Saturday, February 28, 2009

Impulse Purchase

After many months (perhaps it's been over a year?) of dreaming about making a particular purchase, I got a coupon in my email for free shipping. And it was already on sale for 40% off... so I acted on it before I could talk myself out of it.

There's a swift on the way. YAY!!!

Girls - I have a feeling it will make MS&W weekend a lot more fun because we'll spend less time dealing with knots. :)

Best. LYS Finder. Ever.

I found a new site the other day (new to me, anyway) and I am in deep smit with it. Like Ravelry, it feeds my love for all things organized. It's called KnitMap and it's a yarn store finder - but so much more than your average yarn store finder. You can rate and write reviews, upload photos, save favorites to your account and best of all - the site shows you on GoogleMaps where the store is!

I can't tell you how much time this is going to save me. In the past, before I'd leave to travel for work, I'd check a couple of yarn store directories, like SweaterBabe and Daily Knitter. I'd look through list and then go to the web sites of the stores to see if they looked interesting. Then, for the stores I wanted to visit, I'd enter the addresses in GoogleMap to see how far they were from my hotel. This actually took quite a bit of time to do and I would have to base my selection on which stores to visit on how I felt about the store's web site.

Now, thanks to KnitMap, I just type in a city and it shows me all the posted stores for that city, plus reviews, store hours, and a link to the store's website - all in one place. Just one click and I'm at GoogleMaps to type in my hotel and see if I'll be walking or taking a cab to the store. It's AWESOME!

In order to contribute to the site that has given me so much already, I've started uploading photos and writing reviews from my previous trips. I do hope they are of interest and/or use to other fiber fiends looking for a good LYS. That's why I posted them here on the blog. They should be of more help over at KnitMap. There is also a link to KnitMap on the side bar under "Other LYS I've Visited".

Check it out and add some feedback to any LYS you've visited.

Tiny Knitting

I haven't seen the movie Coraline, but I have heard all the buzz about the handmade knitted garments in the movie. Why hand-knitted? Because everything in the movie was made by hand - all the sets, all the figurines and all the costumes. A machine knitted item would not be allowed.

Althea Crome is the artist who knitted Coraline's sweater and gloves. To be truly awed by what Althea can do, you have to check out her web site, Bugknits. There is a video of her knitting with the tiniest needles ever. But wait until you check out her photo gallery. AMAZING! The smallest fair isle knits ever! I'm sure she is going to spark a whole new interest in miniature knitting.

Knit1fortheRoad has an excellent interview with Althea and you can learn how she got the job and how it changed her life. I really enjoyed reading her comments about it never being to late to follow your passion. There's hope that I'll break the bonds of my cubicle prison and have my own LYS someday!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Completed Project: Shades of Irish Green Baby Blanket

It was started in Ireland and completed in Maryland.

Irish Green Blanket 03

Irish Green Blanket 05

I used Vanna's Choice yarn and modified the Shaded Blanket pattern. The finished size is about 24" x 28". As always, full details can be found on Ravelry.

This blanket was completed plenty early since it doesn't have to be shipped off to South Carolina until early April. I'm happy to finally have a project done early - and another item crossed off my crafty resolution list.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

San Francisco LYS

As hoped, I did make it to two LYS while in San Francisco last week.

My first stop was Noe Knit located at 3957 24th Street.

Noe Knit in San Francisco

Click here for an interior photo.

Super cute shop with lots of yarn, notions and books. I was immediately drawn to some beautiful sock yarn, but I saw that it was from a company in New York. I didn't want to buy New York yarn while in San Francisco, so I continued looking at the rest of the yarn for sale. The shelves were organized by yarn weight which was very helpful and the selection was quite extensive. I found other yarns I liked, but I kept thinking about the sock yarn. I finally asked the sales associate (who was super-friendly) if they carried any San Francisco based or made or dyed yarns. She said they didn't and I was super excited about to hear it. Why??

Because it meant that it was okay for me to buy the New York sock yarn!!!

Schaefer Anne Sock Yarn 1
Schaefer Anne Sock Yarn 2

It's Anne sock yarn by Schaefer Yarn Company. So fabulous! I bought just the one skein but I wanted to show both sides of it. The oranges and greens melt into the slate blue-gray. It so reminded me of a pumpkin patch I had to have it.

With more sock yarn, I guess I really have to sit down and start learning how to knit socks, huh?

Next, I walked the less than one mile to ImagiKnit located at 3897 18th St. (18th and Sanchez).

