July 11, 2020

An Update on WIPs

It is surprisingly difficult to write an update on my works in progress, after not having written one in so very long. As one project ends, another is begun; invariably I have two or three projects in various stages of completion at any one time and it can be difficult to know when a good time to dip in and share progress is. It is curious how such small things can create resistance, and curiouser still how the rumination on such curiosity creates a self-perpetuating procrastination. Even that sentence is a procrastination. And this one!

How about some progress on Lucy? I got the body finished!

I cannot remember if I mentioned that my wooden needles were slowly doing me. The wool is still very oily from the fleece (deliciously so! It smells amazing! And not in a bad way either) and it was sticking to the needles. I took myself along to This is Knit, got myself a pair of metal tips and I haven’t looked back. (It was so nice to visit there again! You can make an appointment so you don’t have to queue or anything to have all those lovely wool fumes to yourself). I have since started…

..and finished a sleeve. There is a lot of knitting in a sleeve but thankfully, from the top down, they get smaller as you go so it’s a bit like going down the hill on your bike. I also tried the jumper on when I finished off the body and how glad was I that it fit so snugly! I expect that when I wash it in some wool soap that it will loosen out a bit and fluff up, so a bit of snugness is no bad thing. It is incredibly warm. I cannot wait to finish it!

As I near the completion of one thing, I think forward to the next. I have been mulling over Kate Davies’ Seavaiger since May. A drapey batwing sweater with two colours of stripes, I think the design was published in the Spring of 2019. It is interesting to consider the role that colour plays in the portrayal of a design – it can really make or break an otherwise excellent pattern. Case in point with Seavaiger, I think, as the original colourway was so disinteresting to me that I passed over it completely. She updated the pattern this Spring in a different colourway: two shades of teal and worn with a orange red skirt (more on that in a minute!). I was instantly hooked. Sometimes I am drawn in by the quirk of an item but on further consideration, conclude that it is not really my thing or not something that I would ever realistically wear. Testament to this design is the fact that I am still obsessing over it nearly three months later.

So, what of the orange red skirt? The colour has been another preoccupation of mine this Spring. It is one that I fall in and out of love with regularly. Being such a strong colour, I think that I struggle with what to pair it with, but seeing it with teal (a colour I wear a lot) really clicked for me. And let’s face it: there comes a time in your life when you have to accept that not only do you want an orange and pink jumper, but that you want the orangiest and pinkiest jumper – in the world – ever – since the dawn of woolkind!

I have spent the last three months searching for the perfect orange, which is in fact neither orange nor red. Does anybody know the name of that colour? Tomato red? Killer Flamingo? Let me know. Anyway, I finally found the colours in a new-to-me 4-ply at The Constant Knitter. It’s from a brand called Rial Filati. This 4-ply, Baby Supremo, comes in a fab range of colours, and you can’t really go wrong with 200m for €3.99. My only criticism, if you could call it that, is that it is extremely soft yarn. Great for a drapey batwing jumper, and for baby knits, but maybe not so great for a jumper that you’d be knocking around in. Really looking forward to starting this and it will be the perfect antidote to the oatmealiness of my Lucy jumper.

Yet more colour to finish up for today: a pair of colourwork socks. Despite my longstanding love for knitting colourwork mittens, I had not to date tried a pair of socks in the same fashion. About two years ago, I happened upon a book on Ravelry called SoxxBook by Kersin Balke. It is in German and published by a company called Topp. As you’ll see from the Ravelry link there, it is full of vibrant colourwork designs with a warm, retro aesthetic. It has since been published in English but seeing that it was quite expensive, as a hardcover edition, I forgot about it. Imagine my delight then, when I happened upon the paperback edition quite by accident in the Liber bookshop in Sligo when I was last there! Obviously it had to come home with me and obviously I had to cast on immediately.

The red is a Drops Fabel, the turquoise is West Yorkshire Spinners 4-ply in Bubblegum and the purple is Schoppel Admiral. All very affordable and the latter two come in big 100g balls so I will have enough for probably two more pairs! I must admit that I was concerned about my gauge and how the colourwork might make them unwearably tight. But no, they fit great and I have half of the second one knit already. More soon!

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September 16, 2015

Happy New Year!

