Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Recent ...

 These are the wrist warmers that I've made for Mary Ruth -- I made them a *slightly* smaller size than normal and have added thumbs as per her request. Thumbs are so fiddly to make and even more so in a very fine yarn. This was lovely 'mini mochi' -- I can't even remember when or where I got it from now but it has been on the middle shelf of my wool cupboard for a while!

I've been making yet more wrist warmers - these will all be going into the craft shop on Valentia Island (at Daly's Icecream Parlour) -- I need to get my 'shop' box out and sort out some stock for them as Caroline said that they are hoping to be open for Patrick's weekend.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Back to Crochet

 Back to another of my comfort zones - my crochet of course! I had a message from a lady on facebook about another order  - she wanted four pairs of wrist warmers and a cotton shower mitt -- so I got them all done and photographed and sent off -- but then she sent me a photo of all the pairs she's already bought from me (see below). Isn't that amazing??! I don't know anyone who has nine pairs of my wrist warmers, apart from myself.
I love my customers :) I'd a message from Mary Ruth (hello if you're reading this!) about making some wristwarmers for her too, once we sort out the colour and hopefully Airmid will be wanting me to make them something else in cotton for their handmade soaps etc.

 Hopefully this hat will be sold locally to Colette, I'm waiting to see if she's happy with it :) I adore this yarn, 'Mille Colori' by Lang in aran weight yarn (50/50 wool and acrylic) -- it's been discontinued though so the only place I can really get hold of it has been Springwools in Dublin. Luckily they have a really speedy mail-order service.
 I had bought four balls of the wool so I decided to make wrist warmers in the 'spare' pair...I love how they turned out!

I bought the same yarn in a different shade and had enough to make another hat and wrist warmer set. I wouldn't be too keen on these colours myself but I have to remind myself often that a lot of what I make isn't for myself!

...and I've made these wrist warmers again - wrist warmers in this wool have been such a good seller for me :) 

...and the last hat in this yarn! I must have sold at least four of these ones now but this is practically the end of the wool. There might be just about enough for a headband but that would be the very very end of it then! I've decided to try and keep my blonde model's hair in plaits - not sure how that will work out but I thought I'd give it a try. Her wig is very long and when she comes back from modelling my hats all Summer in the Sea Synergy Centre in the village, her hair is very matted. I'm not convinced if it will stay in place like this but I thought I'd test it out in the meantime.
Next time I must post photos of the wrist warmers that are sitting in my work basket - just waiting to have the loose ends sewn in. I always have something on the go...


Well January went pretty quickly this year (I always tend to find it the longest month of the whole year) and now we're already 1/3 of the way through February....

It's a busy month for us as our friends are away on holiday so we are taking care of their little grocery shop. It's exhausting! -- but it means that they get to go away for a well earned rest so we kind of grit our teeth and get through it. It's hardest on Peter as he is working for 18 days in a row, with no break :( We aren't used to that crazy, full-time, leave-the-house-in-the-dark-get-home-in-the-dark kind of life (though it isn't REALLY dark when he goes to work) - it's always a bit of a culture shock for us and strange to not have so much time together. BUT, at the end of it, we have our own holiday to look forward to: this year we are going to Krakow in Poland.

As my last post on here was about my beach cleaning I thought I'd better post a couple of recent photos in this update.

 In the last week I've actually had help with my beach cleaning TWICE!!! Usually I just plod on on my own, muttering under my breath about the human race and how badly we treat the planet...but it is so much more pleasant an experience if you have company!

In just over an hour eight of us collected all this rubbish from Lohar beach - and we came back in the afternoon and 'finished' off the rest of the beach :) The rubbish is all bagged up and ready to go up to the roadside but I am hopeful that I might get help with that....unless you ask for help people won't know that you need it!

Look - we found treasures on the beach -- the white one was at Lohar beach and then on the same day we all went over to St. Finan's bay as there was a dead dolphin I needed to record for the IWDG database and Eleanor found the black horse! What are the chances??!

And then yesterday I had three helpers on the little beach that's next to Lohar! We got the whole beach done AND got it all up to the top of the cliff. The council workers should have collected it all yesterday afternoon or sometime today hopefully...I don't like leaving bags of rubbish by the road in case it encourages people to dump their own rubbish there too. 
I am having a day of rest today to recouperate!! I don't actually feel as awful as I thought I would do but I can feel the 'strain' in the backs of my legs.

It's amazing to think of this small stretch of beach being practically clear of marine litter (til the next storm!)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

I often intend to write in here about life outside of my crochet but I usually get distracted or forget - but yes, there is more to me than just crochet and lovely wool.

So here's a post about my beach combing/beach cleaning efforts! I first started beach cleaning when I was sixteen or seventeen - it's kind of strange, nearly thirty years later to be still trying to keep the same beaches clean -- if anything, things are worse now than ever before. We live in such a throw-away society...

These are photos from my latest trip to try and 'do my bit' - it's a little tiny beach near Scarriff that I only get to go to a few times a year as it's down a really bendy road and is quite far from our house -- there is so much rubbish on the more local beaches so I try to concentrate on them rather than spread myself too thinly.
 As you can see, it's a really scenic spot - every time I go I tell myself that I will stay longer the next time - and that Peter and I should go there with a picnic some day in the Summer (if we ever have picnic weather)

But the flip-side of the beauty is the ugliness of the rubbish that washes in on the tide -- I am always dismayed whenever I find syringes washing in; but I am glad that I am able to remove them at least. This one still had the needle attached (sheathed in the orange plastic section)
 I only had one rubbish bag with me so I filled it up with just two types of rubbish - I find it easier to sometimes just pick up, say, polystyrene and rope, when there's a load of rubbish - that way I feel like I'm making SOME impact instead of just scratching the surface.

