In My Spare Time…

Ok, so I don’t have a lot of spare time. But when I do have a few hours to kill, I like to sew. I like to quilt, make clothes, design costumes, whip up gifts (toys, baby accessories, notebook covers, etc.), and create bespoke bags. Bags for all kinds of occasions, like nappy bags, shopping totes, book bags, backpacks, and, of course, project bags. I’m obsessed with project bags. Of all sizes and shapes.

Lately, I’ve been making small project bags perfect for those smaller, on-the-go projects. The projects you want to pop in your purse, carry with you on the bus, sneak in a few rows before that meeting starts, and bring to social events where you might be at risk of DOING NOTHING. The horror. Seriously.

Anyway, these bags are great for socks, hats, shawls, mitts, cowls, scarves, baby knits, toys, wristwarmers, leg warmers, and anything else you can think of.

There are bags with cats, and bags with flowers. Bags with prints and bags with patterns. And more bags with cats. You can’t have too many bags with cats.

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Each bag has a handle for easy carrying, a drawstring and toggle closure, and are lined. Some have a little clip to attach notions, your keys, or other small items. These are currently for sale wherever Secret Stash is sold, or you can request a custom jobbie or check out more of my stuff through my Facebook page, A Million Paper Stars.

I’m especially fond of these new ones featuring The Walking Dead. I mean come ON. They’ve got ZOMBIES on them!

So, who wants to knit for the zombie apocalypse with a matching bag featuring said apocalypse?! I think I’ve hit my nerd-vana. ❤

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

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!

New (ad)venture! 

I’ve never really been one for new year’s resolutions… But as soon as 2016 ended.. I just felt like a complete life overhaul was in order! 

It is time. The babies are getting more independent (they work as a team to raid the treat cupboard.. They range from 1-5!!) it’s time to start doing something for me!

An idea had been brewing for a while though…

I guess it all started when a planned day out at a dye course held by a fine fish yarns fell through. (Yes I was absolutely gutted!) My clever husband bought me everything I needed to have a go myself!! 

Well.. Let me tell you.. A passion was born!!


(punk princess)

I just could’nt stop! 


(squall)

The only logical thing was to set up shop… Otherwise.. Well.. I’m a rather slow knitter.. And the house is coming down with wool as it is! But if the worst case scenario is I have an immense ‘perfect-for-me’ stash.. Sure it’s a win-win isn’t it??

​(toxic banana and TMNT)

But I really hope you love what I do, as much as I love doing it! 

The Etsy shop is underway… Come follow me on instagram (@bearinsheepsclothing) for updates if you so wish! And keep an eye out for this symbol…


(credit to the awesome quirky cupcake art for the logo!!)

Here endith the shameless self-plug!

Thank you and goodnight! Xo

Christmas guilt.

My post is late.. And I’ll tell ye why… 

(I swear this happens every year!)

I decided I wasn’t going to do any knitting for family. Do they REALLY appreciate it? Are they just pretending? I was already knitting 3 gifts for swaps. (knitting for fellow knitters who WILL appreciate it!) But then… The christmas guilt set in! 

I’d been telling the kids about the icelandic yule lads… And the christmas cat (who eats children if they don’t get clothes at Christmas!) and I knew as soon as I said it I had to knit them something squishy for under the tree! So now I have a week to knit a colourwork hat for my eldest, a frog for my wee girl (I’ve knit her a jumper already.. And she’ll get pj’s for under the tree ;-)) and think of something for the baby…


Wish me luck! I’ll need it!

Caught Red Handed.

Don’t worry, I have not murdered anybody. (Yet. But that’s a story for another time…)

What I am referring to is not the untimely demise of somebody who got on my nerves (that’s what Nair in Shampoo is for…), but rather the fact that I went, together with our dear Helen, to Whitehead this past Saturday, to attend a Yarn Dye Workshop. Of course, the gloves our lovely Terri provided were useless (I blame my hands, though, not the gloves.) and I ended up with the heel of my hand turned bright blue.

Naturally, my reaction to this was to forego the gloves entirely and just dip my hands into the dye directly when I went on to the next colour. With results everybody seemed to find quite entertaining.

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I suppose they had a reason…

The resulting yarn? Behold:

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These two are laceweight. There is a third skein in sock weight, but I did not yet take a picture of it.

 

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This mini was used to test the intensity of the colours. And then I threw some green at it. Because reasons.

And because Terri is a lovely person, she does not only offer a local pick-up option when you order yarn from her, she also brings it for you if you end up seeing her at a workshop.

Which means sometimes, you get to go home with 7 (and 1/5) skeins of yarn, but only have to pay for 3. (Well, you would have paid for the others earlier, but who’s paying attention?)

