Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ailbhe Dunne's 2 Needle Diamond Socks inspired by Malin Head rain data

Diamonds in Aran knitting are said to represent the shape of the fishing mesh, and wealth and success! The moss stitch in the middle is said to represent sea weed used as fertiliser on the land – the diamonds are said to be walls surrounding farm land. Fishing and farming used to be a huge part of our GDP!

The diamonds on these socks represent the rise in rainfall at Malin head – over the last 100 years the rainfall at Malin head has risen by 50%. This rise correlates with the rise in GDP. 100 years ago ‘gdp’ and industry in Malin head was fishing and farming – both represented traditionally in Aran Knitting by the diamond and moss stitch!

One of our socks has one diamond and the other has a diamond and a half – the half diamond is at the cuff of the sock to represent infinity. Are we going to stop with a 50% rise?

For the first sock

Cast on 41 sts,

  • Row 1: Knit 10, Purl 2, K2, (P1,K1) X 6, P1, K2, P2, K10
  • Row 2 and all even rows knit the knits stitches, purl the purls!
  • Row 3: K10 p2, (Slip the next two stitches onto a cable needle and leave at the front of your knitting, purl the next stitch, knit two from the cable needle) C2L, (p1,k1) x5, p1, (Slip the next stitch onto cable needle and leave at back of work knit 2, p1 from cable needle) C2R, p2, k10
  • Row 5; K10 p3,C2L, (p1,k1) x4, p1, C2R, p3, k10
  • Row 7; K10 p4, C2L, (p1,k1) x3, p1,C2R, p4, k10
  • Row 9; K10 p5, C2L, (p1,k1) x2, p1, C2R, p5, k10
  • Row 11; K10 p6, C2L, p1,k1,p1, C2R, p6, k10
  • Row 13 K10 p7, C2L, p1, C2R, p7, k10
  • Row 15 K10, p8, slip next two stitches onto cable needle, Knit next three stitches, knit two from cable needle, p8, knit 10
  • Row 17 K10 p8, C2R, p1, C2L, p8, k10
  • Row 19 K10 p7, C2R, (p1,k1), p1, C2L, p7, k10
  • Row 21 K10 p6, C2R, (p1,k1) x 2, p1, C2L, p6, k10
  • Row 23 K10 p5, C2R, (p1,k1) x 3, p1, C2L, p5, k10
  • Row 25 K10 p4, C2R, (p1,k1) x 4, p1, C2L, p4, k10
  • Row 27 K10 p3, C2R, (p1,k1) x 5, p1, C2L, p3, k10
  • Row 29 K10 p2, C2R, (p1,k1) x 6, p1, C2L, p2, k10
  • Row 31: K10, p2 C2L, (p1,k1) x5, p1, C2R, p2, k10
  • Row 33; K10 p3,C2L, (p1,k1) x4, p1, C2R, p3, k10
  • Row 35; K10 p4, C2L, (p1,k1) x3, p1,C2R, p4, k10
  • Row 37; K10 p5, C2L, (p1,k1) x2, p1, C2R, p5, k10
  • Row 39; K10 p6, C2L, p1,k1,p1, C2R, p6, k10
  • Row 41; K10 p7, C2L, p1,C2R, p7, K10
  • Row 43 K10 p5 slip next two stitches onto cable needle, Knit next three stitches, knit two from cable needle, p5, k10


  • Knit 11 sts, work on these 11 sts in stockinette for 16 rows, ending with a purl row. Turn this half of the heel as follows:
  • Row 1:-K2, k2tog, k1, turn, slip1, P3, turn.
  • Row 3:-K3, K2tog, K1, turn, slip1, P4, turn.
  • Row 5:-K4, K2tog, K1, turn, slip1, P5, turn.
  • Row 7:-K5, k2tog, K1. (7 sts on needle.)
  • Using left needle pick up 10 sts on the side of the heel, and knit them. Knit across the 19 instep sts. (36 sts on needle). Work in stockinette on the remaining 11 sts for 17 rows ending with a knit row. Now turn the other half heel as follows:
  • Row1:- P2, P2tog, P1, turn, slip1, K3, turn.
  • Row3:- P3, P2tog, P1, turn, slip1, K4, turn.
  • Row5:- P4, P2tog, P1, turn, slip1, K5, turn.
  • Row7:- P5, P2tog, P1, (7 sts on needle).
  • Pick up 10 sts on side of heel, and purl them. Continue purling across the whole sock.(53 sts on needle).


