Monthly Archives: July 2010

Fiddler’s Green 2010: Part 2

So now you know what the Festival is all about, I am sure you are wondering WHO was playing this year???

Oh man, it was a good year! From the first night to the last, I was in musical heaven. Not only are there great gigs but the pubs are packed from noon to midnight with musicians from everywhere having a session, playing together for enjoyment, telling a yarn and generally making merry between pints. I was honoured to witness my friend Kat sing a folk song she had written herself, her first song, in public, ever…so proud.

I got to have a first myself, and had my first ever bodhran lesson with Anne Sands. Enjoyed myself so much even when I’d lose the rhythm. I have it on good authority that I’m just not loose enough. Note to self – loosen up! :)

Amazing bands I saw this year include…

Venue i …Belfast-based Irish trad. band that just blew my socks off! I had heard of them one way or another, heard they were excellent, but after seeing them live I was in shock. Talk about energy, you can practically feel the force of their playing pinning you to your seat! Definitely check out their myspace page for upcoming shows and make a point of seeing them. Nothing like young people taking their cultural roots by the scruff of the neck and then shaking vigorously!

I was so proud later in the week to find I would be sharing billing with them at the Friday night ‘Melting Pot’ gig. To a packed out Glenside pub, they played even harder and all I can remember after my performance, was bouncing up and down to the beat of their music. It was a brilliant night!

Every year I look forward to my friend and fellow singer-songwriter Nathan Ball and his beautiful cellist Adrianne Wininsky landing up into town. They’ve become a bit of an institution now with me and my friends, always looking forward to their outdoor gigs in the Square, as well as the chance to hear them more intimately down the pub or by a campfire at dawn. Nathan’s lyrics are heartfelt and thought provoking, about love and living and being conscious in all we do. Yup, you need to hear him. Click right here for his lovely website and see the other festivals he’s playing at this summer. And the best part of them coming this year?! Adrianne’s newly arrived son, Henry, who we’ve made an honourary Rostrevor-ian (Rostrevor-ite? Rostrevor-ish?!)

Nathan & Adrianne on the outdoor stage

Lastly the big musical revelation to me this Festival arrived on the Monday evening, right at the start of the festival, and pretty much set the energy level for the rest of the week. L’Angelus are a Cajun Fiddle Swing band from Louisiana, made of brothers and sisters and generally creating good mood wherever they go. I swear that I am not exaggerating when I say they literally dance and jig through their entire set, instruments in hand, feet never stopping! I’ve swiped a video from their facebook page for you to see what I mean…

I’m so happy to now be able to call these amazing musicians friends. We had a great evening together sharing brownies, singing and chatting round the fire at the beach party. Oh and people are still breaking out into renditions of one of their most catchy tunes ‘Rice and Gravy’…worth a little search on YouTube!

To get a sense of all the different sounds and styles in this years Festival, head over to the BBC Ulster website and listen to Colum Sands’ ‘Folk Club’. Every year he records one show LIVE at the Festival, inviting as many performers as possible to come, have a wee chat and play to tune to a live audience. His Fiddler’s Green episode is currently playing on the iPlayer, just click this sentence to hear the GOODNESS! Included in it are Venue i, L’Angelus, Tom Paxton, Archie Fisher, David Muldrew, Ben Sands and Brendan Monaghan to name a few. There’s only TWO days left to hear it on the iPlayer so get listening now!

Fiddler’s Green 2010

Phew! July is speeding to a climactic finish and I am still trying to digest all that has happened since last we spoke. It is always a dangerous thing to take ‘a few days for myself’ away from the blog. I felt I deserved it after the wonderful chaos and community of ‘A Midsummer Day’s Dream’ but a few days became a week and suddenly the Festival was upon me. Chances of blogging during Festival – slim to none. Things to blog about during Festival – incalculable!

