Foggy Sunset

Foggy Sunset
Photo by Aisling Doonan

Monday, 30 August 2010

Chilly Evenings & Saddleback Leather

It has turned chilly this evening but wrapped up here in my Shetland Hap typing this I barely feel the cold.  I have been very busy knitting lately though I seem to have very little to show for it, everything seems to be taking twice as long to do.  In saying that, I do have two finished projects to show you all.  I finished my Percy Shawl the day that my yarn arrived in the post and I wore it as soon as it was blocked.  I just couldn’t wait!  I have always loved that pattern, it looks so much more complicated than it really is and it looks so classy draped over your shoulders.  I received lots of lovely compliments on it as I wore it over a plain white shirt with my mothers cameo brooch. 

Unfortunately, because of the colour I chose (deep vivid purple) it’s tricky to get a good photo that takes in all the detail.  I’m an ok photographer and I still rely on ‘auto’ a bit much with my digital camera!  I would love to take a class and find out how to get the colour and detail right.  It’s that or stick to light colours that don’t fight with my camera. 

I also finished my Piotal Tiúilip scarf in Merino Lace.  I haven’t worn it yet, but I’m happy with the way that it turned out.  I had to graft the two sides together at the centre and it turned out ok.  I’m going to have to practice a bit more, the end result was almost even and unnoticeable.  I’d like to be able to get it perfect though.  Grafting on shawls is a little more forgiving I think, the graft when hidden in a seam, is less noticeable.  I plan to release this as a pattern PDF on Ravelry at some stage but I’ll wait and see if anyone likes it first!

Once my WIP’s were complete, I could go back to my Peerie Smoorikins Shawl (my 1kg cone of Shetland Supreme arrived, yippee, 8000m of scrummy lace weight in a creamy natural undyed colour.  It’s bright and beautiful) and I finished the centre today and picked up my stitches for the borders.  I made some alterations though, the centre was getting so large that I was beginning to worry that I wouldn’t have the space to block it!  So I chickened out and stopped at 7 repeats instead of the original  8 I had planned and picked up 169 stitches per side and a centre stitch (339 stitches) and made a row of eyelets and 2 rows of plain garter stitch before I began the border chart.  I’ll have some photos of the border once I get a few repeats done!

I have been looking at my project page on Ravelry lately and looking at my project photos.  Some I’m happy with, some I’m not.  I’m racking my brains to find a better way to take photos that are both interesting and different to look at yet show the detail I need to highlight a project.  The lighter colours are much easier to handle, the detail is visible and the camera flash doesn’t shower too much light on the lace obscuring the pattern.  I would dearly love to be able to photograph the darker more vivid coloured shawls and have the pattern visible.  It is too windy today to go outside and try to take some shots, though it is lovely and sunny, a crisp Autumn day.  I am thinking about this a lot more now, as I want to enter a competition with Saddleback Leather in Texas, USA to win some goodies.

I was lucky enough to find their website about three years ago when I was searching for possible Christmas presents for myself (in our house, I look for it, find it, buy it, wrap it and then extract the funds from my better half when the visa bill plops on the mat!  Don’t knock it, it’s a system that works, I always love what I get and my better half can breathe a huge sigh of relief, as he hates shopping and always over thinks present buying to the point where he’s teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown.) 

Along with knitting, my other obsession is bags – I love them!  I have always dreamed of owning a bona fide designer bag.  I have spent hours wandering in awe around Brown Thomas’s in Dublin staring but not daring to touch the beautiful leather pieces of art in front of me.  I have never had the nerve or the money to buy one so window-shopping has always contented me, but the search was still on for the ‘perfect bag’.  You know the one that you own that is perfect for every occasion, goes with everything colour, holds everything you need, easy and chic to carry and would withstand years of use.  The kind of bag that belongs to you, which you pass down to your daughters like a treasured heirloom (almost like lace!).  The bag that's included in family photos and the grandchildren say in all earnestness, “oh look, there’s Grandma’s bag!”  Well a girl can dream!  I can’t name the number of hours that I spent dredging the internet dry of all leather bag manufacturers’.  That changed the day I found Saddleback Leather.  I couldn’t believe that I found exactly what I had been looking for.  A beautiful thick tan cowhide leather satchel with the promise that the bag would outlive me and that my grandchildren would fight over it when I was gone! 

It was almost too good to be true, except it wasn’t.  It was true, it was perfect and it was mine!  I sent away immediately (after begging my parents to contribute to the bag fund instead of picking me a present, and telling my hubby not to worry, Christmas was sorted that year!) and the little beauty arrived in a large heavy box with the postman shortly after.  Of course, I wasn’t quite expecting that the postman would refuse to give me the said box unless I handed him a cheque for 12% customs duty & 21% vat.  The cheek!  What I still can’t figure out is why I had to pay duties and vat on postage?  Surely, that’s illegal?  I have to point out that I was aware of these duties and taxes before I placed my order but I was outraged that I wasn’t sent an invoice like a normal person, but held to ransom at my own doorstep by the postman.  There is something seriously wrong with this country.

Anyway, I digress, so my little satchel (I don’t think they sell the ‘small’ version I own anymore, its 12” wide, I think 14” wide is the smallest briefcase they do now) is my constant companion.  It’s wearing really well (it honestly does get better with age, the colour has deepened, the leather has softened a little and it is so rugged and good looking, I could kiss it!) and now my hubby is madly in love with them and wants one for himself.  He doesn’t have the funds to splash out on a big backpack so I decided to enter the website competition to win some loot!  All you have to do is send in an unusual or interesting photo of your bag.  Most people have taken photos of theirs in exotic locations, trampled underfoot by elephants, eyed up by penguins, attacked by crocodiles etc.  Well there’s no way I can compete with that!  I live in Ireland and unless I can find a leprechaun and coerce him into my photo there’s no way I can get an exotic photo!  (Mind you, if I could coerce him out of his pot of gold I wouldn’t need to win the competition to get my hubby a bag!)  So I decided to look closer to home and gather both my obsessions together in one photo. 

I thought, “one heirloom meets another”, pulled out my Unst Bridal Shawl, and took some photos.  Nothing too extravagant, simple and beautiful.  Both items are handmade with love, care and attention, both will be passed onto the next generation (I’m hoping my daughter will use the shawl as her wedding veil, should she get married) and both are loved by me.  I hope that it will be added to the website pictures at least!  Fingers crossed.  If not, I’ve added it here for you to see!

So that is all for today, enjoy the pictures, take care and happy knitting!

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