Monday, 24 November 2014

Blog tour & review: Knit, Bake, Sew

Taking part in the Blog tour for Knit Bake Sew by Evin Bail O'Keeffe, a recipe and craft project annual. In the interests of full disclosure Evin and I follow each other on Twitter and I knit her an Owls once, discovering that we are approximately the same size.  Also in the interest of full disclosure, this being the first time that this has arisen, I am Gluten Intolerant, so I will be glossing over recipes that would be poorly adaptable.

First impressions are good, beautiful pictures.

First recipe is for pastry crust, the idea of incorporating spices into a crust sounds interesting and I should try it sometime.

The Long-tail cast on is detailed in some very clear photographs, that I might use for reference if I was to use it (it's not my default cast-on, but it does have it's uses.  Then there's the Icelandic Bindoff, which looks like something interesting to try and to add to my cast-off repertoire.

Cleverly she has some basic terms and conventions used in the book.  And some sewing conventions and a clear how-to on Blanket stitch, that's one that I always have to check on how to start it, and this is clear.

The first section is Winter

Mugwump Oatmeal pie looks interesting, but not one for me.

The Keating Hat is an interesting slightly loose hat, knit in DK.

The White Chocolate Cheesecake looks good and should be easily substituted (Aldi's Gluten Free Range has some nice digestives by the way)

Cupid's Arrow Cowl is a pretty, loose cowl that would use up a ball or two of treat-me Aran Yarn.

Next section is spring.

Starting with Lime Poppy-seed scones, that looks sadly lovely.

I have been tempted recently to make myself some boot toppers to hold my jeans down during the chillier weather (trust me you start to understand the use when you ride the back of a motorbike in the cooler weather) and the Cobblestone ones tempt me.

The Strawberry Mascarpone tart tempts me too.

The Falling Petals Shawl is another deceptively simple but beautiful pattern.

Next recipe is Snickerdoodles.

Smudge's Handspun Headband is a lovely showcase for a small amount of DK yarn, possibly a use for a first handspun or some beautiful dk leftovers.

And it's into Summer with Aunt Nell's Blondies.

Mary's Hostess Apron is a half-apron copied form an old favourite.  Classic apron.

Buttery Cheddar Biscuits look delicious.

Another sewn pattern with the On the Green Picnic Mat.  An oilcloth backed pattern, very practical for a knit in public day!

Lemon Drizzle Cake makes me want it, on-screen photographs are so clear you can almost smell the lemons. (I did resist licking the screen, just)

Princes Street market tote is lovely, and very practical here in Ireland where we are charged for plastic bags.

Autumn again teases with some Orange and Honey Loaf cake.

Love the Honeycomb Tea Cozy, the colours are perfect for it too, warm and autumnal.

Monster cookies look lush.

Festive bunting is a sewn pattern here.

Grandma's Pumpkin Pie sounds delicious and doesn't start with a tin of pumpkin but with a whole pumpkin... starts to plot possibilities, it's been simply ages since I had a decent pumpkin pie, shush, I had it, in the 80s courtesy of an American neighbour, in Galway.

The Sugar Maple Vest would not be my kind of top, but a very useful, versatile top it would be for many people.

Chocolate Cardamon Tart sounds intriguing.

Upcycled Felt mittens sound like a good use for those jumpers that have had a laundry incident.

Thanks and an index round things out.

It's beautiful, well produced and with something for nearly everyone.  I'm just sad I can't just use some of the recipes straight from the tin but some of them have me plotting and heading for my gluten-free recipe books.  Well done Evin.

Order Bake Knit Sew through the Anchor and Bee (publisher) online store or herRavelry shop during the blog tour to take advantage of a special 10% discount on your entire purchase! Discount code: BLOGTOUR until November 27, 2014 at 23:59 EST.

And one commenter will get a free ebook copy of the book (delivered via Ravelry) Of all the commenters on the blog tour blog posts, one will receive a paperback copy of the book including shipping.

