August 5, 2013

Finally!

Switzerland came and went – this was my third time now so it was much, much easier. I know the airports, train stations, town plans, where to eat, where to shop, all the things that take up time and mental energy. As always, we all had a great time. I met lots of new people and made new friends. It was the first occasion I had prepared work pretty much all by myself without much external input so it was rather gratifying to see that work out as I intended. I have some video of my concerto performance but I am still trying to figure out how to extract it from the clutches of my phone! When I do, I will try to find a way to share here.

Since my return, I have been split in three ways: practice in preparation for some small things I agreed to in September and October, knitting and sewing, and attending to the summer list of chores. You know those chores. The ones where, during the year, you open the door, throw something in and quickly shut it again. I’m doing pretty well on all fronts. Since I’m quite sure you don’t want to hear about how OCD-fulfilling I find practising with my eyes shut or how I spent an entire day covered in dust building shelves, here is some crafting news…

I spent a decent amount of time swatching, mocking up patterns and cutting out. Most of this resulted in the answer, no, this won’t work. I was hoping to get a wearable muslin out of my first Archer shirt but it’s too small across the front. Perfect everywhere else, though, so I cut out a revised version from some light blue chambray I’ve had for a while. I fell foul of two summer sales; one at Fabric HQ where I bought this lovely tiny floral print, currently cut up into a short sleeved blouse….

…and this marvellous white-on-white cotton, which is slowly making its way into the world as a pleated skirt.

I would normally have finished this in two sittings but a few things held me up. Firstly, I wanted to have a side zip but also pockets. Although manageable, this takes time. Then, when I was pressing in the pleats, I noticed that the fabric is extremely see-through. I dithered over what kind of lining to use. I could use an acetate, which works well if I wear tights but is horrible against the skin. I could use a cotton voile or gauze, which is nice against the skin but sticks to tights. The optimal is silk something but silk satin is very expensive, so what to do? While I dithered, I started working on a green silk Pendrell to go with the skirt. I’m recycling this, which was a bust and I never wore. Anyway, I was in Hickey’s for the second sale I mentioned, when I overheard a funny conversation. A woman wanted to cover lampshades in silk but didn’t want it to be expensive (?!). After refusing many types of silk, the saleswoman dug out some silk habotai lining. At €9.95/m, this was acceptable to the woman. I was standing at the counter with my red georgette, looking at this lining and knew that I, too, had my solution. It’s pretty sheer but it does the job. I hope to show both soon! All they need are hems and hooks and eyes.

So, that red georgette. I went into Hickey’s to see what was in the sale. I cannot explain why I always want to make a summer dress in August but here I am again. After much mulling, I decided to go with Hazel because I love the way the shaping in the bodice can be illustrated with stripes. I was after a cotton or linen something with stripes; I found a cotton ticking for about €9/m in the sale. While I was there, I spotted the red georgette. It’s polyester and is like a crepe, with a matt dimpled texture and a really good, grippy drape. I got 1.25m and I am 99% decided on a pattern.

The knitting has been disappointing. I spent a lot of June working on a black cardigan only to run out of yarn a whole sleeve to go. I got more but naturally, it’s a different dye lot. I was really hoping it wouldn’t show but it does! It totally does! I have two options. I could try and hunt down more of the original lot on Ravelry… or I could rip it out and knit a different pattern with less cabling. I think I will rip it out because even though I am only one sleeve from being finished, I’m not really in love with it. Facing this reality means that I am not that upset about the prospect of ripping it out. In the meantime, I’ve cast on for a pattern that I’ve loved for years – Helene from Quince & Co. I gave it a go when it first came out but poor yarn choice meant that I never completed it. This time, I’ve gone with the original linen recommendation. I’m using this, Katia Lino in ‘Biscuit’. I think this is the first time I have ever washed a swatch… but it was very revealing. A typically scratchy, stiff swatch…

…was transformed into a drapey dream.

Looking forward to sharing the skirt and top soon!

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June 21, 2012

Mostly about knitting

Spurred on by our chilly weather, I finished up my Bedford sweater at long last.

