Monday, 15 December 2014

Review of Complete Guide to Spinning Yarn

The Complete Guide to Spinning Yarn (US) Spinning Yarn: The Complete Guide (UK)

The US version is the copy I got from a remainder bookshop; the UK from the Library

These are the same book but the title comes up slightly differently, the inside is identical, down to same page numbers. Eling Chang gets a consultant credit on the US cover.

Dublin City Public Libraries

A comprehensive guide to spinning, including history, tools, preparation, techniques and a few projects, along with some inspiration pieces.

The projects are pretty straighforward, a woven cushion (pillow in the US version) cover; Knitted Hat and Mittens in a couple of colours, you could use a commercial yarn and a handspun for this; tassels and a knitted slipcase. The patterns aren't the centerpiece of the book, the book is more about the spinning and the instructions look both straighforward and comprehensive.

 I'm glad I bought it.

 While Dublin City Public Libraries provided me with a copy they offer me no inducement to write these other than my salary and access.

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.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Review of Home Made SImple

Home Made Simple

Dublin City Public Library

This is a book about using a variety of items which would otherwise be waste or redecorating items to enhance them.  A lot of it is quite easy to do and looks easy enough to do with minimal fuss.  It also includes some knitting patterns.

It's divided into three main sections; Home; Giving and Celebrations.  Some very easy projects some harder; all well-illustrated and with plenty of illustrations for how-to where necessary.

Home has such projects as Pinlight Canvas - where a string of LED bulbs are used with canvas to create an image, simple but effective.  Wine Crate Desk is a good crafting desk, not heavy duty; Wine Crate Desk Tidy - a corral for papers; Fabric-covered desk tidy; Pallet Coffee Table; Posh Pallet Table, fabric covered; Fabric Cable Lights; Basic Upholstery; Wall-hung Bookcases;  Magnetic Spice-jar Space Savers; Whitewashed Wood offcut chopping boards; Ironing Board Cover; Tree branch Pegs; Tennis Ball Door Block; Tassel Pulls; Foaming Pump Dispenser; Photo Key Box; Photo Box; Cross-body Utility Sack; Oversized Oilcloth Shopping Bag.

Giving has Clay Tea Light Shades; Simple Candles.

Knitting: with basic instructions, including advice on buying wool; the first pattern is a chunky patternscarf that she suggests fastening with  a kilt pin.

Knitted Wrist warmers are also in chunky yarn in a moss stitch pattern knit in the flat.

E-book reader/notebook cover - knit in a chunky wool held double.

Mobile Phone pouch knit in chunky wool held double

Glasses Case is knit with chunky wool held double as well.

There's also how-to on finger knitting.

The chapter continues with a Simple Gift Bag; a Bottle Gift Bag; a pretty lined purse; Reversible Ribbon-Handled Bag; A simple charm bracelet; Leather Card Case; Peppermint and Lime Lip Balm; Rose and Mardarin Bath Oil; How to melt Chocolate; Chocolate Peanuts, Pumpkin seeds and Raisins; Chocolate honeycomb; Breakfast in Bed tray; Engagement Ring Gloves; Personalised Picnic Blanket; Bike-seat cover

Golden Chocolate Eggs; Speckled Ganache Eggs; No-stress Pancakes; Lily of the Valley Eggs; Baklava; Hanging Firefly Glass Lanterns; Rangoli Lace Cake and Cards; Patterned Divas; Peg Hanukkiyah; Sufganiyot; Lucky Envelopes; Fabric-covered lanterns; Furoshiki Wrapping; a Thanksgiving book; The Tree; Whitewashed Pine Cones; Golden Apples; Wire COathanger Centrepiece; Clay/Salt Dough Star Garland; Chunky Paper Chains; Sky Lanterns

Overall an interesting book for someone of a crafty bent, which assumes that you're willing to try.  Many of them are quite doable without too much complications or effort.  I liked it and would consider buying it.

I borrowed it from the libraries and would seriously consider buying it for myself.  Dublin City Public Libraries offered me no inducement to review this book other than my salary and access to the books.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Hook, Yarn and Crochet review

Hook Yarn and Crochet

Dublin City Public Libraries


This book starts with a description of how-to crochet, UK terms, I didn't see a US conversion list. There was also nothing I could see about left-handed crochet (which is how I roll)

The patterns are divided in three sections: Accessories; Homewares and Gifts and Decorations  

The patterns start with Boot Toppers in a DK weight yarn.
Pompom Hat is next in Chunky yarn
A Shells Collar in 4-ply yarn.
Covered Bangles in a 4-ply yarn.
More 4-ply yarn in the Wavy Scarf, a good use for three shades of a 4-ply yarn
Wrist warmers in a worsted yarn have a contrast edging.
A chunky yarn Tablet case is relatively simple and would be a good padded cover and would be easily adapted for size.
The Jute shopper is a useful hand-held bag, I prefer my shopping bags to have longer handles but this looks useful. A cotton edging on the handle might be useful to protect hands.