So let’s get started…

Fiddler’s Green Festival takes place every year in my boooootiful home town of Rostrevor. Since the beginning of my memories living here (we moved from Belfast when Lil Sis No.1 was born, so I was 4) the Festival has been the mark of mid-summer holidays. Always at the end of July, we knew that the Festival meant evening Ceili’s (Irish set dancing parties, usually to a live band) in the village square, ice cream, possibly a ramble up the ‘hills’ and wall to wall quality Irish folk and traditional music for 7 days running. Yup, the summer was good for an inquisitive little music lover like myself who had no problem pairing up with friendly old ladies for the ‘Walls of Limerick’! (Thanks to my Nana Moriarty for teaching me the steps in her living room)

Thanks to the Fiddler’s Green we’ve had such amazing acts pass through our wee dot on the map as Eddie Reader, Mary Black, Paddy Moloney (of The Cheiftains), Andy Irvine, The Dubliners, and Pete Seeger (WOW!) to name but a few. Even Seamus Heaney paid a visit in 2000! Seeing incredibly talented and dedicated musicians play live was a revelation to me. I had always really enjoyed trad. (traditional) music and folk but, sure, it wasn’t very cool. Kind of like admitting you like Country or something, so I kept it a bit quiet even though I learned the tinwhistle and played in the trad. group at school. But in Rostrevor, it was cool!  It was more than cool…these people were magical. Their fingers blurred as they segued into the next tune and my mind expanded at a rate of knots.

Many a gig seen here has changed my musical outlook, encouraged me to practice harder and inspired me to song-write/sing/play with passion. In fact, I do believe my first ever gig with a band was at the Fiddler’s Green, under the name ‘Alchemy’ and a few mates from school.

As Tommy Sands so rightly said this year at ‘The Music of Healing’ concert,

“In Ireland, family always comes home for Christmas. In Rostrevor, family always comes home for the Festival!”

So as you can probably gather from all my waxing lyrical about it, I love the Festival and I had a brilliant time this year! I gigged for the first time in TWO years. I heard great music, saw old friends and made loads of new ones. I then promptly got sick on the last weekend. I battled through with the help of vitamin C, baths, tea and essential oils but I was shattered by the time it all wound to a close on Sunday night. I have been hibernating since then but am now ready to Face the World (cyberly) and spill the beans over the next few days on this years Festival! Stay tuned…(heehee, literally…)

You an learn more about the Festival, its history, the Hall of Fame Award, who has graced it stages before and how you could come next year if you want (oh, yes please, do come!!) at its official website -> HERE <- and you can get in on the Fiddler’s Facebook action right -> HERE <-

Day 14! – Heartfelt and Handmade: An Apologia

Well peeps, this is it! The final day…*sad face*. I have enjoyed myself so much. Every time I do one of these blogfests I always end up with more incredible friends, more incredible patterns/recipes/projects and so much more appreciation for just what a wonderfully generous community the crafting one is!

In order to get through today I turned to baking. Baking fixes everything…and you get to eat it afterwards. Perfect! So I rustled up a batch of the Muesli Bars that were in yesterdays post. Yummy and very good with my iced latte that I made to Leethal’s great recipe.

And while watching the Wimbledon Men’s Final, I finished off my ‘Sweetie’ hat from Day 6, that I am now lovingly calling my ‘Crown of Leaves’ :) It is such a sweet project, fast and satisfying, and sits really nicely. I only did 5 rows of plain, between the end of the lace pattern and the start of the decreases for the top of the hat, to make it sit snugly on the back of my head. The perfect summer hat!

And so today I will leave you with one last thought, provided by Lilycobweb, the person who taught me how to knit and crochet. Thank you to everyone who was involved in this project…I’ll be doing proper thank you’s tomorrow (as well as telling you what really happened to the missing Day 11 :)

Heartfelt and Handmade – An Apologia

by Lilycobweb

AMDD is now drawing to a close. As an avid daily reader, I will miss the blog posts that bring together such fascinating elements from the minds of creative folk web-wide and world-wide. I have noticed a slender thread running through a number of the posts, from the Pilgrimage Cuffs to Susan Moloney’s amazing mixed-media pieces. This is the idea of Art or Craft as memoir or personal history.

This is not a new idea, but it’s certainly one worth revisiting. It requires an understanding of the value of anything handmade, not in terms of the quality of the materials, the time spent in its making, or the skill it takes to fashion it. Another leap of the imagination is required. You must imagine the flow of energy between the creator and the object, the music of an idea or design coming into being in a joyous, exciting way. That is what gives art and craft its magic.

