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Whatever Happened to Dublin’s Wool Shops?

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I have been thinking lately about the wool shops located in and around Dublin, and it worries me that a few have closed in the past year or so. The closures may be linked to the recovering economy. During the recession, DIY and craft activities surged in popularity, but they may be losing ground now that some people have a bit more money to spare. However, when I did a bit more thinking, I realised that there are still several lovely knitting shops within a reasonable range, many of which we have visited on our perambulations around the city. Here is a quick wool shop report for anyone looking for inspiration in the wider Dublin area.

Woolly Snood

Wool from ‘Take me Home’

The two branches of a very nice craft and home decor shop called Take Me Home have shut down, one in Nutgrove and one in the old Dundrum Shopping Centre. The unit in Nutgrove has been filled by Tiger, while the premises in Dundrum is now home to a different kind of needle, in the form of an acupuncture clinic. I was surprised when these shops closed, as whenever I was in the Nutgrove branch it seemed quite popular. On the other hand, the Dundrum shop was much smaller and always quiet. I bought the wool for my snood (see picture above) in this branch and the staff were very nice and helpful.

This is Knit

All sorts of wool

Another sad closure was that of Knit’nd Make, which was a wool shop in the Swan Centre in Rathmines. Although very small, it was packed full of wool in a riot of colour. In my opinion, this was an attractive little shop that was an asset to the shopping centre, and I think it’s a real pity that it is no longer open. Now, the premises has been incorporated into the one next door and is occupied by yet another branch of Tiger.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Tiger is a great shop. It’s very useful and it does sell some wool and craft supplies such as ribbon and sequins. However, for quantity and variety, its wool section can’t be compared to a proper knitting shop, so I can’t help wishing it would stop expanding and pushing out other shops. Also, the health food shop opposite to Knit’nd Make used to provide space for a knitting group run by the shop. I wonder what happened to knitting circle after the shop shut?

The Constant Knitter

Another lovely wool shop.

On the other hand, Dublin still has The Constant Knitter which is located on Francis Street, in an area known for its antiques shops. Another wool shop in the city centre is This is Knit in Powerscourt Town Centre. This shop is a decent size, but it’s often quite expensive to shop here. Of course, there is our old stand by, Hickeys, which is centrally located on Henry Street. Hickeys sells haberdashery, soft furnishings and craft items, but it also has an excellent wool section on the top floor.

A little further afield, there is Winnie’s Wool Wagon in Blackrock. I’ve never been to this shop but it has been highly recommended to me and, if the website is anything to judge by, its stock is very good. Although Bray is not in Dublin, but rather in Wicklow, I’m going to include Love to Knit, because it is one of my favourite knitting emporiums. Love to Knit is fairly small, a trait which is shared by most of these shops, but it has wool in every weight and colour imaginable. I don’t get to browse there as often as I’d like, but I definitely recommend it.

These shops also have a stock of knitting and crochet needles, row counters and other accessories, not to mention patterns and instruction books. Many of them offer knitting and crochet classes for a variety of ages and levels, as well as weekly or fortnightly knitting groups.

Love to Knit

Patterns galore from Love to Knit

Initially I was worried that Dublin’s knitting scene was is decline, but it seems I was wrong. There are quite a few wool shops out there, when you look hard enough for them! If you want to follow anything up, just click on the links for shop contact details.

Where is your favourite wool shop? Or have you visited any that I’ve mentioned in this post? Drop us a line in the comment box…

Shop Picture Credits: the wool shop websites (see links above)

 

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Winter knitting

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My latest project is a snood, practical now the weather is getting colder. Incidentally, isn’t ‘snood’ a lovely sounding word? I like it more than ‘cowl’ or ‘scarf’. Anyway, I found some really soft wool called Flutterby, which is very fluffy and warm. It is quite chunky and knitted up very fast. I used a mix of white, brown and blue for the main part and edged it in a lemon colour. I knitted the whole thing in garter stitch as the colour and texture of the wool made it look interesting, as well as making it hard to knit cables, or anything more complicated.

Snood

Woolly winter warmth

I made it long enough to twist twice around my neck, but unfortunately it seems to have stretched somewhat and is now a bit too long. Width-wise, it has worked out nicely from twenty stitches. The texture of the wool meant that the ends frayed easily, which made it tricky to weave them in.

