Bake Knit Sew blog tour winner

Bake Knit Sew

Hi all, just a quick post today to let you know who won the copy of Bake Knit Sew by Evin Bail O’Keeffe. The winner is Diane F, congratulations. Diane, Evin will be in touch with you directly on Ravelry to send you your ecopy of the book.

As for my knitting, a busy weekend means I’m still not quite finished my Knitmas gift but I have another week so it should be fine. I cast on a hat on Thursday in the airport on my way to Brussels, but only got a few rounds done on the way home because I was too tired to concentrate after a really interesting and engaging workshop that day. Plus I had been up since 4.30 so couldn’t quite figure out the cabling.

Next weekend I’m attending a (non-work related) dyeing workshop run by the Irish Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers. I’m really excited because I’m fascinated in the process of designing a yarn. I will be learning about different methods of dying, different types of dyes and how different types of fibres react to dyes. And I’ll get to dye my own skein of yarn. I’m really excited about the workshop and I plan on brining a notebook and my camera so I can report back on how I got on.

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It’s Knitmas!!!

You may have noticed that I haven’t shared any finished projects recently. There are a few reasons for this. I do have a few finished things to share, but during the week I’m rarely home in the daylight to take photos of them. And since the weather has taken a decidedly wintery turn the weekends aren’t much better. So I have a shawl and a hat to show off but no photos of them.

I’m also working on a Cladonia by Kirsten Kapur with Dublin Dye Company Swing Sock in ‘Library’ that I’ve teamed with madelinetosh tosh merino light in ‘Paper’. These two colourways go so well together and I love that the names are ‘Library’ and ‘Paper’. This shawl was fate.

But another reason I haven’t shared any finished projects is that I’m taking part in Knitmas, which is a secret gift exchange. So although I’ve been knitting away I can’t tell you about it. Knitmas is the most wonderful time of year – when Irish crafters treat each other to handmade gifts. So often knitters, and other crafters, are the ones giving thoughtful, handmade gifts and less often are on the receiving end of these crafty presents. I really love this gift exchange and have participated for the last few years.

There are four rules to Knitmas. You have to include something handmade in your present, you have to liberate some of your stash, you have to include some kind of treat and finally a surprise. I can’t tell you how much effort goes into these packages by the participants , and each year they get bigger and better.

We use Elfster to decide who draws whom. Elfster also means that we can ask anonymous questions which adds to the excitement. And we can chat on Twitter so we’re all pretty much whipped into a frenzy. The deadline for posting is December 1st and shortly after that photos of gifts start appearing on Twitter. This is so much part of the fun because the recipient still doesn’t know who their elf is so the sleuthing begins.

I really hope my Elf likes the gift that I’ve chosen to knit her and I’ll be sure to share some photos when the parcel is safely received. If you want to read more about the Knitmas gift exchange you can read this post from the Elfster blog that was published last year.

My struggle with animal welfare charities and a possible solution

Many of you will know that I am passionate about my dogs and animal welfare. I advocate for adopting rather than buying pets and for neutering your cats and dogs to help keep the animal population at a sustainable level, which will hopefully mean less cats and dogs ending up in animal shelters.

In the past I volunteered with a local animal shelter and also fostered for them. I’m no longer involved with that charity. I don’t really feel like going into details about why, but essentially I was uncomfortable with the direction the management was taking the shelter and I no longer felt I could support them.

6 week old pit bull puppiesThere has been a fair amount of bad press recently around several animal welfare ‘charities’ in Ireland. It’s all left me feeling very hurt and disillusioned to be honest. There are so many amazing people out there fighting their hardest to improve the lives of animals in Ireland, who have dedicated their lives to the cause. And these so called charities are somewhat undermining the work they are doing.

But this post isn’t about that. This post is about something someone said to me recently. We were talking about how difficult it is to know which charities are worth supporting (both my time and/or money) and my friend suggested that

One way of supporting animal welfare charities is to pay your donation directly off their vet bills.

You see the thing is that most animal welfare charities have huge vet bills, even if they have negotiated a good rate with their vet, they are still going to rack up big bills. At the very least animals in their care should receive vaccinations and be neutered before being rehomed (or be neutered when they reach a suitable age). And some animals may need vet care for small illnesses or even more complex treatment. So if there is a charity you would like to donate to but aren’t sure about their credibility then why not contact them and ask for their vet’s details and pay your donation directly off their bill.

(c) halfadreamaway.com

(c) halfadreamaway.com

This makes so much sense to me in so many ways. For one if a charity is reluctant to let you do this you’ll know pretty quickly that they may not be worthy of your donation. And it also means that you know that your money is going directly to helping the animals and not on promotion or other costs. I often read appeals for different animal welfare charities on Facebook, and from now on I will definitely use this approach so I can still feel like I’m involved and like I’m making a difference in the lives of animals, without potentially being taken advantage of. This will give me so much more confidence in donating again to animal welfare charities.

My first blog tour: Bake Knit Sew By Evin Bail O’Keeffe

I’m so excited to be taking part in my first ever blog tour. Evin, the designer behind the award-winning blog EvinOK, has created a beautiful recipe and craft annual featuring (as the name suggests) recipes, knitting designs and sewing patterns, divided by season. Bake Knit Sew is available digitally, as well as in paperback. It features over 80 full-color pages devoted to this seasonal collection of recipes and patterns, as well as two photocopy-ready templates for sewing projects (bunting and felt mittens) and a resource list.

