Thursday, May 31, 2012

Textile Thursday - May

This Textile Thursday I am going to share with you just a little about a woman who is very close to my heart. I know some of you hear every now and again about my troubles in sourcing rug wool and canvas for May (the absolute matriarch of our family). You hear her name mentioned daily and at 92 years of age I can safely say that she does in fact still run our family. You can only imagine the life this lady has had but today I am going to stick to her creative side. 

Ever since I was a little girl, May has taught me how to knit, sew (I didn't take to this), embroider (I didn't take to this either) and how to make latch hook rugs. She has also taught me how to clean, run a house, bake and just about anything else you can imagine. To put this into perspective May was already in her  seventies at this point.  Because of where I live now I only have 3 of her pieces of work due to the fact that I am terrified that something will happen to them. The painting that you can see above was given to me on my 25th birthday and she took 5 weeks to paint, but only on Thursdays :) 

May being 92, ensures me that in fact the social scene in Dundalk, is on Thursday's, where she attends a social group for the elderly within the Louth County Hospital's day centre. She has quite the collection of paintings now but most of them have either been sold (to help fund the centre) or have been...... lets say acquired by family members via birthdays, gifts etc.  What really shocks me is that May has never painted until her later years. Her husband, in fact was the painter and artist in the family, there is even a local award named after him. He unfortunately passed away quite young and early into their marriage but we have a fair few pieces painted by him around our family home. 

Grey Rug 

Although her painting took root later in life, May has always knitted and handmade rugs. Ever since she was a little girl helping to take care of a big family of brothers and sisters, she was eager to learn and work with her hands. The rug above May made in under a week from Drops Eskimo and some canvas I found in The Woolen Mills in Dublin. The one below she made in 2 weeks from the same materials just different colours. She cut the wool into pieces by hand and knotted them singularly on to the canvas. So each tuft you see in the pictures was placed carefully into place by her.  The template / tester rug below is a smaller version of the massive rug that is under construction at home. This lady has in reality 'done it all'. The only wool craft May has never taken too was spinning fibre. She has washed fleece and assures me she just never had a taste for it. 


The one thing that I admire most is that May has never let age affect where she has wanted to go, what she has wanted to turn her hand too or stop her from working on the crafts that she loves. I can assure you that this morning she has already cut some wool for her rug before getting ready to head on up to the day centre to finish her current painting of the Seatown Castle in Dundalk. Although she has had many things thrown at her throughout her life she has never once allowed them to define her or stop her from doing what she loves. I only hope that in my years to come I am blessed with the same life longevity and that I can still be working on crafts. 

May and my dad enjoying a well deserved glass of champagne on her 91st birthday

Monday, May 28, 2012

30th Birthday - Beautiful Waterford

Waterford City and the Viking Triangle - May 2012
I know there are a few of you who wanted to know where I was whisked off too on my birthday well it was Waterford City during some of the most beautiful weather we have had this year.  After work on the 22nd and a happy birthday hug from SkippyKnits it was a trip to the the train station where J collected me and put me out of my misery (only after we where on the train mind you). Settling in for a 3 hour journey I got to work with my Finto stash, which L pictured for me on Saturday. 

We stayed at the Tower Hotel which over looks Reginald's Tower (pictured above) and is smack bam in the town center. We got to do so much that I really do not want to bore you with all the details so here are a few pictures that help round up my Birthday.

Waterford Crystal Clock
Being a craft person I really wanted to see the glass blowing at Waterford Crystal. This was great and the tour only took 30 minutes.The master crafts men in each of the sections (blows, cutters and etchers) where really friendly and answered lots and lots of questions.  The tour ends in their exquisite showroom and I was blown away by their attention to detail while showing off their work.

Both of us love historical buildings and historical crafts and swords. Waterford was no disappointment. I got to take part in some viking basket weaving, see some amazing cloth weaving and I got to tour Bishop's palace and Reginald's Tower in small tour groups of 5 and under. Best of all my birthday lunch involved local cheeses and was followed by some very fancy swords :D

One of the best birthday surprises was my birthday dinner where we got to take a private candlelit booth at Bodega restaurant. By far this was the best food we had while in Waterford City, most of all I was bouncing up and down because the booth was surrounded by wine which had sheep on the labels.

