well, now.

That was quite the blog breather, wasn’t it?

So much water between then and now; so many metres of yarn and pages of notebooks filled. Some things remain the same. For one thing, I still embody the phrase, “More ideas than time” (which¬†leadeth me down Pinterest/IG/blog rabbit holes- more of those anon!- and further eats away at my valuable crafting time)..

The end of a month always gets me thinking of where I am, particularly craft-wise, and autumn seems to bring with it a sense of renewal. Some hangover from school and college days, I suppose. No harm in it. Time to refresh the aul’ taephota, raise a cup to good taste and forward planning (in having a stash at all to work from), and knit my way through shorter evenings and this glorious, welcome chill.

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crochet, knitting and the whole damn thing

Aunt C learned crochet from a Presentation nun, which was to stand to her all her life. To my eight-year-old mind, she made spiderwebs and flowers and grasses come to life out of boring old mercerised cotton. Out of her hands came christening robes and tops and tablecloths, a wedding dress, a Communion dress four of us wore and loved. I didn’t think of what she made as fusty then, and I appreciate it on a whole other level now.

I look at the work of my friends who crochet- N, who made a Spiderman blanket and another N whose first crochet project was a triangular shawl in shades of berry and spice- and I see them in the same way. I cannot believe what they’ve done with that magical equation of yarn + time + hook. Crochet is not fusty. Crochet has beauty, timelessness, energy, elegance and even a sense of humour about it. And just like knitting or any other art form of the like, some use it to amazing ends (Aoibhe Ni, are your ears burning? They should be!) and others forget the helpful maxim, “just because I can, doesn’t mean I necessarily should”.

Recently, two people (one on crochet and the other on knitting) have misrepresented both, when a few minutes research would have uncovered the incredible resource that is Ravelry. Ravelry would’ve answered any questions they had, put a few myths to rest and everyone would’ve been happy. Oh well..

So, to review: plenty of people knit in Ireland, and crochet is about many things beyond doilies. I could go into much more detail- line by line refutation- but it strikes me that neither party is willing to listen, considering that one of them talked of being “misinterpreted” when offered her own direct quotes.

it’s bingo time!

Gentle readers, you will have to forgive me today. This may yet turn into a Force Seven rant, so I advise you to make sure those hatches are battened down, all small and easily excitable children and animals are seen to etc etc etc.

There are some attitudes to crafting (and indeed, those of us who do so) that I fail utterly to understand:

  • Craft is an anti-feminist, retrograde enterprise and women who craft are not feminist or are setting back the cause by doing so
  • People only craft/do things for themselves now because it is trendy, not out of any form of necessity, and they certainly didn’t grown up doing so
  • Most people who craft just make silly needless little tchotckes that are amateurish, poorly made and a waste of materials
  • Craft is a waste of time when you can buy everything readymade
  • People who craft do so because they aren’t capable of anything more high-minded/intellectual/worthwhile
  • Crafters are white, relentlessly middle-class trendy/hipsterish types

A few of these attitudes crop up in this article (published in the Observer yesterday), but the main one that caught my eye is that the last one mentioned. Those of us who craft *apparently* only do so because we are unwilling or incapable (mostly the latter but also both) of doing anything more serious. You know, worthwhile. Knocking out shapeless jumpers in front of the Late Late (oh, Fintan, such fail!) instead of reading, or running businesses, or.. well, something *useful*:

“But I am uncomfortable with the subtext to some of the more modish incarnations of doing things with your hands. Why do women want to embroider when they could be reading Hegel?”

This article is hardly the worst offender. It does hit the main knocking-craft bingos mentioned i.e. crafters waste their time making rubbish (“Why do people insist on bedecking their houses with homemade candles and old mirrors adorned by an inept mosaic frame, when all these things are clearly both hideous and slightly creepy?”), crafting is boring and takes a long time and is not usually worth the bother (“Luckily, I already have a scarf. I bought it with money I had earned by going to work instead of staying at home and making things.”) and aren’t people only doing it because it’s trendy? (the “modish” reference above) but it saves us most of the more sexist, classist and patronising assumptions and inferences, I suppose.

