Posted on 2 Comments

What is the EASIEST GIFT to make with Tunisian Crochet?

a pile of spiral crochet face scrubbies, piled from dark (at the bottom) to light (at the top)


If you want to make a handmade gift, but you’re short of time AND yarn, then this free nautical-themed Seashell Scrubbie pattern is just what you need. If all you have are left-over scraps and a burning desire to add more spirals to someone’s life (I mean, who doesn’t, right…?) then read on.

What Are They?
Crochet scrubbies are an eco-friendly alternative to cotton circles/make-up removers.

They are infinitely re-usable so they reduce waste, and have a soft side for gentle cleansing and a more textured side for stubborn make-up. They are machine washable, too. Each little scrubbie uses just 10 m of Cotton DK weight yarn, and a trusty 5 mm (H) hook and you’ll find the free pattern below.

a selection of spiral-shaped crochet scrubbies arranged on a white, wooden tabletop

They’re also very cute, and piled up high would make a great gift for a friend or welcoming touch in a guest bathroom.

If you’d like to make them to sell, please be sure to credit me as the designer on the label and add my web address (www.YarnTowers.com)

Right, so let’s get stuck in!

Sea Shell Scrubbies

ESSENTIAL PATTERN INFO
Yarn Used: Paintbox Cotton DK (approx 10 m each)
Colours used: Coffee Bean, Soft Fudge, Vanilla Cream, Light Champagne

Hook: 5 mm crochet (H)
Even though this is a Tunisian Crochet pattern, a regular length hook is all you'll need)

Size: Across its widest point, each scrubbie is 9 cm / 3 1/2 in

Abbreviations:
ch        chain
ss        slip stitch
dc        double crochet
- 5 sts   stitch count
L1tr      Linked 1-uple treble
L2tr      Linked 2-uple treble
YO        Yarn Over
st        stitch
[2 dc]    [] are used to identify all the stitches in an increase/cluster
**        repeat the instructions located between *asterisks* the number of times specified in pattern.

Note: This pattern is written using UK stitch terms.
For US users: UK dc = US sc   and   UK tr = US dc

To Begin:
Make 4 chains, then work 1 ss into the chain farthest from the hook to make a circle.
This circle will be the centre of your scrubbie.

Round 1.
Make 1 ch, then into the circle work 3 dc,
1 tr, 2 L1tr,
YO, 3 L2tr
YO, 3 L3tr
YO, 3 L4tr – 15 sts

hands hold a growing half spiral of light brown crochet over a white table top scattered with completed crochet spirals
Round 1 complete.

Round 2.
Work [3 L4tr] into each of the first 6 sts of Round 1 – 27 sts

hands hold a spiral teardrop shaped piece of light brown crochet over a white table top scattered with completed crochet spirals
Round 2 complete.

Edge:
Work 4 dc down side of last L4tr made

a red hook holds one loop of light brown yarn. Behind it on the fabric are four UK double crochet stitches

Work 1 dc in same base as last L4tr cluster, then working around the outer curve of the shell, work *[2 dc], 1 dc* 13 times

double crochet stitches being added to the curving edge of a light brown spiral of Tunisian Crochet
half way through the dc edge of the scrubbie.

Into the st on the very corner of shell, make [2 dc].
Then, Bind Off and sew in ends securely.

The outer edge of a spiral piece of Tunisian Crochet has been completed covered in UK double crochet stitches.
the last [2 dc] in place, ready to be bound off.

Did you enjoy this tutorial? Tell me in the comments below!
And hey, tell your friends too!


— PATTERNS THAT INCLUDE SPIRALS —

— ALSO ON THE BLOG —

Posted on 9 Comments

Is Tunisian Crochet faster than Regular Crochet?

two hamds hold a large ball of warm yellow yarn on top of a painted white wooden surface. In the right hand is a crochet hook



This is a question I have been asked many, many times.
Which is faster? Which uses more yarn? Do they come out the same size?
I decided to find out once and for all.
Let’s get into it!

