Christmas

If, like me, everything is running late this month then you’re not alone!

Notice how its Wednesday and blog day is Monday – yup, my week has started in a spectacular fashion.

The last few weeks have been a blur of craft fairs, Continental market shifts, work and dyeing –  it’s a lot to juggle and since I’m not at home very much the Christmas knitting has fallen by the wayside (sorry bro, you’ll get your socks in January 2018)

So I’ve decided that a no pressure knitting December is in order. I’ve located all the wips and am slowly working through them all in turn:

1.       Garter Hat  just needs a pompom

2.       Opal socks –  need to finish the 2nd one

3.       Other opal socks – need to start the 2nd one

4.       Hand dyed socks –  again, the 2nd needs started

5.       Beetle hoodie  need to rip back the arm shaping and make the body longer

There are a few long term projects in there too, mainly consisting of blankets in one form or another.

Once I’ve tackled at least some of these wips, I’m casting on a new thing! But this is where I need your help.

I need you to comment with your choice and these are the options:

 1.       Hundred Acre Wood shawl in some lovely Rosies Moments yarn

2.       Spiral cowl in Woolpaca.

4.        Gothic Lace Cowl in something I’ll find,lol

5.  or The Summer Shawl in some lovely lovely Secret Stash Merino Silk

So which gets your vote? I’m hoping to have a wee sneaky cast on on Christmas Day if you care to join me!  I’m trying to work down the “living room stash” at the minute so the yarn that lives in there is first on the hit list!

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Round up

If you remember reading this post then you’ll remember that I was trying to get all the yarn dyed up for Loch Ness Knit Fest. Well you’ll be pleased to know that I did eventually manage to dye it all up, pack the car and made it to Inverness in 1 piece – I had a helper though:

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Nessie was made by Anja from a kit by Toft

So in between customers, I naturally went shopping (for “research” purposes you understand. I didn’t want any yarn at all *snicker* course I wanted it!)

Over the course of 2.5 days I built up quite the stash of hand dyed yarn,. Now for anyone who knows me, knows that I’m the queen of yarn hoarding, I possibly have enough in my stash to last a nuclear winter without running short.

My stash is made up of two types of yarn – the commercial and the hand dyed. How many times have I used hand dyed to make a project? Three. And those were all sample knits.

The reason for this pathetic number is simple –  because its hand dyed its precious, special, possibly a colourway never to be repeated. Its automatically entered into the Shrine of Precious.  And yes, I’m in awe of those people who see a skein of precious that they like, cake that bad boy up and create fabulous things with it.

My plan is to start using those lovely skeins, they were made for crafting and by all the stash gods, I’m going to knit mine up!

Wanna see what I bought then? Course you do!!!

Up there we have Dye Ninja, The Fabulous Mr G, Wee County Yarns, Cookston Crafts  (my hubby bought this skein for me) and finally Lovebugs Yarns.

And because I’d already spent a small fortune on yarn, I went online and bought some more! (I’ve a problem!!)

Just a little of EweMomma and Unbelievawool to enhance the stash a bit further.

No more yarn for me!! (Well, after Dublin this weekend I mean) I’ve lots of projects lined up on ravelry which use my hoard of hand dyed so hopefully I’ll be sharing some of those with you soon.

Do you have a hand dyed problem? Whose your favourite indie dyer?

Under Pressure

When we craft we do so for a myriad of reasons, for a gift, to increase our skills, as a charitable donation. Whatever the reason, each project always comes with a little bit of pressure, whether it is a deadline or the desire to improve, or dare I say it, impress! I have written before about the ‘resident evil’ which was the mini Christmas stockings and the Easter ducks, and have vowed never, ever to repeat those stitching marathons. However, every now and then a project comes along which turns the screw so tight you think you might just crack!

