Janet's thread

A weblog, mostly about knitting but other topics appear

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.



New Crochet Project April 19, 2016

Filed under: Crochet,Crocheted rugs,Handcrafts,Handwork — Janet @ 6:31 pm

Same old same old but different color combinations



Another Crochet Blanket March 26, 2016

Filed under: Blankets,Crochet,Handcrafts,Handwork — Janet @ 5:55 pm

IMG_9950  3rd crochet blanket in current series


Embellishments For Scarves August 25, 2015

Filed under: Festivals,Handcrafts,Spinning,Viking Days,Vikings,Weaving — Janet @ 7:26 pm

Over the weekend I attended Viking Days at the Nordic Heritage Museum.  A very lively festival with numerous Viking themed activities, craft stands, a tattoo artist, wandering personages of Medieval Origins, and of course Viking food and drink.

embellishments 172  at the forge      embellishments 152  tattoo artist and eldest granddaughter

embellishments 192 I brought one of my knitted scarves along and got a  few ideas for small embellishments.  If my readers have any suggestions, their ideas would be most welcome.


Silhouette April 17, 2015

Filed under: ETSY,Handcrafts,Handwork — Janet @ 8:29 pm

IMG_6364  Does this inspire you to write a poem?  or do a drawing? or a painting? or create a sculpture?

I feel creative – I just bought some shares in ETSY.  Good luck to all my friends who sell their creations through this company.


What I Should Have Worn November 25, 2010

Do you ever go to a function or an event and only think afterward of all the outfits you might have worn, instead of what you happened to throw on that morning?  Well, that happened to me this past weekend.  This was Yulefest at the Nordic Heritage Museum.  A wonderful event – Nordic handicrafts, food and music spread over 2 days.  And a dazzling array of colourful sweaters was to be seen.  Plus many people in traditional dress as they demonstrated folk dancing and music from different parts of Scandinavia.  And it was a cold weekend so what a great chance to wear one’s heavy sweaters.   Yes, bitterly cold.  I thought I was back in New England as the storm swept in.

But before we even were able to enter the Museum, people were streaming out of the building because the fire alarm had just gone off.  And then it happened again later, as it had happened even earlier – 3 times in all.  No actual fire which is just as well but maybe a fault in the system??  Those warm sweaters were very welcome protection against the cold.

   the Seattle Fire Department on the scene

  waiting outside for the firemen to investigate

  this is an image from Annemor  Sundbo’s book Everyday Knitting.  The sweaters being worn by most people there at Yulefest were not the traditional handknits like theses but rather the Dale of Norway  machine knit ones – very colourful but I still don’t really like the feel or the weight of them.  I did find some Icelandic sweaters that were handknit and I thought long and hard about buying an unusual one done in black and red and yellow.  In the end I didn’t buy it, remembering that I already have an Icelandic sweater and I haven’t worn it all that much.  Still, the one for sale was very unusual and striking – who knows, maybe I’ll see it again and I will succumb, rather than getting around to knitting another one myself.

On Saturday it slowly dawned on me that yes, I too had a few colourful Scandinavian items but the cold snap had come so suddenly that I hadn’t made the transfer clothingwise.

  this is my Icelandic knit, which I designed myself and knit with Lopi Lite

  another one of my handknits which I designed myself.  I knit it from the top down.  And I used an old Norwegian book  published in 1965, Norwegian Knitting Designs.  Now out of print.  It had straight forward and simple instructions for how to go about knitting a sweater that way.

  I did wear this scarf and received many compliments.  It is a Shetland knit which I purchased in a shop on the Royal Mile leading down from Edinburgh Castle.  At the time I just wanted a sample of Shetland lace knitting.  That was before my trip to Mull in 2004 when I met Liz Lovick and actually tried a bit of lace knitting myself.  I think that shop on the Royal Mile is long gone now, sadly.  They were in the process of closing when I was there.  Alas, no more Shetland yarn to be purchased there. 

Incidentally, speaking of Mull and things Icelandic, a friend and I found several books of Lopi Icelandic designs when we rummaged on the lower shelves of the general store in Fionnphort where you get the ferry to Iona.  Fionnphort is also where I found a few of the Jane Duncan My Friends paperbacks which I have mentioned elsewhere.  A man supporting the R.N.L.I. had used paperbacks for sale in his garage and all proceeds went to that worthy cause.

  waiting outside the Museum for the all-clear

  these dancers from the Skandia group were wonderful

  my Norwegian classroom was transformed into the Bodega.  Good spiced wine available there!  Just right for the next day when I came in after riding my bike in the cold (this was before the snow which came the next day).

  another very Norwegian looking item in my wardrobe.  Ian bought this for me in the Joyce Forsythe shop in the Cornmarket in Edinburgh

  I couldn’t resist purchasing these items at the Yulefest – beautiful handknit mittens.  Fingerless mittens.  And a crochet lady – isn’t she a gem!  I never thought the day would come when I would find such an item attractive.

  the tin whistle and the accordion in the Kaffestuger


Festival of Colour – Bloom, June 2010 June 8, 2010

Filed under: Books,China,Colours,Gardening,Handcrafts — Janet @ 5:45 pm

Bloom is possibly the Dublin equivalent of the Chelsea Flower Show.  I have never been to Chelsea for the famous flower show but Bloom for me is quite outstanding, and since it is sponsored by Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, it is probably rather different in scope.  This year’s show marked its 4th year.   A wonderful event now firmly established in the Irish calendar.