Clock - crocheted in rounds in two shades of 4-ply yarn
Pot Stand - in Jute twine
Drum Lampshade - in a DK cotton yarn
Storage Basket in a super-chunky yarn
Granny Throw in 4-ply yarn using multiple shades work 4 rows each with the final row in black sewn together and then edged in black.
Tea-light cuffs worked in 4-ply cotton yarn covers for tea-light holders
Pebbles - covers on pebbles worked in 4-ply as decorations.

Gifts and Decorations
Daisy Chain a decorative, very spring-like garland worked in 4-ply yarn
Bunny Toy 4ply yarn makes a bunny
Star Garland more 4-ply makes an 8pointed star garland, could be very Christmassy
Snowflakes 4 ply yarn again, good as gifts and as decorations.
Love heart a stuffed heart.

an interesting set of patterns that would be quite good for a beginner as many of them aren't really dependent on tension so would be useful practice.

As usual, I got this book in Dublin City Public Libraries who offer me no inducement to write these other than providing me with books and a salary.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Great Little Gifts to Knit Reviewed

Great Little Gifts to Knit

Dublin City Public Libraries 


Divided into four sections Baby; Hers; His and Home; Jean Moss does a book of small projects.  The adult hats aren't modelled on people.

Cuddle Cocoon - worked in the round with Rowan Big Wool.
Shower Set - DK baby set of Hat, booties and mittens. Trimmed in a contrast colour with optional flowers.
Baby love Blanket - a small amount of shadow knitting lifts this DK project.
Whoopla Beanbags - beanbags knit in DK with a variety of patterns on each side.
Jubilee Jacket and Hat - colourwork inspired by Selbu designs sized for up to 4 years old.  Knit in DK.

Fiesta Shrug and Fingerless Gloves - knit in fingering weight yarn these are lace gloves and a shrug or stole.
Jive Leg Warmers - knit in Rowan Big Wool with cables.
Glow Wristlets - 4 ply beaded wristlets.  A fairly simple pattern but a nice result.
Froufrou fingerless Gloves - Rowan Kidsilk Haze fingerless gloves with layers of frill.
Amulet Purse - knit in fingering-weight yarn with a lot of beading and beaded fringing in both a small and medium size.
Deco Backpack - slipstich pattern in a DK yarn, this would be a useful beach bag, drawstring top.
Will-o'-the-Wisp Shawlette - plays with some contrasting yarns to make an interesting shawl with or without beads.
Galaxy Beret - a chunky weight yarn with variegated colour is showcased in this otherwise quite plain beret.
Kitten's Paw Stole - could be adapted to almost any yarn, open lace with a frilled edge. (for the lighter weight version)
Odalisque Turban and Hat - worked in Brioche rib with and without a top. Interesting varieties, knit in worsted yarn.
Zebra Mittens - knit in a bulky yarn, worked with an afterthought thumb.

Hugs Socks - Fair Isle socks worked in Aran weight yarn.
Masham Scarf - a plain garter stitch scarf worked with either the same or dissimilar needles to produce different effects.
Galway Beanie and Head Wrap - worked in Aran weight yarn with some cables and cleverly used decreases in the ribbing.
Tutti-Frutti smartphone sleeve - with a Pear symbol on it rather than any other fruit. Knit in sport-weight cotton for the original.
Hendrix Guitar Strap and Linen Belt- suitable for either gender this linen/cotton blend DK yarn would be quite stable.

Checkers Cushion and Seat Cover - uses shadow knitting to create interest in this colourwork dk weight cover, finished slightly differently for the cushion and seat cover.
Flavor place mat and napkin ring - DK Linen/cotton blend creates an interesting set.
Wensleydale Tea Cozy - tuck stitch tea cozy in a worsted weight yarn that would allow you to use snippets and other decor to ornament it.
McDougal Dog Jacket - knit in a super bulky yarn this is a somewhat tartanish pattern.
Welcome Toran Door Hanging - knit in sportweight cotton this one is pretty complicated and you'd want to have a place in mind for it, but would be impressive when finished.

Overall not a bad set of patterns which would be useful for gift-creating.  Many of them would be good for time-sensitive situations and could be fairly easily adapted for a variety of tastes.  Some of the patterns are quite unisex dependent on colours chosen.  Some are things I would never knit for myself, I am not a fluffy frilly person.  Overall it would be good for an advanced beginner, some of the patterns would be a stretch but many of them aren't too complicated and would allow for learning. 

Got this from Dublin City Public Libraries who don't offer me any inducement to do these other than my regular salary and access to the books.

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