Saturday, 22 December 2012

Twenty to make Mini Christmas Knits - review

Book Depository, Ravelry, Dublin City Public Libraries

Cute christmas knits.  Starts with an introduction and some basic techniques then has 20 different Christmas themed knits.

Twinkling star using sequin yarn, make 5 points and knit them together and then sew two pieces stuffing as you go.

Christmas tree with some ornaments - again make 2, sew together adding beads and a bell as ornaments as you go.

Gingerbread Heart - not sure what makes this gingerbread, it's more nordic to me or rustic.  Knit two heart shapes, sew together with blanket stitch in a contrast yarn, add felt or button heart to centre.

Mini-sweater with a cable, knit 2 sew together.

Mini-mittens, make 2, sew up

Christmas mouse.  sewn

Fairy mouse, like the ordinary mouse but with a tutu, wings and wand.

Stocking, again sewn.

Holly garland sewn onto a curtain ring

Sweetie cone, lined with felt, seamed

Fir tree egg cosy is one of the one that appeals, though it's layers of sewn strips of leaves.

Rudolph is another sewn ornament, you would need to use pipecleaners in the i-cord to keep him up, he's more of a hanging ornament as designed.

Snowman with a hat and scarf and i-cord twig arms and yes sewn.

Rocking Robin, body and breast are made seperately and sewn together, sewn on wings, beak, tail, legs and feet.

Christmas Pud - pudding, large icing drips, small icing drips made seperately and incorporated into the icing top, holly leaves made seperately and all sewn on

Christmas Angel would do for a very small tree.

What a hoot - a miniature owl made in many pieces and seamed together.

French hen - a hen with a scarf, again made in multiple pieces.

Turtle Dove - again complicated small pieces seamed later

Nordic Bunting made with some nordic style patterns these are cute.

One for those who enjoy fiddly seaming. AKA not me.  The only things that caught my attention were the egg-cozies (and I don't often eat eggs) and the bunting.  The rest didn't really grab me.

Friday, 21 December 2012

We Knit you a Merry Christmas review

  Book Depository, Ravelry, Dublin City Public Libraries

We knit you a Merry Christmas by Debbie Harrold

Some quite amusing, some groanworthy patterns.  All in dioramas, only 3 of them are on ravelry as I write this.

First up is a Brussels Sprout with a beard, moustache and Santa hat. fiddly seaming

Chill Out - A Chilli Pepper with glasses, magazine and paper hat.

Ha Pea Christmas - a pea skiing, wearing a Santa hat.

Turkey, a knit turkey with a Santa hat.

Go Crackers - a pair of crackers with Santa hats.

Let it snow - a group of snowballs sledding, wearing festive crowns.

Gingerbread - a Gingerbread man and woman

Choir Boys - choir boys with book

Snappy Christmas - a christmassy crocodile

Baa Humbug - Christmas sheep, with either Santa hat or antlers (made with pipe cleaners)

Three French Hens - hens with striped jumpers knitted in and berets or Santa hats.

Happy Christmas, Deer - yes, you guessed it, a deer with antlers.

Ho Ho Ho - Santa

Have an Ice Christmas - a polar bear with a scarf and skates

Penguin - with scarf and ear-muffs

We Three Kings - apart from the fact that I always understood that at least one of the kings wasn't Caucasian .. three kings with cloaks and gifts.

Chris Moose - a moose with a Chris label.

Angel - in silver dress and bearing a gift.

Snowman - with scarf and hat

Mistle Toad and Wine - a toad shown with a miniature bottle of wine.

At the back there are some knitting basics.

This one really made me groan, not for me it would probably appeal to people who like making miniature toys and playing with Dioramas.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Knitting without tears review

Book Depository, Dublin City Public Libraries, Ravelry.
Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann

Elizabeth Zimmermann is the grandmother of modern American knitting and her books are in the bibliography of almost every knitting book in the last 10 or so years.  She's opinionated, antsy and she will tell you exactly what she thinks, but she's also entertaining to read.  It's full of illustrations and sketches by her and it has a certain charm.  The patterns are pretty timeless (provided you adjust for current fashion for fit) There are patterns for jumpers/sweaters, socks, baby wear, watch caps, socks, slippers, mittens and more here, along with advice on washing jumpers.  The Tomten jacket makes an appearance here and you may have to translate the yarns and needles but she makes you ask questions about why you knit the way you do and why you don't play with your knitting more.

This is what Elizabeth Zimmermann is famous for, not the patterns, but for making people think more about how they knit and how things go together and whether or not received wisdom is always the best way.

It's worth reading, even if you don't knit any of the patterns, if you're feeling like there's more that you could do in knitting, even if you don't agree with her, she makes you think.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Rowan Crochet Workbook review

Crochet Workshop - Rowan (Book Depository Link)
Ravelry Link
Dublin City Public Libraries have copies which is where I picked up my copy

Text links are to the patterns on Ravelry.
The presentation of this book is quite good, spiral bound makes it easier for beginners, however it's not a book for left-handed crocheters.  Right-handedness is assumed and there's no real mention of using a mirror or that it's possible to crochet left-handed.

The edition I read is the one on the site and it was in UK crochet terms with a note about the US terms and conversion notes.

Workshop one takes you through some stitches like slip-stitch, double, half-treble, trebles and double trebles you then have a four-stitch coaster practice piece.

Workshop 2 - Stripes are explained next followed by a mixed-yarn striped scarf

Edgings are explored, with some simple patterns, a discussion of edging other fabrics with crochet.

Seaming comes up next, with a patchwork cushion cover to practice crochet seams.

Workshop 3 brings in shaping and working in the round, and some simple flowers. Project four is a Cloche hat with a flower.

Afghan Squares are explored with a couple of different types, often referred to as Granny Squares.  Project five is a Wagon wheel throw, with 188 motifs needing sewing up afterwards.

Workshop 4 takes you through creating textures, lace and some colourwork.  Project six is a crochet belt, covered in crocheted flowers.  Colourwork is used in some variety for the felted pots.

Workshop 5 is about garments and finishing. Project eight is a Baby Matinee Jacket, project 9 is a baby dress. After a piece about finishing with crochet button techniques and pocket techniques there's a woman's cardigan in a very simple stitch.  Short sleeved and made in pieces.

Workshop 6 is about embelishing crochet. Beads, felting and embroidering.  Project 11 is a crocheted necklace with beads. Project 12 is a felted bag with corsage, sewn after felting.

Most of the yarns used in the projects are dk or lighter.

Apart from the caveat about left-handed crocheters it's not a bad book, if you were looking to get into crochet it would be a good lead-in and after doing the projects you would have a good idea of what you were doing with a hook.  The photographs are clear but I don't think that they use enough of how Crochet can be done three-dimensionally, seams are ever-present where perhaps they aren't absolutely necessary.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Sew What bags review

Book Depository Link Dublin City Public Libraries copies

Yes, this isn't a sewing blog and I'm not really a sewing type of person, however this is an excellent book on how to go about designing and making bags out of fabric, ideas which could be translated quite easily into knit bags and if I ever was to sew bags for myself this would be a book I would turn to.  Messenger bags, sacks, organisers, draw-string bags and totes all with clear instructions and inspiring ideas to add to the mix.

