Monthly Archives: October 2010

On the road again

This time I’m involved in the music for a one man play called Tom Loves a Lord. We played Friday night in the Town Hall Theatre, Galway. (The theatre gives a good synopsis of the play). I wanted to post about it before the night but we were so involved in rehearsals and set up on Thursday and Friday that I simply did not have one spare moment.

Here we are about fifteen minutes before starting.

Martin Dyar, the ‘one man’ part of ‘one man play’, also wrote it. I must say, it is interesting, easy to follow and most of all, funny. His conception comes across so clearly. The structure is simple but the language is so full of nuance that each character is convincing with their own quirks and contradictions.

We help to punctuate the rhythm of the play with songs from Moore’s Melodies. Luckily, the songs Martin chose are some of my favourites: The Last Rose of Summer, Silent O Moyle and the beautiful Lambert arrangement of She is Far From the Land.

The most important bit!

Anna Louise I know from secondary school. We were reacquainted through competitions that I was the set accompanist for and so, here we are! It’s a small world.

Last night, my violinist Elina and I played for a town twinning concert in Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo, where I am from. I must confess to being very tired after the rehearsals and performance on Friday night but it came off fine. We were warmly received and it was so nice to meet many people that I hadn’t seen in over a year. It was what Elina calls a ‘karma gig’, because we didn’t get paid for it, but we were invited to their town in France to give a recital in our own right. That, to us, is payment enough!

Tom Loves a Lord runs Wednesday, November 3rd in Charlestown Arts Centre, Co. Mayo at 8pm as part of the John Healy weekend, and again Saturday, November 6th in Anaverna House, Ravensdale, Dundalk at 8pm. Don’t miss it!

My Favourite Things #1

Every now and then I come across little things that I think are cool. They’re not really substantial enough to post about on their own so I’ve been making little collections. Here’s my first offering.

Favourite Thing the first is something I have had for absolutely ages: a Knit Kit. I initially bought one as a totally unnecessary purchase from This is Knit. It was about €15 or €16 if I remember correctly and thought it was a bit expensive. But I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and frankly, I don’t know how I managed without this yoke.

On the left there’s a little crochet hook that pops out of the side of the case. It’s pretty curvy – I don’t think I’d be crocheting garments on it any time soon – but for picking up dropped stitches or just a few along an edge for a band, it does the job. On the top is a row counter. I have always managed without but find myself using this one regularly enough. On the right is a tiny fold out piece of plastic with a small part of exposed blade for cutting yarn. You know when you’re finished a section and you want to plough on, start the next bit and not hunt for your scissors? On the bottom is the measuring tape. Finally a method that sticks the tape to something you can’t lose easily…!

The back looks like this and opens up like this. If you visit the product website, you’ll see that a really neat fold-up safety scissors comes included. I had mine confiscated in Dublin airport (not any other European or US airport I’ve brought it through, mind)(and I found it funny that they took the blunt scissors and not the many darning and sewing needles I had in the same compartment). As you can see the compartment is big enough for stitch holders, point protectors, those Knit Picks allen keys and darning needles. Again, great to have them all together in something that is too big to misplace easily.

Like I said, I found it a bit expensive when I didn’t know whether or not it would be useful. Personally, I feel that by now I’ve gotten my money’s worth, thanks to not having to replace my tape measure every few months!

Favourite Thing the second: Hallowe’en and all the little preparations we make for it. Last Friday, I saw kids coming home from school in their costumes (a pre-event exclusive, no doubt). My next door neighbour has a life sized skeleton hanging from her tree. I never did trick-or-treating as a kid. Instead we went next door to my granny and we played games like ducking for apples (ducking for money was better but you really had to work for it), saucers and that game where you peel an apple in one go and throw the skin over your shoulder and it’s supposed to make the shape of the initial of your future husband. We used to crack hard nuts with a hammer on the tiles around the open fire – almonds were the best but the hardest and resulted in the most amount of sore thumbs in proportion to nuts extracted. I also remember the novelty coconut that would inevitably have to be drilled open.

I like how Hallowe’en is such an old, old festival that seems forever tied in with remembering the dead. In Mexico they celebrate Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. They make a small shrine to the loved ones that have died and put out their favourite foods and drinks and things. The skull is a popular cultural icon for this day and in that spirit, I used this pattern (Ravelry link) to crochet up a few and get Bertha in vogue.

It’s a really easy pattern and I was able to use up some handspun.

Favourite Thing the third: lunchboxes.

I’m allergic to gluten and dairy so when I’m working away from home I usually bring a lunchbox with me. I used to make sandwiches with gluten free bread but the bread was working out pretty expensive and they weren’t that nice anyway. I stumbled upon the idea of bento – an asian idea of bringing a home-packed meal. A quick look on Flickr will show that this is no measly sandwich we’re talking about here. Some people spend insane amounts of time on these things. Me, I take rice left over from dinner, cook up some eggs (poached, scrambled, boiled, omelette), throw in anything else good left over in the fridge, bit of fruit, good to go. I use silicon bun cases for separating the occasional wet items (Aldi had them on offer last week, did you see? 12 for €2.99).

A lot of people write about how colourful lunchboxes keep their kids interested… err, it doesn’t hurt for bigger people either. I find myself looking forward to lunch more. And hey, anything that saves money and uses up leftovers is good, right? I’ve found it makes me a bit more creative about dinner so that I have something nice for lunch the next day!

