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On today’s podcast I have brought back stories from Ireland and the lovely Knitting Pipeline retreat, including a visit to an incredible woollen mill and rare-breed sheep farm. There’s a brand new shawl pattern to introduce, and I am really beginning to look forward to my trip to Squam, which is only around the corner.
This week I released the shawl pattern I designed for the Knitting Pipeline Ireland retreat, the Mount Juliet Shawl:
Hidden amid peaceful woodlands and velvety green fields in Kilkenny Ireland sits a glorious old manor house called Mount Juliet. It was completed in 1760 and named for the bride of the Viscount of Ikerrin. Juliet Boyle, daughter of the Earl of Shannon, brought with her a generous fortune and an exquisite eye for beauty. The estate was built with her money and named in her honour. It was a tribute to young love and remains a masterclass in elegance and harmony. At this time of year, the woodland walks are carpeted with bluebells, the hedgerows are dappled with hawthorn blossom, and the walled garden is bursting into colour. It is a stunning setting for the Knitting Pipeline Ireland Retreat, and I was honoured to be asked to design a pattern for the attendees.
The Mount Juliet Shawl is inspired by the compelling history and lovely Georgian architecture of its namesake, and dedicated to the vision and courage of women who make things happen, particularly our dear Paula Emons-Fuessle, who planned this wonderful gathering for all of us. This asymmetrical triangle shawl features bands of simple but lovely lace in two colours, to recall the graceful lines and beautiful windows of the great house. Fittingly, the sample was knit with yarn from Olann, a brilliant Irish indie yarn company. This is a relaxing but engaging knit with enough gentle repetition that it is easy to memorise for long chatty evening with friends, but the final result is striking.
The shawl pattern is now available to buy on Ravelry. There is a 20% off Launch sale on this pattern until the end of the weekend!
Welcome to the Curious Handmade Podcast, you’re listening to episode 264. This podcast is all about crafting a life of happiness and creativity. I’m your host Helen and you can find me on Ravelry as Hells Bells and on social media as Curious Handmade. You can also find the full show notes and transcript on my website at CuriousHandmade.com
Hello and welcome to the show.
As always, I hope you’re having a wonderful week. I’m having, as always, a busy week. It’s half term here in the UK, so the kids are home from school and we are having a fairly relaxed at home holiday this break. We did go camping on the weekend because it was a bank holiday weekend last weekend, which means that everybody had Monday off work, and so we went camping to the New Forest. There’s quite a few campgrounds down there. They’re really good. We take bikes for the kids and they ride around and enjoy a little bit of independence of being able to go off out of sight for a little while, which we can’t really do very much in London, and yeah, it was really good. The weather was pretty good. I ended up getting quite sick though, so I came home a night early, I caught the train home and I’m glad I did because I ended up having a bit of a temperature and yeah, just with another cold.
It’s a different variation from what I had a couple of weeks ago. But yeah, hopefully I can shake it off pretty quickly, but you might hear it in my voice, okay, in this week, but happily this time my throat’s not too sore so it’s not feeling too bad.
We had gone camping straight after I got back from Ireland last week. So as you might have seen on Instagram or heard on the podcast last week, I spent the week in Ireland near Kilkenny with the Knitting Pipeline Island Retreaters or tourers and joined up with the ladies there after they had been touring around Ireland for about a week by the time I met up with them. And then we got to spend the last few days of their tour together at a wonderful country manor hotel called Mount Juliet. Paula had invited me to be part of the tour well over a year ago now and unfortunately couldn’t be there herself because she is undergoing cancer treatment at the moment.
But she was able to invite a wonderful person called Jan Hamby who is twinsetjan to help guide and host the tour in her absence. And so it was wonderful to meet Jan and many more knitters that I hadn’t met before. Quite a few that I’d heard about quite a lot from the ladies at the Georgia retreat. I think there are about six women that I had met previously at the Knitting Pipeline Georgia retreat. So it was so wonderful to hang out with them, see them again, as well as meet new people. So I had such a wonderful time. The first day we had a knitting day together and I shared the Mount Juliet shawl that I designed especially for the attendees at the retreat and I’ll talk a little bit more about that in a minute. Yeah. So we cast that on, wound the yarn and spent the day knitting together on Tuesday.
