A New Year Giveaway – Woolly Woofers by Debbie Bliss

Wow, how has it been 6 weeks since my last post!?!? I’m not quite sure how that happened. I guess life just got in the way. I haven’t even been knitting much. But I did have a lovely, relaxing Christmas break and I’m looking forward to the rest of 2015 with anticipation.

But to help me (and you, dear reader) get past this hiatus I am having a New Year’s giveaway. Back in September I reviewed Woolly Woofers by Debbie Bliss. At the time I bought a copy for myself and the publisher also sent me a review copy, so I have a spare copy to give away to one of my lovely readers.

Wooly Woofers 075If you would like to win a copy of Woolly Woofers all you have to do is:

  • Follow my blog through WordPress (when logged in to WordPress click the follow button on the top left of your screen)
  • Follow my blog via email (there is a button)
  • And/or ‘like’ my Facebook Page
  • (If you already follow my blog/like my Facebook page let me know in the comments and I’ll include you too 😉 )

Each of these actions is one entry in the giveaway.

Thanks for all your entries. The competition is now closed.

The giveaway ends Midnight GMT, Sunday 18th January. I’ll choose the winner using a random number generator and announce the winner on Monday January 19th. I’ll contact the winner via email/Facebook to arrange to post them their prize (I’ll post to anywhere). And feel free to share this post with anyone you think would enjoy these prizes.

A faux library card catalogue

I posted recently about my top gifts for librarians. The top item on that list was a card catalogue. When I posted about my desire for a card catalogue on Facebook a few months ago a friend sent me this link to an Ikea Card File Drawers Hack from The Painted Hive. What I really want is a real, live card catalogue that was actually used in a library. But until I can get my hands on one of those I decided to make my own one.

The next time I was in Ikea I picked up a Moppe set of drawers. I can’t find them now on the Ikea website just now, so I’m not sure if they’ve been discontinued. Maybe I got mine just in time. Anyway, I had some leftover stain from my shawl display, some teak oil that I use to annually oil the kitchen table you can see in the photos and some sandpaper in the shed so I set to work.

Crafty Projects April14 077I bought the drawer pulls on Etsy. For my purposes these are a little small, I would have preferred them to be a bit bigger, but they’ll do. I followed the instructions on The Painted Hive pretty closely, except that I glued the drawer pulls on. They didn’t come with nails and I couldn’t be bothered trying to find tiny nails to match. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the result.

My bead stash now lives in the drawers. It previously lived in (cleaned) plastic takeaway trays stored in a large Tesco bag, so this is a big improvement. I still want a real card catalogue, but this will do for the moment.

 

Stitch marker tutorial

Stitch markers 125Before I started knitting I used to make jewellery. Pretty rudimentary stuff – nothing complicated. In the same way that I love the colours and textures of yarn, I love the colours and textures of beads too and amassed a small-ish stash. In a recent post I shared photos of my stitch markers.

Stitch markers 161These stitch markers are really straight forward to make and give you pretty much instant gratification. Above you can see how I set up my work station (coffee table) before getting started. Clockwise from top left I have my crimping pliers, a selection of beads that I want to use, tigertail wire, a bowl for the finished markers, a bowl for the ends to be discarded and a wire cutter, which in this case is a flat nosed pliers with a wire cutter.

I actually bought the tigertail wire a few years ago without realising what it was, but I really like it for these stitch markers because it is really flexible but doesn’t kink easily.

Stitch markers 165

  1. Cut of a length of tigertail wire with your wire cutter and fold it in half.
  2. Thread your chosen beads onto it. I like to use one small focal bead with a seed bead either side of it. The reason I use the seed bead (apart from looking pretty) is because I found there was a tendency for the main bead to slide over the crimped crimp bead, depending on the size of the hole in the bead. Lastly, add your crimp bead.
  3. Stitch markers 168Using a knitting needle a few sizes bigger than the needles you want to use the stitch marker with adjust the beads on the wire. Sorry for the slightly blurry picture, it was hard to hold the beads steady in my left hand and take the picture with the camera in my right hand.
  4. Stitch markers 171Crimp the crimp bead to secure everything in place. This video shows you how to do this.
  5. Stitch markers 172Lastly use the wire cutter to cut off the excess wire, getting as close to the crimp bead as you can.
  6. Stitch markers 179 croppedEt viola! That’s it. It’s really that quick and easy.

I’ve gone a bit crazy making these recently and I’m donating them to HandmAid craft day in aid of Laura Lynn Hospice. Come along September 26th and help support such a great cause.

