Janet's thread

A weblog, mostly about knitting but other topics appear

Two Of My Favorite Things February 21, 2017

Filed under: Animals,Bears,Craft Fairs,Craftwork,Dogs — Janet @ 4:53 pm

img_2380 a little bear

img_2382  and a little dog

Just 2 small hand carved wooden animals.  I particularly like the grain of the wood in the little bear.  Simple objects which I have on my desk.  (Part of the clutter to the despair of my sons!)


Laces of Ipswich January 4, 2017

A great find – this book, The Laces of Ipswich, The Art and Economics of an Early American Industry by Marta Cotterell Raffel is perfect for combining my interests in history, genealogy, and economics.  I am only marginally interested in lace making in that it relates to weaving…..but this is a thoroughly researched picture of an industry in early New England and just maybe some of my ancestors!

img_2172    The Laces of Ipswich


whipple-house  Whipple House, Ipswich Massachusetts – some of the work highlighted in this book are displayed in Whipple House.



More Rug Ideas August 11, 2011

I found an old photo album from my early days of rug making back in the 1970’s.  I might modify that sentence to say serious rug making.  30 years previously I had made several latchet hooked and braided rugs – I was serious enough about those at the time but they were  done more as a teen-age hobby.  My serious rug making took off in the mid-1970’s when I purchased an upright loom.  It was a Squirrel loom which I imported to Fiji from New Zealand.  I was part of a burgeoning arts and crafts movement among the ex-pats.  The Fiji Arts Club had been going for years and years but its members concentrated on painting and drama.  I dabbled in painting and went along for the Tuesday morning outdoor painting sessions.  I did not receive much encouragement there but met a number of people with similar interests along the crafts lines.  There we were, each either accomplished in their particular craft, such as candle making, or pottery, or weaving, or wanting to become so.

So a new group was in the making and became the Fiji Crafts Association.  Our first exhibition was very exciting.  At that point I only had a table loom but was happy to be a part of the developing bigger picture.  And I was stimulated to get a floor loom so that I could move on to weaving rugs.  Simultaneously, the Fiji Arts Club decided to have a small crafts section as part of its semi-annual exhibition.  And that was where I sold my first rugs.  Encouraged by my success, Ian turned his hand to acrylic painting, a latent talent to say the least, and his paintings sold even faster than my rugs.  Heady days!

To stimulate this interest in painting and weaving we seemed to be surrounded by all sorts of inspiration.  Not the least of which was this piece of bark sculpture, which we found in the forest somewhere in Fiji.   We labelled it Mbala mbala, took it back with us to Dublin, and had it sitting in our garden there for years.



the three little boys are of course James, Andrew, and David

Sort of in line with this tree bark sculpture, I found an image of Sepik art and translated that into a stitched rug.


        My stitched rug based on an image from Sepik art.


    Emily Carr painting

So the three above images are in my mind as I work on my latest rug.  The exact direction I am going in is not quite certain – it’s all evolving.  Some people like to work with strict cartoon and adhere to it religiously – I prefer to let my designs evolve as I go along.

   the rug to date


the orange and red that I started out with came from this orginal image in the little Norwegian rya booklet



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.


Two Exhibition Openings May 8, 2010

I have been to 2 Exhibition Openings this past week.  Both events are showcasing textiles by artists working in Ireland.  And each event was excellent.  My only disappointment was that I had nothing on display since most of my recent work is now in Seattle.   Nevermind, the shows gave me a lot of inspiration and I am eager to get weaving again.  And they also gave me a chance to meet up with many dear friends whom I had not seen for a long time.  Plus, it was especially heartening to receive comments like, “Oh Janet, hello, I still have one of your rugs………”  which I like to interpret as meaning I like your work and have fond memories of you.

The Exhibition Opening on Wednesday night was that of the Irish Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers, held in Dalkey Castle Heritage Centre.  Here are a few samples from the Exhibition.

  woven tapestry

by Patricia Gellon

  woven wall panel,    paper, cotton        by Monika Auch

  woven tapestry,    cotton, wool, silk, hemp, viscose          by Terry Dunne

On Thursday night, the second Exhibition Opening took place.  This Exhibition was put on by the 595, aka 510, Group.  This Exhibition is in Dun Laoghaire and featured not only textiles but also ceramics and wire and art work in other media.  The Exhibition is in part retrospective and included a number of works which had previously been exhibited elsewhere.

  Orange Peel flowers, in wire     by Magda Rubalcava

  Mother and daughter woven tapestry, wool & cotton warp         by Magda Rubalcava

  Welcome Mat, handwoven rug in Mary O’Rourke’s handspun hand dyed Irish wool

     Butterfly Hunt, wool & cotton warp         by Magda Rubalcava

  Handwoven floor rug, cotton    by Beth Royds


Getting Ready for the Knitting and Stitching Show October 27, 2009

This is a busy week as we get ready for the Knitting & Stitching Show.  Setting up day is Wednesday October 28 and then the show is open to the public from Thursday the 29th to Sunday November 1st.  I’ll be on duty at one of the stands – up on the balcony at the stand of the Irish Guild of Weavers Spinners & Dyers.   This year the emphasis at our stand will be on spinning.  At the show there is a chance to do a lot of shopping.  Last night I decided to assess my current stash of knitting yarn.  Here is the result.

Stash assessment 053  Current stock of knitting yarn, October 2009

The above picture should remind me not to buy any more yarn.  Watch this space.