Keating Hat by Evin Bail O'KeeffeFor this leg of the blog tour I’m focusing on the knitting patterns, but I have to say that the recipes made my tummy rumble so I’ll definitely be doing some baking soon (lime poppy seed scones anyone?) and I think the bunting would make a nice first sewing project if I ever decide to take on another hobby (who doesn’t love bunting!). One of my favourite knitting patterns is a gorgeous, slouchy hat – the simple design makes it perfect for showing off some beautiful DK weight hand dyed yarns.

Cobblestone Boot Toppers by Evin Bail O'KeeffeI also really love the Cobblestone Boot Toppers. I love wearing boots in winter and adding some boot cuffs is a great way to add some colour and texture to an outfit. These boot toppers are knit with Aran weight yarn so would be a nice quick knit, great for Christmas presents. (I know! I said the ‘C’ word in November).

Falling Petals Lace Shawl by Evin Bail O'KeeffeRegular readers will know that I love knitting shawls. So it’s no surprise that the Falling Petals Lace Shawl caught my eye. This is a lace weight shawl, but I would probably knit this in fingering weight, or even DK weight for an extra layer of warmth in the winter. The relatively straightforward lace pattern (written and charted) would be a great first shawl for a beginner, but looks so delicate so you can impress your friends and family with your talent.

Evin is generously offering my readers a 10% discount on Bake Knit Sew. Head over to get your copy of the eBook on Ravelry or a signed paperback directly from the publisher. Simply use the discount code BLOGTOUR for 10% off. Thanks Evin!

Giveaway

Evin is also offering a free ecopy of her book to one lucky reader. To enter leave a comment below by 4:00 p.m. GMT Saturday, November 22, 2014, telling me which of the designs you would want to make or recipes you want to bake to be in with a chance to win an ecopy of the ebook. Your comment also counts as entry to win one signed paperback copy of Bake Knit Sew being given away on the 22nd of November to one lucky reader on this blog tour.

No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Winner must have a valid email address or Ravelry account. Value of the prize is $16.00. No cash equivalent will be offered. 

Blog Tour Schedule

If you want to read more about the knitting patterns, recipes or sewing patterns head over to the other blogs on the tour.

Why I blog

Last week I wrote about my crisis of blogging conscience. In that post I explained that my purpose for blogging wasn’t clear to me any more, that I was getting hung up on stats rather than just writing because I enjoy it. Thank you so much to everyone who left feedback on the post or on Twitter, it really helped me figure things out.

Progress 016One of my lovely commenters (I love comments, I can’t lie about that) had three clear reasons as to why she blogs and this prompted me to put down in writing why I am doing this to see if this could clear up my niggling doubts.

  1. I blog because I love writing: I’ve always loved writing, ever since I was young, and I think I’m a little bit good at it.
  2. I blog because I love knitting: They say write what you know, so I write about things I’m passionate about – knitting, libraries and animal welfare.
  3. I blog because I take photographs: I was taking photographs long before I started blogging but this gives me somewhere to share them, rather than just having them sitting on a hard drive.
  4. (and I’m a tiny bit narcissistic (aren’t we all? she whispered hopefully): I’m proud of my knitting, my photography, my writing and I want to share it.)

So there you have it. I love writing, I love knitting, I love photography and I’m a tiny bit narcissistic.

Why am I blogging?

Am I having a crisis of blogging conscience? I’m not sure.

I’m not even sure where to start with this post – my thoughts are jumbled and conflicting. I’ve been blogging for *goes to check* three years now (holy crap!) I’ve updated the layout of my blog in the last year or so and in the last few months I’ve tried to publish content on a more regular basis. See? There I go, calling it ‘content’ instead of just the ‘stuff I write’. I’ve asked a friend of mine, who is a graphic designer, to help me with a new blog header and she has already showed me the most brilliant ideas. And I’ve started reading more about SEO, how to increase the number of comments I get and how to get my stats booming. I’ve become hung up on stats and clicks.

There I said it, my dirty little secret is out.

Part of me thinks, why shouldn’t I want my blog to be successful. I want people to read what I write – that’s the whole point. But when I find myself going back over old posts to tweak keywords, titles, image caption and links in order to create an ‘evergreen post’ (I know! Vomit!) have I gone to far? Or is this just promoting my blog a bit better?

And why am I promoting my blog? Yes, I want more people to read and engage with what I write but I don’t make any money from this blog, nor do I see myself doing that in the future. So why have I become so caught up with improving my stats and emulating the big, beautiful blogs out there?

When choosing topics to write about am I prioritising those that I feel will get more click rather than just writing about what’s in my head or on my needles that day? Is there a chance that I’m alienating other like-minded bloggers by trying to be too flashy?

And do you know what? I’m not even sure all this extra effort is even paying off in terms of hits.

Should I just go back to writing about what I love? (I’m still writing about what I love but in a much more considered way.) Why am I blogging? And what’s the point? I’m not sure that I know the answer.

Ok, brain dump over, let’s hope I don’t hit delete rather than publishing. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments (because the narcissist in me craves your attention and comments, aaaggggghhhhhhh).