FO: A cowl for Rossa

Rossa requested a cowl to wear to rugby matches and who am I to refuse? I had already knit two Marian cowls by Jane Richmond and he thought this might be nice. I knit the first two in Debbie Bliss Como but decided for this incarnation to try the new Debbie Bliss Paloma, which is a mix of baby alpaca and merino wool. I.e. very warm and soft.

Knitted Alpaca cowlI’m in the middle of a love affair with alpaca at the moment so I really wanted to try this new yarn. The construction is a little odd and reminds me of shoe laces, but worked very well for this project.

Knitted Alpaca cowlI started with 12mm needles, as I had used with the Como cowls, but switched to 10mm after a few rounds. This is a nice, mindless knit, although still took me about two weeks to finish. All in all a good result.

End puppy farming

[Warning: This post contains disturbing images, but frankly I don’t care, you only have to look at them once, these dogs have to live it everyday.]

If you missed Animal A&E Investigates: The Truth about Ireland’s Puppy farms last night you can watch it again online on the TV3 Player here. This was a special episode exposing the shocking truth about battery farmed dogs in Ireland, where some appalling cruelty cases were highlighted by the ISPCA and the Animal A&E Team.

Or did you watch it and think “I wish there was something I could do!” Well there is. Please, please, please email Minister Phil Hogan at and and ask him to to sign the Commencement Order for the Dog Breeding Establishment Act.

Dog Breeding Establishment Act

Dogs Trust Ireland Call to Action to shut down unscrupulous puppy farmers.

Dogs Trust Ireland Call to Action to shut down unscrupulous puppy farmers.

As things stand unscrupulous breeders are taking advantage of Ireland’s lack of animal welfare standards that are in place in other countries. This had lead to reports of over-breeding of animals that are kept in poor conditions.

The new legislation is designed to tackle large scale commercial breeders who are operating puppy farms or battery farms but it has not yet been signed into law. It won’t solve all the problems within the industry, but is seen as an important first step by animal welfare organisations to bring the industry in line with best practise established in other countries. The legislation would help ensure that dog breeding establishments must be registered and licensed.

Under the legislation breeders would be liable for inspection and will have to meet minimum welfare standards, including the size of the kennel where the dogs are kept with adequate ventilation for example.

Puppy problems

Photo taken by the Dublin SPCA at a puppy farm where over 70 animals were removed

Photo taken by the Dublin SPCA at a puppy farm where over 70 animals were removed

Many of the dogs and puppies on these puppy farms have significant medical and social problems. As a result of intensive breeding, animal welfare organisations often see puppies suffering because of inbreeding and other hereditary problems.

Other medical conditions include parasite infestations such as fleas, worms and ear mites which can lead to anaemia. Puppies can also suffer from skin infections such as mange, and can have rickets and calcium deficiencies. The mothers are often found to have mammary gland tumours.

The problems are not exclusively physical. Puppies from puppy farms can also have psychological problems. It’s vital for puppies to be socialised in early life with other dogs and humans, but cage bred puppies often miss out on this vital step in development.


ISPCA rescue two neglected Shitzu breeding bitches out of fifty dogs from a dog breeding establishment. Photo by Carmel Murray

ISPCA rescue two neglected Shitzu breeding bitches out of fifty dogs from a dog breeding establishment. Photo by Carmel Murray

If you are as disgusted as I am with how these animals are treated then do something. Write to your local TD. An email takes five minutes to write but the more pressure we put on our representatives in government the better chance we have. After all, they are supposed to represent US, the electorate.

I have written to Phil Hogan, Alan Shatter, Shane Ross, Alex White, Peter Mathews and Olivia Mitchell. So far I have recieved a reply from Olivia Mitchell TD. (I will update here if I get replies from any of the other TDS).

I have written to Ms. Mitchell before regarding the legislation and she has always replied. She has said she will ask Minister Phil Hogan to finally sign the Commencement order for the Dog Breeding Establishment Bill. I hope she is true to her word.

