It’s beginning to feel a lot like Knitmas.

My #knitmas parcel arrived today & is a joy to behold. Knitmas is a Knitting Secret Santa that some of the Irish knitterati on Twitter were participating in, thanks to @wrapnturn who was facilitating it all.

I had a long day supervising Christmas exams & popped in to the staff room at 3.40 to collect exam papers & saw my parcel on the table. Only for the exam scripts that had to be collected my wee parcel would be all on its own all weekend.

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I stole a glance before I shot home and it’s only now as I’m waiting for dinner to cook that I’ve seen everything. Oh my goodness!

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I got 6 beautiful brown buttons, 4 fabulous buttons with cute flowers on them, bun cases with a spaceboy motif (which the boys LOVE), yummy Indian cashew nuts, the cutest little sheep keyring, a book on keeping chickens (I discussed chickens & henhouses with a certain High Priestess of Knitmas earlier this year), a skein of scrumptious Yarnyard Clan in a delicious Fuscia shade & a skein of Araucania Botany Lace in wonderful shades of green, blue & ochre.

On top of that, meet my new babies – Minou & Maple. Aren’t they adorable. The wisest owls on the block. 🙂

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Thank you so much Sue. You went above & beyond the remit of the swap & I appreciate it no end. I feel well & truly spoiled 🙂

Now for the hard part – what to make with the yarn. That kind of hardship I can gladly cope with.

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Twitter trip to Fotawildlife

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After a bit of banter with the @fotawildlife twitter crew today (& some help from @clashmore) I was set the challenge of getting 50 people to tweet “@doogarry deserves to be a #fotawildlife VIP”. If I was successful, I would get tickets for Fotawildlife Park.

I tweeted the challenge & asked my twitter friends to help & you folks were brilliant. Within 80 minutes we had reached our target.

We’ve had one thing after another since early June with the boys – two hospital stays, CT scan, lumbar puncture, viral meningitis, broken arm, knee wound that needed stitches, got infected & still hasn’t healed right…. The list goes on. They seem to be at a busy, adventurous stage (especially the twins -8 years old) & have had more injuries in the past short while than they ever had. They’re not the kind of guys who sit inside playing computer games so I guess it comes with the territory.

As a result of all this, the twins are restricted for another while with regards to activities – the broken arm is still not fully healed & P has to be careful with it as he was told at the fracture clinic on Thursday that an injury to it now could easily lead to surgery. Also, J’s knee is still being reviewed as the clinic isn’t happy with how the infection has affected the healing of the wound. We’re heading to Trabolgan this Friday (thanks to my parents) which the boys always love but a lot of the usual activities are off-limits this time for the twins – swimming, trampoline, scuba diving, zip-wire, play centre, etc

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On the safari train during our last trip in May, 2011

We’re thrilled to now have a trip to Fotawildlife Park. We’ll spend one of our days there. We went in August 2009 & were back on the Sunday of the May Bank Holiday weekend this year. It’s always a brilliant day out & the boys love it.

Thanks again to our friends @fotawildlife for entering into the fun today & making a great day out possible with lots of new happy holiday memories that will keep us warm this Winter on the side of a hill in West Cavan.

Looking forward to updating you on our fotawildlife adventure next week.

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Quinn Monkeys on the loose in Fota, May 2011


Yarn, Champagne & Chocolate Cake

Thursday, June 30th was a very important day in the Dublin knitting community. It was Yarniversary day. This Is Knit, a gorgeous yarn store in the city centre, celebrated its 5th birthday in style. My eldest son had broken his arm that week and we had spent two days in Cavan & Drogheda hospitals so it was great to be able to sneak off on the bus for the day on my own.

I met a few of the twitter knitters (aka “the knitterati”) in Yamamori for lunch before the party and we headed on to the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre after that for the main event.

Tickets were €5 but the entire amount was donated to the Irish Cancer Society. On the way in, everyone received a goody bag with a Debbie Bliss Knitting magazine, a SOAK sample and a 10% discount voucher which is redeemable within the next six months.

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It was so exciting when we arrived. There was a great buzz in the loft and it was such a chance to meet the designers present.

The fabulous lace & colourwork designer Kieran Foley was there. I adore his designs. I’m going to make it my goal to knit one of them next year. Such a quiet & unassuming man and such talent. A really nice guy.

