August 7, 2013

Bus Strike Competition!

Filed under:Cycling — Aileen @ 12:08

We’ve had a bus strike in Dublin the last few days. It’s been great to see so many extra cyclists on the streets as a result. Now that the strike’s been resolved (for now), here’s a little competition to make you think twice about putting your bike away.

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I have two bells and matching handlebar bottle holders up for grabs! To be in with a chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment telling us what your favourite thing about cycling is. Entry is open to everyone, no matter where you are, and I’ll accept entries until this day week – Wednesday, August 14th at midnight Irish time (I never know if that’s GMT or BST).

So let’s hear from you! What do you love most about cycling?

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May 16, 2013

Little things

Filed under:Blouses/Tops,Cycling,Finished Objects,News!,Sewing,Stash Down — Aileen @ 19:21

I have a lot of things to take photos of – my pink jumper, a shawl I finished and blocked over a fortnight ago, socks…and a polka dot top and my kilt, shown below.

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I’m happy to have indulged my kilt whim as I learned far more than I expected from it! The top I have looked forward to making and it was a fun, quick project. Looking forward to showing both.

I also sewed up a muslin for my Mum’s blouse. Sorry about the poor light, it’s been dismal weather.

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I need her to fit it on before I cut out the actual fabric. I measured it and it should be in the money but best to be sure! And so that we’re all on the same page, THIS is the fabric (not the other one, Mum).

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Nice, isn’t it? It’s a polycotton I got in Murphy Sheehy’s last summer but couldn’t find a pattern ‘perfect’ enough for it. I’m training myself out of that. Sometimes, you should just use it. Anyway, this works out in Mum’s favour! It’s definitely her colours.

The other thing I have to show you is this funny little thing I’ve been meaning to make since I got Bertha (my bike). I finally found clips in Hickey’s the last time I was there and made this up in about ten mins.

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It’s a piece of elastic inside a cotton casing, attached to two clips…and it works like this…

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It keeps my coat over my knees when I’m cycling, with still enough leeway to put my foot on the ground when necessary. In windy weather, my coat flaps open and when it’s raining, results in a very wet lower half. I’ve been using it constantly and it works perfectly. The clips were about €3.

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November 8, 2012

Parcel Motel and Bertha

Filed under:Cycling,Favourite Things,News! — Aileen @ 16:13

Hi there! I want to tell you all about a new service in Dublin called Parcel Motel. This isn’t a sponsored post or anything – I just used it and found it to be really good. Basically, it’s a delivery service run by NightLine couriers. They have automated delivery boxes located in 24-hour petrol station courts around the city. So if you want to order a parcel but know that you won’t be in when the post man comes, and you know that you can’t get to the An Post depot during working hours, this is a solution. At €3.50 per use, it works out better if your parcel has free delivery to begin with.

Which brings me to the next good thing about it: they have an address in Belfast that you can use to avail of free UK shipping. Your parcel is sent to the Belfast address and then delivered to your Motel box. Again, this costs €3.50 but is still better than paying the sometimes exorbitant delivery rate from UK to Ireland or not having a delivery option to Ireland at all.

I just used it to order some UK-delivery-only items for Alb’s Christmas present and found it really easy. I set up my account online. You can prepay credit into your account (they accept Paypal) or you can set it up to debit your card whenever there’s a transaction. I use the former. You’re automatically assigned an ID number that you use with your name when ordering. You choose what Motel you want your parcel delivered to. I ordered my items on Sunday, using my name, ID number and Belfast shipping address. The first item was dispatched on Monday and I received an email with a pin number on Tuesday night. I picked it up on Wednesday morning.

This is what my local Motel looks like (Bertha for scale). It’s in the carpark for my local petrol station.

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On the touchscreen, you enter your phone number and then the pin number you were sent. One of the locker doors pops open automatically.

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And that’s it. Check out the website for all the ins and outs and what-ifs.

As for Bertha, I thought this might be a good occasion to give you a brief update. Suffice to say, no news is good news! I ride five days a week to work now. My commutes range from 15 minutes, about 4km, to 40 minutes, about 7.5km. Three days I have driven because of rain and all I can say is: yuck! Driving does absolutely nothing for my well-being. When I cycle, I worry less, I have time to take in my surroundings and say hello to my neighbours, I am in good form, I sleep and eat well, I feel energetic and upbeat. I feel like I am part of my community. It is cheap, fast, easy. I can go at my own pace. Yesterday I felt quite tired and just pedalled along, arriving home a mere two minutes later than usual. I can park right by where I want to be.


Parked at the Botanic Gardens

Sure, bicycle lanes in the city are laughable – sometimes even downright dangerous. And yes, one is vulnerable. However I think the benefits outweigh the dangers. Given the level of pedestrian ignorance in the city, I think perhaps one is most vulnerable as a pedestrian (I don’t know at what point in their lives adults think that it is ok to step into the street without looking). Me, I like to take my time, signal clearly, obey the rules of the road, wear a helmet, reflective gear and lots of lights. I have had good experiences with signalling and merging with traffic when needing to overtake parked cars or buses, rather than trying to squeeze by.