Later the same week I read Sew by Cath Kidson and didn't think it was as useful for bags to be honest

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Ladybird Book About Knitting

Ladybird Book About Knitting.

Wow, a serious flashback in this one, I remember using this book when I was much younger and I think I tried to knit a few things, but even I knew that my dad wouldn't be that impressed with a knit tie!

This book was part of a series by Ladybird that were about practical projects and originally published in 1972.  This is a facsimile edition of that one, so the needle size is in the old UK Imperial.  Size 8, by the way would be 4mm.

The advice to get some brightly coloured double knitting wool didn't say it had to be actual wool.

The first page of text is some do's and don'ts for better knitting, including washing your hands.
Then a list of essential supplies.  Needles, wool, scissors, sewing needle and bag.
How to create a slip knot is followed closely by an unnamed cast-on, the standard knitted-on cast-on considered pretty basic.
How to knit is followed by a small piece on Garter stitch and then how to cast-off.

The first project is a garter-stitch hair band that requires some help from "mother" to finish.

Purling comes next and an illustration of stocking stitch.  How to sew something together using an overstitch is followed by a pattern for a pincushion for "mother"

How to decrease is followed by a simple pocket money or change purse.

How to increase and then the backstitch seaming method is followed by a ball for a baby using increases and decreases, knit in five pieces

Making holes is followed by how to knit egg-cozies.  Then there's a blanket for a doll's pram, a pencil case, a bag and the aforementioned knit tie (which would appear to be at the end because it's knit using size 9 - 3.75mm needles and 4ply wool!)

It's funny, today there would be things like knitting in the round and probably brand-named yarns but this is simple and very basic and the illustrations are quite clear, wouldn't be a bad book to start someone off on

The libraries have got in a few copies.  Worth looking at for at least entertainment value.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Unintended Politics

No, this was never meant to be a political blog, I honestly didn't intend to talk about politics, but recent events have forced my hand.

And it's all about a knitting pattern, Irish Cable Bomb, a pair of shorts.  earlier versions mentioned that the name is a riff on the Irish Car Bomb drink. Knitpicks have renamed it as Irish Cable Shorts.

Now the Irish Car Bomb cocktail is not a cocktail you would really ever get in Ireland.  At the very least it's a racist stereotype at the worst it's a trivialisation of the pain and suffering that was the Troubles.

The "Troubles" are a raw issue in Ireland.  In my name people murdered other people, often by blowing them up. Often the people were going about ordinary days (see the Omagh Bombing).  We had bombings in Dublin & Monaghan but mostly it was in the Six Counties.  While they claimed it was in my name I never felt that anything justified this.  It was never in my name for me.

The Troubles left scars, not only with other people but every Irish person has a story about what went on.

I remember my mother in tears as she prayed, during her 25th Wedding Anniversary Mass, celebrated by a priest family friend who was based in Belfast.  I had said as an aside earlier that day that none of her children had known peace in the North, I was born in 1970.  I keep seeing that expression of pain and suffering on her face, every time I think about that pattern.  That and the voice of the man who lost his daughter in Omagh as he held her hands, as I write this, tears are beginning to form.

I remember going to that priest's 25th Ordination Anniversary and being surprised at the amount of security on the building, and that was in the late 90s

I remember a friend being very stressed because she just got the last bus out of Belfast before the "Twelfth", I also remember when in July you would suddenly see an influx of Northern Registered Cars in Galway, as some of the more moderate people ran away from the violence that would erupt then.

I remember when I put a white ribbon on, when the Women's Peace Protest said "not in my name" and called for people to wear it, maybe I should start again.

My husband told me about being stopped and searched because he was going to a paintball game in the UK in the late 80s early 90s, when you could be stopped and detained for 48 hours for suspicion of being Irish.

If you want to know more about the conflict this is a good place to start.  The Irish Car Bomb Cocktail should be renamed and this racist trivialisation of pain and suffering should stop.

And it should never be used for a pattern name.

In fairness, the author and editor have apologised for any offence caused.  This does not stop it from being hurtful.

Since I wrote this on Friday they've changed the name to Bombshell Shorts.  I would like to thank them for listening.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Strange locations for evidence

Idly reading Sex and Marriage in Ancient Ireland By Patrick C Power

By the way I really wish a lot of romance writers who writer about Ancient Ireland would read this, marriage in modern Ireland and celtic Ireland were two completely different things. Not exactly a book you would expect to find anything really about yarn and fabric.  I mean why would a book about marriage have anything about that sort of thing?

Page 53-54

When it came to the division of wool and the dye-plant (glaisin) which was used, the position was as follows: the woman would take as her own one half of whatever cloth she had woven or of the the wool she had spun while married.  She was entitled to one third of the wool which has been combed once and a sixth of the wool which is in locks or sheaves of flax.  As to the dye-plant, she received one third of it at a preliminary stage of preparation and one half if it be fully prepared for use.
(the author cites Ancient Laws of Ireland Vol II, p 373
Glaisin would appear to be Woad from a quick google, I suppose that's going to be one of the next things to research,

So there was flax, and wool. Nothing is said of knitted fabric of any sort, but then again it's not clear if the cloth is about unused cloth or if it would include used cloth, I may have to take a better look at the laws and my old college text on Early Irish Laws looking at it for mentions of yarn and clothing.  I was reading this originally to remind myself about the laws because I read too many books that contradicted what I believed was true.  It's an interesting and quite short read.   It's interesting to see a different view of marriage and an insight into a different culture.  It's just a pity that many authors can't see past their own cultural assumptions.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Aran Reader - clothing etc quotes

Since my last post on the Aran Reader I've finally finished it.

Book Depository Link, Dublin City Public Libraries link

It's a collection of writings about the Islands beginning with Giraldus Cambrensis in 1220 to a poem by Michael Longley in 1985.  There are six sections in it, Early Visitors; Literary Revival; The Strangers; Aran Writers; Man of Aran and To Possess Aran, each dealing with different eras.

I did find it an interesting read, interesting in how different people experienced the islands.

This post is more about clothing and fabric traditions of the islands than about some of the other details in the book.  It's worth reading if you're interested in the islands and their history.

Pages noted here are from the hardback edition I'm reading.  Links on the title are of online copies I have found, if available.

From Samuel Lewis A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland from 1837 (p18-22)
"...and they grow small quantities of flax; but the produce of their harvests seldom exceeds what is required for their own consumption.  The pasture land is appropriated to sheep and goats, and a few cows and horses, for which they also reserve some meadow..."
"...the tormentil root serves in place of bark for tanning; and there is another plant which gives a fine blue dye, and is used in colouring the woollen cloth which the islanders manufacture for their own wear."
"From the secluded situation of these islands, the language, manners, customs, and dress of the natives are peculiarly primitive; instances of longevity are remarkable. The shoes worn are simply a piece of raw cow hide, rather longer than the foot, and stitched close at the toe and heel with a piece of fishing line."
From Notes on Connaught by T. J. Westropp (1888) (p47-49)
"This island is an extremely primitive place we saw women grinding meal with querns & weaving the cloth which dyed red or brown forms the staple female dress; the men usually wear blue cloth clothes & scotch caps & 'pampooties' or raw hide shoes of untanned skin laced up the heel & instep..."