Say it with me; “A test is fair if everything about the things being tested is equal, except for one, measurable difference.”
My science teacher in school made us all memorise that little saying.

In layman’s terms it means that if you want to answer any of the above questions, you have to keep everything equal.
You have to use the same yarn, the same hook, do it on the same day, while sitting in the same chair, watching the same Netflix show, and use the same number of stitches for both swatches.

In this test, therefore, the only difference I’ve allowed is the one we’ll be measuring;
One swatch will be using regular, traditional crochet & the other will be composed of Tunisian Crochet.

I’ll be using a 5 mm hook for each swatch, and Aran weight wool/Acrylic blend yarn.
Each swatch will have 15 stitches across, and will be 15 rows tall.

two hands hold a swatch of traditional crochet in yellow yarn against a painted white wooden surface

This is my Traditional, regular crochet swatch.
It took precisely 13 minutes to complete which – if you want to get technical – means each stitch took me an average of 3.4 seconds to make.
It used a total of 6 grams of yarn
and it measures 10 cm across x 9.5 cm tall.

Sooo close to being a perfect square! So close!


two hands hold a swatch of Tunisian crochet in yellow yarn against a painted white wooden surface

And this is my Tunisian crochet swatch.
This little lady took a smidge longer to finish, clocking in at 14 minutes, 30 seconds.
With the exact same stitch count as the regular crochet swatch, that means each stitch took me on average 3.8 seconds to make.
It used a total of 7 grams of yarn, and it measures 11 cm across x 11 cm tall.

A perfect square, well done, Tunisian!



Processing…
Welcome! Thank you for signing up!

So, in essence, the difference in speed is negligible.
A Tunisian Simple Stitch stitch takes .4 seconds longer to make than a traditional double crochet stitch (US single crochet), but that slightly slower speed could very well be eliminated and reversed if I had chosen to crochet the 255 stitches in the Tunisian swatch on a bigger hook. I found the 5 mm hook a little too small.

Tunisian is a denser fabric, so it’s no surprise that it used a little more yarn, but not nearly as much as I had assumed it would, which was an awesome surprise. The square also came out a little bigger, so when measuring by area, they pretty much work out equal.
So if Tunisian’s reputation as a yarn hog is what’s putting you off, it might be time for a rethink.

hands hold two swatches in yellow yarn against a painted white wooden surface


Both swatches turned out to be square (though, this Tunisian fan is pleased to see Tunisian come out bang on!)
The fact that both techniques have stitches that are as tall as they are wide makes them infinitely suitable to colourwork and charting using graph paper – and far more versatile than stocking stitch in knitting, which has stitches markedly taller than they are wide.

My conclusion, therefore is that between Tunisian and Regular crochet, the differences in yarn use and time taken are negligible, so feel free to choose the technique that YOU prefer and that’s right for the project you have in mind safe in the knowledge that it’ll all work out well in the end.

Did you enjoy this tutorial? Tell me in the comments below!
And hey, tell your friends too!


— PATTERNS THAT INCLUDE TUNISIAN AND REGULAR CROCHET —

Posted on Leave a comment

Getting the MOST out of a Stretchy Crochet Chain

stretchy chain made from white yarn held over a wooden table. A third loop has been added to hook



So, you have your stretchy crochet chain done, right?
And you’re ready to start a new project?
Brilliant!
Let’s get into it!

a stretchy chain made of white yarn held over a scrubbed wooden tabletop


stretchy chain made from white yarn held over a wooden table. A black arrow is pointing to the "dip" where your hook should go next.
  • The arrow in the image above is pointing to the hole where the last double crochet (US single crochet) of your stretchy chain was worked. It’s also where your hook is going to go to start off the first row of Tunisian Simple Stitch Fabric in this tutorial.

stretchy chain made from white yarn held over a wooden table. Hook has been inserted into the next chain
  • This is what it looks like when your hook is in place.

stretchy chain made from white yarn held over a wooden table. A Yarn Over has been added to hook
  • Yarn Over like you would for a regular TSS

stretchy chain made from white yarn held over a wooden table. The Yarn Over has been pulled through fabric
  • Draw Yarn Over through (1 TSS on hook).