Such is today’s gloom, modelled photos are unfortunately out of the question :( I can’t really complain though as I know other parts of the country have seen torrential rain whereas we have only had clouds. Grey, suffocating clouds but dry ones nonetheless.

I was pottering about with the camera when I realised that I had never shown this shawl properly. I don’t really remember when I knit this, though it must have been after Christmas. I knit a cream version for my teacher and liked it so much that I made one for myself afterwards.

I used 1 skein of the delicious Studio Donegal Soft Merino (which you can peruse here) and something like 4.5mm needles. They were a bit small. I think 5.5mm would have resulted in a loftier fabric and a bigger shawl. That said, I love it dearly, wear it often and have another skein in the light blue for another on the bigger needles. You might spy the silver shawl pin there – it was a souvenir from Cafayate in Argentina, locally made by a lady silversmith. It was about €10. We were very picky about what we bought to put in our suitcases as we were travelling for nearly 5 weeks but this, I regret not one jot. Every time I use it, I think of the woman who made it, of our wonderful holiday and am reminded that here, we have absolutely no concept of what the middle of nowhere is.

What else? Oh, I really wanted to try out the Jamieson and Smith Jumper Weight yarn that This is Knit has started carrying so I knit up a beret using my own pattern (Beret Easy… I’m feeling a bit old right now). Quick and easy, it was perfect for watching basketball during the week. All that remains is for the inner band to be sewn down.

It’s a very nice yarn. A bit scratchy perhaps but I expect it will soften up a lot when I wash it. It is lovely and sticky, making it perfect for colourwork. Have you seen Kate Davies’ Sheep Carousel yet? I believe the digital pattern will go for sale in a few days. This is the point where I think we abandon all other notions and cast on for it immediately!

I should probably explain why I haven’t been knitting in the last year or so – I have had tension problems with my left arm and shoulder. I am pretty much cured for now, which explains the recent surge in production! It was a combination of a number of things, such as sitting more for teaching, being stressed and playing a LOT from February to April. I had a number of days where I was sitting and playing for more than five hours (for competitions or rehearsals). Days where I sight-read a lot tend to leave me very stiff. Anyway, I started taking more breaks, stretching more, doing some yoga and just stopped working so much, and it’s healed by itself. I knit and spun very little because it aggravated it a lot: I am happy to be back to my old self. I really missed it and oddly, found myself not wanting to be interested because I wasn’t able to pursue it. Sewing is great but really, it’s not knitting!

Speaking of which – you may have already heard about the big debacle concerning the Ravelympics? (If you don’t know about the Ravelympics, it’s basically a big worldwide knit/crochet/spin-a-long to the Olympics, with most communication going through Ravelry) Well, the commission for the US sent a cease and desist letter to Ravelry because the Ravelympics use the Olympics brand or logo or something. I don’t think they do exactly, but it’s enough to cause rancour. Not just that – by running such a harmless event, we are disrespecting what it stands for and the athletes that participate. I’m sure you can find out all the details on Ravelry. Whilst they probably do have some sort of legal point, I don’t really understand their point generally. It’s free, it doesn’t generate profit… mostly, it just stinks of one group of people saying, this other minor, insignificant group of hobbyists is not taking this seriously enough! they’re having FUN! you can’t have FUN at the Olympics! Also, isn’t the whole point of the Olympics to be inclusive, international and for-the-fun-of-participation?

Well, whatever the outcome, I’ll be knitting along to the Olympics like I always do. I haven’t joined a team yet but I think I will participate in two events regardless: the frogging trampoline and the sweater triathlon. I’m going to rip out my Pole sweater and the sweater I want to knit is Amy Christoffer’s Larch cardigan. I have the yarn, I want the cardigan, I have marathons that need watching. And those races where they’re not outside the stadium but they go round and round and eventually they ring a bell and they all run faster? I love those. Regarding the Pole, I love it and adored knitting it, but I never wear it. I think it will live a happier life reincarnated as Heidi Kirrmaier’s Nanook.

