Showing posts from September, 2011

Music and knit tips

Just got tickets for the Show of Hands concert on December 1st with Richard Shindell guesting.  Richard's song, You Stay Here, as sung by Steve Knightley, has been one of my favourites recently and when I have just a bit more time I'm going to learn it - best anti-war song I've heard in years.  I love the modal tuning that Steve Knightley uses on the mandocello. 

Been reviewing my best selling designs for this year and Stomp, a dress I designed for Vogue Knitting seems to be the outright winner.  I don't know why it's so popular, calling for  techniques that many knitters shy away from -  cables and fairisle.  However, I've been amazed by the number of knitters who have risen to the challenge and there are many fabulous pictures on Ravelry of finished projects.

So for those of you who may have been put off by the rigour of the techniques, I thought I'd share a few thoughts on knitting fairisles and cables.
Cables Many knitters are afraid of cables, but actually…

Bread, cats and the knitted textile awards 2011

Lots to do since we got back from Ireland, but Philip found some time to make bread - wholemeal, spelt and rye.  I love it, specially slathered in butter just out of the oven, with Marmite for breakfast or for a quick ploughman's lunch with plenty of cheddar and apple chutney - I can feel the pounds going on as I write!
One fun thing we've done since getting back was to collect our new kitten, a Maine Coon called Arlo.  He's a very loving little fellow and is dying to make friends with our other kitten, Django, who's four months older.  Django's not so sure about this, but I can feel Arlo winning him over by the minute and I'm sure they'll soon be inseparable partners in crime.  

I was thrilled recently to be asked to be one of the judges of the 2011 Knitted Textile Awards  at Alexandra Palace next week.  My friend, Sasha Kagan, and I had a wonderful time in Harrogate last year judging the gorgeous submissions.  There's such a wealth of design talent i…

Back home!

We left Killarney early yesterday morning for The Dingle peninsula.  We hadn't been there for fifteen years, but had fond memories of walking on Inch Strand in the mist and exploring the dunes with Felix, our youngest son. It was a similar misty moisty morning when we set off, with the sun breaking through for short sharp bursts, lighting up the landscape when it did.  The hedgerows in the Dingle are fabulously colourful at this time of year, fuchsias dripping with blossom, interspersed with fiery crocosmia and bright yellow ragwort, with a backdrop of the autumn - just magic!
We passed an interesting little shop on our way which was basically a Spar and post office, but it also had an Irish quilt shop upstairs, both for making and also readymade.  Unfortunately we were too early and our schedule was so tight we couldn't wait, but we made a note to go back next time.  Inch beach was as evocative as ever - white sand stretching for miles into the distance, white horses on the …


Up early yesterday for our last morning in Dublin, checking out the Hugh Lane Contemporary Art Museum.  En route we came across James Joyce, talking to the Dublin eccentric, Gogarty, outside the colourful Oliver St John Gogarty bar, presumably named after himself.  Philip couldn't resist joining in.

Coming back, also in Temple Bar we found a lively music mural, where I felt the urge to get out my spoons as they hadn't had an outing yet this trip.

Then on our way to Killarney, via the Kerry Woollen Mills, situated on the beautiful Ring of Kerry on the Atlantic coast.  The mill has been creating fabrics and yarn from fine wool for over 300 years, remaining faithful to the traditions of its founders. Today it takes advantage of up-to-date weaving technology, marrying tradition with contemporary styling.  I couldn't resist the lovely 3-ply aran yarn, dyed and spun at the mill.  They also do  natural coloured organic and Jacob's wool.  

After checking into our hotel that ev…

Dublin alive alive-o!

Up early this morning and wandered along fairly empty dublin streets to see Molly Malone before the crowds got there.  Then along to Bewley's, where we sat back and enjoyed the bustling ambiance, the magnificent stained glass windows and the excellent coffee and croissants.