stretchy chain made from white yarn held over a wooden table. A black arrow indicates the location of the next hole.
  • The arrow is pointing at the next hole along in your stretchy chain.
  • As with the first TSS you made, insert hook in this hole.

stretchy chain made from white yarn held over a wooden table. A third loop has been added to hook
  • Yarn Over, draw through to made a second TSS on your hook.
  • Note: There are three loops on your hook but only two TSS sts because the first loop was there from the beginning of the row.

stretchy chain made from white yarn held over a wooden table. An entire row of lopps have been added to hook.
  • Repeat to end of row.
  • Pick up a final loop in the chain st at the very end of your stretchy chain.

A stretchy chain and one row of Tunisian Simple Stitch made from white yarn held over a wooden table.

Remember, the return pass on a piece of Tunisian Crochet like this is:
YO, pull through 1 loop (to make a chain),
then YO and pull through 2 loops repeatedly, until 1 loop remains on hook.


A stretchy chain and multiple row of Tunisian Simple Stitch made from white yarn held over a wooden table.
  • With a few more rows of TSS in place, the “rolled” edge of the stretchy chain becomes a subtle, but very beautiful feature.
    And hey! No tight edge!

Did you enjoy this tutorial? Tell me in the comments below!
And hey, tell your friends too!


— PATTERNS THAT WOULD WORK GREAT WITH THIS TECHNIQUE —

Posted on 5 Comments

The Ultimate Stretchy Crochet Chain

a stretchy chain made of white yarn held over a scrubbed wooden tabletop

Basic old CHAIN STITCHES don’t stretch!
This is a perennial problem for both Traditional and Tunisian Crochet. But luckily, I’ve found a solution. Here’s how to make a STRETCHY CROCHET CHAIN.

Let’s get right into it!

a black crochet hook is held in the right hand while the left hand holds on to two chain sticthes.
  • With a slip knot and loop already on your hook, make 2 chain stitches


a black hook has been inserted into the first chain, there are two strands of yarn on the hook.
  • Insert hook into chain farthest from hook.

A yarn over has been added to the two strands of yarn on the black crochet hook.
  • Yarn Over

The Yarn Over has been drawn through the first chain, leaving two loops on the black hook
  • Draw loop through chain – 2 loops on hook

a second yarn over has been added to the hook. there are now three loops on the black hook again
  • Yarn Over again.

One loop is left on the hook. a small sticth has been made and is being held in the left hand.
  • Draw Yarn Over through both loops on hook – 1 loop on hook
  • (You’ve essentially made a UK dc / US sc st in the first chain)
  • Note: I’ll refer to this as a “double crochet” throughout this tutorial.

a yarn over has been added to the black hook. there are two loops on the hook
  • Yarn Over

a chain stitch sits below the black hook
  • Draw Yarn Over through loop to make a chain stitch

two black arrows point the two strands in the stotch below the chain just made

See these two loops?
The one on the right is part of the V on top of the double crochet just completed.
The one of the left is the SIDE of the same double crochet.
Once you have identified your two loops, carry on to the next step.


a black hook has been inserted into two loops on the previous crochet stitch
  • Insert hook through BOTH loops.

a yarn over adds to the loops on a black hook. there are now four strands of yarn on the hook
  • Yarn Over

two strands of yarn remain on the black crochet hook
  • Draw Yarn Over through both loops – 2 loops on hook

an added yarn over takes the loop count to three loops
  • Yarn Over

a crochet stitch sits below a black hook and is held by two hands
  • Draw Yarn Over through both loops on hook – 1 loop on hook
  • Double crochet complete.

black arrows superimposed on the photo point to dips in the completed stretchy crochet chain

Alternate between a chain and a double crochet by following steps 7 – 13.
Each full repeat gives you an additional stretchy chain. Always end on a double crochet.

See the little dip indicated by the arrows?
That’s where you’ll insert your hook to make your first row of stitches for your project.


