Hi, welcome to String Revolution. I'm Léan, I live in Dublin with my husband and two little boys, and I am a dangerous stringy subversive.
My job is to radiate my creative truth, and to help you radiate yours. I create, without exception, every day. I write here when I have something to say.

(learn more about me).

We Interrupt Our Regular Schedule of Stringy Fare to Bring You a Truly Vicious Pun

Colonial Eggacy (could it be the worst pun-cluster in the universe?)

Grand Experiment
Running Totals

NINE (9) items sold, FORTY-ONE (41) to go.

Get yours here!

I sincerely believe that the English-speaking world is divided into two types of people.

If you are of the first type, you’ll find that you cannot look at the above image without dissolving in a puddle of helpless mirth (I include myself in this category – and I drew the damn thing, so that’s hardly even decent).

If you are of the second type, you’ll tend to hold us first-typers in a kind of detached, piteous disdain. Try as you might, you simply cannot understand what it is about this crudely drawn, childish piece of irrelevancy that we are finding so terribly amusing. You suspect we’re putting it on. Maybe even having a joke at your expense…

In short, you’re either going to GET my gloriously vicious pun (which I’ve incubated, by the way, for at least a year before deciding to inflict it on the world), or you are NOT.

If you’re of the second type, you might like to click away now, before I completely destroy my image in your eyes.

Have they gone? … Good.

So, fellow pun-connoisseurs, I’m proposing a Grand Experiment

As long-time readers know well by now, String Revolution is a business, and I am a rationally enthusiastic but emotionally reluctant business owner. I’ve come a long way in addressing my severe marketing phobia, but there’s more to be done.

And here’s the thing: I’m thinking that among the ranks of well-read, language-loving, pun-appreciating, politically literate speakers of English, there must be a sizable constituency of people who would absolutely love to have a physical copy of Colonial Eggacy of their very own – on a mug, say, or a T-shirt.

I mean, if you GET it, you GET it, right? What’s not to like about owning something that makes you grin like a loon every time it catches your eye?

TO THIS END, Colonial Eggacy mugs and T-shirts are available in my Zazzle shop as of today, Monday 21 November 2011.

And here’s the Grand Experiment part:

I want to sell 50 of these.

Now, my usual strategy for a product launch like this would be to talk about it a little bit, here and there, for a day or two, until the shame and despair catch up with me, whereupon I never speak of it again.

In fact, already, I have a fuzzy little monster sitting on my shoulder, muttering, “We told Twitter and Facebook about this hours ago and nobody’s bought any yet – they’re obviously not interested.”

So this time, I’d like to do something different.

The tack I’m going to take is that there are 50 people out there who will truly love and appreciate owning this image in concrete form, and it’s my job to make sure they don’t spend the rest of their lives that little bit less gleeful for never having seen it. Because that would be sad.

Will you help?

You will? Thank you, lovely person!

Here are a few ideas:

  1. You could link on your chosen social media to my Zazzle shop, or to the two individual products.
  2. You could link on your chosen social media to this post, so people can read the backstory about the Grand Experiment.
  3. If you yourself adore Colonial Eggacy, or if you know someone who would adore it – and if you have the budget – you could even, you know, BUY ONE (or several).
  4. You could tell me what other Zazzle products would be suitable candidates for Colonial Eggification.
  5. You could post a comment here, or contact me some other way, conveying general support. (Yes, that totally counts – I’m kind of petrified!)
  6. You could suggest ways of getting the word out that I might not have thought of.
  7. In a little while, if you notice me falling silent about the Grand Experiment, you could give me a gentle nudge.

Meanwhile, here’s what I’ll be doing: Not shutting up about this until 50 items have been sold.

(Just to contextualise, that will represent a major increase in my Zazzle sales.)

I’m allowing myself three months. If it happens sooner than that, I reserve the right to set a new target. I’ll update you periodically (you might want to subscribe to the blog and/or join the Revolutionary Horde if you’re interested in following along with that – see the right-hand sidebar above).

Right! That’s it!

Oh, just one more thing: if you want this, please go ahead and buy it now – you would make a vicious (and, let’s face it, unrepentant) punster very, very happy.

Why You Need a Perceptive 3-Year-Old About the House

My embroidery stand

That there, o siblings in string, is my embroidery stand. Harmless-looking thing, isn’t it?

The other week, I was in the kitchen with the Feaster, clearing away the lunch things and getting ready to go and pick the Oyster up from Montessori.

