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These Islands: Knits from Ireland, Scotland, and Britain Book Launch

Book Launch (2)

It’s all been confirmed, we’ve sat down,  deliberated, cogitated and digested and I am now happily able to announce that the These Islands book launch will take place on Thursday 9th April from 7.30 to 9.30pm

These Islands includes eight never before published patterns for hats, a cowl, shawls, fingerless gloves, and boot cuffs using locally-processed wool made from the fleece of Irish, Scottish, or British sheep with names. The patterns are designed by Sara Breitenfeldt, Suzanne McEndoo, and Evin Bail O’Keeffe.

Suzanne currently lives in Edinburgh so won’t be able to make the launch however, both Evin and Sara will be available for book signing, laughter and fun.

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A Cork resident, Evin is the author of the 2014 Blog Awards Ireland award-winning craft blog EvinOK.com.  In addition to being a busy mum and her blog, Evin also managed to find the time to write and release her book Bake Knit Sew, which showcases a year of creativity in baking, knitting, and sewing. The book offers a complete year of projects! With over 50 full-color photographs shot on location here in scenic Cork.  To find out more about Bake Knit Sew or to order your copy head over to the Anchor & Bee website here.

smudgeMany of you will already have heard of Sara, now a Midleton resident too,  as is the creator and owner of the  hand dyed yarn company Smudge Yarns.   Sara’s beautiful yarns are available to purchase via her website or in a handful of shops around Ireland, including mine :-)  There is also a Smudge Yarns Facebook Page here and a Ravelry Group too for you to join should you want to show you’re appreciation.

The gates open at 7.30pm for the book launch, with everything kicking off ♥ proper ♥ at 8pm.  This will be a ticketed event due to the size of the shop, so spaces are limited.  There will be refreshments, book signing and all ticket holders will be automatically entered into the craft hamper raffle (more details to follow later, watch this space).

Tickets are €5 each and can be purchased in the shop with me or via the Smudge Yarns website here 

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In addition to the book, Sara hopes to have some of her yummy yarn on sale to tempt you, she will also officially launch her Beaker Folk Shawl Knit A Long on the night.  Kits will be available to purchase at the launch and we hope to get as many of you casting on for the KAL as possible.

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As a special incentive to get involved, everyone who “Casts On” the project on Ravelry before midnight on Sunday 12th April will be entered in a draw for a special limited edition skein of yarn.

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The shawl can be knitted in one of two sizes,  either as a smaller shawlette, or as a larger wrap.  The photographs shown here have been taken from the book and have been knitted using Smudge Yarns Hand Dyed Lace Yarn and 5.5mm needles.  The featured colourway if you’re interested, is the beautiful denim hues of 💙 Beara 💙

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If you’d like to have a closer look at the Beaker Folk Shawl, we’ve a sample garment on display in the shop at the moment.

I’m really excited to be able to showcase this brilliant book and hope some of you will be able to join us on what promises to be a great, fibre related evening.

Happy Knitting!

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Psst…

Book Launch

I’m really excited to announce that we’ll be hosting a book launch for the fantastic book These Islands: Knits from Ireland, Scotland and Britain by Sara Breitenfeldt, Suzanne McEndoo, and Evin Bail O’Keeffe soon.

As you can see from the photo above the date is still to be confirmed, but is likely to be sometime over the coming fortnight.

Watch this space

Happy Knitting!

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Stylecraft Malabar

Malabar2

Summer yarns aren’t as popular for us as you might think?  After 10 years in this business I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s several reasons for this.

  • Many summer garments are fashion rather than classic and this can be off putting to even the most dedicated knitter amongst us.
  • Lots of knitters are also gardeners, so they switch loyalty when the sun begins to make an appearance.
  • Summer yarns usually means double knit or 4ply traditionally = a lot more knitting.
  • Our summer isn’t too long, so the garment you’ve lovingly created doesn’t get worn much.  Fine if it’s a classic piece but refering back to the first point I made….