— PATTERNS THAT WOULD WORK GREAT WITH THIS TECHNIQUE —

Posted on Leave a comment

How to make a SLIP KNOT

The yarn that was pinched between index and middle finger has been drawn through the crossed strands to make a loop.

The SLIP KNOT! It’s a rare crochet or knitting project that doesn’t begin with this versatile little knot. In this photo tutorial, I’m going to show you step by step how to make one.

Let’s get right into it!

two hands holding up a strand of white yarn. The tail end of the yarn is on the left side
  • Hold the end of your yarn in one hand, and the ball end in the other.

two hands holding up a strand of white yarn. The strands are crossed, with the tail on top.
  • Fold yarn over itself so that the tail is on top.

the index finger and middle finger of the right hand have been poked upward through a loop made by the crossed strands of yarn
  • Poke two fingers through from underneath your yarn loop.

the ball end of the yarn has been groipped between the index and middle fingers of the right hand.
  • Take hold of the ball end of your yarn with your fingers.

The yarn that was pinched between index and middle finger has been drawn through the crossed strands to make a loop.
  • Pull the yarn in your fingers through the loop, making a second loop.

The ball and tail end of the yarn are being held in the left hand while tension is put on the new loop, tightening the crossed strands into a knot.
  • Gather up the tail & the ball end in one hand, and keep hold of the second loop in the other.

a black hook has replaced the fingers in the loop.
  • Remove fingers and replace them with a hook or needle.

The left hand is pulling the ball end of the yarn, which tightens the loop on a black crochet hook held in the right hand.
  • Pulling the ball end will tighten the loop on your hook/needle.
  • Make sure the loop is snug, but not too tight before you begin to crochet/knit.

Posted on Leave a comment

Yarns I’ve Used – 2020

Let’s go chronologically, shall we?

You can click straight through to all their websites by tapping on their names,
and if you’d like to learn more about each pattern just tap the image instead!

Townhouse Yarns Fade St. 4-ply

While you’re here!
Join my mailing list here for exclusive content, discount news and helpful updates.
I won’t pester you very often, and as a Thank You, you get a copy of Ishrat‘s PDF pattern when you sign up.

Posted on Leave a comment

How to Make the Sunny Hat with a Crochet Band

#AoibheNi #SunnyHat


For those of you keen on the Sunny Hat, but not so keen on the whole “knitting” thing, here’s a version of the headband that’s totally knit-free.
You may proceed with ease.

UK Version:
Tension: 28 sts x 18 rows of BL dc
Remember, the row gauge is the more important of the two measurements.

Abbreviations:
dc – double crochet
BLdc – Back Loop double crochet
htr – half treble crochet
ss – slip stitch
ch – chain
st(s) – stitch(es)
mm – millimeter

Note: To make a BLdc (Back Loop double crochet) simply work hook through the loop furthest away from you instead of through both loops as usual for a double crochet stitch. This will leave one loop visible. This loop will give the ridged effect you’re looking for.
The effect will really start to show up after a few rows of work

Turning chains do not count as stitches.

Pattern Begins Here:
With yarn held double and a 4 mm hook (or size required to achieve correct tension),
Make 13 chains.
Into 2nd ch from hook, work 1 dc, dc to within 1 ch of end of row, [2 dc] into last ch of row, 1 ch, turn – 13 sts

Hat Band Upward Slope:
Row 1. (Skip this row the first time through. Work it for every subsequent repeat)
1 dc, dc to within 1 st of end of row, [2 dc] into last st of row, 1 ch, turn – 13 sts

Row 2. [2 dc], then work BLdc sts to within 1 st of end of row, 1 dc, 1 ch, turn – 14 sts
3. 1 dc, then work BLdc sts to within 1 st of end of row, [2 dc], 1 ch, turn – 15 sts
Rows 4 – 7. *Work Rows 2 & 3* twice – Row 7 st count 19 sts

Hat Band Downward Slope:

1. dc2tog, BLdc to within 1 st of end of row, 1 dc, 1 ch, turn – 18 sts
2. 1 dc, then work BLdc sts to within 2 sts of end of row, dc2tog, 1 ch, turn – 17 sts
Rows 3 – 6. *Work Rows 1 & 2* twice – Row 6 st count 13 sts
Row 7. dc2tog, then dc to end of row, 1 ch, turn – 12 sts

Work Upward and Downward Slope four more times – 5 points on the hat band.

