Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Pumpkins aren't really a thing here, except for a couple of weeks in October. Jack o'lanterns were invented here, but originally they were carved turnips and, judging from photos I've seen, they really do look creepy. But these days Halloween decorations involve pumpkins, not turnips. The seamstress' shop down the road has this very creative pumpkin in the window. I love her!
Someone clearly has no plans to drive anywhere for the time being.
The barm brack has been eaten and we changed our clocks back last weekend. Tomorrow we turn another calendar page and move deeper into autumn and closer to winter. Yay!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Colourful New Bag

A friend returned from a trip the other day and gave me a skein of funky, bright, chunky yarn. As it happened, I'd been thinking for a while about making myself a bag that was just big enough to fit a few things that I almost always have with me when I leave the house. I'd been having ideas here and there but hadn't settled on anything. Then I got this skein of yarn and it told me it wanted to be the bag, so I started that very night. Because the colours take centre stage, it needed to be done in a very simple stitch. Tunisian crochet can be great for bags because it can be quite dense and with little stretch. Tunisian simple stitch was perfect for this project.
Using this chunky yarn, I chained 23 with a size K (6.5mm) Tunisian crochet hook and did 25 rows of simple stitch. To bind off, I did slip stitches across the last row, inserting my hook and pulling up a loop in between the stitches. This created small eyelets. I made another rectangle the same way, then slip stitched them together. I made a chain as long as I wanted to strap to be, slip stitched in each chain, then turned and slip stitched again in in each stitch. Hid all the ends, chained 123 for the drawstring and wove that through the eyelets. Simple stitch, simple construction, and the colour really stands out! This was a fun little project and now I have a bag that will get lots of use--thanks, Karen 😊🌈

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Christmasy Bits

I've been having fun with needles and hooks of all kinds lately, working on various projects and trying out ideas. Included in the mix have been a few Christmasy bits.

I just finished this one a few minutes ago.
I needle felted a few pieces this afternoon with the intention of embellishing them. I tried a few things with this one while I was felting and liked none of them, so I decided to set it aside and see about adding sea glass later. As I was going through the jars of sea glass, I came across this piece and saw a potential Christmas tree. I went into the bag of yarn snips in my needle felting box, found a length of brown and felted it in before sewing the sea glass on. It's about 2 1/2 inches across.

The other night I decided it was finally time to do something with the large roundish piece of white sea glass that had been sitting on my bedside locker for a couple of months while I waited for inspiration to strike. I'd gotten as far as knowing that I'd use red and green, but no further. I grabbed my thread and my pouch of crochet hooks and started crocheting. I did a bit of frogging and restarting, mostly to make things more simple.

I have a few more felted pieces to embellish and my plan is to do some of that tonight. Or I might work on the bag I started last night. Maybe I'll do a little bit of both!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Stitch Here and a Stitch There Eventually Makes Socks

I've had socks on the needles in a pouch next to my spot on the couch for months. I'd pick them up when I felt like it and do a few stitches. Sometimes I did a needle or two, sometimes a few rounds, and sometimes I'd work on them for a little bit longer. I finished sock one, cast on sock two and continued to do some stitches here and there. I was not in a hurry and I like to always have a project like that available. The other day, I picked up the needles and did a few stitches. They turned into a few rounds. I kept going and when I put the project down, I had a good portion of a foot done. The next day I continued to the point where I'd start the toe decreases. Last night I made the toe, cut the yarn and got the ends woven it.
This morning I grabbed another skein of sock yarn and stuck it in my pouch. Bill commented the other day that he could use another pair of socks, so the next pair will be for him. It's not urgent, so I have no idea when they will be finished, but by doing a few stitches here and a few stitches there, eventually he'll have a new pair of socks.

