Monday, March 29, 2010

One more sleep and I'm off!

I am so excited I can hardly sit still and type. I have most of my packing done, so I am wearing things that won't be travelling. I am up to 9 kg in my suitcase, but that's OK until we get to Glasgow, and I can leave some of the things there, to lighten the load. I'm actually grateful to Ryanair for the restrictions, because they're forcing us to pack light - very light.
I have been trying to finish off the Swallowtail shawl, mainly so that I can use the needles on my 'travelling' shawl, which will be Icarus. However, Swallowtail has been giving me grief! I ran out of yarn in the second-last chart, and, because people on Ravelry mentioned that the *nupps* take up so much yarn, I frogged back the two nupp charts and knit them again, subbing beads for the nupps. And now, I'm in the first row of the edge chart and I'm going to run out of yarn AND beads, and I just discovered that I've lined up the two patterns wrongly - I was going up when I should have been going down. Grrr. I have a skein of Elann Kydd silk in ALMOST the same colour, and so this Swallowtail is going to have a slightly fuzzy edge - and possibly no beads.
Because we have the whole day in Toronto on Wednesday, I'm planning a trip down Queen St. West to Romni Wools and Arton beads. Luckily sock and laceweight yarns don't take up much room, and neither do beads. And they can be left in Glasgow too. I am glad for the 30% expansion zip on my carefully measured and weighed "carry-on" bag, which will come in handy on the way back.
Luckily for us, Glasgow is open on "Good" Friday, so I have a few yarn shops to see on my list - one that carries Knit Pro needles, which is the European equivalent of Knit Picks, or so I am reliably informed. I have a little list!
We have some local guides laid on for the Cork portion of the trip - we'll meet Bert and Annie in Cork City on Sunday the 11th and then they have a tour planned to Mizen Head on Tuesday, and a music session afterwards. And then dance class on Wednesday night in Skibbereen. They will be sick of the very sight of us.
Off I go!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

In just over a week!

Passport: Check.
Euros: Check.
GBP: Check.
Tickets: Check.

Almost ready to go! I have some work to do this week to prepare for the annual audit, and other tidying up at the office. Then off we go!

The house could use a tidy as well - we have a lovely niece who's agreed to house - or rather cat-sit, and I want her to be comfortable. However, there are outside family commitments that are taking some time.

Knitting: I'm into a new shawl - Swallowtail, with Elann baby lace merino. I have finished the budding lace (19 repeats) and now I'm about to embark on the lily-of-the-valley lace, which in TOUGH. I've already frogged a bit. However, I got out stitch markers and I'm trying again. Hope to have it finished before we leave.

Monday, March 8, 2010

It's hard to think of anything else.

I've been doing some natural dyeing, following recipes and hints offered on the 'Plants to Dye For' group on Ravelry. I dyed a mohair - and - nylon shawl that I had knitted some time ago - it was originally a pale baby-ish yellow, so I tried it in some butternut liquour I'd had soaking since the fall. I wet it, but didn't mordant - put it in a pot with the cool dye, brought it up to just under boiling, and then let it cool in the broth. It's a beige now, a touch on the greenish side. Better than yellow, anyway. They I tried a couple of skeins of my Belfast Mini Mills sock yarn (80% alpaca, 20% nylon) in black bean liquor. This was mordanted with alum and cream of tartar overnight, and then just put in the water from soaking 2 kg of black beans. Some people are getting a nice blue, but I just have this silvery grey. The cowl underneath is the undyed alpaca.

This is my nice Multnomah - I have gotten several compliments about how nice it looks when I wear it - usually with brown, though I have tried it with blue (jeans) and that's fine too. I keep planning to take a photo of it on me, but I haven't managed that yet.
Planning the trip is taking a bit of time - usually weekends! I bought a Ryanair-approved suitcase and am starting to make lists about what to take. On the flight to Glasgow we can take 5 kg as carry-on and check 20 kg, but of course Ryanair is 10 kg and no checking, so I have 15 kg for stuff for Emily - which so far has amounted to 2 tubes of deodorant for Jeremy. And slippers. Felted slippers.
Still no sign of the passports - they should come this week, I hope. Getting excited!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

March comes in like a Lion

We've had a nasty bout of weather - not cold at all, just wet and windy. I do hope that March will go "out like a lamb" - as we'll be flying to Glasgow on the last day of the month.

I do feel sorry for the cats, who are all enthusiasm to go out in the morning - and then we open the door, and the north-east wind howls in, spitting snow or rain or a mixture of both in their poor fuzzy faces and they shrink back and finally turn away. Only to give it a go later on, of course.

Two shawls were completed in February! The "Little Arrowhead" one actually turned out more shawl-like than I was anticipating. I blocked it quite hard, having bought some TIG wires at the welders, and some T-pins as well. The wires bend quite a bit but straighten out fine after they're released from the pins. So far this is the only shawl I've blocked with the wires. I'm determined to make the next one a straight-line lace-weight one, so I can use them to block even points, etc. I'm almost tempted to re-block some of my shawls!

I finished Multnomah as well, and wore it with my brown skirt & top - it went quite well & felt comfortable! I bought a Celtic-design shawl pin to hold it on, but I'm not completely happy with it - for one thing it's a bright silver (although it's made of pewter) and it's a bit big. I'd like a hammered wire one, and I may have to make my own. Perhaps in the interim I could tone this one down a bit. I think I could use acrylic paint for the purpose.

I've been going a bit crazy with felting - Katie asked for some red felted slippers, and I have all of this very cheap Patons SWS, so I tried a Garnstudio pattern, put it in the wash and forgot it! Naturally it felted into a bootie for a leprechaun. Tried again, with another pattern - basically a gigantic toe-up sock with a short-row heel - put it in the washer and stayed with it this time. I checked it three times, taking it out the third time. I felted a SWS handbag also, and it looks fine - now I just have to line it and make or find a handle. With success at the felting stage, I made the second slipper for Katie, and now I'm working on the second one of another pair - this time in a striped red and gold SWS. With my stash of SWS, I can outfit the whole family!! The pattern allows for needle-felting an insole of roving in the slipper - and I'm tempted to do some decoration on the toe as well.

I must say that making gigantic sock feet is a great antidote for knitting fine lace shawls. I really feel like I'm productive when I can knit a whole slipper in an evening. As opposed to two weeks per shawl. I'll have to start another sometime this month - if only to have something to knit on the plane(s). I think it will be socks in Ireland - if they disallow my bamboo needles on Ryanair, I'll just buy new ones in Dublin. I am taking my Knit Picks Harmonies in a pencil-case in my carry-on luggage - this is suggested as a successful tactic by many travellers. I don't have enough - or the right sort - of hair to use them as hairsticks.

I'm finding it fun to make knitting travel plans!