  • Row1:- K15, K2tog, K19, slip1, K1, PSSO (pass slipped stitch over), K15.
  • Row2:- and all even rows, purl.
  • Row3:- K14, K2tog, K19, slip1, K1, PSSO, K14.
  • Row5:- K13, K2tog, K19, slip1, K1, PSSO, K13.
  • Row7:- K12, K2tog, K19, slip1, K1, PSSO, K12.
  • Row9:- K11, K2tog, K19, slip1, K1, PSSO, K11.
  • Row11:-K10, K2tog, K19, slip1, K1, PSSO, K10.

You should have 41 sts remaining.

Now work in stockinette for 30 rows for a size 5 foot. For a longer or shorter foot, go until this section measures about 1"3/4 shorter than the full length of your foot. Measure from the back of the heel, and end with a purl row.


  • Row1:-K8, K2tog, K2, slip1, K1, PSSO, K13, K2tog, K2,
  • slip1, k1, PSSO, K8.
  • Row 2 and all even rows:- purl.
  • Row 3:- K7, K2tog, K2, slip1, K1, PSSO, K11, K2tog, K2,
  • slip1, K1, PSSO, K7.
  • Row5:- K6, K2tog, K2, slip1, K1, PSSO, K9, K2tog, K2,
  • slip1, K1, PSSO, K6.
  • Continue decreasing as above until 17 sts remain on the needle. Put these sts on a holder, I use a coloured piece of wool.


Using a flat seam technique,(very important!), sew the back and underside of the sock. If you are planning to turn down the cuff, don't forget to reverse the seam at the turn down point so it is inside the cuff. Graft, or weave the toe, and weave in loose ends.

For second sock

  • Cast on 41 sts
  • Row 1 (and all odd rows) K10, P21, K10
  • Row 2 (and all even rows) p10, k21,p10
  • Row 15 K10, p8, slip next two stitches onto cable needle, Knit next three stitches, knit two from cable needle, p8, knit 10
  • Continue as for first sock

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Leave Only Footprints

The term carbon footprint is understood to indicate a measurement of our consumed carbon. Usually discussed on the individual level (the singular footprint), it is rarely quantified and portends an aura of guilt by shifting the onus of green house gas emissions from large scale industry to individuals. In doing this it suggests that individual action/choices are at the root of climate change rather than global market forces. While this grand simplification of consumer power neglects larger market forces and economic structures, it could be argued that the term also works to empower people by awakening them to the gesture of personal choice as political act.

In contrast to a carbon footprint, I contend that there is also a carbon fingerprint to consider. It is not just the consumption of carbon, but rather an understanding of the specificity of what kind of carbon is consumed and a recognition that all materials maintain their history or trace when they are purchased. For example, if we added “how many things in your house are made in China” we would get a different number on the carbon calculator determining our footprint. A shift to local micro-economies offers an opportunity to reduce climate impact simply by opting out of the transport. It is not just how much carbon, but what kind, where, and how it is released/consumed.

The project Carbon Footprint engages on all of these levels. Taking local wool, hand-spinning it, and turning it into beautifully made garments is not so much about the garment as it is about the choice to act. In this work Inishowen wool and spinning are used as the primary metaphors to explore the above ideas and translate climate change data into something tactile. The project quickly went from singly driven to the work of many.

My first connection with the community was through a series of spinning workshops in three of the larger villages and in several schools. This resulted in Spin-in, a one day art-action where community members spun Inishowen wool into yarn on drop-spindles in front of empty shop fronts in Carndonagh. For that one stormy day, the town centre was bustling with people in front of the empty stores re-activating these spaces. As one person remarked, “Even though there's a recession on there is still work to be done and work to be had.” In a Ghandian ploy, we used spinning as an act of independence, achievement, ability, and resistance.

Subsequent to this, the Carbon Footprint Studio emerged as a hub for activity around wool and the associated craft processes. Workshops began immediately with locals offering their knowledge and skill to teach each other about felting, dyeing, spinning, knitting, and crochet. Developing a life of its own within days, the Studio continued to run for 10 weeks and assisted in spawning a new wool-craft co-op in Inishowen. One of the virtues of this work is a re-introduction to wool as a material with value. Though it is ubiquitous in Donegal, it is a zero-profit undertaking for farmers and is treated almost as a waste product. This year's market price was 75¢ per kilo.