Imagiknit in San Francisco

The entry to the store is under the sign on the right of the photo. I was absolutely awed by what lay inside that door. Two large rooms with shelf upon shelf, from floor to ceiling, of fabulous yarn. From expensive yarns to specialty yarns to yarns I'd never seen before. It was a bit overwhelming but oh, so fun. Click here for some interior views.

I must've been in the store for a good 45 minutes, all told. The store was quiet for a Thursday afternoon so I wasn't competing with other yarniacs. The store staff was quite friendly, too. I found so many yarns I wanted and, as usual, they were all quite expensive. I finally decided on just two skeins - not for lack of selection, but for the sake of my wallet.

I got a skein of Crystal Palace Panda Silk yarn in these gorgeous fern tones. I thought it might be perfect for knitting some booties to go along with the Shades of Irish Green baby blanket. I also bought some bamboo knitting needles size 6 (also in this picture) which allowed me to do a quick swatch of the yarn. I :heart: it!

Crystal Palace Panda Silk Yarn 1
Crystal Palace Panda Silk Yarn 2

This was my other purchase that I just had to's hot pink yak yarn!

Shokay Yak Bamboo Yarn 2
Shokay Yak Bamboo Yarn 1

Okay - technically, it's 75% yak and 25% bamboo and the colorway is called Strawberry. But it's hot pink yak yarn to me!

The company that makes it is Shokay and the fibers are hand-combed from the yaks by Tibetan herders. In addition to being a beautiful color and suprisingly soft, it's socially responsible yarn! As per the company website,

"By introducing luxury yak down to the global market, we hope to create a market for yak fiber, thus increasing the value of the raw fiber to provide herders with long-term employment and a greater sustainable income."

I have absolutely no idea what I'll make with it...though this little stuffed yak seems appropriate.

While ImagiKnit had more yarn selection, I still loved Noe Knit and it's zen atmosphere. I'd highly recommend that if you're in San Francisco to check out both of them. And if you can get your hands on some Shokay yak yarn, I'd highly recommend that, too!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Call of the Open Road

Tomorrow I'm off to Cal-i-forn-i-a for some sun, fun and relaxation!

Just kidding. I'm heading there for work. San Francisco to be exact (sorry I can't visit you, Mistress). While the trip out there will be long and the meeting I have to attend will be less than exciting (it's still work), I do have two local yarn shops near my hotel to keep the trip fun.

And by near, I mean a short cab ride away. Unless I somehow figure out how to use the buses but I doubt that will happen.

Here's where I'm hoping to go:

Noe Knit



While I definitely don't need any more yarn, I've been told numerous times that souvenir yarn does not count.

I should have some reviews for you this weekend after I return home (most likely with a few purchases).

Monday, February 16, 2009

Feeling Crafty

I've got the crafty bug gnawing at me. It's like an infestation in my brain - all these projects swirling around, some to be completed, some to be started, and some to be planned out. Not all these projects are crocheting or knitting related either.

On Saturday, I headed over to Joann's to take advantage of their class open house where classes are 50% off if you signed up between 1-3 pm. Mark this one off my crafty resolution list - I signed up to take course 2 of Wilton Cake Decorating. I was going to sign up for 2 courses but I thought that might be a bit much as they would be the same 4 Saturdays - one at 9:30 am and one at 1:00 pm. That's just a bit too much cake and frosting preparation for me.

While I was at Joann's, I finally bought the fabric I've been thinking about for months. I had picked up a swatch of it back in the fall, hoping to use it to make curtains for the craft room. But as I have never made curtains before (besides the fabric I "sewed" together using safety pins to make curtains in college), I needed to figure out how much material I would need and what all would be involved. I did the measuring and understood only most of the terms used in the online instructions/tips. I decided to just wing it and get 6 yards of material. Here's what it looks like...

Curtain Fabric 1
Curtain Fabric Close Up

Can you see why I fell in love with it? I'm a sucker for paisley and with these beautiful shades of green and blue and a hint of silver sparkles, I just had to have it. You can click on it to see a larger version.

One thing that I did not notice in the store was the pattern on the back of the material. It's got these flowers and vines in white and sometimes the flowers show up as ghost images on the paisley side. (Click on photos to enlarge - there are a few to see as I don't know which will show up best on your monitor.)

