Library Tourism – The British Library

Over the summer I spent a weekend in London. It was kind of a last minute thing and I have to say I really enjoyed the trip, even if I was exhausted when we got home again. We got a flight to London City Airport at stupid o’clock and got the tube straight to St. Pancras station. After a double espresso to keep up going we headed to the British Library to do a tour of the library starting at 10.30am.

wpid-20140710_124140.jpgI was a bit skeptical about spending £8 each on a tour, plus I’d been up for half a day and it was only 10.30. But. I was wrong to be skeptical – the tour was fascinating. It was led by a real librarian who was really passionate about his topic and there were only 6 of us in total on the tour. We were all clearly library nerds so I was in good company.

wpid-20140710_123333.jpgThe building itself is a bit underwhelming from the outside, particularly if you compare it to the New York Public Library or our own National Library. But inside it’s quite beautiful. Our guide talked us through the building of the library and the controversies surrounding it, the beautiful King’s Library and we got to have a look at one of the reading rooms from a gallery. We finished the tour in the Treasures of the British Library permanent exhibition.

As a librarian I really enjoyed the tour, but even if you’re not a librarian the exhibitions at the library are worth the trip. So we spent the morning indulging my interests. The afternoon was spent on a brewery tour of Fuller’s Brewery indulging R’s interests.

Stitch marker tutorial

Stitch markers 125Before I started knitting I used to make jewellery. Pretty rudimentary stuff – nothing complicated. In the same way that I love the colours and textures of yarn, I love the colours and textures of beads too and amassed a small-ish stash. In a recent post I shared photos of my stitch markers.

Stitch markers 161These stitch markers are really straight forward to make and give you pretty much instant gratification. Above you can see how I set up my work station (coffee table) before getting started. Clockwise from top left I have my crimping pliers, a selection of beads that I want to use, tigertail wire, a bowl for the finished markers, a bowl for the ends to be discarded and a wire cutter, which in this case is a flat nosed pliers with a wire cutter.

I actually bought the tigertail wire a few years ago without realising what it was, but I really like it for these stitch markers because it is really flexible but doesn’t kink easily.

Stitch markers 165

  1. Cut of a length of tigertail wire with your wire cutter and fold it in half.
  2. Thread your chosen beads onto it. I like to use one small focal bead with a seed bead either side of it. The reason I use the seed bead (apart from looking pretty) is because I found there was a tendency for the main bead to slide over the crimped crimp bead, depending on the size of the hole in the bead. Lastly, add your crimp bead.
  3. Stitch markers 168Using a knitting needle a few sizes bigger than the needles you want to use the stitch marker with adjust the beads on the wire. Sorry for the slightly blurry picture, it was hard to hold the beads steady in my left hand and take the picture with the camera in my right hand.
  4. Stitch markers 171Crimp the crimp bead to secure everything in place. This video shows you how to do this.
  5. Stitch markers 172Lastly use the wire cutter to cut off the excess wire, getting as close to the crimp bead as you can.
  6. Stitch markers 179 croppedEt viola! That’s it. It’s really that quick and easy.

I’ve gone a bit crazy making these recently and I’m donating them to HandmAid craft day in aid of Laura Lynn Hospice. Come along September 26th and help support such a great cause.

DIY Jewellery Display

I’ve been on a bit of a jewellery spending spree recently. I go through these phases of buying and wearing jewellery and then the phase just kind of fizzles out. I think part of the reason is that unless the necklaces or earrings or whatever are RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME in the morning, I’m too lazy/sleepy to find something to suit my outfit.

I browsed Etsy for some funky jewellery organisers that might helps solve this problem but decided in the end that I could make something just as nice myself as I could buy online. This pattern on Ravelry also served as inspiration.

And here is what I came up with. My earrings slot into the knitted lace nicely and my necklaces and bracelets hang from the hooks. This example is a little on the small size for me, but I intend on making a larger on soon.

Jewellery display 009I used:

  • A photo frame, with a pretty design
  • Some knitted lace, knitted and blocked to the internal size of the frame
  • A household stapler
  • A drill to drill pilot holes
  • Hooks bought in my local DIY shop (I think these are 25mm hooks)

If you want to make something similar, find a lace pattern that you like. I recommend one with a lot of yarn overs, as this makes it easier to slip your earrings into the lace. I used the ‘lattice 
lace’ section from the Dinner in the Eiffel Tower Shawl. I would also suggest choosing a neutral coloured yarn so that your earrings stand out on it and you can see your choices clearly. For my next one I’m going to use a pale grey or cream I think.