DIY Jewellery Display

I’ve been on a bit of a jewellery spending spree recently. I go through these phases of buying and wearing jewellery and then the phase just kind of fizzles out. I think part of the reason is that unless the necklaces or earrings or whatever are RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME in the morning, I’m too lazy/sleepy to find something to suit my outfit.

I browsed Etsy for some funky jewellery organisers that might helps solve this problem but decided in the end that I could make something just as nice myself as I could buy online. This pattern on Ravelry also served as inspiration.

And here is what I came up with. My earrings slot into the knitted lace nicely and my necklaces and bracelets hang from the hooks. This example is a little on the small size for me, but I intend on making a larger on soon.

Jewellery display 009I used:

  • A photo frame, with a pretty design
  • Some knitted lace, knitted and blocked to the internal size of the frame
  • A household stapler
  • A drill to drill pilot holes
  • Hooks bought in my local DIY shop (I think these are 25mm hooks)

If you want to make something similar, find a lace pattern that you like. I recommend one with a lot of yarn overs, as this makes it easier to slip your earrings into the lace. I used the ‘lattice 
lace’ section from the Dinner in the Eiffel Tower Shawl. I would also suggest choosing a neutral coloured yarn so that your earrings stand out on it and you can see your choices clearly. For my next one I’m going to use a pale grey or cream I think.

I used a household stapler to staple the knitted fabric into place, starting at one side, them the opposite side to get the tension even over the lace. You want the lace panel to turn out a bit smaller than the internal size of the frame, as this will give you nice tight lace. I just opened the stapler fully and pushed the staples into place. Whatever material this frame is made of was soft enough to do that. jewellery-display-0081-e1407495444707Then I decided to have five hooks for my necklaces, so I measured the base of the frame and marked where the hooks should go. I then drilled pilot holes into the frame to make it easier to get the hooks to screw in. And viola! My new jewellery organiser was finished.

Now I can see all my jewellery and can quickly pick something to wear in the morning before I head out the door. And it looks kinda pretty too.

Stitch markers for HandmAid

As well as setting some of my stash free for a good cause I also decided to make some stitch markers for HandmAid this year. HandmAid is a craft day that has been held annually in Dublin for the last three years and is in aid of the Laura Lynn Hospice this year. On the day there will be various crafty classes, a market stall and a cafe, both stocked with donations. That means yarn cake AND cake cake.

Stitch markers 112So anyway, this decision kicked off a massive stitch marker making weekend. This is partly because I’m getting bored of knitting the border on my Winnowing. I needed a distraction. So out came my bead stash and pliers and several hours later I had quite a collection of stitch markers.

Stitch markers 133The markers I make use a combination of tigertail wire and beads, rather than a jump ring. I use these exclusively when knitting and I find them great. They’re lightweight and don’t snag on my knitting. I’m going to I have put a tutorial together. They’re so easy to make if you have a few tools to hand.

Stitch Markers 002I had initially intended on leaving them loose to be sold at HandmAid but there was such an amount I decided to bundle them into sets of four or five markers. So this is the final product. I should have a big box of these to deliver to the organisers to be sold on the day. So pop along on to Damer Hall on Stephen’s Green on Saturday 27th September 2014 from 10.30am to 4.30pm.

Dalkey cowl

You may remember that I had a little giveaway last year to celebrate my 100th post. Well the winner of the book, Diane, sent me some photos of the first project she knit from the book, Contemporary Irish Knits by Carol Feller. She is knit the Dalkey Cowl and it’s beautiful.

She sent me some photos too, isn’t it gorgeous!

Cowls__Dalkey_Carol_Feller_013_medium2Thanks so much for sharing the photos with me. Diane blogs at Oh la la laine.

I also know that the other prize, a skein of Coolree, is being used in the Follow your arrow mystery kal by Ysolda Teague. It’s so lovely that the prizes went to homes where they are being used to such great effect.

 

A tourist’s guide to yarn shops in Dublin

I was doing some reasearch recently on yarn shops in New York and came across this great post written by a New Yorker about the yarn shops in her area. It gave me the idea to write this post as a guide for tourists to yarn shops in Dublin, written by a Dubliner.

When I’m abroad I love to visit local yarn shops and pick myself up a few treats, especially if it’s yarn that I can’t get at home. And who better to give you the low-down on local yarn shops but a local! So, in alphabetical order, here are some of my of my favourite Dublin yarn shops. You can read more about my yarn shopping in New York here.

(Top tip: If you are resident outside the EU you may be able to avail of Tax-Free shopping for tourists. You can ask for a tax refund docket in-store, This Is Knit and Springwools both told me they have them available, and I’m sure other shops will too.)

