Did you know that, according to the Celtic calendar, Spring in Ireland begins at the start of February? Most of the time, it doesn’t feel particularly Spring-like until well into March (especially last year!) but 2019 has been so mild. Explorer Beastie’s miniature daffodils have been blooming for a couple of weeks already!
And with the warming temperatures and gradually lengthening days, activity levels have been picking up a little too! Today I wanted to share some of the extra-curricular activities that have been keeping me and the Beasties busy this past while.
A Spring Clean… For My Skills!
Aaaah, the sewing machine! My old nemesis. For too long, your ways have eluded me… In fact, slow as it is to stitch seams by hand, it has often seemed quicker than the usual sew it-rip it-resew it-rip it process that usually accompanies a stint on the machine.
But this year, I decided enough was enough. Let’s master those sewing machine demons! So I signed up for a class with The City Seamstress. I’ve already picked up some valuable tips that have made my work better (and helped my confidence, too) and right now I’m working on a project which is neeeearly finished, so I should hopefully be able to share pics very soon!
And as well as learning, I’ve been teaching too! January was a really busy time for my knitting classes – it’s like half of Dublin decided to put “learn to knit” at the top of their New Year’s Resolutions list! This spurred me on to tackle something I’ve been meaning to do for a while… Make up a really easy sweater pattern.
You see, a lot of students want to take on the challenge of making a jumper quite early on… But even the simplest-looking designs often have next-level knitting skills lurking in the pattern. And while some new knitters thrive on being thrown in at the deep end, more than a few are put off by the idea of fancy shaping techniques, decorative seams and the alphabet soup of abbreviations that crop up in many “beginner” patterns.
So, what you see in the picture is sleeve #2 of an almost-finished sweater of… Just rectangles! And yes, the design is probably far from original, but this version is mine! That makes it easier to guide people through all the pre-knitting preparations, like sizing and choosing yarn, and also to suggest tweaks if anyone wants to put their own stamp on it.
Also, I get a new sweater.
But it can’t be all work and no play, of course. There has to be time for a…
That means a quick trip out to Donegal with my brother, now pretty much a February tradition. This is the third year we’ve hit the road and headed about as far north-west as it’s possible to go in Ireland without falling into the sea. You can catch up with the epic 2017 and 2018 travelogues if you missed them!
Explorer Beastie sat this one out – well, he had to look after his garden, and I really think he should agree to take a bath before he goes on any more location photoshoots – but we did have company for the trip…
… And I couldn’t resist leaving a monster behind on one of the beaches, just to prove I’d passed through!
We also had a delicious lunch at Nancy’s Barn in Ballyliffin… Well worth a visit if you find yourself in this part of the world!
A few Beasties have been helping author (and Beastie Buddy) Tammie Painter to celebrate the launch of her latest book, Domna Part Two: The Solon’s Son!
View this post on Instagram
First there was cake to celebrate my latest book launch…and then there was a call to the fire department. Check out Finn McSpool’s latest antics and learn about my recent release, Domna Part Two: The Solon’s Son, on the blog (link in bio). . #finnmcspool #beastiefamily #newbooks #bookrelease #booklife #writerscommunity #writersoninstagram #authorsofinstagram #bookstagrammer #newbookrelease #kindle #kindleunlimited #whattoread #bookworm #cake #celebrate #readersofinstagram #amreading #fantasyfiction #strongfemalecharacters
This novel is the second in a series of six about ambitious, resourceful Sofia Domna, whose plans are knocked sideways by a chance encounter in her local marketplace. If you haven’t discovered this series yet, you really should… And the best bit is that Tammie (generous to a fault) is giving away the first novel, The Sun God’s Daughter, to anyone who signs up to her mailing list. Go on, you know you want to!
Well, that’s all the news from here… What have you all been up to? Is Spring springing where you are? Be sure to tell us all about it in the comments!