Curtain Fabric 2
Curtain Fabric 3

Here's where you can see the ghost images on the paisley side.
Curtain Fabric 5

I was hoping to make the curtains this weekend, but here it is, almost noon on Monday, and I haven't started them. I'm actually quite close to finishing the Shades of Irish Green baby blanket and that may be the main project for today.

As you can imagine, even with the great sale on the fabric (50% off) and the class, it was a bit of a spending spree at Joann's. I also had to buy a curtain rod (50% off) and cake decorating materials for class (40% off with coupon). I do try to save money when I can.

Case in point - I needed another chair for the craft room so that Sean could also enjoy the room (he reads while I knit/crochet). We found one we liked at Home Decorators but it was $249. Not really a budget item and we couldn't try it out first in a store. So a couple weekends ago, we decided to check out the furniture liquidators place along Route 1. From the road, it looked like there was potential. When we got there, there was a ton of decent stuff and a ton of crap. They buy out furniture from 4- and 5-star hotels who are renovating. There were chairs and ottomans, desks and office chairs, bureaus and big gold mirrors, and shelves of coffee makers. Like I said, a lot of it was crap. Chipped, falling apart or just plain ugly. But a lot of the chairs had a lot of potential. We found this delightful armchair for the craft room for just $30. Yep - $30.

Bargain Chair

Another bargain item I bought a couple months ago was this cute little ArtBin. I got it for $7.99 from Joann's. It's the perfect size to store my current project plus it has a needle caddy and zippered pouches.

Art Bin

With the curtains and new chair, the next big items for the craft room will be a new cabinet (in which to store all my craft materials) and perhaps a rug. I also need to paint. But these additions and changes are slated for the late summer, early fall. I've got to start saving money for MS&W which is only 2 1/2 months away!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

New Project: Shades of Irish Green Baby Blanket

Here's the blanket I started in Ireland. It's for either Decklin or Saoirse who is due to make his or her appearance in May.

Irish Green Blanket 01

Not your average colors for a baby blanket, I know. But Mom and Dad, who love their Irish roots (as you can tell with the baby names), have requested a green blanket. Hence, I'm calling this project Shades of Irish Green. I'm using Vanna's Choice yarn in Olive, Fern, Kelly Green and Linen and the shaded blanket pattern (just like the baby ripple I made). I'm just using a different number of rows per color. More details on Ravelry.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Completed Project: Knitted Baby Blanket

It took a long time to complete, but I finally did it!

Ta-da! My first knitted baby blanket!

Knit Homespun Baby Blanket 6

Knit Homespun Baby Blanket 5

Knit Homespun Baby Blanket 7

Considering I frogged a bunch earlier in January, it's shocking I finished it on January 30th.

I ended up using 3 skeins of Homespun. The finished size was 31 1/2" by 37" - not exactly square but it worked out fine. More details are available on Ravelry.

I mailed this off to Edward last week and it should be keeping him warm as I write this....that is, if the postal service didn't lose it.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tales of Ireland - Part 3

After a lovely time in Blarney, we left for Waterford around 1:00 pm. No photos to share of the drive there because there was no scenery to speak of. The fog from the rain made the trip less than scenic, which was a shame as the drive involved many roads right near the coast. Oh well.

We made it in time for the last tour of the day at the Waterford Crystal Factory.

Waterford Crystal Factory

Sean and I had received a set of toasting glasses as part of our wedding reception package and his Mom gave us a set of signed candlestick holders as a wedding gift. But to be totally honest - I didn't really "get" the whole crystal thing. Yeah, it's pretty but why is it so expensive? After the tour at the factory, I now have an entirely new appreciation for Waterford crystal.

We had an excellent tour guide named Thomas. We were taken through the actually factory where artisans were hard at work creating pieces. First, molds are made in either cast iron or wood. Then the items are blown BY HAND into the molds. Here's a photo of one of the blown pieces.

Waterford Crystal Artisans

See the heat of the crystal? Amazing! After the crystal is cooled, it is scored to cut off the top (where the crystal met the end of the pipe). Then it is sent off to be carved - BY HAND.

Cutting Waterford Crystal

Yep - there's just this spinning saw and this guy cutting the patterns. No computers to measure the depth of the cuts - all by hand and most of it by memory (sometimes guidelines are drawn).

But then there were these guys. I was absolutely astounded at what they did. They work on adding handles to Lismore pitchers. Unlike other items, the handles for this pitcher are added after the carving is done. This, like the rest of the pitcher is done by hand. But this was amazing to watch....