.  So get commenting.

Monday, November 10 – Reckless Knitting
Tuesday, November 11 – Fibre Friends
Wednesday, November 12 – Jen’s Kitchen
Thursday, November 13 – The Dublin Knit Collective
Friday, November 14 – Crafty Tails
Saturday, November 15 – The Writer’s Journey
Sunday, November 16 – Lisa Bogart Thoughts
Monday, November 17 – Moonstruck Quaint previously Glass of Win
Tuesday, November 18 –  TanisKnits
Wednesday, November 19 – Fenns Quay and then some
Friday, November 21 – By Eline
Saturday, November 22 – Yarn Poetry
Sunday, November 23 – Live and Let Pie
Monday, November 24 – Wyvernfriend Knits
Tuesday, November 25 – Cork Billy and This Is Knit
Wednesday, November 26 – EvinOK
Thursday, November 27 –  Lilly Higgins

And the winner, with the help of is Lise

Sunday, 2 November 2014

ICA and modern Ireland

Now in the interest of full disclosure I have to admit that my mum had issues with the local chapter of this group, something to do with them not respecting her training as a domestic science teacher, I have no idea what the truth of the story was and I have I'm not going to really comment, but there was no real friendliness for them in my household but I thought, a few years ago that it could be something for me to join, I mean I'm a multi-crafter, maybe it would be somewhere that I could find likeminded people.

So I went to the desk at the Knitting & Stitching show, and was ignored, people talked around me.  Now I'm actually a pretty shy person and I find it hard to approach new people, I do a good job sometimes of pretending to be a confident outgoing person, but that takes a lot of effort and, to be honest, I found the women there intimidating.  I mean, I often wonder how good I am really at many of these things, I know I have only scraped the top of many of the crafts I do, and I'm always looking to try new skills, to try something different.

On Friday the Late Late Show had three older knitters racing against the show to produce three items during the production.  There were lots of comments from a lot of people about granny knitting, it's a problem many of us in the discipline have, people don't see younger knitters so they don't think that younger people knit, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Looking at some of the crafts I'm impressed at them, others I'm underwhelmed.  I picked up their new book in work, which wasn't mentioned by the way on the Late Late Show, it was their tea book The Irish Countrywomen's Association Book of Tea and Company: Recipes and Reflections for Every Daythat  was mentioned

I hadn't really looked at the book before last night. I wasn't really paying attention to it, it was part of a pile of books that I have to deal with a bundle I've been ignoring for the last few months, trying to do too much again.  Plus my life has been a bit overwhelming recently.  Yesterday I opened it and looked at it, and to be honest I was underwhelmed.  There were a few that piqued my interest, and I was vastly entertained that the first project was designed by someone whose daughter went to school with me.  And it's important than many of the skills that people of that age have are passed on.  

Maybe what it needs is a better and more open pricing structure.  A site like Craftsy to pass on the skills and an interaction with something like Ravelry, where many of the younger crafters gather, creating a virtual meeting group might help too.  Change is going to be needed if the ICA is going to stay relevant into the future, they have done so much good in the past with water and electricity to rural Ireland, to stay relevant they have to carve out spaces that modern Irish women will use.

They should also be campaigning for domestic science classes in primary and secondary schools, cookery and basic mending etc., skills both boys and girls should have, and basic cleaning skills.  Maybe even some courses in conjunction with marriage courses in how to share domestic chores, particularly in this day and age of dual income houses.  Skills badly needed these days.  They should be leading campaigns for equality, these days they appear to have settled into the regular run of things rather than rocking the boat and maybe they need to go back to being a bit less part of the mainstream and a little more questioning.

And we seriously need more acceptance of other ages of knitters.

Thursday, 22 May 2014


I have several reviews done on a USB stick which is missing, presumed having a good time somewhere. ARGH!

I do have a finished sock.

