Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Irish Crochet Christening Shawl

ETA: Google Analytics tells me that this is my most popular page, so I'm editing it to add more information. IF YOU FIND THIS USEFUL, please let me know via the comments. IF THERE'S ANYTHING THAT NEEDS MORE EXPLANATION, let me know!

1) The FREE crochet pattern is here.
2) It's lace/thread/Irish crochet. That is why it is NOT wholly crocheted. If you are a lady (or lad) of leisure with servants and have nothing else to do but make a fully crocheted shawl in thread, commence crocheting before the pee has dried on your first positive pregnancy test, and you may finish a satisfactory shawl by the time your youngest grandchild graduates university.
3) It's a crochet trim / embellishment of a fake quilt base (see below). If you are 'Irish' American, this may be of interest to you - a way of celebrating both aspects of your heritage: the Irish crocheting part, and the American quilt-making part (my granny was 'American' Irish, born in Philly to immigrants who decided the streets were paved in the same old shite they could get back home, and left).It is a fake quilt because I do not sew. Especially I do not sew tiny flittery wee bits of fabric which for reasons best left to experts in terminal daftitude I have cut from a perfectly good bolt of cloth precisely for the purposes of sewing them back together (my mother quilted. Using saved scraps from torn and clapped clothing, etc. I cut such as this up and crochet cat beds and rugs).

When my sister and then my sister-in-law fell pregnant, I had the idea of making an heirloom lace crochet baptism shawl, similar to the kind of thing my grandmother made, but which vanished on her death. So I got the hooks and the thread - with immense difficulty, as craft shops had all but vanished and eBay didn't exist - and started. After a few months of tinkering, frogging and fruitless searching for patterns, I came to realise there were not enough hours for me to ever finish it. Bear in mind I was also working full-time and completing a PhD at the time.

The shawl never got made. It wasn't made for my niece three years later, or for my next nephew two years after that. By this time I was pregnant with my son, and I determined that he at least would have a handmade shawl. So I had a re-think.

By this time, handcrafts had undergone a revival. There were a few more L- and not-so-LYS, though the pickings for Irish crochet were mighty slim. EBay had finally been invented, and there were online patterns.

Even better, I had remembered an altar cloth I made for my uni chaplains many years ago - must get a pic of it up - and had some new ideas. I knew IBC would be christened in the arse-end of winter, so would need something more substantial than lace. So I thought I'd make a quilt that was trimmed with lace crochet - well, initially I was thinking of making a sort of sleeping bag/papoose affair, but my sewing skills aren't up to it. Now for the original post...

Just remembered this - my son's Christening shawl.

Sewing: It's a raw silk sandwich with a filler of thermal curtain lining (interfacing - the thickest I could find). The silk outer was sewn first in a rough oval, leaving just enough room to poke in the filler, then finished. The filler was then sewn in place by sewing through both silk and interfacing about 1/2" from the edge. I then machine-stitched a pseudo-quilted diamond pattern over the centre by running parallel lines of stitches across from one side to the other, then another set of parallel lines at about 75deg to the first lot.

Crochet: At the crossing points of the diamonds there are 3D Irish crochet roses, and around the outside is a chain made of Irish crochet rings looped together in the making.

I must try to get a better picture sometime.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas Bag

Finished the first Christmas bag (for my sister), but it still needs to be lined. Also the instructions call for a fancy button, but I'm leaning towards a couple of plain satchel fastenings.

Also some pics of double-knitting, which I larned masel on a trip to Ireland recently. It's just a practice piece. I've put together some designs for baby blankies, one of which is just on the needles but there's no urgency to complete.

I have also decided to make spectacle cases for Mum and MIL - both occasionally wear glasses and are always losing them. So I got some cheap cases at the weekend and have already knitted a cover for one in Paton's Lush in Autumn, a bright red-yellow-purple mix. Try losing that. The second is half-complete. I may do a mobile phone cosy for SIL.

My friend's daughter has become fascinated by unicorns. And guess what pattern appeared in the last issue of Crochet??! Must start pull-caking the chenille. Wish I could remember what size hook I used last time.