Then on to local yarn store - This is Knit.  Thankfully we arrived just as it was opening, as five minutes later the whole place was a hive of activity, both with customers and a class in progress.  It's a very well-stocked store and Jackie, one of the owners, showed me the new Studio Donegal (aka Kilcarra ) yarn, a gorgeous merino 2-ply (knits on 4mm as DK), with all the fabulous Donegal tweed colours.  My eyes lit up - I'm SO looking forward to getting it on my needles and trying it out.  
Jackie also presented me with a copy of Carol Feller's new book, Contemporary Irish Knits.  Carolis doing a workshop for us on Knit Ireland, and used the new merino yarn in one of the projects (Rossbeg, a prett…


Checked out of our hotel this morning en route for Dublin via Kylemoor Abbey, where we returned for another look - hoping the weather would be better today.  As it turned out the weather was the same, but Kylemoor is such a beautiful spot that it looks equally charismatic when swathed in autumn mists.  There are some quirky sculptures to discover as you wander through the grounds and of course I was particularly taken by these playful sheep!

Then on to Dublin, a four hour car ride in the driving rain, arriving early evening at our hotel.  We needed to stretch our legs so went for a walk and stumbled on Oscar Wilde in all his louche glory, peering through the trees on the corner of Merrion Square.  A fine sculpture hewn out of natural-coloured stone, Oscar's spirit lives on, surprising passing visitors with his quizzical gaze.  
Lovely walk along the canal, especially as the sun came out, bathing the elegant Georgian architecture in sunshine. Our programme is jam-packed tomorrow,…

The West

I love it in the West of anywhere - it's a homecoming for me.  Wales, California, Scotland, France, Ireland, or my native Lancashire, there's something very special about being on the shores of the ocean.  Being in Ireland takes me back to another life when I considered myself to be a serious folksinger.  Travelling around these shores brings back all the old songs I used to sing and looking at the map I can see that the place names are also the names of many of the songs - The Reason I Left Mullingar, Fare Thee Well Enniskillen, The Galway Shawl  etc etc.  At the moment they're providing the soundtrack to our trip, especially a song I first heard Davey Arthur sing - Over The Ocean, but also Andy Irvine's Thousands Are Sailing to Americae.
Our hotel hear is truly unbelievable, something lovely wherever you look, inside or out.  We managed to get a lot done again, despite the rain and mist, ranging from a hand-dyeing workshop with local plants to a demonstration of the …

Inis Mor, Aran Islands

Been a very full exciting day today - farewell to Galway and off early to drive to Rossveal for the ferry to the Aran Islands.  Weather smiled upon us and the crossing was a little bumpy but nothing we couldn't deal with.  Arriving an hour later, the ferry was met by many minibuses ready to take us tourists to all the must-see spots on the island.  Our driver and guide was Gabriel, who grew up on Inis Mor and he regaled us as he drove with fascinating insights into island life.  He quickly took us up to Kilmurvy, a tiny but very pretty settlement where we met several Aran knitters.

Dun Aonghasa, a prehistoric hill fort presides over the landscape here, perched perilously atop the sea cliffs.  Look carefully and you can see me half way up the cliff.
From the top of the fort it's definitely next stop Boston!  Very scary - there are no rails or warnings, so you have to watch every step.
Then back along the coast, visiting the seven churches, where there are some beautiful celtic…


Just stopping for breath back in our hotel room before we check out a restaurant and a music session tonight.  Had a good day wandering around Galway - lots of interesting people out in the sunshine. Dropped into O'Maille's, the first shop ever to sell Aran sweaters.  Had a lovely informative chat with Anne O'Maille, who agreed to do a cable workshop for us and bring along some vintage Arans to our Show & Share.  Very exciting to meet her and look around her shop.

Galway was humming with people today - locals, tourists, students and musicians on every corner.  I managed to curb my urge to buy another Claddagh ring, although I love the sentiments they express.

Spent some time people watching outside a local bar with my first Guinness of the trip, before checking out two other yarn stores and exploring the music scene which is, as you might imagine, very vibrant.  

Off to find the craic now - supper at a fabulous restaurant by the Spanish arch, which prides itself on co…