Posted by: chiarraigrrl | March 27, 2020

Social distancing and local indies

Up front, I confess: I’m one of the lucky ones who still has a job, and instead of making a claim for unemployment, I’m working from home for the foreseeable future. Since I still have a relatively reliable source of income (we hope), I’ve been looking around for opportunities to help friends and small businesses that are having a bit more of a challenge right now. Since I’m sure there’s bound to be a few other people doing the same, I thought I’d put together a few links for places that might appreciate the support, and give us all a few things to do/listen to/read while we’re #workingfromhome.


SFR merch

Obviously I have to plug a favorite – Strange Famous Records of Providence, RI, the record label of Sage Francis (SFR founder and all-around Nice Guy) and B. Dolan, who both had several weeks’ worth of tour dates cancelled because of COVID-19, losing their investment and income. There’s something for everyone in the Strange Famous Records online store, and if you’re really not sure what to get I can heartily recommend an SFR record bag for your fashionable grocery shopping (at a careful distance from others, obviously). B. Dolan has also set up a Patreon, where you can support his work and get a bunch of fancy benefits for as little as $3/month.


I really feel like indie bookstores are killing it right now, but that might just be because I found Bookstore Twitter a few weeks ago and haven’t looked back (if you’re on Twitter, I recommend @GutterBookshop, @RavenBooks, @RavenBookStore, @PorterSquareBooks, and @Page1books to get you started). All of those Twitter links will give you a good idea of the businesses you’d be supporting (along with possibly a smile or laugh), and they have links to their web presence on their twitter pages.

Locally here in “the 518”, Open Door Bookstore is a delightful stop in Jay Street in Schenectady and their online store doesn’t disappoint. Similarly the BookHouse of Stuyvesant Plaza is an area treasure, and their customer service through the online store (with updates when books need to be ordered, etc.) is faultless. Print: A Bookstore in Portland, Maine, is another gem with excellent customer service.

Yarny goodnessLift Bridge Yarns

A couple of weeks ago I had the distinct pleasure of stopping in to Lift Bridge Yarns in Fairport, NY. The owner was friendly, and their selection – particularly of local, hand-dyed yarns, was excellent. They have what appears to be their full (gorgeous) selection in their online shop (which I just had to quickly back out of before I tripped and made a yarn purchase). Highly recommended.

A local favorite of mine is CeCe’s Wool, in Guilderland, which appears to have some of their stock available online (and would probably be willing to help with recommendations if you gave them a call). Likewise the Warm Ewe in Chatham, a warm and welcoming shop, doesn’t have more than a list of their brands online but is taking orders by email and voicemail.



A week ago Friday, with a little extra time on my hands (and a very small budget looking ahead to Vogue Knitting Live this past weekend), I decided it would probably be advantageous to have a long-overdue session of tossing the stash (which I first learned about by reading the Yarn Harlot’s blog). I took everything out of the baskets and containers the stash is usually stored in, had a good look (and a squish, thinking how lucky I am to have so many pretty yarns), and got it properly organized in more of a systematic way, so not only did I ascertain the health of my stash, but I also now am able to find specific yarns more easily. I have what I would consider to be a respectable but not a huge stash- it fits fairly comfortably into three laundry-hamper sized baskets and three shoebox-sized ones- but I certainly have enough knitting potential to keep me busy for a while.

I had been thinking recently that I’d really like to have another pair of handmade socks, but I hadn’t quite gotten around to fishing out any sock yarn or any of the couple of half-completed sock projects I was already aware of. In the process of tossing my stash, it turned out I didn’t need to. Knitters, I had not one but two pairs of socks that were almost completely finished apart from the last row or two and seaming the toe of the second sock. I must have gotten a serious case of second sockitis – twice! And I wouldn’t mind, but both pairs were gorgeous yarn. This one is a skein I picked up at the Perfect Blend Yarn and Tea Shop on an afternoon road trip in autumn 2015 (I still remember a lovely afternoon, complete with a walk out to the Saugerties Lighthouse).

Now I’ll have two pairs of new socks without very much effort at all! And it did help me reduce my interest in purchasing much at Vogue Knitting Live (and I had a wonderful time, squishing beautiful yarns, admiring other knitters’ handknits, chatting with a friend, and seeing the action on the Special Events Stage. I did buy 2 skeins rather than just the one, but I already have a project in mind and needed the extra yardage. Ahem.).