Last Row: 12 dc.
Do Not Bind Off.

Head:
Make 1 ch

Row 1. With yarn still held double, work one htr into the edge of each row made of Hat Band. You should get 7 sts into each slope giving you a final stitch count of 70 sts.
1 ch, turn – 70 sts

From here you can tune back into the pattern itself at Row 2 of Head section (Page 3, right column)

Don’t have the hat yet? Click here!

Knit band (top, in hat) crochet band (lower)

US Version:

Tension: 28 sts x 18 rows of BLsc
Remember, the row gauge is the more important of the two measurements.

Abbreviations:
sc – single crochet
BLsc – Back Loop single crochet
hdc – half double crochet
ss – slip stitch
ch – chain
st(s) – stitch(es)
mm – millimeter

Note: To make a BLsc (Back Loop single crochet) simply work hook through the loop furthest away from you instead of through both loops as usual for a single crochet stitch. This will leave one loop visible. This loop will give the ridged effect you’re looking for.
The effect will really start to show up after a few rows of work.

Turning chains do not count as stitches.

Pattern Begins Here:
With yarn held double and a 4 mm hook (or size required to achieve correct tension),
Make 13 chains.
Into 2nd ch from hook, work 1 sc, sc to within 1 ch of end of row, [2 sc] into last ch of row, 1 ch, turn – 13 sts

Hat Band Upward Slope:
Row 1. (Skip this row the first time through. Work it for every subsequent repeat)
1 sc, sc to within 1 st of end of row, [2 sc] into last st of row, 1 ch, turn – 13 sts

Row 2. [2 sc], then work BLsc sts to within 1 st of end of row, 1 sc, 1 ch, turn – 14 sts
3. 1 sc, then work BLsc sts to within 1 st of end of row, [2 sc], 1 ch, turn – 15 sts
Rows 4 – 7. *Work Rows 2 & 3* twice – Row 7 st count 19 sts

Hat Band Downward Slope:
1. sc2tog, BLsc to within 1 st of end of row, 1 sc, 1 ch, turn – 18 sts
2. 1 sc, then work BLsc sts to within 2 sts of end of row, sc2tog, 1 ch, turn – 17 sts
Rows 3 – 6. *Work Rows 1 & 2* twice – Row 6 st count 13 sts
Row 7. sc2tog, then sc to end of row, 1 ch, turn – 12 sts

Work Upward and Downward Slope four more times – 5 points on the hat band.

Last Row: 12 sc.
Do Not Bind Off.

Head:
Make 1 ch

Row 1. With yarn still held double, work one hdc into the edge of each row made of Hat Band. You should get 7 sts into each slope giving you a final stitch count of 70 sts.
1 ch, turn – 70 sts

From here you can tune back into the pattern itself at Row 2 of Head section
(Page 3, right column)

Don’t have the hat yet? Click here!


Thanks for stopping by!
Aoibhe Ni x

Posted on 2 Comments

A note about my pattern-writing style

The very first crochet patterns I learnt to read and understand were ancient, Irish Crochet Lace motif and doily patterns. These patterns I found in books that had seen decades of love and use in my local library.

They had a glorious, free-flowing style to them that added poetry and joy to their instructions; you weren’t just following a prescriptive code to make the shape of a flower, for instance, you were conjuring it with wand in hand!

It seemed logical to me, therefore, to keep with that style when I began to write my own patterns.

Then I saw my first Tunisian crochet pattern (gasp!) but it was presented not in great sheets of fabric worked row after row on a long hook, but in short rows (or layers) of fabric that were termed “linked” stitches by their author.