(If you’re curious, the panda box I got from Amazon and had a friend bring it home to me when she was coming over. It breaks up like this. The plastic lid helps keep wet stuff in its place. Happily, I don’t think I will ever be too much of a grown up to use this. It makes me smile every time I take it out of my bag and I think the elastic band makes it look like a ninja panda! I use a spork or if I’ve forgotten to wash it, just grab some regular stuff and wrap it in some kitchen towel.)


If there’s anything that knitting has taught me, it’s to have patience. Riding around on my bike, I see that this is sometimes a rare skill indeed. When you think about it, it’s sort of funny because it’s a false state in a way. It doesn’t change anything, it’s just how you perceive things and usually makes matters worse, instead of better. Sometimes it’s nice to forget about all the things you are hurrying to and enjoy today, whatever the weather or circumstance.

Taken on Grattan Bridge

(In the distance you can see the new-ish pedestrian bridge and in the foreground, those lovely cast iron lamps that are dotted around the city. I love them, I wish there were more. Great sky, huh?)

Anyway, zen cycling aside, I have had to be very patient with my knitting this week because of this:

By the time I get through it, I am too tired to knit more than a few rows but still, I persist. The above is a terrifyingly long list:

Brahms (op. 118), Bach (prelude and fugue, book I), Rachmaninov (an étude tableaux), Prokofiev (7th piano sonata), Gerschwin (preludes) – all for a solo recital in the spring. This is unrelated to my Masters and is just something I want to do for myself.

Bizet (Jeux d’Enfants) and the Fauré (Dolly Suite) are both incredibly fun piano duets and do not take a lot of practice. Martinu (1st flute sonata), Brahms (3rd violin sonata), Franck (violin sonata), Schnittke (1st violin sonata). The Brahms is a work I played all last year and is only for a concert next weekend. The rest of the duo sonatas don’t need to be ready until May but should be well under way by Christmas. When I look at it all together, it’s a bit overwhelming. It’s not as bad as it looks, though. Little by little, right?

Autumn is for knitting

I think there is a good case for adding this to one of the certainties of life: death, taxes and autumn is for knitting. Peasy (Ravelry link – it doesn’t seem to exist ‘on the outside’) got finished up in the blink of an eye but has been languishing for want of buttons.

I have been trying out a few in my own collection, such as those pretty blue flower ones that I got in Knopenwinkel a few years ago. But they just don’t work. I think I need some small wooden ones to go with the tweediness of the yarn. I will keep looking.

I am being drawn towards lighter knits and knits with big collars and short sleeves because they are more practical to wear on the bike. I had been hmmming and hawwwing about the Twenty Ten cardigan since it came out last March. Then I spotted this new range of Drops Nepal chez Constant Knitter and I knew it had to be.

The button band is coming out a little… eccentric… because I keep losing track of when I should put in a buttonhole. I suppose the dark colour doesn’t help but it really is a delicious plum colour and do you see that gentle fuzz? It is positively edible. I have stalled at the underarms because I keep forgetting to go get the pattern before I sit down (yes, sorry, I am that lazy; now you see why the cycling is good for me…). I’m sure I will progress someday soon. I think the A-line shape has the potential of making me look like a sack of potatoes so I’m leaving that out and just working it straight.

And, hilariously, because I was too lazy to go get my pattern I just cast on for something else instead. This is definitely in the mindless-stockinette category. Perhaps this is just as well because the NBA pre-season has started and we are back to our rota of rationing Toronto Raptors games. Behold the glory that is the Malabrigo Sock.

The pattern is another one of Veera’s that came out this week – Folded. Like the Twenty Ten cardigan, it has a very pronounced A-line so I have decided to leave it out and work a size smaller to get a more fitted body. The drapiness suits her but I think that the 38″ inches of fabric around my hips specified for my size wouldn’t be especially flattering!

I had some work this morning in the Academy playing for two auditions. To my pleasure, they were scheduled first and I was able to capture the best of the morning riding in at 830. I leave you with this shot of the Beckett Bridge, taken from the Talbot bridge at about ten to nine, and wish you a peaceful end to your weekend.

Some other snaps in the set here.

An early outing

It has been a most interesting and uneventful month. College and my own work has very slowly been getting underway. Ordinarily I would be more fretful about how quiet my phone has been (ok, I have been doing a little fretting over that) but mostly I have been trying to enjoy the lovely autumn we’re having.

Since getting Bertha, the way I live has subtly changed. I no longer run for buses, miss buses or wait shivering for the next one. For the first time in my life, I am usually on time. I find myself considering popping out more often – maybe to the market on Saturday, down to the library to browse their magazines or over to the Co-Op if I’m feeling energetic. And I’ve gotten into the habit of popping a camera in my basket and snapping as I go.

I now spend more time looking at these snaps and sorting them out. I have spent a lot of time since getting back to Dublin going through my holiday snaps. I love experiencing new places and looking through my photos has got me thinking about what I liked and disliked about them, what I could bring to my home and life from being there. For example, visiting Finland brought me a whole new appreciation for interior design. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy, rather functional, pleasing and uncluttered. Something handmade is even better.

Anyway, I have been haunting the Botanic Gardens a lot recently, waiting for the leaves to change. Finally getting the photos I have been waiting all autumn for is bittersweet; my breath plumed around me this morning and there is no denying winter is in the offing.

It was definitely worth getting up that bit earlier to beat the morning-coffee crowd this morning. Nothing like some chilly air to appreciate getting home to one’s own coffee and knitting. Speaking of which, there is MUCH knitting to show! Stay tuned. Hope you guys don’t mind my non-knitting-related photo posts.

Have a great weekend.