Waterford Crystal Artisans - adding a handle

The guy on the left drips the hot crystal onto the pitcher and the other guy uses a tool to make ti the perfect shape. Consistent time and time again. AMAZING!

And how these guys are paid is by how many pieces make it through quality control. If the piece is cut wrong or the shape is off or it doesn't meet specification, no money. That is the ultimate motivator for good product. It takes years to learn the trade and become a crystal blower, cutter or handle maker.

Beyond those amazing skills are the staff members who make special carvings for trophies and commissioned pieces. Here's just a sample of some of their work.

Waterford Crystal Vase

Unlike the other employees, they get paid a salary because some of these commissioned pieces can take months to complete.

See why I have a new appreciation for Waterford? Sean and I bought two tumblers in our pattern - at a great price, too - and will even have them signed. I'm worried about some rumors I've heard that Waterford may close since people don't tend to by crystal during a recession. That and the formal china, silver and crystal doesn't grace the wedding registries of many modern couples who choose more affordable items instead. It would be such a shame for Waterford to close. They are true artisans and to lose their skill would be tragic.

That evening, we stayed in Kilkenny, arriving too late to really see much of the town we did find a way to check out a few pubs. The next day we hit the road again, this time for Newgrange.

Newgrange from Distance


More amazing craftsmanship - and this tomb was created before the pyramids in Gaza and the inner tomb has been watertight since then...without any kind of mortar! Just rocks laid on rocks laid on rocks.

Mother Nature was also feeling crafty - she created this gorgeous rainbow as we emerged from the tour of the tomb.

Rainbow at Newgrange

We then drove to Dublin to spend two wonderful nights at the Shelbourne. It is quite possibly the best hotel I have ever stayed in.

While in Dublin, I didn't find much in the way of yarn shops (none, in fact) but I did find a bit of craftiness in the last spot I would have thought to look for it.

We went to Kilmainham Gaol (pronounced 'jail'). The following is taken from Wikipedia on the subject: First built in 1796, it played an important part in Irish history, as many leaders of Irish rebellions were imprisoned and some executed in the jail. The leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising were held and executed there. There was no segregation of prisoners; men, women and children were incarcerated up to 5 in each cell. The jail was more for political and social crimes than basic thefts (though those criminals were also housed there).

The entire jail closed in 1924 but was reopened as a museum in the mid 1980's. Here's a photo from the last addition to the jail. This particular part of the jail has been featured in movies such as "Michael Collins" and "In the Name of the Father".

Kilmainham Gaol

In addition to the tour, Sean and I walked around the museum exhibits. There were artifacts of all kinds - letters sent and journals kept by prisoners, posters about the Easter uprising, photos and drawings from the different time periods ... then this caught my eye. Yes - a crocheted blouse made by a 17-year-old prisoner! Quite a cute pattern, I think.

Kilmainham Gaol Museum Display - Crocheted Blouse

Crocheted Blouse Details

We spent the evening in Dublin on a literary pub crawl which was excellent. But before we knew it, it was time to pack up the suitcases and get ready to head home. It was then when I realized I hadn't done a stitch of the blanket I wanted to work on while in Ireland. I quickly pulled out the skein of green and the size J crochet hook and made 10 chain stitches. Started in Ireland - it counts. (More on that project in another post.)

It was a wonderful trip to Ireland - for crafty and non-crafty reasons alike. Sean had such a good time that he's already planning a return trip, if possible this year. (He's quite the optimist.) I hope all have enjoyed these three posts about the trip...maybe there will be some more later this year after trip number 2! :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tales of Ireland - Part 2

The story continues...

Blarney Castle

Though the weather was gloomy and icy on Wednesday morning, the knowledge that a new US President was in office made it just a bit brighter outside. There was also the anticipation of getting to finally meet Jo from Celtic Memory Yarns. (If you haven't checked it out before, be sure to. It's a wonderful read!)

Jo was nice enough to take some time out of her very busy schedule and meet Sean and me at Blarney Castle in the morning. Because of the weather (spitting, icy rain - quite nasty really) we instead made our way over to Blarney Woollen Mills.

Side note before you get your hopes up - Blarney Woollen Mills is NOTHING like Kerry Woollen Mills. It is really more of a big department store full of woven wool garments, furniture, housewares, jewelry, and a wide, wide array of tourist type things (from Guinness to Waterford to 10 Euro t-shirts). If you're visiting Blarney, this is a fantastic place to buy all your knick knacks and thus maximize your VAT refund.