The edging, as I said, is in lemon coloured Flutterby and is crocheted. This is the first time I’ve tried crochet and I was very pleased with the result, apart from a couple of lumpy parts.

All in all, it makes a very cosy snood for the winter. I think I will try making another one, maybe in a lighter wool with some cables. If you know a good pattern, please drop us a line in the comment box!

Comfy Cushions and a Cosy Blanket

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 cushions and blanket

My four comfy cushions and my cosy blanket

This is my first post on this blog and the first ‘crafty’ post we’ve put up, so it’s kind of a round up of a few related projects I’ve been working on. As you can see from the picture, these are a blanket and four cushions. They each have their own story attached…

The blanket is the first one I’ll talk about and it is the one I’m the proudest of, although I have to say that I was pretty pleased with all of them! The blanket has eight colours of wool in it: rainbow, blue patterned, red patterned, two types of purple, yellow, green and a multicolour of mostly orange, pink, purple red and green. Eight colours times four of each colour is thirty two, so there’s thirty two squares. Needless to say, it did take me quite a while to make, but I have to admit that it took pretty near to a year to get it done. First I had to knit the squares, then iron them, then sew them them, and finally, stitch the edges with blanket stitch.

eight colour blanket

There’s eight colours in the blanket, you can see them all here

The first cushions that I made were the white and pink ones. Have you noticed how similar they look to t-shirts? That’s because they were t-shirts at one time! I found this upcycling idea in a craft book; if you have old and much-loved t-shirts, don’t consign them to the charity shop bag, give them a new lease of life by making them into cushions, that was the idea. It’s very simple because all you have to do is sew up the neck and arm holes, stuff it and sew up the bottom. Simplicity in itself.  The key is to stuff them really well, mine are a bit limp because I didn’t put a lot of stuffing in them and I’ve never got around to re-doing them.

Item number two is the gingham cushion. A product of Home Economics classes. This was done with a sewing machine, the t-shirt cushions were sewn by hand,  because I didn’t have a sewing machine at the time. Anyway, the cushion is blue gingham with a felt heart blanket stitched on and two cross stitch boxes. It’s probably fairly standard, but that doesn’t make it any less comfy!

French knitting cushion

This is my ‘work in progress’ cushion. The French knitting will be sewn into a coil and the back of the cushion will be made of the felted jumper.

The next one is the rectangular cushion of knitted squares. I have to admit that I can’t claim full credit for this one because I only knitted three of the squares (blue, pink and yellow and purple). These were kindly given to me by my Nan who thought I could do something with them. The squares were originally the beginnings of a blanket that had never been finished and there was already a strip of the squares sewn together (in such tiny stitches, I only realised they were there when I looked at the other side). Although I had the pattern for the squares and could have made more to complete the blanket, I quailed at the thought of making another blanket so soon after the first. Therefore, I decided to turn it into a cushion cover, using the existing strip of squares to determine the length and piecing the others together to fit. I added the three more that matched the sides and made it big enough for me to sew. This I did, and then finished the edge in purple blanket stitch (I’m a big fan of blanket stitch, it’s so useful). Due to its unusual shape, it seemed unlikely we would find a pad to fit it, so we cut up an old pillow instead and custom fitted the stuffing.

The final cushion I’m going to mention is a work in progress (WIP). It began when I started to make a random length of French knitting out of my wool scraps. This grew to about five metres long and has a diameter of 30 cm when it is coiled round itself. This is going to form the front of a cushion cover. The back will be a round piece cut and sewn onto it (probably in blanket stitch). This piece will be cut from an old jumper we felted some time ago but have not yet used. It’s a nice shade of red that I think will go with most of the colours on the front. I’ll  probably finish this cushion sometime in the summer.

Anyway, I’ve talked for long enough, what about you? Have you made any cool, creative cushions? Done any upcycling projects? If you have, we’d love to hear! If you haven’t ever made a cushion, it’s a really fun starter project, or a great way to use up spare ribbon, wool, felt, or anything really. Why not have a go, we think you could come up with something that is curiously creative!

 

 

 

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