Wednesday, July 13, 2011

From Knitting Stash to Splash - Upcycling through the Recession

My new jumper
 I've just finished knitting this jumper from my yarn stash and am delighted with the result - it was practically a freebie as I bought the original jumper in Shaw's Dungarvan last year and found it didn't do anything for me - in other words I looked frumpy in it when I got home and tried it on. Of course in the shop on the hanger it looked grand and for €7 was a bargain too good to miss. So it was a bit of a disappointment to find it looked so awful on, adding decades to my already mature years! It languished on a hanger on my clothes rail (don't have a wardrobe, just a rail from Argos!) for about a year, till I was doing a charity cleanout and came across it. On mature reflection I decided to deprive the charity and upcycle the yarn. This entailed unpicking the seams and cutting ruthlessly into the jumper from the neckline down - and then painstakingly ripping and rolling the yarn into manageable balls. I probably should have washed and unkinked it but as it was a ribbon yarn it didn't really react like proper wool would have and had an impact on whatever I was going to make. So I just weighed the salvaged yarn and had 350gm. That's like 5x50gm balls so I felt very smug as that would make a jumper even though I couldn't save the top of the jumper from the V-neckline up.

Finished jumper detail
I had a plan to make a jumper like a cream one I had made earlier in the best celebrity-chef tradition - also a ribbon yarn and one I wear to lots of gigs here as it's so comfortable and quite smart to wear - you can see it in the photos in this post - and this lovely burgundy yarn was going to make another similar but slightly longer jumper.

I only started it about a month ago and kept it going between other projects to alleviate the tedium of knitting stocking stitch - or stockinette as the Americans call it. 

A ripping yarn!
 I was making Jaywalker Socks concurrently so that kept  me on my toes - no pun intended! These were a nice challenge and I was delighted with the results using the pre-patterned Lidl wool which is brilliant for socks - I  have about 6 pairs in the red and the blue colourways and I am making a pair now in the grey-black colourways. When I'm going on any long car trip as a passenger the socks are a great way to mitigate motorway monotony - bypassing every village and town on the road to Dublin is great to shorten the road but boy is it a dull trip! At least now there are services with decent food and diversions - a good way to part fools and their money but I'm as much a sucker for Supermac's as the next fast-food fan and they do the Carlsberg of Curry Chips - outside of the Perki Chick in Drumcondra and Lennox's of Cork, Supermac's are hard to beat.

After all those deviations from the topic - here's the end result - I am totally taken with my upcycled jumper and I love the cream stripe at the hem - it used a bit of the leftover yarn I had from my first jumper. It's a perfect summer jumper as it's cool and airy, and the three-quarter sleeves are a great compromise - and a great way to mask any hint of bingo-wings!

Stash quantity - 350gm
Weigh-in of salvaged stash!
I'll try to post some more snippets on recent knitting and crochet projects in the coming days, as I've been a disastrous blogger in the past few months. Life's just too busy with work, concert gigs in Dublin and Cork, house renovation in Dublin - a whole other post - and keeping in touch with the kids and grandkids in Dublin and Cork. And as it's summer holidays for the teenqueen in our lives there's a lot of taxi-ing to and fro between friends and sleepovers hither and yon. Never a dull moment, and we wouldn't have it any other way!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Summerjam at the O2 - Teenage kicks for a new generation

Summerjam 2011 in full swing.
The night before last I found myself at the O2 Arena/Point Depot for Summerjam 2011 - a teenfest for fans of the stars appearing at the concert who were all unknowns to me prior to the gig - and it was a far cry from the last gig I enjoyed at the same venue in May, Eric Clapton. This was strictly for the teen generation and the long-suffering adults who had to accompany the under-16s. I was there in that capacity, along with teen daughter and two friends - it was a birthday present for one of them. They had a blast, and I kept my distance as befits someone of my mature years with granny status already endowed. It would not have been cool to be a helicopter parent hovering over the charges, and they are old enough to mind themselves at something like this.

