Monday, December 31, 2007

Hat Trick

Another recent purchase to help with the Stash Control was this lovely hat box (from Dunnes Stores) for special yarn storage. I've recently acquired some silk yarns which in my view deserve an extra special storage solution. Besides, that Stiletto really looks like it means business! This-Yarn-Is-Precious-Approach-With-Reverence it says.

(PS: The box holds quite a lot and I shouldda got some more while I was there. Sigh.)

Anyway, ta da!

Lid off!

Lovely innit? There's some Louisa Harding, some Rowan Tapestry, some Hipknits Silk and Hipknits laceweight and some silk from a UK shop who were at the last Knitting & Stitching Show and whose name eludes me. The Yarn Something they were called. I'll check later and get back to you.

I've no idea what these yarns are going to turn into, but I can't wait to find out. There isn't enough of anything to make a garment so I'm thinking some lace scarves perhaps, but am anxious now about whether they'll show the lace stitches well enough - since the Louise Harding Grace Silk & Wool turned out to be a bit fuzzy. Just have to try some out and see I guess. As always, suggestions are most welcome.

Isn't that blue colour in the centre just divine? It's a kind of Midnight Blue shade with a fantastic sheen. Sigh! Who cares what they become. I'm just happy they're here!

Happy New Year to ye all!


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Nollaig Shona

Ok, OK I'm a bit late with the seasonal greetings, but between the shopping, preparations, house cleaning and decorating, general festivities, work pressures and of course holiday knitting - there just wasn't time to post anything, unless you count the late christmas cards of course.

I hope you all had a happy and blessed Christmas and will have a wonderful new year. I'm spending this weekend at a big family event and looking forward to it enormously.

So...even tho' it's not a cake or even a pud, here's a One Skein cupcake to make up for the lack of traditional baking.

Happy Knitting in 2008!


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Secret Project Success

So...the Secret Knitting Project is completed and has been presented to it's new owner. She was delighted I'm glad to say.

It was a relatively easy task to turn this....

...into this...

And, what is it exactly?'s a Gift Bag / Evening Bag I guess. I presented it with a little candle inside, but my friend wants to take it on the town as an evening bag...or would if it was lined that is. (Note to self, line the bag.)

Like I said, it's essentially a swatch of Snowdrop Lace with some eyelets at the top followed by a flared edge with a picot finish. This pic gives a better view of the makings of it, tho' it's a little dark I know. A curse on Knitting Pictures, they're tricky, eh?

I did make many some mistakes but left them in for (hah!) authenticity as a handmade gift. And so's not to offend the Gods.

In this pic you'll notice that some snowdrops are not so much drops as drips...the top one is 2 rows shorter than the lower one. Dunno how that happened. I didn't think the lace definition was great in this yarn, but come to think of it I didn't block it due to lack of time.

And yes, I could've should've knitted it in the round but I was in a hurry and couldn't figure out how to convert the stitch pattern into the round easily. Would have been nice to avoid the pesky seams.

Anyway, I make no great claims for it as a work of art but my friend LOVES it, and HER friends were impressed. Now there's a result for a knitter.

Here you can see how luminous and lovely the yarn is (Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool). Not all of that sheen is the darned camera flash.

I mentioned that I'd learned something on this project. What on earth possessed me to create a double flare (i.e. increased in every stitch in 2 rounds, 1 round apart) on the edge of something that was going to be gathered?


Mind you, it does make for a nice little posey at the top, n'est ce pas?


Friday, December 14, 2007

The Budget

Or more precisely, the Knitting Budget.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. Obviously, because I want to justify past and future yarn purchase. Before you dismiss this post as entirely subjective however, (because you can be sure that it ends with yarn, for me) let me outline briefly a few points.

(Editor: Yeah. Briefly. Like anyone believes that.)

Over the past while, (for sound financial and stash busting reasons), I have reined in the yarn budget. This is partly due to a hedonistic yarn spree in the past that a) left a legacy of unfortunate novelty yarns and b) has put a severe strain on the Stash Accommodation.

Let’s just say that the normal means of Stash Disguise have been exhausted: in rarely used saucepans; under and between beds, cupboards and furniture; and camouflaged as innocent clothing, towels, bedding etc. Add to that the fact that the house dates from 1860, when inbuilt furniture was a distant dream and that the rooms don’t fit your average wardrobe, and lo and behold you have The Great Yarn Purchase Restrictions of 2007.

