Monday, March 19, 2012

A brand new FUNdraiser!

I always did like maths.

last night I sat down and worked out that, if we take the €85 raised so far since the project began, that I wasa going to be about €160 behind by the end of the year.

Now, the Guinness people rejecting the World Record Attempt (on grounds of being "too specialised", which is fair enough) meant there was one less fundraiser this quarter, but even so, behind is behind.

As it stands, I worked out that I need to be raising €10.93 a week for the rest of the challenge period in order to hit the target. That's an achievable amount still, but I'd rather get ahead fairly quickly.

I do have a small, quick FUNdraiser in the works (more on that when it's ready to go - don't want to spoil the surprise!) but in the meantime, we've kicked off a larger-scale project that's going to last until June.

We've managed to secure permission to "Yarnbomb" a building for Worldwide Knit in Public Day (Tuesday, 12th June)

In keeping with the spirit of more traditional 'yarnbombing' the location will not be revealed until the time, but, as we're doing this to raise money for good causes, we have made particularly sure to get permission of the current building manager.

This is a chance to get involved and help to fantastic causes: Dogs For The Disabled, Ireland & The Cultural Quarters.


Here's how to play:

* Knit, or crochet (or any other yarn-craft for that matter - we already have a needlefelter on board!) a piece (or as many pieces as you like) - squares, triangles, and rectangles are good shapes, but we'll take all comers (and all levels of ability)

* Measure your piece and donate 10c (€uro-cents) per square inch of work that you'd included. (Nearest metric equivalent would be 20 €uro-cents per 5 square centimetres) - ideally to the PayPal account we have put by for the project, but if you can't do PayPal, we'll sort something.

* Send in your piece(s) by Friday, 8th June for inclusion in the piece. (Message me for posting address). Remember to include a note with your email address on it.

What you will get out of it:

* A certificate of participation after the event and a photo of your work in-situ emailed to you (include your email of choice with your submission).

* A name credit online publicly thanking you for your participation.

* A warm, fuzzy feeling from helping two very deserving causes!

If you'd like to join in, you can join us:

* Yes, there's an event and a group - it's confusing I know - and that's my fault I'm afraid. I set it up as an event, but it's actually going to need a group to enable us to converse properly, add photos and tallies etc. - Sorry about that!

We're open for submissions as soon as you like, so come on in and join the fun if you can! - If you don't yarn craft, then please spread the word (and the group link) to as many people as you can think of - it's a pretty big building!

February & March-to-date round-up

A lot of things happened through February and March - for one thing, we both had flu, followed by a big audition each. (Turns out Christophe was too tall for his audition and I've not had the result of mine back yet) So a lot of things have got so that I can't keep an accurate tally on individual projects and crafts and that is why they're no longer being kept track of in the sidebar.

However, the Murder Mystery became a big focus for February and March, so I thought you guys would like to see a photo of the wonderful cast:

The evening was a great success and raised €80 each for The Cultural Quarters (who also kindly hosted the rehearsals and performance) and D4D.

We were very lucky to have a personal appearance by some of the Melia family who's elder boy, Luke, is already in a partnership with D4D's Aidan, a five-year-old Golden Retriever.

Here we see both Luke and brother Oisin solving the crime in the "buffet car" of the Disoriented Express.

While we're about it, in case you're not already familiar, Luke and Oisin have been excluded from school since January because of Luke's partnership with Aidan.

You can learn all about the story of this idiotic, unnecessary and UNJUST case (in my humble opinion it boils down to certain adults bullying this child on the basis of his disability - but you should read and make your own minds up) by checking out:


...but, to better things - Two new FUNdraisers are beginning to take shape. More on this shortly!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

"Rumours of my death have been hugely exaggerated!"

Well, I bet you thought I dropped off the planet didn't you?

No no - things a-plenty arer happening this end. It's just been SOOO busy that I haven't had a chanc to update.

I'm gathering piccies etc though and will be updating the blog and photo album soon!