More from Ethnography of the Aran Islands by Haddon & Browne (1893) (p50-58) [note link is to version that appears to be abridged]

The dress of both sexes is for the most part homemade, being largely composed of homespun, either uncoloured or of speckled brown, or blue grey or bright red colour.  The people appear not only to be warmly clad, but as a rule to be over-clothed.
As previously mentioned [not included, that I can see, in the extract] the girls and women card and spin the wool, the wool is worth eightpence per pound. The cards are bought in Galway, and the spinning wheel is of the pattern which is common throughout the west coast.  A large fly-wheel is supported on a form, at the other end of which is an upright board which supports the spindle.  The wheel is turned by hand. The whole machine is of rough workmanship and is homemade.  Some women will hire other women to come to their houses to do their spinning for them at the rate of eightpence per pound.  All the yarn is woven in the islands by professional weavers who charge fourpence per yard for the plain and fivepence for the coloured flannel.  The flannel or yarn is dyed by the women.  Dr Kean informs us that formerly the wool used to be dyed a black of a very fast nature made by steeping it in a decoction made from some plants which he has never been able to identify and, then boiling it in an 'ink', as they used to term it, composed of the black liquid from bog holes, which was imported from Connemara or the purpose.  This method has been given up for some years since the introduction of the dyes of commerce.  Those most in use now are madder and indigo.  O'Flaherty writes (1824), p133:- 'There is a native vegetable, the name of which I now forget, [damn you O'Flaherty, why didn't you remember! W] which gives a fine blue dye, much used in colouring the wool which the islanders manufacture for their wearing.'
The men wear a shirt of dark flannel procured from Galway, and over this a jacket or sleeved waistcoat (bawneen) of white homespun nearly as thick as a blanket; outside of which is worn a waistcoat made of grey-blue or brown flannel, in many cases this is bound with a dark braid.  Of this waistcoat there are two patterns, one with large collar flaps buttoned back on the shoulders and the other buttoned up to the neck with a simple turnback collar without flaps.  The latter patter, though sometimes worn by the men, is for the most part worn by boys.  The trousers are of white or grey homespun and are worn loose and rather short, ending well above the ankles, and are slit down the outer side of the calf for the lower four inches.  The feet are clothed in blue woollen stockings with white upper bands and toes.  These are knitted by the women  They also wear a home broad blue bonnet of the 'Tam o'Shanter' type with a chequered head-band, or a broad-brimmed soft hat which is imported.  Up to the age of about twelve the boys wear a long frock of red homespun, coming well below the knees and buttoned up the back, otherwise they are clothed like the men.
The women wear only one cotton undergarment, and bodice, and several heavy petticoats; the outermost is usually of a bright red colour.  They often wear a white jacket like a man's.  Frequently a woman will be seen wearing a petticoat over her head as a shawl; but more usually an imported tartan shawl is owrn, the red patterns as Stuart, Grant and McNab, being the favourite.  In many cases a red kerchief is worn on the head, but caps, hats, or bonnets are not worn.  O'Flaherty (1824 p. 138) says:- The female headdress is completely the old Baraid [or Bairéid] of the Irish.'
Both sexes wear sandals made of raw cowhide, the hair being outside, the edges of the piece of hide are caught up with strgin, with which htey are tied on over the instep.  They are admirably adapted for climbing and running over the rocks and loose stones.  Some of the men, however, are now taking to wearing leather boots.  These sandals are precisely similar to the 'rivlins' of the western and northern islands of Scotland.  In Aran they are now called 'pampooties'; the origin of this term is obscure (cf. Wilde, 1861 p. 281).  A curious point about them is, that they have to be wetted with water before being put on, and that while in wear they must be kept damp in order to preserve their flexibility.
In a footnote on p. 96 of O'Flaherty's H-Iar Connaught, Hardiman says:- 'It is observed that the people of Aran, who wear seal-skin pumps, or "pampooties", are never afflicted with gout.  They affirm that a piece of the skin worn on the person cures and keeps away the cholic.' Apair of pampooties will last about three months, and the cost of the skin is from 6d. to about 1s. 2d. per pair.

From  Lady Gregory's Seers and Healers (1920) (p68-70)
p 68
The men would sit in a half-circle on the floor, passing the lighted pipe from one to another; the women would find some work with yarn or wheel.
Which begs the question, what did they do with the yarn, however it's not recorded!

The Arran Isles by Mary Banim from Here and There Through Ireland (reissued from 1896 Weekly Freeman) (73-83)
The men were clad in white flannel suits of sort, loose jacket and trousers; their head-covering, a round, grey woollen cap, made with the crown flat and a little wider than the red and white tartan band which fits it to the head; on the feet 'pampootys' (I spell the word by sound), or sandals made of one strip of raw cowhide, stitched at the toe and heel with a bit of fishing line; another piece of string is run half way round at the top of the foot at one side, a second string goes an equal distance at the heel to the other side, and these strings being drawn around the foot while the hide is supple, the sandals form perfectly to the shape of the feet, making, with the brown or prettily mottled hair on the outer side, a sandal such as was worn, perhaps, in the days of Cain and Abel, and which is certainly as simple, and yet as pretty a foot covering as one could wish to see.  They are necessary to the people of Arran, who have to spend their whole lives walking on the rocks and springing from crag to crag; so that the pampootys are worn by every man, woman and child...
...The bigger lads were dressed like the men, while the little Arran boys, up to twelve, wear red petticoats like their mothers and sisters. .... These dark-skinned and darked eyed little fellows, in pretty cowhide sandals, red petticoats, white homespun jackets and woollen caps, look exactly like young Arabs.

Beside [the fireplace] the stand of the spinning-wheel served as a form until the winter evenings should come, when the wheel would be mounted, the spindle put in, the carders set to work and the busy spinner be the centre figure in the warm, firelit kitchen, while the immense balls of yarn, spun last winter and now hanging up on the wall, would be taken down and knitted into stockings for the family, or dyed and prepared for the weaver to weave into flannel, frieze or blankets.  For nearly every article of clothing is made at home on the islands, and, though heavy and rather coarse to the touch of those accostomed to the finely dressed (and adulterated) English manufactured goods, the stuffs thus made at home are far warmer and more durable, and also healthier than any others, as nothing but pure wool and vegetable dyes are used.


...many of the women looked strangely like their own Eastern ancestresses: the sandalled feet, Venetian red petticoat, and, with many of them, bawneen, or white flannel jacket, worn covering the head, forehead, and body in truly Eastern style, have a curiously foreign effect. 

