quite the library

March 2, 2015

I’ve started to amass quite a collection of old craft books; the more obscure the subject matter and the more worn the dustjacket, the better. I know full well that much of the content is in the bowels of t’Internets already and is always accessible, but there is a magic about these books.

Most of them have come to me second and third and fourth hand; there is marginalia to bate Banagher, and some pages are dogeared. Some methods and patterns seem to be particularly beloved. Every so often, I come across more tantalising hints of the books’ previous owners; a receipt tucked out of sight, a hand written dedication for a birthday long ago.

I hope they gave great inspiration to their former owners; I hope for the same for whoever has them after me.


January 1, 2015

Any excuse for a clean slate, me. September has a great sense of a new start about it, too, but there is something about the turn of the year, eh? Not for me the grim resolutions, the promises to oneself hissed through gritted teeth. For me, it’s an excuse to give thanks for the year gone by, and make shiny plans for the forthcoming one.

2015, the beautiful blank page. I hope you contain travel and friendship, a few knitted garments I adore and new things to learn. I hope you give ease and lightness to dear ones in need of it, after a challenging 2014. Oh, and I promise this is the year I’ll get a hold of a really good blood orange to try.

Thoughts for the year ahead..

– make more things and have fun

– don’t sweat the disasters

– give tatting, art clay, sewing and crochet a good aul’ go

– use up my beautiful stash and give myself the gift of time instead

Some of ye may have seen a story in the past week about a New Jersey bridal shop refusing to sell a wedding dress to a bride. Why? Because the bride is a lesbian.

Quite apart from the fact that this kind of discrimination is utterly abhorrent (and apparently expressly illegal under state law), it’s also incredibly poor business sense. The manager, due to her own bizarre squeamishness, denied custom to a bride and my goodness, her business is going to suffer for it from those she deems ‘acceptable’ to sell to. It appears, by the reviews on Yelp and Google, that it already is.

Customers of WaterMemory past, present and future, here’s what I care about:

– That you are happy with what you pick out;

– That it is of the highest quality;

– That you (or the eventual recipient) really like it.

Yep, that’s about it. You are my customer and in my eyes, you deserve honesty, respect and courtesy. You don’t deserve a side order of codswallop and prejudice to go with your transaction.

But lastly, a few words to Alix Genter, the bride on the receiving end of this awful treatment:


I’m so sorry you had to go through this. This was the last thing that should have happened to you. I hope you find your dream dress, from a place where you are treated with the common decency and respect you deserve. Best wishes for your day and for the rest of your lives together!

– Regina, another bride-to-be who started crying after photo number four

..but oh, when will the painful puns end?

So, you may have gathered from my Phineas T Barnum turn earlier that the Summer Sensational is beginning tomorrow. This is something I am unsurprisingly in favour of given that I like stuff that is (a) free or cheap (b) fun and (c) unusual (and I reckon the Joculator fulfills all three right there.)

So, I’ve compiled some picks for each day that might appeal- remember that while almost all the events are free, some are ticketed events requiring booking. Those lovely TBCT folk are standing by at info [at] templebar [dot] ie or at 01-677 2255.

Here goes:

Thursday, July 8th 2010

2pm: The Dance Social with CoisCéim Dance Theatre, Smock Alley Theatre (West Essex St entrance). Get your groove on, learn a few steps and impress the heck out of everyone next time you’re near a dancefloor. Swit swoo! (Tickets required: info [at] templebar [dot] ie or at 01-677 2255.)

Friday, July 9th 2010

3pm: A Musical Menu at the Queen of Tarts, Cow’s Lane. The Dublin String Trio accompany your afternoon’s epicurean delights (probably does wonders for the digestion, no doubt). No booking required.

5pm and 7:30pm: Sean-nós workshops hosted by Gaelchultúr. Learn more about sean-nós dancing and singing (Pre-booking at 01-484 5220 or through eolas [at] gaelchultur [dot] com.)

7pm: Music on The Square presents Julie Feeney & Tarab. The swoony, lush sounds (and excellent headgear!) of Julie Feeney, and the unique jazz stylings of Tarab. What’s not to like? (Tickets required: info [at] templebar [dot] ie or at 01-677 2255.)

Saturday, July 10th

2pm: Oxjam at Oxfambooks, Parliament St. Have a browse while you take in some chilled out tunes- yes please! (No booking required.)

2pm-4pm (Sunday also): Where’s Wally? That slippery character Wally is on the loose in Temple Bar! Find him and snag yourself a voucher. (No booking required.)

7pm (Sunday also): Sweet Shorts at La Dolce Vita, Cow’s Lane. Enjoy some short films as chosen by Filmbase in the lovely surroundings of La Dolce Vita. Give their arrabiata a go- you will not be disappointed. (Booking required: info [at] templebar [dot] ie or at 01-677 2255.)

