April 1, 2013

Easter Monday top and some other stuff

I hope everyone’s enjoying the long weekend! I’m sitting out in my shorts and flip flops with a coffee and my knitting, squeezing every last drop out of the sun! Next week I go back to cycling in 5°C weather.

Here’s what I’ve been working on this week. First up, some crochet doilies.


I find the whole Japanese zakka ideal very inspiring. When I saw the new Debbie Bliss book for home in This is Knit, I knew what I wanted to bring with me on holidays. I have a lot of crochet motif resources myself so I spent some time perusing and settled on this design from a Japanese magazine. Lisa and Eimear helped me pick out the colors.


The yarn is a Rico Essentials cotton and I used a 3mm hook. These turned out a really nice size so I can use them as coasters, tea pot mat, that kind of thing. They were really easy to pick up and I could complete one in less than an hour.

My main project has been this.


I didn’t like how the Pomegranate sweater was going. The lace chart, though beautiful, was to fiddly to follow without total concentration. I realised after putting it down to consider my progress that, really, all I wanted was a plain sweater in this colour. I immediately cast on for a top down raglan à la Barbara Walker. I’m at the waist now.

And the sewing FO for today is the Madeleine blouse from Deer and Doe.


I’ve had the pattern for ages and have been dying to try it out. It’s perfect for light fabrics – I used a cotton voile from Hickey’s. I made some modifications. For a start, I cut out at least 2 sizes smaller than the recommended size after checking out the finished measurements. This was a good idea!


There are a lot of gathers. I did the ones at the shoulders but did pleats instead at the cuffs. You might notice, too, that I didn’t do the collar like in the pattern. I thought it would be too fussy for what I wanted. I also didn’t have interfacing light enough for my material so I just left it. I used my bias tape maker to great effect and made enough binding for the neckline and the little bow. I didn’t have quite enough to tie the bow so I just sewed it in place by hand.

Paired here with my denim shorts from last summer, it’s a nice outfit for the weather today.

Home tomorrow! I’ll bring as much sun as I can…


January 24, 2012

Welsh Country Socks and some facecloths

Filed under:Finished Objects,Socks,Stash Down,Zakka — Aileen @ 07:38

I put these on this morning and realised that I had never shown them here.

Pattern: Welsh Country Socks from Folk Socks by Nancy Bush.

Yarn: The brown is from Lidl and the white was one skein of Brown Sheep Wildfoote. I used about 1.5 balls of the Lidl yarn and one ball of the Wildfoote. The Lidl yarn is great and I will definitely buy more for socks when I see it on sale – they sell 4 balls for about €5.

The pattern was very straight forward to follow – I put the pattern on the toe section as well. I saw someone else had done the same thing in this colour combination and I thought it was really pretty. I wear these socks all the time. Now that I think about it, I think it’s partly because of the colour and also partly because of the length. I got the book on sale and picked it up primarily for this pattern, but it is terrific reading with many other attractive patterns that warrant closer inspection. Nancy Bush never fails to educate and entertain the knitter, I think.

I was tidying up and found a ball of Louisa Harding Ianthe that I bought to experiment with. It’s 50-50 merino-cotton and I had been thinking about a summer top, perhaps. I changed my mind subsequently and figured that some washcloths would be a good use. You can see how what size I think the hooks in the bathroom are changes…! The yarn was really lovely to work with , not very splitty at all and would make a nice top, were one so inclined.


January 21, 2012

Samantha Slippers

Filed under:Favourite Things,Sewing,Zakka — Aileen @ 15:04

I just realised that I have once again forgotten to take photos of my knitting. I have a blue shawl that is nearly finished and is quite possibly my most gigantic one yet. It is colossal. I cannot wait to cast it off… mostly because I want the needles to get stuck into a Bedford sweater (can’t find a link to the actual pattern page but that’s what it looks like).

In the meantime, I have some slippers to show you.

It’s the Samantha slipper pattern from I Think Sew. It’s a downloadable PDF. What I really like about the pattern is that each pattern piece for each size is on its own page, so I only had to print out two pages. The instructions were extremely clear so overall, this was a simple and reasonably quick sew – about two hours.

I used some leftover cord from my Proper Attire Skirt and some leftover material from my sewing machine cover. I sewed a US size 5 which is about a UK 3.5-4.

They are super comfortable and even though they’re not the warmest, they are ideal as house shoes, guest slippers, a thoughtful present or as travel slippers that can be rolled up and tucked away in your handbag.

I was thinking of giving these to my organ teacher since she has the same shoe size as me (I borrowed her organ shoes once). All in all, this is a great pattern and I’m sure I’ll be making it again.