Are you guys ready to start Summer? (Vernal Equinox in 3 days) It's promising to be a fantastic one already!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Saturday, 14th January: Day 14 & Week 3

Well, what a funny week it's been! - We've had the dreaded lurgy in our house. I don't know if any of you have had a dose of this that's going round, but I really hope you don't get it!
Whatever it is this viral thing, it manifests in an odd way. When you're sitting down and quiet and resting, you're fine, but the minute you stand up or get too active, you get very, very hot and dizzy. Fortunately both of us got rid of the guts of it pretty quickly, but unfortunately it did trigger my vertigo for the past few days, which has been most unpleasant and led to my taking a tumble down our stairs yesterday. So all in all it's been a pretty frustrating week with not as much productivity as I'd like, but then, it could always have been worse - so we have been very lucky!

First up this week, was a draught excluder for the main door of the Cultural Quarters. There is a bit of a gap there and Tracy's keen for us to make it even more warm and cosy now that the door opens in to the tearoom.

For draught excluders generally, I tend to favour the 'swiss roll' method, from one single piece, but Glenn found some old, reclaimable foam in the back shed, so the task has become to put a sort of 'sleeve' on it, with wings at each end so that we can nail it to the back of the door, so that it doesn't have to be lifted whenever anyone comes in or out. Per a suggestion from Janet, we may also add cotton-reel wheels.

Here's a picture of the work in progress:

These two next images are lacy, fingerless hand-warmers I made for Olivia, to go with the amazing hat she made last week.

The lacy effect comes from knitting DK Yarn on oversize needles (in this case, 8mm). This rainbow yarn lent itself very well to this style.

I'm happy enough for this pattern (which is my own) to be used for personal purposes, on condition that anyone who wishes to use it should please make a donation to Irish Dogs for the Disabled here:
The pattern will be available in my etsy shop and on from later tonight.

On Wednesday, we had a stroke of VERY bad luck. - In a bizarre administration error at their end, the telephone company managed to take over ten times the amount we were paying on our transaction this week.

Fortunately for us, they acknowledged their mistake the same

day and are going to pay us back our money. Sadly though, this will take them (depending on who you talk to up there) either "2-3 working days" (Thursday) or "3-4 working days" (Friday)

As if proof were ever required of the Law of Attraction in operation, wee Olivia was showing a customer her hat on Thursday afternoon and he commissioned a similar one for himself on the spot. Wee Olivia of course, is getting 10% as a commission for herself, as she was effectively the reason for the sale and €5 from it will go to Dogs for the Disabled Ireland, so hooray! - that's the first 1% towards this year's target for fundraising - I'm almost dancing with glee!

The two images to the right are from this project.

The top one of the two, I took to show you how I come to decisions when working with blended wools. In this instance, the gentleman wanted "blues - something bright, but not too bright" and I happened to have some of the royal with me at the time and he said that he'd go for something that bright, but mixed with something else to tone it down.
Before I start knitting, if I want to check if the other shades I've selected will work, I pinch all the ends between my thumb and forefinger and then wind
the yarns (all at the same time) around my fingers as shown. It gives you a fairly accurate idea of how the yarns will behave and lay down while you're working them.

The second picture shows the completed piece (being worn at a fairly odd angle, but you can get the idea at least).

To finish up the week, here are two new stock items in my shop. Firstly another copy of the gents/unisex wristies/hand warmers that I made for Christophe and then for Sister's boyfriend...

...and then another hat I made just because I was enjoying the colour blend so much.

This one is deliberately asymmetric - the advantage of the band at the back allows either for better protection from the wind on your neck, or to accommodate 'hair up' styles easier.

This coming week will be another exciting one too!
First off, there's the Knotty Knitters next meeting on Tuesday from 11 at the Library, then, at the Cultural Quarters this week, as well as having a carpenter in volunteering his time, (for which we are incredibly grateful!) we have Burns' Night and our Comedy evening on Wednesday, featuring talents from as far afield as Buffalo, New York and as close to home as, well, Ballinamore.