If explored, one discovers wool to be one of the most durable, resilient, versatile, and easily produced forms of fabric. Wool requires no processing, can be spun by a single person with only a drop spindle, transforms quickly from raw wool to yarn or felt, and possesses incredible strength and endurance. It is a material iconographic of Ireland for a reason; it's perfect for this landscape and climate both in terms of farming and wearing. Able to absorb 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling damp, the interlocking scales of the wool fibre allow water to spill off of it, and if it is homespun the small amount of retained natural oil (lanolin) will also work to repel water. The traditional Aran sweater was not just a garment of fashion but rather of sheer practicality. A jumper made from home-spun will feel warmer, dryer, and stay cleaner. My own spin on the use of the material, beyond that of local economics, is to phrase it as a form of small-scale, local carbon capture. Composed of 44% carbon, the wool represents fixed carbon sequestered from the atmosphere. In a time where environmental industry and science are scrambling to find methods of carbon capture, it is valuable to look to what already exists around us. When the sheep consume the grass, air, and water of this area, they create a distinct substance that truly is a portrait of the land. Inishowen wool is made of Inishowen.

The final component of this work is the socks. An easy visual link to the idea of a carbon footprint, the socks also translate and house meteorological data from the local weather station, and climate change and economics data. Inviting the many makers of the socks to contribute their own design abstractions from the original data set, the socks become an opportunity to play as well as transmit.

A community of many people formed to create this work. It has grown through generosity, happenstance, perseverance, and the belief that art activates, transforms, inspires, and awakens us.
Thank you to everyone who made this project possible.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

more climate change indicators

The bats are no longer hibernating in Cork!
Climate change comes to us in unusual ways. Over the last few years a decreasing number of bats are going into winter hibernation. What does this mean? Is it warmer and the bats don't need to go into hibernation or does it mean they can't go into hibernation because the weather isn't cuing this change. It may indicate that the insects the bats depend on are also still around, or it could mean there will be a lot of hungry bats! This morning I am starting my bat scarf to protect my neck from hungry vampires. Hopefully it will be done by the show's opening. Find something that inspires you and make it!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Opening reception and conference in Letterkenny!

Hi All,
The show is fast approaching! If you are able to make it down to the show we would love to see you. The opening reception is on Friday November 12th at 7:30 at the Regional Cultural Centre. Please invite yourself and your friends!
If you are interested in the associated conference on Art and Climate Change, please also come to that. Here is the link to register for free:
And here is the schedule

Lovely Weather art & climate change Conference 12th-13th November, 2010
Friday 12th Nov
7pm Registration and refreshments
7.30pm Welcome introductions
8.30pm Performance by SoftDay (IRE) Marbh Chrois

Saturday 13th Nov
9am – 9.30am Registration
9.30am Welcome: Mayor Donegal County Council Cllr Cora Harvey
9.30 – 10.00am Keynote 1: Roger Malina, Leonardo/Olats
10.00 – 10.30am Keynote 2: Paul Cunningham RTE Environment Editor
10.30 – 11.15am Project 1 – Antony Lyons (UK/IRE)
Chair: Cllr Dessie Larkin, Chair Donegal County Development Board
11.15 – 11.30am Coffee
11.30 – 12.15pm Project 2 – Seema Goel (Can) and Ruth McCartney (Ire)
Chair: Ms. Sarah Tuck, CREATE
12.15 – 1.30pm Lunch
1.30 – 2.15pm
Project 3 – Peter D’Agostino (USA)
Chair: Mr. Paul Cunningham, RTE Environment Correspondent
2.15 – 3pm
Project 4 – Soft Day (Ire)
Chair: Toby Dennett, Head of Artists’ Supports The Arts Council of Ireland.
3pm – 3.15pm Coffee
3.15 – 4pm
Project 5 – League of Imaginary Scientists (USA)
Chair: Roger Malina Editor of the Art-Science publication Leonardo
4pm - 4.30pm Keynote 4 Bronac Ferran (N. Ire) Director
4.30 – 5pm General conclusion and Q&A led by Bronac Ferran
5pm Dinner (local options included)
Attendance is free but places are limited.
On-line registration at
Further information please contact:
Ms. Terre Duffy, Public Art Manager Donegal County Council on

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Last chance to see...

Hello all!

