Monthly Archives: August 2010

Technology fail

Over the last few weeks I feel like I have a black cloud in relation to technology hanging over me.  Almost 3 weeks ago our phoneline went dead.  I gave it a day or two and contacted the company, apparently it was due to them being bought out by another company and transferring their systems.  So the fault was reported with a 24-48 hour wait…so I waited….no phone.  Next call and I was told that the problem had been solved…however my phone still wasn’t working so I get put on another 24-48 hour wait.  Several more days pass and still no phone go through the same thing and now have to wait until mid-week next week for a engineer.  Don’t you just love the fact that the phone line was cleared without ever calling me to check that the line was working??

To add to my techno woes while at knitcamp my new (just 3 months old) little netbook died on me.  It froze and when I tried starting it up it told me I had a primary hard disk error.  Doesn’t sound too good does it?  As it’s so new it’s still in warranty and can be sent back (of course I don’t have any phone so I needed to make an international call on my mobile to get it sorted out!)

Luckily my last techno issue might actually be something we can fix ourselves.  My desktop computer has been crashing frequently when it sleeps.  DH has been looking into it and it looks like it is a video driver that needed to be updated.  So fingers crossed that it stays working, I’ve had quite enough issues!

On a positive note last week at the end of my Knit Camp visit I had an interview with Robin Hunter posted here.  Go take a look!

Uk knitcamp memories

I think I have finally recovered enough from my week at knitcamp to try and write a blog post.  It is so rare to get away from home for a full week that I took full advantage of it!

I have never taught so many classes one day after another so a full week of teaching was quite an experience in itself.  By Friday I was starting to croak rather than talk but some hot coffee seemed to help!  On top of talking for long classes meals were in a cafeteria so there were always new and interesting people to talk to….as well as every evening!  I had the best time all week with Woolly Wormhead, we had met before but I hadn’t expected to spend so much of the week hanging out together…anyone who gets the chance, she is lots of fun.

Over the course of the week I discovered that I really, really love short rows.  Now, I had known that before… but talking to students every day I realized just how obsessional that was.  I think that every class but 1 I ended up talking about short rows at some point! Half of knit camp may now be as in love with short row set-in sleeve caps as I am.  That’s not a bad thing!  Needless to say the class I had the most fun was (wait for it)..the short row class.  I got to go through tons of different ways of constructing them and everyone found one that suited them.

This wonderful bag (hand quilted!) of gifts was given to me by a group of Portuguese knitters.  They had made gift bags for all their tutors and it was such a kind, thoughtful gesture that it nearly made me cry!  (Hand painted yarn, little Portuguese knitter statue, and pretty cards, pencils and notepads from Porto).

After my week of teaching I am looking forward to my  next few teaching engagements in Ireland.  In Autumn I’ll be at Crafty Alley and a couple more shops.  Anyone down Killarney direction please come along.  If there is particular class you’d like to see let me know, I’m just planning it now.

Now back to Knitcamp.  As well as having a wonderful time in all my classes (the students were superb) I also enjoyed every evening.  First night (Monday) we went to the EZ dinner.  I met Marleen and Nancy Marchant before the meal.  Both live in cities in the Neatherlands that I have relatives living in so I felt right at home!  During the meal Marleen introduced me to Jon and his husband Roy.  Marleen has designed several shawls for Jon and I can see why, his yarn is just delicious with wonderful colors.  On my other side there was a knitter from Alaska and we had some great chats (please forgive me, I don’t remember your name…if you read this please fill me in!).

Tuesday night (I did warn you that we went out every night!) there was the pub quiz.  Woolly Wormhead had arrived by now and we arrived at the quiz late.  I dragged her onto our Team Twilight and let me tell I doubt we would have know how many patterns she had published without her on the team!

Wednesday night was Stitch n’ Bitch night with Debbie Stroller (just in case you don’t know who she is go pull out that Stitch n’ Bitch book from your shelf!).  It was very surreal to have a knitting legend going from group to group introducing herself!  I actually forgot my knitting that evening and ran back up to the dorms to get it.  Just wouldn’t have been right  not to have it with me.  In fact as far as knitting went I did very little all week.  My mind was so in the teaching I didn’t have much extra mental space left for knitting (as well as the fact that most of the work I’m doing right now is secret so not the best for a huge knit camp!)

Thursday we headed off campus to a pub close by and bumped into the gang above.  What a fun night we had, I feel as though I haven’t had such an easygoing relaxed night out since I was a teenager.  It’s nice once in a while to get transported outside your everyday life.  In fact that’s a bit what the whole week felt like.  The first time in 12 years I left all my daily responsibilities behind.

By Friday night we were fading and my friend Sue arrived from Cork and whisked us off for a great Indian meal in Sterling.  Even though for cafeteria food it wasn’t so bad I was in serious need of some variety.  Also the early meal time was more than I could manage, I was so hungry by most mornings that I was retching with hunger (no, I”m not very good at looking after myself!)