And then on Wednesday we had a day sort of out and about touring around the local area. So part of that was a visit to the Cushendale Woollen Mills, which was such a wonderful tour. We were given a tour of the mills by Philip Cushen, who is the sixth generation of his family to own and run the woolen mill there. So we heard all about the history of the site and it, the mill is on a waterway which powered the mill originally and also provided beautiful clear water for the dyeing of the wool and the yarn. So the family have been on this same site, manufacturing Irish wool since the late 1700’s. So it was really wonderful to have that sense of history. The mill has really old machinery in it. I’m not quite sure how old the spinning machine is that we saw, but it’s just a beautiful historical mill and Phil the current owner who gave us the talk was just so enthusiastic about his work and the work that they do there.
It was just, it was lovely, I ended up buying some of their yarn that they spin there at the mill, some yarn they bring in some of the super wash yarn and some Mohair they bring in to make blends and dye on site. And some of it they spin from local wool. So I bought some laceweight wool from them in a beautiful sort of seagreen color and I also couldn’t resist a woven blanket. Because I have a bit of a thing for woolen blankets and have quite a collection. I’m not sure that I’m going to get much use out of them in Australia, but in winter we don’t have a lot of central heating, so I might end up pulling them out more than I think I might. Anyway, it was very beautiful. Perfect for a beach house.
After the visit to the woolen mill, we went to Zwartbles farm and had lunch there and it’s a small farm that the owner, Suzanne has basically created. She has inherited the property from her family. Her mom still owns the farm, but she’s now managing it. And when she first sort of started taking it over, she was trying to figure out what she could do with this land that had been in her family for many, many generations. And it’s not big enough to run a lot of sheep, but she was really interested in keeping sheep and so she decided to go for a rare breed. And so she has a flock of Zwartbles, is how she said it’s pronounced because it’s based on a Dutch word. So it’s zwart is black and bles is blaze because they have a white blaze on the front of their face and they’re basically a very dark brown all over.
And I think their front feet also have a blaze. Really, really pretty sheep. And so we had lunch in the garden. It was a beautiful sunny day and we sat in this beautiful green garden with amazing flowers and trees growing. And Suzanne gave us a talk all about how she’s raising the farm to be super sustainable and all about the ecology on the farm and the variety she’s introducing in terms of grasses and plants and they have apples and apple orchards and it’s just magical, really magical. I think you’re just sitting in the garden and thinking it’s just so beautiful. And then she started talking about everything that she’s doing there and it just makes you feel a bit tired, how hard she is working to make this farm work and pay its way. She’s doing everything from raising the sheep, creating yarn, writing books, taking photography.
I think she’s originally a photographer by trade, so all the social media and photography of the places is really gorgeous as well. So she’s just doing an unbelievable amount of work and it was just very, very charming. So that was a wonderful experience. And then after that we went back to the hotel for some more knitting and on Thursday some of the group went in to Kilkenny just to have a look around there. And I just stayed at the hotel and knit with a group of people who, who didn’t go into town, so I did quite a bit of knitting. I think I was doing probably more chatting than knitting though, so I didn’t do a huge amount of knitting, but I did make some progress on a couple of projects. I’ll talk about that in a minute as well.
The other thing that we did, a small group of us did during our stay at Mount Juliet was go on a a little tour organized by the hotel, of the hotel sort of grounds itself and one of the members of staff gave an amazing talk about the history of the hotel, which went back hundreds of years and it was really, really interesting to hear about how it had come to be and just, yeah, just some of the history and through to current times where it is a fancy golf resort. There’s a very, sort of relatively famous golf course there, a beautiful, beautiful golf course and amazing kitchen gardens, beautiful grounds. It sort of backs onto a sort of a river down the back of the property and then on the other side of the property are horse stables and used to be part of the estate and is now separate.
But yeah, just fascinating place and perfect place to sit and chat and knit. So I took my Clio pullover that I’m still working on and I think last update I was procrastinating on casting on the neck band. So one afternoon when I had quite a bit of time to sit and do that, I picked up all the stitches around the neck band and tackled the braid that goes around the neck band and then started working on that. I haven’t finished the neck band yet, but I realized when I went back to the instructions that I was meant to use a smaller needle picking up the stitches and doing the braid than I did. I had just used the needle for the main body and forgotten to change needle size. So now I’m currently wondering whether I need to pull it out or keep going.