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The Psychological Benefits of Knitting.

The Psychological Benefits of Knitting.

Crafting is a vital personal development tool.

What do I mean by personal development Tool?

Personal development covers activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance the quality of life and contribute to the realisation of dreams and aspirations.
In this definition knitting is a skill that furthers your own quality of life.
It takes time to accomplish anything with your own hands. You need to learn the skills of creation first.

How many of us remember the struggle it took to create our first item? It was not an instant success, no matter how proud we were of it.

Then, when we had the skill to create an item of beauty and usefulness then we start into the core topic I wish to address here.

The big thing about knitting (and other crafting,) that people forget is that it requires consistency and attention, loyalty and more than a little reliability.

To create something useful and beautiful we need to stay with the project long enough to see it to completion. This requires a steadfast devotion to said project.

If you abandon the project halfway through, it will just take up space and materials and wastes the effort you put into it before.

If you leave a project, dazzled by the latest technique, or the newest supply then again your time and effort and space is wasted.

To be a good knitter/crafter you need to stay focused on the project in hand and complete it fully. Doing this also improves your focus and attention in your non-crafting life.

The psychological benefits of knitting means that your own relationships with other projects will improve, you will find yourself accomplishing more goals and being more patient with the length of time others take to complete a task.

You will garner an appreciation of handmade items and the effort it takes to create unique items. You will be less wasteful of you own resources and those of others.

You may even find you are a better companion because you have a greater empathy for your peers, as you understand the effort it requires to do anything well.

The simple mindfulness of the process in crafting can impact your entire life. By slowing down, learning a process from the simplest steps you can see beauty and revel in the accomplishments you achieve.

Instead of rushing on to the newest greatest thing, you will find yourself sitting, enjoying what you have right in front of you and being proud of what you can do.

You may find, as you keep creating, that your memory and focus improve as well.
Heather Ordover of Craftlit has created a wonderful project on http://cognitiveanchoring.com/ that discusses the psychological benefits of knitting and other crafting on memory retention.

By being loyal to a project, by learning something new, you will find yourself growing as an individual.

Stephanie Pearl-McFee wrote a great book about this topic, you can find it here on Amazon·

So while the newest pattern comes out or the pretty yarn is dyed by your favourite indie-dyer, remember the project you have already committed to.

Your time is worth while and the project you are working on is making you a better person.

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#neverenoughshawls. Is there though??

I have to question this hashtag. I thought I completely concurred… Shawl knitting is the perfect way to use up those gorgeous single skeins.. The ones that tempt and whisper, the ones you don’t need but you can’t live without, the ones that are way to pretty to hide in your shoes! for example…


Though as I mentally prepare/knit/pack/write a shopping list for EYF2017, I find myself wondering… Is there really never enough?


I know right?! Its a modest enough horde! I mean.. Stephen and ysolda have over 200 shawls! (storage?!? Washing/blocking?!? Terrifying.) But I feel I have a broad spectrum of styles and colours.. I also have 3 on the needles (2 big lacey beaded boo’s and another westknits MKAL) and I find myself always wearing the same 2 shawls! 
There’s another hashtag that resonates more with me these days.. But I’m not qualified to use it yet.. #handmadewardrobe.

I have (thanks to my dublin stash aquisition!) 4 sweater/jumper quantities in my stash (albiet short sleeved ones.. Or vests!)


(There is another skein of the A fine fish yarns Siren (my spirit colourway!) in a project bag with the needles and pattern to become a spritz stripes by Carol Feller)

I know, I know. That yellow is going to do me no favours.. But €12 for 10 balls of merino?! And I was thinking a colourwork mini skirt! (Get me!)

 So yeah.. I think I’m taking a shawl knitting haitus. Lets see how many garments I can knit before March.. I’d be happy with one! 😉

Shetland Wool Week 2016

My post on Shetland Wool Week! 😀

A Million Paper Stars

This year, I had the amazing (somewhat last minute) opportunity to visit the Shetland Islands during Shetland Wool Week. This amazing wool festival celebrates knitting, spinning, and other fibre textiles as well as the truly fascinating community and history of Shetland. One of my dear friends moved to Shetland over the summer, and part of her research revolves around the knitting community so it just seemed a perfect excuse – I mean chance  – to go visit.

Getting to Shetland may seem daunting, but actually, the ferry was quite luxurious. I flew to Aberdeen in the afternoon and boarded the ferry in plenty of time to set sail at 7pm.

One of the first things I saw when I set foot in Lerwick was all the rainbows! They were everywhere! Bottom right is a picture of the famous Clickimin Broch.

After a ‘peerie’ hot chocolate at the Peerie Shop Cafe, which…

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