Ag Sugradh sa Sneachta

The many faces of the superhero scientist modeling Ag Sugradh sa Sneachta Cowl, just released! Buy Now!

This is a stranded colour work cowl featuring puppies frolicking in the snow. Ag Sugradh sa Sneachta translates as playing in the snow.

The cowl is available in three sizes, but easily adaptable to alternative sizes. The sizes are 53 cm, 60, and 67 cm in circumference. It is knit in the round from the bottom up with a garter stitch border. The stranded colour work uses just two colours per row.
The sample, shown here in medium, is knit with Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal fingering weight yarn in colour ways Snowdrift and Teal. The cowl used less than half a ball of each colour in the medium size. The yarn is spun in Co. Donegal and has the distinctive tweedy appearance of many Irish yarns. The added cashmere makes it soft enough to wear next to your skin too!



Until, Friday the 13th of February, if you buy Ag Sugradh sa Sneachta pattern you can get any one of my other patterns free! Enter coupon code madra at the checkout. Wahoo!





Another day, another new pattern! Daíthí finger-less glove pattern is now available!

These pair of finger-less mittens are made from Irish wool sheared from Christine’s pet sheep in County Leitrim and spun by Natural Fibre Company in Britain. Christine of Formerly Fleece then dyes the yarn using natural dyes or sometimes, the yarn is dyed at the mill!

The gloves, pictured here in large, are named for my fear cheile, who declared an urgent need for a pair of finger-less mittens! They are knit in the round starting with a twisted rib cuff, continuing in Stocking stitch with a twisted stitch motif on a reverse stocking stitch background and increasing for the thumb gusset. Stitches are set aside for the thumb while continuing with the remainder of the mitten and casting off with an i cord trim.


Nóinín Beret


Nóinín Beret pattern is now available for purchase.

The beret, available in three sizes and shown here in medium, is suitable for a child or adult, depending on how you prefer to wear the hat. For the most slouch, choose the large size.The hat is knit from the top down, starting with a short icord and ending with an icord brim, which fits snuggly. The hat, knit in the round, increases with yarn overs at the crown, before flowing into the chevron lace. This concentric crown and petal lace give the hat its name, Nóinín or in English, Daisy!


Formerly Irish Fleece

A few months a go, there was an interesting subject upon the Irish Knitter’s board on Raverly. Why is there so little Irish produced wool? You can read the posts here! Christine kindly offered to give away some of her yarn, which she had spun from her pet sheep. This is 100 per cent Irish wool sheared from Christine’s pet sheep in County Leitrim and spun by Natural Fibre Company in Britain. Christine of Formerly Fleece then dyes the yarn using natural dyes or sometimes, the yarn is dyed at the mill!

So far I have used the natural undyed white and the blue. Both are a heavy DK/ aran weight and knit up with brilliant stitch definition. They are a little fuzzy, with a soft halo and I imagine would felt with a little encouragement. While not soft compared to the luxury indulgent merinos we are now so used to, the wool  is not scratchy or itchy worn next to the skin. The blue, dyed by  the Natural Fibre Company to organic standards became a pair of finger-less mittens. The yarn beautifully showed off the cabling and textured stitches of the design. 080There was just enough white yarn to create a lacy beret design. Again the yarn show up the stitch definition but was strong enough to withstand vigorous blocking needed to open up the lace work. Both items are worn daily by their owners  and are hard wearing yet warm and comfortable.

148The yarn was nice to work with, slightly coarse but robust. To my inexperienced hands, while heavier, it felt a lot like Shetland wool to work with. It felt sturdier than Studio Donegal tweed, probably due to the plying method.  I enjoyed working with this wool, however I  am partial to real wool,  my only niggle is the fuzzy halo that appeared on the beret when it dried after I blocked it. I knew  to expect it, just not so much! Thanks Christine for the chance to use some genuine Irish Wool!


Crann Nollag

I like beads, I like Christmas trees, and I like hats.

Here is my newest design, featured in the brand spanking new online knitting magazine I like Knitting, Crann Nollag, beaded beanie. This hat is knit with Life in the Long Grass Silk Merino, a lovely soft shimmery sock yarn, hand dyed in County Cork. The yarn is “an airy pearlescent with faint tints of gray, green and mauve”. 2014-12-31 19.48.46The hat is knit in the round, with a beaded tree motif repeated in different colours all around the circumference of the hat. The yarn, with its icy tones of mid-winter is a perfect backdrop for the colourful hues of green and blue trees.

