If You Are Connie Or Ciara–Avert Your Eyes–Roomie Socks

In between my mountains of Christmas sweater knitting I tossed in a couple of pairs of socks for my roommates. They have been really great this semester and have taught me more about the Irish culture than I would have ever found out on my own. We are in the midst of finals torture right now so hopefully these little socks and some chocolate will make the perfect you-made-it-through-the-semester-now-take-some-time-off, Christmas gift.





The Aran Islands

Last Friday I skipped the last day of class to explore the main island of the Aran Islands Inis Mor. I hadn’t been out on a tourist adventure for some time and desperately needed to get away from the impending pressure of Final essays for a few hours. I woke up at seven that Friday morning and it was as dark as I had woken at three in the morning instead. The lack of sun in the winter is something I both appreciate and detest. I love that it stays cool and dark deep into the morning hours and then sets when I’m ready to relax for the day around four or five in afternoon but waking up when it is still dark will always fill me with confusion and dread.

The journey to the island was not a short one. It began with a thirty minute power-walk, carried on with an hour long bus ride, and then an hour long ferry ride. For those who know me well, they know I am not a huge fan of boats in general but I learned to trust the ferry once we began moving. The weather was crisp and clear so I had the opportunity to check out the Galway/Connemara coastline from the deck of the boat.

Once we arrived on the island I decided to rent a bike and break away from the group I came with and explore the mid range trail on my own. The trail was about 10km in length, so relatively short, but the majority of it was at a steep incline on a rocky, muddy, cow poopy, path. Of course this meant I had to push my bicycle uphill for about forty-five minutes of walking. The trail wound through cow and donkey pastures and I still cannot get the judging looks of the cattle out of my mind as they watched me slowly push my bicycle up the hill while eating gummy bears.

I have never felt so small as I did when I reached the top of the hill. Though the island is only about ten miles in length the landscape is woven with famine walls, vegetation, massive cattle, and is edged with cliffs. All of these things combine to remind you how miniscule you are in the grand scheme of things. If a tiny island off of the coast of another tiny island makes you feel small then by god you are mighty small indeed.

After I finished the trail I headed back to the little village to explore and find some food. The town seemed deserted and every restaurant was empty. After a weird lunch in an empty pub that smelled of pine sol and stagnant water I went off on my bike to circle the village once more. I stopped at the Aran Sweater Market and touched every piece of textile in the building. The upper level was all hand knit pieces made by artisans of the islands the bottom level was packed with machine knit beauties and rugged Aran weight yarn from Kerry Woolen mills, an old and still functioning wool mill in County Kerry. Of course, I had to have a couple of skeins to play with on my own.

The little village on the island really isn’t much to look at but I did manage to find a cafe that made the best mocha I’ve had since I left the USA. It was deliciously bitter and the foam was solid and warm. The cafe was super tiny, warm and full of locals. It was the perfect way to close out the day.

Knitting and Stitching Show Highlights

Over the summer I started researching fiber related fun things to see and do while in Ireland and I found the Knitting and Stitching show. I have literally been looking forward to this crafty festival since July and it did not disappoint.

DSCN0737My day began at six in the morning so I could catch the seven thirty bus from Galway to Dublin and arrive in the city by eleven. After I made it to Dublin I caught a cab to RDS and ended up having a fabulous conversation with the driver. I told him where I was heading and he replied, “Ah, you’re going for the wool then yeah? My mother used to own a wool shop when I was a kid.” I had hit the cab driver jackpot so we spent the fifteen minute drive chatting about knitterly goodness and the amazing things his mother used to make for him and his brother when they were children.

DSCN0733When I arrived to the show I was blown away by the number of vendors and the number of people already packed into the building. I have only been to one other knit festival, the Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago which is wonderful but doesn’t hold a candle to the Knitting and Stitching show in the sheer number or booths.