I will probably get sucked into the Sock Put and quite possibly the Hat Dash – and the Mitten Medley is far too tempting! What will I do! A month is not nearly long enough to decide!

PS: Have also been sewing but too dark for modelled photos – the Lisette Market skirt (here), yet another pair of shorts but longer this time (here) and working on an Amy Butler top and a pencil skirt for my mum (here). I have been practising, too, I swear – there’s always time for the fun stuff.

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November 25, 2011

Simple beginnings

Filed under:Drafting,Sewing,Startitis,Sweaters,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 11:41

I am in love with mitered corners. Yet another simple technique from 1, 2, 3, Sew.

I had two small squares left over in this fabric but I ruined the first one by making four 65-degree corners. This, on the other hand, is most pleasing. I acquired some fat quarters and am sewing a simple present using this technique. Perfect for those days when you want to make something but don’t really want to think too hard (which was yesterday).

I got a pile of navy Karisma from the Constant Knitter yesterday in the post and cast on immediately for my Dad’s Christmas jumper. He has worn the first one to death. The second was much loved but went missing in the hospital. If someone had the nerve to steal it – well, I hope they’re too warm. The following months can only be described as a mourning period and whether he’ll admit it or not, I know he wants a jumper for Christmas.

On the upside, I have all my notes from the last one so casting on was simply a matter of making a swatch and jotting down a few preliminary sums. I have a month to the day for this one so time is of the vanilla essence.

I finally pushed on with my top pattern yesterday evening. I move slower than if I were taking a class because sometimes, I feel like I’m reinventing the wheel a little bit. I get stuck and have to think about things, look back over my old notes and try to figure it out for myself. Which, though slow, is probably better in the long run.

This isn’t going to be perfect. I think the armscye and waist shaping will be ok but the neckline, I’m not so sure about. Hoping to test on muslin tomorrow.

Thank you all for weighing in on the skirt issue! I didn’t realise so many people didn’t like school uniform skirts. My mum used to dress me in a kilt, when I was quite small, that was straight across the front and pleated around the back. I suppose I had that idea in the recesses of my mind. In the end, it was Mary L’s comment that the very pleated one would be impractical for cycling that swayed me! However, with the more A-line skirt, I’m not sure how well the bulk of three pleats would sit. It would be pretty heavy. I have subsequently come across this version which I think is a nice compromise and satisfies that bit of nostalgia, too. The more I think about it, I like the idea of a straight cross-over front with the movement of the pleats around the back. I get to keep the traditional elements of the buckles and the kilt pin. And, as you can see in the link above, the pleats in the back are tapered down from the waist band a fair bit so there’s a nice tidy shape without the extra hassle of a yoke.

So I’m going to sew the top first and then start the skirt. Exciting!

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January 31, 2011

Many fingers, many pies

Things have been busy: I got a job! I am now a part-time music lecturer and accompanist, for this semester anyway. I have three hours of lectures and three hours of coaching. The coaching is kein Problem. The lectures… well. I had a week’s notice and a very vague outline of what I was supposed to cover in the term. Luckily, I have some friends who lent me some materials and after a few days of panic/photocopying, I had something to start off with. I think it’s going to be fine. I’m only in until Easter, after which I play for everyone’s exams and then I’m done. So these days it’s very much a case of making hay while the sun shines.

And, of course, it never rains but it pours: I have two recitals in February, competitions in March, two recitals in April, exams in both Maynooth university and the IT where I’m working in May. Of course, I have my own recital exam, thesis, wedding and errr, I’m trying to put together a concert series with my friends from college for June. Don’t worry, it will all be fine. Here, soothe your soul with some knitting.

This is a very bedraggled-looking Harvest Moon. I am trying to knit my way through the various stratae of my stash. This is very old yarn (oh God, 2006!). I tried to turn it into a jumper but all I ended up with was one of those Frankenstein moments. I denied its very existence.

I think this reincarnation is much better. I love the collar: you work a stockinette edge on one side and it makes the curve all by itself. Then you just pick up all along that edge and continue on in the round for the yoke. I had reservations about picking up along the collar because I don’t know about you but I always find it nigh on impossible to get the number specified in the pattern. With this you couldn’t go wrong; it was simply pick one stitch for each row.