...and then on Thursday, as well as the Cultural Quarters Knitting and Crochet club from 14.00, we're hosting a local Craftsy Meet-up for International Crafters Day from 10.00 running all day. (I'll post the poster up tomorrow).

Friday sees the inaugural meeting of the new "Sew and Tell" classes, also at the CQ and we round the week off with the Saturday Flea Market, before kicking next wweek off to a flying start with Al's Italian conversation classes, which start on the 30th.

For more from the Cultural Quarters, go to their blog at:

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday, 13th January: Day 13

Another splendiferous day down at The Cultural Quarters. Started work on a custom draught excluder for the main door. After which, I'm going to attempt a scarf in the O'Rourke tartan for Al (he's going to find a picture for me to work from.

At the same time, over the next few days, when I get my 8mm needles back (Olivia is borrowing them for the weekend - graduated to completely knitting on her own this afternoon, across the room no less!) I'm going to start work on an Aran Style jumper in machine washable (mixed fibre) yarn as a reward for our "Fund It" entry.

Will post pics of the draught excluder in a wee while.

In other news, I'm pleased and proud as punch that my suggestion of a name was one of the ones picked up for Irish Dogs For The Disabled's latest litter of puppies!

Meet Farah, three weeks and one day old today:

(this image belongs to Irish Dogs For The Disabled)

...namesake of Farah, who will be 12 next Tuesday:

(and this image is mine.)
This one was taken last Dec 25th.
Farah is herself, a retiree from the UK Guide Dogs programme, where she should've been a brood bitch, but was retired early due to a medical condition.
Her smile is in anticipation of getting to unwrap her present (pigs' ears)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thursday, 12th January: Day 12

Well, what a fabulous day we've had today!

We started on a high - an email from the Open University to say that Christophe will get the full amount of credit transfer from his old university when he starts with OU next month.

Today also saw the inaugural meeting of the new, supplementary knit & crochet club at the Cultural Quarters today. (by the way, I think I gave you the link to the blog wrongly in a previous post, that link again is:

The Knotty Knitters (Tuesdays from 11.00 in Ballinamore Library) are still going from strength to strength, but with the advent of the supplementary club on a Thursday afternoon, anyone who goes to the Yoga class, or who has teenies in toe etc, now also has the option of the drop-in/out on your own schedule sessions on a Thursday afternoon.
Don't let a lack of needles/yarn slow you down either - we can loan spares to beginners.

Here's a shot of our newest (and youngest) member, Olivia, daughter of our lovely Project Leader, sporting the hat she made this afternoon (She made the band of the hat herself and had minimal help with the crown) when she tried out knitting for the very first time today.
The colours are of her own design too - she worked in four colours over 8mm needles, with contrasting stitching in lilac and the tassle in black.

Well done Olivia!

Wednesday, 11th January: Day 11

Well, a day of slow progress in all areas today (a bit like walking in custard really) but progress nonetheless!

I haven't anything to 'show' per-sey for today yet, but some important groundwork has been done.

Today's achievements:

* Applied to the Guinness World Records to see if my record attempt idea and fundraiser are something they want to support (VERY scary process, but worth an ask - worst they can do is say 'no' - but I'm hoping they'll like the idea as much as we do!)

* Began work on my dream board.
This is something I've been too long thinking about and now must absolutely become physical.
I had THE most amazing experience last month - a (free) one hour workshop in self-discovery with the wonderful Helen Collins (Which I would whole-heartedly recommend to absolutely EVERYONE!) and the dream board is something we identified as an exercise that will be good for me.
It's an exercise that locks in with the "Law of Attraction", the principal of which is discussed in the very excellent movie "The Secret" which can be streamed online for free (Megavideo carry multiple versions and we've always found them to be very reliable and use them regularly)

* Began a poster for the new, afternoon knit club and another for the crafters day
(both at the Cultural Quarters, Thursdays from 14.00 and January 26th respectively)

...and for a final offering, I managed to snap, by chance, this very cute picture of Kleo and Christophe watching a documentary together earlier on.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Monday, 9th January: Day 9 & Tuesday, 10th January: Day 10

Again, a bulletin of several parts.