For the socks pictured, I cast on 68 stitches with a size 1 needle and some sock yarn. I did a 2x2 cuff, changed to size 0 needles and did a regular heel flap over 34 stitches (sl1, k1 across on the right side and sl1 and purl the rest across on the wrong side until 34 rows were completed) and heel turn. When doing the gusset decreases, I stopped when I had 72 stitches on the needles and did the rest of the sock on the 72 stitches. For the top of the foot that is shown in the picture, I worked over 34 stitches--k3, p6, k1, p6, k1, p6, k1, p6, k4. I did a round toe, starting with a round of k10, k2tog and then decreasing on every other round (k9, k2tog, then k8, k2tog, and so on) until I had 6 stitches left. I threaded my yarn through those stitches, pulled the hole closed, and hid the ends. I will decide how I want to do the next socks as I am doing the cuff and heel on the first one. It's going to have to be simple because the yarn is busy and anything other than simple would get lost. 

I don't use sock patterns, since I prefer to just make the socks in the way I know fits best and is most comfortable for us to wear. I vary the stitch combinations I use on the stitches that make up the top of the foot and leave the rest. Because I am usually making socks for Bill or myself using sock yarn and size 1 and 0 needles, I know the numbers now for the cast-on, heel flap, heel turn, etc. But I came across this handy chart a while back and I saved it. It looks like it could come in handy for a time when I might want to use different yarn and need different numbers. Perhaps it might be useful for some of you, too. 😀

Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove

Years ago, Bill gave me a hardcover copy of this book for either my birthday or Christmas. I always thought it was one of the best book titles I'd ever seen. The subtitle is A History of American Women Told Through Food, Recipes, and Remembrances. It's just my kind of thing and I loved the book when I read it.
It moved with us once or twice, but, being hardback, it was heavy and so it did not travel with us across the pond.

We were talking about something recently and I mentioned the book. I did not know that Bill looked it up, found a copy, and ordered it. The postman just delivered it. What a great surprise! This one is softcover, so easier to cart around--it's definitely a keeper and I'm so looking forward to reading it again--it's been years since I read it the first time!

I've been trying to cut back a little bit on the number of library books I request, other than needlework/stitching books. I have succumbed to temptation recently and my list is back up to 12, but I am reading some of the books we've accumulated from charity shops and the wee free library. A few of those are keepers, but most are brought home with the intention of reading them and then either giving them to a charity shop or back to the wee free library. We have been doing well lately. In the past week, we've put 5 books in the wee free library with another ready to go today. I'll be heading for the library this afternoon to pick up a book that has arrived--a collection of essays and stories on the topic of knitting, written by various writers. I read the first volume a few years ago and did not know that a second volume had been published until I was scrolling through the results of my search for 'knitting' on the library website. I check back once in a while to see what new stuff comes up. I am often happily surprised.

Hope your day includes some happy surprises too!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Posh Scraps

This morning as I was getting dressed, the doorbell rang. I assumed it was the postman and sure enough, I heard something coming through the mail slot. Deciding it was best not to try to hurry down the stairs on my still-not-normal leg, I continued what I was doing. I heard the mail slot again and realised that he was trying to stuff the roving scraps Bill had found on ebay.uk through the slot. He gave up and left before I was able to get down there.

Knowing that he goes a bit further up this side of the street and then crosses and goes back towards the post office, I unlocked the door, went outside, and when I saw him cross, I walked over to meet him. He still had the packet in his hand and was holding it out to me as I walked up to him. 'Sorry,' I said, 'I didn't make it downstairs in time.' 'Sure, you're alright,' he said with a smile.

I brought my packet home, pushed the button to start the coffee brewing, and opened the packet. I was happily surprised when I pulled out the roving. I expected small pieces of plain roving in various sizes and fibres, but what I did not know until I looked at the invoice was that they are 'posh scraps.'
It is all so beautiful and so soft! I was thrilled when I saw it--I love the multi-colours and the pieces with iridescent threads. I will have so much fun with this! He got these from Heidi Feathers, the same place where he got a kit for me a couple of years ago. I was quite pleased with the quality of the supplies in the kit, as I am with the 'posh scraps.'