Waterfor Castle Hotel
The following day was a scorcher so we took a wonderful river cruise on the Suir. Unfortunately we didn't have time to visit the castle hotel and picnic with the deer because I got distracted by something shiny (as normal) and  I was so wiped out from everything that I convinced J to finish our time here with some iced cider in the sun over looking the river.

River Cruise on the Suir

All in all it was a wonderful birthday from the craft night out with you wonderful people to the late night in Yamamori and the market bar, from weaving lessons to my trip you guys are wonderful and I really appreciate all the kind wishes and happy birthdays. I don't feel so bad turning 30 now :)

Happy Bunday

My box

After a little break from the blog due to my birthday and the pull of this glorious sunshine, I finally got a chance to post today. During our break away, our buns were again looked after by some wonderful friends. Before we left we made sure our buns had everything they needed some greens they love etc. 

Upon our return we expected some joy instead we got 'oh great, you guys are back'. No welcoming binkies, no sniffs, in short no love. It turns out the bunnies had such a great time while we where in Waterford that they did not want us to return. That or they are trying to make us guilty. Ninja just plays in his box and Berry wouldn't even come out of her cage. I'm sure its to make us feel guilty.........

I said 'This is MY box'
Today with the glorious weather continuing the bunnies are enjoying relaxing and being too lazy to destroy things. I'll take the peace when I can get  it.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Happy Bunday (and 30th Birthday Countdown - Day 2)

Ninja Bunny
First of all 'Happy Bunday' although here it was not a 'happy' day. Today Berry managed to dive behind the T.V in such a way that I thought I was chasing Ninja, the adorable flopped out bunny above. Alas, no. I was in fact chasing Berry, the slayer of cables.

She had managed to cut through the following:

  • The internet cable
  • The power cable for the Acer that runs our T.V. system
  • The USB cable (used as a connector cable here)
  • The insulation of the power cable for the T.V. 

and all in under 5 minutes it took for me to move the T.V. stand and chase her out of her idea of heaven. Needless to say we are not impressed but it is hard to be angry as its only 1 day to go before my birthday and my trip YEAY.  J however is angry enough for the both of us.

Oh and this is a picture of what Ninja was doing the entire time I was chasing a fat bunny around the room like a mad woman:
'This is my box'
Yip Ninja was quite happy digging away in his box until Berry started stamping at me for chasing her, then he turned into  the bunny drummer from hell. He stamped and started lunging at me for chasing his precious Berry.

And all of this BEFORE I got into work today. Thankfully I met some wonderful fibre people today and I even had some wonderful spaghetti bolognese made by J which makes me eat like a glutton and I end up holding my tummy in pain because its too full. No matter what, I cannot leave ANY of it behind........... 

sigh it may not sound like it but today was a good day :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

30th Birthday Countdown - Day 3

Beautiful Flowers

eeeek its getting closer, kind of happy that today I spent the day just catching up with J and watching dollhouse. Surrounded by the buns, flowers and new yarn to play with this was the most relaxing day and was completely needed.Now I'm reading for tomorrow and then super secret tuesday eeeeeeeeeeeek

Let me hear you say 'awwwwww' p its a cute bunny bum

30th Birthday Countdown - Day 4

Some more yarn playing at This is Knit

Followed by a wonderful night out with wonderful friends at Yamamori before heading to the Market bar 
and finished off the night with a quiet glass of red

Friday, May 18, 2012

30th Birthday Countdown - Day 5

More Shawl therapy at This is Knit

Yummy blackcurrant goats cheese and walnut tart from the Pepperpot Cafe. 

Yes I'm happy to say it was a lot of yarn related things today again all in preparation for Aoibhe's workshop tomorrow YEAY!!!

30th Birthday Countdown - Day 6

Lots of Yarn therapy at work

Finished by a wonderful knit night at Brooks hotel and a glass of wine :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Textile Thursday - Woven Project Bag

Just before her bath-time

This week I have been working on a new project bag. This was a little tough as I have never warped my loom with cotton before and especially not knitting cotton. With this in mind I did not want to spend a fortune on her so I grabbed some Ianthe (which I got on sale) and Sublime Egyptian cotton which is under 5 euro and a grab bag from Hickey's for 3 euro and I got to work. 

