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.


image

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.


image

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.


image

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.

end

December 29, 2014

A forgotten FO and nearly FO!

Filed under:Finished Objects,Knitting,Sewing — Aileen @ 09:00

I realised after publishing my last post that I had, in fact, never shared with you my new kit bag!

image

I sometimes have a piano lesson on a Thursday evening in Rathmines. One day I was early so I decided to avail of the opportunity and pay a visit to Sew. It was my first time visiting so I wasn’t expecting what lay in store – a wonderful little nook bursting with fabric, notions, ideas and inspiration! They have a classroom, too, where they teach a full range of classes.

I fell in love with the sewing-themed fabric and bought a fat quarter and a matching solid to make this bag. I used the Open Wide Zipper Pouch tutorial by Noodlehead. It’s excellent! I wanted a bag big enough to tote a fairly substantial project, such as a shawl or a sleeve, and it fits the bill perfectly.

Another FO I forgot to show you is a very simple black skirt.

image

As you can see, I had to brighten the photo up considerably but you get the idea! I used a black scuba fabric from Michael H fabric basement (about €8 I think) and I have quite a bit left. The pattern I used was the Shadi skirt from the recent Named collection. I tapered between sizes 38-40 I think, because it’s very close fitting. I think it was originally designed as a type of slip. I have been wearing the heck out it and I think I’m going to add at least one more pencil skirt to my wardrobe – you can wear them with anything and you immediately look dressed up.

Lastly, I have for you my ‘nearly’ FO. I had to leave this to one side to work on something else that I hope to share with you very soon. On the same day I bought the black scuba above, I also bought some houndstooth wool check for a simple winter dress.

image

There is a lot of dart detail so it turned out to be slower going than anticipated. I just tacked the sides together and threw it on to see if it fitted. It was my first time sewing from a Japanese pattern book so I was unsure. My doubts were misplaced, though, as the finished measurements were spot on, and the fit is perfect. I simply have to sew the sides so that the pattern matches and sew in the lining.

end

November 27, 2014

Coup de Coeur

Filed under:Blouses/Tops,Hats,Knitting,Sewing,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 21:13

I recently developed an inexplicable but undeniable urge to knit a red hat. It had to have ear flaps and it had to be Malabrigo. Do you ever get these fixations? And the immense, trivial, satisfaction when you find all of these things condensed into one item?

image

This was taken a few days. It’s since been finished and graced with a white pompom. I have enough left for mitts. I think they might need to have matching pompoms too!

On the sewing front, this has been happening:

image

I rejected a bow thanks to adequate floweriness but there are gathers. Finished soon, I hope.

end

November 20, 2014

November Outfit

I have a combination outfit for you today! I knit the cardigan in the summer and made the skirt recently. I think they go really well together.

Let’s start with the cardigan! I really wanted a cropped cardigan to wear with the few high-waisted skirts I have. I used Debbie Bliss Mia from This is Knit. It took about 8 balls.

I didn’t much like the selection of patterns on Ravelry so I just kept it simple and used the Barbara Walker recipe for a top-down set-in-sleeve construction.

Do you notice a button oddity there? I sewed on four buttons but cut the top one off (I can’t remember why – there was a reason at the time). I’ve changed my mind and think it looks better with the top button… but now I can’t find the one I cut off! I’m sure it will turn up during some excavation or another.

As for the skirt, I used a sturdy failsafe pattern, the Colette Ginger.

I didn’t change anything from the last time I made it – I grade from size 6 at the waist to size 8 at the hip. Rather than making a separate lining, I overlocked the lining and shell pieces together. It’s not as nice a finish, but I’m hoping it will help maintain the shape better over time.

I must concede that my original navy Ginger, made in September 2012, needs to be retired. Everytime I put it on, I take it off again because it just looks worn out. It is completely misshapen and the lining has disintegrated on the inside (pre-overlocker sewing!). It was a good and faithful skirt.

end

November 17, 2014

FO: Dark and Stormy

Filed under:Cardigans,Finished Objects,Knitting,Stash Down — Aileen @ 12:01

This cardigan has been a long time in the works. Well, the actual knitting didn’t take very long but I had intentions for about five years! How very satisfying to finally get down to it.

Pattern: Dark and Stormy by Thea Colman.

Needles: I think 4.5mm.

Yarn: Berrocco Ultra Alpaca that I bought in Chicago in… 2008? It doesn’t feel like that long ago but it was six years. I had 7 skeins and I think I only used about 5. Maybe 5 and a bit at the most.

I really enjoyed knitting this! I stalled out at the very beginning some years ago when I first cast on because the set up is a bit fiddly. You cast on at the top and work down – it’s basically a top-down raglan – and you have to establish the cabling. The beginning is definitely not TV knitting. Once you get going, though, it is.

The raglan shaping is not totally straight – it’s staggered to give a better shoulder shape. I wish I had measured a little more conscientiously because I could do with a bit less fabric there. It fairly bubbled out, actually, when I had finished, but I was able to steam it into submission.

I adore the cabling down the back.

This is a seriously warm cardigan, thanks to the alpaca. I really like the colour of the model in the pattern and think it would be a more perennial wear if worked in something a little less smothering like merino. Also, whilst I think mine looks fine now, I wonder about how defined my cables are going to stay, given the beautiful but massive halo of the alpaca.

Buttons courtesy of my first ever visit to the Knitting and Stitching show! They may even pre-date the blog. I remember buying them and thinking how perfect they were. Sure, it might have taken me ten years to knit them a cardigan but the chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time, amiright?

end