But back to the visit - We made our way upstairs to see what kind of yarn was around and, as Jo had warned me, Ireland has just not caught onto the yarn/knitting/crocheting craze as America has. It was actually quite sad, too, that a woollen mill wouldn't have much of a selection. Here's what was on display:

Yarn and Needles for sale at Blarney Woollen Mills

As you can see, close to empty shelves. That bit of colored yarn on the right is not even Irish. It's just mass produced yarn sold under an Irish company name. Disappointing and not even worth the purchase. There was also a table of large cones of undyed wool. Sadly those, too, were not worth the purchase.

Yarn for sale at Blarney Woollen Mills

One other item near the yarn display was this gigantic loom. Too bad it was really only for show. The yarn threaded on the loom was a bit dusty and out of place. I'm sure that back in the day, it was a wonderful loom that made beautiful things.

Loom at Blarney Woollen Mills

But not to fear - it was still worth the trip! Though it was a quick visit, it was so wonderful to meet you, Jo! If I ever get around to saving enough money to move to Ireland and open my own yarn shop, we'd have to get together more often. And if you're ever in the DC/Baltimore Maryland, it will be my turn to show you the sights. Plenty of local yarn stores to investigate in addition to the memorials and museums.

Jo and Sam at Yarn for sale at Blarney Woollen Mills

And not only was Jo generous with her time, she was so very, very generous with her gift of yarn. Three beautiful skeins of boucle and, to my absolute delight and amazement, a gorgeous skein of authentic, Celtic Memory hand-dyed sock yarn!

Needles and Yarn from Ireland

Here's a close up of the sock yarn. It's 50% superwash merino, 50% tencel and the photo does not do justice to the luscious greens of this skein of Sunlit Moss.

Celtic Memory Yarn

Jo - seriously - thank you so much!

I should note that I did bring a skein of yarn for Jo. I brought her the sister skein of the yarn that was the BUBBLES bubbles wrap. I know that in her capable and caring hands, that skein is destined for greatness.

After our quick visit, Jo was off to work and Sean and I walked around the store. A stated before, the yarn wasn't worth buying but I did get 2 sets of the big wooden needles. For just 5 Euro, I got a pair of 13 and 15. Even if I never use them, they look cool.

Needles from Ireland

I also had to take a photo of this for you to show you the fun display of fabulous sheep-themed stuff. I know you're shocked that I only came home with the Wacky Woollies pencil case.

Wacky Woolies and Black Sheep displays

I did get something else - and while I hate to ruin the surprise, I can't help but share of photo of my other purchase. Girls - here is this year's MS&W favor! One for each of you!

Sheep Wine Stoppers 3

There's something about knitting/crocheting and wine that just goes together so well. :)

Stay tuned - Part 3 of Tales from Ireland is in the works...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Tales of Ireland - Part 1

Ireland was - in one word - FANTASTIC. A week just wasn't enough for vacation, though Sean and I did our best to cram sights and fun into every minute we spent on the Emerald Isle.

While I took a ton of photos and had many great adventures throughout the country, I'll limit my discussion of it here on the blog to that which was relevant to craftiness.

We arrived at Shannon airport on Sunday, January 18. Due to the weather (rain and ice) we traded in the trip to the Cliffs of Mohr and instead went to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park.

Bunratty Castle

It was here that I had my first encounter with craftiness in Ireland. Inside one of the castle rooms was a swift and spinning wheel.

Swift and spinning wheel at Bunratty Castle

I do wonder if these items were original to the castle or not. Regardless, it was fun to see them be on display in the castle.

I made my first craft related purchase of the trip in the Bunratty Castle gift store. The shop was full of the usual tourist-type fare but I was immediately drawn to the display of colorful sheep. I just had to have this.

Sheep Pencil Case
Sheep Pencil Case - Original use

Why would I want a pencil case, you may be asking yourself. I didn't see a pencil case, I saw it's true potential. Behold! The best crochet hook case ever!

Sheep Pencil Case - Preferred Use

Later that evening, with the excitement of my new crochet hook case in my head, I had hoped to get started on my next crochet project. But the jet lag was rearing it's ugly head. In the hopes of getting some much needed caffeine into my system, I opted to enjoy a cup of coffee and read the local paper.

Coffee and the news in Ireland

On Monday, we jumped in the car and headed down to Killarney. It was here that we encountered our first real snowfall for the year.

