Nearly there

Colour Affection 056Just a quick update on my Colour Affection shawl. Last night, very late, I finished the three striped section. Phew, those are some looooong rows. I’m now at just under 400 stitches. I would really love to get the boarder finished today but I have some college work to finish so I think that might be a bit ambitious.

Colour Affection 052I’m also finding it really hard to get a realistic rendition of the vivid pink in my photos, so if anyone has any tips please share them with me. I’d be very grateful.

Return to me

Ashby 061In September I went back to college. I had spotted this Ashby pattern ages ago and just couldn’t get it out of my head. I had romantic visions of studying, surrounded by books, with this draped around my shoulders for extra warmth. I am so delighted with the results, I think it’s one of the most beautiful things I have ever knit. Thanks so much to my hubby for taking the photos of me with the shawl and for being so patient while I took more photos in the cold on the beach this afternoon.

Ashby 004It took some time to choose the yarn as I’m all about the smooshy, cosy, soft yarns. But when you need 677m of aran weight yarn the cost of smooshy can quickly add up. I also wanted a solid colour, something neutral, as I’m not a big fan of variegated yarns. I eventually decided on Mirasol Miski (thanks Nadia for helping me choose) and ignoring the price headed home from This Is Knit with 9 skeins (675m) of the softest Llama yarn.

DSC_0482I loved working with this yarn, the colour is so warm and it really is soooooo soft. Stitch definition isn’t great with it though, and I was worried that the manic cabelling on the border section would be lost. (There are 7 different types of cables in this shawl. Bet you didn’t know that!)

Ashby 024The shawl has an unusual construction. You knit the cabled border first, using short rows to turn the 90 degree corner. You then pick up a gazillion stitches along the edges and knit the body of the shawl decreasing four stitches on every right side row. Pretty quickly I felt the shawl was eating into the 9 skeins of yarn I had bought. Ignoring my instinct I kept going but about two thirds of the way through the body I ran out of yarn. I ordered two more skeins of yarn, hoping I wouldn’t need both, but in the end I did need some (but not nearly all) of the 11th skein. Still not thinking about the cost, no sir-ee.

Ashby 062When it was finally finished I soaked the shawl and laid it out to dry but didn’t pin it as I didn’t want the stitches stretched as you might with lace. The final measurement is 34 inches high at the spine with a wingspan of 73 inches, so slightly larger than the pattern suggested. And I love it. I’ll snuggle up to this shawl for many winters to come I hope.

What a year

The last few weeks have made me realised the power that the media and the general feeling of doom and gloom in the air can have on us (recession-this and cuts-that etc.). It would be very easy for me to look back on the last year and forget all the wonderful things that happened to me. In fact, until I really started to think about it I would have said the last year was pretty bad, because that’s what I keep hearing over and over again.

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Image Credit: Halfadreamaway.com

But 2012 has been an amazing year for me. First of all I married the love of my life last April. Married life so far has been pretty good, it feels very much the same as before, but also quite different too. It feels like we’re more of a team now, more secure – like being wrapped in a warm blanket, it’s us against the world. But day to day little changes.

Week 5 428The summer wasn’t so good, the weather was a bit crap and I had some crap going on with my job. But the extra time off meant I was able to foster some puppies which I blogged about. I fell hook, line and sinker for these two beauties, and while it took some time to find them the perfect forever homes, I was delighted that they had both found really great homes in time for Christmas. We’ve even fostered other puppies since but I’ve managed to guard my heart a bit better with those puppies.

Books 013And all the shit over the summer lead me to reassess my career and career options and in September I found myself back in a University lecture theatre. I’m currently studying for a Masters in Library and Information Studies and loving every minute of it. I feel like I’ve found myself all over again, and while I’ve been busier and more stressed than I had been for a long time I can also say that I’m the happiest I can remember.

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Image Credit: Halfadreamaway.com

So 2012, you were pretty epic. I have the most amazing family in my husband and our two furbabies, as well as my wider family and friends. I’ve got back into photography, have continues to improve my knitting and still enjoy volunteering with the DSPCA. It’s been a great year and now I’m excited to see what 2013 brings.

New outside studio

I’ve always loved brickwork. I know, what an odd thing to say. But the texture and the colour variation in exposed brickwork have always appealed to me. When I was doing the Project Photography workshop I started to think about our back wall. When we moved into our house it was pink. Yes, our back wall was pink and I swore it would be the first thing we changed. Well you can guess what happened – nothing, we never got around to painting it.

Outdoor studioSo when I suggested painting it white a few weeks ago R gladly obliged. And now I have a fabulous outdoor studio for photographing my knitting. It provides a clean, white background while still retaining some texture and interest. Whoop. So of course I got straight to work photographing my two latest project, a cowl for me and a cowl for R. We’re all set for winter in this house.