Firstly, the Knotty Knitters returned today from Christmas Vacation - YAY!

While a small meeting, everybody was on fine form and many have completed projects over the break and are about to start something new. For my part, I finished one of a pair of Gents wristies for the shop, and began the pair.

Also, Eugenie has given the nod for a second, complementary club, which will run Thursday afternoons, starting from 14.00 on a drop-in, drop-out basis, in the Cultural Quarters and will be open to all knitters and crocheters who want to come, whether they already go to Knotty Knitters or not. The Tearooms are also open during this time, so come on in and enjoy some stitching and socialisation.

The second piece of creativity for yesterday and today was, the creation of The Cultural Quarters' own blog, which is located here:
and will be the best place on the web to keep up with all the busy goings on in this fabulous new project right in the heart of Ballinamore.

Last, but by no means least, I did promise you a mini interview with dynamic project leader Tracy Murray, who is spearheading the whole Cultural Quarters development, and here it is:

* So, all this activity and excitement has the town buzzing. What exactly are we doing with the place?

We have been given a fabulous opportunity to open up this historic building as a place for everyone, a venue for arts, crafts, music, poetry, pretty much anything that people want (within reason). The main idea is to keep the centre of our town vibrant and to provide interest for both locals and tourists alike.

* You mention it's a historic building. Wasn't this the old police barracks?

Yes, in fact John McGahern's father was stationed here during that time. The premises were then taken over and operated by Deirdre as a bakery/cafe with a clothes shop above, then later it's returned to those roots with the vintage clothing shop and tearooms now both on the ground floor (with outdoor seating for the tearooms coming this spring) and it has also become an events space as well as the home of the Ballinamore Free Fringe Festival which launched last year.

* It really is great down here! (and anyone who's not already been in to look around and have the "grand tour") So how can people get involved?

There are so many ways that people can help. Broadly, these fit into two categories - material and non-material things that we need. This is our current wishlist:

Material items ~

  • Paint
  • Furniture (especially tables)
  • Plants
  • Money
Other, Non-Material Items ~

  • Ideas (we have the space, now lets use it. - Every suggestion within reason will be considered and we will support as many ideas as we can)
  • Plumber(s)
  • Gardeners
  • Skilled and Unskilled Volunteer pairs of hands

* Sounds great! When is all this taking place?

We're open every week, Tuesday - Saturday from 10.00 to 18.00 and at other times by arrangement.
Drop in any time or reach us through the Cultural Quarters' page on facebook or through our blog at

As each room gets finished, it will be up and operational. We currently have the Vintage Clothing Shop, the Tearooms, Antiques Shop and Reading Room all open. The events room upstairs is hosting the regular Saturday Flea Market (10.00 - 15.00) and is available to book at other times.

* That's a lot of things already. What are some of the other things we can look forward to?

  • Burns' Night (January 25th)
  • Craftsy Crafters Day Party (January 26th)
  • Flea Market every Saturday
  • Music and Spanish Classes with Leo
  • Italian Classes with Al
  • Textiles classes
  • Knitting Club
  • Poets' Breakfasts
  • Gigs (Music, Comedy,... you name it!)
  • Free Fringe Festival (Annually in August)
  • Astronomy Club
  • Spiral Scouts International (local level)
  • Spaces to curl up with a book or to study
  • Indoors and Outdoors spaces to enjoy a cuppa (outdoors coming later this spring)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Saturday, 7th January: Day 7 & Sunday, 8th January: Day 8

Well, what a madly busy weekend!

Alas and alack, not a huge amount of completion, but many chances for unbridled creativity, and dear reader, you'll be glad to hear that there where a couple of chances to at least do little bits!