It’s a personal crusade of mine to spread that message. Craft is widely misunderstood. I cavil slightly when people say (and they do!) ‘That must be very therapeutic for you’. I don’t do it solely to calm my shattered nerves. A course of high-dose Vitamin B would do that more effectively. I do it because it is how I give expression to an idea, a form, a function, a design, or a combination of colours. That is what makes the process calming and fulfilling-the fact that you are transforming your creative energy into something real.

An added dimension to that wonderful process of becoming is when it has a specific significance for the creator or the recipient, when found or significant objects are incorporated into the design and the making. Then, the value of the creation is so much more enriched, for the maker and the eventual recipient. American patchwork quilts are the obvious example, notably the AIDS quilts made in the ’80s as a way to commemorate the victims and console the survivors. It’s a perfect example of a community response to trauma through creativity and craft. There are lots of other examples, and I’d like to hear yours, if you’d care to comment. Otherwise, this may become a PhD thesis….

In pondering these worthy notions, I began to think about my personal history of the handmade. I have always had a huge fascination for things that are made by hand. It’s a family thing. My sister Brid and I go into transports of joy when we enter craft shops and art galleries, much to the dismay of our loved ones. They know it will be a whole-afternoon affair. Brid has gifted me so many lovely handmade things over the years….earrings from far-flung places are her specialty, and she had a rare talent for choosing the perfect ones for me. They are often translucent green (to match my eyes, I like to think) Thanks, Brid, and we have a date when you come home from Portugal!

I learned my craft of choice (crochet, for those of you who don’t know me) when I was a little girl and crocheted up a storm until my teens. Then, I abandoned it for cooler pursuits, like painting and life-drawing. (Well, at age 18, drawing the nude male form beat the double-treble or the bullion stitch hands down! ) In time, I abandoned those pursuits too, and just did nothing that filled that creativity space in a satisfying way.

That was when I got obsessed with other people’s work-buying it, hoarding it, hoping some of its magic would rub off on me. In 1980, when I was a young student, I remember buying the most amazing crocheted afghan in shades of red, grey and black in the Bloemenmarket in Amsterdam for 4 guilders. That’s probably about 3 euros. I kept it for years, then gifted it to a friend when she had her first baby. Shameful to admit, I sometimes wish I hadn’t, so much did I love that blanket!

I remember every handmade thing I ever bought, the joy of the purchase and sheer delight if it was a bargain. I could tell you many stories, but the point of it all is this. I was just flirting with my own creativity then, not realising the need for it to be liberated in some way, any way. How really didn’t matter. It just needed to be done. And it was.

I buy just as many handmade things these days, but for different reasons. I don’t need the vicarious thrill anymore. I create myself these days. No matter how it is perceived by anyone else, what is important is that I do it. It’s very important for me.

What follows is a list. A list of handmade things that resonate with meaning and history-some I’ve made myself, some were made by family and friends. Treasured and shared, they have brought a lot of joy. That’s the point of the whole thing. I invite you to add to the list and share your treasured handmade thing, something you made or were gifted. Just comment below. I’ll be fascinated. I always am. Thanks for listening.

  • Kelly Donovan’s crocheted wool scarf. A gift from her to me before we’d even met.
  • A ‘Labour of Love’ or a crocheted cot coverlet-. When I was pregnant with my son Keian, I started making a fine lace cot cover in very intricate Irish crochet stitches. (I was convinced I was having a girl!) I didn’t finish until he was 15 years old. Artist  and great friend, Marie-Claire Douglas of Seacrest Galleries, convinced me to frame it for an exhibition of textile art she curated in 2007. I’m proud I finished it in the end.
  • Flannel nightdresses that came from Iran. My mother-in-law is a seamstress. I didn’t meet her for 10 years after I married her son. When we had Parisa, and then Maryam, she would send us these amazing flannel nighties for them in her unique pattern complete with frilled yoke. I still have them all, and nothing evokes memories of their babyhoods more than the made-with-love nightwear sent by a woman I’d never met.
  • A Summer Garden. This wallhanging was made as a group project at Northern Ireland Baha’i Summer School in 2006, I think. Every group member made a flower or a leaf. (I can still remember who made what!). Zhenia Mahdi-Nau, friend and artist extraordinaire, helped me to join the motifs and mount it on a stretched canvas. It is now in the private collection of Tina Salter.
  • My daughter Soheila has sensory issues and hated to wear a hat when she was a child. I made her a beanie from the very softest chenille I could find. I was HONOURED that she wore it until it didn’t fit her anymore. She loved to wear it when I was hoovering-to block out the noise!
  • Queen of the Fairies- the most amazingly intricate cross-stitch artwork I have ever seen! This was a gift to me from my lovely cousin Angela Moriarty, when I visited her in Huddersfield in September last year. It looks like a painting, and I need to post a photo worthy of it.

