An Caitín Beag is Irish for The Little Small Cat, or The Wee Small Cat, or The Tiny Little Cat, or any other variation on diminutive felines that you fancy putting together.
It breaks down like this: An means The, Cait is cat, and the -ín at the end makes it a small cat. Beag also means small, or little.
And it pronounces like: On Cat-een BeUG.
The ín / een is interesting. It’s added to nouns as a diminutive – making them smaller, or younger (or female, thanks the patriarchy).
Young beasts often get an -een. So my caitín could be a kitten, and not a small cat. A cat óg (prounounced cat ogh, meaning young cat) would also be a kitten. Or – and this is one of best words ever – piscín also means kitten. That’s pronounced pish-keen, and it’s such a kittenish word! A duck is a lacha, and a duckling is a lachín, as another example. A little house (teach) is a teachín. A little road, or path, is a bóithrín (or boreen). The -een is very common in names, too. – especially girls’ names. Roisín means little rose, Realtín is little star.
The accent over i is known as a fada. It only appears on vowels, and it elongates them. (I was always appalling at remembering to add it. I still am, and I just use it on the one word nowdays.) But it can be essential for telling words apart. Ceád (prononced kayd) means a hundred, cead (pronounced key-ad) means permisson.
Small disclaimer: I haven’t used Irish for YEARS and I might have errors here! Also I’m terrible at trying to write out pronunciations. Happy to take correction, or to try to answer any questions, though!
How I make the tiny penannular pins – with pictures! 🔨🔥🔨🔥🔨🔥🔨🔥🔨 I usually make these in batches of between five and ten, but they all emerge looking a little different.1. Form a coil out of silver wire. 2. Slice through! I use tape to keep the coil from slithering around. I’m aiming for asymmetric pins here, so I’m cutting down at an angle. I 💛 my swish saw.3. Cut some slightly flattened wire into pin lengths and form little tight loops at the top of each. Check they fit! They should move freely but not be loose.4. Place them over tiny pieces of solder (called pallions), drench it all in flux, and solder! To solder silver, you heat the whole piece to the melting point of the solder, that silver melts the solder, and capillary action lures it into the join. These are heated to about 750c, and the metal glows red with heat.5. These are textured pins, so I hammer and straighten the pins. (Untextured pins will get hammered with a rawhide hammer to harden them – the soldering has left the silver very soft. I’ve also checked all the joins and filed and polished off any stray solder.6. I hammer very gently the top half of the circle, slide on the pin and flatten them a little in the rolling mill.7. Big hammering! I bash the flattened ends to pleasing shapes.8. Open the rings to file and sand the edges smooth and shiny.9. I use a cup burr to round the ends of the pin. It’s attached to my pendant motor (like a dremel but fierce and amazing). This is the only time i use an electrical tool making these tiny pins.)10. Into the pickle! This will take off the tarnish from my earlier soldering. If I need things pickled quickly I heat it in an old slow-cooker bain marie, but I’m going to leave the pickle cold and let it work its magic overnight.
It is Fibre East next weekend and I’ll be there (in Jacob again – come say hi!). Fibre East last year was my first show ever, and I was petrified! What if I sold nothing, and sat sad and lonely in my booth all weekend? But it went amazingly.
I’m really looking forward to the return, and to see how much things have evolved over the last year. I’ve developed so many more new lovely things.
I’m off on holiday – a long planned train and boat adventure around Sweden, Denmark and Norway – for three long lovely weeks in August. So orders after the 7th of August will get shipped out at the start of September. I have been planning my holiday knitting for months, and I still don’t know what I’m bringing! (I might have to do a Sunday afternoon sweep around Fibre East for inspiration & acquisition!)
On the needles: not so much! The start of a sweater that I’m still not sure about and I think I’ll end up ripping back and finding a less fluffy yarn for – I am picturing loose and drapey but the yarn has aspirations towards lofty and fluffy.
Fresh off the needles, though – we have two recent stars!
I stood for Parliament for the Green Party, which was fascinating and exhausting and amazing and terrifying in roughly equal measures. I needed some easy knitting to see me through the campaign. I cast on this shawl shortly after the election was announced, and cast off a few days before polling day.
I refrained from knitting during hustings, but it came along with me to meetings and gatherings and radio stations, and it gave me essential little patches of downtime when I needed them most. (It also came to the cricket at Lords, when Ireland generously let England win.)
It’s a simple crescent shawl, mostly stocking stitch with some moss stitch stripes and a picot edge, and knitted in Dye Ninja’s Battle Hymn of the Republic and Easyknits‘ Dark Nebula set. It’s gotten loads of compliments, but I’m sure the stars of the show are the yarns – such amazing colours and glorious squishiness!