What's more - one of those 'little bits' was tracking down the cable to the camera - can you believe it, it WAS in the cable drawer all the time - I must've been looking straight at it for half the week!

So here we are, some of this week in photos (and I'll be updating the Facebook album after this update)

This shot documents the evidence of the "creative process" - in this instance, Al and myself, working out which speed is best for mixing plaster by drill attachment...

Sure you'll agree, it was worth it for the finished product (more and better shots on the facebook album)

and a special footnote for this evening...

I thought maybe you guys would like to see the man behind the project (and me).

This is the lovely Christophe, with Mogwai (who, as you can see, believes that the Universe ends about 2" from Daddy). As well as being another seasoned performer and having formed the new 'Breffni Starwalkers', West Ireland's first astronomy club, (not to mention the one who makes everything tick!) Christophe is often extremely creative in his own right, but as a magician, it's impossible for him to share any secrets with us, we just have to sit back and enjoy the finished product at one (or more) of his forthcoming new shows from his own company, Trapdoor Entertainment...

Clicks for more information on:

The Breffni Starwalkers ~

Christophe Lombardi, Performer ~

Trapdoor Entertainment ~
or Tweet ~ @Trapdoor_Ent (#Trapdoor_Ent)

or to keep up with the Cultural Quarters ~

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday, 6th January: Day 6

Frustratingly, still no cable so no picture again (there's going to be about three days of catch ups when I do find it again!) but lots of fun was had today, down at the Cultural Quarters getting (literally) plastered.

Such fun!

Tomorrow sees us at the Ballinamore Flea market, so an exciting first outing for the new knitting back gifted by Mum - very exciting! :D

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thursday, 5th January: Day 5

Distressingly, I can't find my camera cable to upload today's picture :(

This afternoon was spent having SOOOOO much fun painting the wall in the (soon to be finished and operational) reading room of the new Cultural Quarters in Ballinamore. - That's right, the Arts Centre has it's new name - so exciting!!!

So, in absence (temporary) of today's picture, I offer you this:

it's the link to the facebook page where you can keep up with all the centre's news and photos.

Currently we already have the Vintage Clothing, Tearooms, Antiques Store and performance space up and running, Leo Torres' Music and Spanish lessons, with the regular Saturday Flea Market every week. We hope to add the reading room next week.

In the next wee while, we're hoping to add a sewing workshop space, a gallery and already pencilled for the various spaces, we have a whole host of meetings, special dates and club meets etc.

Tune in again tomorrow for an interview with Project Leader Tracy and (hopefully) some pics!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wednesday, 4th January: Day 4

Very brief update today as things did the "may you live in interesting times" thing and got away from us.

Have managed to put the south point on the throw and redesigned our book-keeping and budgeting system for today, so that's progress.

Will add a picture tomorrow.

One other titbit for today - Dogs for the Disabled are naming the first of this year's litter and for just €3.00 donation, everyone gets to nominate their favourite name.

I suggested "Farah" in honour of our Farah, now 12, who's a retiree Guide Dog pup from the UK.

You can read more about naming the seven wee girls and two boys, and see pictures at:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tuesday, 3rd January: Day 3

Light and Dark

- that seems to be very much the theme for today!

We got power for the first time today since 03.00 at around 14.00, only to loose it again from 17.00 - 20.00 and gone.
We're the lucky ones though - there are still 6000 homes in the ROI tonight & at least we have the fire whereas many of them have converted to electric/gas run off electric heat too.

