Janet's thread

A weblog, mostly about knitting but other topics appear

Muriel Gahan, Pioneer June 13, 2010

Filed under: Biography,Country Markets,Craftwork,Ireland,Irish History,Weaving — Janet @ 11:36 am

Pioneer might not be quite the right word in writing about Muriel Gahan but she certainly did yeomanlike work in resurrecting and preserving the crafts traditional to Ireland, particularly weaving.   What caught my eye in yesterday’s Irish Times was this picture of a painting which once hung in Muriel Gahan’s office at the well-loved Country Shop in Dublin.  Muriel and the Country Shop are no longer with us.  Muriel was born in 1897 and died in 1995.  The Country Shop, a Dublin institution, was founded in 1930.  It ceased operations in 1978.

  painting which hung in the office of the late Muriel Gahan at the Country Shop in St. Stephen’s Green.  It is a large untitled abstract by Evie Hone (1894-1955).  Evie Hone is well known to us here in Dundrum.  Several of her stained glass windows are in St. Naithi’s Church.  She had a studion in nearby Rathfarnham.  The estimated price range for the abstract painting to be auctioned at de Vere’s is Euro 25,000-35,000.

Quite by chance yesterday I also found a copy of the biography written about Muriel Gahan.  Deeds Not Words, The Life and Work of Muriel Gahan, Champion of rural women and craftworkers, by Geraldine Mitchell.  Geraldine Mitchell is a journalist, poet, and biographer.  And incidentally, Geraldine is the niece of Lillias Mitchell who was a pioneer in her own right.  Lillias, among other distinctions, was a pioneer in the setting up of the Irish Guild of Weavers Spinners & Dyers in 1975.  My memory of Muriel Gahan is of her opening one of the Exhibitions held by the Guild back in its early days.  The Guild had a large Exhibition in the Bank of Ireland on Leeson Street and that year it was held in conjunction with the Woodturners.  A biography of Lillias Mitchell would be a good sequel to the volume on Muriel Gahan.  Lillias was a close friend to many of us in the Guild – she passed away in the year 2000 at the age of 85.


Flea Markets and Others March 1, 2010

Filed under: Authors,Books,Country Markets,Ireland,Move to Seattle,Music — Janet @ 3:22 am

Today was the day for the Fremont Market, an institution here in Seattle.  Every Sunday, rain or shine.  It can be rather bleak on a cold rainy winter’s day, but last Sunday and this Sunday, vendors and buyers were out in force.  I was feeling sorry that I was missing the Dublin City Book Fair today – as readers of this blog know I was a regular participant.  But the Fremont Market was a good substitute and I found some interesting books as well as a few other things.   As I continue the unpacking I am finding lots of things that I could sell in Fremont  if I got my act together – this would include all those books I was trying to sell in Dublin.  Yes, Janet’s Books is almost ready to open up shop here in Seattle. 

After my earlier post about children’s books, I seem to have my eye out for books that I read as a child.  Tom Mix and Uncle Wiggly were two familiar names  I saw today.

One of my favourite 2nd hand book shops, Ophelia’s Books, is in Fremont and I made a point of visiting it today.  No Henning Mankell books but I found a P.D. James and a Dick Francis, plus a book about making paper.  And some good postcards.

I’ve also been missing my weekly Saturday visits to Kilternan Market.  Today in Fremont I met a girl who was selling cards similar to the ones I was selling in Kilternan.  She had used her photographs and affixed them to notecards of handmade paper.  It was her first time trying to sell these cards and I proved to be a good customer.

   musicians add atmosphere to the Fremont Market

   very attractive carpet for sale in Fremont

  more music in Fremont

  just to show I have been clearing some space in our garage

  there is a black cat in this picture.  The cat resides at Ophelia’s Books – this cat is so like our cat Slinki Malinki – I miss her


Knitting for a change December 20, 2009

Filed under: Country Markets,Knee rugs,Knitting,Rug making,Rugs,Weaving — Janet @ 6:06 pm