10pm: The Secret of Kells (open air screening), Meeting House Square. If you haven’t seen this great Oscar-nominated feature, take it in under the stars thanks to IFI. (Booking required: 01-679 3477.)

Sunday 11th July

1pm onward: Summer Sunday on the Square, Meeting House Square. We have balloon wizardry, music of all sorts, storytelling and the aforementioned Joculator all in one afternoon- and all for free. No booking required- just turn up.

10:30pm Stand By Me, Meeting House Square. I feckin’ love this film! No more need be said. (Booking required: info [at] templebar [dot] ie or at 01-677 2255.)

Bígí ann!

(Excuse me while I get my Phineas T Barnum groove on..)

Hem hem! Roll up, roll up! The countdown is on for the Summer Sensational!

There are dozens of events happening at various points all over Temple Bar between July 8th and July 11th- Thursday to Sunday. Here’s a taste of what’s on offer:

*deep breath*

  • workshops in animation, creative writing and lithography
  • outdoor fillums in the Square (yay, Stand By Me!)
  • photography exhibitions
  • outdoor performances by the likes of Julie Feeney
  • baby disco (cue images of tots in glittery stack heels)
  • short films at La Dolce Vita, Cow’s Lane
  • storytelling
  • dance social
  • walking tours
  • Oxjam! at Oxfambooks
  • finding that slippery fellow Wally at the Gutter Bookshop


You can see for yourself the sheer range of events on offer, and the added lovely bit is that the majority of events are free. However, many require booking- hie thee to the Cultural Trust office on East Essex St for that. Or ring/ email/ hire a surly-looking carrier pigeon.. sure, whatever you’re having yourself. You can see some (freebie!) highlights chosen by your friendly TBCT staffers here.

The whole point is that Temple Bar is yours. Whatever age you are, whatever your situation in life, Temple Bar is there for you to enjoy and make your own. I’m so pleased to see things like the No Grants Gallery, the Exchange and clubs like the Wild Strawberries at the IFI going strong- the city belongs to us all and it only gets stronger when we all play a part.

Here’s your full programme of events (thar be .pdf), which is also available at various siopaí and eateries around the city. I believe you might even wangle yourself a discount if you present it in the IFI, so how’s about that, eh? (Man, I could really go for one of their falafel pittas right now.)

knitting cheetah says..

April 1, 2010

To go with my previous favourite one of Cary Grant, here’s a cheetah in a state of cat-like knitting readiness. Not so sure about its choice of colour, but there you go.

*not a guarantee

On April 13th 1742, Dublin was the lucky place to host the very first performance of Handel’s Messiah. It was first performed at the then Neal’s Music Hall on Fishamble St, around the corner from Christchurch Cathedral, led by Handel himself. Handel was arguably at the height of his powers, and it is difficult to believe that he had the whole piece written in less than a month. I mean, when I think how long it takes me to blog.. damnit.

This year, on the exact anniversary of its premiere, In Handel’s Day is taking over Temple Bar. You can look forward to a walking tour with the one and only Pat Liddy, a glimpse into Handel’s life courtesy of Prof Barra Boydell, musical performances galore (particularly looking forward to A Global Hallelujah!) and even a Movie on the Square. Whoever picked a Kubrick film, hats off to your good taste.

There is a full list of events here. Some events will require tickets, details of which are here. Do tip along, if you can- there will be events taking place the entire day. And speaking as someone who is big into her baroque music, there’s nothing like a bit of Handel to lift the spirits 🙂

Over here, Norma Smurfit is well known for her charity work, hosting events involving the great and the good for donkey’s years. I know that the whole area attracts bile and some fairly valid criticism by turns, but there is no denying that she is exceptionally good at what she does, and obviously feels passionately for the charities benefiting from her events.

Until today, I had no idea that she was involved with microfinancing. First Step does precisely that, offering loans between €5,000 and €25,000 to companies who have difficulties accessing conventional lines of business credit from banks. (And from what I’m hearing, that is a widespread problem lately.) Thank goodness for that, eh?

I looked at the application form, and in several ways I know that I would not be a right fit. Number of employees? One. Number of employees in twelve months? One. Yep, me. I do everything from tagging my bags to making the stuff to doing the promotion, and that’s how it will always be (barring some sort of major coup involving a crazed pack of celebs suddenly taking a liking to felted bags and crystal jewellery, that is).

So, I must ask the question (cue Carrie Bradshaw-esque voiceover and zoom into screen): Am I a crafter, or is this a business?

Perhaps this is a business for the following reasons:

– I act like a professional. I don’t dismiss my competition- I work to be as good and better. Instead of engaging in snarkfests or ‘borrowing’ other people’s ideas, I work hard to make my work distinctive and to come up with my own stuff.

– I have a big fancy shiny till and schtuff. (Joke. I have threatened to get one like this if I ever have a bricks and mortar shop, though, but that’s for another post.)

