Tuesday, January 26, 2016

More Wrist Warmers!

 I've been using up some of my newest yarns to add some new wrist warmers to my Etsy shop .... the silver one with sequins is a new shade for me (called 'Mercury') and the one below is a new one for me too. The crocodile wrist warmers made in self-striping yarn have always sold really well for me so far and are more interesting to make (rather than using plain coloured yarn)

I've finally got around to putting away all my newly ordered wool from Black Sheep Wools and Deramores - it was a bit of a squeeze fitting them all into my cupboard but I managed it!

It won't take me THAT long to start working my way through them all though & I really do need to try and plan ahead this year and get more wrist warmers made now rather than waiting til just before Christmas and practically selling out...though I know I say the same thing to myself every year! 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What Does the Sea Mean to Me?

My friend Lucy is running a project about 'what the sea means to you'...and I thought I'd use this space to try and get my thoughts some bit straight on the subject; it's something that I've been mulling over in my mind since she first mentioned the book project a few months ago.

For me, as a beach comber rather than, say, a diver or sailor, the sea is full of conflicting thoughts. It can bring precious treasures - such as all these sea beans (seeds carried on the gulf stream from the tropics). Each one has been measured, photographed and documented and will be on the Irish records.

At the same time, the very same storms and currents that bring treasure also bring marine litter - mostly plastic based and sometimes from the other side of the world too.

I think it's my nature, as a beach comber, to try and find the interesting, the intriguing and the mysterious in amongst the plastic junk that comes to these shores.

At times it is over-whelming: especially when faced with a scene like this...
 ..or this...
...or even worse...this...
But you either just look at it and shake your head and tut-tut about modern society and how wasteful we all are or else you decide to try and do something about it - and that is what I have done.

Last winter I collected over 150 bags of rubbish from the local beaches! It really is a never ending battle as each tide brings in yet more rubbish but as long as I am physically able I am determined to do my bit and collect it up.

One good thing to come out of my time picking up rubbish on the beach has been making connections with people on the other side of the world - I guess that's another thing that the sea means to me -- it really does unite us from one side of the Atlantic to the other.

Something that has ended up in the ocean off the US/Canadian coast can wash up on the coast here in Waterville and through the wonders of social media and the internet, I can trace it right back to the company who made it or in some cases, the fishermen who lost their gear in storms.

 A fly swatter from New Jersey, found in St. Finan's Bay, Ballinskelligs!

This is part of a stone crab trap from Florida, which I will soon be posting back to the fisherman's widow. He had etched his name and port onto it, which is how I was able to start tracing it backwards.

Wool Orders

 I know I have a cupboard full of wool but thanks to my busy run up to Christmas I've done a bit of a stock-up on various wools.

I really wanted to buy everything from just one place but was finding this blue/green King Cole 'Country Tweed' hard to get hold of...it turns out that it's been discontinued! Why do they do this??! It's such a great colour combination and was one of my most popular colours for wrist warmers last year. :(

I hate it, truly hate it, when wool companies discontinue shades or whole lines of yarn; it usually happens without any warning in advance so you don't get a chance to stock up on it and then try to go and buy some more, only to find that it's all been snapped up. 

 I managed to get hold of ten 100g balls of it from Black Sheep Wools though, so that's made me happy. I also bought a new (to me, at least) shade of 'Country Tweed' in 'pennines', and a ball of it in 'borders' too.

Then yesterday we were up in Cork and stumbled along a wool shop so I had to go in to check it out! It was pretty badly stocked to be honest - I think it must be hard to run a wool shop nowadays (especially in a city where your rent/rates must be sky-high)...most people shop online for things.

But I still managed to come out with these goodies! I hadn't seen the rainbow yarn before - it's made by Stylecraft, which is a brand that I don't use very often, but I'll give it a go. 

Then this morning Peter found all of these (packaged up, obviously!) in our shed. The courier must have come yesterday while we were out and left them there for safe-keeping.