Anyway, given that an average sweater might cost 50 to 60 euro to knit, you might think that it’s hard to justify paying that against the cost of a chain store sweater (20-30 euro) or from a slightly better high street store (40–50 euro).

Think again.

I recently pursued 2 young children around did an informal survey in a new local shopping centre, which has a pretty good range of shops, from chain store, to high street names, to fancy-nancy boutiques, and I realised that my entire Yarn Budget thinking had been mistaken. Thank Goodness.

Sure, the chain store offered lots of useful, inexpensive and attractive sweaters, and there are plenty of them in my wardrobe. (That’s a metaphorical wardrobe I should add, what I actually mean is they're hanging from a broom handle nailed up in the roof space). But even in the chain stores, and definitely in the high street stores, there were lots of pieces far more expensive than I expected (of good quality admittedly), while in the boutiques the range went from 120 euro up to unlimited amounts (up into space and out of budget range entirely).

My point being that the fashion forward high street stores offer a similar product to what I could produce with my own needles and ingenuity, for roughly the same price as the yarn. I realise that there’s all the blood, sweat and tears, oh yes, definitely tears joy of knitting the thing, but mostly a knitter would say that’s a bonus, not a disadvantage.

So while knitting for myself can no longer offer a less expensive alternative to cheap clothing (which it would have done in the 80’s perhaps) it stands up very well against the middle and higher offerings of fashion.

Added to that the following:

  • A small supermarket shop leaves me approximately 120 euros the poorer, a large one over 250 euros

  • A trip to the cinema would easily set you back 20 euro for 2 people, with ticket and popcorn prices

  • The last novel that I bought cost me 18 euro

  • A recent restaurant excursion in Dublin cost 160 euro for 2 people. Admittedly it was a pretty fancy restaurant, but still.

So, take the cost of entertainment, factor in the cost of a ready made garment, and I have come to agree with the Yarn Harlot (she’ll be so relieved).

'...costs $40 - which is still a little dear for a baby thing, but I count yarn in my entertainment budget. I knit for fun, like some people golf, so if I get a baby gift out of it, that's a bonus.'

(for the full post go here and scroll down to entry May 27th)

Given that yarn purchase should come from your entertainment budget, not your clothing budget, it’s now easier to justify 11/12 balls of a lovely yarn for perhaps months of knitting pleasure and a (hopefully lovely and wearable) garment at the end of it.


I've just bought myself this to celebrate. I've wanted it for a long time.

Of course, given the cost of living, there’s less yarn budget available to play with, but that’s another story. At least I can read about it.


So, how old is Jesus anyway?

Description: A recent discussion between NicKnits and NicKnits beloved eldest daughter of 6 years, Little Monkey.

Scene: driving to school

Setting: in the NicKnits car

Little Monkey in a tone that indicates she is or is about to be up to something: Muuummm...what does Christmas celebrate?

NicKnits: Well..........

Little Monkey: I know I know I know! It's to celebrate Jesus's birthday!

NicKnits: That's right pet, it's Jesus's birthday.

Little Monkey: old is he now then?

NicKnits: (......silence!)


I did finally manage some kind of an answer about how infinite and universal Jesus is etc. and she says that it doesn't matter how old Jesus is, he still helps everybody in the Whole World.

So there.

And that includes you.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pay It Forward

I just signed up to be part of Kerrie's Pay It Forward exchange and I'm making a similar promise here.

Based on the concept of this movie
Pay it Forward , random acts or deeds of kindness are done unto others, with the hope that the recipients of the acts of kindness pass on their own act of kindness, not backwards to the deed-doer, but forwards. So this is a small way to improve the world...and pass on the knitting love.

So, in that light, I will make and send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment to this post on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don't know what that gift will be and it won't be sent this month (darn right it won't!), nor next month (due to New Year work deadlines you wouldn't believe), but it will be sent (hopefully within 6 months) and that's a promise.

What YOU--the recipient--- have to do in return, then, is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog. If you don't have a blog, just make the same statement in your comment.

So sign up guys...and see what the post may bring.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Secret Christmas Project: _________ for _____________

I've just started on a Secret Christmas Project.

A lovely __________ for _________. I'm kinda making it up as I go along, but when all is revealed you'll see it's basically a matter of picking a lace pattern and making a smallish swatch and then fiddling about with it crafting skillfully until it's done.