 overview of Bloom from the Bloom website

My duties this year at Bloom were minimal.  The Irish Guild of Weavers Spinners & Dyers had been allocated space by the Crafts Council of Ireland.  This year we were located outside approximately where the Basket Makers were last year.  This year all the craft stands were bunched together under an awning, sheltered from the sun and rain but open to fresh air.  Not like last year when we were in the main hall and it was stifling.   This year we were located beside the first in line were the basket makers, then the potter, then us, and then the felters.  A nice line up.  The blacksmith was at the end sort of around the corner from the basket makers.

  we had 2 spinning wheels and a loom in a very narrow space.  I was able to squeeze in and do some knitting, which also attracted attention.  Questions like, how do you knit on a circular needle?  Most passersby knew how to knit and had knit in earlier years but not on a circular needle.  One man and his wife who stopped to look at the loom and the weaving said that his mother had woven cloth for many years to clothe her family.  He was from northwest China.

I was able to wander around and visit some of the other areas.  Here are the gardaí on duty in the walled garden.  A nice assignment on a sunny day.

Here’s what the gardaí could see

And then on to the show gardens, with music

And then I went inside, and what did I find but a friend,  from my Dublin City Book Fair days, James Vallely of Craobh Rua Books in Armagh,  I browsed there for a long time, and what I bought I’ll tell you another time.


Where Has All the Knitting Gone? April 29, 2010

Filed under: Handcrafts,Knitting — Janet @ 9:34 am

The flowers of Spring are blooming but what about my knitting.  This blog is supposed to be about my craft work but I haven’t written about my knitting for a while.

  I am knitting a tank top and trying to figure out how long to make the shoulder straps – another 2 inches I think

  Ian tells me I should knit about 5 more inches for the straps from the back – looking at this picture I’m not so sure.  I’m knitting with 2 strands of Lang Jawoll Superwash yarn (75% wool, 18% nylon, 7% acrylic) on a size 4.5 mm circular needle, bamboo tips – very easy to work with

Other bits and pieces – in yesterday’s Irish Times there was a brief article about a Viking necklace found in a cave in the Burren in County Clare.  The necklace is 1,150 years old.  According to the article, normally Vicking necklaces that have been found have five to six glass beads, but this latest find has 71 glass beads covered with gold foil.  There is speculation as to just how the necklace could have reached the Burren – possibly a result of a trade between Vikings from Limerick and Gaelic chieftains in the Burren.  Just imagine wearing this necklace with my tank top!  I need my friend Freyalyn to design an outfit to go with the necklace – she likes historic reenactments.

It is fascinating to think how people lived here on this island of Ireland over 1000 years ago.  History is all around us.  In our local churchyard at St. Naithi’s, Viking remains have been found.  Closer to us in time, on the hill there a monastic settlement was founded in the sixth century.

  St. Nathi’s graveyard


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.


Is it Weaving? September 11, 2009

I had a bit of an altercation yesterday – well, it never came to that except in my mind as I thought about it later.  I was in an upmarket shop in town yesterday and I was admiring their products.  I was particularly taken with some circular, sisal jewelry – ear rings, bracelets, necklaces, from Swaziland.  They were very attractive.  I am quite drawn to anything with circles – as a design feature I think it’s superb.  The shop owner told me these circles were very skillfully woven by Swazi women who must have very delicate fingers.  Well, I looked and I looked and I could not for the life of me see how these could have been woven.  A long time ago I made several circular rugs using a metal hoop and starting from the hollow center and making my warp threads spread outward, adding more warp threads as needed.  Yes, this was weaving.  Similar to basket making.


But the circular sisal jewelry was very fine.  These threads were tiny.  I’m certain they were coiled and the coils laced together.  That is not weaving and it irritated me that the shop owner was insisting it was. 

On a bigger scale I have made some fun little baskets by  looping wool around a bit of thick sisal string and lacing the coils together. 

bowling 2009 439  Coiled basket – wool and sisal

And I have also make circular braided rugs by coiling the long strip of braid.   You couldn’t call either of these techniques weaving.

Back to the shop – I continued to browse and finally decided on a fun pair of  circular, bead ear rings made by Masai women – these also were circular and made from beads strung on wire.  They were from Maasai Women Art in Tanzania.  These came from Tanzania but they could equally well have come from Kenya.  There is a central loop and 4 spokes radiating out.  We did not discuss the intricacies of making these ear rings.  Weaving? – no I didn’t want to go that way again.

When I first discovered this shop a week or so ago, the sales girl went into a great spiel about how the shop’s aim was to support self-help groups in Africa.  Fair enough and I’m sure most of the products are from such groups.   When I talked with the buyer yesterday I asked her if she had been to Africa recently.  Yes indeed, she is just back from a buying trip to Botswana, Swaziland, and South Africa.  She was in East Africa, Nairobi at Easter time.  I was eager to hear about Nairobi having lived there for 7 years, but she was reluctant to talk.  She became a bit vague at that point.  Nevertheless, she has certainly brought back some lovely products, but I wish she would research her handcrafts a bit more.  Last night, the more I thought about this shop the more I decided I would much rather buy genuine world famous Kazuri beads from a lovely Kenyan girl/woman who has married an Irish man and has a stall each Sunday in Dun Laoghaire People’s Park on Sunday afternoons.  She also sells items made by the Masai and recycled paper jewelry from an aid project in Nairobi.  She is a lovely person and we have had such nice chats about Nairobi.  I enjoy purchasing from her.