The Constant Knitter

88 Francis Street, Dublin 8. Phone 087 996 7197

ConstantKnitterThe Constant Knitter has been trading online for as long as I’ve been knitting and much longer, but Rosemary opened her first bricks and mortar shop in January 2012. The shop is located on Francis Street, in the heart of the Antiques Quarter of Dublin. It’s a few minutes walk from St Stephen’s Green so very easy to work into your sight seeing schedule. The Constant Knitter stocks a huge range of yarns, from affordable everyday yarns to the more luxury yarns.

If, like me, you like to buy some souvenir local yarns The Constant Knitter stocks Studio Donegal Soft Merino and Studio Donegal Tweed as well as Cushendale Mohair and Cushendale DK. If you’re looking for a really unique treat Rosemary also stocks Smudge Yarns laceweight merino, which is dyed especially for the shop.

And if you give Rosemary enough notice, groups are welcome to while away the afternoon upstairs in the beautiful, large and bright studio, stitching and drinking tea.

This Is Knit

Powerscourt Townhouse, Dublin 2. Phone (01) 670 9981

ThisIsKnit

I have to admit that this is my favourite yarn shop and the one where I shop most often. This Is Knit is run by a mother and daughter team, Lisa and Jacqui, and all the staff are extremely friendly and very helpful. The shop is located right in the centre of Dublin, just off Grafton Street, the main shopping area on Dublin’s southside. The yarns they stock are on the more expensive side of things, but they stock the most beautiful luxury yarns so I don’t mind paying for them. If you’re looking for a really special treat to bring home with you then this is the shop for you. And they also stock more everyday yarns too that won’t break the budget.

If you’re looking for something Irish to bring home with you This Is Knit stock Studio Donegal Aran Tweed, Soft Donegal and Homespun. And for a really special treat they stock Dublin Dye Company YarnsHedgehog Fibres and my favourite personal Coolree Yarns. All three are Indie dyers from different parts of Ireland.

In terms of non-yarny treats they also stock Lizzy C brooches and keyrings, Carol Feller books and patterns, handmade stitch markers by Maria and locally handmade ceramic buttons.

Springwools

6 Olde Sawmills, Dublin 12. Phone (01) 450 9134

SpringwoolsWhen I was a kid I would go to Springwools with my mum and would spend hours looking at the patterns, yarns and buttons. Hmm, I guess maybe that’s where my love of colours and textures came from, even though I only started knitting again a few years ago. Their shop is in the suburbs, so probably not the easiest to find for tourists, but they have good directions on their website.

I freely admit that I am a complete yarn snob, that’s no secret. And as such I don’t buy much yarn anymore in Springwools, but it’s my mum’s favourite shop. They stock a huge range of baby wools and everyday yarns. In terms of Irish products, they also carry a large range of Studio Donegal yarns – Aran Tweed 50g balls; Soft Donegal hanks and a variety of Donegal Yarns in 1kg and 2kg cones – as well as Cushendale Mohair Boucle. Springwools also told me they’re currently expanding their Irish yarns selection, and will have a really comprehensive selection of Irish brands and Irish-made yarns and products available soon.

Springwools also offers a mail service for tourists and out-of-towners who visit the shop. They will parcel up and mail products bought in-store to your home address, at special low prices.

Winnie’s Wool Wagon and Craft Cafe

3 Woodbine Park, Blackrock, Co. Dublin. Phone (01) 260 3734

WinniesWinnie’s Craft Cafe opened in 2010 and is a gorgeous yarn shop and cafe located on the southside of Dublin, near UCD college. It’s not on the usual tourist routes, but I think the cafe would make a great pit-stop in your sight seeing schedule. They stock a great range of yarns that won’t break the bank and the staff have been really friendly any time I’ve been there. They also stock a range of other craft materials, including beads and buttons.

In terms of Irish yarns Winnie’s stocks Cushendale Boucle, Studio Donegal Aran and Aran Soft and at the time of writing they were awaiting the arrival of Kerry Aran in an array of colours. They try to stock Irish suppliers where possible, both in the shop and the cafe and you can pick some cute Irish gifts like Lizzy C sheep brooches and shawl pins from Kieran Cunningham.

In the cafe they have a range of Irish cake, chocolate and ice cream suppliers who are small businesses themselves, Caryna’s Cakes, Chocolate Garden of Ireland, Tipperary Organic Ice Cream and The Cake and Crumb being just a few.

Other Yarn Shops

There are other yarn shops in Dublin that I have never been to so I’m not in a position to review them, but they might be close to where you’re staying (also in alphabetical order).

