Monthly Archives: April 2007

It’s an ill wind

“It’s an ill wind that blows no luck”. In the last 24 hours I have had my fair share of both ill wind and luck! Let’s get the ill wind over with. The Puff Sleeved Cardigan.

Back to square one

It was too big. Not by a lot, and it wasn’t the pattern’s fault. I even had gauge (I did! I don’t think I’ve ever had such perfect gauge). It was a combination of two things. Firstly, the assumption that I would need an inch of ease, and secondly, the assumption that I still measured the same. When it turns out that one not only doesn’t need an inch of ease, but has physically shrunk by an inch as well, one can only anticipate a vigorous rip-out.

And vigorous it was! When I stood in front of the mirror and both front pieces were overlapping without the button-band, I realised there was nothing for it. I could felt it up a little, but if it didn’t work, all I’d be left with is a too-big cardigan with unsalvageable wool. I did it as quickly as I could to prevent second thoughts. It’s not all bad though, you know. By knitting a size smaller, I won’t have to knit as much!

Needless to say, having to rip out my cardigan instead of finishing it off last night left me a bit miffed. Solution? A hat!

I popped out to This is Knit yesterday to pick up an extra two balls to finish my cardigan (that alone should have tipped me off that it was going to be too big – it shouldn’t need 200m more!) and on my usual grope’n’smell tour of the shop, I discovered the new Noro Silver Thaw that came in. Mmmm. At 50% wool, 25% angora and 25% nylon, it is wonderfully soft and quite matted in texture. One ball has 110m which I figured would be plenty for a hat, and it’s been a while since I knit myself an ear-flap hat.

I’ve been knitting away on my Jaywalkers, too. I got the second sock started on Friday evening and made really good progress on the journey to, from and whilst at Blackrock! Geraldine the Bear Knitter and Helen (whom I had met a long time ago but only vaguely remembered) both popped in. There was much yak, tea and biscuits!

This afternoon, I finally got the time to sit down with my ball of Cashsilk and swatch for my next pattern.

It is an interesting yarn in that it works very well on both small and large needles. I’m planning on a simple V-neck summer top and found the fabric I knitted up on 5mm needles (the bit at the very bottom) to be a bit too gapey. It would be great for a shawl or Clapotis though. I tried out 3.75mm but eventually got a good result with 4.5mm. The funny looking business at the top is a stitch I am planning to use – only one though! I was trying out a few different things – how it would work with another colour, and what would happen if I used two stitches in it instead of one, and so on. I also toyed with the idea of a whole row of these stitches along the hem – which is that bulgy bit along the top. Don’t think I’ll be using that one. All in all, I’m pretty pleased and hope to get started on it tonight or tomorrow.

The best bit of luck, though, is the fact that my Rosy pattern will be live to download (every time I say that, I get this great mental image of Frankenstein coming to life… what have I created?!) really soon. Myself and Alb did a test download of it and it seems to be working fine. Lisa sent me on the finished PDF this afternoon and tells me that they have already sold a paper copy of it in the shop. Horray!

Donegal Trip III

We returned from Teelin and the Sliabh Liag cliffs to Killybegs, where we had booked a B&B. Killybegs is a small town and it seemed that everyone was out on Saturday night. We thought we might not actually find a place to get some food (well there was a chipper at least), but the Chinese sorted us out in the end. Let me tell you: if you’re ever in Killybegs, have the fish. Any fish. All the fish. It’s fantastic. I had steamed seabass and when they brought it out, it became clear that they had just steamed the entire fish. Much to my relief, the waitress expertly beheaded, definned and boned it for me! A very simple dish, with ginger, scallions and fried rice, but extremely tasty.

The next day, Sunday, we retraced our tracks to Donegal town and took the bypass on to the road to Letterkenny. This involved some dodgy navigation on my part and resulted in us driving the wrong down a one way road. We got to Letterkenny in the end! As it was still early in the day, we skirted around Letterkenny (north-east corner of Donegal) and headed west towards Glenveagh National Park. The National Park covers 30,000 acres, some parts with dense forest and rich deer stocks. Glenveagh Lake and Castle are towards the north of the park, and there are many walking routes from there around the park. Here’s an idea of the valley and lake.

The castle is located on a promontory jutting out into the lake, and offers fantastic views of the entire valley.

