May 31, 2007

Wave hello

Filed under:Music,News!,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 11:35

I cannot possibly begin to describe the week I’ve been having. It’s not so much that I’m busy but, as Alb so succinctly put it last night, things that should be ordinary end up being very dramatic. I have some fun news though, but I’m going to hang on to it until closer to the time (no, sorry, I’m not getting married).

I have my chamber music exam today. Chamber music is playing in a group of two or more people. Personally, chamber music is the best aspect of my course. It’s fun, it’s challenging, you meet new people, and really, it’s all about the fun of making music together. Due to the wide variety of instruments-in-training at the Academy, there are always unusual ensembles. Today is part two of the chamber exams and they are open to the public. If you feel in the mood for some brilliant percussion ensembles – including the rarely-performed Bartók piece for percussion and two pianos, some song cycles and a rather folky Russian trio, drop into the Academy on Westland Row. The exams kick off at about 5pm in the hall, with a different group on every half hour. You can wander in and out as you wish and it is free.

Between chamber music and what can be accurately described as a 36 hour panic attack over my concerto, there have been waves. Many waves!

Who is the waviest of them all?

I only cracked open my second ball of Kidsilk Haze (love that stuff!) last night, so this is going to be quite a monster. Still, my plan was for mum to be able to double it up as a really cozy scarf for the depths of winter as well as use it for a wrap. I am itching to get back to all of my other knitting! I can’t wait!


May 29, 2007

Charmed Knits Review

Filed under:Books,Crafty Sites,News!,Reviews — Aileen @ 09:27

Charmed Knits is written by our very own Alison Hansel, author of the Blue Blog. Tagged as Projects for fans of Harry Potter, this book does not disappoint! I ordered it, sight unseen, partially to support Alison and partially out of curiosity. I expected it to be full of kids knits and not much else. Thankfully, I was wrong.

The thirty projects cover a very broad spectrum. The first chapter, Weasley Knits, includes Alison’s signature design the Weasley Sweater, a lovely bag called Mrs. Weasley’s Bag of Stitch Witchery, a pretty dodgy looking housecoat, a pattern for Errol (the Weasley’s owl) and a clock blanket. Personally, I love the Stitch Witchery bag.

Then comes Diagon Alley which covers your basic wizard wear. Here you’ll find patterns for a wizard cap, robe, an Invisibility Shawl, wand cozies (!), and Quidditch sweaters and socks.

If only every teenager could have an Invisibility Shawl…
but then we wouldn’t be able to see them sulk

I must confess a love for the Quidditch socks.

My favourite chapter in the book is House Colours. There are patterns for house scarves, hats, mittens, socks, sweaters (the grey V-neck with house-colour stripes featured in the films), as well as Alison’s Hip Scarf and the little Bookscarves that first emerged over on the Livejournal Harry Potter knitting communities.

Guess what I’m making next!

The penultimate chapter, The Magic of Giving is a little weak. Put forth as gift ideas, they come across as the left-overs that didn’t fit into the other chapters. There’s another knitting bag, some Christmas ornaments, two baby ‘elf’ hats, a scarf, and my favourite…

Dobby Socks!
L – R: Harry’s sock, Dobby’s own sock, Broomsticks sock and Snitch sock

Home at Hogwarts finishes the book off well. This chapter includes some of the projects Harry, Ron and Hermione wore in the films – Harry’s red cable sweater, Hermione’s bobble hat and mittens, Ron’s animal cracker hat and Ron’s Raglan. I was hoping that Ginnie’s cardigan from the Goblet of Fire movie would be included but it wasn’t.

The patterns are clear and well written with larger-than-normal text. Pattern difficulty is rated from First Year (easy), OWL level (moderate) to NEWT (difficult). What I like most about the book is the versatility of the patterns. Sizes for most garments are given from a small child’s right up to an adult’s XXL. If you’re not a big fan of Harry Potter, but you have children, grandchildren, cousins or nieces and nephews that are, then you’ll never be stuck for something to knit for them. There are quite a few costume patterns throughout the book which could be knit up for childrens’ Hallowe’en costumes, for dressing up games, or for the more dedicated adult fan!

If Harry Potter knitting is your thing, join the Knit-a-long for the book. There is a free pattern for house-colour hats available from the book on the KAL site.

Also worthy of inclusion here are some other Harry Potter related patterns that I found on other blogs last week. If you’re more of a Slytherin knitter, these might appeal to you! I really love this Dark Mark Illusion Scarf. You don’t see many illusion scarf patterns around – the only other one I can think of is from the first Stitch’n’Bitch book. This is excellent! If you’re more of a bag knitter, have a look here for a Dark Mark Bag.

Happy knitting!


May 27, 2007


Filed under:News!,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 11:44

Things are busybusy chez Neels these days. I’m playing in a chamber music concert this afternoon in the Academy. It’s a dry run for our exam on Thursday. I really enjoy the piece we’ve prepared – a Khachaturian trio – and I think we play well together. I’ve been battling on and off with a cold all week. Yesterday was a bit rough because I felt very unwell but still managed to get through about five hours of practice.

You can’t work all the time though, so I have been knitting onto my mum’s shawl during break time.

This is quite a large-scale lace pattern. The repeat is spread over 36 rows, and I have only completed two and a half repeats so far. It’s growing nicely though, and I think it will look fantastic when I’ve finished it.