I have been very neglectful of my knitting recently in favour of some lingering cross stitch.  I need to try for at least one post here a week, lets see how that goes

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Patterns that caught my eye this week

I only look at the first 10-15 pages of recently added designs, I only eliminate those with no photos.

A slip stitch waistcoat

 Easter Socks with a Daffodil and chicks and bunny

I keep meaning to try twinned knitting, this hat is an inspiration

I have a pet peeve about not seeing front and back of a garment, this garment looks like it could be interesting but how would I know?

I like how this scarf plays with the yarn

I like this shawl and the inspiration  wondering if it would be better in greens or autumnal colours...

very sweet Easter decoration  

Snowdrops cowl, and now I've got "Snowdrops and Daffodils..." line from All Kinds of Everything looping in my brain, pass the brain bleach...

A masterpiece wedding dress

It just doesn't quite work for me. it might be the whitespace at the edges

Lovely top, with bust coverage

Clever, Clever Loki Socks

Illusion knitting and stripes in a shawl

My style of cardigan, maybe without the belt

Breathtaking waistcoat

Very special scarf very cool design

Very pretty cardigan not really me, though I must knit one of hers some day

Lovely design the subtle striping is just so pretty

Clever hat design I love the flower detail

Such pretty detail without being over the top in this jumper

I like the style of this shawl

Possibly the cutest boots I have ever seen

my kind of cardigan with pockets and cables

Lovely floral motif in these mittens great use of a variegated yarn

Wednesday, 26 March 2014


I was recently watching a program about English Embroidery and the presenter said something along the lines of "not the work of mere housewives" and steam started rising from my ears. What he undoubdedly was talking about was beginner work. Things that are often referred to as amateurish.  And it started me thinking about the terms amateur and professional.

As I have never been paid (well not really, family don't coumt) for knitting or crochet I fall into the ranks of amateur, some might add the word talented, I couldn't possibly comment. I have embroidered semi-professionally (got paid in fabric, patterns and yarn) but I still wouldn't regard myself as professional.

I mean, I am an amateur, by the very definition of the word. It comes from one of the first words you learn to decline in latin "Amo" meaning to love (technically amo means I love, but I'm trying not to confuse things too much), it means to do something as a passtime, because you love it, the lacking expertise part is secondary, and really we need to use another word for that, "tyro" is a perfectly good word for novice or beginner, "dilletante" sounds too much like lounging around.

There is also the issue of value for work that I have been thinking about lately. Before the time of washing machines and vacuum cleaners housework without maids was long hard work, even today it's work, keepimg up with it, hobbies and a job can keep you exhausted, and some of those women, those housewives that presenter dismissed, not only cleaned and scrubbed and clothed their children, they also made things, some for charity, some for their local church (kneelers etc) and in many instances their work is considered trivial, belittled.  Yes, sometimes the colours were garish, think of the conditions, garish would stand out in firelight, garish brought a bright into sometimes drab lives, garish might have given that woman a smile, no-one can dismiss garish, it implies a playfulness that maybe we miss. Garish could also imply sales, that hank of embroidery thread that wasn't selling, thay could be got on a tight budget, but the woman could feel like she had done something, contributed.
And we forget this, these women carved time out of their days, time they could have spent doing something else, perhaps for themselves, to contribute and we then talk about this work as if it should be trivialised, and maybe they weren't amateurs, maybe they hated doing it, but we need to reframe how we think about this.

Also the world of art is strange. Many of the knitted pieces I've seen are works of art but we don't treat them as well as we should. I've seen pieces devalued in price by the seller, who doesn't seem to value their time or their work, and we let them in pursuit of cheap goods. I've seen knitted garments I'd prefer to see on my walls than some artworks that cost 100 times more.
Maybe we do need to put a price on crafts that propery reflects the work and artistry that goes on.

