Thursday, August 30, 2012

Trip to Galway: Connemara (4)

After the previous day's exhausting excursion to Inis Mor, we decided to take it easy on Sunday and go on a bus trip to Kylemore Abbey and Connemara. Tours are offered in abundance in Galway, there's a choice between lots of operating companies.

We went with the Galway Tour company, a bus full of people. The bus took us to Kylemore Abbey first, I will write about this beautiful building next.


 We also saw a wishing tree, where clothes of the sick are hung so they get magically better:

I didn't quite understand why this is so special, but the tour guide kept pointing it out. So this is Connemara turf:


This is a white horse that's friendly with the tour guide:

This is Ross Errily Friary:


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Trip to Galway: The Aran Islands: Dún Aengus (3)

Dún Aengus is an archaeological site on Inis Mor (the largest of the Aran Islands). It can only be reached on foot, buses only bring you to the tourist shops, bikes have to be left at the bottom of the hill. It's about an hour's bike ride away from the harbour, though it will take longer if you take breaks or go the longer way. 

The climb up the mountain is exhausting for the unfit, regular person, like me, but it's worth it! It takes about 15 minutes to go up the mountain and costs 3 EUR for an adult ticket. The view across the islands and the cliffs is spectacular, especially on a nice day:
 I was a tiny little bit afraid to take those photos, in fact, I couldn't even look at people posing on the edge of the cliffs... There is no safety net there, just a 100mtr drop... 
 On top of the cliffs, there are stone walls (= a fortress), some of which were build 500 years BC . The walls were built originally by islanders probably as a place to worship the gods.
 A little tip from me: If anyone had to choose between visiting the Aran Islands or the Cliffs of Moher, I would go for the Aran Islands. These cliffs are just like the cliffs of Moher, but there are not as many tourists, especially if you stay on the island overnight and go after the ferries have left in the evening.
 Read more about Inis Mor here

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Trip to Galway: The Aran Islands: Inis Mor (2)

Beautiful coastlines, the rough Irish countryside, a sandy beach, the Atlantic Ocean, stone walls, cows, horses and donkeys: Inis Mor (English: Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands):

There are a few ferries going to Inis Mor, we took the 10.30am ferry out and the 6.30pm ferry back. In winter the last ferry leaves earlier. Taking the ferry can be an adventure in itself, the Atlantic ocean is rough, there's water splashing on the deck, people get seasick, people see dolphins...


Having been on a few trips around Ireland, I had the experience that it usually rains, even in mid-August. I was pleasantly surprised that the sun was shining when we got to Inis Mor. This meant that we could hire bikes and make our own way around the island. There are plenty of bikes to rent, for 10 EUR you can choose a bike for the day.
Otherwise you can:
- Hire a horse-drawn coach
- Go on a mini-bus tour
- Walk around the island

If you're a "sporting ace" like me (I hadn't been on a bike for about 10 years), you'll be wrecked at the end of the day, but it's not so bad: The routes are mostly even, there's very little traffic (just the occasional minibus) and you can take lots of breaks. I did like the freedom of the bike, and it's much quicker than walking. Also, the bikes aren't locked, everyone just leaves their bike near them when they stop and hop on again later.

The main attraction was Dún Aengus, I will write about this little hill tomorrow.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Trip to Galway, Connemara and Inis Mor

Last weekend I went on a weekend trip to Galway and from there I visited Inis Mor (engl: Inishmore) and Connemara. Here are some impressions, more to come in the next few days:

Spectacular view from Dun Aonghasa over the cliffs on Inis Mor

A sandy beach on Inis Mor. On a sunny day! In Ireland! Who knew...

Evil looking cow

Kylemore Abbey in Connemara

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Aran Socks Preview

In the next few weeks, as the weather will be getting colder in other parts of the world (it's never been very warm in Ireland), I will list a new type of sock in my Etsy shop. These socks are very warm and thick, knitted with Aran weight yarn (the yarn that's used for Aran sweaters, with beautiful cable patterns, worn by fishermen off the coast of Ireland, who need very warm jumpers out against the rough sea). 

I have finished a few pairs already:

The yarn consists of 25% wool, 75% acrylic. It's very soft and I love knitting with it. I'd like to have for each colour one pair of plain rip, a fancy cable pattern (such as the xoxo pattern), a 3-stripes pattern with shades of grey, a 2-stripes pattern with grey and maybe one with different coloured heel and tip. There are so many options!

These socks can be bought in my Etsy shop soon.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Giveaway Prizes Finished

Last month I sponsored two giveaways with two different blogs. Here are the two stockings I knitted for the two winners:

The Cael stocking is for Stefanie from Canada, winner of the Marlie and me blog giveaway:
Marlie and Me giveaway 
I just finished this stocking last weekend. I experimented a little bit: I made a different cuff, it's stretchier and bigger, which is what you want in a Christmas stocking, I think... The heel is smaller and the tip is bigger. The stars are a new motif. The white patterns are bigger, because I really like the white on red contrast, and the black patterns are only 3 rows, this allows for me to control the size better.

The second stocking is for the Created by Laurie Blog winner Kimberly. I'm excited to see one of my stockings go all the way to Trinidad and Tobago! 

This one was a pleasure to knit as well, the penguins on blue just work very well, I think. 

I enjoyed both giveaways very much, thanks to Laurie and Teresha for organising it! 

My knitted stockings can be ordered through my Etsy shop
I'm sure I'll do another giveaway soon, keep informed by signing up to my Newsletter or follow my blog, twitter or facebook.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Knitting Project: 4 Christmas Stockings

Last weekend I finished these four Christmas stockings:

It was the first time I knitted no name or no "Merry Xmas" on them, instead I made two rows of characters, one going right, one going left. This way, the stockings can be hung up in either direction. 

I love the symmetry of the stockings: There are two white characters with black background and two black characters with white background. The large white-black-blue panel is repeated twice on each stocking. I took care not to repeat the same blue pattern in the same place, though I couldn't help repeating some of them. The foot part of the stocking had to be the same length, so I finished with a three-row pattern, two same ones.

There were a few challenges too: The polar bears are smaller, but longer than the other ones, the snowmen are the tallest. I had to count how many stitches I was missing with the polar bears, compared to the other stockings, and make the other panels (blue and white) bigger. 

The biggest challenge was the snowmen's noses/carrots. I couldn't take orange like I did with the blue snowmen stocking I knitted before. I didn't even try orange, I'm sure it would have clashed with the wine red. So I tried red, like the stockings' main colour.

I think it looks like the snowman is wearing lipstick. So (in agreement with my customer), I left the snowman with black noses. 

And now I'm finished, I took lots of pictures and I'm ready to ship them to their new home, all the way to Canada. It was lots of fun knitting them.

Want stockings like these?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cushion covers finished!

Yesterday I finished two of these very popular covers, they're 18x18" and already sold. I might add buttons or leave them like this: