a sneak preview..

October 3, 2011

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of working with a couple of geniuses. A wonderful designer, and a gifted photographer. I learnt a whole lot about fabric and photography from two people who have forgotten more about each than I could ever learn.

BB King always said it was a great idea to play with people who were better than you, so you’d constantly grow in your own craft. I can really see his point.

So, courtesy of the genius behind Half A Dream Away (a truly gorgeous photoblog), I bring you a little preview of the delights coming to WaterMemory shortly. J’s comment on seeing the beads on these was “Granny Smiths”, which was the precise reason I bought them in the first place..

Granny Smiths by WaterMemory

8mm ceramic rounds (one of my best finds from Berlin), 4mm jet Swarovski bicones hand wire-wrapped with sterling silver, all on a sesame seed bun sterling silver C-hook, made last Friday evening. (Click the image to enlarge.)

So gentle readers, I leave it to you. What do you think? Would you like another preview or three?

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it’s bingo time!

September 19, 2011

Gentle readers, you will have to forgive me today. This may yet turn into a Force Seven rant, so I advise you to make sure those hatches are battened down, all small and easily excitable children and animals are seen to etc etc etc.

There are some attitudes to crafting (and indeed, those of us who do so) that I fail utterly to understand:

  • Craft is an anti-feminist, retrograde enterprise and women who craft are not feminist or are setting back the cause by doing so
  • People only craft/do things for themselves now because it is trendy, not out of any form of necessity, and they certainly didn’t grown up doing so
  • Most people who craft just make silly needless little tchotckes that are amateurish, poorly made and a waste of materials
  • Craft is a waste of time when you can buy everything readymade
  • People who craft do so because they aren’t capable of anything more high-minded/intellectual/worthwhile
  • Crafters are white, relentlessly middle-class trendy/hipsterish types

A few of these attitudes crop up in this article (published in the Observer yesterday), but the main one that caught my eye is that the last one mentioned. Those of us who craft *apparently* only do so because we are unwilling or incapable (mostly the latter but also both) of doing anything more serious. You know, worthwhile. Knocking out shapeless jumpers in front of the Late Late (oh, Fintan, such fail!) instead of reading, or running businesses, or.. well, something *useful*:

“But I am uncomfortable with the subtext to some of the more modish incarnations of doing things with your hands. Why do women want to embroider when they could be reading Hegel?”

This article is hardly the worst offender. It does hit the main knocking-craft bingos mentioned i.e. crafters waste their time making rubbish (“Why do people insist on bedecking their houses with homemade candles and old mirrors adorned by an inept mosaic frame, when all these things are clearly both hideous and slightly creepy?”), crafting is boring and takes a long time and is not usually worth the bother (“Luckily, I already have a scarf. I bought it with money I had earned by going to work instead of staying at home and making things.”) and aren’t people only doing it because it’s trendy? (the “modish” reference above) but it saves us most of the more sexist, classist and patronising assumptions and inferences, I suppose.

I’m not so thin-skinned that these attitudes upset me or put me off, but I find them desperately tired and boring. Change the record, please! I’ve no interest in trotting out my intellectual/’useful’ bona fides just to prove a point. I make things from necessity, because I love to do so, because of curiosity and largely because for me, a day without making things or experimenting is not my kind of day. My crafting kin have these reasons and more for what they do. We’re not represented in the prevailing narratives; we’re not bored and witless fashionistas, and neither do we pine for a time when women knew their place. We’re curious about the world, we love history, we love colour theory, we love the communal element of crafting and most of all, we love the satisfaction of something well-made, long-lasting and utterly, utterly unique.

a new broom

September 12, 2011

The alternate title for this post is, “What in the name of all that is good have I let myself in for?”

I’ve been Organising, you see. Gone are the days of my supplies being kept in a dizzying arrangement of tubs, tins & lunchboxes of beads, wool and papers; in their place is a sleek* new system. Operation New Broom has begun in earnest.

*may be exaggerating just a tad

This is what happens when one wakes on a Sunday morning, filled with what can be charitably described as “zeal”. Starting off, I thought I would be an unstoppable tea-fuelled force but I got a little sidetracked by memories on occasion. I have an odd talent; I can tell you where every single bead/finding/yarn/thread/paper/fabric/card etc I use came from and when I used it last. Not exactly something that’ll land me on Mastermind any time soon, but it meant that memories of my travels came flooding back yesterday. The howlite from Heidelberg, the delicate origami paper from Edinburgh, the handspun wool from Munich.. a heady day.

