Foggy Sunset

Foggy Sunset
Photo by Aisling Doonan

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Valentia and a rant...

Would you believe, I had written and published this post last Thursday, a lovely long post full of things! When I went back in the next morning, all my words had disappeared and the photos were just sitting there looking forlorn. I have no idea what happened.

So here I am again. It has taken me a week to get over my 'do I have to do it again?' moment and I have been dragging my heels. I am reminded of Jo in Little Women (Louis May Alcott) when *Spoiler Alert* Amy burns all her stories and she has to write them out again from memory. This is my Jo moment. I have it on good authority that the version the second time around will be superior to the first, but already it looks nothing like it, so I'm not even going to try...

I did go into a bit of a semi rant over the lack of RDS National Crafts Competition this year. They have decided to unceremoniously scrap the competition as was and introduce a set of bursaries for students and graduates instead. The bursaries are fantastic, €10,000 each and there are five of them up for grabs, but as I am neither a student nor a graduate, I do not qualify. For established crafts people, they are sponsoring the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland with a single €10,000 bursary for established makers. Also a wonderful idea, but to qualify you need to be in professional practice. Again I am out of the running.

So I have been frustrated and annoyed and sad that crafts people like me, who are neither formally trained or working in their craft can apply to a competition where their work has the chance of being showcased. My shawls, through the RDS National Crafts Competition, have been exhibited at the RDS Horse Show, the RDS Christmas Craft Show, in the National Museum in Mayo and several places in Northern Ireland. I have lost my little platform and it is difficult to see where I will find a similar outlet for my creative endeavours. 

Ok, so rant over!

I wanted to share some beautiful photos of Valentia Island in County Kerry, a haven of serenity and magic in the Atlantic Ocean. I spent a wonderful week there last year with Mr RS and the two mini people. We rented the quaintest little cottage hidden by fuchsia and surrounded by wandering sheep. The week was spent exploring Kerry and eating every homemade ice-cream that we could find. 

I love the sea, especially the Atlantic and I could happily spend all my days there, watching it crash against the rocks and turn moody in a nano second.

I was so inspired that when I got home I decided to plan and design a shawl in its honour. 

The Valentia Shawl is a large, warm and airy Shetland Square Shawl. It begins with an all over lacy centre square and the traditional Shetland motifs in the borders are knit outwards, in the round. It is finished off with a gorgeous edging and I love how it turned out.

Yardage: 2,625 yards approx
Weighs: 300g
Needles: 3.25mm
Size: 68 inches square
Time Taken to Knit: October 28th 2017 to January 12th 2018

The yarn is finer than the usual Jamieson and Smith 2 ply lace weight and it is worsted spun, so you get a completely different feel from it. The yarn is silky but woolly and it has a gorgeous halo when you block it. The shawl is airy but cosy and big enough to luxuriate under, I am completely in love with it.

I think I could make it again, this time using the 1ply Shetland Supreme, which is half the thickness of yarn again. I think it would make a pretty companion to this one. A Winter and Summer shawl!

So that's all the story I have for you now. I hope everyone is well and knitting away in the background.

Until next time.

Happy knitting



  1. Once again, my dear, you have amazed me not only with the beauty of your work but your SPEED! (Do you have magic elves to do all the domestic things the rest of us mere mortals must do each day?) I sincerely hope that Valenia will become available as a pattern. Again, BRAVO!

    1. Haha, if you saw my house right now, you would understand! I knit to escape the drudgery of houework. As you can see, the results are much prettier than washing dishes...
      I really do hope to publish a lot of my designs, I have to figure out a way to get them fitted and readable on A4 paper first.

  2. Wow! Your Valentia Shawl is just stunning!

    1. Thank you so much! I am really pleased with now it turned out, the Jamieson and Smith Supreme yarn is always a winner to work with.