“Mama,” said the Feaster, “look! The floor is on fire!”

“Cool!” I said, coming over to take a look. I assumed he was going to show me an arrangement of coloured paper or pipe-cleaners or similar. It’s the kind of thing he does.

But no.

It turned out, right, and you’ll laugh when you hear this, that the floor actually was on fire.

See the embroidery stand? The round part below the light is, of course, a magnifying glass.

And we have what amounts to a large, south-facing, glass wall in our kitchen.

And it was a crisp, blue-skies, late-autumn day.

And the sun had ambled up its wonted path until it cleared the houses behind ours, and was now shining picturesquely in through the patio doors, and hitting that magnifying glass at just the right angle to…


Where the magnified ray of sun hit the wooden floor, there was now a blackened area about the size of my thumbnail. A spot to one side of this area was glowing bright orange, like the tip of a lit cigarette. Smoke was beginning to curl nonchalantly upwards.

Above the burning spot was my wooden sewing table, laden with fabrics, baskets, my sewing machine, the iron – basically an abundant heap of ideal fuel.

“Ooh, look at that!” says I to the Feaster, as conversationally as I could manage. “The floor is on fire! Thank you for telling me.”

I moved the magnifying glass out of the sun, got a cup of water, and thoroughly doused the fire.

Here’s what it looked like afterwards (I confess I didn’t pause to take a picture of the glowing version):

Charred patch on our kitchen floor

(You can just make out the greyish pit on the protruberance to the right, where the wood had begun to turn to ash.)

Then we went and got the Oyster.

The Revolutionary Horde: But… But… But… Léan, that’s incredibly scary! What if the Feaster hadn’t been playing in that part of the kitchen? What if you’d left to get the Oyster five minutes earlier? What if it had smouldered away for hours and nobody had noticed? Oh my god! Your house could have burned down! You could have died!
Me: *puts hands over ears* LA-LA-LAAAAAA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!

I’m just not thinking about it too hard. Because I quite like being able to sleep once in a while.

Still, mad props to the Feaster, eh? Boy done good.

And in conclusion, if you own an embroidery stand with a magnifying glass, KEEP IT OUT OF THE SUN, OK?


I realised this morning that my Shop page was an old version, totally out of date and missing a whole lot of things. Which goes some way to explaining slow sales… Anyway. Fixed now. Go and buy stuff 🙂

Get It Done

Boatman in progress

I think it’s fair to say that we stringy types are somewhat prone to Languishing Project Syndrome. I certainly am (as a look at my recent on-the-needles post will attest – for a start).

You know how it is – you bounce into a new thing all fresh-faced enthusiasm – you’re bright-tailed, bushy-eyed, the works. You lope along, sun on your face, wind in your hair, and every seam or row or round or cut seems to proceed from its own little pocket of joy.

And then…

Something changes.

Perhaps it’s tangible: there’s a step coming up that you’re not quite sure about. You’ve never done a two-piece sleeve before, as it might be. Or fairisle. Or foundation piecing. Or simpler – you’ve made a mistake of some kind, and now you have to decide whether to undo your work or forge ahead.

Perhaps it’s internal: you fall out of love. Some other spark catches the dry kindling of your creative mind. You begin to suspect that this time, you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. You start mixing up your mountains with your molehills. You get bored.

Either way, the project … slows … slides … grows sluggish … stutters to a stop.

Often, of course, it doesn’t matter. The piece you’re working on is for yourself, or for someone who isn’t waiting for it. This year, next year, it’s all the same.

Other times, well, it’s different. There’s a special occasion in the offing. A deadline. (That one in late December springs to mind…)

In this situation, you generally have two choices

You can abandon all thought of finishing in time, and – gasp! – buy something in a shop instead. (And startlingly, the world doesn’t end. So far, at least.)

Or – and this has been my own traditional approach – you can pull out all the stops.

You’ll inevitably end up cramming most of the work into the final seventy-two hours. Hemming your ball dress with grim determination as the taxi idles outside. Furtively slipstitching the binding on a king-size quilt at the back of the church while its intended recipients utter their vows. Staying up frenetically stitching until 6:10 on the morning of the deadline (by which point you’re so high on lack of sleep that you’re pretty sure you can hear your project muttering about you), and being barely able to speak for two days afterwards.

But it’ll be worth it. Won’t it?

Let me come straight to the point: I think I can help.