The castle was constructed some time in the 1800s and involved, as was the norm in those days, the eviction of about 280 people from the surrounding land. The guy who built it – his name escapes me – was understandably unpopular with the locals. However, when he died, his wife – Cornelia Adair – spent a lot of her remaining days there. She took an interest in the community and did a lot of social work in the area. It was Adair who introduced the deer stocks to the Park and erected fencing to keep them in. When she died, the Castle fell to a grand-nephew (I think) of Cornelia Adair. Not sure about that one. He was an American and professor of Art in Harvard University. Then another American by the name of McIlhenny bought it off him. He worked for the Museum of Fine Art in Philadelphia. McIlhenny came to Glenveagh in the 1910s I think, and spent much of his time there until he donated the Castle to the State in 1983. He died in 1986.

McIlhenny was responsible for the considerable development of the gardens. Above in the picture is what used to be the Kitchen Garden. Themed gardens, like the Oriental Garden and Italian Garden, spread out from either side of the Kitchen Garden, and would take a whole day to explore thoroughly.

The interior of the house is certainly a nod to McIlhenny’s background in fine art. Most of the very valuable paintings he had in the house – like Van Gogh and Landseer – were donated to the Phildadelphia Museum. However, the furniture has remained with the house and was wonderful to see. Like the gardens, there are many themed rooms in the house, including French, Italian and Chinese. Most of the furniture is George III, with clean lines, little decoration, and very functional. A fantastic example of the George III stuff would be the bookcase in the drawing room which has little gothic windows. The glass was hand-blown, so it has a marbled effect. There was variation in the furniture, though, depending on the room. The master bedroom, for example, had a Regency period bed, bureau and writing desk. The Chinese room had exquisite pieces – all black, with hand-painted scenes of the Orient. What made the furniture in the house so remarkable was not the quantity or undeniable quality of it, but the condition of every piece. It must be worth a fortune. No photos of the furniture, unfortunately, no cameras were allowed on the tour.

The funniest part of the house was the swimming pool out the back.

We spent much of the afternoon hiking around the castle – we climbed up to the Viewing Point, which is where I took the pictures of the Castle and valley. They – I suppose the Department of Environment – have been reintroducing the Peregrine Falcon to the area, and I was hoping to see one in flight from the Viewing Point. There was a man down in the Kitchen Garden with an owl, a falcon, and a hawk tethered to show to the public. I didn’t see a falcon up there, but I did spot a golden eagle. There has been a breeding programme of the golden eagle taking place elsewhere in the north of Donegal for some time now, and there have been sightings of eagles in the area. Even though I had my binoculars out, I couldn’t tell whether it was an eagle or a hawk. I looked it up when I came home and to the best of my knowledge, I think it was an eagle.

We headed on west to Dunglow, where we finally found a B&B. On Monday, we drove south from Dunglow back to Killybegs. I persuaded Alb to take me back to Kilcar, which was when I got my wool ๐Ÿ™‚ It was still pretty early in the day, so we went further west out by Glencolumcille. It was very pretty but a mist had blown in off the sea and visibility was really poor, so we turned and went home to Sligo.

Donegal Trip II

Well, you’ve seen the woolly part of Donegal, now it’s time for some scenery! We headed west from Donegal town, which was where I met Clare O’Presco, the weaver. We passed through Kilcar but everything was shut up so we kept heading west to Teelin. There wasn’t much to it – a pub, a shop and a pier – but it was the last point of civilisation before we headed out along Sliabh Liag. These cliffs are actually higher than the Cliffs of Moher, but I’d never even heard of them. The road out to the best viewing point is ridiculous. Narrow roads are standard in Ireland but these roads were just crazy. They were narrow and bendy, running along sheer cliff edges, and with hills that you could only go up in first gear. Ask Alb about it! At one such crazy bend, we pulled in for a better look of the little bay below.

It was worth it when we got there of course. To the right you look further west along the coast (unfortunately Photoshop doesn’t do much about hazey sunshine).

Immediately to the left of the parking spot was a large promontory. See the little castle? We hiked out to it for a better look.

Friendly Local Enjoys Scene

From the end of the promontory there was a much better view further east.

The little castle seemed to be some sort of a look out tower. None of my pictures of it were any good. I spent a long time taking shots of the fantastic rocks and lovely little rock flowers and lichen.

When we returned from the promontory, we headed back to the car. I sat down while Alb continued out west and hiked up another ridge. He returned to tell me that you could actually hike all the way along the cliffs. By that stage it was late in the afternoon and tea was very much in order. Maybe another time!

I threw a little tantrum last night. I thought I’d run out of wool for my Puff Sleeved Cardigan. Honestly. This is the fourth project in a row that this has happened. What provoked the tantrum, though, was my conviction that I had at least another two balls hiding somewhere. Don’t ask me why I was so convinced, I just was. I gave up in disgust when I couldn’t find them and just finished off my first Jaywalker sock instead. Then, when I was looking for my nail clippers, I opened up my camera bag and there was one ball left inside! Yippee! I have progressed onto the Peplum – or the shaping at the bottom for the hips to you and I – and fingers crossed I’ll have enough to finish the body. I can’t imagine I’ll have enough to do the button band and finish the sleeves, but for some reason I can live with that. I found my nail clippers, too (I have this piece that goes really fast and when I practise it, my nails grow quicker – scientific fact).