At last it would appear the big yarn companies have started to listen and this year we’re seeing a good few summer yarns in aran weight :-)

I’ve had a play with some of the main releases and have decided to go with Malabar from Stylecraft so far.

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As I’ve said, it’s an aran weight yarn, a blend of 22% silk/78% cotton, fantastic for €6.75 per ball.  There’s approximately 180yds/165m in each 100g ball and the suggested tension is 18 stitches x 24 rows to a4″/10cm square on 5mm needles.  Did I mention there’s 12 colours too?

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The good folks at Stylecraft Yarns have released lots of accompanying patterns, including the crochet shawl at the top of this post, which is likely to be a favourite of everybody’s because it’s just so pretty.  I’m quite smitten by the summer shrug/cardigan on the accessories pattern leaflet here in cream 

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Truthfully though, I’m thinking of knitting Mimic by Veronika Jobe for myself in Malabar when I’ve finished a couple of my ongoing projects.  In the mean time I’ve run up a little Yoked Cardigan by Hannah Fettig aka Knitbot as a mini display garment for the shop in the fabulous summery, turquoise shade.

Interesting fact for you all, turquoise is meant to be the one colour that we all look good in regardless of our skin tone, eye colour or age, it’s universal.

Happy Knitting!

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The Lilly Pond Blanket CAL

CAL 2

By now I’m assuming a good few of you will have seen something about the crochet along that Jane Crowfoot has designed in association with Stylecraft Yarns?  If you’re not sure what I’m referring too, pop along to either Jane’s blog here, Facebook Page here or the Stylecraft Facebook Page here.

Life dk

If you have spotted it, chances are you might have also noticed all the chatter about the yarn for it being difficult to get?  The blanket has been designed using Stylecraft’s Life DK range which is a blend of 25% wool/75% acrylic and has a beautiful handle to it.

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The interest in the CAL has been tremendous, much more than Stylecraft had anticipated and as a result a couple of shades needed for the CAL have sold out completely in the Life DK.  Unfortunately, to make matters worse, the missing shades are unlikely to be back until mid to late May and the CAL is due to begin on April 7th.

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Undeterred, Stylecraft and Jane have put together a replacement palette using the Special DK range instead and despite having already sold out of some of these colours too, the team at Stylecraft have worked round the clock with their manufacturers to secure stock in all shades for this week.

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To Crochet the Lily Pond Blanket in Special DK you will need: 1 x 1061 Plum, 1023 Raspberry, 1241 Fondant, 1080 Pale Rose, 1005 Cream, 1081 Saffron, 1034 Sherbet, 1068 Turquoise balls and 2 x 1065 Meadow, 1708 Petrol and 1027 Khaki balls.  I have pre-booked the 11 shades required to complete the blanket and am expecting delivery by the end of this week.

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Stylecraft have released an introduction to the CAL here which contains lots of helpful information including a valuable section on tension to ensure your blanket is a success.

The patterns will be published fortnightly and there’s a total of 8, which will be free to download on the Stylecraft web site from the 7th of April. The stitches used to complete the blanket are chain, slip stitch, double crochet, half treble crochet, treble crochet, and double treble crochet.

If you’re wondering about the level of crochet ability the CAL is aimed at?  In her blog Jane says “I have tried to design the pieces so that they get progressively harder and hopefully this means that crocheters can use the CAL as a learning tool. The patterns will focus on one motif or block every fortnight and you will need to complete an average of 4 motifs/blocks per set. Most of the blocks are 15cm square, although others are slightly bigger”

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There is an official Facebook CAL Group here where you’ll be able to keep in touch with other taking part and watch everyone’s progress.  I’m hoping to have a go myself, although my crochet skills don’t really stretch past my granny shawls 😁 I’ll be sure to document my attempts (and I do mean attempts) here for all to see.  I’m guessing I’ll be utilising the Facebook Group lots and I’m even more pleased to know that the patterns will include step-by-step images to help guide us (I mean me), through the making process ✌️

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Anyone interested in joining in too?