Nothing else on the go since I finished my Jitterbug socks! I’m looking forward to finishing off my ten or so UFOs after my exams 😀 I have four sweaters that are missing a sleeve. Two weeks sounds like a long time to wait, but hopefully it will be over before I know it. I probably won’t have very much knitting to show over the next while so my plan is to write up some book reviews. I have received a lot of books over the last month and think most of them are worthwhile reviewing. First up: a review of Charmed Knits! A must for every Harry Potter Knitter out there!


May 25, 2007

7 Random Things

Filed under:News! — Aileen @ 08:20

I have been tagged for this by Knitting HawkEye and I’m going to get it done before everybody hates it.

1. I love filling out forms, questionnaires and giving people directions. I would love to work as a tour guide in a city for a while.

2. I am a very accident-prone person and tend to attract the more unusual walks of life for decent conversation. Many of my accidents involve cooking and the spontaneous combustion of one, if not all, parts of my dinner. Once I punched a woman in the face whilst flagging down a bus. I was mortified and tried to apologise, but she was very embarrassed and ran off. If I sit down in a public place, I can guarantee you that within ten minutes someone will sit down beside me and start telling me their life story.

3. I have near-photographic memory but sometimes my brain is selective how it chooses to use it! I can recognise a person I met five years ago but can never remember names – to the point where if I need to ring someone, I won’t know what name to look up in my phonebook. I’m often tempted to ring up directory enquiries and ask for a woman in her mid-twenties, brown hair, Scottish accent, living in Dublin, please? (You know they would love me for doing that). On the other hand, it made studying for academic exams very easy because I could see the page in front of me and just read what I needed off it. This also means that when I’m learning a new piece and am working from two different editions I find it very confusing.

4. If I hadn’t become a musician, I would have been a doctor. I chose music over medicine because the thought of performing on stage was is actually more scary than potentially killing someone.

5. I have come to the conclusion that I will never be able to work in an office, mostly because I hate the thought of having to sit there for eight hours, regardless of the amount of work I have done. As a musician, I do my work as efficiently as I can because I have limited practice time. When I worked in the civil service last summer, my supervisor kept telling me not to work so hard. I can’t handle that sort of mentality. Do you want the work done or not?

6. I am a very obsessive, relentless, stubborn person. I probably don’t come across that way but I am. I tend to get very involved in whatever I am working on and ignore other things like laundry and socialising. At the moment it’s my concerto.

7. I have had several near-misses re: living Vs death. A few days before my concerto exam two years ago, I was walking down the road to get my hair cut. I heard a truck blow its horn and turned around just in time to see the truck coming straight for me from the other side of the road. I jumped out of the way and the truck pulled up on the footpath. It had swerved to avoid a car but the driver didn’t see me. I was knocked down on my bike by a car and thrown out into the dual carriageway but thankfully, there was no other traffic at the time (hello Ms. Hit’n’Run, by the way).

7.5. I think a good sense of humour is the most important thing in life. People take things far, far too seriously.


May 23, 2007

Sleepy Wednesday

Filed under:Finished Objects,News!,Stash,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 17:46

I overdid it a bit on Monday and Tuesday and this morning, I couldn’t get up. I was so bad, my dad brought me tea in bed as a gentle prod. The arrival of some knitting books from Amazon soon got me up though!

Things have been moving slowly around here, mostly because I spent all day Monday and Tuesday practising. I finished up my Jitterbug socks on the bus yesterday morning. There’s something about grafting a toe together that makes me want to stand up and do a little toe-grafting dance (I’m pretty sure such a dance exists in every knitter’s legs, whether or not they know it).

I have no idea why I was so worried about not having enough yarn for the pair. I have about a third of the skein left over, which is pleasing, irritating and depressing all in one! Good value for money… useless sock yarn ends… and depressingly small feet.

I finally abandoned River last night and put one of my Barbara Walker Treasuries to good use.

Mum’s Birthday Shawl

I knit four garter st rows on 6.5mm needles and started straight into the lace pattern. The pattern is Wave Peaks from the Third Treasury. I was a little unsure about how the lace would look knitted on larger needles. I thought the plain knitted parts would be too open for the lace to show properly, but I’m pretty happy with how it’s turning out.

I’ve been thinking alot about new projects and have been struggling to contain a fresh bout of startitis. I swapped a pattern with La Glitz for Orangina (you’ll have to click through, there’s no direct link) and couldn’t resist swatching for it straight away.

Lives depend on my knitting a cotton top RIGHT NOW!!

The yarn is Wendy’s Supreme 4-ply cotton. At 267m per ball, I should get a new top for the summer for €15! Must… finish…. other…. projects….

This stuff isn’t helping. I took a spin out to This is Knit on Sunday to catch up with the girls, take my usual grope’n’smell tour of the shop and lighten my purse. The light blue on the top is Debbie Bliss Cathay which I plan on turning into one of these. The purple is Debbie Bliss Rialto. I have been holding out on this stuff for months and really, it was all too much for me. I was powerless in the face of such squidgy merino. Initially destined for one of these, I am beginning to reconsider after receiving Lace Style in the post this morning.

Thank you, one and all, for your congratulations and well wishes via my last post! I am now on the home straight for my exams. My first one is next Thursday. Should be fine but not taking any chances!