The Islands of Aran by Arthur Symons from Cities and Seas-Coasts and Islands (1897) (p86-91)

...women wearing the same red clothes that we had seen on the larger island... and looked up at us out of the darkness of many interiors, from where they sat on the ground knitting or carding wool.

...and two of three girls sat down on the other side of the arena, knitting.

...she was sitting by the roadside knitting...

Sadly what they were knitting isn't recorded.

The Aran Islands by John Millington Synge (1907) (p97-104)

The rough lane to the graveyard slopes away towards the east, and the crowd of the women going down before me in their red dresses, cloaked with red petticoats, with the waistband that is held aroudn the head just seen from behind, had a strange effect, to which the white coffin and the unity of colour gave a nearly cloistral quietness.

James Joyce The Mirage of the Fisherman of Aran. England's safety valve in case of war (translated from Italian, 1912) (p108-110)
The fisherman of Aran has sure feet. He wears a rough sandal of untanned cowhide, without heels, open at the arch, and tied with rawhide laces.l He dresses in wool as thick as felt and wears a big black hat with a wide brim.
...the islander, removing his hat from his head, sinks his face in the soft wool, confused and smiling.

Somerville and Ross - An Outpost of Ireland from Some Irish Yesterdays (1906) (p124-128)
a middle-aged and taciturn widow, wearing a red-checked shawl over her broad chest, a smaller red shawl over her head, an excessively short red homespun skirt, and pampooties. In the early hours of the summer morning her step, muffled in cowhide, traversed the house weightily ; in due time followed the entrance of the stable bucket, borne with a slow stride that showed to admiration the grey woollen ankles under the short skirt
With its barbaric novelties of colour, its wild, red-clad women, its background of grey rock, its glare of sunshine, Aran should be a place known to painters
facing page 16 of the text is an illustration of an Irish Fisherman

Thomas Mason The Aran Islands from The Islands of Ireland (1936) (p131-135)

The bride...was dressed in a blue costume, thin stockings and light shoes; she wore a necklace, and her appearance was in strong contrast to that of the other women.

Liam O'Flaherty Skerrit from The Black Soul (1924) (p140-161)

They all wore the native costume of the island, rawhide shoes, blue frieze drawers held with a belt, hand-knitted [? the ones I've seen have been woven], of coloured threads, a sleeveless frieze waistcoat, blue in front and white at the back, dark blue frieze shirt with white bone buttons from throat to breast, wide-brimmed black felt hat.

Tom O'Flaherty Coming Home from Aranmen All (1934) (176-188)
Children were reared for export to the American labour market (plus ca change)... English post-office name for the hamlet is meaningless, like the phonetic atrocities that go for names of places all over Ireland.
Yeah, nothing to do with costume but a lot to do with some recent thoughts.

Intro to Pieces on Man of Aran
Michaeleen Dillane, was sent to boarding-school in Galway but left to join first the Irish and then the British army.  He was reportedly wounded at Dunkirk but he vanished without trace in the war's aftermath and is now but a hazy memory among the oldest islanders 
Another piece of trivia that really has nothing to do with much but strange trivia that caught my attention, like the fact that the first Gold Medal of the modern Olympics was awarded to James Brendan Connolly whose parents came from the Aran Islands.

Ria Mooney - Autobiography from George Spelvin's Theatre Book (Summer 1978) (p239-242)
Everyone seemed to dress in the same way: the men wore the white collarless bainin jacket over their hand-kntted jerseys, pampooties, footwear- made from oblong pieces of unplucked cowhide - on their feet, and a crios (a belt woven from coloured wools) around the waist of their trousers. On their heads, the wore the Bobalin cap or the large, sombrero-like felt hat.  The large hats, however, seemed to be dying out, as only the older men wore them, and I doubt they could be bought in Ireland after the early years of the century.  The Bobalin cap was very attractive. It was round, crocheted in thick white wool, with a large tassel at the top.  It has become fashionable now for children or teenagers to wear one with an 'Aran' sweater or lumber-jacket.  At that time, the children of Aran would wear their sweaters to Mass on Sundays - each family having its own traditional individual design, and all in spotless, gleaming white.  The girls wore mostly red woollen skirt which they called petticoats.  Married women and widows had begun to wear black, but the majority wore the skirts that were made from the homespun wool they had dyed with the juice of red berries.
The effect of these traditional clothes, and the simple good taste of the people who had remained on their island, was marred by the cheap American clothes which some of the girls wore on Sundays, proclaiming hte fact that they had relatives or friends who had emigrated to the States.  Some of the older women wore fawn-coloured shawls which had been bought in Galway, and others were very proud when on Sundays they could show off one of the newfangled machine-knitted garments called 'cardigans''. The men's trousers were made from cloth woven from the wool of the black sheep - Bainin was made from the wool of the white sheep.
...I am glad I saw something of the old customs before they disappeared altogether.  Pat Mullen told me that in his youth, before he had emigrated - to stay only a few years - to America, the women were even more colourful in their dress.  White, red, blue, purple and striped petticoats were worn.  Their newest, which they wore on Sundays, was turned up in front and caught in folds to form a kind of bustle at the back, when they were performing any tasks at which their new petticoats might get splashed or spotted.  But even at the time of my visit it was a picture for the mind to store away to see those women, with their red skirts spread out, sitting on the sloping golden sands of Inisheer in the evening, their backs supported by a green bank, waiting for their men to come home with currachs full of supplies brought in on the Dun Aengus from Galway.
 Shevawn Lynam from A Change of Outlook from Accent on Living (1955) (p273-275)
It hardly seemed worth explaining that the islanders grow their own clothes on their own sheep's backs and the the island weaver weaves them: or that they make their own shoes - pampooties, they're called - from their own cows' hides: or that they make their land with the own hands...
I can still see her sitting there, as neat as a pin in her long, red tweed skirt and velvet trimmed bodice...

I have transcribed these as best I can, a good chunk of it is out of copyright material.  If you know any sources or comments feel free to add them.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Aran Reader - some notes as I read

I'm on a short break, somewhat marred by a missing cat putting paid to some plans.

Then I heard that Vogue Knitting has published an article about Clan Arans... sigh.  While I'm reading this Aran Reader.

Book Depository Link, Dublin City Public Libraries link (yes, yes the copy I'm reading is the one circulating copy, I hope to have it back soon)

The Aran Reader is a book that gathers together writings about the Aran Islands from the earliest with Giraldus Cambrenis in 1220 to the 20th Century (published in 1991) with a variety of writings and opinions.  I'm mostly data mining it for mentions of knitting and the costume of the locals over the centuries.

I was mostly ignoring the bit about local names.  Didn't really think about it much the rest of the extract was sufficiently annoying in parts, anything written in 1893 with a title of Ethnography of the Aran Islands (published in the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy) is guaranteed to be, at least patronising and at worst down right bigoted.