I used a household stapler to staple the knitted fabric into place, starting at one side, them the opposite side to get the tension even over the lace. You want the lace panel to turn out a bit smaller than the internal size of the frame, as this will give you nice tight lace. I just opened the stapler fully and pushed the staples into place. Whatever material this frame is made of was soft enough to do that. jewellery-display-0081-e1407495444707Then I decided to have five hooks for my necklaces, so I measured the base of the frame and marked where the hooks should go. I then drilled pilot holes into the frame to make it easier to get the hooks to screw in. And viola! My new jewellery organiser was finished.

Now I can see all my jewellery and can quickly pick something to wear in the morning before I head out the door. And it looks kinda pretty too.

Stitch markers for HandmAid

As well as setting some of my stash free for a good cause I also decided to make some stitch markers for HandmAid this year. HandmAid is a craft day that has been held annually in Dublin for the last three years and is in aid of the Laura Lynn Hospice this year. On the day there will be various crafty classes, a market stall and a cafe, both stocked with donations. That means yarn cake AND cake cake.

Stitch markers 112So anyway, this decision kicked off a massive stitch marker making weekend. This is partly because I’m getting bored of knitting the border on my Winnowing. I needed a distraction. So out came my bead stash and pliers and several hours later I had quite a collection of stitch markers.

Stitch markers 133The markers I make use a combination of tigertail wire and beads, rather than a jump ring. I use these exclusively when knitting and I find them great. They’re lightweight and don’t snag on my knitting. I’m going to I have put a tutorial together. They’re so easy to make if you have a few tools to hand.

Stitch Markers 002I had initially intended on leaving them loose to be sold at HandmAid but there was such an amount I decided to bundle them into sets of four or five markers. So this is the final product. I should have a big box of these to deliver to the organisers to be sold on the day. So pop along on to Damer Hall on Stephen’s Green on Saturday 27th September 2014 from 10.30am to 4.30pm.

Yarn shopping in London

A recent trip to London involved catching up with wonderful friends, much beer drinking, some cultural stuff and a visit to a yarn shop. My husband is obsessed into home brewing and craft beers and most holidays end up highjacked by involving *many* visits to craft beer pubs and breweries. In the last few years I’ve been able to balance this out with trips to yarn shops and more recently visits to important libraries. This is called revenge compromise.

wpid-20140711_145827.jpgThis meant that on our trip to London last month that I got to visit Loop in Islington with few no complaints. It’s a really lovely little shop split over two floors. It’s down a pedestrian alleyway and is surrounded by other lovely and quirky shops. I love a good potter, so I do.

wpid-20140711_151301.jpgI had a good look around before choosing my souvenir yarn. Souvenir yarn doesn’t count, you see. Don’t worry, I checked with the sales assistant and she agreed with me that it doesn’t count. I liked her. She talked me through all the local yarns and then left me to happily make my choices. (Sorry for the terrible photo, I only had my phone with me.)

Stitch markers 158As I’ve bought a lot of bright coloured yarns recently I wanted to choose some nice greys. I chose a skein of Islington by Kettle Yarn Co in a light silver called Light Squirelly. It’s called Islington and I was in Islington, you can’t get more local than that! My other purchase was a skein of Titus 4ply by Eden Cottage Yarns in a rich dark grey called Coal.

I don’t know what they’re going to grow up to be but for the moment I’m happy just knowing they’re mine. And souvenir yarn doesn’t count. Right?

10 Gifts for Librarians (curated by a librarian)

The other day on Twitter I spotted a link to a list of gifts for librarians. Well of course I clicked through but as often happens I was underwhelmed with the list I found. So I decided to create my own list. I already have a Pinterest board that I pin library related stuff to and I also looked on Etsy, which is my absolute favourite place to look for quirky, unique and handmade gifts. So without further ado….

1. Vintage Library Card Catalogue from Prosser Bros Vintage

ProsserBrosVtg Vintage Library Card CatalogueAnd I mean a real, actual card catalogue. I want one. I want one so bad. If you love the librarian in your life this is what you will get them.

2. A vintage glasses necklace from Vector Cloud

Vector Cloud Vintage Glasses NecklaceVector Cloud don’t have this necklace in their shop at the moment, but you can do what I did and ask Amelia to make a custom necklace for you. I *love* mine.

3. Leather Book Necklace from Nicopapergoods

Nicopapergoods Leather Book NecklaceSwoon!! Have you ever seen anything so lovely? It’s a real actual book, with a lovely leather cover and blank pages inside – as a necklace. Stunning.

