A quick photoshoot in Marley Park

046I met a friend recently for a walk and a coffee in my local park. I brought my latest knitting project along, Sweet Dreams by Boo Knits, to get some photos of it. I often forget that there is a beautiful walled garden behind the coffee shop in the park because dogs are not allowed, but today we ventured in (having left Ollie and Mia briefly in the car).

042It’s a small walled garden but really beautiful. And what photographer can resist a bike leaning up against a wall? We also met this guy in the courtyard, he kept shaking his feathers at us in a suggestive way so I took a few quick snaps and then moved cautiously away.

006

The shawl itself is knit in Louisa Harding Orielle in Ice and I used 4 skeins. I ran out of yarn about two rows into the final chart so hightailed it into This Is Knit where the staff helped me pick out Fyberspates Scrumptious 4ply in Slate to finish the last few rows. Orielle is technically a DK weight and the Fyberspates a 4ply, but both are closer to a Sport weight so they worked beautifully together. The Orielle has a sparkle woven into the yarn and the sheen from the silk in the Fyberspates give it a very elegant air.

031I wanted to wear this shawl to a wedding of a knitter friend of mine and managed to finished it at 11am the morning of the wedding. The picot bind off took around 5 hours to complete. If I never see another picot again it will be too soon. But the effect is beautiful. I gave the shawl a quick block and dried it as best I could with a hairdryer before the wedding but it needed a proper block when I got home.

038This fabulous model was tucked in behind a tree in the walled garden and willingly obliged as I took a few photos. The grey in the shawl will go with so many of my ‘good’ dresses and the alpaca in the Orielle is very warm so I think I’ll get a lot of wear out of this shawl. The crescent shape sits very comfortably on my shoulders so I’m really happy with the final product.

 

Library tourism – New York Public Library

Library Way

Our recent trip to New York was part of a band trip to play in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York so we travelled  as part of a large group. When I asked on the first morning if anyone would like to join us for a tour of New York’s public library I was met with confused looks and polite ‘no thank yous’.

But I didn’t care. I was excited. The tour took just over an hour, which isn’t a surprise when you consider the sheer size of the library. The library came into being when the Tilden Trust and the Astor and Lenox libraries were consolidated on May 23, 1895. The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building was built in 1911 and is a simply stunning piece of architecture.

NYC 2014 029Fun facts that I learned on the tour include that there are 88 miles of shelf space in the library itself and a further 40 miles under Bryant Park to the back of the building. They also use their own classification system for shelving the books,  designed by the first Director, Dr. John Shaw Billings.

We found out about the main collections held by the library as well as the building itself and even R, who is not a librarian, found it really interesting. One thing that struck me during the tour was that the library only receives a small amount of their budget from the government and relies on donations to provide the rest. This is in sharp contrast to public libraries here. Does this say something about the importance of libraries in US culture?

One of the historic benefactors mentioned on the tour was steel baron Andrew Carnegie, who is probably more famous for building Carnegie Hall. Andrew Carnegie also donated a lot of money for the construction of public libraries in Ireland, which is something not many people may be aware of so I plan on exploring his influence on the Irish public library system in a future post.

NYC2014 007I also got waaaay too excited when I realised librarians get a discount in the gift shop. It was one of the highlights of the trip to be able to say out loud “I’m a librarian”.

I would definitely recommend a trip to the library if you’re visiting New York and I also plan on making library tourism a feature of our holidays in future. Do you have any recommendations to start me off?

St. Patrick’s Day in New York

Before I begin this post, you may (or may not have) noticed my blog looks a little different. I spent the weekend playing around with different WordPress themes and getting to grips with some (very basic) CSS coding.I love coding when it works – when it works. Let me know if you have any feedback on the new design. I’m going to keep tinkering so it may change again, you never know.

NYC2014 244Our recent trip to New York wasn’t just about yarn shopping. The main reason for the trip with the Finglas Concert and Marching Band was to play in the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

NYC2014 019Naturally I brought my camera with me and had a blast shooting away on the parade route. I borrowed an 18-200mm lens from my Dad and it didn’t disappoint. It allowed me to get up close and personal with my subjects while marching along behind the band.