The patterns I first saw were written like traditional crochet patterns, with stitches like single crochets and treble crochets in abundance, and the linked stitches were essentially the designer’s solution to the perennial problem of the giant, yawning gaps that exist in crochet when you use taller and taller stitches.

Few people would wear a top made of quadruple trebles without something underneath, right?!

These “linked” sticthes meant that Tunisian-style crochet was accessible to those of us with shorter crochet hooks to hand and more traditional crochet sensibilities, too.

I fell head over heels in love with this technique as it added a level of flexibility to Tunisian Crochet that I hadn’t seen before while opening crochet up to a world of techniques enjoyed by knitters.

But that flexibility required a bit of a technique and terminology shift, so when I began to write patterns for Tunisian, I discovered I needed to come up with more efficient ways of explaining the moves involved.

I could have managed with the old terms, folks, but each pattern would have been exceptionally dense and about three times as long!

For those of you familiar with traditionally-written Tunisian crochet patterns, (and those of you totally new to the joy of Tunisian) I offer this guide to help you interpret the techniques you already know and show you how they are presented in my patterns. I do hope you will forgive me for tampering with an age-old craft in this manner.


The main difference between Short-Hook and Long-Hook Tunisian is that SH is built up in a manner much like regular crochet is. It needs some existing crochet fabric to work into once you’ve picked up all the necessary loops on your hook and before you complete the second half of each column.

LH makes its own foundation as it goes by adding a chain at the half way point.

Additionally, LH is best understood as row upon row of fabric made out of individual stitches worked horizontally, but SH is best viewed as rows of vertically-worked columns in a way that will be familiar to regular crocheters.

You can see examples of each below.
My patterns are written using SH terminology, so I will walk you through a swatch of that to help familiarise you with the terms I use.

Short Hook (left) and Long Hook Tunisian (right)

The Short Hook fabric is made using 3 rows of tall, “Linked 4-uple treble” (L4tr) stitches. There are 16 L4tr stitches per row in this piece. Each L4tr is basically a quadruple treble attached on either side to its neighbour so there are no gaps visible.
You can see that each L4tr stitch is quite tall, and has 4 “rungs” down its length. That’s where the “4-uple” comes from. A taller st – say with 6 rungs from top to bottom – would be called a “L6tr”.


The Long Hook fabric is made up of 15 rows of Tunisian Simple Stitches (TSS). There are 14 TSS stitches per row. This fabric looks and acts more like knitted fabric. Each row is quite short (about 1/4 the height of the Short Hook rows) and is made of individual stitches which create a completely seamless fabric.

Posted on 9 Comments

An American Wake

The 1840’s saw the first postage stamp, the start of the covered wagon trains to California, the publishing of Jane Eyre, the invention of the telegram and the rubber band.

In Ireland, by the middle of the 1840’s a potato blight called Phytophthora infestans had started to wrap its deadly fingers around the staple crop of the Irish people. Soon after, those dependant on the crop started to starve and perish in droves.

Not long after that, as matters worsened, waves of emigration began from Ireland towards the US. The journey was long – often taking months – expensive, and one way.

To those left at home it was almost akin to losing a family member to death. They were sure they’d not see them again. The only solace to be found was in the funerary tradition familiar to every Irish community; the wake.

Growing up, I had assumed this was something every society did to some extent. It was quite a surprise to discover it isn’t.
It’s a gentle, caring and dark practise whereby the desceased is not left on their own the night prior to their funeral. The community comes together to “Wake” the person, often in their own house with the coffin open and set on the sturdiest table in the best room.
Food is served, drink taken, the room containing the dearly departed is filled with candles and flowers and people mill in and out, embracing, speaking in hushed tones, touching their lost love’s face, praying and speaking of them with kindness and honesty in small groups.
Stories will be told, jokes will be repeated, tea, sandwiches, hankies and biscuits will be liberally handed out. Sometimes, as the night grows longer, music or song might make an appearance; traditional balads or a favoured pop song will be sung with gusto.

It is a cleansing ritual as old as time to us here in Ireland.