4. Love Your Librarian Womens Pullover from Alison Rose

AlisonRose Love Your Librarian Womens Pullover,I want one. That is all. They also do the same motif on a tote bag, a women’s tshirt and a men’s tshirt. But I really love the look of this jumper, as I don’t really wear tshirts.

5. Stitching in the Stacks from Cooperative Press

Stitching in the StacksI’m a knitter and a librarian. This book was written for librarian knitters just like me. The book is available as a print book or a pdf.

6. Embossing stamp from Exlibris

ExLibrisShop Embossing seal or round stampIf you own a book it’s nice to put your name on it, provenance of books is very important as every librarian knows. This stamp allows the recipient to emboss their books with their very own ‘Ex Libris’ seal. Fab! (‘Ex libris’ means ‘From the library of’ in latin. You’ll find it written inside a lot of antiquarian books.)

7. Vintage Inspired ‘From the Library of’ Personalised Self Inking Stamp from Rosso Stamp Co.

RossoStampCo Vintage Inspired From the Library of Personalized Self Inking StampIf you don’t want to shell out for an embossing stamp, why not get an ‘Ex Libris’ ink stamp. There are lots to choose from on Etsy and this one is personalised with the recipient’s name.

8.Library Card Notebooks from Meow Kapow

MeowKapowShopHow about these cute library card notebooks? There are a lot of versions on Etsy but I particularly like these ones because the pages inside are blank.

9. Personalised pencils from Nevina & Thom

NevinaandThom customised pencilsIt’s not nice to write on books in pen (library patrons are you listening!?), so why not get the librarian in your life some personalised pencils. This is also a nice idea for archivists, who also use pencils daily in their work. Myself and a librarian friend got these for our archivist friend and boss and I’m pretty sure she liked them.

10. Old Books Scented Soy Candle Frostbeard Studio

Frostbeard Old Books Scented Soy CandleEvery librarian loves the smell of books. Fact. I think it’s in out genes or something. I haven’t actually smelled these candles but I love the idea of them.

PS. Caroline from Libraries and Labyrinths has also suggested fabulous faux book covers for e-readers from the British Library.

If you have any further suggestions leave them in the comments please.

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?

Knitspiration: Winnowing

I’ve been neglecting my blog recently, but not neglecting my knitting. So I should have several projects to share over the next little while. (That reminds me I have several projects that need less than half an hour of finishing each before they are actually finished, a job for this weekend…)

Anyway, I suspect I’m not alone in spending waaay too much time browsing patterns and projects on Ravelry before I choose my next project. So I thought why not share those projects which have inspired me on my blog? I think I’m going to make this a regular feature on my blog.

I’m currently working my way (slowly) through Winnowing by Bristol Ivy.I’m knitting it in Coolree Alpaca/Silk/Cashmere 4ply in Camelia.Here are some of the projects that inspired me to knit my own Winnowing.

luminen's winnowingI love the light shining through the knitted fabric in this photo. [luminen's winnowing]

leighsideknits' A Straw ShawlI just love the colour of this shawl, I’m going through an ochre/mustard phase at the moment. [leighsideknits' A Straw Shawl]

sarahbird22's WinnowingOne of the things I love about this shawl is that it looks so wearable, I’ll be able to wear it around my shoulders for a bit of extra warmth when the temperature drops.[sarahbird22's Winnowing]

alfanhui14's Winnowing WheatSee how wearable this shawl is? And I’ve just realised I’ve chosen two yellow and two grey projects which are both colours I’m drawn to at the moment. [alfanhui14's Winnowing Wheat]

Where do you go for knitting inspiration?

(Permission has kindly been granted by each of the knitters to share their project)

Never Stop Learning – Library Camp 2014

Wood Quay VenueLibrary Camp took place yesterday in the Wood Quay Venue and I had so much fun nerding out with my fellow librarians. The unconference was organised jointly by the LAI Career Development Group and the Academic & Special Libraries section of the LAI. An unconference involves librarians pitching ideas and then facilitating a conversation around that topic. It’s all very relaxed and informal and people are encouraged to move from pitch to pitch if they want.

I had so much fun at the first Library Camp that I really wanted to get involved this year. But what could I pitch? What do I know about? Well, I know about job hunting so that’s what I went with. I was pretty nervous standing up to talk, I’m relatively newly qualified, would people take me seriously? But I was only talking to a group of about 15 people and there were a few familiar faces so I relaxed pretty quickly.