It all started out quite innocently – a post in a WhatsApp group, ‘ would anyone like to knit a sample for the upcoming knitting festivals?’  Always keen to help out a pal, and to be honest, any excuse to have a go with some of Secret Stash’s lovely aran yarn, I said ‘Me please’.  I offered to knit the ‘five day a week cowl’ designed by our own Jaele, and this is where the wheels came off the bus.  Nikki had just completed this project so didn’t really need another one so in  a moment of madness I said, ‘i’ll do Flax’.  Now, let me be clear – there is absolutely nothing in the wide world wrong the Flax – its a great pattern, the issue was with my complete inability to read very clear instructions and follow them.  In recent months it feels like the world and its wife have knit Flax. From all around the table came cries of ‘just finished Flax,’ ‘I’m on my my twentieth Flax’ (possibly a slight exaggeration), ‘Flax is great and soooooooo easy’

So armed with Nikki’s beautiful yarn and my freshly printed copy of the pattern I set to work. The more I tried to concentrate the more of a muddle I got into. I had to knit the yoke four times and even managed to snarl up the plain stocking stitch body – and don’t get me started on the sleeves!

If this had been a project for myself it would have been confined to a corner, under something heavy.  But, it wasn’t for me, it was specifically to show off the yarn and entice people to buy, so I just had to stick with it.  Eventually after many many cups of tea, and occasionally something stronger the jumper was finished. It showed off the yarn to perfection and was lovely and squishy.  If you don’t look too closely under the arm seams it even passes as competent.

Despite the issues, i’m very proud of this wee piece and have vowed to try more new things in the future – even if they are not entirely straightforward.

Flurry

There’s quite a hive of activity going on in my house at the minute, and that’s why this post is late!

I’ll set the scene shall I?

Well, its like this. My baby sister (she’ll kill me for calling her that) is now at Uni in Lincoln and, circumstances being as they were, Gibbs was coming to live with us.  But, because we were at work all day, we thought it would be nice to get him a wee brother/cousin (since Gibbs is my nephew and all…..its confusing) to keep him company while we’re out. So….enter Spenser to the family.

 

Meanwhile, I had applied for and been successful in getting a place at this years Loch Ness Knit Fest so I was trying to dye up yarn for that, but its really difficult to do anything when you’ve 2 Westies sitting on you!

Fast forward to yesterday when I realised just how close we are until we head to Inverness, and the small mountain of yarn sitting on my kitchen floor to be dyed! (don’t worry, its clean!)

Queue panic stations! Pots were thrown onto the cooker, big trays were filled and dye powder filled the air –  by the time I stopped last night I had barely made a dent.

This is the fruits of yesterdays labours – some old colourways and some new. All still need labelled and tidied.  There’s another batch of coourways in drying at the minute and the kettle is just coming to the boil for the next lot.

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Of course, while all this madness is going on, two little dogs are demanding my attention, my pizza and most likely my biscuits when I get around to making myself tea!

So, if you want to see just what will be on offer from Secret Stash then check out our etsy shop here. It is continually being updated with all the lovely skeins so check back regularly.

 

Time for tea.

We’ve got the whole world in our hands

Saturday the 9th June was Worldwide Knitting in Public Day, and in thousands of locations globally crafters were taking up their projects and joining in.

Belfast Stitch and Bitch was no exception. This year our event was in the Dock, an honesty box cafe in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter. We are regulars there and it’s our second home after Starbucks. It was a special year as the group is celebrating its 10th anniversary and the celebratory pattern book was to be distributed and sold.

Nikki was our organiser and as the day got closer we were tempted with images of ballot prizes and promises of lemon drizzle buns. The event was due to start at 12.00, but a number of us were so excited we were beating the door down at 11.00.

After a frantic 20 minutes of moving tables, labelling prizes, setting up the book stand and launching up our brand new pop up we were ready for business.

It was a great day with over 20 crafters and their children ranging from 3 months to 16 years around the table. Crafts ranged from knitting, crochet and embroidery to spinning. The book was admired and purchased and us canny folk who had preordered even got a goodie bag and a badge.  We love a badge!

The buzz around the table was great and before too long, patterns, yarn, stories, Sharon’s magic dip and the lemon buns were being passed around. The unlikely hit of the afternoon was the raffle / ballot / tombola? Nikki had gathered a wide variety of prizes and we all had our eye on something special (number 16 – merino baby kit). With the odds at a one in five chance we were all keen to take part. After a slow start with only a few prizes won we all felt our chances had improved and a veritable frenzy resulted. Speaking personally my children will be living on beans all week due to my determination to win number 16 (which I eventually did). Helen won the coveted ball winder and Ruth got vouchers for no one but two yarn bundles.