So today has been gloriously low tech and has allowed for a variety of creative outlets. (Though today's horoscope advised taking a day off - just pottering around at home has to count)

Quick update on the watch situation - again it wasn't stolen in the night, but when I picked it up this morning, the little dowel fell off and completely vanished. I guess the weight of the clasp on it was too much. So as a theoretical exercise, I'm plotting some alternatives in my head today.
Other cranial creativity today has included development work on the first two fundraisers I want to do this year: A 3Ds night, my own invention. - Everybody shows up with 3Ds with them (namely Donation, Drink, Dessert) - we provide nibbly bits - nuts, crisps etc and then the "dinner" portion of the evening comprises everyone gets to taste as many puddings etc as they want. After that, we sell off the remaining desserts in takeaway tins for say 50c a throw, or gift them in exchange for an honesty box donation.
The second thing I want to do (which Christophe's said he will help with) is a murder mystery evening - so watch this space!


Today's bursts of outdoor creativity started with a 'Mystery Rose'. (left)

We already have our '50c Mystery Rose' the other side of the door - I brought it two winters ago and the woman in the shop only charged me 50c for it because she said it would never grow. It's flowered pretty much non-stop since and seems to be trying to decide whether to be a climber or a standard, or something in-between.

So when the next-door Pitbull pup, Archie, nicked my Rowan Tree Sapling that I was gifted for Yule and chewed it to death while we were away and no-one was looking, we headed out to the post--xmas sale at the garden centre (Ardcarne, in Boyle, Roscommon). Now they're brilliant all year round - one of the best I've ever known, but this time of year is particularly fantastic to be in any garden centre as they often reduce to virtually nothing the touch-and-go plants and as long as you're willing to take your chances you can get some real beauties!

This guy just took my fancy - we wanted something that would prickle young pup if he tries it on again - check! (I'm not into animal cruelty, but a bit of a self-inflicted prickle on the nose might just teach him to leave my plants alone!). He was on his own, alone and unlabelled at the end of the run of scrambler roses (my bet's on creamy with perhaps some pink, I'm not sure) and he reached out and grabbed me by the cardi, so that was that.

Incidentally, because people sometimes ask: I have no particularly special, scientifically proveable method with my touch-and-goes, but I am a huge believer in talking to plants (and trees and animals come to that) and so what I do do is I talk to the plant, ask it if it would llike to come home with me and explain that it will be given a nice patch and then has two choices - to grow or to die. I tend to talk to them on the way home and while planting them, all the while putting out loving thoughts to make them feel 'fussed'. Then I just talk to them and treat them as normal while I go about the place.

Next thing, was the Holly we had over the mantelpiece at Yule.
It was just about beginning to curl up a little at the edges and look a little dry, so the same procedure with that - thanked it for looking so pretty, offered it space in the garden and just pushed the sprigs in to a depth of 5-10cms (about 2-4 inches) depending on the size of the sprig.

Right about then, the power came back on and I got so distracted, I forgot to go back out and get a picture until it was almost dark (silly me!), so I popped out again with Christophe's head torch he uses for his astronomy and got this shot (left) - I'll try and remember to get another one in daylight tomorrow.


...and now, for the "piece de resistance" (sorry, I can't make the e-grave thing work on here!):

On the knitting front, this is the progress on the famous sofa throw.
With all the excitement with the on-again-off-again power, I forgot to find batteries for my camera, so this is once more taken on Christophe's video camera which doesn't do as much justice in colour unfortunately.

In the afternoon brown-out, I had a flash of inspiration.
Perhaps because I'd been reading about tonight's Quadrantid Meteor Shower (which promises to be AMAZING this evening - suddenly I had this thought that the next layer would look fabulous as a starburst!

I had hoped to finish at least the North, South, East, and West points as I'm normally pretty good at knitting without looking, but oddly enough, knitting in the virtually dark, with limited firelight is somehow harder (I'll have to practice!) so by the time my hands (and eyes) were saying "enough", I'd only done the North point, - still, I think that's rather an achievement - especially as Christophe says he had to wake me up in mid flow at one point as I had dosed off and the needles were still at it. . .

The cardinal points will all be in this same peacock-aqua. - It's not exactly in the colour scheme, but the gold I have for the other four points was looking like it might overpower the centre somewhat, so I decided to use a complimentary shade to balance it out.

Tune in again tomorrow for a likely shortened, but hopefully still jam-packed installment!