I had no idea what the first packet was--the one the postman easily tossed through the slot. I saw that it was from a needlework place, so felt it was safe to assume it was also for me. Bill had picked up a grab bag of 16 count aida cloth scraps and offcuts when the seller was down to her last one. This was another great collection. There are several good-sized pieces of cloth and each is a different colour--off white, navy, light blue, peach, brown, oatmeal, and a couple shades of grey. I'll use this for cross-stitching and huck embroidery.

I wanted to sit right down with my coffee and start stitching, but I had plenty of chores to do first, so I was good and got laundry done, a few groceries purchased, food cooked, and the resulting dirty dishes washed. Then I finished a library book so I can return it tomorrow. Tonight I'll have more coffee and I'll do some stitching with that. Yay!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


The other day, I came across this link from Red Heart. It took me to a pattern for crocheted maple leaves that they strung into a garland. I bookmarked it and then shared it. I decided to try it out using scraps from the blanket I made.
They have you make a loop at the end of the stem so that it can be strung with beads to make the garland. I am not going to make it into a garland so I left the loop off. I will make a few more to hang around the place.

These are quick and easy to make and I like the way the leaf came out! It's just three rounds and a couple of ends to weave in.I have not tried this, but it looks like you could make a few of these in a thinner yarn (I used worsted weight and an H hook) and join as you go in a circle to make a doily. Should work to join at the ends of the stems and at each 'petal' on either side of the stem.

Happy autumn crocheting!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Happy Surprise!

This morning, both Bill and I thought we heard the postman putting something through the mail slot in our front door. I was still upstairs and walked out to the landing to look down the stairs, but I saw nothing on the mat. Bill was downstairs and he went into the entryway to check. We both thought it odd, but went on with the day. Early in the afternoon, there was a knock on the window. It was the postman. Bill went to the door and the postman handed him a packet, saying it wouldn't fit through the mail slot. Mystery solved!

Bill opened it and said, 'It's your book.' I had no idea what he was talking about. He handed me this book, explaining that ever since I'd asked him (months ago now) to keep an eye out for this book, he'd been watching some ebay listings by a charitable organization. They had this one copy left at a good price, so he got it.
I am thrilled! I don't remember where I came across this book, but it was at least a few months ago. As always, I went first to the library website and one library did have it, but they denied my request to have it sent to Moville. After a while, it popped into my head once in a while, but I mostly forgot about it.

It should be a fun read. Usually the books we buy or pick up at the wee free library come into the house with the expectation that we will read them and then pass them on, whether to another person, a charity shop, or the wee free library. I think this one will be a keeper though.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Felted and Found

I felt like felting again this morning, and had a couple of ideas, so I sat down with my second cup of coffee, my roving, and my barbed needles, and created a couple of pieces of felt. The first one went off in an unexpected direction, so after I'd finished it, I set it aside. I am pretty sure I know what I'll do with it, but I have to make a few more bits first and there is still time for it to veer off on another as yet undiscovered path.

Then I started on piece number two--a simple circle in a couple of shades of brown. After that was done, I dragged boxes out from under the bed and the corner shelf so I could have a rummage through various receptacles containing found objects, beach combing finds, and deconstructed jewelry bits. I chose some and started playing around. My original intention was to make a two-sided piece for the window, so one side would be facing out and the other would face us in the room, but I quickly realized that it would work, but it would have to be done by making another piece and sewing them together. I might do that, but for today I completed the piece and it's now hanging on the wall.

While I was sewing stuff onto the felt, Bill was looking at ebay to see if anyone sells roving. I was overjoyed when he said that the woman he got the kit from a couple of years ago sells random grab bags of scraps in various colours and fibres! Since I work as much as possible with orphan materials, this made me irrationally happy. Bill ordered two bags, since shipping is free for the second.

I have already been practically giddy for a while. In addition to all of the things I am continually grateful for, it's finally autumn, the days are not as long or as warm, I've been able to close the windows, October has arrived (and with it my best quarter of the year), we had a few days away in a nice place, and now I learn that I can buy scraps of roving to felt with! Yippee!

