Seeking Inspriation

I’ve been trying to write a blog post for some time now. But I seem to be lacking inspiration. Or perhaps motivation. I’m not sure. I’ve also been feeling some blog envy recently, there are some beautiful sites out there. But rather than being inspired by them, I feel instead a bit dejected that I don’t have the skills to make my blog what I would like it to be. Or maybe I just haven’t given it enough attention yet. Whatever the reason, blog posts have been started but none finished.

But I have been knitting.In the last week or so I have finally put the finishing touches to two dog jumpers and one human hat. But the weather has been too warm recently to ask the dogs to model warm jumpers for my amusement so I don’t have any FOs to show off at the moment.

Yarn 001I am still working away on my Winnow and I’m on to the border now. This is going to take forever. Forever. But it will be beautiful and it will be worth it.

Yarn 031And finally I had a good root through my stash to put together a donation to HandmAid. This is a fabulous craft day in aid of Laura Lynn Hospice. As well as being for a worthy cause it’s also a really fun day out. I’d encourage anyone in the Dublin area on September 27th 2014 to pop along.

I’ll get my blogging mojo back soon I hope. Is this something you have experienced as a blogger?

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.

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

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.

 

We have a winner!!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered the giveaway, I was blown away by the response and all the nice comments.

100th post 002There were two prizes so there will be two winners. So without further ado…..

The winner of the skein of Coolree is BionicLaura.

… and …

the winner of Contemporary Irish Knits is lesquenouilles.

I will be contacting each of them to arrange for delivery of their prize.

Crafters and Makers

I read a great blog post recently from Lorna at Knits for Life about her innovative yarn storage solution. You should really go and check it out, she mounted her stash on the wall so it functions as a piece of art as well as storage. It’s pretty fab.BottlesLorna said something else in her post that really got me thinking. She referred to ‘makers’ as “those people us crafters date and marry”. Bingo. This is something I have been mulling over for quite some time. In my circle of crafty friends there are several pairs of knitter and home-brewers. This seemed to be more than a coincidence but I couldn’t quite figure out the connection until I read the sentence above.

Crafters and makers are attracted to each other it seems. Myself and R both have a love of creating but do it in very different ways. R is very practical in his making and doesn’t have any emotional connection to the materials he uses. He’s much more practical. He’ll grab a drill, some nails and some wood and make something useful with it. Everything can be re-purposed and he can see potential in any piece of ‘junk’ (my word).

Whereas for me the process and the materials are just as important as the finished object. I love using beautiful materials, yarn, fabric, beads, wire, to create something even more beautiful. For me the process is as important as the final product. I love colour and texture and the aesthetic of the what I craft, Maybe crafters are makers with a bit of added creative flair. Or maybe that’s unfair.

Is this a pattern you recognise in your own life? Do you think crafters and makers are a good combination?

And don’t forget there is another week left in my 100th post giveaway.

100th post 002

My 100th Post (and a giveaway)!!!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED, THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED.

Whoop whoop, it’s hard to believe this is my 100th blog post!!! And last week WordPress kindly informed me it was my two year anniversary with the platform. So that’s 100 posts in 2 years, That’s roughly one post a week for the last two years.

I never would have guessed when I started blogging that I would get this far. A lot in my life has changed since I started blogging – I got married, I left my job and I went back to college to retrained as a librarian. And my knitting has evolved over those two years now, I’ve learned new techniques and discovered a love of knitting lace. So I feel that’s its a good time to mark all that has been going on with a little giveaway.

100th post 002As an Irish crafter it makes sense to me to include some Irish prizes, so I have chosen two great prizes. The first prize is a skein of Coolree Fingering Weight Alpaca/Silk/Cashmere in colourway Byzantium. I have knit three shawls with this yarn already, Blight, Sunflower and Renita, and promise you that it is beautiful to knit with.

The second prize is a copy of Carol Feller‘s beautiful book Contemporary Irish Knits which “celebrates the rich tradition of Irish knitting”. So that’s a chance to win one of two great prizes!!

So all you have to do to win is:

  • Follow my blog through WordPress (when logged in to WordPress click the follow button on the top left of your screen)
  • Follow my blog via email (link at the bottom right of the homepage)
  • And/or ‘like’ my Facebook Page
  • (If you already follow my blog/like my Facebook page let me know in the comments and I’ll include you too ;-) )

Each of these actions is one entry in the giveaway.