All of these bottles have come across from Canada or America on the tide - the Coke can is marked as coming from a factory in Nigeria...but the others are mostly Gatorade/Powerade bottles. I think it must be the most popular drink in Northern America??  There's also a bottle of suncream from Walgreen's (US pharmacy) and a little bottle of 'Advil' from Canada.
 Marine litter is truly a global issue :(
 The other main kind of rubbish that I filled my bag with are these foam strips -- they are used in longline fishing and wash up so frequently here. They would originally be studded with hooks (you can make out the little holes in the foam pieces) but I've yet to find one that still has the hooks attached.

 I decided at the start of the year that I would keep a record of all the balloons that I find on my beach trips - so this is what I've collected so far this year. It's too many! I love balloons but hate to see them being released...they end up as lethal litter to many different kinds of wildlife.
 I thought I'd try to finish this update on a positive note....I'm so delighted that more people locally here in Waterville are doing their bit too...I went on a walk along my most local beach recently and only managed to pick up half a bag's worth of rubbish along a long stretch of the beach!

This is how it SHOULD be!!

The bonus of beach cleaning for me is sometimes those little finds that make you smile - like this <3 bladder...="" br="" seaweed="" shaped="">

...or a different type of heart: and real beach combing treasure! A seed from a tropical vine in Central/Southern America - this is called a sea heart and is very special. 
...or a piece of coral which I found on a bigger piece of polystyrene! This has come in on the tide but originated from somewhere along the American coast (between Mexico and Rhode Island)  and is something really special. It's only the second specimen ever to have been recorded as found in NW Europe (the other was found on a beach in Holland) I've sent it off to the Natural History Museum in Dublin...I like to think that there is a little corner or drawer up there that is filled with treasures that I've donated (various shells, sea beans etc that I've found here that have drifted across the Atlantic) :)  

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Helter Skelter

So this is the wool I was sent by Cygnet yarns - every month they are running a competition on facebook, where the selected knitters/crocheters get sent wool and have to come up with a project with just one ball of it.

I was selected for next month's competition and was kind of hoping that I'd be sent sock yarn or something relatively fine - but I got chunky! I do tend to prefer thinner yarns so this was a step outside my real comfort zone...but sometimes that can be a good thing.

Each ball is just 100g so it didn't give me THAT much to work with -- crochet uses up more wool than knitting (so they say) so I opted for making a ribbed headband with a funky applique flower added.

This is me trying to work out a design that would work - I managed to make my headband with just a smidge of the yarn left; I made two of them (they sent me two balls of the yarn) and I had wool leftover in both cases.

I have so many 'yarn books' now and whenever I try and new yarn (like this one!) I write down the details in one of my books, including what hook I used, what shade etc. It makes things LOTS easier in the future, if I'm trying to track down a yarn that I used for a specific pair of wristwarmers or whatever.

This is one of my most favourite flowers to make but it uses up a TONNE of yarn! It gives a really lovely texture to a hat or headband though. I make it in two layers and then you sew the layers together to 'stack' the flower up.

And here's the finished headband :)

I'm not expecting to win the vote in the competition (you win 10 balls of your choice from Cygnet's range -- I'd LOVE to win) but I'm quite happy with how my headband turned out. 

Wool Orders and Nice Post

 I always feel like I really should apologise when I buy more wool: I have SO much already in my boxes and cupboard, but invariably whenever someone asks me to make them something in a specific colour or yarn it's the one that I don't have 'in stock' so I go online in search of it....

A lady on facebook was in touch with me about making a few pairs of wrist warmers for her again and a shower mitt too - of course when I need to get several different yarns it can be hard to find a single website that sells them all. But I was able to buy this King Cole 'Drifter' and this Cygnet 'Boho Spirit' from the one site - my first time buying from Sconch.

I had to buy the cotton from another site - Love Knitting - as it's been discontinued now and is getting more and more difficult to get hold of. I did a bit of a stock up on this cotton as I'd had an email from Jaye (my lovely repeat customer in the UK) asking about maybe making shower puffs in this cotton.

and then finally, I bought these lovely Langs from Springwools - again, it's a discontinued yarn but they seem to have a large stock of it as I've been able to order it twice in the last year or so. Colette wanted a hat to co-ordinate with her wrist warmers (also made in Lang) so I ordered in enough for a couple of hats...and then I wasn't sure of the exact shade # that I'd used (the Springwools site isn't great really for showing swatches of the different shades) so I ordered a couple of different shades.

But look! I didn't order this wool!!! I joined the facebook 'Cygnet Yarnstars' group recently and was selected for their monthly competition for next month...they send you some wool and you get to come up with a pattern using just one ball of it. They send you two balls so that you can have a practice one to start with and then make up the proper item you want to use for the competition.

I'd never seen vacuum packed wool before! It is so clever - it comes flat, like a letter; the only down side is the use of plastic in the packaging I guess, but I will reuse the bag.

I'll do a separate blog post about what I made out of the wool so watch this space....

And finally...some more lovely post! I ordered this hand-painted plate just before Christmas and it arrived recently :) I have quite a big collection of mermaid art, but it's difficult to get hold of selkies! I think it's beautiful; Peter has hung it up on the wall in our conservatory.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Wool Hats

 I've finished up using my little stock of Lopi! 

I'm going to keep this one for myself as I love purple and am keen on that shade of blue too - I don't actually own many hats (this will be my third one) but I do find them handy for when I'm beach combing or working on the ferry.

The two below are up for sale - I must get them listed in my Etsy shop presently.

They are great warm winter hats so I hope they will find a good home :) I feel a bit sad now that my lopi is all gone - it had been living on the top shelf of my wool cupboard since we got back from our holiday (almost two years ago now!) but I'm glad I've made the decision to keep one of these hats myself :)