I hope you have much to be happy about today, too! 😊

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Needle Felting: Motifs and Toes

This morning as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, I saw some great needle felting. This put me in the mood to do some repetitive stabbing of my own, so I went upstairs and got my box of supplies.

I decided to make a couple of festive seasonal motifs to hang in the front window.
I was messing around with the smile and as I was shaping it, it started to remind me of one of the Grinch's smiles after he becomes a reformed Grinch. I left it like that. I quite enjoy the way things happen in needle felting as things change shape and get a little wonky as I keep on stabbing.

While I was upstairs, I grabbed a pair of socks that I knew had holes in the toes that needed repair.
I pulled out another pair that I knew had holes in the heel, but when I got back downstairs and prepared to fix them, I discovered that I'd already done that pair, so I just had to do the toes today.
At first I was matching the roving to the yarn and then it dawned on me that I could use the odd bits that I pull off of the foam. As I repeatedly stab the roving, small bits of it get stuck to the foam and I periodically pull this off. It's just a ball of fluff, made up of whatever colours I have used. I can't bring myself to just throw it away, so I am glad to have the perfect use for them. These will either be worn as bed socks or inside hiking boots, so it doesn't matter what colour the repair is. To be honest though, even if these toes were going to show, I think I'd do this anyway. I like the idea that the repair is visible. As I keep on repairing them, the socks will take on an abstract look. 👣😊

Wherever you are today, I hope the day is a good one.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Twin Towns Community Garden

Earlier this week, while we were in Stranorlar and Ballybofey, I was looking at a map and saw where the Twin Towns community garden is located. The next day we were in that area, so we went over, found the gate open, and went in. There was a guy there who said hello and told us to have a look around. I mentioned to him that Bill had a plot in the Moville community garden, and he got quite animated, telling us that they'd met some people from the Moville garden in the past. He then proceeded to give us a tour of their very impressive garden.

Turns out he is one of the people that does a great deal of organising and work at and for the gardens. He proudly showed us these little cottages he builds. I was quite smitten. Some are planters and some have bird houses and roosts on the sides. If you covered the roof with twigs, it'd be a thatched cottage.

He was also working on a replica of this wheelbarrow, which was built in the 1800s and was still in use as a wheelbarrow until fairly recently and now has new life as a planter.
I also quite liked these chairs that were in one of the hoop houses.

It was a pretty impressive set-up, especially considering they were flooded a few years ago and had to start over again afterwards. They have a couple of polytunnels with raised beds and one that is for the flower plugs. They do hanging baskets and planters for the towns and he said in the spring they have 33,000 flower plugs in there until they are ready to be planted. He has some plans to build more shelving. He is thinking about other improvements to make to the area near the entrance, which is an arbor. Then you walk into an area with lots of flowers before coming to the vegetable beds, of which there are many.
 There was still some stuff growing and Michael, our tour guide, said that he's just planted his winter cabbage, which should be ready to eat in early January. They have grape vines in one of the polytunnels and this year they got grapes for the first time, although he said they wouldn't ripen because there hasn't been enough sun.

There are some plans to plant some more flowers around the shed as well.

We had a nice time chatting with Michael, having the tour, seeing the plants, and learning about their group and what they do. We wandered in at just the right time!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Scrappy Autumn

I've been having fun playing with scraps lately.

I had more of the autumn-coloured yarn left after I finished the blanket and made a placemat, so I made a simple 'curtain' for the window in our front door. I finished the last few rows last night after we got home from our jaunt to the Twin Towns.
It's a simple sc, ch3, sc across, leaving a tail at the beginning and end of each row for fringe. I cut the yarn after every row and started back at the beginning--the front of the work was always facing me. 🍁

I still have a few scraps of this yarn left, which will go into my scrap bag for use in a future scrappy project.