The first is my Seagreen cowl, the pattern is the Slushie Cowl from This Is Knit. I used two balls of Debbie Bliss Rialto in Aqua and about half a ball of Debbie Bliss Angel in Jade. I love the mixture of textures and colours in this cowl, I can’t wait to wear it. The texture is created with a simple but effective mixture of knit and purl rows and the contrasting texture of the two yarns. LOVE. IT. I blocked it when finished, but this flattened the texture a bit too much for my liking, so I’ve unblocked it, so to speak, since taking the photo above.

Next up is R’s April in Paris cowl. This was knit with yarn bought on our honeymoon in Paris, La Droguerie Baby Douceur. This is 100% baby alpaca and is DIVINE. Using the magic that is Ravelry Pattern Browser I searched for suitable cowl patterns based on yarn weight and yardage and R chose his favourite. This was knit with 10mm needles and knit up in about 3 days, the fastest I’ve ever finished a single project. Seriously, why don’t I always knit with 10mm needles? If you click through to the Ravelry project page above you can see a photo of R trying his hand at modelling.

What do you think of my new outdoor studio??

Dog days in Dún Laoghaire

Dun Laoghaire pierWith the help of Julie, Siobhan and Twitter I bought a new lens for my camera over the weekend. It’s a 50mm f/1.8D AF lens and I loves it. So we headed out to Dun Laoghaire with the dogs and the lens (attached to my camera) today and I had some fun.

Ollie having fun in Dun Laoghaire pierI still don’t really know what I’m doing technically and I definitely overdid the blurry background a bit on some shots, but I got some that I’m really pleased with. Ollie loves them :-)

I’m not sure if this is the east or the west pier, it’s the one on the left as you face the sea and it’s a lot quieter than the other pier. It’s a really lovely walk for the humans and full of lots of different smells for the dogs. Mia was a little too interested in what was over the edge for our liking though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh look at the blurry, I love the blurry. Although I really need to learn when enough is enough. And I love rust. Isn’t the colour amazing against the green.

All this walking and sniffing is thirsty work. This is also one of the few photos where the dogs were still enough for me to actually take a photo. But they enjoyed themselves and that’s the main thing.

Project photography

So I love photography and I love knitting. On Saturday I had the opportunity to combine the two in a Project Photography workshop at my LYS This Is Knit. It was a good mix of the tecnical and practical. We spent the morning going through staging and lighting and then camera settings. I already had some understanding of ISO, aperture, shutter speed and white balance, but every time these concepts are explained to me I seem to grasp them a bit better.

After lunch we went to St. Stephen’s Green to put what we had learned into practice. The weather was conspiring against us, but we made the most of it, sheltering in the bandstand. This also made for some nice staging.

The first project I brought with me was the Hourglass Throw.  I used 14 balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran that I had bought to knit a jumper with. I never made it past the neckline of the jumper so now it’s a blanket. This is a gift for an aunt. It was a lovely knit, and the pattern repeat was nearly just about long enough that I didn’t loose my mind.

I was worried that it would only stretch to a lap blanket, but when I blocked it it really grew. I’d say it grew by about 50%, the magic of blocking. I forgot to measure it pre-blocking, but post blocking it’s 100cm x 110cm. It’s 8 pattern repeats wide (166 stitches) by 7 pattern repeats long. I basically knit until I ran out of yarn.

The second project was a Clara dress that I knit for a friend’s daughter. I love the shape of skirt and the leaf detail at the neckline. It was a joy to knit.

I was a bit worried that the breeze would blow the dress into the pond but thankfully that didn’t happen. I’m really happy with these photos but I also know I can do better. I’m currently working on two baby cardigans (which are also gifts but are not purple) so I’ll have to play around with the camera a bit more when they’re done.

I often find myself photographing details and I like the pretty blurry backgrounds like in the photo below, so the two photographers running the workshop may or may not have persuaded me to buy a new lens that will help achieve that. It may or may not be winging itself to me right now, so I’ll post some photos when I’ve had a good play with it.

A photography crush

Today I am going to tell you about a photographer that I admire. I discovered her work through Ravelry when I clicked through to her blog. I was blown away. In fact I even sent her a rather embarrassed message on Ravelry telling her how much I loved her photos.

Julie showcases her work at halfadreamaway and has a way with light that I will forever be in awe of. When she offered to shoot our wedding I nearly bit her hand off. We went to Masseys Wood in the Dublin Mountains last weekend to take some photos of us and the dogs as well as some photos of the shawl I knitted for the wedding.

If you’re looking for something to do of a weekend I highly recommend a trip to the Dublin Mountains. So close by, so beautiful and so forgotten about by many. Masseys Wood is also quite flat compared to some of the walks which is why I particularly like it.

Anyway, without further ado here are the *beautiful* photos of my Ballybeg shawl. They really need no blurb, they speak for themselves.

 

Ballybeg shawl

 

 

See what I mean about the light? So go take a look at Julie’s fantabulos blog, where Ollie and Mia have even featured. Go now. Right now. Off you go. But come back then please.