But as the island emptied of its eldest sons and daughters in the 19th century, a new form of this tradition emerged; The American Wake.
All the hallmarks of a regular wake were present with one stark exception – the dearly departed was alive and present.

They would be embraced by their community, given little gifts to protect and help them on their journey, they’d be told tales of those who had gone before them to give them courage, they’d be given advice, reminded that they are loved. They’d wrap their arms tightly around their parents and younger siblings, promising all the while to start sending money back for the next eldest’s ticket as soon as they could.

There would be tears, songs, hushed goodbyes, keening and long farewells and as hard as these wakes could be, they no doubt helped everyone involved to get through the pain of separation.

I have family all over the US today, and while their American Wakes would have happened to a less dramtic extent – and before I was born – I do still understand the gulf that that distance can bring to a family. My aunts and uncles “coming home” from America was a thing that’d happen every half decade or so.

As a child I remember how odd it was that my father’s siblings in the US spoke with a New York, Californian, New Jersey and Michigander twang. My American cousins seemed so impossibly cool with their graphic tracksuits, walkmans and cosmetics.

And every time the American contingent flew back across the Atlantic to their proms and cliques and high schools I witnessed and participated in a reduced American Wake. After all, we wouldn’t see them again for years and years. Who knew if we’d ever see them again at all? This could be the last time. Sometimes, it was.

And this feeling is something I’ve been dwelling on lately.

Since Covid-19 forced me into lockdown in February, my nephew has learnt to talk and drink from a cup, my niece is speaking in full, articulate sentences, my family dog has passed away, my mother has been ill. I’m only down the road – an hour’s walk at most – but I may as well be in America for all the contact I have had.

It’s odd to look back on history, half a year since I last touched any of them, and wonder if all this distance would be easier to process if we’d had a wake for me first.

Posted on Leave a comment

Sweater Season

As Storm Ellen buffets and blasts the willow tree in my garden and shakes the bejeepers out of the last raspberries that cling to their free-swinging canes, I sit inside my home listening to its ferocious gusts. And my mind turns to knitting.

I know, dear reader, I am more known for the hook than the needle, but as Ireland’s weather patterns shift inexorably from warm rain to cold rain, I find my fingers itching for the simplicity of a knitted jumper once more.

Every year I make one. Just one.
And it simultaneously comforts me to know I’m taking care of Winter-Aoibhe’s cold bones and soothing Autumn-Aoibhe’s frantic need to prepare all the things.

Do you think they’ll miss a few dozen?


I get decidely medieval during weather like this. Suddenly every single fruit on my neighbour’s crabapple tree that overhangs my small veg patch is precious, every boysenberry yet to be picked is ripe with urgency, every germinating winter veg and maturing spring veg seed is a lifeline. Thoughts like “This will see us through the winter” and “I’ll be glad of this in January” pop up time and again as I gather fruit to make wine and jam, and chase a few intrepid spiders off my berry hoard with juice-stained fingers.

This summer’s lettuce left to seed for next year.

Never mind that we have ample supplies of both in the local grocery store, or that they deliver so I needn’t even go out and face the possibility of catching the plague. There is just… something… about putting the labour in to prepare for the weather and darkness to come that strikes me as fundamentally, instintually important.

“I’ll be glad of this in January” is at the front of my mind with every stitch too and I know I won’t be content to face winter 2020 until I have cast on.

I don’t go fancy. I prefer to keep my knitting simple. So, usually I just work a garter stitch band til it fits around my waist, pick up along its selvedge and knit upwards. Raglan decreases are perfect – I can watch TV and barely glance at what my fingers are doing – but a little stranded colourwork is not out of the question, either. Doesn’t it make for a cozier jumper after all? And it’s great if you’re stash busting and haven’t enough of any one colour lying around.

I’ll be glad of these come January!


It’s been my autumn ritual these last 6 or 7 years.
Gather berries, Make wine, Knit jumper. Face the storms.

This year, I get the sense I may need to make more wine than usual, though. And maybe fit in a second jumper along the way.

I’m not the only one prepping for the colder months, I see.