Lilycobweb is a crochet designer and artist from Ireland, who has been crafting since she was little. She has passed her incredible skills on to many people, not least her daughter…me! You can contact her via her etsy store:

Day 13 – Getting a Grilling: Interview with Jillian van Ness

Well it’s nearly the very last day here at AMDD headquarters and I am sad. I like blogging about all this stuff, and I know I don’t need to make excuses to do, I can do it any time, but it feels nice to make a little event out of it. In fact I am thinking seriously about putting together an e-zine to release twice (maybe more, maybe less) a year, but that idea is still very much in the ‘floating round my head’ stage.

And so on to today’s goodies. I feel the need to make something tasty to go with my yummy old brew coffee that is working its magic in my fridge right now. So I’m including my adapted recipe for ridiculously tasty, ridiculously easy muesli bars…healthy and yummy!

Also here is a few thoughts and lots of inspiring photos from artist/musician/superwoman Jillian van Ness. I hope you enjoy…

Getting a Grilling – Jillian van Ness

Jillian van Ness is an artist who is very hard to put in a box! More than just ‘make art’, she seems to be ‘living art’ or at least making it constantly, spontaneously and without regard for different mediums, genres, materials and styles. She is a musician, songwriter, book-maker, crafter, writer, traveller, painter, photographer and Permaculture enthusiast. She currently lives in California. You can contact her and hear her music at

I was fortunate enough to meet her while attending music school and have found her creative abandon inspiring. She shared these few thoughts and photos with me recently…

1* Describe a typical day in your life.

Oh goodness. A “typical” day in my life. I’m really looking forward to that! My partner, Adam and I recently returned from a stint abroad, living and working in Ethiopia and have been essentially living out of our truck, searching for a home in the States from coast to coast. (If any of you know of a place for a teacher, an artist, and some gardening, outdoor adventure lovers, please get in touch!) A typical day for me right now starts with a fruit bowl, herbal tea, and a walk with my dog, and ends with a hot bath in sea salt and lavender. I also carry a stack of sticky Post-it notes around with me in my purse or pocket to write down any creative idea I have during the day. When I’m on the run and don’t have time to get out my art supplies, this helps me feel like I still have an outlet for all my creative energy and am honoring my artistic side, no matter how fleeting or realistic it may be. A typical day for me right now is very uncensored and very much about being in the flow.


2* How would you describe your ‘Artistic Style’?

I would call my artistic style “intentionally spontaneous” and always incorporating partial if not total elements of sustainability, recycling, up-cycling, etc. I’m a collector, so when I find objects, I sit with them awhile and wait for them to tell me the best way to use them or incorporate them into a piece. Sometimes I don’t even use that object in a tangible sense. Later on, it may become the inspiration for or subject of a children’s song or a greeting card.

I’m also a student of the Permaculture movement, working to holistically integrate my life as much as possible. Over time, I’ve noticed how one Permaculture principle in particular has wriggled its way into my creative practice, and that’s this idea that,”The problems are the solutions.”

When I hit a wall or spill, break, lose, crack, falter, or the original vision just falls completely to pieces… I find that everything’s better when I just allow that new reality unfold: my reactions, my attitude, and ultimately, the piece or project I’m working on are always better for it. Think of it as an exercise in Trust. Trust that everything will be okay in the end.

3* Tell us about your favourite piece of artwork/writing/music at the moment.

I”ve recently completed my first installation piece called, “The Last Apothecary” which exhibited last week in San Francisco, CA… and even though I’m tired, I’m still pretty excited about the concept and other spin-off projects that may come from it. I created the piece in response to a call for Eco-Art around the theme of “Water” (and the political & social implications of the element).

-Quick fire-

~Pretty interesting or interestingly pretty? Interestingly Pretty

~Rolling Stones or Beatles? Beatles

~Boxers or Y-fronts? Boxers

~Abstract or Realism? Realism

~Blondes or Brunnettes? (or redheads?!) Anything as long as it’s curly!