Eventually the afternoon drew to a close and old friends and new drifted away and WWKIP day was over for another year. We left tired, but very happy and our minds turing to where our yarn adventures will take us next….

A big weekend

This Saturday is a big weekend for crafters everywhere – its World Wide Knitting in Public Day! While last years WWKIPD was all kinds of funs, this year we thought we’d do something different.

This years event is a double whammy! On one hand, its all about the knitting and crocheting and on the other, its all about Knit 10 Together –  yup, we’re combining WWKIPD and a book launch!

eurpoeThis Saturday we’ll all be heading to The Dock Café for lots of tea and crafting from 12 -5 so even if you can drop in for a few minutes we’d love to meet up with you.

 

 

As for this mysterious book launch, its taken on a life of its own (my fault really, lol)  You can get yourself a copy on the day for the princely sum of £10  Here’s a sneaky peek at the cover . If you’ve preordered your copy then yours will be ready and w18879881_10154737594523727_618194383318686984_oaiting for you 🙂

As well as all this, we’ve put together quite an excellent raffle/tombola type thing – pay your money and pull out  a raffle ticket. If your ticket corresponds to a number on a prize then you win. Simples.

So what have we? Well…. we have yarny and non yarny prizes from the following kind folks:

Parlour Yarns, Dye Candy, Mina Loves Designs, Secret Stash, Mourne Archery Centre, NI Big Sock  and Ewe Momma Knits to name but a few.

I’ll be showcasing the prizes every day this week on facebook so go check out the Event Page!

Knitting together for 10

The buzz in Belfast city centre was not all about the marathon today.  It also marked the 10th anniversary of Belfast Stitch and Bitch.  We returned to our usual haunt of the Victoria Square Starbucks and were spoiled by the staff with sandwiches, cake and lots and lots of tea.

Never a group to do things by half, a plan was launched several months ago to mark the anniversary in style with the creation of our very first pattern book. Patterns from a range of knitters and crocheters, Nikki, Sharon, Anja, Nicky, Suin and Jaele are included and there is something for everyone. So if a bunneh is your thing or your more of a gauntlet kind of gal get on to Nikki to order your book and goodie bag (ropeadope_ie@yahoo.com).

The book costs a very competitive £10 and the book with goodie bag is only £15. They will be available for collection on our holy day 10th June (worldwide knitting in public day) or they can be posted for a small fee.

But Belfast SNB is much more than high days and holidays – the last ten years have been filled with fibre, fellowship and fun.  This powerful group of (mainly) women have supported each other through births, deaths and marriages, as well as divorce, unspeakable bosses, unreasonable landlords and much much more. Members know that on a Wednesday there will be a listening ear and a sympathetic shoulder as well as a willing audience to share the more lighthearted events of week. Sometimes it’s just enough to pitch up and craft quietly knowing that there are good friends around you. My mother once noted (not entirely ironically) that I had knit my way out of two nervous breakdowns!

So if you are looking for a haven from the hustle and bustle of the world and a forum to share your most outrageous stories (nothing is off the table at SNB), come along and join us for the next 10 years.

Snowballs

Something is coming.

Excitement is in the air.

The anticipation is building.

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Facebook group members are being bombarded with silly pictures of excited things, a bit like the above really, but this is  because we are celebrating our 10th birthday. Yes, 10 years ago this month a few friends met up to knit, and it snowballed from there.

10 years is pretty huge, I mean, who would have thought that we’d still be going strong!We’ve had plenty of people through our doors, some came for a night and some came and stayed forever. Its not a group of knitters anymore, it’s a family meet up every week.

And this family is a little bit crazy.

Back in January….or February, we were having one of our excited “what if” chatting sessions and talking about our birthday.  “What if we did something special”, “what if we designed a pattern for our birthday”, “what if we ALL designed a pattern” and this is where it snowballed.

Quick as a flash, we had a core group of designers (new and old hands) and a bunch of testers working furiously on the designs. Whatsapp was red hot with a dedicated chat just for this crazy idea, Jaele was being bombarded with emails with patterns in them that she had to format, meetings were held and the deadline was looming.