I’ll post photos and details of how I’ve managed it when it is all done but (of course!) there’s a while to go yet. Did you notice how I didn’t mention fabric above?

Apart from the obvious good effects of all this ONB lark, I’ve also come up with ideas for new work and have regained an appreciation for all that I have. Now, regular readers will know that I battle with the whole stash issue (and Twitterfolk will know all about #stashdown11), but going through all those packets of beads and reels of stringing made me all the more determined to keep ignoring the siren calls of sales & coupon codes for the next while.

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:

Alix,

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

I thought I might share something I’ve finished lately- something I’ve made for myself. Through the good offices of Himself aka Husband Elect, I got my hands on the most beeeyooootiful, squishable Malabrigo Silky Merino (scroll down to the end and look for Velvet Grapes) as part of the Ringsend Cowl kit from This is Knit.

It’s a beautifully simple knit, and while it turned out a little larger than I might have liked (possibly to my wimpish self only steam blocking it), that’s just an excuse to make a shawl pin (*hat tip to a certain Twitter Knitter*). This calls for those deep pinky-purple Czech beads I’ve been saving for that perfect project..

Anyway, take a shufti below. Isn’t this a great shot?

Ringsend Cowl- isn't she an aul' beaut?

Styling and photography by Julie of Half A Dream Away.

I plan to make it again, but this time in Purple Mystery. And yes, I’ll make another shawl pin..

end of an era? p’shaw!*

August 17, 2011

(*meant to be phonetic rendering of a scoff, but probably more reminiscent of a 70s free nine piece jazz band from Metz)

At the end of this month (Saturday 27th), I will be leaving DesignerMart at Cow’s Lane after three and a half years. Considering how much DesignerMart has been a part of my life since 2008, it would be a little odd not to acknowledge it here.

It is a wrench leaving, primarily for the amazing friends I have made during my time there. There is a small list of things I won’t miss:

– the fickleness of the weather gods (I swear, at times you’d think Cow’s Lane had its own weather system unrelated to anywhere else in Dublin let alone Dame St up at the top);

– those early starts on a Saturday morning (when I am *delicate pause* not at my finest)

But those things are far outweighed by the amazing friendship and cameraderie I found at Cow’s Lane. I have worked with a rare bunch of people there; I have waved some of them off with a lump in my throat. And now, it’s me.

I am currently working on some crafty ventures that you’ll be seeing more of in the coming months- there’ll be plenty of hints and previews on this very blog. After years of outdoor markets and craft fairs, I am now working on something a little different, and I love the challenge.

To all my wonderful customers at Cow’s Lane over the years, I hope you enjoy my wee treasures as much as I enjoyed making them. Thank you for all your kind comments, your great stories and your custom. It won’t be long before you’ll see even more WaterMemory wares.

To all of you reading (and a special hello to FB friends and Twitterites!), thanks for your great support, your kind words and your encouragement. Onward and upward, mar a deirtear!

hello there, 2011

January 4, 2011

After a New Year’s Eve involving a surfeit of my fizzydelicious poison (Club Orange with a chaser a’ tay, in the time-honoured fashion of my mid-wesht forebears), my thoughts on New Year’s Day were roughly along the following lines:

– Ugh. Is it possible to hear scraping sounds coming from your eyelids when you open your eyes first thing?

– Can’t be all bad. Haven’t I got that cardigan to finish?

Have a very crafty New Year, folks- over here it’s the Year of Craft and boy howdy, my crafting counterparts and I plan to make the most of it.

Have you any resolutions of a crafty bent? I don’t tend to make them, and the closest I have is to never have a day go by where I haven’t made something, learnt something new or both. I liked some of the ideas in this post from the Crochet Me blog. A new technique, perhaps? Is this the year I shall conquer tatting after all?

..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!

one of these days..

July 7, 2010

One of these days, I swear I will make a piece according to a pattern that I stick to, damnit.

That’s right- I decided to lengthen the Featherweight Cardigan. Why must I always fiddle with the perfectly good instructions, eh?

(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

Phew!

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.)