Another designer present was the enormously talented Aoibhe Ní Shúilleabháin. She makes crochet rock. Her pieces are like crochet architecture. Unbelievably beautiful. Crochet isn’t my forte but I could happily look at her creations day.

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I was so looking forward to seeing Carol Feller and her designs again. She was with a few of us for lunch but had to rush off to set up. She had some favourite classics along with her like Captiva & Centrique (both of which I loved knitting) along with new designs from her upcoming book “Contemporary Irish Knits”. There are some really exciting designs in the book. Looking forward to getting a signed copy somehow. Carol seems to never stop and is full of such enthusiasm and inspiration. She makes being a mum of four boys look so easy (which, of course, we all know it is).

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The first ever item that I knit & completed when I started knitting was a lovely garter stitch rib cardigan for Rory in a lovely wine shade of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. Over the next few months after that I grew in skill and confidence as a knitter by following some classic and much-loved patterns in many of Debbie Bliss’s Baby pattern books so it was great to finally meet her. She spoke with such passion about her designs and the whole process behind the selection of yarns that you had to love her. She had a huge selection of garments from her Autumn/Winter 2011 collection and we were all encouraged to try them on. She had explained that all were knit as a size 34 but most designs would fit all sizes. It was a revelation. Usually if knitting a cardigan for myself (which is rare) I’d go up a few sizes but the resulting cardi is then heavy & shapeless. I tried on a few of the Debbie Bliss items and will definitely be knitting two – one a warm, cosy winter jacket in her new yarn Riva and the other a fabulous cross-over cardigan in another new yarn, Paloma. Everyone that tried on the second cardigan loved it. I predict an epidemic of them this side of Christmas. Hope This Is Knit doesn’t run out of Paloma yarn.

I got Debbie to sign one of the many books of hers that I own and she was so nice. We had a quick chat about some of her designs and Sineadr & Sweensie got a picture of me chatting to her.

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There was a huge yarn table too with lots of yarn on special offer. I may have succumbed to some Debbie Bliss Andes but it was all in the name of squishiness & gorgeous luxury softness.

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There was a great atmosphere all evening & a real community feel about the room. It was a fabulous day of yarn, Champagne, Chocolate cake & great friends. What’s not to love? I also got some knitting time on the bus journey home.

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Congratulations This Is Knit. Here’s to the next Yarniversary. Booking my ticket already.


How it all started

As I sat on the bus en route to the 5th Yarniversary Party in This is Knit in Dublin, I started thinking back on how my love of all this knitting and yarnalicious started.

I first learned how to knit whilst still in Primary School. I remember an awful striped garter stitch scarf in dreadful brown & yellow with dropped stitches a-plenty. My aunt knit parts of it for me, as I was so pitifully slow, but the teacher knew by the change in tension & quality. Although nothing was said, I wasn’t fooling her.

Fast forward about 15 years and I play with the idea of knitting again. I bought a pattern for Tivoli Denim, started knitting the back of a jumper for myself & promptly abandoned it. About eight years later, when I was pregnant on my third son, I bought a simple baby pattern, started a lemon-coloured cardi & never got beyond about 15 rows.

I was put on bed-rest when pregnant on my fourth son in the summer of 2007 and had over 3 months of nothingness to fill. I initially thought of buying a Nintendo DS to fill my days but promptly dismissed that idea as too expensive. I decided to go with the less-costly choice of knitting. Oh how naieve I was. I had no idea of the existence of interchangeable needles, luxury yarns & fabulous coffee table-style Knitting books. I should have known that, with my addictive personality, I’d be hooked.

My good friend Aisling, an avid knitter for years, loaned me a few baby pattern books in the beginning and that whet my appetite. I progressed rapidly to cashmerino-mix baby yarns for my little boy who was causing all the worry outside yet was very cosy inside himself. I loved lumbering into This Is Knit in Blackrock to choose what yarn (generally a Debbie Bliss one) to start my next baby project in. Lisa & Jacqui were so helpful & encouraging in helping with my choices.