The giveaway ends Midnight GMT, Friday 5th August. I’ll choose the winner using a random number generator and announce it in two weeks time, so check back on Saturday October 5th. I’ll contact the winner via email/Facebook to arrange to post them their prize (I’ll post to anywhere). And feel free to share this post with anyone you think would enjoy these prizes.

And most of all thank you for reading my blog over the last two years and 100 posts!

Documentation Discoveries

MayoAug13 010As mentioned in a previous post, our trip to Mayo coincided with Heritage Week. I’m really interested in our Heritage so I quickly scoured the Heritage Week website and booklet to see what would be on in and around Westport. One event immediately caught my interest. The National Museum of Country Life at Turlough was inviting members of the public to “tour behind the scenes, see and hear about some of the exciting and puzzling discoveries uncovered in the Museum’s collections.”

I think this was made for me, having just finished a Masters of Library and Information Studies and being fascinated by our heritage. The date and timing also meant that this was the perfect event to finish our week away on the way home. Before the tour kicked off we had a good look around the Museum as we had never visited before. The exhibits focus on the traditional way of life in Ireland and I am very pleased to say that knitting featured, but more on that in a further post.

As part of the tour the group of around 20 of us were taken into the back of the Museum to see where all the objects are stored. It was absolutely fascinating. The Documentation Officer who showed us around explained that they were finishing a stock take of all their objects, creating an online catalogue that would then be made available to the public.  It was great to be able to ask about cataloguing standards used, the collection development and acquisitions policy and their preservation policy.

The Documentation Officer said that they use a museum cataloguing standard, that they actively seek objects where there is a gap in the collection and accept donations based on the age and rarity of the object. He also described how objects are deep frozen when they arrive on site to kill any potential insects/mites/bacteria. He described how preservation is carried out where necessary but that objects are not restored. They are kept in the condition they arrive in, unless they are likely to deteriorate.

He also described how they put exhibitions together, linking objects that are interesting or come with an interesting story. They were in the planning stages of an exhibition of the history of the police in Ireland and we got to see close up some of the objects that would be displayed. We also got to see a selection of sliotars and hurleys from the Museum’s collection that are going to be used in an exhibition of sport.

The Museum are considering running similar tours in the future and I certainly hope they do, as for me, it was absolutely fascinating to get to see behind the scenes. And if you happen to be passing Turlough I highly recommend you pop in to the museum as the exhibitions are really beautiful (and it’s free!).

The Old Coastguard Station

I met a friend for coffee yesterday and I was telling her this story. It was then I realised that it’s a good story and a very Irish story. So I thought I would share it with you.

DSC_0634The week we spent in Mayo also happened to be Heritage Week in Ireland. This meant that there were all sorts of Heritage events happening around the country and old buildings that ordinarily wouldn’t be open to the public. One of these buildings was the Old Coastguard Station in Rosmoney, Westport.  My aunt that we were staying with had never heard of it, but directions were procured from a friend for Rosmoney and off we set.

We found ourselves on very small windy roads, with grass in the centre. That’s how you know you’re *really* in the country when there’s grass down the centre of the road. We quickly realised we didn’t know where we were going so my aunt spotted a house that looked like someone was home and told us to pull over. Off she went into the house to ask for directions. The woman living there came down to the car to point the directions out to us and warned us that the roads got very narrow, Two things to point out here, in the city I would *never* knock on a stranger’s door to ask *anything* and it was difficult to imagine that the roads could get even more narrow.

It took another few minutes of driving but eventually we arrived at the pier in Rosmoney. And really that’s all there was – a pier. No sign of an old coastguard station. We asked for further directions, hopped back in the car and finally arrived at our destination. But it seemed deserted. Not what we were expecting from a building that was supposedly open to the public. My aunt disappeared into another house to see if she could find someone and  Rossa suggested I ring the number in the Heritage Week booklet.

DSC_0655 (1)The secretary who answered the phone sounded almost as surprised by my query as I was that she didn’t know what I was talking about. I was put through to the proprietor who was also slightly surprised by my call. I should point out that the details had been published in a Heritage Week booklet that had been distributed with a national newspaper. Anyway the man was very nice and said that, yes, we could take a look around, that there was someone living in one of the renovated apartments in the Coastguard Station and that we could knock on her door if we wanted. We had a long conversation about how I came to hear about the Station and how the man had fielded many similar calls all week and that he hadn’t seen this booklet with the published details. I’m not sure if he forgot the advertisement or what but he seemed unperturbed.