DSCN0743I spent the first hour examining all the galleries and chatting with the artists who made the exhibits possible. One woman had just finished an arts degree in a design school and had spun paper maps into yarn on her drop spindle and then hand wove the yarn into small sculptural pieces and wall hangings. Another woman had a lovely display of pieces made from fabric that she designed herself. Her website is www.subadesigns.com. Seeing all of these amazing textile related art pieces has made me really consider a degree in textiles and design.


DSCN0766Once I had finished gawking at all the artwork it was time to shop and by that time the entire building was packed. It took ages to walk anywhere and I was constantly hitting someone with my backpack (sorry to anyone I may have injured along the way). My two favorite booths were Coolree, a hand dyed luxury wool company from Wexford Ireland and Oliver Twists, a hand dyed wool and silk fiber company from the UK. I spent a lot of time petting all of the things in these two booths and would have stayed all day if my wallet would have let me. Unfortunately I didn’t purchase anything from Coolree because it was sadly out of my college student price range but I plan on buying from them in the future. I did buy DSCN0769two 50 gram bundles of BFL fiber from Oliver Twists and a couple of bits of their dyed silk. I’ve never spun any silk before and the silk bits were .18 cents per gram so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it.

I had an amazing time taking everything in at the show and can’t wait for my next opportunity to attend another fiber arts filled festival. For now I’m going to enjoy my new fiber and new batch of crafty inspiration.

Catching Up

Last week my good friend Lara joined me in Galway for a weekend of exploring, pub hopping, and sweater shopping. Lara was a German foreign exchange student at my high school when I was a junior and over that year we became great friends and it was so exciting to reunite with her after three years of separation! We spent some time in Galway and then embarked together on a journey to Dublin for a couple of days. We had a fabulous time catching up, walking around the city, and eating amazing food.
The next time I will be in Dublin will be for the Knitting and Stitching Show!

On the knitting front, thanks so much for all of the lovely comments on my last sweater post! I want to update you all on my latest progress on Sweater #2 Jared Flood’s Slade. I have chosen this yarn.


It is an aran weight charcoal toned tweed. It is 75% acrylic and 25% British wool. The resulting fabric is really fun but still very sophisticated and smooth. So far I have finished the back and left front pieces of the sweater with the right front soon to be completed as well. I can’t wait to see this piece all worked up! I’m a sucker for simple cardigans.

DSCN0668I’ve also managed to make some major headway with my socks in progress (for my boyfriend). I mainly knit on these whenever I am away from my home base so they have been knit with stolen time between classes, at my knit group, and at cafes alongside a pot of tea. They have been a lovely companion project that I can rely on to entertain me when I have some down time. They also have been in progress since the day I left the US so I am ready to complete them and ship them to their recipient.

For Green Mountain Majesties

I spent last Saturday on a tour of the Connemara area of Ireland with the main stop of the day being Kylemore Abbey, a castle turned nun-run boarding school.

DSCN0430The absolute beauty of this area is unmatched by anywhere I have ever seen. The pictures I have here do it absolutely no justice. The tour guide pulled the bus over in the middle of nowhere and we all got out to see the land up close. It was unreal. I felt like I was in a dream concocted by a painter obsessed with the surreal. The level of emerald all around was blinding and the fog that hung around the tips of the mountains strengthened the dreamlike quality of it all. The only thing that allowed me to believe that what I was seeing was real was the abundance of sheep excrement that surely wouldn’t exist in a dream. The mountains and the countryside belong to the sheep not towns or villages. Though there are a few farmhouses in the area, they don’t seem important.

DSCN0587Kylemore Abbey originally known as Kylemore Castle was built by Mitchell Henry for wife Margaret and family. The couple were known to be the nicest people in the area and people flocked to the castle to be employed by a kind family. When Margaret died Mitchell had a Gothic church built in her honor and a mausoleum crafted to hold her remains. The common folk lore is that if you are truly in love, you will feel love resonating within the church as Mitchell truly adored his wife and wanted to honor her with a beautiful building. After Mitchell left the estate it was bought by a group of Benedictine nuns in 1920 who transformed the luxurious estate into an all girls boarding school. The school remained open until 2010.