NYC2014 217Despite the fact that I was moving, and the camera was moving, and the crowd and musicians were moving a nice quick 1/200 second shutter speed allowed me to freeze the action.

NYC2014 048I took so many photos I’m really happy with but here is a very small selection to give you a flavour of the parade. You can see a full album on Facebook.

NYC2014 239I can’t even begin to describe how cold it was on the parade. It was a much dryer cold then we get in Ireland. The instruments froze, something none of the musicians had experienced before, and fingers went numb and refused to do what was asked of them.

NYC2014 255There weren’t as many spectators as I was expecting, but then it was between -2° and -4° on a Monday morning so hardly surprising. But those that did come out to watch the parade did so in style.

NYC2014 230But despite the cold it was a really great experience and one I will always remember. Thank you Finglas Concert and Marching Band for allowing me to be a part of it.NYC2014 291

Yarn shopping in New York

As I mentioned in a previous post I’m just back from a trip to New York. We had a fantastic holiday and I think I’m still recovering. No holiday would be complete without a visit to a local yarn shop or two. And I was particularly excited about visiting New York’s legendary yarn shops.

Purl SohoThe first we visited (and when I say ‘we’ I mean myself and my husband who sat in the corner and patiently waited for me as I squished and ooh’d and aah’d to my heart’s content) was Purl Soho in lower Manhatten. I hadn’t heard the best things about the customer service at this shop so I was pleasantly surprised to find that the staff were very friendly and helpful. I had a great time there. Sorry for the not so great photo but I was using my phone.

NYC2014 005I picked up some yarns that you can’t get at home. Clockwise from the top left I got some Habu silk and stainless steel, Cascade 220 in Coral and Anis, Madelinetosh tosh merino light in Paper and Night Bloom and finally Purl Soho Line Weight in Timeless Navy and Super Pink. Oh, and a tote bag to make other knitters mad jealous ;-)

20140316_163350We also visited Lion Brand Yarn Studio. I loved the display in the window – a knitted Taj Mahal. It really is a work of art. I didn’t buy any yarn though. As a self-confessed yarn snob (and having parted with a fair chunk of cash at Purl Soho) I didn’t really find anything that inspired me enough. But it was definitely worth a visit.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my purchases but while I’m deciding I’ll just sit here petting them.

Where in the world is your favourite yarn shop?

Following my own arrow

I’m just back from an exciting trip to New York where I got to walk in the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade with Finglas Concert and Marching Band. As well as the parade we visited the New York Public Library and two gorgeous yarn shops. But more on those in a later blog post.

Before we headed away I finished my Follow your arrow mystery kal by Ysolda Teague.

NYC2014 028The experience of a ‘mystery’ knit along was new to me and I learned a lot in the process. First of all the mystery part of it was more difficult than I expected. I found myself peeking at the pictures in the spoilers threads on Ravelry before deciding which clue to choose. And in the case of Clue 4 I didn’t cheat, but ended up ripping back the clue and starting it again as I wasn’t happy with the result.

I did enjoy the knit along aspect of the project, watching all the photos of the different option – how the different clues interacted and the colour and clue choices that other knitters where opting for. I don’t know if I’ll do a mystery knit along again but I did like having options in the pattern.

NYC2014 041I ended up with an AABBA shawl and I really love it. It blocked huge but with some wear the Coolree has unblocked somewhat and it’s very wearable. It’s also big enough to throw over my shoulders if I need a bit more warmth. Despite my inability to stick to the mystery part of the pattern, I’m really happy with the final shawl.

The Fairy Tree

Marlay Park Fairy TreeThere is a fairly tree in my local park, Marley Park in Rathfarnham. I don’t really remember when the fairies moved in but I love visiting it when I go for a walk. I did a bit of digging around online (I’m a librarian dontcha know, I’m trained to find stuff) and found a little bit of information about how the fairy tree came to be.

It was part of a special care for birds  project (pages 11 and 12) organised by St. Michael’s House, one of Ireland’s largest providers of community-based services for people with an intellectual disability and their families, in 2010.

Marlay Park Fairy TreeAccording to the newsletter the “fairy tree is designed to keep the imagination of young children alive, as they wander through the forest and then are surprised to find the small fairy door at the base of the 300-year-old beech tree. As they look up and see the fairy castle, they remain enraptured by the magic and as we wait in excitement to see if the birds in the forest will react as positively and take up residence in their new home.”