So the Local surnames, with frequency: (page 53)

Beaty              1
Brabson          1
Burke              5
Concannon     5
Conneely (1) 61
Cooke             5
Curlin              8
Coleman          1
Costello           8
Crampton        1
Davoran           1
Derrane (2)     57
Dillane              4
Donohoe         11
Duignan            3
Faherty (1)       78
Fallon                3
Fahy                  1
Flaherty (1)     80
Fitzpatrick (3)   5
Flanagan           1
Folan               18
Gauly (4)          1
Garvey              1
Gillan (5)          3
Gill                   6
Gould               1
Griffin              9
Hardy               1
Hernon            11
Hogan               1
Joyce               17
Kean                 5
Kelly                 4
Kilmartin (6)     1
Kennedy           1
Kenny               1
King                  1
Keilly                1
Kyne                 2
Lee                    2
Leonard             3
Maher                7
McDonagh       27
Millane               6
McNally             1
Mulkerrin           4
Mullin               20
Murray               2
Naughton           3
O'Brien              5
O'Donnell        20
O'Rourke           2
Powel              14
Quinn                2
Ryder (7)           1
Scofield             1
Sharry (8)          2
Toole                4
Wallace             3
Walsh                4

1) This name is found over the three islands
2) this name is confined (with exceptions of two families) to the large island
3) Originally from the King's County [Offaly]
4) Originally from Dublin
5) Originally from the North
6) From County Clare
7) Originally from Boffin Isle
8) Originally from County Clare
{apologies for the clunky formatting, I'm not too hot with this]

Sadly these names are in English only so no idea what names were in Irish, also the collector, a Seargeant Wm. Law of the Royal Irish Constabulary who said "I have omitted a few names such as those of Johnston, Chard, Kilbride and a few others of more ancient appearance on the islands." Also many of the names are names I came across during Primary and Secondary school years in Galway.

The names highlighted are the names that appear in the Clan Arans listing.

Now I may have missed a few, however I did try to find them being as general as possible.  Feel free to point out the ones I've missed.

Sadly the tradition of knitting stockings or socks is dying out, the socks described as having white heels and tops (cuff or toes?) with the rest being coloured.  Yes you can get them around Connemara but they're not regarded as something that we should be worried about or should try to preserve.  My father describes knitting heels by double knitting them, where they were knit into the front and back of the stitch and then the first stitch cast off over the second stitch.  He described them as very hard wearing but a pain to mend.  I wonder how socks were knit around Ireland and were there regional variations.

I have found no mention of knitted jumpers, just woven clothing with knitted socks, and I'm heading into the 20th century with what I'm reading in this book.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

My Grandmother's Knitting

Book Depository Link, Ravelry Link Dublin City Public Libraries link

Errata Link here

I borrowed this from Dublin City Public Libraries, who pay my day-job wages.

A book with a slightly different slant,  a variety of knitting designers describing their relationship with their grandmothers, grandfathers and other ancestor and designing something inspired by their relationship with the knitting those who came before them taught them.  There are also some other patterns created by designers without a full story attached.

They're quite a bit of a mix of patterns and many of them echo older times, there are a few I would be interested in knitting but it's more of an interesting introduction to some of the designers, some known, some lesser known.

The first half of the book are the stories, the second is the patterns.
Designer and pattern links are to Ravelry.

Larissa Brown introduces it with her own story, the remainder of the stories are written in the third person.  Her pattern is the Family Tree Afghan

First up is Wendy Bernard who talks about her grandmother and her sculptor grandfather, finishing with her sadness in not being able to share her success.  Her pattern is Helen & Wendy's Slippers

Pam Allen discusses the memories her grandmother incorporated into her quilts and offers a Chickadee Cowl, a big lush cowl that reflects her mission to rescue the New England Mill that makes the Quince & Co yarns now.

Meg Swansen discusses her famous mother Elizabeth Zimmermann and about learning to knit and the legacy of such a famous mother.

Ysolda Teague discusses her grandfather who knit and who skewed her view of who knits in a family. He handcrafted violins and programmed using punch-cards for the paper mill he worked for.  Her pattern is Fiddler's Mitts

Jess Marshall Forbes is interviewed as one of the brains behind Ravelry, something which has changed the world of knitting.

Kay Gardiner is half of the Mason-Dixon Knitting blog and she talks about the example of simplicity that her grandmother left her with.

It came to me as no surprise that Joan McGowan-Michael had a stylish grandmother and that she was an inventive creator of her own clothes.  There was a tradition there that gave her support.  She offers the Angelina Shrug

Kirstin Spurkland  talks about her father and his Norwegian heritage that still inspires her. She designed the Rose & Cross Pullover

Teva Durham talks about her bigger-than-life grandmother Minerva who taught her that if she had to try and see vision and make it happen.  Her Minerva bonnet is inspired by a picture of her grandmother.

Jared Flood talks about his father's relationship with creativity and about how the wallpaper creativity of his mother's quilts became art as he studied  art and realised how they actually were beautiful in their own right.  His design is the colourful Tilden Baby Hat

Nora Gaughan talks about growing up in a house of artists and how if she thought of doing it that it was possible and how hard it was for her to have patience to learn how to knit.

Anne Hanson whose grandmother knit her an afghan that she still has.  Her pattern is the Crocus Patch Blanket

Leigh Radford remembers her honorary aunt Edna who taught her that it was okay to knit and how playing with fiber or playing with paint she regards it all as art.  Her pattern is Edna Slouch Hat

Chrissy Gardiner remembers gardens.  And while she doesn't remember learning to knit but remembers working with yarn.  Her pattern is Twining Vines Pillow

Adrian Bizilia remembers her grandmother carving out time to knit every day.  Inspiring Adrian to create yarn and complex patterns.

Kirsten Kapur whose life was full of women who created  and worked with colour so her concept of colour reflects these colourful women.  Her patterns are crayon cowls

Emily Johnson talks about her family trunk project, where she explores her family's past and creates patterns inspired by the people from family.  Her project is the 'Olina Socks

Keepsake Scarf by Rodger P. Murry - designed to use up some memory yarns
Vintage Gloves by Robin Melanson  - while her grandmother was a little overfond of bobbles she reckons she would have like to wear this when she was younger.
Concetta Cardigan by Cirilia Rose - an update of a family heirloom
Ice Skating Cape/Skirt by Cosette Cornelius-Bates is based on a heirloom
Grandma's Fan dishcloth by Judy Becker is a nice balance between lace and plain and had me want to reach for my needles, found inspiration in inherited lace medallions.
Conover Mittens by David Castillo inspired by his grandfather, one is a negative image of the other
Wan Jai Socks by Cookie A has lines inspired by the travels of her family to reach the US and are named after her grandmother.
Storm Cloud Shawlette by Hanna Breetz is a small piece that's reminscent of older times.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

This week's pretties and huh's

I'm going to start doing a new pretties and huh's hopefully weekly post.  I've been doing it on twitter occasionally but I think it would be nice to make the links a bit more permanent.

Pretties needs no explanation, huh's are those patterns that are not my aesthetic.  Your mileage may vary on both.  I'm going to try to explain what I like or dislike about it.