DSCN0567Though I saw great things on this tour and the last I think this was my last guided tour. When we were out in the mountains among the sheep and the fog all I wanted was to walk around and explore on my own but we were only allotted a few moments there. This scheduled exploration is not my ideal way to see the world. I like to make the decisions and have a hard time relinquishing that organizational control to someone else.

Next on my list to see is the Aran Islands. I hope to rent a bike and do my own tour of the sights and decide on my own how much of each thing I want to see.

To my knitting readers, the sheep that populated the area were sadly not wool bearing sheep. The majority of the sheep are for meat. I know, I was disappointed too.

Knitter Dreams

After a horrid day of walking in the cold wind and rain and then realizing that the sweater I am a quarter done with isn’t going to quite fit its recipient I decided to spend the evening dreaming instead of ripping out what I have done or altering it beyond the original pattern.

First off, I have studied the Dublin Knitting and Stitching homepage extensively this afternoon and I could not be more excited. I was planning on just going for a day but I may have to break out the big bucks and stay for both Saturday and Sunday. I can’t wait to see all of the galleries and of course the miles of exhibitors. I’ve only been to one other fiber-y event (Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago) and it was marvelous. This show seems to be on an entirely different scale so I cannot wait to see what it has in store.

Somehow I’ve also managed to spend a copious amount of time on Pinterest today scouring boards for cozy items to add to my already gigantic queue. Here are a few of my favorites.

Cool Winter Cardigan by Anna and Heidi Pickles




PipiBird’s Frosting


Clearly I’m still in a neutral toned frenzy. My heart is begging me to make a baggy saggy garment to curl up in during class but I know I have to finish my unselfish knitting first! Also those cables are the essence of winter wear.

Anyways, that is enough dreaming for now. I need to go solve my sweater problem before it turns into something even more unfortunate.

The Bay, The Cliffs, The Strangeness

I’m used to being alone. I spent a lot of time absorbed in solitary activities as a kid and even more time alone when I began college. When I began college I found that I had a great time exploring new places by myself and figuring out life on my own time. Now that I am in an entirely different college environment here in Galway I find that I still love to explore on my own but  am really missing my favorite people. I am constantly wishing that my boyfriend and family were here to see all of this with me. Alone time is great but when you have no one close to share these incredible things with it gets old very quickly.

With that said the past two Saturdays have been spent seeing some of the most spectacular things I will ever see in my life. Though it pains me that I can’t share this personally with the people I love most I am glad to have been able to see these things at all.

Inside a massive shopping centre on Shop Street.

Inside a massive shopping centre on Shop Street.

Last Saturday I walked the 3km to Galway Bay with a few detours along the pedestrian only, Shop Street. First of all, Saturdays in the city of Galway are pretty impressive for such a small (by comparison to Chicago) city. Shop street is packed with tourists from every country, locals, musicians, human statues, students, and elderly couples out for a stroll. The restaurants nearby are obviously overflowing with patrons and the street air smells of powerful coffee, fresh grilled fish, seasonings from around the world, and hearty stews. Laughter leaks out of these pubs and cafes and infects the bystanders outside.

The last remaining bit of the Galway city wall.

The last remaining bit of the Galway city wall.

Once you step off this street the mood shifts. It is still jovial and comforting but the press of people is gone and so are the dueling scents. The calm that the mild weather of Ireland creates returns and it is easy to lose yourself in thought since there is no bright sunshine to distract you from the conversation in your head. At the end of this street lies the Galway Bay and the last remaining bit of the original city wall. As you transition from the over stimulating consumer-focused environment of Shop Street to the historical and natural environment that is the bay area it is jarring to say the least.

The first view of the Galway Bay.

The first view of the Galway Bay.

From what I have seen this clash of old world versus new is the way the entire country is. This is a country of immense history and natural beauty and luckily a lot of that has been preserved. Seeing so much of this then makes coming across McDonald’s and giant shopping centers all the more strange.