As soon as the delivery arrives I’ll be sorting the yarn out into CAL packs ready to go out straight away, so you can be ready for the 7th.  The 14 ball pack will set you back €40 and I’d recommend reserving one if you’re going to give it a go as it’s likely stocks will run short again.

Happy Knitting!

That should probably be crochet I guess?

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Edinburgh Part 2 – Exploring

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Soooo many things to see, I have to go back.  Preferably when it’s a little warmer and there’s a chance of the sun putting in an appearance, but return I will.  It would have been sacrilege not to snap a photo of this daisy I spied carved into the end of a bench.

Edinburgh was everything I’d imagined and more 💞

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No trip to the Scottish city would be complete without a visit to the castle of course,  dominating the skyline as it sits perched above the other buildings.  My word, you definitely know how high it is too when you get up there, because it’s blooming freezing.

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The castle itself is fantastic and much bigger than I thought, think fort rather than castle.  Cobbled paths lead you to the different buildings which contain room after room of memorabilia from Scotland’s history.  My favourites were the National War Museum and the Regimental Museums, I’ve recently developed a bit of an interest in military history and am hoping to visit The Imperial War Museum in London again this year :-)

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The Scottish National War Memorial is a truly moving place, which commemorates the dead of the First and Second World Wars and of military campaigns since 1945.  Around the main room you will discover books with lists of the fallen soldiers from each Scottish regiment.  The number of books provides a poignant reminder of all that lost there lives in defence of their country.

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In truth we didn’t leave ourselves enough time to truly experience the sheer volume of things to see at the castle and will have to go again when we’re next in Edinburgh ;-)

We rode the obligatory tour bus, but only managed to take one of the three tours and after dragging my poor husband to several yarn shops and haberdashery departments there was barely any time left for a wander through the cobbled streets, stopping for coffee and cake.  I really can’t sing the praises of the public transport system in Edinburgh enough.  An all day pass for the buses and trams costs only £3.50 and you can travel the length and breadth of the city

Edinburgh is a bit of a haven for yarn shops, having already visited the yarn festival I thought it only fair on hubby not to take us too far out of our way.

I’m a bit of a department store haberdashery junkie, I just can’t help myself and have to look at everything.  Jenners House of Fraser is smack in the centre of Edinburgh and their haberdashery department in the basement, was jam packed with a rainbow of colours from Rowan and Patons.  Having popped in briefly on Saturday afternoon before they closed I was able to resit the urge to purchase something in order to save my pennies for the festival.  if Rowan is your yarn of choice though I’d recommend a visit to either Jenners on Princes Street or the John Lewis which you’ll find in the St James Centre.  John Lewis also had some of the fantastic but seriously pricey Wool and the Gang yarn and kits too.

Kathy’s Knits on Broughton Street offers some beautiful yarns, patterns and notions, concentrating on British yarns sourced from around the country including Blacker Yarns, New Lanark, JCRennie, Jamieson & Smith and Eden Cottage.  I didn’t stop long enough to purchase as it was drizziling a little outside and I didn’t want to risk having a grumpy, sodden husband.  Next time when the sun is shining I’ll be sure to stay longer 😎

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Ginger Twist Studio is an indie, vintage inspired yarn shop on London Road crammed full of yummy yarn, most of which is hand dyed.  I’d met Jess at the yarn festival, but as I follow her on Instagram I wanted to pay a special visit to the shop.  We popped in briefly on Monday when Jess was busy unpacking after the show.  You wouldn’t want to turn up with a massive group of knitters as Ginger Twist is a little on the compact side, however this little haven is a hand dyed yarn lovers dream destination.

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Never one to resist hand dyed I opted for a hank of luminous lime sock yarn and the necessary shopper.

Up near where we were staying in Haymarket was David Drummond’s  a traditional sewing machine and knitting shop with a vast selection of all things knitting, sewing and haberdashery.  Rather happily I discovered some Wendy Alfresco Aran on special, which I purchased to crochet up a quick granny shawl on the way home.  Four balls in a great charcoal shade for less than £10 – bargain!