Raindrops, an apt pattern for the weather that's in it!  Love the water drops and thanks to the designer for permission to feature the picture

Rosewood Cardigan - now while this suffers from one of my pet hates, calling the pattern after the colour you designed it in, I love the way the cable twists around, it would be a great pattern for a tweedy yarn.

Chalet is another pattern with a lot of plain stocking stitch and some nice little details, yes I like v-necked cardigans, I find them more wearable for me.  I'm also a fan of pockets.  I'd be tempted to lengthen the body, or at least to see where it would hit and adapt if necessary to make it come down to the top of my legs.

I have a fondness for modular pieces and Taku looks interesting.

Vivika looks like my kind of winter jumper, not rounded neck, comfortable looking with multiple cables

I'm torn when it comes to heavier yarns in wools and fabrics that are more open for practical reasons, however I kinda like this one Sunray Medallion Tunic

Ivy - a scarf inspired by Art Nouveau ticks a few buttons for me, I'm a huge fan of Mucha and most Art Nouveau and this is a nice tribute to it.


Ruffled Sparks Clutch now I will admit that clutches aren't my thing, I like bags with shoulder straps, I don't like carrying things around (and my hands dislike it too) and ruffles make me twitch, so this just isn't my thing

I know owls are popular but this doesn't really appeal to me.  Give a Hoot Crochet Owl Hat oh man, not my idea of pretty.

Saturnalia should be my kind of thing, but there's something about it that just doesn't gel with me.  I keep looking at it and wondering.  I think it might be the band, tweaking it might make it work.

Now I like the actual garment but file this one under Photographs make a difference, Ombre Dyed sweater and also it feeds a minor pet hate, it's a cardigan, to me sweaters don't have an open front.

Nice Idea for a pattern, Woman's Sideways Cabled Cardigan but it's a bit too bulky, bulky yarn plus cables = huge bulk, it's not flattering if you have weight.

I am a fan of waistcoats, but this Lets Go Loopy Waistcoat made me shudder

I think I've done enough here for this go-around.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Knitters Home Companion Review

Kindle UK EditionKindle US Edition

Book Depository LinkRavelry Link

I got a free time limited copy of this title from the publishers, Open Road Media, via Net Galley in exchange for a review.

This is more a book about knitters than knitting.  I found it quite a quick read and while it's not really the kind of book I would add to my collection it's a book I would have happily read from the library.

There are several patterns in the book but they are more background than foreground.  There are also recipes and book suggestions included in the book.  I was actually surprised when I saw how many patterns there were in the book because they didn't really make as much an impact as the text and story of Michelle Edwards' life and experience with knitting.  It falls into the same category as some of Elizabeth Zimmermann or The Yarn Harlot's books, only in Michelle's own style.

An interesting video here on the publisher website

It's an interesting read and an interesting look into a life with fibre.

There are some errata available for some of the patterns

Zigzag Baby Blanket  - a two colour blanket with some interesting garter stitch in it, it's pretty plain but interesting.

Playtime Cape - a cape for kids to play in, with pompom details on the bottom and an i-chord or french knit tie. (I have to admit that I was wondering about upscaling it...)

Clutch of Inspiration - intended to be a portable holder of some inspirational bits and pieces to raise someone's spirits.

Quick and Easy first socks (aka Gussies) - knit with 5mm needles using a bulky yarn, these are more house-socks than anything else and would be good first socks to get some of the concepts.

Good Karma Slippers - t/hese would be the pattern I would be most likely to knit from this book.  Not just the pattern but the story behind them intrigued me.

Lacy Scarf - an interesting scarf worked in a bulky yarn, but like any scarf could be knit in whatever yarn you really want by adding more stitches into the pattern.

Chicken Egg Warmers - chicken shaped egg cosies.

Quick and Easy Mittens (aka Pearl) - knit in a similar way and in the same weight yarn as the socks you can change your mind when you reach the heel or thumb.

Updated Ripple Afghan - working a garter zig-zag pattern this is a nice afghan knit in an acrylic yarn in a few colours though you could knit it in as many or as few colours as you'd like.

Victory Scarf and Wristers - inspired by war knitting, these are intended as a gift to someone undergoing strife.  They say wristers I say fingerless mitts as they have a thumb.

Trio of Lacy Washcloths - three different patterns for three washcloths, they're nice and look very serviceable. 

Genie's Hat  - a hat with some embelishment

Michelle Edwards designed most of the patterns but Theresa Gaffey designed the Lacy Scarf; Trio of Lacey Washcloths; and Updated Ripple Afghan

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

My first design

After doing some of the crochet recently, I got interested in Tunisian Crochet and it's possibilities. Then I was asked for some Bunting for an event I'm attending later this year and I thought to myself that I could do it in Tunisian Crochet, I knew the basics from doing several of the shawls, like decreases, this wasn't going to be complicated. Surely someone would have done this? Not that I could find, so I decided to do it, and then I decided that I could write it and offer it for free. So I did several iterations, after ripping out several false starts.

tunisian bunting
to the left  was the first one. I didn't like the edges, it had ended up being quite stepped and the two sides didn't match.

bunting no 2Then I did the next one (the brown one) I wasn't really happy with the slip stitch edging, you could see some of the edging through it, but it wasn't bad, it was just not quite right.

Then I tried the green one
and when I was finished with it it was what I wanted.

tunisian knit stitch So then I made a few more.

  I even experimented with Tunisian knit stitch and the edges just didn't quite work either It might be the fact that this was the first time I had used that stitch.

helpful blues So now I have six and the pattern is available through Ravelry for free

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Cast on, Bind Off review

Book Depository 

I got a free time limited copy of this title from the publishers, Storey Publications, via Net Galley in exchange for a review.

This book is interesting in that it looks at one topic, cast ons and bind offs, the book is basically divided in two, cast ons and bind offs, starting with cast ons. They're then divided into various headings.  Basic, stretchy, decorative, circular, double-sided, multicolour, provisional, tubular and mobius.

Part two is bind-offs, again basic, stretchy, decorative and sewn.

The two column layout in some parts makes reading this as an e-book an exercise in scrolling up and down a few times.

She starts off with some elementary descriptions and some basics.  Where she clearly defines some techniques she's going to use later.  While a lot of this is very elementary, it is useful to be clear before starting exactly what you mean by something, there are often several meanings for different things in this game.

I loved the section beginning sketches and the photography is very clear.  This is one I'd prefer in paper and within a few weeks it would end up festooned with post-its.  She's quite clear about the pros and cons of each cast-on and bind off, and also what they're good for.

This is one that's going on my wishlist, and I hope to buy it relatively soon.  I used it for a recent project when I was checking on a cast-on and found it very useful.