[Edited to add 26/10/2011]

Response from Phil Hogan, Minister for Environment, Community & Local Government

Photo taken by the Dublin SPCA at a puppy farm where over 70 animals were removed

Photo taken by the Dublin SPCA at a puppy farm where over 70 animals were removed

Minister Hogan posted the following on his Facebook page “The Dog Breeding Establishment Act cannot be commenced until the completion of the Welfare of Greyhounds Bill is completed by the Oireachtas. This Bill is presently going through Seanad Eireann. I am surprised that people in various organisations are not aware of this matter.”

This in my opinion is BS and is nothing more than smoke and mirror tactics to hold off on signing the order.

[Edited to add 27/10/2011]

Today I got an email reply from Peter Mathews TD, and while Mr. Mathews admits to being appalled by the TV3 program and assures me of his continued support for animal welfare, he also copied and pasted the party line into the middle of his email. He repeated that “It’s intended to commence the Dog Breeding Establishment Act 2010 at the same time as the Welfare of Greyhounds Bill, which is currently passing through the Oireachtas.”

FO: Genna cowl

Rossa and I took a sneaky trip to Antwerp back in May. We we’re actually going to get my engagement ring, but didn’t tell anyone. Antwerp is a lovey city, not as pretty as, say, Bruges, but nicer than Brussels. (We’ve been to both, Rossa is a total beer nerd so I could take about all the pubs we visited and beer we drank but I won’t.)

While we were there the Mode Museum were holding an exhibition called Unravel: Knitwear in Fashion. It was a really good exhibition and I even managed to take a few snaps. It was great I have to say to be able to indulge my hobby while there, as sometimes I feel like our trips are hijacked by the pubs we *have* to go to and beer we *have* to try. Even in Antwerp (where we were getting an engagement ring remember) Rossa had a list of pubs and beers to check out. I’m not entirely complaining, but it was nice for things to be a little bit balanced.

We also visited Jilija’s which is just such a gorgeous shop. I gathered that most of the yarns are La Droguerie, but she did have some other brands. She also had buttons and fabrics. As always happens me I felt a little overwhelmed, but came away with a skien of chunky baby alpaca, one of kid mohiar and some pure wool.

The baby alpaca and kid mohair both became cowls. I saw this photo on Pinterest and knew I wanted to make something similar with my mohair. For my Genna cowl [ravelry link] I cast on 110 stitches using 8mm needles, knit four rounds of 1×1 ribbing, then a round of k2tog/yo and five rounds of stocking stitch. I kept going until I felt I was going to run out of yarn, then four more rounds of 1×1 ribbing. Only problem is that I cast off really tightly, even though I went up to 10mm needles for the cast off. But I think it’s still lovely.

Knitted Mohair Cowl

DIY: It’s a kind of magic – Hacked gloves.

The weather has turned, and how. It’s bloody freezing all of a sudden. And I do not like the cold. I have poor circulation and always seem to feel the cold more than other people.

Gloves with conductive threadAnother thing I do not like is having to take my gloves off to use my phone on a cold day. Pain in the ass. As I understand it a touchscreen works by responding to electrical impulses from our fingers. When you have gloves on obviously the electrical impulse can’t get to the screen.

Which is where conductive thread comes in. It kinda does what it says on the tin. It conducts the electrical impulses from your finger to the screen. I bought about 10 meters last winter but never did anything with it. I can’t find the website I bought it from but you can find it on Ebay.

Gloves with conductive threadIt really as simple as putting a few stitches in the top of the glove, where your finger usually hits the screen. You just need to make sure that the tread hits your finger on the inside of the glove. I just tied the two ends of the thread together and left them inside the glove for extra conductive ‘contactyness’. I also put a few stitches in the thumb of the glove, as I find myself using my thumb too.

Gloves with conductive thread and smartphoneSo no more cold fingers for me when I need to check my Twitter updates while waiting for the bus on the way home. And I am happy.

DIY: Old frames the new

More DIY wedding stuff. taking inspiration from this photo on Style Me Pretty I wanted to create a funky frame for using for our table layout. The day before the wedding I can print out our final table plan and stick it in the frame. I also want to print the table plan onto A4 card to leave around during the drinks reception, so people can be having a look to see where they are sitting before we go into the marquee. After the wedding I’ll use the frame after the wedding to hang our Thumbprint guest book.

