Hills of Ireland

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The February 2016 issue of Crochet World will be on the newsstand at the end of this month, but we had to share one last project from the December issue with you. The Hills of Ireland Throw designed by Bonnie Barker is one of those classically beautiful designs that will grace your home for years to come.

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And with Annie’s first-ever crochet tour to Ireland coming up next June, we knew we wanted to interview Bonnie and the inspiration behind her lovely cabled designs.

CW:  Bonnie, when did you learn to crochet?

Bonnie:  I first learned to crochet when I was 7 years old after watching my neighbor make a single granny square into a large afghan.

CW:  What attracted you to learn crochet?

Bonnie:  Besides my neighbor’s afghan, my best childhood friend would come to school wearing the most amazing ponchos, shawls, and other fun things that her mom had crocheted for her.  Her mom inspired me to dig deep and learn to read patterns at a young age!  She helped me over many humps in understanding this new language.  I would just show up on her doorstep and she would help me out!

CW:  What is your favorite project to crochet?

Bonnie:  That’s a hard question because I enjoy many different projects, depending upon my mood.  (Can anyone relate to that??) I think afghans are my favorite because my afghan designs tend to be purely crochet, and no sewing involved!  I also love seeing the different cable patterns come to life.

CW:  What is your favorite project to design?

B:  I am hopelessly in love with ponchos and seeking new ways of crocheting them!  I’m actually about to work on a couple of these over the next couple of weeks.  I love wearing them this time of the year too and often get asked about them when out in public.

A:  What is your inspiration for your beautiful cabled designs?

Bonnie:  I have always been intrigued by knitted cabling and was thrilled to find a couple of Leisure Arts leaflets by Annie Ough back in the late 70’s/early ’80’s that had designs with some cables.  Over time I have had to rebind these leaflets many times from all the use!  While trying to decide which design to crochet again from these books, my daughter Becky Barker, who is a budding crochet designer herself, challenged me to try to do something new and different.  I took her advice, and that afghan (which features the Celtic Weave stitch) is on the cover of my first Leisure Arts leaflet, Aran Afghans to Crochet! From there I have studied other knitted designs, seeking new ways of forming basic crochet stitches into new crochet cables.

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CW:  Can you tell us about the Hills of Ireland Throw that is featured in the December 2015 issue of Crochet World?

Bonnie:  While designing the Hills of Ireland Throw, I wanted to feature two new cabling techniques that I have named “The Wheat Stitch” and “The Honeycomb Cable”.  Both of these are based upon the Four Stitch Post Cable. I wanted this afghan to have a more masculine look so that it could be an excellent gift for a man, so I separated the cables and trimmed both ends of the afghan using bold post ribbing (instead of lace or fringe).  As far as the color goes, I just could not resist Red Heart’s real teal!  I also chose Red Heart’s Supersaver yarn because I know it will hold up to all the young adults living in my home and will machine wash & dry. Don’t be intimated by all the cables, it really is quite fun! I recently explained how to work the cables in this issue of Talking Crochet.

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CW:  What do you love about Ireland?

Bonnie:  I love just about everything about this wonderful place!  The landscapes are breathtaking and awe-inspiring.  While standing at the Cliffs of Moher along the west coast of Ireland, I could not help but worship our Creator.

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While on the west coast, we took a boat to Inisheer, which is the smallest island of the Aran Isles.  My sweet husband and I spent 4 hours biking around this remote, sparsely populated island visiting sheep, cows, a horse, a lighthouse and a shipwreck.  More than anything, I want to do this again!

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Being a musician, I totally enjoyed all the busking (playing music in the open air for monetary donations) using traditional Irish instruments, particularly the penny whistle, Irish flutes, and such.  While in Dublin I was able to find a beautiful rosewood Irish flute to call my own to add to my flute & whistle collection.  The cherry on top was stumbling upon one of the final performances of Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin!

The history of this beautiful country dates back to the time of the Vikings, and visiting the local museums in Dublin where these relics live was beyond amazing for this home school teacher/history buff.  I was also blessed by being able to see The Book Of Kells at the astonishing library at Trinity College in Dublin.  Dublin is also home to two cathedrals:  Christ Church and St. Stephen’s.

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Shopping at the Aran Sweater Shop in Doolin was another highlight, but difficult as I had to make hard decisions and couldn’t just buy all the sweaters my eyes could see!  (And they probably wouldn’t all fit into my suitcase for the trip home!)

By far the best part of traveling to Ireland was meeting the people who live there.  Everyone we spoke with was friendly, helpful, and had the most lovely accent.  I could easily make this land my home.

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CW:  What would you say to entice our readers to go to Ireland next year with Annie’s first-ever craft tour?

Bonnie:  I would encourage them to think of this as an investment in something that you can relive over and over again in your heart & mind.  Every time I look at the photos from my time there, it still seems like a dream to have traveled to the one place on earth that has been the inspiration for my crochet for so many years.  Traveling to Ireland is something that no one can ever steal or take away from you, so it is a very safe investment.  To be able to do this with other crocheters who share the same passion for both Ireland and crochet would be like living in a fantasy world!  You only live once, so why not go?

Join us in Ireland, June 24-July 3, 2016 for the crochet trip of a lifetime! For more information and to reserve your spot, go here.

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