Specifically, I think I can help you get that project finished, in time for that deadline.

And I don’t mean “in time” in the sense of “didn’t miss the event and am not actually dead”. I mean genuinely in time. In good time. With time to spare.

The fact is, I’ve learned a few things in the past three-plus decades of making stuff. I won’t say I’ve beaten the procrastination monster (we don’t beat our monsters around here – that would be cruel), but I have methods. Strategies. Bits and pieces, culled from all sorts of sources, and collated into a sort of mental library, flexible enough to adapt to circumstances, focused enough to produce results.

I’m ready to share that with you.

Here’s what we’ll do

  1. We’ll talk – over phone, by video chat, or failing those, on plain old IM. We’ll have an initial half-hour session in which you’ll tell me about your project and we’ll discuss what’s been stopping you from getting it done.
  2. We’ll identify the flavours of procrastination at play, and I’ll let you in on an outrageous truth about behavioural change that has made all the difference to me.
  3. If your project is in one of my areas of stringy expertise, feel free to ask for practical – i.e. string-related – advice. I’ll help if I can (no guarantees).
  4. We’ll make a concrete plan for your project during that initial conversation. I’ll e-mail you a summary so you’ll have it to hand.
  5. You’ll implement the plan, and we’ll check in by e-mail twice or three times during the time period we’ve agreed.
  6. At the end of that agreed time period, we’ll talk again. Maybe we’ll have nothing to do but swig champagne and squee about your marvellous finished piece. Or maybe it’ll be more of a progress report and an opportunity to map out next steps. Either way, it’ll mark the end of the process.

That’s it. With uncharacteristic directness, I’m calling this service Get It Done. And I am open for business, oh yeah.

Details, details

I’m in Dublin, same time-zone as London, and I can generally do calls in the late evening (9:30-11:30pm) any day except Wednesday, in the morning (say 10:00-12:00) on Monday or Tuesday, or during the day at weekends (depending on other commitments).

The whole Get It Done package – the initial call, the e-mail summary of your implementation plan, two or three further e-mail exchanges, and the concluding call – is priced at a highly introductory $63 (that’s sixty-three of the finest US dollars).

OK, you’re up for this. Hooray! Here’s what to do next

  1. Click the Buy Now button below and pay me via PayPal.
  2. In the comments section of the PayPal form, tell me what days and times suit you for our initial call.

Small print: If for any reason you have to cancel your Get It Done package at any time up to our first session together, I’ll refund your fee in full.

I’ll be in touch to arrange our first session. I can’t wait to hear about your project!

Here’s the button. Click it:

PS: I can’t work miracles, obviously. (Fifty hours of work in two days? Not going to happen.) But I bet I can help you get clear on where your project is at, where it’s headed, what’s been stopping you, and what to do about that. Give this a try – it can’t possibly hurt.

Hardly Stringy At All

Four little paintings by Léan

This month, I have been mostly mourning my grandmother and – somewhat unexpectedly – rewriting my novel. (Sixth time’s the charm, I’m hoping. It’s time this thing fecked off out of my head.)

These activities and others have taken me far away from the stringy regions of my life. Recently, though, I’ve been feeling the familiar tug, and knitting and sewing have been getting themselves done again despite everything.

Meanwhile, I’ve been wanting to show you some of my paintings (…or “paintings”, as my inner critic would prefer me to call them – I maintain that as they constitute paint applied to canvas, they meet some kind of basic criterion; she says well that’s just stupid, so there).

Inner critic be damned. I really like these. I did them while we were staying with my friend Ailbhe and her family in August – she paints all the time, and gets a kind of eldritch glitter in her eye when encouraging her friends to do likewise. It’s very difficult to resist…
Continue reading Hardly Stringy At All

Why I Am Not Here

Oh, my friends, I have such an unruly mob of posts clamouring to be written.

My poor brainchildren. I didn’t think they’d have to wait this long.

August into the first part of September was a jostling, sprinty, headlong dash, with four separate trips away, house guests, several birthdays, creative feats ranging from a Master’s thesis (Niall) to a short film (the Oyster, with a little help from his friends), a work trip (Niall) and a choir trip (me).

Lots of firsts, for me. I went to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. I taught classes on embroidery, Shiva Nata, and gender normativity (severally, not jointly). I did paintings in acrylic and oil. It was marvellous, and I’ll tell you all about it soon.