Knitting for a  change – rather a play on words.  I haven’t blogged about my knitting recently, hence the title, but read on and you’ll read about other changes.  My knitting of late has been baby blankets or panels or whatever else you want to call them – I’ve been using 2 strands of sock yarn – one strand of multicolour self-patterning and one strand of solid colour.  I have been choosing yarns from my stash.  The strand of multicolour has remained constant but I have the fun of changing the strand of the solid colour every few rows.  Here are some of the results.                  I am partial to the purple based one on the left.    But the green based one on the right is quite nice also.      These panels are on the same idea as the grandaughters skirts featured in an earlier blog. 

The past couple of weeks I have been taking a blue and yellow panel to my weekly Kilternan Market but I haven’t featured it for sale among my hats and scarves and socks.   The hats and scarves and socks have been selling well.  One particularly discerning customer spotted the blue and yellow panel which I had casually displayed  behind the table.  She asked to see it and asked how much I was charging for it.  I kind of fumbled around and decided on a price – she decided it would be perfect as a lap rug for her elderly dad.

                      Blue and yellow panel (lap rug), sold at Kilternan Market.  I am nearing the completion of another panel and had decided to knit something else, for a change.  Well, this sale boosted my spirits, as happens when one makes a sale, and now I think I will knit yet another panel.           I’ll choose the yarns from my ever shrinking stash.  I think the next panel will be “brown based”.  Watch this space. 

One of the rugs in the house we are renting is a rug I wove quite a few years ago and was selected by my friend to put in her cottage down in the West.  The rug has somehow migrated back to Dublin and is now in the hallway of this house.   

                One of my woven rugs – a striking resemblance to my current knitting!


Where Has All The Knitting Gone? October 24, 2009

Regular readers of this blog might be wondering if I am still knitting, what with all my rambling on other topics.  Don’t despair – I’m still knitting – knitting on trains, planes, cars – knitting while watching tv, knitting in between uploading photos (thanks to a slow computer), knitting while reading, etc.  I’ve had a change from doing hats and have been working on a couple of larger than usual projects. 

The brown short sleeve sweater I was working on a while ago has morphed into a tank top and as soon as I’ve sewn the ends, it will make its appearance.

When I was in Connecticut I bought a pattern for a child’s skirt.  I knit round and round and round on that, and now it is waiting for the final sewing of the loose ends.  Soon to appear.  The skirt will match this hat, knit with Noro yarn and Icelandic Lodband.


Another hat knit with Noro and Lodband


And just to have some plain knitting on the go, I am working on another tank top – this one in a nice solid green.  Maybe one-third done.

Usually I find time to knit on Saturday morning at Kilternan Market, but this morning I was so busy that I didn’t have a chance.  Sales in the craft section were brisk.  Hooray.  Of course, being adjacent to the vegetables, we get a chance to sell a few of those too.  I am happy to report that a pair of my handknit socks and one of my notecards were among the sales.  As my woodturner friend at the Market said, it’s these little sales that keep us going.


  Socks from stash yarn  Socks knit from stash yarn


  My stash of knitting yarn, March 2008


stash assessment brightest 

The stash is considerably reduced from when this photo was taken – I’ll change that to considerably altered – I’ve probably added as much yarn as I’ve used up.  But when I sell something at the Market, e.g. socks, then I immediately want to knit more of that particular item, in different colours of course.  You can probably read between the lines and conclude that all those hats I knit recently have yet to find heads to rest on.


Everyone Was Knitting September 28, 2009

Filed under: Cancer,Colours,Country Markets,Knee rugs,Knitting,Yarn shops — Janet @ 10:22 pm

When I went to the Sunday Market in the People’s Park in Dun Laoghaire, it seemed as if everyone was knitting.  As I walked along the seafront to get to the Park what should I see but a girl sitting on a bench and knitting intently.  Looked like she was using thick yarn.