I put my polka dot blouse on hold momentarily because I thought I needed to get more buttons. But while I was tidying up, I came upon another packet of the same buttons in another size. It turns out that they’ll be fine for the cuffs, so I’m hoping to make a start on those buttonholes later.

Work has been extremely slow lately but I have put myself in for a number of projects (orchestral piano with wind band for an opera, a flute duo concert, rehearsal pianist with the same opera company as last summer) so I have a feeling that it won’t last. When I get down about not working so much, Alb always reminds me to enjoy my free time while I can…

I started a very simple t-shirt, the Scout Woven Tee. Also a downloadable PDF, it was quite the instant-gratification pattern. I got the material at Pippa Blue while I was in Galway at Christmas and I’m sorry to say that I got the last of it. I will talk more about the pattern when I finish it off but for now, I’ll leave you with a close up of the print. I think you’ll understand why I was drawn to it.


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).


May 10, 2010

Si, capito…

Filed under:Crochet,Music,Stash,Zakka — Aileen @ 12:53

My father gave me this great learn-Italian set of CDs and a book from the BBC a while ago. Before I came out, I covered the first section easily enough. I had hoped to do more but was so busy working and trying to squeeze in extra preparation that it ended up taking a back seat. On the plane over I realised that the extent of my Italian was how to ask for five different types of coffee, ask where the toilet is (but alas not understand the answer!) and count up to ten. My hosts’ English is limited but when they speak clearly in Italian, I understand them quite easily. I think this is because the root of many words is similar to that in French, which I know well. Now we converse in a funny sort of Italiano-inglese. By the time I went to the market on Saturday, I felt confident enough in my phony French-with-Italian accent to buy wool. In fact, when I do this generally, I fare better. If I ask if they speak English, often people get flustered and then defensive. Easier if I’m the one who speaks poor Italian rather than the reverse, if you get me!

Anyway, this is what I came away from the market with. Cotton and linen are the most popular fibres here for obvious reasons but the guy was also selling ‘winter wool’ because the weather has been so poor here (They consider 18C and cloudy to be poor for this time of year. Yeah. My sympathy doesn’t go that far either.) I have been going through a real phase of fascination with Zakka and all things for the house. I have a nice book called Lacy Crochet which calls for fine cotton for a lot of the projects. I got these three.

100% cotton, 340m per 50g, a staggering €1.60 a ball. Of course I had to try it out straight away so I whipped up this wee doily from the book. Apologies for its crinkliness, it really needs a good blocking and perhaps some starch.

He also had heavier weight cottons but those I can get fairly easily at home so I went for some linen instead. This I bought specifically with tea-towels or a mat in mind.

I bought two of each colour. 100% linen, 105m per 50g, €3 a ball. I know the temptation is to buy a ton but this stuff is going to be pretty rugh to work with. I imagine by the time I get through 420m of it, I’ll have had enough for the time being.

The market was very interesting. It’s not a good market by my family’s estimation but really, it had everything you could think of. I enjoyed looking at the cheesemongers’ stalls and also at the vegetables. Every vegetable stall sold huge nets of… snails. Initially I thought they were oysters because they were wet and drippy. But then I thought that they couldn’t be since we’re so far inland. That’s when I noticed the many, many antennae straining and wiggling. Whose fantastic job was it to bag up all those guys? I also wonder how long they last for. You’d probably need to cook them all together. But from prior experience, you can only eat so many snails in one sitting.

Anyway, there was also a guy selling pet birds and different types of eggs. Hen eggs, fine. Tiny little white eggs I found out later that are quail eggs…. and absolutely gigantic, creamy, dimpled eggs that looked like dinosaur eggs. ‘Uovo di Struzzo’. I looked it up when I got home: ostrich eggs. I’m not kidding, they were about 20-30cm long and 15-20cm wide. Apparently you make big omelettes from them. No duck eggs, curiously enough.

I also finished up a square doily I started a few days before I came over. It’s quite large so here’s just a corner to give you an idea.

Tivoli Cruise cotton, 4ply, and the pattern is from the Lacy Crochet book I mentioned above. I used a 2mm hook. It’s to protect one side of the desk of my piano (the desk is the music stand on a grand piano, it has a shelf on either side of the stand and the whole thing can slide in or out). II’m going to make a matching one in blue for the other side.

I played this morning so now I am taking it easy. I find out tomorrow evening if I pass into the next round. I don’t expect to – I’m not being pessimistic, rather, realistic. I was happy enough with how I played, considering the overall situation. It takes courage! Especially if you follow a German lass who quite literally slashed her way through a Beethoven concerto with a sledgehammer. Oh Madonna… I did the best I could do for now. It could have been better, but also much worse. The next one I do will be better because I’ll have done this; and the one after, a bit better again. For now, espresso and a doily await!