The other part we ignore about womens crafts is that it was the one acceptable way for women to create art. There is art to choice of colours, the work, the interplay of colours etc. And I'm pretty sure a lot of it answered an artistic yearning many women had, by making it into "useful" items they had an excuse, a reason, they could devote that time to this output, or I'm sure, in some instances, time when they could think, relax, while still technically doing something.

Two posts in one day after a few months away, well there was Christmas and then ill, I've had a cold/flu with added strep throat since early January. Plus a minor bike accident that caused my shoulder to flare, I have a few reviews that need me to add the links and check them, then they will be posted.  I'll probably set them up for once a month for a few months and may backdate a few.e

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Knitter's Book of Yarn review

Book Depository Dublin City Public Libraries
The Knitter's Book of Yarn - Clara Parkes


I was about 20 pages in when I thought about buying it and by about 60 I had an order into the Book Depository for it.  I will admit that the patterns don't really fire me with huge enthuiasm but the information in this book is gold.

Yes, other authors have written on this theme, but Clara is like being in a good yarn shop with a friend who is very knowledgeable and who doesn't have a huge bias against pretty much any yarn, she sees the utility in almost every yarn and wants to share her enthuaism for it all.

The book opens up with an exploration of different fibers, starting with Protein fibers - wool, alpaca, silk etc; Cellulose Fibers - made from cotton, Linen, hemp etc; Celluostic - using industrial processes to create a fiber but deriving from natural materials like wood, bamboo, corn etc and then synthetic - nylon, acrylic etc.  She discusses the pros and cons of all the fibers.

Then the book moves on to production and I finally understand the difference between worsted and woolen spun.

Then the patterns, they are divided by ply, to encourage exploration of how this works with the yarn.

Starting with single ply yarns, there are the Maine Morning Mitts; Cabled Tea Cozy, honeycomb hat and Seascape Bolero.  The mitts are ribbed and pretty plain, the Tea Cozy is a good use for a small amount of luxury yarn and the honeycomb hat plays with textural stitches to create an interesting play with light.  The Seascape Bolero is not my aesthetic, I just don't like the way it sits and I think the buttons on the back would interfere with my comfort.

The next are two-ply yarns; Step ribbed stole in two different texture yarns; Baby Soft Cardigan; Optic Waves Shawl; Raspberry Rhapsody scarf; Vines Cardigan; Guernsey socks; Little Shells Socks; Endpapers Shawl and double thick mittens.  I like the pattern on the double thick mittens, simple but interesting; endpapers shawl shows an interesting use of some handpainted yarns and colour graduation; Little shells has texture from the ankle up; Guernsey socks are interesting textured again showing variation; Vines cardigan is an angora piece, not my thing, not into fluffy, the style is interesting and I could be tempted to knit it in a less fluffy yarn the Raspberry Rhapsody scarf is relatively simple but a nice showcase for a yarn; Optic waves uses the variegations in the yarn to accentuate the waves in the pattern. Baby Soft cardigan is for 3-24 months and is cute. The step Ribbed Stole would be a good piece against busier pieces.

Three ply yarns are the next logical step; opening with the Rhinebeck hat and Mitts, colourwork enters the game, using a variegated yarn with a plain to create a fair isle style.  I like elements of the Cabled Swing Cardi, the collar doesn't work for me, I'd be tempted to tweak.  Swirly o socks have a fairly simple pattern that would work with a lot of multi-coloured yarns.

Four-ply and more is next.  Beginning with a very simple baby hat; then more colourwork in the Norwegian Snail Mittens, which are playful and cute.  The Patchwork Carriage blanket works with stripes and textures. The girly tee uses hemp and is an interesting fairly plain pattern; two catnip toys make an appearance. Iris side-to-side sleeveless top is grafted together and then edged with vertical stripes.  Ripple and lace leaf linen basket liners have an interesting texture, deceptively plain  they would make a nice gift.  Princess Mitts are wrist warmers with a cabled back, ideal for a small amount of luxury.