Knitting while enjoying the view  Knitting while enjoying the view across Dublin Bay to Howth


I continued on my way to the Market


Ian sept 09 207   Approach to the Sunday Market in the People’s Park

The first stand I found was my favourite Amani Crafts Ltd with Lucy Ndungu Lane from Kenya selling the Kazuri Beads.  Much to my surprise Lucy was knitting – I thought she had told me she didn’t know how.  Beyond her I could see several people sitting on the grass and concentrating on their knitting.   And another person standing and knitting while chatting with a friend orcustomer.

Having a chat  Having a chat while working away at her knitting


I proceeded  next door to The Yarn Room to see Stephanie and Maria.  Not surprising that they were knitting.  But here the reason for all the knitting became clear – Stephanie and Maria had organized their friends in the Market to knit squares for a comfort blanket.  The blanket is to be assembled by Stephanie and given to another Market friend who is ill.  I thought this was a great idea and I volunteered to knit a square as well.  So I was given a pair of size 10 needles and some uninteresting gray and white yarn, which I managed to exchange with Lucy – her green yarn was much more my colour to knit.





Ian sept 09 324   Here’s my effort so far – cast on 20 stitches and knit a square

After Stephanie stitches each person’s squares together to make up the blanket, I’ll try to get a picture to post.  Keep watching.


The first day of autumn September 1, 2009

Filed under: Country Markets,Hats,Knitting,Lawn bowling — Janet @ 11:59 am

Alas, if yesterday was the last day of summer – well then, this is the first day of autumn – one of my favourite seasons.  Summer was a bit of a wash-out here in Ireland so here’s hoping for a lovely fall.   The picture below was taken during the last week in August when I was up in Northern Ireland for the Lawn Bowling Championships.

Sign of autumn in Coleraine   Berries as signs of autumn in Coleraine Northern Ireland

It’s cooler today, Sept. 1, but the sun is now shining on the pansies I am busily planting.

Pansies 1  Pansies scattered round the garden

And the cooler weather is an incentive to carry on with the hat knitting.  Here are 2 more recently completed.  Of course, the sale of 1 of my hats at Kilternan Market last Saturday gave me a boost as well.

Two more hats  Two more hats, note the box of pansies in the foreground waiting to be planted.  Just after I took these pictures we had another rain shower – our typical rain pattern.

bowling 2009 061  The hat on the left is the one that I sold.  I thought the customer would prefer the greeny one  just beside it.


Toddler Surprise April 27, 2009

Filed under: Baby knitting,Country Markets,Knitting,Socks — Janet @ 5:39 pm

2nd-baby-surprise  The 2nd baby surprise looks big enough to fit a toddler.  The cat has given it its seal of approval.  I used Cascade Soft Spun yarn, purchased at The Full Circle in Ballard Seattle, and size 5.5 mm needles (size 9 U.S.).

And then there are the Kaffe Fassett yarn socks which I knit while I was in Seattle and sold at Kilternan Market on Saturday.  We had a very busy Market – maybe thanks to the Art Exhibition across the street or maybe it was the article which appeared in the Irish Times the previous Saturday.  It was a glowing article – it described the market as “a hub of warm chatter and friendliness where newcomers are very welcome, and it’s a sign of a community that knows how to guide the future with values that, happily, have not been left in the past.”

baby-trip-to-seattle-117 Kaffe Fassett yarn socks, yarn purchased at I Knit in London.

I also sold 4 of my notecards made from my photographs.  My stock is going down – I must make some more for next Saturday.

After the Market I went across the street to an Art Exhibition, wandered around admiring the paintings, and finally made the decision to buy one.

2nd-baby-surprise-004  Maisie

There were 2 other cow paintings by the same artist but Maisie was my favourite.

2nd-baby-surprise-003 3 cows, Daisy, Maisie, and Martha – Maisie looked the friendliest.