to knit a few rounds of the new yarn, then alternate with the other yarn. Hoping it would look like some type of design feature. At this point I was ready to start the decreases for the toe so I just continued with the new yarn.
I could have started alternating colours a bit earlier to make it look like even more of a design feature.

The other thing I did was use a jogless stripe technique so the colour transitions would look smooth. You can see it a little bit but it's not a really obvious 'jog'.
Here's a closeup. There are only 4 rows but at the jog  you are slipping the first stitch of the second row so only 3 rows of stitches show there.
I really don't think most people would even be able to see where the colour changed.
I'm just working the gusset decreases on the second sock. So, a last push and I'll get these out the door and in the mail.

My head is dancing with ideas for upcoming projects, mostly inspired by my knitting sessions from my Irish knitting tour.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Stitching Update

At my stitching guild the other night we started a little ornament using 18-count fabric and perle cotton threads. Of course I picked the purplish ones.

The pattern is Byzantine from the Caron website. We will be doing a nifty finish at some future guild meeting - hopefully January.
Here's a closeup. Oops! I just realized I haven't finished the outer crosses on the two right sides. It pays to take a photo of an item and look at it carefully. Mistakes or omissions are much more readily noticeable.
I need to decide how to finish this Hardanger ornament. Perhaps with a coloured background to show through the open centre?
Here are a couple I stitched from past JCS Christmas Ornament editions.
I like the way the actual musical notes are shown. I did correct the key signatures, though. I didn't like how they looked on the original pattern.

Today is the 50th anniversary of JFKs assassination. Many still have vivid memories of what they were doing when they heard the news. I remember coming home from school and finding my mother in tears with flour all over her apron. She had been baking when she heard the news. I was 9 years old

There have also been some very interesting retrospectives on TV. I learned that Bob Shieffer actually drove Lee Harvey Oswald's mother to the police station and didn't identify himself right away as a reporter so he could try and get a 'scoop'. The police thought he was a detective but when he admitted he was a reporter, they told him to get lost. 

I just had a heck of a time composing this post. Argh! First, I tried to do it on my iPad mini and for some reason it wouldn't upload my photos. The I tried the Blogger app with a little more success. I'm now on my laptop and I can't seem to get the photos to centre. Oh well, you get the idea.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Carol Feller Workshop

Back in Galway, Carol Feller joined us for a trunk show/workshop based on her 2011 book, "Contemporary Irish Knits". We each received a complimentary, signed copy.

This book is based on her:
sense of heritage and inspiration ... from the remaining Irish mills. Aran knitting has long been marketed to the rest of the world as a quintessentially Irish craft. ... much of what people know about the history of Aran patterns is half-truth and misconception; it is, in fact, a knitting style created out of necessity during the twentieth century. The earliest appearance of an Aran sweater was from the 1940s. By the 1950s, women living on the Aran Islands were encouraged  to knit on a commercial basis, because there was little employment on the islands and their knitted sweaters sold well. 
Due to rising costs and reduced demand, all but a few mills are closed... three mills continue to produce yarn for hand knitting on a commercial basis. Their yarns are featured in the first three sections of the book. 
We visited one of these mills, the Kerry Woollen Mills, and in our workshops, knit with yarns from Donegal Yarns.

Carol talked to us about many of the garments from the book
and passed them around for us to see close up.

This is the Ballinagree boy's sweater. It was worked bottom-up in one piece.
This skirt, 'Tralee', has patterning inside the kick pleats on each side at the hem. It, too, was knit bottom-up, folding the knitted fabrics to the centre of each pleat and then knitting to close the pleat.
We got to knit the decreasing honeycomb swatch from the Killybegs women's cardigan.

My swatch:
The sweater below was actually the same colour as my swatch but the light was so bad in the room, it was hard to photograph well.

This shows the decreasing honeycomb cables in the yoke area. You can see the tweedy flecks of the Donegal yarn.

Here, I was looking at the hook and eye closures at the front of the cardigan.
Listowel, a girl's heart shrug, is knit from the neck down in one piece with raglan sleeves. At the underarms, the sleeves are joined and knit in the round. Then all stitches are picked up and the ribbing is completed.
This twisted stitch hat, Ballyragget, is knit with DK weight wool
I like the criss-crossing of the twisted stitches above the ribbing.
We were shown almost every other garment from the book except Knockmore, the twisted stitch sweater. Apparently it was given to her father (who models it in the book) and he hasn't given it back.

On, Carol has a class on "Celtic Cables". It is based on her Portulaca cardigan. I was lucky enough to snag one of  these patterns she had on hand for sale.
I also purchased her 'Among Stones' pattern booklet.

I was very glad we were the morning group as we pretty much cleaned Carol out of the extra patterns and bookets she brought.