I started with a quick introduction to the topics I wanted to cover, a few sentences about me and my journey so far and then I asked about the audience – anyone thinking of joining the profession? anyone currently studying? 5 years out? 10 years out?

Job huntThe first topic we tackled was the job hunt itself. I recommended LibraryJobs.ie and University Vacancies Ireland. From the floor we added PublicJobs.ie, although the hiring embargo was recognised and the issues around this discussed. For those interested in technology courses related to social inclusion National Adult Literacy Agency (Nala) was recommended. And of course Linkedin got a mention. This is a great way to showcase projects you’ve been involved in and showing employers how you stand out from the crowd. Recommendations are also really important, as well as showing employers that you are comfortable with social media. Twitter is another really useful resource for making those all important contacts and finding jobs. New pros, if you’re not on there you should be!

InternshipsNext up we talked about the elephant in the job hunting room – Internships. From my point of view, I wouldn’t have gotten my current job without the experience I gained during my internship. I was surprised that overall we decided that they could be positive given certain conditions. It’s important to be selective about which internships you do and to communicate your learning needs to your employer. Ask questions during the interview to get a sense of how seriously the employer take the internship. There has to be a two way benefit. Also ask your employer to put you in contact with other librarians who you may be interesting in talking to. If you can’t find a suitable internship, you can propose a project to an employer and create your own internship. We also discussed whether you should put the word Intern on your CV? It was felt that is could be explained somewhere on your CV/Cover letter to avoid it seeming like you’re a job hopper.

If you are doing an Internship, the LAI run an accreditation program.

CPD

The next topic we tackled was Networking & CPD. My advice was to go to all the LAI events you can and get onto any of the mailing lists of the groups within the LAI that you’re interested in. DRI also run great events that are mostly free. I also wanted to make the point that anyone with an interest in IT should try to evolve their skills as I see a gap in the skillset coming straight at us. And I don’t just mean someone who is ‘good with computers’, I mean we are going to need librarians who can manage a web presence from start to finish, can set up and manage an OPAC, small digital repository or online catalogue.

It’s also never too early to get involved with LAI committees, they’re always looking for new people and ideas. And Associateship of the LAI and Chartership of CILIP can really help increase your confidence in your skills.

Never stop learningAs time was running quickly out I asked for any final thoughts, pearls of wisdom, advice from the audience. Jane Burns, who is a huge inspiration to me, summed it up nicely by advising that we NEVER STOP LEARNING. Isn’t that brilliant? What a perfect message. Never stop learning. I’ll just let that sink in…

Other areas that important for Info Pros to develop include IT skills, sociology, social media and marketing. If you’re looking to expand your skills and make yourself even more employable these are areas to consider.

Thank you to the organisers of what was another great event. I had a great day and I’m already looking forward to next year,

A long time coming

Dear blog reader, sometimes the idea for a project pops into my head and I. Must. Make. It. Right. Now. However, this was not one of those projects. This one took a bit longer to come to fruition. It started with Pinterest, like many of these things do, specifically with the photo below, from Red Pepper Quilts. Instead of having my lovely knitted shawls sit unseen in a drawer, what if I created some kind of shawl display to show them off?


ShawlsSo I procured a piece of wood, sanded, stained and oiled it. I searched online for some rustic hooks, but kinda came up short (or what I was looking for was massively expensive). I finally found what I was looking for in Woodie’s of all places – 6 wrought iron (looking) hooks. But that was all last June. And the project had been sitting there for about 6 months, just waiting to be assembled. Over Easter weekend I had 4 days off in a row and the sunshine inspired me to get my ass in gear and get this finished.

Crafty Projects April14 011So I measured and remeasured and finally screwed the hooks in place. I then fixed some picture wire to the back and hunted for the perfect place in the house to display my shawls. I decided that they fit perfectly beside the front door. One, that’s a great place to keep your scarves for easy access when you’re running out the door and two, there were already hooks in place so I didn’t need to drill into the wall. Simples.

Crafty Projects April14 019And that’s not all I did over the Easter weekend. I painted our sheds using Cuprinol Garden Shades in lavender and stone. I know R was a bit unsure about the colours I had picked but admitted later that he couldn’t “see” it beforehand like I could. I love looking out the back window at these so much, they make me so happy.

Crafty Projects April14 056

R and I also restored an old bench we had. The wood was rotting so it was replaced and the new wood was stained and varnished. The existing wrought iron back and legs got a paint job in a lovely silver. We’re so happy with the results.Crafty Projects April14 059

Are there any seasonal projects you’ve been getting done with the finer weather we’ve been having?