The pockets were a good bit of knitting but I think they’ll be worth it. Check out the hem there. It’s a 4-stitch i-cord cast-off. I’m still not sure about it. I know it’s lying flat in the picture but when I pick it up, it rolls up at the back. I think I might take it out and put in a garter edging instead. I did it with the first cuff and I think I prefer it.

I really needed some mindless knitting the other night – I had some very long days last week – so I cast on for a Hap Blanket. This was entirely thanks to She Knit Up That Ball, who cast on for one in a flurry and sucked me in while she was at it. Again, this stuff is deep stash from our 2007 trip to Donegal. I had such a good time there I couldn’t bring myself to knit it up.

The cream is leftover Tivoli Celtic Aran superwash and the whole thing is surprisingly soft. I know it looks a bit small but there’s a gigantic border to go around it. It is fantastically soothing.

I have been chipping away at my Ishbel shawl and it is growing exponentially.

…and for some reason, the urge overcame me to dig out a very old WIP. A crocheted bathmat. Very easy but there are a lot of ends.

Last week was really very trying. Between two half days of lectures, I had six extra hours of vocal coaching because I filled in for a singing teacher that was sick. With all the stash knitting I’ve been doing, I thought I deserved something special for a change… and what could possibly be more special than something from Hedgehog Fibres in Cork. Beware: therein lies a rabbit hole of the yarn equivalent of chocolate cake.

I got some Wenslydale roving for a hat…

…and some mixed fibre batts – mostly merino and alpaca I think – which I think will make a nice, simple, garter moebius.

Sincerely hoping that this week will be more straight forward and I get some time with Margot (my wheel).

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October 17, 2010

Autumn is for knitting

Filed under:Cardigans,Cycling,Photography,Startitis,Sweaters — Aileen @ 17:37

I think there is a good case for adding this to one of the certainties of life: death, taxes and autumn is for knitting. Peasy (Ravelry link – it doesn’t seem to exist ‘on the outside’) got finished up in the blink of an eye but has been languishing for want of buttons.

I have been trying out a few in my own collection, such as those pretty blue flower ones that I got in Knopenwinkel a few years ago. But they just don’t work. I think I need some small wooden ones to go with the tweediness of the yarn. I will keep looking.

I am being drawn towards lighter knits and knits with big collars and short sleeves because they are more practical to wear on the bike. I had been hmmming and hawwwing about the Twenty Ten cardigan since it came out last March. Then I spotted this new range of Drops Nepal chez Constant Knitter and I knew it had to be.

The button band is coming out a little… eccentric… because I keep losing track of when I should put in a buttonhole. I suppose the dark colour doesn’t help but it really is a delicious plum colour and do you see that gentle fuzz? It is positively edible. I have stalled at the underarms because I keep forgetting to go get the pattern before I sit down (yes, sorry, I am that lazy; now you see why the cycling is good for me…). I’m sure I will progress someday soon. I think the A-line shape has the potential of making me look like a sack of potatoes so I’m leaving that out and just working it straight.

And, hilariously, because I was too lazy to go get my pattern I just cast on for something else instead. This is definitely in the mindless-stockinette category. Perhaps this is just as well because the NBA pre-season has started and we are back to our rota of rationing Toronto Raptors games. Behold the glory that is the Malabrigo Sock.

The pattern is another one of Veera’s that came out this week – Folded. Like the Twenty Ten cardigan, it has a very pronounced A-line so I have decided to leave it out and work a size smaller to get a more fitted body. The drapiness suits her but I think that the 38″ inches of fabric around my hips specified for my size wouldn’t be especially flattering!

I had some work this morning in the Academy playing for two auditions. To my pleasure, they were scheduled first and I was able to capture the best of the morning riding in at 830. I leave you with this shot of the Beckett Bridge, taken from the Talbot bridge at about ten to nine, and wish you a peaceful end to your weekend.


Some other snaps in the set here.

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