I always enjoy this type of workshop with a designer as I find it so interesting to hear about what inspires them to create their designs and how they encounter and then overcome problems with their designs.
Geri and Carol Feller

Friday, 15 November 2013


We traveled to Inisheer, the smallest of the three Aran Islands. It involved taking a 9 1/2 minute flight in a 10 seater plane (including the pilot) from the Connemara Airport.

We had to weigh not only our backpacks (we only took an overnight bag) but ourselves. Then we were assigned a specific seat on the plane to balance the load.

Before we got on the plane, we watched the safety video on the TV in the little airport terminal building.
It was quite cozy in the plane.

It was a surprisingly smooth flight in spite of the steady wind. We had a great view as we approached the island (population 250). See our little landing strip?
We could see many stone fences enclosing small tracts of land. 
Once on the ground, we were met by our 'wanderly wagon'. Basically it was a wooden hut with plexiglass windows all around pulled by a little Czech tractor, a Zetor.

 Here's a look in the door.
We were taken on a little tour of the island. Our first stop was the shipwreck, The Plassy, that washed up on shore in the 1960s.

We then toured the graveyard and the 10th century Church of Saint Caomhan, the patron saint of Inisheer. It was almost covered by sand but now the islanders keep it clear and celebrate the the feast day of their patron saint every June 14.

Back on the road, we got a good look at the fences that were everywhere. They are just rocks that are piled up about 4 - 5 feet high.

When people wanted some arable land on the limestone island, they had to break up the stone and pile it up. To get soil, they'd drag sand and seaweed up from the beach.

We were then dropped off at our clean, comfortable bed and breakfast.
Our room was very comfortable with a double bed and a twin bed. 
We intended to each take a bed but when we learned that the double bed had an electric blanket on it, we decided to tough it out and cram ourselves into it.

The temperature was actually quite balmy on the island but the wind was so strong we were glad we had worn long underwear (tops and bottoms). The people on our tour from the southern US were frozen most of their time on the island. 

After dinner at the community centre and a good night's sleep and Irish breakfast at the B & B, we headed back to the community centre for our traditional Aran knitting session with Una McDonagh.

Our task was to cast on 68 stitches and begin knitting this coffee press cover which incorporated the 'snail's trail', 'honeycomb stitch', 'diamond with double moss stitch and bobble'.

It was a very ambitious task. My suggestion would be to have students knit manageable swatches of each pattern or a smaller piece incorporating the traditional stitches. The instructions we were given were written out row by row. I much prefer knitting from a chart when doing any kind of pattern work. I charted it out when I got home and it was MUCH easier to read.

Our knitting area became a dining area with Una and her husband doing most of the food preparation for us.
Even the non-knitters on our tour got in on making the St. Brigid's cross out of reed after lunch. Mairead Sharry, a local fibre artist, was our instructor for this 'make and take' workshop.
One of the more commonly told stories of St. Brigid was when she went to the King of Leinster to ask for land to build a convent. The king was reluctant to give her any land but she bargained with him asking, “will you give me as much land as my cloak will cover?” The king thought that she was joking and because Brigid’s cloak was so small he knew that it would only cover a very small piece of land. The king agreed and Brigid spread her cloak on the ground. She asked her four friends to hold a corner of the cloak and walk in opposite directions. The four friends walked north, south, east and west. The cloak grew immediately and began to cover many acres of land. The king was astonished and he realised that she had been blessed by God. The king fell to the ground and knelt before Brigid and promised her and her friends money, food and supplies. Soon afterwards, the king became a Christian and also started to help the poor and commissioned the construction of the convent. Legend has it, the convent was known for making jam from the local blueberries which was sought for all over Ireland. There is a new tradition beginning among followers of St. Brigit to eat jam on 1 February in honour of this miracle.

St. Brigid's cross has the four points, reminiscent of the four directions her cloak stretched. 
Skip was pretty proud of the one he made.

The sun came out at one point so I got a couple of shots of buildings on the island.

Here, I'm on the second floor of a building looking over towards the ferry.
At one point we were taken to Mairead's house and studio. Skip hammed it up by posing for this photo.
He sure looked like a happy knitter.

I'm so glad we had the opportunity to explore the delightful island of Inis Oirr (Inisheer). 

Thursday, 7 November 2013


I started a pair of generic 2 x 2 ribbed socks on October 23. I finished the first sock on Monday night and finished the second sock this evening (we've been doing a lot of riding around Ireland on a bus). I cast on 72 sts and used a 2.5mm needle for the legs and went down to 2.25mm for the rest as I wanted a nice, firm fabric for the foot.
Skip obliged me by being my sock model.  Dontcha think he did a great job?
Tomorrow is our knitting workshop with Carol Feller here at the hotel in Killarney. I believe we'll be working with her book, Contemporary Irish Knits. Wheeee!!!