– I keep records and receipts for everything. It goes back quite a few years and includes entries like “tuppence ha’penny for receipt book and vegetable samosas for elevenses” ;).

But on meeting other crafters, I realise that they are just as professional as any business in the important things- serving customers, charging fair prices, keeping things professional, doing their absolute best. They (like me) just appreciate the flexibility of being able to work at their own times and at their own pace, from their kitchen table or a studio.

Like me, they are keenly aware of the best materials to use for x, what venues are the most suitable for selling, what particular types of goods sell better than others, their cashflow etc. They just feel that keeping things slightly less official (not illegal, mind you! We’re all tax compliant) is a better environment for their work to truly flourish.

Temple Bar Cultural Trust has just released its events guide for 2010, and you can grab a copy of it here (.pdf). As ye can see, it’s a mix of the old favourite one-off events like the Handel festival and Chocolate Festival, continuing markets (DesignerMart on Cow’s Lane, the food market at Meeting House Square and the book market at Temple Bar Square) and partnered events like the Bealtaine Festival with the No Grants Gallery.

Like I said over on Twitter, it’s great to be part of the change that has taken place in Temple Bar. TB has had such a negative reputation- think Fall of Rome only with more sausage sandwiches and crushed beer cans, if you believe some reports- and it’s great to see that people are noticing its continuing rehabilitation. I see great places like the Gutter Bookshop opening up, or events like ChocFest coming back year after year, and it gives me hope. Our customers at Cow’s Lane are not shy to let us know how happy they are with the change, either.

Come join us! DesignerMart is returning the weekend before St Patrick’s Day and as ever, we would love to see you there. You can expect beautiful stuff, a place to see and be seen, and from yours truly, some free gratis and for nothing Jaffa Cakes. (You see if I don’t.)

down home: Nenagh

March 1, 2010

On my last visit down home, myself and Maman schlepped to Nenagh for a look around, and I have News(TM) to report:

There’s a wool shop! On Kenyon St!

The proprietor, Sinead Lee, has chosen a lovely mix of yarns, and stocks a full range of notions including some very cute buttons- I love a woman with taste. If you’re in the area, walk down Kenyon St until you see a basket of wool on the pavement and go through the corridor to your left. It’s a small shop in behind Lee Auctioneers.

On a related gratuitous plug woolly note, I am delighted to see Hanly’s Woollen Mills going strong. I’ve noticed their range of blankets, throws and scarves have been receiving plenty of attention of late. It’s hardly a surprise, really- if you take a look at design blogs and magazines, the desire to create a cosy, intimate space has never really left, even if all those minimalist, biscuit-coloured apartments got all the headlines :). You can take a look at their shop here. I am really tempted by the mohair blankets, myself!

Life in Tipperary continues apace. Like everywhere else in the country, it has taken a battering, but Tipperarians are full of good humour and great ideas, and they will make it through. It felt good to see that contrary to reports, rumours of rural Ireland’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

So, if you’ll pardon me putting my Discover The Feckin’ Fabilis Mid-Wesht Tourist Board: North Tipperary Division hat on, if you’re in Nenagh and have a few hours and/ or shekels to spare, give the following a try:

I am a Tipperarian and as such, I run best on a decently full stomach. Foodwise in Nenagh, you can’t go wrong with The Pantry in Quentin’s Way (just off Pearse St). Order yourself a Veggie Hot Belly. And by the way, you’re welcome ;). I also love Cinnamon Alley for a quick bite- the squidgiest cakes this side of the Danube! Country Choice is a lovely spot- it gets totally jammed in the afternoons but is well worth it. Take a look at their beautiful artisan products while you’re at it. If you still have room, try Quigley’s Bakery on Kenyon St for their white chocolate and raspberry muffin with a pot of tea. In the evening, give Roots a try- their apple, walnut and goat’s cheese salad is heavenly.

Otherwise on my travels, I noticed a new shop called Eclectic Mix open in Kenyon St, which stocks the loveliest range of clothing, children’s toys, jewellery, pottery and other bits, and I cannot forget my favourite old reliable The Watch Centre, the place I’ve gone to since I was a wee wain for presents and the like. McCarneys is an absolute treasure trove- it’s been a ritual since I was a young ‘un to press my nose up against the window and gaze in at their new finds. And in fairness, they only had me arrested once for doing that, and a lot of that was my own fault.

If you’ve got longer to spend in the area, take to the hills- Silvermines, I mean. The views are balm to a weary soul. The castle is still under scaffolding, alas, but once it’s done, it is well worth a look. If you’re a walker, you are in luck in this part of the world- no savage hills, but plenty of amazing views. Slightly further afield you have Terryglass, Garrykennedy and beyond that Killaloe- well worth your time.

By no means is this an exhaustive list- more like the edited highlights. Still though, they always say to ask a local, don’t they?