PS - I forgot an item off the original list, I'll add it back momentarily.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Monday, 2nd January: Day 2

Lots going on with the home front today.

Mondays are always special on the FLYlady programme, it's the "big" focus day on the home that sets the week going on the right foot.
For those not familiar with the FLYlady programme, I'm going to say, here and now - if you're a B.O. (Born Organised) person - someone whose ducks fly in a row without any, or with only minimal help, it probably won't make any sense to you, but for perfectionist S.H.E.s (Sidetracked Home Executives) such as me, it can be a life-changing Godsend!

If you haven't already and you think in any small measure the FLY (Finally Love Yourself) programme would be helpful to you, then you can jump right in over at
Actually, now is a very exciting time over there - this month's habits and everything just happen to be natural pause and restart points (though as FLYlady herself always says, just jump in right now, exactly where you are) and the page has recently had a facelift, so if you have been there before, pop back and have an explore of all the new stuff!

So yes, a large part of today has been a FLYlady "reboot" of upstairs. After all the madness of the festive season etc we're starting over again - see, even after nine-and-a-half years (in two weeks time) of following this excellent programme, life still sometimes requires a pause and reboot moment.
The one thing that I have learnt in all this time is, to accept and TRULY understand that sometimes a job doesn't get done all in one go and that is alright. - So while upstairs is not, this evening, completely perfect, I'm happy with the progress made.

Still, it was a very good opportunity to catch up on some music!
Personally, I love classical while I'm doing domestic stuff and this morning was no exception.

While my absolute favourite in these situations is Delius (particularly Songs From the Paradise Gardens) I try not too put Christophe through the same stuff all the time, so this morning I went rooting about for Mozart's Cello Concerto.
Isn't the new layout of YouTube difficult? Though I daresay we'll all get used to it in time.
Anyhow, having unfortunately found THE worst recording in the world of Elgar's Cello Concerto (I have to be in just the right mood for Elgar myself, otherwise his stuff can have me jumping right out of my skin if I'm not ready for it) I finally found a little gem in this recording of Jing Zhao playing the first movement of the Mozart: - it was positively fantastic!

To complement that, we also played some Rondo Veneziano (Christophe's go-to favourite for such settings), of which, the "Aria di Festa" is particularly good.

So that takes care of the 'music' portion of the day, onward to the creativity. (Incidentally, I got up this morning to find my watch EXACTLY where I'd left it - score one to Mammy:Kitten Nil!)

So this is this afternoon's offering (fore-shortened session due to a rather prolonged, but wonderful catching-up natter with my wicked, amazing friend Kim)
I'm afraid that the photo isn't brilliant today - I've just, this evening (after I could've done anything about it) discovered that it's right what they say about regular batteries and digital cameras - DEFINITELY a false economy!) so this picture will just have to hold it until I can take a better one.

As you can see, I've added the first border to yesterday's piece. I opted for a soft lilac in a "baby" type DK yarn on size 4mm needles. (Incidentally, if anyone has a reliable link for translating European and American sizes, please go ahead and pop it up - it's always coming up and I'm never quite sure).

In this instance, I've opted for adding the border straight to the previous block, rather than stitching them together - it's just a personal preference thing really, I'm not convinced to date that there's a huge amount between the two techniques as far as strength.
The one thing I did slip up on and had to remind myself of, so it may be useful to mention here was, if you're going to use this technique, where you're essentially picking up and knitting the cast-off (bound-off in American parlance) stitches, it's important to either leave a longer end on the cast-off, or start in the other corner of the cast-off row to prevent the cast-off stitches coming undone.
However, if like me, you slip-up and they do begin to come loose, the first rule of knitting comes into play: DON'T PANIC!
simply catch the loose stitches on the non-working needle and continue knitting along and nobody will ever know (unless you tell them). - Seriously, see if you can detect which corner it happened on with mine.
In fact, put your guesses in the comment section, where corner 1 is top left of the picture, corner 2 is top right, corner 3 is bottom left and corner 4 is bottom right - and then the first one who gets it right will have a prize!