It's the last week that the studio is open so this is your chance to come down and learn to spin, grab some wool and make some art for the gallery opening on the 12th! We've had such a wonderful response from the public and we'd really like to reflect that with the knitted clothing going on display in the RCC. If you haven't already signed up for knitting there's still plenty of time (since we'll be accepting submissions as long as the show is open). Below, you can see some lovely images full of knitting inspiration :) From the leaves unfolding early to new species of animal our climate is showing change. Feel free to use these images and ideas as a springboard for your own wooly inspiration and make something beautiful (beautiful can still have bumps and holes in it so don't worry beginners!).
I'll be in the studio this week with wool and needles for anyone who'd like to help. If you know any knitters that you think would participate then let them know too :) Spread the word! We need as many wonderful wooly creations as possible to show what great work the Inishowen (and international) folk have been doing.
There's plenty still to come as the project continues in Letterkenny at the Regional Cultural Centre. And of course we'll see you all on the 12th for the opening :)
Feel free to contact us ( with questions or enquiries and keep checking the blog for updates.

Thanks for everything! Let's keep it going!

Monday, October 25, 2010

hurricane hat

This hat comes via ravelry. Here is the pattern and the original url. If you are interested in this it would also be easy to adapt this to be the swirls of a warm or cold front. The hurricane itself can also be adapted with lines in varying thicknesses or a different colour of wool.

Here is the pattern.


Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted, Pearl #36
Needles: 16" Circular Needles 4.5mm, set of 4 DPNs, 4.5mm
Gauge: 20 stitches & 28 rows knit in Stockinette Stitch

Sizing Note: Pattern is adjustable for sizing by altering how
many inches you work in pattern before beginning your
decreases. The suggested 5" will give you a med-large size.

Cast on 81 sts in the knitted on cast on method.
Join in the round, knitting first & last stitch
together to eliminate jag. Total 80sts.

Brim: Work in K2, P2 Rib for 1.5”. At the end of
final row, M1 stitch. Total 81sts

Body: Work in K9, P1 for 5” inches.

Decrease Rounds:
Round 1: *K7, K2tog, P1* 73sts
Round 2: *K8, P1*
Round 3: *K6, K2tog, P1* 65sts
Round 4: *K7, P1*
Round 5: *K5, K2tog, P1* 57sts
Round 6: *K6, P1*
Round 7: *K4, K2tog, P1* 49sts
Round 8: *K5, P1*
Round 9: *K3, K2tog, P1* 41sts
Round 10: *K4, P1*
Round 11: *K2, K2tog, P1* 33sts
Round 12: *K3, P1*
Round 13: *K1, K2tog, P1* 25sts
Round 14: *K2, P1*
Round 15: *K2tog, P1* 17sts
Round 16: *K2tog* 9sts

Break yarn & run through remaining stitches. Pull tight & secure. Weave in all ends.

design ideas


To Inspire you!!! In this you may find an image that moves you - run with it - a flock of swallows, a bird’s nest hat, a leaf unfurling, vineyards in Ireland... so much is happening because of climate change!

You can make any kind of garment or accessory (you can wear) that uses Irish wool and is inspired by climate change. Please feel free to be as creative as you like. Pieces will be added to the exhibit throughout the run of the show. You will have your work returned to you if you like. THANK YOU for begin part of the Carbon Footprint Project!!

Due to climate change in Ireland:

The swallows arrive 2 days earlier for every 1〫increase in temperature in March. Last year the swallows came 8 days earlier.

Harlequin Ladybird
New species of insects are moving into Ireland every year! Among them is this ladybird - a voracious but lovely pest that threatens the local Irish ladybird population.

Irish 2-spotted ladybird (making out).
There are 27 species of Irish ladybird beetles.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Come on down to the studio today and knit with Seema! Seema is back in Inishowen and will be in the studio today talking about design and knitting up some Inishowen wool. Why don't you call in and give it a try?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Clonmany Capers.

We were adventuring in Clonmany today at a lovely little knitting class in St. Mary's Hall. We set ourselves up round the table and got stitching and subtly mentioned that we were knitting with hand-spun Inishowen wool. They were all quite impressed with the wool and we'd conveniently remembered to bring along some knitting kits with needles and wool to work with and some project info included and the lovely Urris ladies with be stitching away over the next few weeks. :)

Some of the Clonmany ladies turned up at the studio later and got stuck in to some spinning and wool worrying :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Call into the studio tomorrow (or any day at all really) for some spinning fun. I'll be spinning on the wheel and working with drop spindles all day and I'd love to show you how to do it too.