I used Ianthe only in my warp and used a 7.5dpi reed. This is a sturdy fabric and holds together really well. I worked in some danish medallions at the top of the bag for 2 inches using the egyptian cotton. The sublime cotton is mercerised and really shiny so this catches the light really well. I then striped in the sublime cotton every 4th picks for 2 picks and I used Ianthe for the rest of the weft. I also found some blue scrap fabric in my grab bag which I used to line the bag. (My sewing skills are terrible and I will be joining the sewing group on Friday the 25th of May) At the moment I am really not that happy with my handles or the top of my bag so I will be changing these as soon as I can find some nice bamboo ones. 

stripy lining 

The only other project I have to post about at the moment is my Noro cowl. Do you remember a few weeks ago I posted about my weaving terror? Well look at her now:

Noro Cowl

I used my new sewing machine and over locked the frayed ends where the hole had been. I then seamed the two new ends and turned them so I have an infinity cowl, my very first woven infinity cowl. I am going to wear her with pride today :) 

30th birthday countdown - Day 7

Yip I am turning the big 30 in seven days time and I guess I wanted to keep a note of what I did with the last 7 days of my 20's.

Today I finally got to see the wonderful knitters in Powerscourt and I learned a new weaving technique!

 I finished that last stripe on the body of my Paulie cardigan

and laughed so hard I cried with a very wonderful group of people.  Altogether a very crafty day :) 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Bunday - Bunny V's Rich Tea

On and off I have mentioned how my rabbit Berry has a slight soft spot for Custard Creams. Well yesterday I have learned that this has developed into a Rich Tea obsession. Yes I can really only use the word obsession because when she hears the rustling of the packet (yes she can tell the difference of biscuit packets) she turns into a feral creature almost drooling at the mouth.

Now those of you that have been following the buns know that back in early 2011,  there was a great custard cream incident,  if not let me refresh your memory. It was a bitterly cold winter with lots of snow and ice, more than we normally deal with here in Dublin and Berry was about 9 months old. I was sick with the flu and in bed. Now my bedroom shared a wall with our sitting room so I could hear the general moving about of J  making his tea as he got home from work. He really nicely brought me in some hot tea, I sniffled tried not to cough on him and continued to read my book (It was game of thrones btw). About 10 minutes later I hear some really loud profanities and a tearing of bunny paws ending with a bunny dive into a cage.

I got up out of bed (not to fast mind you) headed into the sitting room to find J, covered in freshly brewed tea and some smashing of custard creams on his shirt. He non too kindly told me that Berry had stolen the custard cream out of his hand as he was dunking it into his tea. He yelled at her, she freaked out and bunny dived to her cage with the custard cream in tow.

Berry has never been allowed custard creams ever! But she will try to steal them and she is a cunning bunny.

Yesterday, similar situation, Berry flopped out with Ninja on her carpet. J sitting eating tea and biscuits (rich tea) and me weaving. Berry growing wiser in her bunny years, twitched her ears ad feigned no interest but waited until J had eaten his fill and was nestling his tea before bounding at the side table, knocking over the table and the top few biscuits scattered to the floor. J utters some more profanities and Berry bunny dives to her cage with Rich Tea in tow.

Life lesson: Never ever trust a bunny!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Textile Thursday - Alpaca Blanket Day

Yip I'm getting a little bit liberal when I call this a throw, this is really a large toddler blanket and measures 35 by 48 inches. This really didn't take any time to weave at all but oh man the hem stitching! After soaking in her luxury bath this blanket bloomed and turned into a really soft piece. This is my first ever blanket so I'm very proud of her.

Now I tried my best to get some good photos of her but the dungeon of darkness we live in (she is a beautiful duplex but really dark) and these are the best two:

Hanging on the couch
This one I  tried to capture the texture of the blanket so please forgive the blurring:


Now I did try with these photos, the grey in the blanket is just crazy when it comes to light. The light just bounces right off it and because this place is so dark sometimes thats impossible not to use a flash. Now I hear you, I could have gone outside to what use to be a lovely area, now it's full of diggers and builders on all four sides and EVERYTHING has that thin film of dust on it because of that dang wind :( So I can safely say I am not taking her out there for a photo. 