 Deramores had yet another sale over the new year so I did a BIG stock up on my King Cole yarns as you can see! I bought a few new yarns to try out - the King Cole 'drifter' and 'authentic denim' are both new to me so I shall give them a go and report as to how I get on.
All these will be wrist warmers! Just before Christmas I had a lady who wanted a pair of black sequinned wrist warmers (crocodile stitch ones) so I bought three different types of King Cole 'Galaxy' in black - one has gold sequins, one has silver and the third has different coloured ones; black always seems to be a popular colour so I'm confident that they will sell.

This won't be the last wool order for me just yet as my regular customer, Jaye, on Etsy has asked for one of the 'artists hats' in a deep blue and I'm pretty sure that Springwools has the wool that would be right for it....

Wrist Warmers (again)

 I've been busy, trying to rebuild up my stock in my Etsy shop - things have been looking a bit bare since just before Christmas.

The light is so awful this time of year that I've been able to make several pairs before I was able to go to take photos!
 These ones are made using some of my wools that I bought when we were in Germany in December in 2014 (yes, I still have lots of my 'holiday' wools left - even from when we went to Italy in 2013!)
The blue/green ones are my current favourites! (more German wool) - I was delighted that I had just enough wool in 2 50g balls to make a pair of wrist warmers and then a pair of little dainty wristcuffs too :) The colours of this yarn were great...I'm so glad that I always write down when I use wools in my various wool books so that I can always go back and see what brand it was and where I bought it.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

meet my new sponsor child!

 I had such a successful run up to the busy Christmas season that I've decided to take out a second child sponsorship with ActionAid Ireland :) I already sponsor little Si in Vietnam but really I thought that I'd only fritter away my 'Christmas bonus' on silly things that I don't really need or yet more wool...so I am now sponsoring this little girl in Kenya too.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

We've finally been able to get James neutered! He first showed up over a year ago and has been incredibly nervous and wary of us -- we had tried to pick him up and take him to the vet for neutering but he freaked out (Peter probably still has the scars) so we gave up on the idea and instead focused on feeding him and giving him spot-on treatment for fleas/works/ticks etc when we could.

Over time he gradually became more tame again but I wasn't confident at all that we'd be able to catch hold of him and put him in a cat box. In the end I borrowed a 'cat-trap' from a lady in Portmagee who runs an animal rescue/rehoming service.

Because James is so nervous and cautious of things he doesn't like, I started out leaving the trap just under our patio table - then the day before his operation, I'd set the trap but put his bowl just inside it so that he could go nearly all the way inside and eat his food without setting it off.

I was really heartened by how willingly he went in this far (though if you look in the photo, he's ready to run if he has to!) - the next day I held my breath and put the food right at the back of the trap and crossed my fingers.....and it worked!

I'd the vet on stand-by in town and they were able to operate on him straight away -- I went off to do a bit of shopping and then came back about half an hour later and it was all done.

He wasn't very happy at all: I think being caught in the trap was very stressful for him, and then having his operation on top of it all. I was worried that he was going to run off and not come back, but even if he did at least I knew that he'd been neutered now so he wouldn't spend his days tom-catting around and fighting.

BUT...he's like a different cat now that his hormone levels have flattened out a bit. The other cats are very wary of him; I think his size intimidates them all but they just give him a wide berth and generally things are ok. Bertie is the most vocal opponent to this new addition but they just avoid each other as much as they can.

As you can tell from the photo - Dinah isn't too impressed either!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

First Post of the New Year.

 Happy New Year! I thought I'd post two contrasting photos - one of beach combing treasures (the sea beans) and the other of junk (these HP cartridges are ones that were lost as cargo and I'm collecting them up so that they can be sent back for recycling)
The sea beans are proper proper treasure -- all of these (and one more sea heart, which I've given away) came in in the recent storms. I know I will never find that many of them ever again, this was a once in a lifetime thing -- sadly lost cargo is much more commonplace!

I've been beach combing as often as I can recently but it all depends on the weather; we've had some pretty serious storms and so much rain as well, when the weather just isn't suitable for anything outdoors at all.

One of my most favourite beaches for beach combing has to be the one at St. Finan's Bay over past Ballinskelligs: the views are pretty amazing too but so much rubbish washes in there in the storms that it just breaks my heart.

If you look down on that beach this is what's often at your feet :(It can be overwhelming - especially when the plastic pieces are as small as this...where do you begin?