Marlay Park Fairy TreeChildren are indeed inspired by the tree. They use it as a wishing tree and you’ll find little notes pinned to it. It’s really a very special place, I really do believe the fairies live there. I mean someone has to be adding the extra doors, windows and even a washing line to the tree. Fairies are as good an explanation as any.

This Google Map might help you find the Fairy Tree if you’re not familiar with it.

 

Dalkey cowl

You may remember that I had a little giveaway last year to celebrate my 100th post. Well the winner of the book, Diane, sent me some photos of the first project she knit from the book, Contemporary Irish Knits by Carol Feller. She is knit the Dalkey Cowl and it’s beautiful.

She sent me some photos too, isn’t it gorgeous!

Cowls__Dalkey_Carol_Feller_013_medium2Thanks so much for sharing the photos with me. Diane blogs at Oh la la laine.

I also know that the other prize, a skein of Coolree, is being used in the Follow your arrow mystery kal by Ysolda Teague. It’s so lovely that the prizes went to homes where they are being used to such great effect.

 

A tourist’s guide to yarn shops in Dublin

I was doing some reasearch recently on yarn shops in New York and came across this great post written by a New Yorker about the yarn shops in her area. It gave me the idea to write this post as a guide for tourists to yarn shops in Dublin, written by a Dubliner.

When I’m abroad I love to visit local yarn shops and pick myself up a few treats, especially if it’s yarn that I can’t get at home. And who better to give you the low-down on local yarn shops but a local! So, in alphabetical order, here are some of my of my favourite Dublin yarn shops. You can read more about my yarn shopping in New York here.

(Top tip: If you are resident outside the EU you may be able to avail of Tax-Free shopping for tourists. You can ask for a tax refund docket in-store, This Is Knit and Springwools both told me they have them available, and I’m sure other shops will too.)

The Constant Knitter

88 Francis Street, Dublin 8. Phone 087 996 7197

ConstantKnitterThe Constant Knitter has been trading online for as long as I’ve been knitting and much longer, but Rosemary opened her first bricks and mortar shop in January 2012. The shop is located on Francis Street, in the heart of the Antiques Quarter of Dublin. It’s a few minutes walk from St Stephen’s Green so very easy to work into your sight seeing schedule. The Constant Knitter stocks a huge range of yarns, from affordable everyday yarns to the more luxury yarns.

If, like me, you like to buy some souvenir local yarns The Constant Knitter stocks Studio Donegal Soft Merino and Studio Donegal Tweed as well as Cushendale Mohair and Cushendale DK. If you’re looking for a really unique treat Rosemary also stocks Smudge Yarns laceweight merino, which is dyed especially for the shop.

And if you give Rosemary enough notice, groups are welcome to while away the afternoon upstairs in the beautiful, large and bright studio, stitching and drinking tea.

This Is Knit

Powerscourt Townhouse, Dublin 2. Phone (01) 670 9981

ThisIsKnit

I have to admit that this is my favourite yarn shop and the one where I shop most often. This Is Knit is run by a mother and daughter team, Lisa and Jacqui, and all the staff are extremely friendly and very helpful. The shop is located right in the centre of Dublin, just off Grafton Street, the main shopping area on Dublin’s southside. The yarns they stock are on the more expensive side of things, but they stock the most beautiful luxury yarns so I don’t mind paying for them. If you’re looking for a really special treat to bring home with you then this is the shop for you. And they also stock more everyday yarns too that won’t break the budget.

If you’re looking for something Irish to bring home with you This Is Knit stock Studio Donegal Aran Tweed, Soft Donegal and Homespun. And for a really special treat they stock Dublin Dye Company YarnsHedgehog Fibres and my favourite personal Coolree Yarns. All three are Indie dyers from different parts of Ireland.

In terms of non-yarny treats they also stock Lizzy C brooches and keyrings, Carol Feller books and patterns, handmade stitch markers by Maria and locally handmade ceramic buttons.

