Friday, 29 April 2011

Irish Lace

People who know me will be very surprised, and some may laugh very heartily when they hear me confess that I – with my political views – did watch the Royal Wedding today. But I do have a sister who is a bit of an expert in European Royalty, and therefore I certainly know my Williams from my Willems and my Harrys from my Haakons. I am a bit weak on royal protocol though, and would probably break every rule in the book ;)

To be able to hold a conversation with my sister, and also to see if I could spot the Labour leader in a Morning Suit (I did!), I settled myself in front of the TV in the morning, and scrutinised the attire. I love hats and frocks, and the more outrageous, the better. Sadly, Elton let me down on that occasion, but there was still plenty to see.

Kate’s dress by Sarah Burton was stunning, and I particularly loved the lace and neckline; also the way the dress fell so beautifully from the waistline. That was a gorgeous design, and I can only imagine the craftman- and womanship that went into it. If there is a big designer heaven in the sky, Alexander (McQueen) must have smiled proudly down from above – that dress was really it!

Apparently, the lace on Kate’s dress was hand-stitched in the Carrickmacross technique. Years ago I worked as a researcher on a project about women’s work, and my job was to collect information on Irish laceworkers. It was such an fascinating task. I learnt about crochet lace, Carrickmacross, Limerick lace, Youghal needlelace, Inishmacsaint needlelace, bobbin lace, as well as sprigging…and I so wanted to learn it – still do. Irish lace became world-famous, and Ireland was a much sought after lace producer at the turn of last century and beyond. And that when the laceworkers still worked by candlelight and oil lamps. If you look at any of the lacework from that period, when it played a huge part in fashion, you’ll be amazed at the skill and precision of the stitches. Isn’t it a shame that we might be losing the skill now, when we have far better lighting?

One day I will get down to learn lacemaking, but in the meantime, I am sticking to my knitting needles and really want to knit more intricate lace. I can knit basic lace patterns, and at the moment I am working on two lacy summer wraps, but it’s the really intricate lace I find so…intriguing! I’m very inspired now to look through some of my patterns, especially the vintage patterns, and find some exciting old lace.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Having a relaxing Easter

Easter Bunny hiding in some beautifully soft rovings from Lindsay Crafts

For the last two days, I've switched off the computer during the day, and only worked online in the evening. This was my holiday treat to myself. Sadly, the weather wasn't as sunny as promised, with misty clouds yesterday, and clouds and a strong breeze today, but I still managed to sit in the garden for a while, until the goosebumps on my arms told me to get inside, put a cardigan on, and get those warm socks quickly over my cold toes!

I spent a lot of time reading and eating chocolate (yes, this bunny was rather delicious...), but I also got heaps of crafting done. I spun some new yarn, finished knitting the wrap in gorgeous handspun yarn from Teddy Baby, which will hopefully go on Etsy tomorrow, and managed to finally upcycle a shirt I got in a clothes swap two years ago, while listening to Chaka Demus & Pliers - whatever happened to these guys, they were brilliant back in '93!

Upcycled shirt with new tie-belt

I also joined a new Irish online community for the arts and crafts, and started yet another blog:

Is this a good idea with my track record of irregular blog writing, I wonder? And will I manage to keep two blogs running? I must say, I love the theme/ lay-out of my new blog, so I might feel enticed to write more. However, I also want to 'jazz up' this blog with a new look, so I am not abandoning blogger. Maybe I'll split the two blogs into some kind of different themes, but have to think about this a bit more.

Anyway, if I am not on here, I am over there :)

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Shear Maaadness

On Thursday, I went to the Stitch and Creative Crafts Show at the King's Hall, Belfast, with Maura from Irish Bounty. While she was interested in all things card making, I was looking for lots and lots of woolly delights. Just when I told Maura wisely, that I was keeping a tight budget and would not engage in spontaneous shopping, but in fact would look at all the stalls before making a decision to purchase, something caught my eye. It was bright and it was woolly! I zoomed towards it like a pin to a magnet.


Dyed fleece!

Dyed in colours of the rainbow!


Greedily, I claimed possession of this beautiful fleece shaped like a feather boa..., and its neighbour, too. When the lady at the stall of the  Ulster Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers told me that she had more, my eyes were gleeming with fleecy gluttony.

I ended up with a rucksack full of three large dyed fleeces plus one roving, and I felt as if I was carrying half a sheep on my back.

So we went on and looked at many things, and I bought a few bits of stationary and some card making material, had a coffee with Maura's family before they all went home, and met an interesting French lady who told me her a fascinating life story, which had some weird coincidental parallels to my family history.

I went on to look at more stalls, but my feet started to ache. There were also not enough wool stalls for my liking, although I loved to look at all things crafty, sore feet or not.

Still, there comes a time when one wants to go home, put the feet up and admire one's purchases. There was this tenner left in my purse that I should have saved for food or new business cards. But I hadn't bought any yarn at all...! And there was one fleece still left at the Spinners and Dyers...yes, I had not totally cleared them out yet.

Needless to say, that lonely fleece went also home with me, plus another roving. My fibre trunk is now bursting at the seams, and I probably have fibre and fleece for years to come, while I don't even have a wheel, just two Turkish drop spindles and a Mother Marian. Those fleeces are pretty though, like works of art, and I am very tempted to just hang them up in my studio for the time being until they are spun...

They will be spun!

Watch this space for updates on spinning these fleeces!