I like coffee

I like coffee. I drink a lot of coffee. I like to drink strong coffee. Especially at the moment with the amount of college work I’m trying to get through, I need a lot of coffee.

Ashby 003

Coffee should should ideally be made from coffee beans. And these beans should ideally be freshly ground. Ideally, beans would be ground with a burr-grinder rather than using a blade to chop your beans.

Ashby 007Well let me tell you, grinding coffee by hand is a pain in the ass. So my hubby, sick of me moaning, decided to combine his cordless drill with our hand grinder and viola, quick perfectly ground coffee beans. Just make sure to hold the jar and grinder firmly. We usually grind enough to do us for the day. Which is a lot ūüėÄ

A pop of colour on a dark day

I had hoped to take some better photos of my Colour Affection but the weather has been conspiring against me. The last week or so has been very grey and damp. We even had some snow today, although it didn’t stick. But this all means I haven’t had a chance to do a proper photo shoot of my new shawl. So here you go. I’m so happy with how the colours turned out. Really bright and like a big smile or a big hug on a grey day.

Colour color affection knitting yarnThere has been great debate about the edge of this shawl and many knitters have added a YO at the beginning of each row, dropping the YO on the next row. I tried this but wasn’t happy with the result so I ripped back and started again. I’m a tight knitter but still wanted a curved edge so I switched the M1R and M1L for KFBs and made a special effort to leave the edges loose and I’m happy with the final result.

Those last few rows were epic. The cast off took an entire evening. And I’ll be honest and say that when she came off the needles she was a bit limp and initially I was disappointed. The shawl was a bit – limp. But after a good blocking I was delighted with the result. I used blocking wires but This Is Knit posted a great blocking suggestion on their blog. I think I’ll block it again to get a better edge. Right now we have a foster puppy so I’ll have to wait until he’s gone.

So final yarn amounts:

  • Colour 1: Malabrigo in Eggplant: 53g/213m
  • Colour 2: Malabrigo in Lettuce: 44g/177m
  • Colour 3: Millamia in¬†Fuchsia: 50g/250m

A library weekend

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Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend two library related seminars. The first was the Academic and Special Libraries Annual Seminar, while the second was the New Professionals Day inaugural event. Both were fantastic events and other bloggers have written great accounts of both days. Rather than go through the days in chronological order I want to discuss some of the recurring themes of not only these two seminars, but many of my classes at UCD.


Every time I hear the word “engage” I hear Jean Luke Picard of the Starship Enterprise saying the word in my head. But we keep coming back to this idea again and again. Libraries, be they public, academic,¬†specialist, digital, whatever, need to engage with their users. Libraries need to go to where their users are, we need to use the same services their users use and we need to make¬†their¬†content available wherever the users want it. This was an idea strongly advocated for by Simon Tanner.

This can mean aggregating content across services (for example Europeanna) or engaging with users on social media platforms. For example the Military Archives uses Flickr to publicise their digital archive because this allows them to go to their audience. This means that users are in turn engaging with the content as well as raising awareness that the content is available.

Crowd sourcing

This is a topic that I hope to tackle in an assignment for Current Trends in Social Computing. Many libraries and cultural institutions are now using crowd sourcing to help with various projects. Using the above example again, the Military Archives are using Flickr to ask members of the public to help them to identify people in their image library.

Simon Tanner also spoke about some interesting crowd sourcing projects including Old Weather and Transcribe Bentham. With this kind of crowd sourcing of information there is always an¬†opportunity¬†for online abuse, however anecdotal evidence suggests that in general communities involved in these types of projects are passionate about the project and will also help monitor abuse. Redundancy also means that people are essentially ‘voting’ for the best answer.

To me this is a really exciting way for libraries and other cultural institution to engage with their users, while gathering valuable information about their collections.

Places & people

People want to know about themselves and where they live. This is why the genealogy market is so popular. People want to know more about themselves, their families and their history. They also want to know more about where they live.  Julia Barrett from the UCD Digital Library explained that some of their most popular collections were related to people and places.

The interesting affect of making these digital records available to a wider audience online was that it actually creates a demand for the original record, encourages people to visit the physical space.

Open source & open standards

One of the most exciting things to me about libraries is that they¬†democratise¬†knowledge and learning. Knowledge and information isn’t just for the elite or those that can afford it. They are, and should be, for everyone. To me open source software and open standards is an extension of this.

There are of course issues with open source software, the main one being the lack of technical support. However John Duffy of the Bar Council or Ireland Law Library, Commandant Padraic Kennedy of the Military Archives and David Hughes of DBS extolled the virtues of open source software and open standards and cautioned against using proprietary software.

The use of open standards goes hand in hand with open source. If we use open standards rather then bespoke solutions data can be inter-operable and libraries and repositories can talk to each other. It also makes things easier when transferring data or content from one system to another.

Social media

I’m a huge advocate of social media and have regular discussions with my mum who feels that social media can be dangerous. However, you can’t get away from social media anymore. It’s not going anywhere. And it’s free, which makes it an ideal means of engaging with users (there’s that word again) for cash strapped¬†libraries.

Karen Skelly spoke about how the Irish Cancer Society is using social media to provide cancer information. While there was skepticism at first they are now using Facebook and Twitter as a means of disseminating information. Michelle Dalton also spoke passionately about the use of Twitter for sharing information and for keeping in touch with other information professionals.

The main take-aways from the two days was that social media is not about broadcasting, but interacting with your users. Libraries also need to have clear goals and a clear social media policy. Karen Skelly suggested looking at how other similar organisations use social media and their social media policies if they are available online.

Metrics give quantitative data – the number of likes, follows, RTs etc. but figures only give one side of the story. What was really interesting to me was that Karen explained that comments give qualitative feedback, comments show that you are reaching your audience.

And we’re right back to the¬†beginning¬†– engage with users and go where they are.

Knit then Crochet

I’ve finished (but not blogged, she needs a proper photo shoot) my Colour¬†Affection¬†shawl and have already been wearing it with pride. After each big project I often look for a few smaller projects before launching into something big again. I was browsing Etsy, as you do, and spotted a gorgeous knitted necklace and inspiration struck. This was the perfect project that would be super quick and would use up some of the leftovers I have in my stash.

Neckace 013The necklace was pretty straightforward to make. The mustard necklace is some Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran I had left over from the Leopard Bootcuffs. I knitted about 80cm of icord (which just happens to the length of the arm of my couch where I knit) using two 5mm DPNS. I created a loop on either end by folding the icord over and wrapping the tail around to secure the loop. Using a tapestry needle I buried the ends inside the icord.

Neckace 014Next I made a loop at one end, just inside where I had tied off the first loop (although I didn’t tie this one off). Then I used my fingers to essentially chain a few stitches. I got six stitches in this necklace. I then slid the end of the icord through the final chain stitch. I had to play around with the tension a bit until I was happy, but once I was happy with the final chain I used a tapestry needle and some yarn to stitch the first and last stitches to the icord to hold them in place. Again I buried the ends in the icord.

Neckace 037To finish off the necklace I simply platted three very long strands of yarn and and used a Chinese Sliding knot so that the length of the necklace can be adjusted. I’m so happy with the result. I think these will make lovely presents too and can be tailored to the recipients’ favourite colour. The purple one will be winging its way to London next week.