Then he asked if I had any biscuits with me? No. That was a pity as the donkeys love to eat biscuits. Right. Did we have any sandwiches with us? No. Well the donkeys really love biscuits so if we did have any with us we could give them to them. We didn’t have any biscuits or sandwiches.  Eventually I got him off the phone, he really loved to chat.

My aunt reappeared with a neighbour who seemed equally confused as the secretary, the proprietor and we were, but chatted away with us as R and I snapped away. When I mentioned the name of the proprietor it turns out he was the solicitor for my Grandpa’s estate. Of course he was. This morning couldn’t get any stranger.

DSC_0658Until it did. The tenant appeared and said she would let us into the main part of the Coastguard station, which sounded great, until we realised this was the man’s sitting room. With all his stuff. And he wasn’t very tidy. We beat a hasty retreat and literally as I said I was going to take some photos of the donkeys before we left, the donkeys appeared at the front door and then positioned themselves in front of the perfect view. A few quick photos were taken before we legged it back to the car. The whole thing was just too surreal. But at least we have a great story to go with some great photos.

What Type of Knitter Are You?

Ashby 061I’m a monogamous knitter

I rarely have more than one project on the go at one time. I think that’s because I get so excited about my projects that I can’t bear to put them down until they are finished. I have a strong desire for everything in my life to be organised so I don’t think I could cope with multiple WIPs (work in progress, for my non-knitting readers).

The only time I have more than one WIP is if I find a project I’m so excited about I have to cast on *right now*, or if I need to whip up a baby gift.

Having said that I have one two projects sitting at the bottom of my knitting basket unfinished. I started to knit gloves last winter but put them down when it came to adding fingers and haven’t picked them back up again. And I have a bag waiting for a lining and assembly. And I don’t know how to line bags, so that’s my excuse.

Seagreen 001I am a process knitter

I knit for the sheer pleasure of knitting, and the FO (finished object) is almost a bonus. However, I feel like I’m shifting slightly towards being a product knitter and I’m finding it hard to give away my FOs and knitting more for myself. I have more shawls than I can wear, but am loathe to give any of them away.

Part of this is I feel that only people who really appreciate the love and time and effort that has gone into a knitted gift really deserve them. Not everyone gets it.

But for me knitting is a form of meditation. It allows me to switch off my brain and just concentrate on the rhythmic clicking of the needles.

Sunflower 002I am a yarn snob

There, I said it. I am a yarn snob. I love alpaca, cashmere, merino, silk. I love them all. And I don’t mind paying for them. I would rather spend €20 on a special skein from my LYS (local yarn shop) This Is Knit than spend €20 and get a jumper’s worth of acrylic yarn. I did try acrylic, but I won’t be doing that again.

I’m learning though. The more I knit, the more I understand the properties of different fibres. I love alpaca, I love how soft it is to wear, I love how soft it is to knit with. But it’s heavy, and it will stretch. I feel this is the same with all my favourite soft yarns. So I find myself drawn more to wools (sheep fibres). And silk, I love, love silk, knitting and wearing it. But there is no give in silk, so it’s hard to get much stretch out of it in the blocking process.

I will never stop loving and knitting alpaca and silk, but understanding their properties gives me a better idea of what the FO will turn out like, especially after a few wears.

So, what kind of knitter are you?

Allotmenting

This morning my Capstone (group thesis) group had to present our project to a number of staff members from the department, as well as some external commentators. I’m so tired now I’m not sure if this post is evening going to make sense. We were running on so much adrenaline that now that I’ve relaxed I can barely keep my eyes open. The presentation itself went great and we had some good questions and feedback in the Q&A session. I actually feel excited about the project again. I think we had gotten so bogged down in the project it was hard to see the wood from the trees, so it was great to get an outside perspective.

And then I took the afternoon off.

Allotment (87)It’s been quite a while since I’ve taken a chunk of time off, I feel like I’m always tipping away at the project, there’s always something to be done.

Allotment (21)R has an allotment that I haven’t visited much because I’ve been so busy. He was heading there for the afternoon so I decided to join him and bring my camera and knitting along. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves as, to be honest, I’m too tired to type much more.

Allotment (80)Allotment (111)Here are some of the yummy produce, kohlrabi and loganberries…

Allotment (149)… some potatoes …

Allotment (90)… hops, weaving their way around a bench …

Allotment (93)… and my knitting in the sunshine. Bliss. A most delightful way to way to spend an afternoon I must say.