And it turns out Friday is not a training day as I'd thought, but a real, honest-to-goodness day off!! So I'll go into town and get some supplies at the Bullring - lining fabric, fasteners, maybe craft glue - and probably Abraham's Santa present.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

New work

Since the last post, I started my first ever lace knitting project, began the Christmas knitathon, am not substantially further on with the Bob the Builder jumper, and went back to Ireland for a night... It was about the right length of time for a visit home!

My big baby brother turned 40 at the end of October, but the surprise party was on the 10th November. And surprise it was - he's been like a wasp since his actual birthday because nobody made any fuss, just the odd card and well-wishing, a small token present or two. Organising the party was no mean feat for his wife, as he has been off work with a broken arm for the last few weeks and was underfoot every time she tried to write an invitation or make a phone call. But he was completely fooled. The only tricky bit was that they had to send him into the North on the day on a series of pointless but "urgent" errands, and of course I was coming down from Aldergrove to Kesh, along any route he might take, staying with my sister who he might drop in on for a cup of tea... Any other guest seen travelling down could be explained, but why would I be coming over to Ireland in secret??? It was a good night, there shall be YouTube evidence of the big man DANCING as soon as YouTube deigns to co-operate, and Mum was looking more relaxed, younger and less strained than she has done for years.

I don't think we're fully aware yet of the toll on her of caring for Dad in the last few years. None of us knew she had to dress him, for example. I knew she was bathing him, but thought that was just back-scrubbing where he couldn't reach - ffs TH does that for me! It seems he was more incapacitated than he let on to anyone. The unravelling of his life continues.

So, to wips: the lace scarf was inspired by a cone of black mohair (or fluffy string) I found dumped outside a late neighbour's house. How grue is that?! She must have been a machine knitter, because there were other bits and bobs - including pieces of knitting machine - lying about, obviously fallen out of bins and not picked up by our delightful and hard-working binmen. The scarf pattern is merely of 8x6-petal flowers with a garter-stitch border, nothing exciting. However it has been frogged about 6 times to date: I have only managed to do 3 rows of flowers, and one of those has only 7 flowers on it. The next row would have had only 5, as the total number of stitches had dropped from 64 to 44! I have no idea how this happened. It's not as if I'm not well used to textured patterns. It's not like I can't count! I checked and rechecked and double-checked the pattern, the number of stitches on the needle, counted and re-counted the pattern stitches off and checked again that the fluffiness or the yos weren't 'creating' stitches - and still I either had too many stitches or too few at the end of each row. The only row that work out right is the one where the Offspring was torturing me for walks and purpo juice and cuggles. If it ever works, I'll give it to the Offspring's childminder.

The knitathon is just to make little token gifts for Mum, my sis, and my MIL. Last year I made a skinny scarf and gloves set in eyelash yarn for them - the gloves were actually purchased black fleece jobs, but I knitted matching eyelash-yarn cuffs for them. And didn't take pics - pity, as it was quite effective. This year, I saw an interesting pattern in Simply Knitting mag. Weeell, pattern. Anyhoo. Tis a baggie. Supposedly, a bedroom cushion (does anyone really have these things, unless they're selling the house?) which doubles as a nightwear holder (again, does ANYONE use these things?), which presumably provides the cushiony goodness, otherwise you wind up with a nightie case and a teeny cushionpad lying on the floor. There's 2 yarns, and something goin on between them. Naturally, the two yarns are only available on the second moon of Tau Ceti 6 during the bicentennial eclipse, but only to quadripeds. But I got some Patons Lush (surprisingly soft) to substitute for the sparkly yarn, and for the other I've quadruple-plied some thin chenille from the stash. That's looking good, like sari yarn. I'll make up two versions, one in blues on eau-de-nil chenille, and the other in autumn colours on wine chenille. I figure I'll just give them, they can use them as they want. In my sis's case, (blue/eau-de-nil version) I hope she will use it to pick out colours for her bedroom in the new house. Please God. Anything so long as next visit I don't have to wander around saying how well I think donkey pink, terracotta and putty beige go together (*shudder*).

On Bob, I'm about halfway up the helmet bit on the front, having begun working flat from the armholes. Ho hum. Erm. That's about it.

And I should be Ravelry -bound in the next couple of days!!!


Ravelry update:

  • You signed up on October 19, 2007
  • You are #46355 on the list.
  • 510 people are ahead of you in line.
  • 10365 people are behind you in line.
  • 79% of the list has been invited so far