I hang my head in shame…

Not only did I fail to finish the thing I initially meant to blog about, but I forgot to blog entirely. Instead, let me briefly tell you the story of my Saturday.

I got out of bed. So far, so good.
Went grocery shopping, because I had nothing in the house. Then proceeded to have pie for breakfast while watching Fresh Prince.

Then, finally, I sat down and began what I had planned to do: Make a couple of project bags. Having managed two of the same type, I was quite pleased with myself…

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So I thought, hey, why not keep going??? So I cut out some more fabric, pulled another zip, and kept stitching.

And then my needle broke.

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Working down my Queue

I am a very impulsive crafter, I adore the process of making, and nothing thrills me more than learning a new technique or skill.
Noting those key things about me you’d not be surprised to find I don’t often make doubles of anything. Once a skill is mastered, a technique learned, or a unique item created I no longer feel the need to make it again.

But this year I am crafting with purpose, as I mentioned in an older post I am trying to finish all the half forgotten projects and make room for all the ideas in my head.

I’ve done quite well with this plan and now I need to look at that pesky queue I have on Ravelry.

It seems there were things on there that took my fancy ages ago but because I am so mercurial in my patterns (when I don’t plan) my tastes and skills have changed dramatically from the time I put the patterns on the list.

So I had to do a quick clean up of what I knew I’d never work on, and then go through my collection of patterns and choose some things I actually do wish to work on.

I also assigned deadlines to each project so that I can not allow myself to be distracted by the new and shiny patterns or techniques I see. So I will be accountable and that in itself will make sure I stay on track.

Plus it will give me an excuse to use up the project planning stickers I have.


Slowly but surly I will master the appearance of being a capable and accomplished crafter, and as my best friend always used to say ‘Fake it till you make it.”

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)

Create-a-fun

This past Saturday morning, I left my house to join fellow Belfast Knitters, Weavers, (Fibre-)Artists of all sorts, really, at the Ulster Museum for a great day of showing off  our Arts & Crafts.

Since there’s a couple of shared members, and because we could, Belfast Stitch’n’Bitch paired up with the Ulster Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers for the event, in order to display the process from the fibre to the spun singles, to the plied yarn, to crocheted/woven/knit items of any and all shapes and forms.

Add other crafty and/or cultural ventures such as the Big Sock NI, as well as a little additional entertainment like dancing, comedy and music, and you have yourself a fabulous day.

And yes, if anything similar is going on in Belfast, the chances that at least some of us can be found there are high… ;P

The Taco and Spinning Party

I had a birthday not too long ago, and because as any good crafter knows, a celebration isn’t a celebration without a healthy dose of crafting involved, I hosted one of my infamous Knitting Parties.

Tacos was the elected food theme for the day, so I fired up my slow cooker and made the very simple and very lovely Stupid Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken , diced some taco veg, heated some taco shells; made my Dill Salsa, and because I can’t have a Knitting Party without my Greek Dip, (though I make my own seasoning as the prepackaged one in this recipe doesn’t exist in the UK.) I made some of that as well.

My youngest son choose the cheeses for the, again required, cheese board, and then prepped the tea pot for guests to arrive.

People arrived with yarn, and projects a plenty, but what had happened organically was everyone who had a spinning wheel brought theirs as well! (People also brought awesome cakes and pavlovas as well! BONUS!)

So we set up in the biggest open space we had (in front of the food) and had a mini spinning party.

The more experienced Spinners held us baby Spinner’s by the hand as we learned to treadle, to draft, and relax our grips.

We got to try different wheels to see which style suited each of us better, (and I am now lusting after a double treadle conversion kit for my wheel), and witnessed how fantastic one of our members is for learning to spin on her warped antique double drive.

The event went down quite well as everyone at lots of food, drank much tea, and had a good gossip.

The day was a great success and I have even plyed our singles into a rather fetching bit of yarn.

