knitting it up in a big way

Tag Archives: travel

Coming up on the anniversary of my trip to Ireland has me thinking about it more than usual. I will say, however, that I think of this trip very very frequently. I had such an excellent and amazing time. I would go back to Ireland tomorrow. I’d go back to Ireland last month. I was ready to go back to Ireland as soon as I’d recovered from jet lag.

This will be a bit of a massive post, kind of like my post on Bristol. There were many things that I don’t need to go as far into detail about, but you might like to know about!

Avoca– a beautiful shop with a cafe on the top floor. Avoca is probably historically most known for their woven wool items, as I believe they started as a mill. Their blankets were incredible, bright and modern but totally classic at the same time. They sell many other things, I coveted all of their womens clothing but even on my tourist budget (much more liberal than usual) it was a stretch. We ate a delicious lunch here and purchased a few small things. This is a chain, I know there are several more locations throughout Ireland.

avoca lunch
my duck confit salad and the fancy lemonade we shared

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one of my dublin to-do’s was the cake cafe. i heard about it from the design sponge dublin city guide, and from the first time i heard of it, i wanted to go there. a cafe dedicated to cakes? it just sounds so delightful! and a peak at their website and offerings only supported the hypothesis that i would love it. so after my detour to this is knit, we decided to walk to the cake cafe for an afternoon pick me up. the majority of the walk was along a street that was busy and had lots of businesses and shops, but we turned off that road onto a rather residential looking street, and then turned again onto a narrow, almost alley-like street, with nary a soul (or business) to be seen. now, it wasn’t a long walk by any stretch, but it also wasn’t just around the corner. we were still pretty jet-laggy, compounded with the post lunch sleepies. grandma rita was gently dubious as we were finishing our walk towards this place; ‘eliza, are you sure you have the address correct?’ and i’m thinking ‘aw, crap, where exactly am i leading my grandmother and aunt in this foreign city? but, lo, at the end of the block and smallish sign beckoned:

(do you see what i mean about this looking a bit more like an alley?)

and so we proceeded. a mostly closed gate opened with a gentle push… and suddenly:


we were in a small courtyard, which abutted the promised cake cafe!


feeling much relieved that this place actually existed, and i didn’t seem to be inadvertently trespassing, we wandered inside to claim a table and ogle the cakes.



we ordered our teas and coffees, and decided to try their sample plate of cakes:


it was soooo good. i only really remember some kind of moist, not-overly-sweet courgette cake, the chocolate lace was really delicious, as was the brownie type thing. karen really liked the one with the candied fruit in it (names escape me, i’ll edit it in if i can get the name of it from her!). we ended up buying a book of their recipes to bring home, as well as two tea towels (the dublin and cork ones).

towards the end of our visit, we ended up striking up a conversation with a man who worked there or managed it, or was in some way affiliated with it (aren’t i specific and informed on the matter!). he asked if we were tourists, where we’d been and where we were going. we said we were going to be spending some time in galway and cork, and did he have any suggestions of where we should eat in either of those cities? without any hesitation at all, and quite enthusiastically, he told us to visit ard bia in galway, and cafe paradiso in cork. grandma jotted down their names for later reference, we visited both, and they were among the best meals we had in ireland!

so this little trip to the cake cafe, which started with such uncertainty, ended up being a total gem of the trip for us!



i’d heard about ‘this is knit’ from several different sources, so when i passed powerscourt centre, where it’s located, i decided to duck inside. my main yarn purchasing destination while in ireland was scheduled for the last stop on our trip, so i did try to show restraint in my yarn-y purchasings.


i really really like the aesthetic of shopping centers like this and i wish they were more prevalent in the united states, where the vast majority of shopping centers are huge ugly concrete boxes plopped unceremoniously into acres of unbeautiful asphault parking lots. of course smaller, independently owned stores, which yarn stores tend to be, rarely make appearances in malls anyways…


there were several really nice shops that i wandered through in search of ‘this is knit’, including a modern home goods store which had the knit doily inspired  platter pictured above.


onto ‘this is knit’!


because i was trying to be good, i only purchased a pattern book (colours of shetland, which i’ve been wanting since it’s release!) and a needle felting pen.


they had a section dedicated entirely to irish based indie yarn companies, featuring hedgehog fibres, and coolree, among others.


i have a special soft spot for cream tweeds. there’s something so luminous about them!



the yarn selection is downstairs, as are needles and sundries. upstairs is more of the class space, as well as most of the books.