Pictures of Glenveagh Castle tomorrow!

Donegal Trip

Long time no chat! I spent the long weekend in Donegal with Alb. We drove north from my parents house here in Sligo on Saturday morning. I didn’t realise the road from Sligo to Killybegs had been re-done so we got to Donegal town in about an hour and a half – and that’s with a wool stop at the Craft Basket in Cliffony!

Donegal town is pretty small, much smaller than Sligo town, but it has its own charm. The surrounding scenery is really beautiful. On the way out of the town back to the bypass, we passed a ‘Craft Village’ which houses about five different artists and their studios. I got Alb to pull in just for a look and I’m so glad I did, because I met the nicest weaver!

Clare O’Preso

She has a beautiful old loom that she rescued from a heritage centre and weaves up fabric to turn into other things. She sells lots of scarves, wraps, stoles, cushions, handbags and other little tweedy items. Really lovely stuff! Clare also does knotwork (I think it’s called macramรฉ) which is great for showing off ribbon yarn. We had a long yak about yarn – I figured she would be the best one to ask about getting wool in Donegal – and she passed me on details for Kilcarra yarns, showing me all the lovely shades they do.

This is what she was working on Saturday

Encouraged by Clare, we continued on to Killybegs, where we had a B&B booked, and then further west to Kilcar. Kilcar is a funny little village where people not only double-park everywhere but just abandon their cars when things get held up. If you plan on making the trek to Kilcar for wool – and I recommend you do! – the Kilcarra factory is at the end of the village on the left as you come from Killybegs. Both the factory and shop, Studio Donegal, were shut on Easter Saturday, so we continued on our merry way out to Teelin where there are spectacular cliffs. We hiked around the cliffs all afternoon taking photos. I’ll share them with you tomorrow! Today, it’s all about the wool ๐Ÿ™‚

We returned to Kilcar on Easter Monday on our way home. The factory wasn’t open but what seemed to be their factory shop, Studio Doengal, was. Unfortunately their site doesn’t do the place justice. They had every item of tweed under the sun, as well as the usual hand knits and fuzzy blankets. I even spotted a little single treadle Louet wheel for sale (about e240). They had a lot of tweed for sale by the yard, as well as a great sock of Kilcarra’s Aran Tweed. At e2.30 a ball, or e47 a kilo, I decided to stock up a bit. I have been looking for a nice yarn for my next knit out of Fitted Knits and I think this stuff will do the trick.

I was going to get some blue or purple, but nearly every jumper I own is blue or purple, so I went with some great red instead.

When they saw that I was stocking up, they offered to give me a shade card and said they were more than willing to do mail order. Great! I know the picture below doesn’t do justice to the shades but this stuff would be really great for some fair isle work as most of the colours are complimentary.

As we did a lot of driving over the weekend, I got lots of knitting done on my Puff Sleeved Cardigan. Here’s how far I’d gotten yesterday.

I continued further last night and am about to embark on the waist shaping. Happy days!

Up, up and away!

I am sorry I took such a crappy picture of the Moebius last night. I didn’t realise it was so crappy until I looked at it again this morning. Here is a better one, courtesy of our fine weather. It’s getting its first outing today!

I picked up the remaining necessary teal Cashmerino yesterday and couldn’t resist casting on for the Puff Sleeved Cardigan this morning ๐Ÿ™‚ I can’t wait to really get stuck into this one!

So Lisa loaded me up with a pile of Laines du Nord’s Cashsilk for a new pattern. I already have another one in the works, but I have a feeling that what I have planned for the Cashsilk will be a really speedy knit. Here are the colours I chose.

See that sheen? It’s gorgeous. It’s 50% fine merino, 25% silk and 25% cashmere. Yummy! The cream is my main colour and the green is for a contrasting edge. I’m really excited to see how this will come out.

Yesterday I also picked up a Laines du Nord book (book 5). I don’t usually buy the pattern support books, mostly because there isn’t anything in them that I want to knit. This book, however, was a real surprise. I like alot of the patterns. This one was an obvious choice for me.

But I also liked the retro feel of this one. I think both of these would knit up really nicely in the new Debbie Bliss Rialto. I just love the colours it comes in, and there’s great stitch definition.

Enough dreaming! I’m heading up to Donegal with Alb for the weekend. Fingers crossed the weather will hold!