Winter weather in Ireland

The roads were even worse when we made our way from Killarney to Midleton on Tuesday. The locals said it was the worse winter weather in decades. Weren't we so lucky to get to experience it?

But I'm jumping ahead...

When we got to Killarney, we drove onto the grounds of the Europe Hotel for a glimpse of the lake up close.


Right across the roadway from this scenic view of the lake was a field full of sheep. This one sheep was right near the fence so I walked up to take a photo. He quickly ran away with a quick bleat of annoyance. I then waited with my camera pointed on him. He refused to look at me. "C'mon, little guy," I nudged. He did eventually humor me.

Sheep in Killarney

Next stop was the Kerry Woollen Mills. Hidden from the main roads, I was so very excited to have not encountered any big vehicles on our drive to the mill. The mill has been in business for over 200 years.

Kerry Woollen Mills outside Killarney

Sadly, this was the only photo I took while at the mill. I know - BAD, SAM! But I was just so preoccupied with the contents of the little mill store that I completely forgot to photograph the interior. I hope my description will suffice.

We walked into the courtyard and were met by the friendliest little feline. He or she was black and white and had this pathetic little meow that you could barely hear. It was as though s/he had a sore throat and could not muster more than a scratchy hello. S/he made his way over and was delighted when I extended my hand. Such a nuzzler, that one. I haven't been a cat person in a number of years but this little guy/girl was just too cute.

The little cat followed us into the one room store of the mill. It was a long room filled with lots of sweaters in numerous colors, piles of woven blankets and a significant number of shelves filled with yarn. The room smelled of wool - clean, not dirty - but definitely "sheepy". It was modest and lovely in the presentation of goods. No fancy lighting or slick signs. The prices and descriptions were hand written on bright paper. The shelves were filled with some sort of logic if only to separate the sweaters from the blankets. There were also kilts and hats for sale as well as some sheep knick-knacks. It was truly charming. While the young girl who was working there needed some significant training in customer service, the little cat continued to be our tour guide. S/he weaved between my feet as I looked through sweaters for the right size and color. S/he followed us from section to section as we wove our way through the store. S/he was the perfect little tour guide and made us feel quite welcome in the store, even when the human employee did not.

We bought Sean's Mom a hand-knitted, 100% wool, traditional Irish sweater for her birthday.

Kerry Woollen Mills Sweater
Kerry Woollen Mills Sweater detail 1Kerry Woollen Mills Sweater detail 2

I bought myself a sweater - though not hand knit and with a blend of cotton. It is the best sweater I've ever owned. So warm and comfy, a perfect shade of green, and it smells like real wool. Which it is. But you know what I mean.

Kerry Woollen Mills Yarn and Sweater

You'll also see my other acquisition from Kerry Woollen Mills. Some fabulous green Aran wool yarn.

Kerry Woollen Mills Yarn
Kerry Woollen Mills Yarn detail 1Kerry Woollen Mills Yarn detail 2

I still need to decide what I'll actually make with this fabulous yarn. But if it just stays as a skein of souvenir yarn, that will be cool, too.

Later that day, we made our way over to the Muckross House. Sadly, we arrived too late to get a tour of the interior of the house (guided tours only) but we did get to walk around the exterior. As you can see, the rain was unrelenting.

Sam at Muckross House

To escape the rain, we went into the gift shop. It had the usual tourist-type selection. I was excited to see a display of mugs, each one displaying a particular hobby. From gardening to sewing, painting to birdwatching but not a mug for knitting or crocheting. I would have spent a few Euros if they were there. Combining my love of coffee with my love of crocheting and knitting is an easy sell for me.

Adjacent to the gift shop was the Mucros Weaving Studio. There was a large loom in the middle of the room and a few work tables around the periphery.

Weaving Studio at Muckross House

I looked around the room at the garments and scarves for sale. I was not impressed at all. The designs were too simple and the color selections were boring. The yarn used was unimpressive. It all seemed to be synthetic and cheap. Did I mention how freakin' expensive everything was? There was nothing I found impressive in the shop at all. (Seriously - Queen - you need to sell your woven scarves. You could make a fortune!) Needless to say, I didn't buy anything.

After a wonderful night enjoying authentic Irish music in Killarney, Sean and I made the trip to Midleton to the Jameson Distillery. We then made the trip up to Blarney where we spent the evening at Muskerry Arms where we watched the end of an error as President Obama was sworn into office. It was a wonderful evening!

Stay tuned - Part 2 of Tales from Ireland will be posted soon!