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In amongst all the travelling, walking, eating and touring I managed to get my knit and crochet on too.  The bottom project is a granny shawl in Rico Galaxy Chunky yarn that I took with me to keep my hands occupied whilst on the plane (it’s a gift for a dear friend).  I also managed to finish one sock and start it’s twin, but didn’t want to risk having my Knitpro Karbonz taken off me on the plane, hence the Alfresco purchase.  You can kind of make out the lovely shade of grey in the photo and to jazz it up a little, I’m adding some rows in yarn from my stash.

I’ll be sure to post up some pics of the finished garment, but I could end up boring you as I’ve developed a bit of a hankering for granny shawls at the moment.

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First there was the blue one I made for myself here and then you might recall the photo from a previous post with all the ends needing to be sewn in? Well I finally found the time to do so and to give it a quick block too.

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I love it and it’s really warm having been made in the now discontinued King Cole Chunky Merino.  Hopefully, you can never have too many shawls?

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The photographs make it look rather bright, when I like to think it’s a little more subdued ✨ only a little mind.

Happy Knitting!

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Edinburgh Part 1 – The Yarn Festival

2015-03-15 10.19.52-2I’ve wanted to go to Edinburgh for as long as I can remember and The Edinburgh Yarn Festival provided the perfect excuse to finally pay the place a visit :-)

The first thing to mention about the yarn festival is how many ‘stars’ of the industry offered classes, there were definitely more in attendance then I’ve seen at any other yarn show.  Unfortunately, I’d missed the ones that interested me most as demand was incredibly high and most booked up very quickly.  Who can blame them too, with names like Stephen West, Ysolda Teague, Rachel Coopey, Carol Feller, Hélène Magnússon, Nancy Marchant, Veera Välimäki, Emily Wessel and Karie Westermann to name but a few.

I arrived at The Edinburgh Corn Exchange bright and early on Sunday morning to try and avoid some of the crowds, heading straight for the Baa Ram Ewe stall in order to purchase a present for a good friend.  Saturday had been such a productive day with their Titus yarn that certain shades had sold out, including the one I was after.  Undeterred, I had a great time playing with colours and trying to decide on the right colour combination for Stephen West’s Daybreak Shawl.

My plan of action when attending any yarn festival is to walk round all of the vendors once without purchasing and make a mental note of any ‘favourites’ before walking round for a second time to spend time investigating further and making any purchases.  This ‘purchase’ round can in practice, lead to a 3rd and possibly even a 4th lap of the stalls, depending on how strong the ‘pull’ of some yarn is ;-)

With over 75 stalls to peruse I was a little spoilt for choice when it came to selecting goodies to bring home.

So what did I buy?

Too much as per usual including

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Well, I couldn’t resist the Edinburgh Yarn Festival cotton shopper.  You can never have too many project bags can you?

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I actually only bought the Tin Can Knits 9 Months of knitting book at the show, finding the other ones in a bargain book shop in the city.  I also purchased a couple of books on spinning and weaving in order to work on my ability in these areas.

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I was spoilt for choice with sock yarns, but was rather smitten by this hand dyed 4ply Blue Faced Leicester loveliness, from The Threshing Barn

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Hélène Magnússon’s class was the one I’d hoped to be able to attend, having missed the opportunity this time round it seemed only fair that I bought one of her beautiful knitting kits.  I opted for the Icelandic Spring Shawl in beautiful blues and greens.  The lace weight yarn is a rougher texture than we’re probably use to now and there was another softer option available, I wanted Icelandic authenticity and I’m sure it’ll soften with washing.

Scary lace weight it may be, but the pattern I’m happy to report, is knitted on 5mm’s

I did purchase a few more interesting items including more yarn, but you’ll have to wait until I’ve made the projects up.

Of course no short break is complete without taking in the sights, including Edinburgh Castle and a few of the yarn shops more on that in part 2.