If I have forgotten any shops please let me know in the comments so I can add to the list. And for any tourists reading, please let me know if there is anything else you want to know or if you found my guide useful.

A beautiful yarn bowl

This yarn bowl was hand turned by my father-in-law for my mum’s birthday. Isn’t it a thing of beauty?

Yarn bowl 004My father-in-law started wood turning, maybe 5 years ago. At some point after I started knitting I spotted some ceramic yarn bowls online and I asked if he could try to make one out of wood for me. He kindly obliged and I use my yarn bowl almost daily (when it’s not full of other balls of yarn and notions). I absolutely love my yarn bowl, my yarn doesn’t bounce all over the floor and when I’m finished knitting I can just pop the project into the bowl until it’s time to pick it up again.

Yarn bowl 022 Yarn bowl 021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With my mum’s birthday coming up I asked my father-in-law to make a yarn bowl for my mum. And he really surpassed himself this time. This bowl is a piece of art and I have to admit, as much as I love my own yarn bowl, I now have serious yarn bowl envy.

Yarn bowl 030The rest of this post is really just an excuse to share more photos of this exquisite bowl.

Yarn bowl 040

Icord jewellery

Necklaces 001*taps screen* Is there anyone out there? Hello? I know I haven’t been here for a while but I hope there are still a few people reading.

The last few week seem to have flown by and all of a sudden it’s nearly Christmas. As I’m currently working as a Library Intern and disposable income is somewhat scarce, I decided to put my thinking cap on and come up with a gift idea that would be economical, quick and easy but with a bit of a wow-factor.

Necklaces 004My LYS started stocking Embellish Knit which allows me to knit icord really quickly and an idea was born. I had already played with icord necklaces but I wanted to try something a bit more complex. I can’t claim this design as my own because I’m using tutorials written by someone else, but I would like to think I put my own spin on them.

Necklaces 009For the necklace I used a little under three metres of icord and this tutorial for a knotted necklace from Operation DIY. For the bracelet I used about a metre of icord and this tutorial for a knotted cord bracelet from Katrinshine, except that I used one continuous piece of cord rather than two separate pieces. Both necklace and bracelet are secured at the back using a crimp clasp with a lobster clasp. The teeth on the crimp clasps grip the yarn well and feel very secure. I then put a few stitches in the knots to hold them in place and buried the ends on the icord.

Necklaces 007I’ve experimented with different types of yarn and have discovered that not all work. I thought this would be a great way to use up ends of my precious Coolree fingering weight yarns, but alas the resulting icord is too slinky and won’t hold it’s shape. One yarn that works really well is Louisa Harding Orielle. I suspect the 3% Metallic Polymide gives a bit of extra stability (and a gorgeous sparkle to the jewellery too). The necklace and bracelets in the photos are knit in Ice.

I also had some Zettle Panda yarn from Lidl, which works well too. This yarn also had a lovely sheen to it, I have some deep pink and a lovely cornflower blue, but I think I’ll be picking some more up the next time my local Lidl have it in stock. Right, now I’m off to what feels like miles of icord to get all my Christmas presents made.

Are you doing any Christmas knitting? If so what have you chosen and why?

Crafters and Makers

I read a great blog post recently from Lorna at Knits for Life about her innovative yarn storage solution. You should really go and check it out, she mounted her stash on the wall so it functions as a piece of art as well as storage. It’s pretty fab.BottlesLorna said something else in her post that really got me thinking. She referred to ‘makers’ as “those people us crafters date and marry”. Bingo. This is something I have been mulling over for quite some time. In my circle of crafty friends there are several pairs of knitter and home-brewers. This seemed to be more than a coincidence but I couldn’t quite figure out the connection until I read the sentence above.

Crafters and makers are attracted to each other it seems. Myself and R both have a love of creating but do it in very different ways. R is very practical in his making and doesn’t have any emotional connection to the materials he uses. He’s much more practical. He’ll grab a drill, some nails and some wood and make something useful with it. Everything can be re-purposed and he can see potential in any piece of ‘junk’ (my word).

Whereas for me the process and the materials are just as important as the finished object. I love using beautiful materials, yarn, fabric, beads, wire, to create something even more beautiful. For me the process is as important as the final product. I love colour and texture and the aesthetic of the what I craft, Maybe crafters are makers with a bit of added creative flair. Or maybe that’s unfair.

Is this a pattern you recognise in your own life? Do you think crafters and makers are a good combination?

And don’t forget there is another week left in my 100th post giveaway.

100th post 002