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 and University Vacancies Ireland. From the floor we added, 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.


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?


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.


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.

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.