I'm using some Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool which I scored at the Knitting & Stitching Show from yes, no prizes for guessing these people.

It's not the right yarn for the project yarn really, but I didn't know that until I'd started. And in any case my friend _________ just fell upon it and rubbed it against her cheek sighing in an unsuitable way, so I can't go wrong. I could just give her the ball and she'd be happy.

After being disappointed in the initial lace patterns I picked (I usually go for leaf motifs, but they just didn't show up) I finally plumped for Snowdrop Lace. This lace pattern doesn't show particularly well either, it's a tad fuzzy, and it really needs a bit more definition. Plus I had to go up a needle size to get any drape at all.

However, it's more than adequate for this project so Knit On MacNic. looks like I actually learned something, about the yarn and about the lace. And that this yarn would be better reincarnated as an item of clothing. It's super soft yet silky shiney too. Hmmm. Scarf? Mittens? A glamorous top? A Tudora? Perhaps if I go back down the needle size I went up. (If you follow me).

Because I also got these while I was at it, so there'll be something in it for me after all. Yay, result.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Tudura: Contrats to Cheryl

Wow, the Winter Knitty is up. Already.

And it's great. Lots of interesting things here that I like. Mostly the accessories (given that I'm not exactly a waif). This and the previous Knitty issue had more that appealed to me than the earlier ones for a long time. No judgements, just sayin'.

I'm definitely making this for Little Mouse, this and this for myself and this for pretty much everybody else. There may be other neckwarmer things around, but nothing approaching Tudura for sheer dash and simplicity.

Congratulations Cheryl, it's genius. I can't wait to get started! Plus those are very chic and sassy pics.

Edited To Add: Congratulations also to Carol for Doddy in the same issue. Yay Irish Knitters!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Yay Franklin!

Isn't it great when your own views are confirmed by somebody that you admire!* In case there's any doubt, I'm a Big Fan. A. Big. Fan.

I was browsing the blog of the Oh-So-Talented-And-Generally-Wonderful-Franklin-The-Panopticon yesterday and found this post. Scroll down where he gives bobbles the thumbs down.

And pause to admire that wonderful hat-upon-a-hat. Jeez, as if we weren't screwed up enough! You want to make it, I know you do.

And check out the 1000 Knitters Project. That's a tempting notion...even for the digitally challenged.

Yay, Franklin.


* The question with an exclamation mark instead of a question mark is intended to be rhetorical. Don't know if that works, but it's my little contribution to blog-grammer


Monday, December 3, 2007

Yarn Smoothies...

An unexpected trip to Dublin on Saturday morning allowed an unscheduled visit to TIK ...where I was hit with these beauties! They're quite spectacular up close, so beautiful and marbley and tempting. All that yarney goodness busrting to get out. And the knitting needle 'straw' is a winner! Haven't you always wanted to take a sip from your favourite yarn?

I'd just like to congratulate the Fairy Godmothers on another winner, and I hope they do well. They're a fabulous gift for a knitter - to give or to receive (which is less blessed I know, but still...).

I nearly wouldn't care what project was in them, they're just so nice to look at. As it happens, I don't actually need one, given the crises proportion healthy state of the stash and the numbers of projects not even started yet, but I was still really tempted by the Aysen Scarf kit. Since when has 'need' actually directed yarn purchase?

And...not only...but also...they have a Party Scarf kit complete with Swarovski crystals packaged in a lovely organza bag. €22 I believe. Yum.

Ah well, when my knitting nieces are old enough some of these will be heading their way.

Go check 'em out!

And yes, an unexpected visit to your LYS does result in unscheduled yarn purchase. Your Stash Defenses are down y'see.

This is for my very 1st felting project. I had a notion to try a felted bowl, like in 'One Skein', but was sidetracked by this lovely yarn. Introducing 'Soho' from Debbie Bliss. I don't think it's dense enough for a felted bowl but I'd like to try a felted bag.

Maybe a wide clutch style to hold a small knitting project, like socks or mittens. Or a pouch style for the traditional purse/keys/phone.

I got 2 balls, so that's 130 yards altogether...sorry, metres. I'm guessing that I go up a needle size to assist in the felting? or up 2 sizes? Or should that be down a size?

I'm a Felting Virgin, so any suggestions for an online pattern to follow or amend would be received with interest.