Then we move to cabled yarns, plied yarns plied on themselves.  Wavy socks use cables in a loose way to create interesting movement. XOX vest is a tank top with cable detail down the middle and is a temptation for me to knit. Cabled Headband is pretty and useful, the butterfly mobius is an interesting piece for some luxurious yarn.

Textured yarns are up next. The chunky winter set uses a thick and thin yarn to good effect, the Architect's hat plays with colourwork and slip stitches in interesting ways. Diamonds and pearls shawl uses the strengths of the yarn involved to create a pretty piece.

Bouchle yarns has a honeycomb bag again using slip stitches for a colourwork pattern that compliments the yarn

Brushed yarns has a scaruffle that shows how two different yarns can produce two subtly different results.

Chenille uses a cotton chenille to produce a classic washcloth that looks lush.

The felt factor has a very pretty Calla Lily personal security nightmare bag. No way to fasten it but it's pretty.  The retro cloche is a small hat that pearches on your head and I would hate it.

Then she discusses care of fabrics and some other information.  There are a few errata

The book is a great resource of information and useful knowledge and I look forward to it being part of my collection.

This book was obtained from Dublin City Public Libraries where I work.  Dublin City Public Libraries pay my wages but offer me no inducements to write these reviews.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


There's something about knitting socks that just calms me.  I always have some socks on the go.  The latest socks are skew, I need some distracting at the moment, and something somewhat complicated is just what the doctor ordered!

Earlier today I got this shot of the toe

Friday, 19 July 2013

Review of Crochet Unravelled

Book Depository Link; Ravelry Link; Dublin City Public Libraries

Claire Bojczuk

This is a very good, ambidexterous guide to Crocheting.  The instructions are clearly done for both left and right handed crocheters, side by side, down to a clearly illustrated granny square done by both left and right-handed crocheters.  A breath of fresh air for those of us who need instructions for left-handed use (now if she'd only shown crab stitch, trying to work that out left-handed was a head-wrecker.

The book is divided into two parts, the instructions and the projects, and the projects are simple and good starter pieces.  Usefully, right beside the illustrations of the projects in the centre of the book you have instructions for reading charts on one side and UK/USA terminology and hook size with suggested yarn weight alongside.

Projects include a Bracelet, (illustrated inside the cover) simply made with a plaited edge, the instructions are both written and charted.

Hair Scrunchie (also illustrated inside the cover)- again written and charted instructions

Bottle Bag (also illustrated inside the cover)- another one charted and written

A Daisy Facecloth is a modification to a granny square with a picot edging, charted except the centre, also written.

Love Heart Soap Sachet - charted and written

Traditional booties - charted and written

Cobweb Cover is a blanket and is written and charted.

Flower Cushion  - motifs sewn together to create a cushion.  Could be made in two sets of colours for variety. - charted and written

Chevron Scarf - is a pretty scarf that would lend itself well to all sorts of yarn - charted and written

Skullcap, a hat that starts from the centre and works down so would be adaptable for a variety of yarns and adaptable to make it bigger if necessary.  Again charted and written.

Tee-shirt edgings uses beeds and is edging that could be used anywhere.

It's a good basic starter book and also would be useful as a reference for more experienced crocheters, a worthwhile book for most crocheters libraries.

I got this copy from Dublin City Public Libraries where I work, who don't offer me any inducement other than access to the titles and my wages.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Review of Fantistical Hats and Beanies

  Book Depository Link; strangely none on Ravelry. Dublin City Public Libraries

 Fantastical Hats and Beanies - Jenny Occleshaw

These are hats for babies knit in dk or 4-ply yarns, knit mostly in the round and they are somewhat insane, and I mean that in a good insane way.  They're almost works of art and a lot of work.