Monday, 25 June 2012

May/June Socks

Because my hands were being uncooperative during late May, these socks took a little longer than usual
  finished aquaophobia socks
I do like them though, the pattern was a bit tedious but I like what it did with the over-colourful yarn.  The Pattern is Aquaphobia (Ravelry link) in a Opal sock yarn from the Feeling Range.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Crochet, crochet and more crochet

My right hand inflamed at the base of the thumb and I couldn't knit for a while, what to do? Crochet. This weekend had some beautiful weather where drying stuff outdoors was almost compulsory. So I have some finished items.  Pattern links are to Ravelry.

 I started with a Pax by the talented Aoibhe Nipax finished 

then I started a half-granny shawl... I got a little further than this start of half granny square
 but I can't find the second ball of Noro

 Then a chenille shawl
  chenille shawl

 Then I started into Argo, again by Aoibhe Ni
  one ball of noro
and the other ball of Noro can't be found (my house seems to eat noro!) there may have been some swearwords

 So then Venus another Aoibhe Ni Pattern

  venus blues

I stopped two sets of scallops before the pattern was supposed to end, I was running out of yarn and while I possibly could have finished up another round but the pattern ended that side.  This was the sky yesterday evening and I love the blue against the blue.  The clothes pegs we picked up in London at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Knitting Shawl FInish

I have another post with some crocheted finished items, but this is a knitting project, I'm back knitting!! With one skien of the Ruca multy, made from sugar cane, which feels so soft I reckoned it needed to be a shawl or scarf or something but it's only 240m, I found the pattern Triangle Scarf Bonus Pattern and got stuck in, today has had a chunk of knitting because I've been suffering from some minor food poisoning and it's been a nice distraction. I finished what the pattern suggested but I had plenty left so I did another set of the diamonds and again another set of squares. Now there's 4g left of the yarn which I think is close enough! In reality it's a bit more ice-cream coloured, but the sun is washing things out. triangle shawl

Saturday, 19 May 2012


I'm pretty certain that the link was via Twitter, someone pointing out a competition, they're pretty common, I enter if I'm eligible and if I like the prize and then largely forget about it.  A competition with Knitbot? There would be tonnes of entries, I'd never win.

And then I did!

I did a random trawl through the spam filter, clicking on a few to say no, these are not spam, to find one that shocked me, I had won!

So I provided my address, joked that I could provide one that had what could pass for a Postal Code (work is within the Dublin numbered areas), if the postal workers couldn't cope with Irish Addressing, and got back an email to say that all was well.  Less than a week later I got a parcel, yarn individually wrapped and the book begging me to start knitting.  And then my hand decided knitting was optional... I'm looking forward to playing with this yarn, eventually.

knitbot competition winnings

Don't you love how the stickers feature a chickadee and a lark? The yarns I got, I love the colours and the richness of the dye and they are so soft.  Now they may or may not be knit into things from the book, but there are a few patterns that will be knit.

The advice on working with drape in the book is quite interesting and I will use it for other things and adapting patterns.  Featherweight is the cover pattern and is begging to be knit!  Some day, after I finish up a few long-standing projects.

I'm hoping that this week, now that my hand has mostly recovered, that I can get back to knitting, I'm in the middle of some crochet at the moment and this last one should be finishable, this one I have all the yarn for in one place.  But that's for another post.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

some history of Craft education in Ireland

From: History of the Irish Vocational Education Association 1902-2002 - Jim Cooke

This is pretty much one of the most dry books I've read.  There's a book underneath this text, a book about the development of education in Ireland and the changes in the emphases on what was taught, this is pretty much an account of the congresses and official moments of the Irish Vocational Education Association.  It took me a while but these are the mentions of fibercraft in the book.  This could be a good starting point for more research.

I will admit that a few other things that intrigued me crept in.  Mostly for dating of when they occurred, yes, Aeronautical Engineering has really nothing to do with fibercraft, nor does Wind-generators for Electricity but it just made me stop and wonder at the time.

My mother was a domestic science teacher and my father was a Woodwork and Building Construction teacher, which did colour some of my choices.  This is a launch-post for me for further research and I want to revisit some of the information at some later date.  However there is a request in for this one and I have to hand it back.

p 13. The trade subjects [for the Dublin Schools] would be: Joinery, cabinet-making, coach-building, wood-carving and photography; to which list they hoped the next year [1888] to add weaving, mechanical engineering and book-making. In addition a wide range of science and art classes would be held.

p 35: Illustration of Glengarrif Technical School - lace making class

p 40 Domestic Economy c 1902 11 teachers

p 43 3 scholarships to residential schools of Domestic Economy

p 44 St Louis World Fair 1903-04. The technical education section included "a collection of samples of the work now being done by pupils in teh technical and art schools in Ireland, including specimens of enamelling, mosaic, tapestry, embroidery, stained-glass designs and specimens of lace and crochet and other of the art crafts as they are at present taught in Irish art schools"

p 46 Home industries were also being encouraged by the department by providing teachers in Crochet, sprigging, lace-making and machine knitting.  [1906-07]

School for commerce and Domestic science at Rutland Square, later Parnell Square.

78. [in 1907-08] there was a system of itinerant instruction in Domestic Economy, manual instruction and building trade subjects, while crochet, sprigging and lace-making were taught and demonstrated in many areas also.

78 [1907-08] there were summer courses for teachers in 15 subjects and a special crochet course.

The industrial classes at Cahirciveen Presentation Convent were making good progress, as were  the crochet classes which were related to the same cottage industry locally.

93. Notice to Co Galway Farmers [1908-09] "Do you want to make money/ Do you want your daughters to cook your dinner, nurse you when you are sick, earn money at crochet, and make their own dresses? ... If you do, write to the County Committee.

98. [1909-10] The World renowned Irish lace, crochet and Embroidery industry, as well as our other home industry, was being aided and developed by the Department.

115-6 In a paper on 'small industries' Mr George Fletcher emphasised that machine embroidery needed to be taken up, as the age of hand industries was largely gone [1914], it was a question of economics over aesthetic - Ireland was sending linen to Switzerland to be machine embroidered.  The hand industries were not being completely ousted just as hand painting on cloth was not ousted completely by the three-colour machine process.  Various speakers, however, argued for the superiority of the hand, artistically, over the machine process.

Cork's Woollen factories at Douglas, Blarney and Dripsey were referred to by Mr J F Crosley ARCScI in his paper on 'Woollen Industries'. The need for technical education at managerial level as well as at operative level were emphasized.  There was a great demand for Irish tweeds and there was a secure future for the industry if it kept up with modern developments through technical education.  Mr TP Gill said he had tried to get the woollen manufacturers to meet, but failed; but the Department did five scholarships to the sons of small woollen factory owners to study in England and bring back the best modern methods, and this scheme was successful in a number of cases.

119 It may be noted, that Bolton Street College of Technology had introduced classes in aeronautical engineering in 1911

121 in 1907-08 the 689 teacher students were distributed as follows:

Experimental Science (physics, chemistry, mechanical science, botany and physiology & Hygiene) 300
Laboratory Arts 33
Drawing and modelling  136
Domestic Economy 58
Manual Instructors (woodwork & Metalwork) 10
Building Construction 29
Woodcarving 5
Domestic Economy 20
Hygiene & Sick nursing 19
High-class cookery 20
Crochet etc 39

153 - [1914-1923 chapter] About 800 boys received instruction in English, Arithmetic, Drawing, Elementary Science and Manual work in Wood and Metal, while 1,000 girls were taught English, Arithmetic, Drawing, Cookery, Needlework, and Knitting.