the shop ladies were extremely kind and helpful, not only with shop related issues. i asked what else of note there was in powerscourt centre, and they told me that the cafe literally outside their door had the best sandwich in dublin (according to the sunday times), but unfortunately i had come to the yarn shop directly from lunch, with the intent to walk to the cake cafe after the yarn store (which the shop ladies were kind enough to help direct me towards), so i could not even contemplate eating a sandwich. i did grab a cup of earl grey to combat my afternoon lag, and that was quite nice!

when i travel, there are a couple of places that are on my default list of places to go: yarn stores (obvo), grocery stores, and libraries. and the long room of trinity library was definitely on my bucket list of library destinations.

this place made me feel like belle when she first saw beast’s library. or like i wanted to start waltzing around the place singing ‘i could’ve danced all night’. (although no one wants to see/hear that!)



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i thought this picture would be especially interesting to greta (who loaned me these boots), because she’s a woodworker, so i thought she would be as entranced as i was by these unusual cross-grain wooden hexagon tiles. which is maybe what got hexagon’s on my mind in the first place, influencing my decision a week later to start a crocheted hexagon blanket. i have now added a cross grain wooden hexagon tiled floor to my list of crazy amazing dream house wishes!


we were at trinity college to see the book of kells, which was high on all of our lists. all three of us could be very easily classified as book lovers. i don’t have any pictures of the book of kells, as photography was not allowed in the exhibit or of the book. there are loads of beautiful images available online, and it is a fascinating book, steeped in irish history. if you have any interest in the history of ireland or the vikings, calligraphy, historical illustration (it is arguably the highest example of illuminated text that exists, period), or important books, the history of bookmaking, christian or catholic religion, then this is really high on my list of recommendations.

i also watched the secret of kells before going on the trip. though it’s a fictional account of the history, it’s also gorgeously animated!

okay, all this talk and no pictures? this won’t do. here are a few images slurped from wikipedia commons:

i also have the tendency myself to get really attached to the idea of objects as conduits, as receptacles for people’s emotions and experiences, and thinking about all of the people who spent their lives and artistry dedicated to creating this absolutely amazing book, and those subsequent generations who used it as an object of devotion, a conduit of their faith, and all those who protected the book from destruction, time after time… well, i got a teensy bit emotional. i do mean a teensy, i wasn’t sobbing in the corner of the exhibit or anything, i was just a bit misty eyed while thinking of the careful hands tracing the words and illustrations i was looking at over a millennia ago.

we also visited the long room of the old library at trinity college, but i took SO MANY pictures of that, i think i pretty much have to separate it into a different post…

has anything you’ve visited as a tourist had an emotional impact on you?

i’m pretty sure this is on everyone’s radar for dublin, right? when in dublin, visit guinness. it was one of my grandma’s biggest priorities, and she is not a drinker, that’s how synonymous dublin and guinness are.







the museum is in the old storehouses of guinness, beautifully cleaned up and re-designed. it takes you through the process of making the iconic dublin beer, as well as the historical and cultural significance. i loved the aesthetic of the building, and most days i would have soaked in this information at a nice slow pace. but this day was our first in ireland, we’d come on a red eye flight, we were working with the piece meal amounts of sleep we’d managed to scrape together on the plane (not much), and a 6 hour time shift. this was not us at our optimal, information soaking prime. we managed the first two or three floors (of six, i think?) and then gave up on the museum part of the experience, and headed for the top floor, where they keep the bar with a 360 degree view of the city, and you get your complimentary pint of ‘the black stuff’.

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when i start thinking about writing posts about vacations, i always get caught up in how much i should try to encompass and how many resources i should reference and how all of my pictures should be perfect. and then i start procrastinating because that all sounds like a lot of work. so instead, i’ll just do this trip piece by piece.

one of the first ways i prepare for trips to completely new to me cities is by consulting design sponge to see if they have a city guide, and they do for dublin. my interest was immediately piqued when i read about the flea market, as it’s obviously an interest of mine! also, visiting the flea market in berlin was one of my favorite parts of that trip! when i read it only happened once a month, i deflated a bit, thinking the likeliness of our overlapping was slim. but it turned out it was happening the very day we got to dublin! so after checking in at the hotel and offloading our luggage, off we went to the flea market:


one among the many cool things about the dublin flea market: they hire a different artist to design each months poster! some are visible behind the whirlygig/machinery/puppet-y thing above. we ended up purchasing a collection of the first 50 turned into postcards. i intend to hang some up around the apartment. i’ll try to post a picture here when i have done.





(if buying this pouf didn’t also involve dragging it with me through two more cities and figuring out how to pack it for the plane, i totally would’ve bought this) Continue reading

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