Monday, October 15, 2007

Irish weaving

We recently returned from a trip to Ireland, and as we were travelling around I tried to find all the traditional Irish crafts. Alas, it turns out that there aren't many things made in Ireland anymore! We went to a former flax mill, now a museum, and saw how linen is made from flax, but they told us that there is no linen made in Ireland anymore. Anything that says "Irish linen" means that the linen was imported and then made into some product (like a tablecloth) in Ireland. We went to one of the areas where they used to make the Irish fisherman knit sweaters, but saw very few hand knits. There were some beautiful machine knit things, though. And I learned that all those sheep in Ireland are for pork chops, not for wool! Apparently they don't make wool yarn in Ireland anymore either. Even Waterford crystal is blown in Eastern Europe and only the decorative cutting is done in Ireland. Nevertheless, we persevered, and found that there is still traditional weaving being done in Avoca, where there is a weaving factory that's been there for years. You can wander around the factory and see the whole operation. It's quite small, and they make some absolutely gorgeous woven fabric and throws and scarves and things that you see for sale all around Ireland. There were about 6 of these hand looms with a man operating the loom, making throws or scarves. Yarn was being fed to the looms from this big rack holding 100's of huge spools of yarn. There was yarn everywhere, with piles of waste yarn all over the floor and fibers everywhere! It probably isn't a real healthy place to work! The weavers pull the shuttle back and forth by yanking on a cord hanging in front of them. Unfortunately, they didn't give any free samples.

In another room, they had the automated weaving machines that make the woven fabric. They make it into beautiful coats and suits and things. That room is very noisy, and it was fascinating to see the intricate plaids and other patterns being woven into fabric. It's all quite pricey. I was hoping to find some of the fabric or seconds or something for sale, but they only sold the finished products.

Quick Scarf

Finally a project from Martha that inspired me. This knotted scarf is cute and really easy. You simply cut 12 pieces of yarn and knot them together to make the pattern. It probably isn't very warm, but is good enough for Fall.

The instructions tell you to make your first two knots and attach them with pins to "a piece of foam core" to immobilize them. Who has foam core lying around? I used my couch.

I forgot to measure the yarn so that it is 1.5 times the length of the desired scarf. I used the length of the desired finished product, adjusted the spacing of the knots, and made it a scarf for my 7 year old buddy Carmella.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Another purse

I made another purse ( with the help of my mom, of course). The design was inspired by one I already had. It turned out great and definately one of my favorites!!

Monday, October 1, 2007

countryside quilt pattern

I took this picture out the airplane window this weekend near St. Louis, Missouri, where I stopped on my way to Oklahoma to visit friends. The overlapping farm plots were beautiful. I thought it would be neat if this could be converted to a quilt pattern. I messed around a little with graph paper but it's hard work!

Has anybody seen quilts that mimic an actual landscape? Maybe if I felt more of a connection to St. Louis, I'd be more motivated.