Starting with Busy Bee, with feelers and emroidered bees, I'm sure the embroidered bees could be replaced with buttons or pre-made bees.  Pretty simple and cute

Apple Blossom - "This is a delightful hat for any little girl who loves pink" now when you're talking about 18 months to 4 years I have problems that this is a personal choice speaking or parental choice, but this is a white hat with dark and pale pink ruffles.  The ruffles are crocheted on after the hat is made.  Cute and could be made in other colours as a use up leftovers project.

Little Ladybird uses bobbles in black yarn on a red hat, cute.  The bobbles are made after and sewn on.

Baby flowers uses pre-made felt flowers to decorate a plain hat.

Cheeky Elf uses noro yarn and applied i-cord leaves.

The Great Gatsby is a beret, scarf and shoes set inspired by the 1920s, fair-isle bands with a tweedy yarn.  This is cute and while suggested for boys is fairly unisex.

Ladybird, ladybird has more complex ladybirds applied after the striped hat is finished.

Moonbeam is a nightcap style striped hat with some knitted balls added attached with i-cords

Baby Jester, knit in the round with two peaks, knitted balls finish of the tops

Hello Sailor is a floppy beret with beads and some matched slippers. Cute.

Pearly Queen, with pearly buttons on the top and a ribbon to tie it on, this one could be troublesome for teething babies.

Black Magic - Black mohair and velvet with polka-dot knitted balls, looks like a cupcake.

Coconut Ice - pink with kid mohair flowers in pinks. "Perfect for the little princess who loves all things pink and flowery" shades my perception of this hat.

Feathered Fancy - multicoloured with flower and feather decoration this one needs close supervision when worn.

Bluebells Cockleshells - uses blue oddments and has added bluebells and cornflower flowers.

Butterfly uses variagated striped yarn to create an interesting contrast to the plain yarns used.  Has applied butterflies and bobble on the top.

Polka Dots, simple beany topped with red and white knitted balls and i-cords and an optional ribbon.

Chasing Rainbows uses multiple colours to make a colourful hat with stripes, bobbles and icord top knots.

Blue Top Knot is a blue variation of the polka dots pattern.

Starting from about here I was starting to think about tea cozies.

Cherry Ripe has cherries and leaves to decorate this red white and green hat

Strawberries and Cream, bobbles, beaded strawberries and leaves decorate this hat.

Twist and twirl has curly tails and bobbles and topknots and balls, a way to use up leftovers.

Loopy hat. Not a hat for a baby who dislikes hats as the 30 loops would make it very easy to catch on fingers.  finished off with knitted balls.

Carnival looks like a carnival ride with multiple adornments.

Socks on the Washing line - 6 miniature socks would be a great use of leftover sock yarns and also a great way to try socks if you've ever wanted to knit them.  A very busy hat.

Blooming Gorgeous has flowers and a watering can.

The Tea Party - cup cake with a tea party on top. The hat is pretty basic but the rest is fiddly.

Blackberry Pie has beaded berries and leaves adorning a textured stitch hat.

Autumn Harvest has multiple colours of autumn and some leaves and acorns.

Ho Ho Ho is red and white with some white leaves and red berries and a knit ball.

Fin's Penguin has a penguin(with a scarf!) and lots of bobbles.

Frog in a pond - multicoloured hat with a frog on top of leaves.

Hop to it, a rabbit on leaves

Plum in the garden has a cat on the top surrounded by leaves, flowers and flower pots.

Rabbit in a Hat, a rabbit surrounded with flowers.

Daisy mouse is a tube hat with a mouse peeping out of the top.

No knitting instructions but some embroidery instructions.  The book goes from simple to complex and some of them could be adapted to be simpler.  I did start to think about tea cozies half-way through and I'd say several of the patterns would be adaptable to that idea.  Many of them look very complicated and fussy and you'd also have to ensure that all the items were well-sewn on.

I was also glad to see many unisex patterns but I had some issues with the pink for girls assumption.  I know that later many children do have preferences but very young babies only have preferences given them by parents.

I got my copy from Dublin City Public Libraries who offer no inducement other than my wages and relatively easy access to the titles.