I adore this time of year! It is a time for fresh beginnings, new leaves, revised strategies and revitalised plans! The summer was a busy one for me – lots of playing and not much else. In June, I competed in another competition outside Milan. Amusingly, many people there knew each other from other competitions, and I met a few who had been in Taranto with me. I had mutual acquaintances meet at later competitions. The music world is very small, even on an international level. Again, I was eliminated but had the opportunity to speak with most of the jury. This was quite revealing. I learned that juries, by and large, want to hear standard competition repertoire – you know, the big, heavy, flashy stuff – and absolutely do not want to hear a piece that they do not know. I was told by one jury member that a piece I played – which is ferociously difficult, by the way – was not competition repertoire. I told her that I didn’t pick it for her, I picked it for me. This had an amusing reaction and our conversation did not last much longer.

I learned two other things. Firstly, it is a deeply chauvinistic world. As a woman, I cannot see how it would be possible to please a jury. If you play in a masculine style, it just doesn’t have the same effect as a man playing. If you play in a feminine style, it’s too ‘weak’ (big repertoire etc.). It would seem that you would need the magical combination of a good repertoire choice, a pleasing style, and the jury on your side to progress in any way. Secondly, it is an ageist world. They will always give the younger musician a prize in order to help a career. So, in both competitions, I saw young Italian men win quite a few awards when there were umpteen other pianists more worthy. I quickly saw that as an older woman, my chances of even progressing to the next round were practically nil! But I also saw that this had nothing to do with how I played! I think that if I were younger, this would infuriate me, but I have done enough competitions to really not care anymore. It was a fantastic experience and it gave me a huge confidence boost, funnily enough.

The rest of the summer was busy, but fun! I went back to Switzerland and played a Mozart concerto with the orchestra there (it’s a music course where you can play with orchestra). And then, when I returned, I played ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ with the Irish Youth Wind Ensemble in the University of Limerick concert hall. This was an incredible experience – such an overwhelming level of talent in the ensemble! – and I look forward to sharing the recording with you. I was really very pleased with how it came off.

I have even more news! I got a new job in a university. I used to work there a few years ago so I am delighted to be returning on a full-time basis now. I have a contract but I am hopeful that it will develop into a more permanent position. There are two aspects of this that I am thrilled about: working daytime hours and a short train commute. I have worked vampire hours for the last few years and let me tell you, it wears thin. You never get to go to concerts or socialise at normal times. As for the commute, I have the perfect combination of a little daily exercise getting to the station and KNITTING TIME!

This brings me to the most important part: actual knitting! I have a completed cardigan that I will show you shortly, but today I have a WIP and future plans to share.

First up is a round yoked sweater in Fyberspates Cumulus. I adore the shades of this yarn. One of my most-worn tops is a similar colour to this, so I thought a cropped pullover version would be useful.


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The pattern is the Basic Unisex Pullover from Hannah Fettig’s Knitbot Yoked. This collection of five yoked sweaters (with a bonus hat and mitts) sat in my shopping cart on Ravelry for about a year. I finally broke down and bought it. I want to knit them all! In fact, I have a lovely dark teal yarn that would be perfect for Kaye’s cardigan. Would those little dots be perfect in angora or alpaca? Something sort of fluffy?!

I am almost finished the second sleeve (sleeves! Ugh!) and I have my sights on the next item. Are you susceptible to bizarre, but unmoveable desires like me? I bought a short sleeved ribbed sweater from Gap about three years ago. It has diagonal shaping on the body and I love it. I have searched high and low on Ravelry for a pattern for something similar to no avail. Until I found Newsom! I have this Donegal tweed 4ply/sport in my stash for over a year now (maybe two years?) and I am dying to use it. This will be the perfect pattern to show off its tweedy goodness.


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Don’t you love when you knit a good-sized swatch, lay it down, steal the needles for another project, assure yourself you will totally remember what size you used, then totally forget, thus rendering the swatch useless? I love that!

Lastly, I have a deep need for cream cardigan. I have a fair few dark dresses and skirts and this would fill a considerable wardrobe gap. This is the Cushendale Mohair Boucle. Isn’t it awesome? I love how loopy it is. It isn’t at all annoying to knit, either. I don’t really have a plan for this one. I changed needles quite a few times on this swatch just to see how the textures would change. It could take quite a large needle. I think perhaps just a simple round-necked cardigan would do it, with garter borders.


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The other publication I have been sorely tempted by is a new offering by Elizabeth Doherty, called Top Down: Re-imagining Set-in Sleeve Design. It’s about $25, which isn’t cheap, considering there are only 6 patterns, but by all accounts there is a wealth of information contained therein. I am a long-term fan of the top-down set-in sleeve but there are issues with matching the look of picked-up stitches. I’m not convinced, either, by the look of the contiguous shoulder. I will think about it and get back to you.