I Have Not Been Idle June 3, 2009

Filed under: Craftwork,Gardening,Ireland,Knitting,Socks,Spinning,Weaving — Janet @ 11:44 am


I have not been blogging very much lately but I have not been idle.


Baby Surprises 3 and 4 Remember the Baby Surprises Numbers 3 and 4?  Well, I finally got around to sewing in the ends and fastening the buttons on these and also Baby Surprise Number 2.  Plus I did a small adjustment on a sleeveless jacket which I knit last year.  And I sewed the ends on the socks I knit during Bloom, the marvelous garden show, held in Phoenix Park over the weekend.

early June photos 110 Baby Surprises from left to right, No. 3, No. 2, No. 4, Green Jacket, and the purple and white socks

At Bloom, the Irish Guild of Weavers Spinners & Dyers, had a minuscule space, probably about the size needed for a big loom.  Instead of a big loom we had a small folding loom, a Louet spinning wheel, a table, and two or three people.

early June photos 098 Here are two of our demonstrators -Deidre at the loom and John at the spinning wheel.  Not pictured would be me sitting behind, knitting a sock.  Each of these activities attracted a lot of attention and we usually had a crowd gathered round.   A number of people commented that one just didn’t see handknitting any more.  Most women had done knitting in school and had had great difficulty in learning to turn the heel of a sock – I think that put many of them off and they never wanted to knit again.

early June photos 027 Two more weavers – Marilyn at the floor loom and Shanah doing backstrap weaving


Our display was very good also wall hangings, scarves, tapestries, rugs, crios, and posters showing the results of using natural dyes and food dyes.

early June photos 036 Colour wheel by Bettina


We were so busy that it was only on my third and final day of the Show that I had a good chance to look around at some of the Show Gardens and the various stands. 

early June photos 081 One of the Show Gardens – this one appealed to me with its imaginative use of the garden shed


AGM of the Irish Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers March 8, 2009

Filed under: Craftwork,Ireland,Knitting,Weaving — Janet @ 4:48 pm

I joined the Irish Guild of Weavers Spinners & Dyers in 1983, if I recall correctly, 26 years ago.   Over the years I have made many good friends through Guild activities.   The Guild had its AGM yesterday at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, the Decorative Arts and History section of the Museum.  Upon arrival I was delighted to join 2 of my friends from earlier Guild days – it was lovely to see them and I hope this means that they are going to become involved in Guild activities again.  As part of our meeting we had a guided tour of the newly opened Albert Bender Collection of Asiatic Art.  And what an excellent tour it was. 

During the business part of the meeting I agreed to go back on the Committee.  (I had gone to the meeting sort of resolved not to go back on the Committee but upon meeting up again with so many old, and not so old, friends my resolve vanished.)   In the final part of the meeting, one of the newer members, Kathleen McCormick, told us about her week of rug making under the tutelage of Jason Collingwood.  Kathleen’s specialty has been basket weaving but she has gradually shifted to the fibre weaving scene.  She has done courses with some rather famous names – Lluis Grau for basket making and his partner Anna Champeney to learn the Spanish technique of felpa weaving.  I feel as if I sort of know Anna through her messages to the Online Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers.  Now Kathleen has had a week’s tuition with none other than Jason Collingwood.   Kathleen gave a tantalizing account of her week of rug weaving in Jason’s studio in Colchester in England.

Knitting report:

miscellaneous-ian-072 Completed strip 3 with strips 1 and 2.  When pressed and joined each strip should be about 8 inches wide, so I figure I need to knit 8 strips in all for my double bed size blanket.


Weekly Market May 19, 2008

Filed under: Craftwork,Crochet,Films,Knitting,Weaving — Janet @ 9:07 am

At last, we are transitioning into Spring and the knitted items that I have been taking to my weekly market, namely scarves and socks, no longer seem so appropriate for the season.  So I decided to take one of my rugs.

And – my rug now has a new home.  I was so pleased.  Rug sales at the Market are rare – smaller items are more popular.   I just might set up my loom again – my loom is currently taking a rest – and I am taking a rest from the “tyranny of the loom”.  If the loom is set up, I feel I should have a warp on it – and if there is a warp on it then I should be weaving.  Knitting needles don’t exert quite the same dominance.

Nevertheless, the knitting needles have been clicking and here is the latest project, nearing completion.  Hodge Podge blanket no. 6.


I am determinedly working away at reducing my stash of left-over knitting yarn, and actually I am getting a lot of satisfaction out of this simple straight-forward knitting and then joining the squares.

My other stash reduction assault is on my weaving yarn.  That yarn is all right for incorporating in crochet blankets, but I also use some of the knitting yarn as well.

I enjoy working on a granny square type project while watching tv or a dvd.  Recently we viewed another Gerard Depardieu film, Germinal, based on the novel by Emile Zola.  Well, I knew it would be grim – back in the days when I read Zola I found him an excellent writer but his novels were grim to say the least.  The film was excellent – I had been putting off watching it because I wanted something more cheerful but really the acting was so good and the scenes were epic.





Old postcards revisited April 17, 2008

Filed under: Craftwork,Photography,Postcards,Spinning — Janet @ 8:56 am

    This postcard is a replica of an old photograph.  Copyright National Museum of Ireland.  What bothers me about it is the caption – Spinning and carding wool.  The spinning part is all right but the carding term is incorrect, isn’t it?  The woman in the foreground is beating flax, isn’t she?  And isn’t there a special term other than beating for this stage of the process?