I spent a couple of hours around the bay just soaking in the random bits of sun, watching the father and his daughter feed the gulls bits of bread and the older gentleman walking with his sausage shaped dog.

The Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher

After a stressful week of my first classes at the university I needed a break from the city and being lost on campus. A week of being lost for at least half of each day can frazzle your brain like nothing else. I decided to get out of the city and take a tour of the Cliffs of Moher.

I ended up on the same bus as a group of 10 year old Italian children on a school trip. They had no interest at all of the history the driver was spewing at us on our extended journey. I had to force my ears to hone in on his voice over the intercom so the details of everything I saw are a little bit hazy.

Rural Ireland

Rural Ireland

I went on the tour by myself and expected to spend much of my time in solitude taking all of the sights in but I ended up striking up a partnership with an older Turkish woman named Ria. She was in Galway to visit her son, an electrical engineer. She was alone also as her son ended up not wanting to go on the tour with her. Though we had some language barriers to break through we had a lovely time eating lunch together at the designated lunch stop and fighting the huge gusts of winds at the Cliffs of Moher. Her pink polka dot umbrella was our only casualty.

The High Cross

Kilfenora Celtic Crosses

The Cliffs and other stops along the tour really cannot be described well by words as it was all an experience that had to be seen to be believed. I will say that the rural pieces of Ireland we toured through were so astounding in their lack of modernity. The streets were old and winding and the buildings were crooked yet solid. Years of hard work and oppressive history went into crafting these places and I am so glad to have seen all that I did.

My time in Galway so far has brought every range of emotion. I am still looking for that cliche enlightenment that so many students have when they study abroad but I’m not keeping my hopes up for it to happen anytime soon. I am torn between wanting to go home immediately and staying here forever to see

Dunguaire Castle

Dunguaire Castle

as much of the country as I can on my own schedule. For now I will stay here and chip away at my reading list for class, missing the people dear to me, and seeing as much of Ireland as I can.

Let The Sweater Knitting Begin

Here in Galway, the weather is cold, damp and downright fall like. The cooler it is the larger the knitted pieces I want to make. While everyone I know at home is suffering through 100 degree plus weather I am enjoying a drizzly extended stay in one of the many knitter paradises around the world.

I promised my family I would make them all sweaters this year for Christmas (or birthday in the case of my sister) so it is time to begin. Within about three and a half months I have to knock out two adult sweaters and one brother sized sweater along with a couple of pairs of socks.

My family just moved to Wyoming so they are going to be needing some extremely warm sweaters to combat the fierce winds out there. These sweaters should do the trick since they will all be knit from a 20% Irish wool 80% acrylic blend yarn. They need warmth, durability, and machine washable capabilities so this yarn should work just fine.

Here are the sweaters I am going to be making.

For my Mom: Zephyr by Tori Gurbisz in a similar taupe color. This should be quite versatile and layer-able.


For my Dad: Slade by Michelle Wang in a heather-y black or deep green. The new Brooklyn Tweed collection is the best smattering of men’s patterns I have ever seen. If I had the time I would make all of the pieces for both my dad and boyfriend.


For my Brother: Shapely Boyfriend by Stephanie Japel in a deep green color. Of course this is going to need a lot of alterations to make a suitable boy’s sweater. There are next to no simple boys cardigan patterns available so I will be using this as a base.


Then if I have time I’d love to whip up this simple pullover entitled Brick by Clare Lee for myself in a cream Irish tweed.


This list is pretty ambitious but I’m hoping they will all go quickly thanks to the worsted and aran yarn weights they call for. Now to head to the yarn store and pick up my materials!




From Wyoming to Ireland


This gallery contains 24 photos.

The month of August has been nothing but nonstop motion. I have been ping ponging around the world from Wisconsin to Illinois to Wyoming to Illinois once more and then finally to Galway, Ireland. All of this constant moving has … Continue reading