Posted by: chiarraigrrl | February 7, 2018

“Fancy knitting”


You may have heard about how knitting is good for your health in many ways, not least of which is in reducing stress. This week I’ve been carrying “fancy knitting” with me – I usually have a few projects on the go (surprise!) and some of them are more complicated than others. The complicated ones- where I’m trying a new technique, for example – are the ones I call “fancy knitting”. At the moment I’m attempting my very first cardigan – this is intended for a friend’s new arrival (coming in May). In the process I’m learning (on a very small scale) how to make a sweater, which is pretty exciting. Usually I would keep this at home for evening knitting, and work on the scarf I’ve been carrying around lately – but this week is full of meetings where I have to make arguments on behalf of my project team, or in other ways have often-frustrating work encounters – so it’s a week for carrying around “fancy knitting”. On my breaks I have something interesting, challenging (in a good way), and fun to focus on, which means by the time I get back to my desk I’m refreshed and ready to get back in the fight.

fancy knitting 2

Posted by: chiarraigrrl | January 23, 2018

Hello world

It’s been a while. For various reasons, posting wasn’t much of a priority – but I was chewing over a few things the last few days, and writing again has been niggling at me.

For some reason over the weekend, as I was recovering from a less-severe-than-it-might-have-been dose of ‘flu, I got caught in a loop of mentally rehashing an old argument with a former college friend. The injustice! The lack of consideration!

And then I stopped. First of all, if her actions had so consistently and clearly bothered me over an extended period of time, it was unlikely that our friendship was on solid footing to start with – or that the person she had become “aligned with my core values” (to steal a phrase from a very good budgeting article I read recently). Someone who posted (even just to friends) on social media about how much they “get PAID!” probably doesn’t have the same priorities (or salary, let’s be honest) as me. Enough. Time to let it go.

Secondly – was this how I wanted to spend my time and energy? I’m lucky to have really amazing, kind, smart, funny people in my life. I don’t need to chase after people that don’t really fit there anyway. There are lots of other things I’m occupied with – and goodness knows, if my time wasn’t already taken up in lots of ways, there are plenty of more productive ways to spend time and energy than rehashing an old argument.

And then there’s this. I saw this quote at work the other day, and thought it was a good thing to be reminded of – and to be conscious of, in terms of deciding how we spend our time: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Montgomery, Alabama, 1957

Posted by: chiarraigrrl | September 27, 2015

A few thoughts about birthdays

I had a conversation this week with an old acquaintance who expressed the opinion that “grown adults didn’t celebrate birthdays”. That seemed like a pretty unhappy way to go through life. Birthdays are a great opportunity to recognize a friend- to say “I see you, and I’m glad to know you, and I’m grateful you’re here”. It’s a good opportunity to let people know that they matter, and wish them happiness.

As for celebrating my own birthday- it’s the one day every year I absolutely take time off. I like to spend time with my mother, to thank her for all her kindness, and to do something nice I might not otherwise make time for- like day trips to Howth and to Newgrange and Mellifont Abbey and GLendalough in Ireland, or to the Erie Canal in upstate New York. It’s a chance to give thanks. And that matters.

Posted by: chiarraigrrl | July 13, 2015

Just another day on the Erie canal….

Posted by: chiarraigrrl | July 8, 2015

The annual Edinburgh-in-August recommendations

My recommendations for Edinburgh in August this year are up over on helptraveling…

Help traveling-

Evening on the Royal Mile

Going to Edinburgh in August? Every year for the past 5 years or so, I write up a post with my recommendations from the thousands of shows available in Edinburgh during the month of August, between the Edinburgh International Festival, the Festival Fringe, and the International Book Festival– so once again putting pen (or keypad strikes) to paper, I submit to you, dear reader, my recommendations for Edinburgh in August 2015. I tend to focus on the Fringe and the Book Festival, never having quite made it to the actual Festival myself- but I hear the lineup this year is terrific.

The Fringe

If you’ve ever been to Edinburgh in August, you know the drill- there’s a million shows on every single day, all of them are touted to be “genius” and “laugh-out-loud funny”, and it can be hard to sift the wheat from the chaff. Only…

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Sent from my mobile.


Posted by: chiarraigrrl | April 4, 2015

So pretty :)

Sent from my mobile.


Posted by: chiarraigrrl | March 17, 2015

This is important

marginh/t @masey_b

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