~Clooney or Depp? Depp. c’mon.

~Classic or Modern? Modern

~Custard or ice-cream? Ice-cream! Gelato!

~World Cup or World Series? World Cup

~What’s your favourite colour? I love blues… Caribbean to cerulean.

~When are you happiest? When I’m outdoors or submerged in water.

Muesli Bars

adapted from recipe by Nigella Lawson’s ‘Nigella Express’


  • 1 x 397g can condensed milk
  • 250g jumbo oats
  • 100g raisins
  • 200g mixed seeds…I love pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, poppy, anything you like…
  • 125g almonds…I like mine with a mixture of whole (big and crunchy) and sliced (blend in with the jumbo oats really nicely)
  • anything else you like really…add chocolate chips for naughty ones or cranberries for sweet n’ sour. Why not try peanuts, hazelnuts or walnuts instead of almonds? The original recipe calls for shredded coconut as well, which I don’t like, but hey! In fact, if you have leftover, never-going-to-get-eaten muesli lying at the back of the cupboard, why not throw that in too…the more the merrier :)


Preheat over at 130 C and throughly grease a 23 x 33 x 4 cm tin…better yet grease baking paper so you can lift it out or use a disposable tin.

Warm the condensed milk in a pan ’til runny.

Mix together all your dry ingredients in a bowl. Then add the warmed condensed milk and blend throughly until everything is coated and sticky.

Press your mixture into your tin…it’s super sticky at this point so hand may have to be used.

Bake for 1 hour. Remove from over and let cool for 15 mins before cutting into 16 or so chunky bars.

And enjoy…

Day 12 – Heart Strings

Hello all this sunny Friday! For those who are wondering, and can count, yes indeed Day 11 has gone AWOL! A very last minute job came up for me and I jumped at the chance to be involved and unfortunately the blog suffered. It was a great day though and I have photos and will write all about it after AMDD is all over.

It make up for my naughtiness today I’m publishing my own crochet pattern called ‘Heart Strings’. It’s sweet little hearts, all crocheted together in one continuous line (so only a start and finish ends to weave in – hurray!). It’s alternative bunting or decorations so that while you might not want to wear your heart on your sleeve, you can still have them hanging close by. I love them hanging in curtains or threaded through trees with fairy lights. I have given away a few strings of them and am curently making more, so here is the pattern and I’ll be posting pictures of my finished strands through out the weekend. I hope you love them as much as I do :)

Heart Strings

by Parisa Roohipour


  • 1 ball 8 ply/DK yarn…I’m using Biggan Design First Cross Merino 8ply.
  • 3.5 mm hook (I like my hearts to be a little firm, but if this is too tight for you use a 4mm hook)
  • needle to weave in ends.
  • beads, ribbons or embroidery are really beautiful additions to these hearts

Each heart made is 7 cm wide and 7 cm tall (at longest points).


  • sl st – slip stitch (creates no height)
  • dc – double crochet
  • ch – chain

This pattern is written in AMERICAN crochet.


*Ch 3.

2 dc into bottom chaing. turn. (equals 3 dc)

Ch 3. 2 dc. 2 dc into top of turning chain. turn. (equals 5 dc)

Ch 3. 4 dc. 2 dc into top of turning chain. turn. (equals 7 dc)

Ch 3. 6 dc. 2 dc into top of turning chain. turn. (equals 9 dc)

Ch 3. 8 dc. 2 dc into top of turning chain. turn. (equals 11 dc)

Do not make a chain. Make 8 dc into the 3rd st along. Skip 12st. Sl st into next st. Skip 2 sts. Make 8 dc into the next st. Then sl st into the top of the turning chaining.

Now edge your heart by making sl st. all down the side, up the other side (when you reach the point of the heart the 1st time, sl st 3 times into the point and continue on…all other times bring your yarn across the point and just continue to sl st up the other side). Then make 2 sl st. into the back loop of each of the dc in the top of the heart, ending where you began.**

This becomes the start of your next heart. From this point repeat * to ** until you have bunting long enough. As you make the hearts they should start on the opposite side of where the last heart started. This way the hearts alternate sides they sit on and balance each other.

And voila, you have beautiful ‘heart strings’ to remind you of all the love…