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.


Old photographs April 23, 2008

Over the weekend we had a computer glitch and we finally had to call in a computer doctor to solve the problem.  Honestly, the way we were pacing around, it was like waiting for the diagnosis about a sick child.  Joy and jubilation when the patient was pronounced to be well on the road to recovery and internet access was restored.  Why were we so upset?  As one friend suggested, it was upsetting all our routines.  Well, one routine I deviated from this past weekend was my usual Saturday morning at our local country co-operative market at Kilternan.  Instead, this Saturday morning was my only chance to go to the Trinity Book Sale.  This was the final day of the Book Sale and I hardly expected to find anything of interest.  I arrived shortly after it opened at 10 o’clock and was very surprised to find it so crowded.  I rummaged through the books on the various tables and no, I didn’t find any great treasures – a few small items but nothing much.  Still I got pleasure out of the searching.


 Third and final day of the Trinity Book Sale April 2008

Following my big expenditure of euro 2.60 at the sale, I decided to visit the shop at the National Gallery.  This visit also looked as if it was not going to bear fruit until…….I was leaving the shop and spotted a book of interest in the window display.  Back I went and ended up purchasing Framing the West, Images of Rural Ireland 1891-1920  What attracted me to the book were the old photographs, particularly those relating to spinning.  To quote from one particular link  “This collection put together by Breathnach (U. of Limerick, Ireland) aims to demonstrate the value of photographic images as historical evidence for scholars of Ireland. Drawing largely on the works of commercial photographer Robert J. Welch (1859-1936), 14 contributions discuss the history of photography in Ireland and explore what photography tells us about the social and economic history of the West of Ireland between 1890 and 1920. Topics addressed include the use of photography in Irish tourist literature, images of poverty, the cultural relationship between Welch and his subjects, the gender division of labor in commercial fisheries, and agricultural transformation of the Irish landscape.”

Quite a number of the old photographs also appear to have been postcards.  I must be on the lookout for those at future antique postcard hunting opportunities.


Kilternan Country Market March 9, 2008

Filed under: Country Markets,Knitting,Local history,Social history,Weaving — Janet @ 2:04 pm

As regular readers of this blog know, each Saturday morning I attend Kilternan Country Market, our weekly country market.  Kilternan Country Market is a member of the Irish Country Markets Ltd., which is closely allied to the Irish Country Women’s Association. 

Our Kilternan Market is featured this month in Panorama, a local community magazine.  It was most exciting!  This month’s issue was delivered to the Market this morning and each member received a copy.  Photos of each of us had been taken a few weeks ago and the article plus the photos has appeared.  There we all are. 

The Market has grown over the years from its early days starting in 1964.  It has become an institution, beloved by members and friends.  It is a sort of Saturday morning club where producers and customers meet for their morning coffee and chat.  And in its way, the Market gives a social history of the area.  We have many loyal customers and they are as much a fabric of the Market as we the producers.  Maybe there could be a sequel to the Panorama  article and the customers could be featured.  

A bit of history.  I officially joined the Market in January 1984.  My purpose was to try to sell some of my knitted and woven craft items.  Not only has the Market served this purpose but it has also become an important centre for me socially.  I have made many friends among the members and the customers.  Loyalty is the name of the game.  Loyal members and loyal customers who keep coming each week and get to know each other well over the years.

Inevitably in the course of time since I joined, some members have passed on.  We miss them dearly but I am so glad I had the privilege of getting to know them.  The same is true for many of our favourite customers.  But new members have joined and new customers keep coming.

When we worked overseas and I was away for long periods of time, I was relieved that my Market membership was kept for me.  It was such a feeling of homecoming when I would return after a period of two or three years away and be welcomed with open arms. 

The emphasis in the Market has been on home baking, plants and flowers, jams and jellies, chickens and eggs.   All items for sale in the Market are home produced, no bought in merchandise is allowed. 

Crafts have tended to take a back seat – yet we are important and recently, in particular, sales of craft items have taken a great leap forward, I am happy to say.  And hand knitting is leading the charge.  There are several of us bringing hand knitted items and we are all selling very well.  I have also been making notecards from my own photographs and those have been selling well also.  So one way another, I usually manage to have at least one or two sales each week.

Here is just one example of some of the knitting I have been taking to the Market.

three-pairs-of-socks-resized.jpg three pairs of socks for sale at the Market – one pair sold, two remain


Beware of knitting for strangers October 13, 2007

Filed under: Country Markets,Ireland,Knitting — Janet @ 3:24 pm


In my previous blog I mentioned that I had finished the pink baby thing.  I was working on it last week at Kilternan Market and a customer had admired it and wanted to buy it when it was finished.  I told her I would try to have it for this Saturday.  I finished it in good time, marked it sold, and displayed it on my table.  The morning was almost over and I had given up hope on the return of this customer.  But no, 5 minutes to go, and in she came with her husband and 4 month old daughter.  She wasn’t wearing her red raincoat of last week so I didn’t recognize her.  They duly admired the “pink baby thing” and promptly bought it.  We were all pleased, even the 4 month old baby!  Hence my warning about knitting for strangers does not apply in this case and there is a happy ending.  You just never know.