Happy knitting!

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Charity Knitting

Since 2015 began I’ve been inundated with questions about our next charity knitting campaign, what it is and how you can get involved.  With lots of you eager to get to work I’m conscious that for now at least, I don’t really have anything in particular planned.

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In part it’s because the Knit Happens Campaign still needs to be completely wrapped up before moving forward.  The ECCR have given me a rough total of the money they have from the campaign and I can happily report that I have lodged €2157.23 in the Knit Happens Credit Union account 🌟 🌟🌟  I hope to be able to pop up a post in the near future with the total amount of money raised, how many stockings we still have left and what we’re going to do with them.

Then there’s all the other stuff to contend with, including my biggest enemy at the moment time ⏰

As it’s unlikely that little ol’ me is going to master the dimensions of time when it will in itself take time, I can do my best to give you some ideas so you can put your needles and hooks to work.

I had heard recently that The Girls Club Cork were after chemo hats and have spoken to Caroline at the service to confirm this.  The Girls Club Cork is a cancer support centre that offers advice, assistance and a good night out to members and their families.  If you’d like to know more about the service and what they do, pop over to their website here.

So Where do you start?

Having typed ‘free knitting patterns for chemotherapy patients’ into the Google search bar, I can happily confirm that there are dozens of them out there for hats.  Many of them on sites dedicated to knitting for charity.

Here are just a few of the ones I’ve discovered.

All Free Knitting  – knitting

Headhuggers – Knitting & Crochet

Bevscountrycottage – knitting & Crochet

Ravelry – knitting & Crochet

There are a few things you need to bare in mind when making hats for chemotherapy patients.

  • The yarn you use has to be soft, heads are sensitive at the best of times.  Baby yarn like Sirdar Snuggly Dk or something similar is ideal.
  • Some people can be allergic to wool, particularly whilst undergoing treatment, so it’s recommended that you use yarn with no wool content what so ever.  Acrylic/nylon are best and cotton hats are fantastic for wearing during the warmer months.
  • Whilst lace hats look pretty, they’re not necessarily the most practical.  I’ve read stories on several sites now from cancer patients that have lost their hair through Chemotherapy.  Most have mentioned that they wear their hats to cover their baldness as well as for warmth.  A solid stitch pattern would be more suitable where possible for this reason, as would a hat longer hat.  One that covers the back of the head like a beanie rather than a beret style would also provide more coverage.
  • Lastly, the hats should be wearable, fun and stylish in order to make the wearer feel less self conscious and warm.  Try to consider colour and style – would you wear it?

You can drop your finished hats off to the centre which is at 26 St. Paul’s Avenue, off Lavitts Quay, Cork (near the entrance to Paul Street Car park).  It’s best to give them a ring to check if they’ll be open, the phone number is  021-4949090.

blankets of hope

In addition to the chemo hats, The Girls Club Cork are also running the Blankets of Hope Campaign.  Their Facebook Page is here and to be honest the poster says everything you need to know so I won’t rattle on.  Having run a similar project in 2013, I can testify that knitting squares an blankets are an ideal way to get involved and to use up your stash.

I’ve had a look around for other campaigns and haven’t really found any that are running at the moment, other than the ones where the deadlines are this month like Knit a Daffodil for Daffodil Day and Age Action Shamrock’s Appeal, so if you know of any please be sure to let me know.

Something worth mentioning is setting up and running your own project for charity.  You could organise a coffee morning and sell knitted and crochet goods, giving the money raised to your chosen appeal.  Another option is to encourage the people in your local area to get involved and organise a community art project.  Ideas including yarn bombing a school, park, street lamp-posts or an event and collecting donations, the possibilities are endless.

I’ve loads of ideas for small, easy knits that are great to get people knitting and small enough to encourage people to part with a Euro or two.  I’ll try and get some time to run up a couple of them and post here, so you can see what I’m on about.

Be sure to let me know if you hear of any other charity in need of bits and bobs.

Happy Knitting!

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