So there we have it. Short and sweet as days go and with the Knotty Knitters (Ballinamore's Knit Club) not back until next Tuesday, tomorrow's creativity will have to be a little more home grown.

Now that gives me an idea . . .

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sunday, 1st January: Day 1

So, to kick us off, here's a picture taken in the new reading room at Murray's (as is, it will have a new name really soon) - what do you think?

I've got a full panorama of the room going up on Facebook as soon as I finish this post. You'll be able to see it at:

I'm including this shot because this is one of those spaces that just oozes creativity! - It's quite difficult to explain, but being in this space gives you tingles - almost crackles of some kind of creative static electricity. It would be hard not to be creative in this space. Which is extremely handy given that the various rooms are open for projects, as well as tea/coffee/cake from the vintage tearoom in front. There's also a flea market on every Saturday where crafters and artists can come to showcase (and hopefully sell) some of their wares.

We were up there this afternoon for a little drink to toast in the new calendar and the start of all the wonderful projects this space is affording for our town. It was a great afternoon with good company and great craic (fun, the Irish way). We even took some of the silver streamers from the party poppers and danced in the fizzy energy of the place. (That was wee Olivia's idea - it made me think at the time, while trying to work out how I would explain the whole feeling of the place to you, how interesting it is that children seem to have an instinctive 'feel' for these things and always seem to know the right way to respond to it.)

One of my aims for this year is to use my Teaching Certificate more. As soon as there are people interested, I'm going to be offering classes and one-on-one workshops in Textiles and related crafts from somewhere in here.


On the creativity front, I'm really chuffed to have managed to complete TWO small items today.

The first, was this adaption to my watch. (left)

Our littlest cat, Shadow, (below left) has had a thing for my watch for quite some time now and regularly steals it in the night. The upshot of which is, as of this morning, the strap was completely unusable through the sheer amount of being grabbed in kitty teeth and hauled about.

I removed the old yellow (my favourite) faux leather strap and upcycled the watch itself with this keyring fob to give (I hope) a slightly more durable piece that I can interchange between belt loops, or even attach to my bag strap or purse when I'm out and about.

Left is the man himself - our wee stowaway who we discovered had moved in when we got back from our summer trip.

We've established he's about the same age as our other kitten, Mogwai and was roaming ferrol having lost/left his Mum around 6wks. Now that he's been treated for the worst case of worms I've ever seen, he's healthy and happily become a part of the family and is now more at home in a cosy domestic setting than out roaming.

The second thing that I have made today doesn't look like anything very much does it? (above right)

It's actually the start of a much bigger piece I've been putting off for MONTHS now, on the grounds that I "can't justify time working on that because it's for me" (- a habit I plan to loose for good this year!)

We were given a new (to us)
three-piece-suite about four months ago. It's ridiculously comfortable, but as you can see in the background of the photo, it's a very, shall we say, 'particular' sort of colour scheme and pattern, as well as in some hidden away areas, really rather worn. (Not to mention we'd just finished redecorating the living room, with a predominant palette of plum and yellow-gold-ish) So the plan is, that I will gradually recover it.

Having played about with various ideas, we've settled on making large patchwork throws that will either remain loose, or may be fixed in place to cover the suite.
The reason we're opting for patchwork, is that we have large blocks of colour on each wall, so any more big blocky colours would start looking wrong in our small room, so the patchwork will be made of very small pieces, in varying shades of both purple and yellow, to complement the other decor.

This piece then, will become the core piece of the settee cover. I've incorporated some left over streamers from our trip out this afternoon. Not sure why I did that - it was a whim. Perhaps I'm trying to conserve some of that wonderful creative energy we danced in this afternoon.

I'll be putting the rest of the photos up on Facebook in the next few minutes.
Tune in again tomorrow to see how we can build on this flying start!