Isn’t this just the craziest Briyani you’ve ever seen?  The bread was cooked in a dome over the top of the pot!

We’re nearly at the end of the week now…if you’ve managed to read it to the end of this post you’re now probably almost as tired as I am.  The marketplace was amazing.  I got far more than I had intended, buttons, vintage buttons, shawl pins and a little pretty yarn I couldn’t resist (I didn’t want to add any weight going home!).  The night went on far too long but I did get to meet a personal hero of mine, Norah Gaughan, before the end of the night.  She had been suffering from a cold but was still up for a chat at almost midnight!  I even got to see her Ipad sketches.

And now I need to rest and recover from the week.  It was lovely to get home to the boys but I think they had so much fun with their dad all week that they barely noticed I was gone!  A big thank you to Jo and Doug (as well as the rest of the team) for putting this together and pulling it off.

UK knit Camp- class materials

We’re in the final countdown to UK Knitcamp in Scotland next week and all the finishing touches are being added to the classes.  I wanted to go through material lists for the classes so that everyone would know what they will need.  Please leave a comment if you have any queries.

Tuesday (All Day)- Knitting From The Side

7mm/US11 circular needles
7mm/US11 dpns
7mm crochet hook (this size is less critical so close to that size will also work)
Waste yarn
stitch markers

I have some Fyberspates Scrumptious chunky yarn for the class (very gererously donated by Jeni..THANKS!) which will have to be doubled to get gauge (11 sts/18 rows per 4″/10cm).  If you are a fast knitter you may wish to bring your own yarn to ensure you have enough for the full class.

Wednesday (Morning) – Slip Stitch Patterns

We will be working through a series of slip stitch pattern swatches so you will need

2 yarns (dk/aran recommended); suitable needle
size for yarn (straight or circular).

Thursday (All Day) – Shaping Up Traditional Knits


Aran weight yarn, 100% wool recommended.
US #8/5mm circular needle, 32-inch/80cm (or longer) for
in the round or straight needles if worked flat.
US #7/4.5mm circular needle, 32-inch/80cm (or longer)
for in the round or straight needles if worked flat.
1 set US #7/4.5mm double pointed needles (dpns)
1 set US #8/5mm double pointed needles (dpns)
Markers (m); Stitch holders; Tapestry needle; Cable needle
Plus: calculator, graph paper, measuring tape.
It is also useful if you measure or bring a well fitting
sweater for yourself.

You may not need the dpns during the class but to finish your sweater they will be needed.

Friday (Morning) – Short Rows


Yarn (dk-aran weight would be best); straight or circular
needles suitable for yarn, measuring tape, stitch markers;
safety pins.

Saturday (2 hours, morning) – Magic Loop

This class will work on a toddler sock pattern using DK weight yarn.


1 set of 3.5mm circular needles 80-100cm long (Addi
Turbos or Knit Pro are recommended)

DK wool; Stitch marker; Darning needle; Scissors; Measuring Tape.


Last week I combined a family holiday with a trip to Donegal Yarns in Kilcarra.  We stayed way up on the mountain just past Glengesh Pass.

Traveling from Ardara up to this pass involved a series of almost vertical corkscrew turns that our car objected strongly to!  After driving for 7 hours (it’s a long trip from Cork) I was glad to see our cottage, even if it was rather a misty view.

I knew there were a lot of sheep in Donegal but the sheer volume was out of this world..slumped on the side of the road, in our garden, hanging off the side of cliffs and even a few right up to the sea edge.

We made a lovely trip to Donegal Yarns also (can’t give any details away now though!) and met up with Chris who gave us a full tour.  It is a very sizable operation and had me just drooling over some of the wonderful yarns and colors.  Although the factory isn’t always open to the general public in the village you will find Studio Donegal which stocks a full range of their yarns.

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t too wonderful for the trip but armed with some heavy duty raincoats in our holiday house we spent most of the week exploring the amazing beaches.  The beach is near Malin Beag and had 167 (I think?) steps going down to it.  Looking up at the amazing cliffs with sheep along the side is worth the walk down.

Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of it but the most amazing beach we visited was Maghera.  I have never been on a beach quite like it before.  You approach from a small country road and before you get there there is a HUGE waterfall.  We managed to get some amazing garment photos in front of this for the book.  When you reach the beach you pass through a path with sheep (of course) on either side and reach the sand dunes.  The are huge and the sand is pale, pale yellow which is very unusual for Irish beaches which tend to have darker sand.  Some of the sand slopes further along the beach (piled against cliffs) reached 30-40 feet high and the boys spent hours sliding/rolling/running down them.  For the icing on the cake there are a series of caves running down the beach, some of which were very sizable.

On evening walks along our mountain top roads we often felt as though we were walking on a film set..

I want to thank my son Damien for all of the photos, he had his camera with him and allowed me to use his photos.