155 There had been 373 teachers trained in a range of special subjects from wool dyes and dyeing to lithography. (between 1914-1923)

169: [Miss Elizabeth Bloxham, Co Wexford, representing the Domestic Economy Instructresses in the Free State, proposed that domestic economy should be taught to girls in primary school] She said that there was some sewing in the primary schools but no cooking.

188 [1924-29]
Number of students enrolled in classes in technical schools 1924-1927

Course                                1924-25 1925-26 1926-27
Introductory                         1757 1881 1738
Commerce                         8811 9225 8390
Science (pure and applied) 3757 4009 4251
Handicraft                         1009 1104 1434
Domestic Science                 5354 5672 6521
Art                                         916         891         920
Miscellaneous                         204         227         722

Total                                21808 23009 23976

Number of Students enrolled in classes conducted under County Schemes of Technical Instruction other than established Technical Schools were

Course                                   1924-25 1925-26 1926-27
Manual Instruction                   2460 3274 3942
Domestic Economy                   4631 7138 6409
Home Spinning etc                    605  687          673
Lace Sprigging and Knitting    363  678          550
Irish                                         23330 25137 20909
Commerce                            884 2858 1626
Miscellaneous                          1352 1645 1328

Totals                                33625 41417 35437

212 [1933 congress] Mr J Earls, Principal, Municipal College of Technology, Belfast, delivered a paper on 'Technical Education in Belfast' and traced the history of the development from the textile school in 1884 to the present day College of 8,901 students and a staff of 351 persons.  There was "a strong element of social activities with a modern languages society, an alembic (distilling) society, a textile society, a training college students union, and a dramatic society."

275. [1943] Subjects quite definitely of use to 'occupiers fo small farmsteads.'such as the preparation and cooking of meat and vegetable dishes, preserving fo fruit and making of jam, bread-making, laundry, needlework and home crafts, and elementary hygiene were included in all such courses.

285. [from the 1930 act] Students between 14 and 16 years, whether in employment or not, were required to attend school for 180 hours in the yar, in effect, a day each week for 36 weeks.  The subjects for girls were Cookery, Dining and Cleaning, Needlework, Irish and English. For boys the subjects were English, Arithmetic, Irish and Woodwork.

291. Valuable courses in the construction of windchargers for rural lighting were given in 1942 in many centres whre the teachers of engineering had taken the summer course in that subject.  There was generally a large enrolment in these classes in the smaller urban centres than in county schemes.  In centres in County Wexford eight electrical sets were completed for use in rural areas. The best results were achieved in Mayo where over twenty sets were completed and installed.  In Carlow Technical School a demonstration on Rural Electric Lighting was attended by over 200 adults from a radius of ten miles.

297 [1947] A paper by Mr L B Jones, Greenmount and Boyne Linen Co. Entitled 'Training for Textiles', referred to the co-operation between the textile industry and VECs. Mr Gerard L'Estrange referred to a 'wonderful co-operation' between a textile factory in Athlone and Co Westmeath VEC.  Mrs Mary O'Rourke (Lenihan) a former Co Westmeath VEG member and minister for Education 1987-1999, whose father ran clothing factories in Athlone, recently recalled how "Mr Brendan O'Brien (the Vocational school Principal in Athlone) used to go to my father and they would place the boys and girls into General Textiles where there were a thousand in employment.  Now I am talking about the '40s and the 50s, there was a direct placement agency between Brendan O'Brien and my father."

303 The Vocational school exhibition, at the RDS Spring Shows in 1947 and 1948, had shown articles in wood, metal, craftwork, needlework, embroidery, and films showing work typical of the urban and rural Vocational Schools and of apprenticeship courses.

RDS Spring Show, May 1947; Exhibition of Work of Schools
Through the courtesy of the Department of Agriculture the Department was able to organise an exhibition of the work of the Vocational schools in the Show at Ballsbridge in May, 1947.  Specimen exercises in first and second year classes in Woodwork and Metalwork were on display, as well as finished articles such as inlaid desks, su/ga/n chairs, beehives, turf barrows, fire-irons, a set of iron gates, a brass gong and a concrete mixer.  Great interest was aroused by the working of a water ram from Naas Vocational School. A working model, showed how running water could be provided in rural dwellings by a self-acting water pump called a hydraulic ram.  Eight hundred leaflets explaining the operation of this pump were distributed to interested visitors.  Another exhibit which attracted much attention was a small hand-loom for making scarves, sent in by the City of Waterford Vocational School.

355 Congress [1956] concluded with a paper by Mr Sea/n Bohan, County Librarian, Co Galway.  He said school libraries were not mentioned in Departmental school reports and were neglected in Vocational schools. "A liberal education without books is unthinkable," he said.

361 [Congress 1957] Mr Michael Flannery, Wicklow County Manager, gave a paper on 'Utility with Beauty' and referred to the Town Planning Act and the need to create applied art in public buildings which would permeate into the houses of the countryside and the crafts of the people.

Ver Rev Fr T Mulvihill (Co Tipperary NR) said "The less of the glamour girl in the (Domestic Science) teacher the better... The rural Vocational schools should have girls ready to deal with poultry, pigs, cows and calves, rather than fancy stitches and queen cakes." Very Rev Canon Vaughan PP (Co Clare) said "Domestic Economy teachers were not glamour girls, they were very practical and close to the people and did everything from making calf baskets to cutting down cloth to make clothes fit children."

366 [congress 1959] Very Rev Canon Molloy, in his Presidential address,... welcomed the school organised activities of Macra na Tuaithe through it's rural science programmes e.g. the rearing of a calf of piglet, decorating a room, or knitting a two-piece suit. Macra na Tuaithe catered for 12-18 year olds...

367 To a resolution from Co Galway that a sufficient supply of teachers of art and arts and crafts, should be trained, Rev Bro Austin of Bray said that in the first Da/il, the Minister for Arts, Count Plunkett, had been an industrial artist and industrial design was greatly needed to be fostered in the present time.

372 "Like all other teachers, the Vocational teacher is primarily engaged not in filling pails with water, but in lighting fires, in starting chain reactions"

707-8 Industrial Training by VECs, report at the 1944 congress

7. There had also been many local VEC training schemes for Operatives in many of the new industries which had commenced since 1930, namely
2. The hosiery factories at Blackrock, Co Dublin
4. The Woolen Mills at Portlaoise and Kilkenny
6 The ready-made clothing factories at Cork, Drogheda, Dublin, limerick and Navan
11 Artificial Silk at Crolly, Co Donegal
14 the button factory at Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim
15 The Cotton Factory, Athlone

[the other mentioned are various other industries, non thread]