I think what I’m going to do is keep going, finish the neckband and then see if it needs pulling out because it’s just, I don’t know, it’s just, I don’t know, maybe six rows of neck band to go. So I think I’ll just try it, see how it looks and then make a call rather than pulling it out now and starting again at this point. I probably should pull it out at this point, but I’m just kind of hoping that it’s going to be okay. I’m not a loose knitter. I was knitting it reasonably firmly, so hopefully it’s not too loose. Anyway, I might be back with a different version of events next week, but that’s my plan for the time being. I also knit quite a bit on my Piper’s Journey shawl, which was the retreat shawl. All the other attendees had knit a Piper’s Journey for the trip.
Of course I was a bit behind, but really enjoying working on that pattern. It’s a pattern by Paula Emons-Fuessle and I think it was maybe her first shawl design, I think. And it’s a lovely, simple, just really beautiful shawl. So I’m still working on the garter stitch body at the moment, but don’t think that should take me too long. So yeah. So enjoying working on those two projects very much. So as I mentioned before, I designed a shawl for the retreat and named it Mount Juliet after the place we were all staying. So I’ll just read you the description of the shawl that my lovely copywriter Amanda has written for it.
Hidden amid peaceful woodlands and velvety green fields in Kilkenny island sits a glorious old manor house called Mount Juliet. It was completed in 1760 and named for the bride of the Viscount of Ikerrin. Juliet Boyle, daughter of the Earl of Shannon, brought with her a generous fortune and an exquisite eye for beauty.
The estate was built with her money and named in her honour. It was a tribute to young love and remains a masterclass in elegance and harmony. At this time of year the woodland walks are carpeted with bluebells, the hedgerows are dappled with Hawthorn blossom, and the walled garden is bursting into color. It is a stunning setting for the Knitting Pipeline Ireland Retreat and I was honored to be asked to design a pattern for the attendees.
The Mount Juliet shawl is inspired by the compelling history and lovely Georgian architecture of its namesake and dedicated to the vision and courage of women who make things happen. Particularly our dear Paula who planned this wonderful gathering. The asymmetrical triangle shawl features bands of simple, lovely lace in two colors to recall the graceful lines and beautiful windows of the Great House. The sample was knit with yarn from Ireland, a brilliant Irish indie yarn company. This is a relaxing and engaging knit with enough general repetition that it’s easy to memorize for long chatty evenings with friends, but the final result is striking.
So I have just released the shawl on Ravelry and it will be 20% off until the end of the weekend. You don’t need a coupon code, the discount will be automatically applied when you check out. And as the description says, it’s designed to be a fairly simple shawl. It was designed with retreat knitting in mind and it’s a great shawl to use two contrasting colors from your stash or I think it would look really good in one color as well because the lace and the texture would just give it enough interest to make one color look really beautiful. So yeah, I’m really pleased with how it came out. It took me a while to come up with the design because I was really, sometimes when I want something to be just absolutely perfect, it makes it so much harder to come up with a design, but eventually it revealed itself to me and yeah, I’m really pleased. I hope you like it and yeah, it’s now out on Ravelry for everybody.
So I am off to Squam next week in New Hampshire. So I’m back into preparation for travel mode again already and I think I’ll probably just take Cleo pullover to knit on and aim to make some really good progress on that with some monogamous project knitting, I will be seeing the designer Elizabeth Doherty at Squam. So that’s always quite nice when you’re knitting something with the designer there. And yeah, really looking forward to that, catching up with friends there and I will try and record an episode for next week. It’s a little bit chaotic here at the moment with the kids home from school. I’m currently hiding in my bedroom while they make pretend YouTube videos asking people to subscribe to their channel. I don’t let them publish them, but they have a lot of fun making them. So yeah, so whether I get a chance in the next few days to record again, but I’m going to try to, so I’ll just leave it at that. Hopefully I’ll be back with you next week. In the meantime, have a great week or two. Happy knitting. Bye for now.