I picked up an old framed painting in a funky little shop just of Frances Street in Dublin. I wanted something with lots of grooves and ridges. It cost me the grand total of €20.

I used:

  • Old photo frame
  • Toothbrush and white spirits for cleaning the frame
  • Primer
  • Spray paint in silver
  • Hard board, 3.5mm, craft knife
  • Wallpaper and double sided tape

I set up a tarp against a wall in the garden and proceeded to dismantle the painting from the frame. I then cleaned it using white spirits and a toothbrush. *A lot* of dirt came off. Then I used a spray primer to cover the frame back & front. I followed this with 2 coats of metalic silver spray paint over the course of an afternoon.

Then I cut the hard board to fit the back of the frame. I covered the hard board in a wallpaper sample and stuck it down with the double sided tape.

I got such a response when I posted the finished photos on Twitter, I decided to go ahead with this post, even though my proper camera battery went before I could take proper ‘after’ photos. As soon as I’m home again in the daylight I’ll take some and post them here.

DIY: Chalkboard speech bubble

So to go with my photobooth props I wanted to make some chalkboard speech bubbles. I had one A3 foam board left from the props so decided to see how this would work. My idea is that people can write little messages to include in their photos.

I used:

  • Paper, printer, scissors, pencil, craft knife
  • Foam board, bamboo sticks
  • Spray primer, blackboard paint

I found the outline of a speech bubble online and printed it so it fit onto an A4 sheet of paper. Then I cut around it, and traced around the shape onto the foam board with a pencil. I had enough board left for two, so made them face opposite ways, if you know what I mean.

Then I cut around the shapes on the foam board with the craft knife and sprayed the cut out shapes with, first primer, and then painted them with chalkboard paint. I think chalkboard paint is my new favourite thing. I can think of so many funky uses for it. You can even get magnetic chalk board paint. I’ll give that a minute to sink in – magnetic chalkboard paint. I know.I actually think these are a little small so I’m thinking of asking my future father in law to create some larger bubbles out of some sort of board that I can paint.

Oh, and how about two cute doggie pics. These two just love when I get the camera out (or it could be the treats I give them to get them to sit still, whichever!?!)

DIY: Photobooth props

I think the idea of having a photobooth at a wedding is an American phenomenon but I think it’s a really cute idea. I don’t know how I’ll set it up at the venue, maybe we’ll just put the props and some disposable cameras on a table near a tree.

Photobooth PropsAs with anything wedding related you can buy some really cool props and I would direct anyone looking for this option to Etsy. However, I think it would be more fun to print out and create my own. I also plan to create some chalkboard speech bubbles and have chalk available so everyone can write messages on them. But that may be for another post.

You can find lots of downloadable templates, for example: CraftzeeRuffled BlogOh Happy Day and here and Living Locurto.

I used:

  • Card, printer, markers, glue, tape, kitchen chopping board as cutting board.
  • Black A3 5mm Foam Board
  • Ghiant HighTac Mounting Spray
  • Jakar Heavy Duty Hobby Knife
  • Bamboo sticks from a garden centre & secateurs for cutting

Photobooth PropsCathy from Crafty Alley was so helpful when I contacted her on Twitter, and she helped me pick out the right tools and sent them to me within 24 hours. Now that’s service!

Photobooth PropsI printed out my chosen templates and used the spray glue to mount them onto to foam board. Some of the colours didn’t print as vibrant as I would like them so I coloured them in with the markers. Then I carved around them using the craft knife. I carved them all over two days, and I say carved because my wrist, hand and lower arm were quite sore once I’d finsihed.

Photobooth PropsThis was one of those tutorials where I read “all you have to do is” and it doesn’t quite work like that. It was tougher than I though to cut around the shapes and then there little white bits of card showing against the black board. So I used a marker to go over the edges. Some of the curly mustaches also almost had me in tears trying to cut out the curly bits.

Photobooth PropsI wanted to get wooden skewers like you would use on a barbeque, but it’s the wrong time of year for that so I ended up getting bamboo sticks in the garden centre and chopping them up with a secateurs. I then used a strong glue to glue them to the back of the foam and then covered in black duct tape if there was room.

(Appologies for the terrible photos, but the light has been appalling recently!)