Friday, October 8, 2010

sock making kits and grapsh to think on

Hi All,
Ruth will soon be returning to the studio and putting together ready to go kits to give out to anyone wanting to knit for the project.

If you're still wondering how the climate change part is going to fit in beyond all our strategies of local economy, here are a few images of data that may be incorporated into the socks. I will say that the one I like the most is the simplest, in reflection of the Mallin Head rainfall data over the past 100 years, make one of the socks of your pair 50% longer than the other.

Over the next couple of days this page with be updated with data sets regarding climate change and Ireland, specifically Inishowen where possible. I've added a few images here that might be inspiring. Please feel free to riff off of them and come up with your own interpretation of the how to present the data.

More to come soon!

Thanks to everyone and good luck!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Skype adventures with Seema!

Seema showed up at our stitching session today via the wonders of Skype! We all got down to work on our sock knitting and discussed how we can incorporate the scientific data Seema has been collecting into our finished pieces. There were some pretty exciting ideas flying around. Keep your eyes on the blog or call into the studio to see some designs in action; you can even come up with your own!

The wonders of Skype and ball winders :)

Eileen even had her first go on a spinning wheel today. It's all happening folks.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Interview by Nick Hand

Nick cycled by a last month and did a fantastic interview with Ailbhe Dunne and Aideen Fitzpatrick of our local knitting group at the studio. Check it out! Beautiful pictures!

nick hand interview

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

science at last

Hi All, Seema here just checking in and setting up some direction for the next 4 weeks. The studio is still going strong thanks to the work of Ruth and the wool co-op women.

The connections between global economic and local independence are well established in this project. It's time to bring in the science and some data. This project began as an intersection between art and science where sheep wool is considered a form of carbon capture, but is this the case? YES! I am currently in touch with the Rural Economic Research Centre and examining the carbon released and sequestered in the "life cycle" of the wool. From the grass the sheep consume to the use of electricity to shear them and the amount of transport fuel used to bring in their bags of meal. It is a weird and wonderful web.

This is also the time to bring design and data into the picture. Socks incorporating the data from Malin Head meteorlogy station and hats creating sculptural versions of the thermohaline ocean circulation system are in my head soon to be on some needles. Ready to knit with more art and more science? - get ready!

Hope you'll make it to the knitting sessions!

Special thanks to Dr. Rowan Fealy of ICARUS and NUIM for the many conversations about climate change.

(Images: molecular structure of wool. source:;

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hello all, Ruth here again.

Call into the studio on Wednesday for some knitting and crochet fun! I'll be in the studio from 12 noon onwards (or earlier if you fancy) armed with pointy sticks and hand-spun wool; if you'd like to call in and learn some stitches with needles or hooks then I'll be happy to help :)

As always I'm happy to teach drop spindle and wheel working too so if you haven't given it a go yet just drop in to the studio!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hello all.

Ruth here. Just reporting on some ninja spinning and knitting in public that occurred over the weekend. I took my drop spindle and my sock-in-progress all the way to the island of Inishbofin in Connemara. I knit up some lovely inishowen texel on the ferry while the sea roiled around me and I sat in the sun and spun some Jacobs fleece into lovely yarn that I think I'll ply soon. So there you go, wool adventures around the country :) Why not tell us about some of your own public knitting endeavors .

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What a day! I spent the morning in Clonmany with our lovely wool co-op collective and we dyed up a storm!

Here are our lovely participants raring to go. We were lucky enough to have local Inishowen produce to dye with. We tried our hand at dyeing with onion skins and ivy. Below you can see some hand spun yarn waiting to be dyed and some of our dyeing materials.

Blackberries and wool; grown from Inishowen!
Here are some of our glamorous assistants for the day examining the onion skins before we boiled them up to make a dye bath for our lovely hand spun yarn :)

Here is our ivy dye bath (above) and our onion skin dye bath (below).

We used alum and vinegar mordants. Below is the yarn in the mordant solution.

And here is the finished product! Beautiful hand-dyed, hand-spun Inishowen wool.

It was a lovely way to spend the day. Hope to see you all again this Saturday the 18th at 1pm in the studio for a sock knitting workshop with the lovely Ailbhe Dunne! Keep your eyes on the blog for more workshops coming next week!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

We were lucky enough to have a visit from this nice man today. Nick Hand is cycling around the coast of Ireland talking to local artisans and making soundslides/recordings of the people he speaks to. He happened upon our sock knitting workshop and got talking to some of our local knitters and we talked to him about spinning in Ireland.