I'll take her on a picnic soon just so we can take some lovely pictures of her.

See you next week

Monday, May 7, 2012

Happy Bunday

I hope you are all having a wonderful May bank holiday weekend. We have spent most of the weekend with friends and family and having a wonderful break. The bunnies have been on their best behaviour and only came out of their cage long enough to eat, cuddle and spread some bunny kisses. So I thought I would share one of their kisses with all of you.

Happy Bunday

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Textile Thursday *ahem* and Weaving Questions Answered

Ok so this Thursday kind of snuck up on me, I have been sick for most of the week so most of my work is still exactly where it was a week ago. My weaving scarf still isn't fixed and my knitting has not progressed an inch! So I will leave you with a short post and a wonderful picture of my loom FULLY warped!! 

Warp still attached to dowel

and on the loom

Isn't she gorgeous????? This yarn is an alpaca boucle yarn in blue, navy and grey. When this grows up it will be a toddler blanket of 32" x 42" and snuggly to boot. I am however a bit fearful that it will be too much like a towel but we will see. The yarn has been sitting in my stash for about a year now and its time to shine has come. (I was going to use a Logan's Run phrase here but I figured my sense of humour is an acquired one and I don't know you guys well enough yet!)

I guess I should use this post to answer some of the questions I have been getting about looms.

Is it really expensive?
To buy the loom like anything else it can be budgeted to what you can afford. You don't have to go for a 32 inch or 42 inch loom. Mine was around 190 euro but its the second biggest Rigid Heddle you can buy. The smaller looms are cheaper.

Weaving itself is as expensive as you make it. My Brown Sheep scarf was under 10 euro with the beads. the Noro scarf was 17.95 and done in an afternoon and my Opal scarf was just under ten. Yes my Christmas this year is sorted :)

Is it really difficult? 
No not really, I completely agree with most people that if you can knit you can weave. The thought process is similar, instead of using maths to size a garment to fit you, you size a rectangle or a square to what you want. Mostly its time, patience and logic is all you need. If your looking for a particular type of math or calculation for a project, I will do my best to point you in the right direction, remember Excel is your friend.

There are some great blog posts out there on weaving math and calculating warp and weft so I really don't want to take away from them. Haley Studio has an online calculator here and of course Weavolution has one here. Feministy has some Excel spreadsheets here just to name a few :)

I have a loom but I just can't put it together....
There are many manuals on the internet. Most importantly you need to find the manufactures mark, name or brand of your loom. All Ashford looms come with step by step instructions and then some YouTube videos just in case you *loose* the instructions, so I really can't recommend these guys enough though there are other types of looms out there. In this case search engines are your friend and you can always throw a post up on the forums of Weavolution, these guys are great. 

 Here in Ireland its hard to get your hands on a supplier so this is generally the limiting factor. Kromski (harp), Schacht and Cricket are all different brands of looms and obviously different prices. If your interested there are many comparison sites out there from people who have woven on a few looms for example spinninglizzy has some great pictures on the Kromski and Schacht looms. 

Can I weave with any yarn?
Well this depends on your loom, in particular your heddle (or reed) the dpi indicated on your reed with tell you the thickness of yarn (wpi) that you can use.  The knitters loom in particular comes with wide dents so that knitting yarn can be used, though some worsted weight and chunky yarns are going to give you an almost bulletproof fabric. So yes you can use your stash if you want. I know Master weavers will say that RH looms or lap looms are toys and in comparison to their art they are but your loom is either your profession or your hobby and how you use it is up to you. Craft is all about trial and error and don't let anyone tell you any differently, as long as your having fun and enjoying your project then keep on loomin'.

Are there Weaving patterns?
Yes they are called drafts and you can download some free ones from interweave from Ravelry has not opened up on drafts yet (crosses fingers and wishes really hard they will soon) but there is a section on peoples project pages where you can see what drafts they used. Again I'll point you in the direction of  Weavolution for some more drafts. 

Reading weaving charts is another matter entirely so I suggest taking a class if your really interested.

:) And that is it for today folks...
Please leave a comment if you have any more questions, I'll be more than happy to point you in a direction if I don't know the answer.