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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Because I Like A Challenge…

When my good friend Julie told me that her sister was expecting twins after a long and difficult battle with IVF, I was ecstatic for her. Ecstatic for Julie to become an auntie, and over the moon for her sister. So naturally, I designated myself Chief Knitter for the babies.

Well that was several months ago. I had a plan, I really did. I had a timetabled, detailed scheduled plan. I knew what projects to knit, which yarn to use, I even had them dug out of my stash and awaiting cast on. So I don’t really have any excuse for why I let the days slide by without really even realising. Oh sure, you could say I had a lot on my plate, with three kids of my own, starting nursing school, finishing a book, and organising a few projects for our Belfast SnB group, along with my volunteering commitments and arty farty stuff like exhibitions to help out with, submit work to and commissions to stitch. But really, there’s no excuse. I’m just plain disorganised. So to say I was a little shocked when I found out the babies are due to be born in hospital THIS WEDNESDAY is an understatement.

So that is why we find ourselves – well, me anyway – frantically knitting the final cuff on a baby sweater at 10.30pm on a Monday while my youngest dozes next to me on the sofa. I’ve chosen the pattern Vertebrae by Kelly van Niekirk, and I’ll pair the sweater with a hat of my own design. And because there are twins, I’ll need duplicates of both.

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I’ve chosen Drops Baby Merino in navy and lime for the boy, and navy and pale pink for the girl. So they’ll be coordinating rather than identical sweaters. (This is partly for my own sanity, and partly because I believe twins should always be allowed a little of their own identities to blossom individually, out from under the vague designation of ‘the twins’. But I digress.)

I’ve been carrying this project with me all last week, and I hope to finish the first cardigan tonight. I even knit a few rows on my walk home.

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So if you see someone walking at a clip (probably late to my next class) whilst knitting busily and trying to remain tangle-free from my working yarn (which will likely be spilling out of my bag), you’ll know why. And hopefully the next time I update, it’ll be to show off my gorgeous knitting being worn by two beautiful and very loved little babies.

Planning my crafting

Everyone is talking about cast on mania, and I am here looking at my current works in progress and wishing I had the needles spare for some casting on.

Wishing I also was able to create as fast as I think. (Making a pullover for a plus sized body in sock weight yarn is NOT a speedy knit.)

So to tide myself over I have made a very strict queue of what I am allowed to cast on and when.

See, I wasn’t kidding about the amount of WIPs I have on the go. I have 4 crocheted blankets on the go, two jumpers (sweaters to you North Americans), two pair of sock, several shawls or scarves, one hat, a quilt, and three embroidery hoops on the go.
This is not including the test knits, and machine knitting projects that are languishing in various corners of the place.

To get through these I have set myself days of the week to work on projects of a similar theme.

Mondays: Crochet Projects (CAL’s that were abandoned being first.)

Tuesdays: Quilting, I have many many hexagons to sew together. Not as many as our Anja and her Insanity Quilt, or our dear friend doing the NIBig Sock, but I have a quilt’s worth.

Wednesday: Well this is easy, we get together on Wednesdays so I bring my favourite project to hang out and chill with my gals.

Thursday: This is usually my admin day, so I don’t have much time off the computer, but during running the children to piano to drama I can do a round or 7 on a sock.

Friday: I fire up the knitting machine and continue on the charity blankets we make for the SOS Bus, of if I am finally low on charity stash, then I will pick up some hand knitting and keep going.

Saturday: Simple and fun, Saturdays are either family days of board games and movies, or I hang out with the ladies for a cheeky Saturday so I want a simple and fun project to keep me going.

Sunday: Embroidery, I’ll break out the hoop and an audiobook and pretend I’m a Regency style heroine doing some work while my paramour reads out loud to me (when in fact he is usually blowing up zombies or aliens or something in the man cave,).

So that is my week of crafting timetable, and seeing as it is Monday now, I should have my hook in hand instead of typing this.

Off I dash!

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