I’m not so thin-skinned that these attitudes upset me or put me off, but I find them desperately tired and boring. Change the record, please! I’ve no interest in trotting out my intellectual/’useful’ bona fides just to prove a point. I make things from necessity, because I love to do so, because of curiosity and largely because for me, a day without making things or experimenting is not my kind of day. My crafting kin have these reasons and more for what they do. We’re not represented in the prevailing narratives; we’re not bored and witless fashionistas, and neither do we pine for a time when women knew their place. We’re curious about the world, we love history, we love colour theory, we love the communal element of crafting and most of all, we love the satisfaction of something well-made, long-lasting and utterly, utterly unique.

a new broom

The alternate title for this post is, “What in the name of all that is good have I let myself in for?”

I’ve been Organising, you see. Gone are the days of my supplies being kept in a dizzying arrangement of tubs, tins & lunchboxes of beads, wool and papers; in their place is a sleek* new system. Operation New Broom has begun in earnest.

*may be exaggerating just a tad

This is what happens when one wakes on a Sunday morning, filled with what can be charitably described as “zeal”. Starting off, I thought I would be an unstoppable tea-fuelled force but I got a little sidetracked by memories on occasion. I have an odd talent; I can tell you where every single bead/finding/yarn/thread/paper/fabric/card etc I use came from and when I used it last. Not exactly something that’ll land me on Mastermind any time soon, but it meant that memories of my travels came flooding back yesterday. The howlite from Heidelberg, the delicate origami paper from Edinburgh, the handspun wool from Munich.. a heady day.

I’ll post photos and details of how I’ve managed it when it is all done but (of course!) there’s a while to go yet. Did you notice how I didn’t mention fabric above?

Apart from the obvious good effects of all this ONB lark, I’ve also come up with ideas for new work and have regained an appreciation for all that I have. Now, regular readers will know that I battle with the whole stash issue (and Twitterfolk will know all about #stashdown11), but going through all those packets of beads and reels of stringing made me all the more determined to keep ignoring the siren calls of sales & coupon codes for the next while.

what do we have here? (another FO post)

I thought I might share something I’ve finished lately- something I’ve made for myself. Through the good offices of Himself aka Husband Elect, I got my hands on the most beeeyooootiful, squishable Malabrigo Silky Merino (scroll down to the end and look for Velvet Grapes) as part of the Ringsend Cowl kit from This is Knit.

It’s a beautifully simple knit, and while it turned out a little larger than I might have liked (possibly to my wimpish self only steam blocking it), that’s just an excuse to make a shawl pin (*hat tip to a certain Twitter Knitter*). This calls for those deep pinky-purple Czech beads I’ve been saving for that perfect project..

Anyway, take a shufti below. Isn’t this a great shot?

Ringsend Cowl- isn't she an aul' beaut?

Styling and photography by Julie of Half A Dream Away.

I plan to make it again, but this time in Purple Mystery. And yes, I’ll make another shawl pin..

hello there, 2011

After a New Year’s Eve involving a surfeit of my fizzydelicious poison (Club Orange with a chaser a’ tay, in the time-honoured fashion of my mid-wesht forebears), my thoughts on New Year’s Day were roughly along the following lines:

– Ugh. Is it possible to hear scraping sounds coming from your eyelids when you open your eyes first thing?

– Can’t be all bad. Haven’t I got that cardigan to finish?

Have a very crafty New Year, folks- over here it’s the Year of Craft and boy howdy, my crafting counterparts and I plan to make the most of it.

Have you any resolutions of a crafty bent? I don’t tend to make them, and the closest I have is to never have a day go by where I haven’t made something, learnt something new or both. I liked some of the ideas in¬†this post from the Crochet Me blog. A new technique, perhaps? Is this the year I shall conquer tatting after all?