You may notice in the above photo that 1. the Botanic Gardens have tons of bicycle parking. Why pay €3 for parking when you can park your bike for free? They have also planted lots of lavender around the bike parking so it smells divine. 2. I lock my helmet and reflective jacket to my bike. After a one year trial period, I am happy to continue doing so. I should point out that I also have a fixed rear lock. It locks the wheel to the frame of the bike so even though it’s not attached to something external (which is what my U lock is for), it’s handy not only as extra security but also when you want to stop for a quick errand. You can’t wheel the bike when it’s on and can only be opened by sawing through the loop that goes through the wheel (if you don’t have the key…). I bought mine in Belgium for €15 when we were there on holidays but you can get one here and have it retro-fitted through Bear Bicycles.

I have a ton of knitting and sewing to show. Photos at the weekend I hope!

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March 14, 2011

On knitting, cycling and so on

Filed under:Cycling,News!,Sewing,Socks,Sweaters,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 12:04

I’ve had a busy time of it recently but things are settling down – no more playing for competitions or exams for another month or so. There has been knitting. Check out this mega cable.

I’m nearly finished the body of Graystone. I tried it on and let me tell you, that cowl is humongous! Perfect for this damp, chilly weather we’ve been having.

I got a discount code for a book from the Book Depository so I finally caved and got Folk Socks by Nancy Bush. I went off knitting socks there for a long time. I came across this book through Ravelry and somehow got sucked back in. Just like Knitting on the Road, it is full of social history and intriguing tit-bits all about socks. Here are my Welsh Country Stockings.

I don’t know what makes them Welsh (maybe the little pattern?) but I like them very much. I learned a new cast on for it and it’s one that I think I will keep for ribbed cuffs. I started off on 2.25mm needles but eventually ripped it out and restarted on 2mm. They were turning out a little baggy. I have some lovely 2mm double points but they’re so thin, they kept bending in the warmth of my hands. Yesterday, I dropped into This is Knit and picked up some metal ones instead. It has been a very long time since I knitted with a metal needle… so I wasn’t as cautious as I should have been when it came to leaving my knitting on the sofa last night. There is now a very neat, deep hole in the sofa… and one to match in my leg! I don’t recommend it!

When we were in London, I had to get a toiletries kit from the hotel reception because I forgot my toothbrush, toothpaste and any form of shampoo or soap. It came in this neat little hard case. I liked it so much, I kept it for holding my sock!

An update on Bertha: we were grinding very slowly to a halt through January and February, thanks to a slow puncture. A friend of mine with tools and know-how came over one evening, replaced the tube for me and also lent me a far superior pump to the one that I was using. We’ve had a new lease of life ever since! It’s astonishing what a difference it can make. It’s really starting to get into bicycle weather now and it makes me happy to see an ever-increasing number on the streets of Dublin.

Sometimes I don’t feel so excited about cycling but I find reading blogs like Academichic, Let’s Go Ride a Bike and of course the original Copenhagen Cycle Chic keep me fresh and interested!

Lastly, let me tell you about a book I got yesterday. It’s called Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear. I have often looked into getting a book on this topic but, despite reading countless reviews online, could never figure out what would be most useful to my needs. I find myself increasingly drawn to nicely-cut but plain clothes – pieces that I can wear for a few years and update with different shoes, accessories, a trendy blouse or skirt. These are things that I would like to learn to make myself. This book is exactly along the same lines as what I was taught at the Grafton Academy when I did the sewing course a few years ago. It is very clear and outlines all the simple blocks needed for tops, bottoms, sleeves, dresses and so on. All the blocks are laid out at about 25% of actual size. This is something I’m familiar with from the classes I took; everyone had to take down the notes and reproduce the block at 25% in their notebook. Initially we practised scaling it up to 50% and then actual size. Having done that, I am pretty confident I wouldn’t have a problem adjusting the blocks outlined in the book to my own size. I would like to make up some simple skirt shapes just in calico to practice drafting for my own size and making the shape. It’s a bit nerdy but I think it would be fun and give me a better understanding of how patterns work. If you’re in the same boat as me, maybe this book would interest you.

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October 24, 2010

Patience

Filed under:Cycling,Photography — Aileen @ 17:01

If there’s anything that knitting has taught me, it’s to have patience. Riding around on my bike, I see that this is sometimes a rare skill indeed. When you think about it, it’s sort of funny because it’s a false state in a way. It doesn’t change anything, it’s just how you perceive things and usually makes matters worse, instead of better. Sometimes it’s nice to forget about all the things you are hurrying to and enjoy today, whatever the weather or circumstance.


Taken on Grattan Bridge

(In the distance you can see the new-ish pedestrian bridge and in the foreground, those lovely cast iron lamps that are dotted around the city. I love them, I wish there were more. Great sky, huh?)

Anyway, zen cycling aside, I have had to be very patient with my knitting this week because of this:

By the time I get through it, I am too tired to knit more than a few rows but still, I persist. The above is a terrifyingly long list:

Brahms (op. 118), Bach (prelude and fugue, book I), Rachmaninov (an étude tableaux), Prokofiev (7th piano sonata), Gerschwin (preludes) – all for a solo recital in the spring. This is unrelated to my Masters and is just something I want to do for myself.

Bizet (Jeux d’Enfants) and the Fauré (Dolly Suite) are both incredibly fun piano duets and do not take a lot of practice. Martinu (1st flute sonata), Brahms (3rd violin sonata), Franck (violin sonata), Schnittke (1st violin sonata). The Brahms is a work I played all last year and is only for a concert next weekend. The rest of the duo sonatas don’t need to be ready until May but should be well under way by Christmas. When I look at it all together, it’s a bit overwhelming. It’s not as bad as it looks, though. Little by little, right?

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