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I enjoyed knitting this hat; so much I made two, one for me and one the bookworm. The beanie is close fitting, but knit the larger size if you want a slouchy look! Both hats were knit from one skein of yarn and there even was a wee bit left over!

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World Famous Designer


Credit: Practical Publishing

Okay well, not just yet! But I just had my first published pattern in a real live tangible magazine!  My Tír na nÓg shawl pattern became available last week in Knit Now magazine. So now I can add knitwear designer extraordinaire to my title.

The shawl design is inspired by old Irish myths and legends, the tales of Fionn Mac Cumhaill and the the Fianna. In Irish folk lore, Tír na nÓg is best known for the tale of Niamh Cinn Ór and Oisín, the son of the warrior Fionn Mac Cumhaill.  In the legend, Oisín and Niamh of Tír na nÓg fall in love. She brings him across the sea to Tír na nÓg on a magical white horse that can travel over water. After spending three years in the land of eternal youth, Oisín becomes homesick and wishes to return to Ireland. Niamh reluctantly allows him return across the sea on her magical horse, but forewarns him never to touch the Irish soil. When he returns, he finds that in reality three hundred years have passed in Ireland. While helping some men, move a rock, Oisín falls from the horse and instantly transforms into an ancient man.  He wanders around Ireland for years and eventually encounters St. Patrick and tells him his tale. He dies without ever returning to Tír na nÓg.

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The shawl was knit with Titus yarn from baa ram ewe in Eccup and Bramley Baths. Titus is a  four-ply yarn composed of fifty per cent Wensleydale, twenty per cent Bluefaced Leicester and thirty percent Alpaca, manufacture in Yorkshire in the UK and inspired by the local landscape.


Foxford Woollen Mills

3485220-001The minions and I paid a visit to the Foxford Woollen Mills recently. While I visited on a school jaunt many moons ago, I wanted to take a tour of the visitor centre and see the mills in action.

Many a childhood night was spent under a signature scratchy cream and blue striped Foxford blanket, or if I was lucky, the pink trimmed one, summer picnic forays were consumed on the red tartan rug and when I got married, it was a plaid Blackwatch rug that kept us warm in the back of the black vintage Ford Consul. The Foxford blanket, the pinnacle of Mayo chic, the quintessential wedding present was to be found in many, if not most, Irish households of my youth and a renaissance of late, has again placed them among the luxury items on wedding inventories. Irish Designers, including Helen McAlinden, have rejuvenated the brand through modern contemporary design that appeals to natives and tourists alike. The Foxford brand, considered a heritage brand, has modernized and rejuvenated to keep au courant and viable in these austere times.

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One of the last working mills in Ireland, the Foxford Woollen Mills was founded by the Irish Sisters of Charity in 1892. Mother Agnes Morrogh-Bernard was the driving force behind the Mill in its infancy, with assistance from Congested District Board and a considerable loan. Harnessing the power of the river Moy and with the labour and dedication of the local people, the mill thrived until 1908, when the building burnt to the ground. A considerable setback, but again the mill thrived and employed up to two hundred people at its peak.

In the latter part of the twentieth century, the textile industry in Ireland imploded and the Foxford Mills were not invulnerable to this collapse, going into receivership in 1987. The Mills celebrated its centenary in 1992 with opening of the visitor centre, where you can take a very interesting self-guided tour voiced by the silken tones of renowned Mayo actor Mick Lally. A million euro investment in 2007 completed the mill’s rejuvenation.

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So the minions and I spent an enjoyable hour in the visitor centre. History buffs in the making, they were fascinated by the interactive exhibits but were particularly enthralled with the factory models. While we have visited the shop and cafe frequently, this was the first time they saw the tour but have spent many a minute with their noses pressed against the glass of the weaving room door, fascinated with the machinery and weaving process. They were delighted to get onto the factory floor and view the noisy contraptions up close. At only ten euro for a family ticket, I highly recommended it.

Of course the trip must be rounded off with a treat in the cafe upstairs! Apologies for the poor quality photos, one of these days I’ll remember to bring my camera.