Last week, I used some cotton scraps to make a seasonal dishcloth.
 I had a chart for a pumpkin motif which I liked, but it was not going to work so well for a dishcloth. The centre contained lots of very tall stitches, which means space in between them and the outer rounds were dc with chain stitches in between, so more open space. I ended up using the stitch count (mostly) and the height of the stitches as shown in the chart, but I tweaked the count where necessary and I used linked tall stitches so there would not be space in between. Then I just made up the last couple of rounds as I crocheted. 🎃

Who doesn't love a friendly ghost? I used some white and a wee bit of black to make this guy.

I think I will make one or two more of these--I'll see how long the white lasts. 👻

I am not quite sure what I will work on next. I have a couple of projects in mind to start and I have my second sock here by the couch. I worked on that a bit today and got the heel flap done, the heel turned, and the gusset started.

I hope it's a good day in your neck of the woods!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Ballybofey and Stranorlar

Coming to you tonight from a B&B in Stranorlar, just over the River Finn from Ballybofey (pronounced bal [like pal with a b]-ee-buffet [as in all-you-can-eat]). These two towns are usually referred to as the Twin Towns. We've gone through on the bus many times when we were going back and forth to Sligo and a few other times as well. I sometimes get 'vibes' about places, both good and bad, and every time we've gone through here I have thought it seemed like a good place. We could have done day trips here, but we decided to book a room and wander around for a couple of days.

I am quite pleased with myself today--we walked a smidge over 5 miles altogether. This is normal for Bill, but sadly, I have not been able to walk any distance for over a year, due to reactions to mold and then a muscle problem, and then my fall. I was curious to see how I would feel today after walking around and I am pleased. The leg that has been injured is tired, but not painful.

One thing I always liked about the place was this sculpture on the bridge between the towns.
It's called The MatrimonyTree and it's based on Donegal Folklore:

" Local folklore indicates that when a couple were engaged to be married two different varieties of tree would have been planted next to one another. At the time of the wedding these would have been grafted together, and left to grow from thereon as one. The two trees would have retained their unique characteristics, but formed a distinctive shape with the grafted section – like a bridge."

You can read more about this on the Donegal County Council Public Art page here.

We got here at 10:15 this morning and had some time to kill before we could check into the B&B at noon, so we wandered up and down Main St in both towns and went down a few side streets. We stopped at Aldi and got some hummus for lunch. We wanted to find Drumboe Woods, so we found out where that was. After we checked in, we had our lunch and headed back out to the woods. It rained and it was sunny--pretty typical Irish weather!

The ruin in the photo above is what's left of the carriage house that used to be connected to a castle. You can just see a small bit of the castle wall (nothing else remains) on the left of the photo.

There are several trails in these woods, but we stayed on the main one along the river. We started in Stranorlar and walked along until we crossed the river on the footbridge.
By then we were back in Ballybofey and we came out on a lane that led us back to the main road.

We headed back towards the bus stop, because we'd seen a bakery/coffee shop right there and thought it'd be a good idea to check it out. We had some good coffee and almond cups. These were like bakewell tarts in a cupcake shape--almond cake with raspberry jam. Yum!

Now we're hanging out in our room and I'm about to put the kettle on. Tomorrow we'll be out exploring again.

Hope your week has started off well.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

September Reading

It was a mystery book month here, with a few other things tossed in. I even discovered a few books that are set in Inishowen. Those were fun! And now, another month of reading commences!

A Prey to Murder by Ann Cleeves
The next book in the cosy mystery series involving George and Molly Palmer-Jones. He is a retired Home Office guy and keen bird watcher. She is a retired social worker who has a knack for listening and observation. In this book, they go back to the village in which he grew up, where the woman running the manor house turned hotel is discovered dead in the area where the bird of prey exhibition is being held as part of a fundraiser.

Sea Fever by Ann Cleeves
The next in the series--a boat full of bird watchers ends up being one person short when one of the participants is found floating.