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January 20, 2014

FO: Pomegranate sweater

Filed under:Knitting,Summer Wardrobe '13,Sweaters — Aileen @ 08:00

I realised in my last Knitting round-up that I never got proper photos of my Pomegranate sweater. Last shown here at the beginning of last April, this was a pleasant spring knit.

I started out wanting to knit the ‘real’ Pomegranate sweater. I loved the colour and was thrilled to find something similar in Debbie Bliss Rialto DK (now discontinued I think?!). Sadly, the pattern was way, way beyond my attention span at the time. I think it is definitely something I will come back to but it wasn’t going to happen then. So, I just knit a top-down raglan a la Barbara Walker and used yarn overs for the raglan decreases. A few waist decreases and increases, long sleeves, basic round neck, absolutely run-of-the-mill.

I’m really happy with how it turned out and the colour makes me really happy. It goes well with navy and grey, which are two colours I wear a lot too. I have it on here with a white blouse and navy culottes that I wrote about here.

It’s funny that I wrote recently that I haven’t felt much need for sweater knitting given my well-appointed sweater shelf. Ever since then, I’ve been full of ideas!

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November 14, 2013

Chuck reknit

Filed under:AW Wardrobe '13,Finished Objects,Knitting,Sweaters — Aileen @ 22:12

This technically isn’t new. I made it last winter but never wore it as I was unhappy with a few things. Firstly, I made many errors in the front chart. Then, the sleeve caps were both different and misshapen. I finally got around to ripping it out and reknitting it.

The pattern is Chuck by Andi Satterlund (Ravelry link). I was more attentive second time around and am happy with the result!

As you can see, it’s fairly cropped so is better with high-waisted skirts and dresses than trousers. Managed to get those cable crosses right this time! Overall, the pattern is clear (when you actually look it) and it’s a pretty quick knit.

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August 23, 2013

Biston and a few WIPs

Filed under:Knitting,Sleeves,Sweaters,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 12:56

Apologies for the dead air… I was feeling quite under the weather the last week and when I did rallied, I rallied in the direction of my summer to-do list. Anyway, the winners from my last post’s competition were Kimberly and Kim. Congrats!

Here’s what I’ve been working on lately. I knit the entire body and one sleeve of the Honey cardigan only to completely run out of yarn. I got a little bit more but as you can see, the colour was way off.

As it turned out, when I tried it on with just the one sleeve, I realised that I really didn’t like how it looked on me and I didn’t want to finish it. So I’ve ripped it out and I look forward to knitting it into a Hudson sweater. Sometimes it’s best to face facts.

Speaking of reknits, I became so infuriated by the errors in my orange Chuck sweater that I ripped the whole thing out to the armholes and reknit it. It had many, many errors in the front chart and the sleeve caps were awful. It never sat right no matter what I wore under it and consequently, only wore it once. I adore the sweater as well as the colour so I am going to give this another go.

Yet another reknit! Well, sort of. I fell in love with Helene about the time we left on honeymoon and started knitting it up in a woolly sport weight. The yarn in itself is wonderful but not suited to such a drapey design. It languished until I released it about a week ago. I think the yarn will be fantastic for something else and in the meantime, have cast on in a linen.

The recommended Quince and Co linen worked out at about £10 a skein (!!!) so I went with my local option, the Katia linen from This is Knit. It’s about €5 a ball and I only need 5. Linen, as a yarn, is very off-putting, I think. My swatch was very scratchy and scraggly-looking when I knit it up. However, when I blocked it out, it draped beautifully:

Speaking of drape, here’s my Biston shug.

It’s from Wool People 3 and I knit it up in Jamieson & Smith Jumper weight. I think it took about 4 and a bit of the big balls (I think they’re 50g?). I made a few modifications. I knit the sleeves in the round and then turned them inside out. I also didn’t knit the back as wide as directed because I have really narrow shoulders. Even as it is, it’s a bit lumpy. The border was a pain to knit but it was worth it. I blocked it and found the border simply did not want to behave at all. So, I reblocked it there the other day and stretched the life out of it. The result is more drapey. I think, maybe, for a more drapey effect overall, you could go for a slightly thinner yarn. I love this colour, though, and am a big fan of the J&S wool for its sheer wearability (damp-proof, always the right temperature, perfect neutral colours, feels like it’s indestructable).

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