Last year at Fibre East I picked up a gradient pack and a fine fat skein from Woosheeps, planning a cardigan, and I had a self imposed deadline of this year’s Fibre East for completion. I am SO nearly there – I have found the right buttons (enamelled metal, v cute!) and just need to sew them on and graft the arms. (At some point I need to make Pocket Decisions.) This one doesn’t have the same sense of occasion as the Election Shawl – the poor cardie pretty much got abandoned in favour of something not requiring DPNs and counting and any brain at all.
I’m really pleased with it, though! The steek was a bit fretful – the yarn is superwash, so I double-reinforced it with blanket stitch in two differently-felty yarns from the scrap bag, and it is so far holding up just grand. (Why yes I have been wearing the buttonless, ungrafted cardigan around the boat. It’s just to … check the fit? The cats don’t judge me! They just sit on my knitting.)
I’ve settled back home after a glorious EYF – the catties have ceased showering me with affection and expressing their delight at my return, and the unpacking is done.
I’d love to start off this writeup with ‘The journey up north was uneventful… ‘ but I can’t do that. We were on the train that was stranded for three hours – and then spent another two hours hanging around York with an entire stand’s worth of luggage and many platform changes before we finally got onto another train. We ended up reaching Edinburgh far too late to set up the stand. Thursday evening saw me sitting on a hotel room bed trying to get as much sorting and pricing and organising done as I could (with a soothing glass of wine to hand). Friday morning was an early, early start, with just 90 minutes to get the stand up and ready for duty. And we did it! Things were more haphazard than I’d have liked, and I hadn’t time at all to tweak the layout, and we were far more tired than is ideal for the start of a hectic festival – but we made it.
Our little stand was hopping busy all weekend, and I had a wonderful time nattering to everyone who stopped by, demonstrating the use of penannular pins (video coming soon on here), and especially seeing things I’d made being worn and loved. There are few things (tabby kittens, maybe?) better than making something, sending it out into the world, and discovering that it is used and cherished.
We summoned the energy to head ceili-wards on Friday night, and the great company, dancing and food perked me right up despite a busy day on very little sleep. I may have danced more than was sensible for a tired person with a busy day ahead, and stayed rather later than I thought I’d manage.
Both myself and Sarah managed a quick sprint around the market on Sunday afternoon and scored a small but precious little yarny haul each. Apart from that we were pretty much chained to the stand, with occasional tea runs to sustain us, and I didn’t get to see half the festival – or take more than a handful of photographs, or pop by at least half the stalls I’d wanted to. (This isn’t a complaint at all – busy is good! – and I had a grand time behind the stall.)
Huge love to Jo and Mica both, for organising such a great event, and especially for Mica’s unflappable comforting calm as I phoned her fretfully while stranded on a train. Huge love too to all the volunteers that made it happen, the other exhibitors, and everyone who stopped by the stall.
Exciting new things
I took a couple of new things to EYF. There are these knitter’s notebooks and knitting journal, as well as some badges, new variations in button earrings, some great new bangles and pendants, and little tubs of brightly coloured bulb pins.
They’ll be appearing in the shop sometime soon – they’re just waiting on me doing the proper photography.
On the needles
A big wooly jumper for wearing around the boat in winter (knitted just in time for the sun to come out and the temperature to soar, excellent timing there!)
Another cowl, because I fancied some fun indulgent (& portable) knitting last weekend, to keep me entertained on trains. And it’s nearly done – quick knits are great!
An incredibly lush grey cardigan, which just needs me to decide if I like the way the oversized button bands behave – some *sterling silver buttons* will be added if so.
I’m working on so many new things – if you want previews to a few of them, head over to instagram – but there’s a new needle gauge pendant, cute silver-nugget word necklaces, and several new shawlpin designs (plus repeats of some well-loved old ones).
I’m also putting together a wholesale pricelist, so if you’re a shop – or know a shop – who might want to stock some of the things I make please get in touch. I’m planning to start small and expand slowly.
And if you’re a designer, I’m introducing Button Support – like yarn support, but with ceramic buttons instead of yarn. Sample buttons for your samples and wholesale button packs to include in kits – and I can work with you to make the right button for your design. And also Shawlpin Support – if you’d like to feature my shawlpins in your photography I would love that! Email me with your requests!
On the needles:
A cowl. Again. I think this might be turning into a poncho, though. It’s Experimental Train & Pub Knitting, and a pleasing mixture of linen stitch and a yarnovery thing. Let’s see what happens? It might be great!
A sweater, for lovely P, who finds he is often colder than me, and I’m sure that’s because I’m wearing wool and he’s not. It’s a basic bottom-up raglan in West Yorkshire Spinners Jacob DK. I am onto the second sleeve, so getting there.
(also several stalled projects. sorry, stalled projects!)
I’ve just added little crochet hook pendants to the store. These are made of solid sterling silver, so they feel lovely and chunky, and are available as 3mm or 4mm hooks – or a set of one of each. They’re perfect for picking up stitches when you take your knitting out and about