Agatha Raisin and the Curious Curate by M.C. Beaton
I have read a few books in this series in the past. I feel lukewarm about them, but they are enjoyable enough. However, I have listened to BBC Radio dramatisations starring Penelope Keith as Agatha in the past and liked them. When I came across the audiobooks on the library website and saw that she is the reader, I decided to check them out. I started with one that was well into the series, but rather than go back, I just went on from there. One day in a pop-up charity shop, I came across this book, so added it to the pile. I’ve been listening to the audiobooks now and then and reached this title, so I read it and then went back to the audiobooks. For some reason, even though I was hearing Penelope Keith in my mind as I was reading this book, I still prefer her audiobook versions. She does a great job and in my experience with audiobooks, the reader makes or breaks them. I have stopped listening to some e-audiobooks that I was interested in because I was finding the reader to be highly annoying and I’d rather read it myself. With these books, it’s the opposite--I’d prefer to listen.

Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life by Helen Czerski
This was a fun book, which I came across while scrolling through the e-book section of the library website. The author does just what she says she will in the subtitle--explain why small things in our everyday lives work the way they do. What is going on when you pour milk into your tea or push down the lever on the toaster? Why don’t ducks have cold feet? How do these small things relate to bigger things in the world/universe?

Another Man’s Poison by Ann Cleeves
In this book in the Palmer-Jones series, Molly and George discover her aunt has died the night before they arrived for a visit. Who might want her out of the way, and why?

Travelling Bag and Other Ghostly Stories by Susan Hill
I came across this title while scrolling through the library e-book site. I’ve read a little bit of the author’s previous work and enjoyed it, so I borrowed this one. It’s a short book of short stories, all with a supernatural element. I quite liked it. I think there are some e-audiobooks of hers on the site as well--I’ll have to check them out!

Inch Levels by Neil Hegarty
This book was published last year, but I hadn’t heard of it until The Irish Times started doing reviews of it this month, when it was selected for their book club. I was interested for a couple of reasons. Part of the story takes place in Inishowen. In fact, important parts of the book unfold in a place that sounds quite like Moville and Inch Levels is an actual place. Also, one of the reviewers talked about how well he captures the culture and communication style of people in small Irish villages, particularly those that are up here on the edge of the island. There is a common feeling here that Donegal is ‘the forgotten county’ and that this is the forgotten part of the forgotten county. Mind you, when we lived in Mayo, they also considered themselves hard done by, but every place has its own particular culture and the reviewer was right--he did a good job of illustrating this one. The book begins with a little girl riding her bike when something happens. Then the story starts shifting. Each chapter is constructed with short sections that move from one event to another or from one person's perspective to another. At times, the same event is told first by one character and then another, so the reader sees it from different angles. Eventually, these bits start coming together--like a quilt that someone constructs from little bits of fabric--to tell the story. It is a multi-layered plot that weaves together several strands, with the main character being Patrick, a middle-aged man who is in hospital, dying. He thinks back to his life and a secret he’s been carrying around. As his mother and sister come to visit him, the focus shifts sometimes to their point of view and how their pasts, their families, and the history of the places in which they lived continue to impact their lives. I did not settle in with the book right away because of the quick shifts in focus and narration, but before too long, I was into it and compulsively turning the pages.

Death at Whitewater Church by Andrea Carter
I had not heard of the mystery series in which this is the first book until I read a review of Inch Levels by the author. Both this book and the next one were on the shelf at our wee local library, so I checked them out, brought them home, and whipped through them. They were quite enjoyable--good reading for a rainy afternoon with a nice cuppa or two.

Treacherous Strand by Andrea Carter
This is the second book in the series about Benedicta O’Keeffe, a solicitor who is a blow-in to Inishowen and who gets involved in some bad situations. The character lives in Malin, which is an actual town and works in the fictitious Glendara, which in many ways, though not all, sounds like Carndonagh. I think the third book in this series is due out in October. I’ll request it when it becomes available.

The Truth and Other Stories by Sarah Clancy
I learned of this poetry collection while listening to the poet read some of her work on The Poetry Programme on RTE Radio 1. I looked it up on the library website and requested it. I like her work and will be looking for more of it.

happy reading!