Because, ladies and gentlemen, we decided that the best way to celebrate our special birthday was to publish our very own pattern book.  Yes, you read that right, a book!!

We’ve put together a collection of patterns that we hope will appeal to a range of crafters –  we’ve got crocheted and knitted patterns, with colourwork, beads and the cutest toys.

I have to say that, even though I may have contributed to it, I’m EXTREMELY proud of what our little crafting community has managed to put together, not just for us but for the whole of the Belfast Stitch and Bitch community. You may not have been able to join us on a Wednesday or a weekend knitting session, but your presence in the Facebook and Ravelry groups means a lot.

 

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I hope I’ve managed to whet your appetite!

We’ll be hosting a Preliminary Viewing of the book and its contents:

Date: 1 May 2017

Time: 11-3

Where: Starbucks Victoria Square

Come and join us for a spot of crafting time and see what we’ve put together! At the viewing we’ll be taking pre-orders so you’ll be guaranteed a copy. You’ll also have the option of paying a little bit more for a goodie bag if you wish.

More information will be coming out on Facebook over the next few days….have to keep you all keen!  (But if you can’t make the preview and want to get a your hands on a copy, just email me: ropeadope_ie@yahoo.com and I’ll add you to the list)

Today I wrestled an octopus

Well, not quite, but that’s what it feels like.

A few weeks ago I went to visit my friend in Munich (as I have told everybody who wants to listen and quite a few who don’t).  Being a good friend she had organised a tour of local yarn emporia.  In one shop I spied a large cone of the jersey material used for making baskets and similar.  I had previously fondled this ‘yarn’ in the Glen Gallery and said that when I lost two stone I would buy one as a reward.  Well pants to that, at the rate I am shedding pounds the yarn would have decomposed before I even got to buy it.

So having given up the straight path and narrow gate I grabbed a beguiling blue cone of the yarn and took it to the till.  I then realised I needed a hook, so I entered into a lengthy pantomime of waving and shouting at the poor shop assistant.  My German accent would not have been out of place in an episode of ‘Allo Allo’. Eventually the shopkeeper correctly interpreted my dance macabre and solemnly handed me a size 12 hook.

I carried my prizes back to Ireland where, like many previous skeins it sat on the shelf for a number of weeks until last night.  I had visions of rapidly whipping up a few baskets to house mother’s day presents.  Humph! The combination of the comedy size hook and the very bouncy yarn meant I got myself into a terrible muddle. Instead of a tasteful artisan receptacle waiting to be filled with goodies, I am in possession of a shambolic blue net which would not be out of place on a trawler catching the now endangered hake.

However, I will not be giving up, otherwise I will have to lose that two stone in order to buy the next skein I have my eye on!

 

 

 

It’s all a little bit crazy

Is it just me, or has everyone and everything gone a little bit crazy this year?

I know its only the start of March, but I’m sitting here thinking about the things the knitters are doing this year….and the things we’ve done in the past. It seems that we can’t sit for 10 minutes without thinking of a new adventure to embark on.

Take me for example. Last year I knitted a lace shawl. I don’t knit lace. I don’t knit shawls. Yet I somehow managed to combine the two last year for a wedding….then left it languishing in the back of the car because it needs tweaked.20160812_091855_LLS.jpg

And now this year, I’ve been to a crochet class! I actually think I did ok, just need to remember that corners exist in the world of crochet and they’re important so the square doesn’t become a circle!

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See! Things I wouldn’t normally do, I’m doing them!  Don’t tell anyone, but I quite liked the crochet (except for the pesky corners) and reckon I could manage a cushion cover or something.

So, besides crossing over to the dark side of the craft, we’re in the process of planning activities to celebrate our 10th birthday in April.  So far we’ve a group heading to Newcastle for some archery, we’re organising a wee retreat and a Dublin day – all the things knitters love.

Knitters also love yarn….and this weekend a whole bunch are heading off to Edinburgh to spend a ton of money on beautiful yarns, accessories and drop spindles. Those of us left behind will just have to cry into our stash…..or buy a new one.

On Saturday I will down at the Odyssey/SSE Airticity Arena for the Dock Market. I will have lots of pretty hand dyed yarn with me, and there will also be pretty project bags – treat yourself!!!!

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