By the time Rory Dallan arrived, weighing in at 9lb 9.5oz, 18 days early in September 2007 he was welcomed by a sea of soft yarn. I had cardigans, hats, blankets & teddies waiting for him. As a baby he loved the feel of merino wool through his fingers and sat happily rubbing his blankets. He still loves me knitting for him. My current WIP for him is a cute Rowan frog sweater from the “Rowan Kids” book. I’m hoping to finish it next week.

I’ve spent the past four years making knitty friends. It was in Blackrock that I also met the lovely Aileen, Elana, Diane, Heidi & Yvonne. Between the friendships I made there, more chatting with Irish knitters on Ravelry &, more recently, twitter, I have a great bunch of buddies for chatting about all aspects of life. I’m so looking forward to meeting all the girls today. Lunch first, then YARN!!

Best of luck to This is Knit. Here’s to the next 25!!


Doogarry by name & by nature

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I’ve finally cast off Doogarry, the beautiful shawl designed by neighbour (in rural terms anyway) Rubysasha. It was a beautiful knit and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The charts were great as were the written instructions.

Doogarry is the name of the townland I live in. It’s in rural West Cavan and a very beautiful place. I’m lucky to live here. It’s full of hidey-holes & “dens” that four little boys can have adventures (& break bones) in. The yarn I chose reflected the landscape to a tee.

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My son, James, was back in hospital for further tests earlier this month and I got the majority of this knit while staying with him from the Friday to Monday of his second stint in hospital.

Disaster struck when I ran out of yarn 2/3 of the way through the cast-off. I had anticipated this might happen so had left the last two rows out but I still hadn’t enough. I put the call out on twitter and the lovely Sweensie came to my rescue with a wee bit of extra yarn. Not only did she get the yarn to me but she sent it in a beautiful little snack bag as a gift for James. So thoughtful & kind!!

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Looking forward to wearing my Doogarry shawl while sitting out on the balcony outside the kitchen watching a spectacular Doogarry sunset.

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Surreptitious Stash Enhancement

I’ve been on a stash
reduction exercise for the last while & was intent on knitting my way through the recession (falling off the wagon occasionally when falling for the temptation of Malabrigo Sock, but that’s understandable).

However, I dropped by a friend’s house in Monaghan yesterday and she had come by some yarn via her in-laws that she was passing on to her mother’s knitting group. They knit multi-coloured blankets with odd balls & have no need for multiple skeins of the one kind so she asked if I’d like to rummage through the bags before she brought them home to Donegal.

I got me some goodies :). I’d appreciate pattern ideas for any or all of the following.

Firstly there are three mega-hanks of what looks like Kilcar yarn. Not sure what weight it is but it looks more Chunky than Aran. I’ll check that out later. It’s a gorgeous aqua shade. There are no tags left at all on the skeins.

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Next on my stash list is this bounty of 15 skeins of Jaeger Angora Spun (70% Angora, 30% Lambswool). The colour wouldn’t be top of my list but it’s so soft it was irresistible.

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There are a few other bits including these Wendy Skye skeins. They’re a mix of polyester, acrylic & mohair but I really like the mix of colours in them. There are about eight balls altogether.

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So a “drop in for coffee” turned out to be very worthwhile. Now to work out what to eventually use them for. Let the fun commence.


Two New Shawls

My second start at Centrique, due to yarn choice decisions, went great & I got the shawl completed in four days. I love the colours in the yarn and how they show off the pattern really well.

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Was about to block it Thursday evening but James, who had been very unwell since Tuesday and was at the GP twice on Wednesday, developed a far worse headache than before and his temperature shot to 38.5 degrees celsius so I took him to Cavan A&E where he was admitted until Saturday afternoon. We’re still in limbo with a diagnosis (“it’s probably virus”), he’s not fully better yet but he’s improved on what he was.

Anyway, as I was stuck in Cavan with him for the duration, I asked Gerard to bring me a skein of Malabrigo Sock in Solis that I had been holding on to for ages as it looked so gorgeous in the skein. My good friend, Scattyhats on Ravelry, suggested a Milkweed KAL so I didn’t take much persuading. Having the pattern in my Ravelry library meant I could view it on my iPhone. Isn’t technology great?

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I called my Milkweed “Lisdarn” as that’s the name of the townland where the hospital is located.

This is the un-blocked piece

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Hoping to block both later. Photos to follow.