Springwools

6 Olde Sawmills, Dublin 12. Phone (01) 450 9134

SpringwoolsWhen I was a kid I would go to Springwools with my mum and would spend hours looking at the patterns, yarns and buttons. Hmm, I guess maybe that’s where my love of colours and textures came from, even though I only started knitting again a few years ago. Their shop is in the suburbs, so probably not the easiest to find for tourists, but they have good directions on their website.

I freely admit that I am a complete yarn snob, that’s no secret. And as such I don’t buy much yarn anymore in Springwools, but it’s my mum’s favourite shop. They stock a huge range of baby wools and everyday yarns. In terms of Irish products, they also carry a large range of Studio Donegal yarns – Aran Tweed 50g balls; Soft Donegal hanks and a variety of Donegal Yarns in 1kg and 2kg cones – as well as Cushendale Mohair Boucle. Springwools also told me they’re currently expanding their Irish yarns selection, and will have a really comprehensive selection of Irish brands and Irish-made yarns and products available soon.

Springwools also offers a mail service for tourists and out-of-towners who visit the shop. They will parcel up and mail products bought in-store to your home address, at special low prices.

Winnie’s Wool Wagon and Craft Cafe

3 Woodbine Park, Blackrock, Co. Dublin. Phone (01) 260 3734

WinniesWinnie’s Craft Cafe opened in 2010 and is a gorgeous yarn shop and cafe located on the southside of Dublin, near UCD college. It’s not on the usual tourist routes, but I think the cafe would make a great pit-stop in your sight seeing schedule. They stock a great range of yarns that won’t break the bank and the staff have been really friendly any time I’ve been there. They also stock a range of other craft materials, including beads and buttons.

In terms of Irish yarns Winnie’s stocks Cushendale Boucle, Studio Donegal Aran and Aran Soft and at the time of writing they were awaiting the arrival of Kerry Aran in an array of colours. They try to stock Irish suppliers where possible, both in the shop and the cafe and you can pick some cute Irish gifts like Lizzy C sheep brooches and shawl pins from Kieran Cunningham.

In the cafe they have a range of Irish cake, chocolate and ice cream suppliers who are small businesses themselves, Caryna’s Cakes, Chocolate Garden of Ireland, Tipperary Organic Ice Cream and The Cake and Crumb being just a few.

Other Yarn Shops

There are other yarn shops in Dublin that I have never been to so I’m not in a position to review them, but they might be close to where you’re staying (also in alphabetical order).

If I have forgotten any shops please let me know in the comments so I can add to the list. And for any tourists reading, please let me know if there is anything else you want to know or if you found my guide useful.

Clue 2

Just a quick post today…

IrishArrowKAL 001I finished Clue 2 of the Follow Your Arrow KAL during the week. I chose to do the lace pattern (clue 2A) on top of the kite shape (clue 1A). I’m not sure yet how I feel about my shawl. It’s interesting, but I’m not sure I’m in love with it yet. I love knitting lace, and I love complicated, mind-bending lace. This was pretty simple for me I have to admit, even a bit boring. I decided against the short rows because (after sneaking a peak at the Spoiler thread on Ravelry) I didn’t really like the shape it created.

IrishArrowKAL 009What I do really love about the KAL is seeing how different all the shawls are turning out. I’m pleasantly surprised at how different each option is. I guess I wasn’t expecting that. Each option creates a completely different shape.

I’ve had the quickest look at Clue 3 this morning and both options are lace, which makes me excited. I’ll probably have  a sneak at the spoiler thread though before I decide which option I’m going with. It turns out I’m not as comfortable with the whole ‘mystery’ aspect as I thought I would be.

A rare review

A few months ago I bought a Gleener Pill Remover from my LYS to remove pills from my knitwear. Last September I know a pair of mittens and a hat in Louisa Harding Akiko.

BerryHat 030The merino wool and alpaca blend was lovely to knit with and lovely to wear, but the mittens in particular have been getting a lot of wear and have developed a bit of a – halo. They’re also a bit felted in spots which I really like. But the fuzz I don’t like quite so much.

Mittens for blogGleener to the rescue! This is the second time I’ve had to clean my gloves up. The gleener is easy to use and takes all the fuzz off my gloves and hat. I’ve used it on some of my shop-bought knitwear too and it does a good job at getting rid of the pills. And while they’re not as good as new, they’re not bad either, I hope you’ll agree.