The Revolver Big Wheel
We made a two-day trip out of the gig - up to Dublin early on Tuesday, stopping off at the new Services in Cashel at Exit 8 of the M7 motorway. Motorway services in Ireland are a bit like buses - for ages there are none and then along come two in quick succession. So now between Cork and Dublin there are two good services at well-spaced intervals - also near Abbeyleix at Junction 14. Thus we found ourselves bizarrely in McDonalds for breakfast - not a place I'd normally frequent at any time unless in the company of the girls.

When we got to Dublin we were too early to check in to the Skylon Hotel so we met son Martin and a friend of his from his Tanzania days who was over in Ireland from Australia/England for a short break. We'd a nice hour or so with them and then checked in where the girls spent the next few hours getting ready for the gig. They went all out with the fake tan, nails, eyeliner tattoos and fluorescent tops and socks! They were all pretty much clones of each other and when we got to the O2 I saw that the every tween and teen girl in the place was in similar attire! It was like a uniform - funky and colourful and with lots of indie style to make their outfit unique, despite the uniformity of the look.

Looking down the Liffey from Revolver wheel.
As we got to the O2 too early for the gig, we decided to go on the Revolver Big Wheel - which was only a fiver - in-keeping with Liveline's Fiver Friday perhaps, or just trying to get a bit of business going - and it was nice to see the city sights from a height. The Wheel is only half the height of the London Eye so not that exciting but then the Dublin Skyline isn't that riveting apart from the landmarks like the Aviva/Landsdowne Road Stadium and Croke Park, Liberty Hall, the Beckett Bridge and the Pringle Box Convention centre. The River Liffey and Dublin Port are the main vistas. After working in Dublin hospitals back in the 70s and 80s there's not much the skyline can offer that's new - from the top floors of Jervis Street and the Mater hospitals you could pretty much see forever!

Looking at the crowd queuing for Summerjam 2011
The gig was noisy but very energetic and lively - the girls were near the stage and I positioned myself near the shop at the back - close to the tea and twix bars for sustenance! I took lots of videoclips for them and as I'd been Tweeting about it earlier I was delighted to meet a fellow-Tweep there - Val who tweets as @magnumlady was there with her son and daughter and we had a mini- tweet-up! She and her kids got to meet and greet the stars as they stayed in the Gibson Hotel in the Point Village beside the O2. She has some terrific photos on her blog - and she's an avid tweeter as well so we connect from time to time.
Cactus display Botanic Gardens

As for the stars - I'd never heard of any of them before the night - though I realised as the night wore on that I was humming along to most of the songs - Ke$ha, LMFAO, Aggro Santos, Alexis Jordan and Fugitive were all headliners - and the quality of the music and rap and dance was impressive. The staging was good with great lighting and props. Spin FM were doing the warm-up disco - though I'm sure it's not called that nowadays (showing my age again!) and the crowd control was good, with a couple of troublemakers picked off early on, when there were a few scraps and turf wars going on. I loved watching the crowd enjoying the gig and it was fun to see all the long-suffering parents there too. It was nearly 11pm when it ended, after over four hours. So it was good value for the punters and they certainly enjoyed it. We were back in the hotel before midnight and went to Abrakebabra on the way home to get some fish'n'chips. You can't beat them when the midnight munchies strike!

Succulents garden Botanic Gardens
The following day some serious shopping was done by the girls, while I relaxed by visiting Martin and meeting up with my friend Darina and her little granddaughter Amelie in the Botanic Gardens - a lovely tranquil oasis in the heart of Glasnevin where you could imagine yourself in the heart of the country. We had coffee and cakes in the light-filled courtyard tearoom and enjoyed a walk around the gardens and the enormous glasshouse with gigantic palms and bananas. The lushness transported me back to the tropics and the equatorial rainforest we knew so well in Tanzania.

The Victorian Greenhouse at the Botanic Gardens

 The girls were all shopped out by teatime and we headed for home - with a pit stop at Supermac's in Junction 14 near Abbeyleix - and we arrived by 10pm - and as they say in the best tradition of the school essay "What I did on my Summer Holidays" - tired but happy!

Darina and Amelie in the Botanic Gardens