And then there was sadness. My grandmother, who turned 91 in May, was admitted to hospital at the beginning of August, suffering from pneumonia and the effects of a minor stroke. She rallied, and was doing quite well, but then her younger sister died, which shocked her profoundly, and she began to decline again.

Meanwhile, Niall’s grandmother also died, and we travelled to Belfast for her funeral last Tuesday.

I was worried that my grandmother would die while I was away, but she hung on.

I saw her twice more. She died yesterday, peacefully, surrounded by her family. (I wasn’t there, but I had seen her earlier in the day.)

I am very sad.

I will be back here as soon as I can.

I Am Not Here

You might have noticed my silence around these parts of late. I’m having a rather complicated time of it at the moment. Plenty of good stuff going on … and also, alas, plenty of not so good stuff.

Logistics are not on the side of my updating String Revolution regularly at present, and I’ve decided to stop prevaricating and call an official hiatus.

I’ll be back in September.

Love to you all, my siblings in string.

On the Needles

Elizabeth Zimmermann open-collared pullover, almost finished

When I was writing my 100th String Revolution post a few weeks ago, and looking back over the first 99 posts, I was struck by the fact that this used to be a much knittier blog than it is these days.

I haven’t written about knitting in ages. There are all sorts of reasons for that (most notably: I’ve done barely any knitting in 2011 so far…), but I’m going to set them aside for a moment and just write the bleedin’ update, already.

Works in Progress

That up above is my Elizabeth Zimmermann open-collared pullover, which I laid aside late last year, and didn’t pick up again until June. It’s really very nearly finished.
Continue reading On the Needles

Irish Patchwork Society Exhibition (featuring my quilt)

Root & Branch quilt, March 2011

If you’re in Dublin any time between now and 2 August, you can see my Root & Branch quilt hanging – in breathtakingly illustrious company, I might add – in the IPS annual exhibition.

If memory serves, 94 quilts were hung in all, out of a total of 149. I’m delighted to have made the cut, especially having seen the amazing work of the other exhibitors.


What: Irish Patchwork Society 30th anniversary exhibition

Where: Botanic Gardens visitor centre

When: 1 July to 2 August 2011

I’ll be taking my turn at the welcome desk on Saturday 30 July (10am-1pm), if you’re free to come along then and say hello. If not, try to find time to see the exhibition another day – you won’t be disappointed.

One Hundred Acts of String Revolution


This is the 100th blog post here at String Revolution! Whee! Celebrations!

I’ve been looking over the 99 posts that got us here, trying to read them with a bit of perspective – wondering, what sort of blog do I write?

It’s evolved, certainly, from that first hello. Internally, I’ve shifted focus from the simple presentation of projects, stash, and techniques to a more reflective approach. I still write about what I’m making, but the posts I’m most excited about tend to be the ones with a strong political or philosophical slant. This suits me better than [what I think of as] the standard “craft blogger” mode: since I produce work very slowly, I don’t have the output to sustain a purely project-based blog.

(If encouraging comments are anything to go by, it seems to suit you fairly well too!)

Favourite Posts

Your favourites among the first 99 posts – measured somewhat crudely by the number of comments – have been these:
Continue reading One Hundred Acts of String Revolution

String! It’s Important!

Hop aboard – I’m riffing again on the theme of string politics.

Because string is so important, and we take it so deeply for granted!

Important? Really?

Yes! It’s so important that it’s practically invisible.

You know this already. String is everywhere. If you can’t name five stringy things you’ve encountered today, I’ll go so far as to say you live an unusual lifestyle. (Either that, or you’re really unobservant.)

Here’s my list:

  1. Bedding
  2. Pyjamas
  3. Carpet
  4. Curtains
  5. Towel

And that’s before I even came downstairs.

We live in nests that are strewn and draped with string in its various arrangements. We wrap our bodies in fabric, woven or knitted, by hand or machine. We use string to fasten things, attach things, hang things. We sleep in it, sit on it, walk on it. As children, we play with toys made from cloth and stuffed with fibre. We transport our possessions using bags and ropes. We use nets to keep pests off our crops and to catch fish. We carry our babies in slings, or wheel them around in fabric structures hung from frames. Our vehicles are lined and padded with string. We wrap our dead in it.

And that’s not even half the story. The technology of textiles underlies so much else in our world, too – obvious things, like surgical stitches and the fan belt in an engine, and less obvious things, like paper and electrical wire.

Subtract string, and our lives change out of all recognition.
Continue reading String! It’s Important!