For the first time ever, I joined FibreShare for this round. Spoiler alert: I truly enjoyed it. In this post, I want to share my experience with you in case you are considering it or want to know how it works from Ireland or just want ideas on a fun knitter’s care package (I have several posts about that subject). I’ll cover what I sent, how I chose which Irish items I sent, and what I received.
For the basics on FibreShare, it is an international gift exchange. It’s more about the giving than receiving, which makes sense once you get going and feel like a North Pole elf.
What I FibreShared with Patricia
I love a fun themed package, so when I learned I’d be sending goodies to The Netherlands, I thought it would be fun to make it ‘A Taste of Ireland’ so the core of the package is Irish. This was my first FibreShare, so I wasn’t sure how it goes, but I am used to sending care packages to knitter friends so I tried to use that balance of supplies, treats, and inspiration. Here is what I came up with when I learned what my FibreShare partner likes (purple, aqua, chocolate, and sock or DK weight yarn for knitting)…
I’ll go over:
- Irish hand-dyed yarn
- Irish chocolate
- Knitting patterns
- Last bits & my little helper
Irish Hand-dyed Yarn
With her love of purple and aqua, I feel like I really chose well with these two skeins. I also included a ball of Sirdar acrylic in a pale aqua because it’s handy for little projects.
The purple is a DK from Green Elephant, which is based in Dublin. The lush merino takes the bright and beautiful dye so well. From delicate sugared violet to grape juice purple, this colorway is delicious!!!
The aqua is a special edition cashmere blend 4ply (fingering/sock) from Irish Fairytale Yarns, which is based near me here in Cork. With a whopping 400 meters, I knew Patricia would find a great project for it and hopefully feel spoiled with the luxury base.
These are just two of dozens of dyers on the Island. I compiled a list with a Google Map of the dyers here in a separate post.
I looked around for different options for Irish chocolate and there are SO many to choose from. The chocolatier stall in Cork’s English Market has a thorough selection and I was impressed with the options at Bradley’s Off-License on North Main Street. But some of the little surprises are from Dunnes Stores grocery department. I knew my partner would prefer dark or milk and something with salted caramel, so that gave me something to go on. I ended up choosing:
Simply Better Belgian milk chocolate bar that is made by Aine’s Chocolate in Cavan. It’s great to see larger stores focusing on keeping production local. The Simply Better Salted Caramel Belgian Chocolate Bar earned Bronze in the Blas Na Héireann Awards 2017. I chose the milk chocolate because it rather classic. They did not have a dark chocolate option in stock.
The Chocolate Box from Butler’s because it is an all-around perfect sampler that if nice to share. Butler’s has been a favourite in Ireland for almost 90 years! The company is 100% Irish family owned and has cafés across the Republic as well as an impressive retail distribution system. I couldn’t find Butler’s at Tesco, so I went to Dunnes to get it. I take for granted it is widely available because in Cork it is all over the airport store and we have a Butler’s Café, but the café is under renovation so I was thrilled Dunnes delivered just what I wanted. Now I’m wishing their Advent Calendar had been in stock to send Patricia.
Lily O’Brien’s Salted Caramel is a perfect design to break apart and share, or not share. I love that this chocolate company has been in Ireland for almost 30 years. Personally, I love that the company grew from a woman’s determination to follow her passion following debilitating illness. Those of us who’ve battled chronic or life-threatening illness know how important it is to maintain and seek out what fulfils us and Mary Ann O’Brien’s story is inspiring for that reason.
Green & Black’s Velvet Collection Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt was a bit off the island, but it is one of my favourites so I included it. This bar combines Green & Black’s Velvet Edition dark chocolate with delicate flakes of Anglesey sea salt. As each flake of sea salt hits the tongue, it offers a delicious contrast to the sweet chocolate. Culminating in a delicate crunch and truly moreish flavour.
Though I did not include these, other wonderful Irish chocolates include:
- Áine Hand Made Chocolate
- Bean and Goose
- The Chocolate Garden
- Clonakilty Chocolate
- O’Conaill Chocolate
- Skelligs Chocolate Factory
- Wilde Irish Chocolates
I really enjoy including patterns in my care packages, but sometimes a solo pattern ends up not hitting the mark. Whereas a book has many different patterns and maybe there is one that is just perfect. Of course, I had copies of my own books handy, so I sent those, but I did look at Patricia’s Instagram to figure out if that was her style or if she’d prefer cables or short rows or intricate designs. Here is a partial list of knitting books from designers in Ireland. I keep meaning to do a proper post listing all us knitwear designers on the island.
Evin Bail O’Keeffe – I have two books (Anchor and Bee, 2014 & 2015) out, one is collaborative with Sara and Suzi.
Last Bits & My Little Helper
When I read that Patricia loves purple and teal, my mind went into hunting mode. This set of stitch markers from Belfast-based Bear In Sheep’s Clothing has a beautiful magical quality with the plum-magenta, almost mauve, with a glittery chartreuse.
I also included a rainbow post-it pad and an iridescent pencil. They’re not from Ireland originally, but we do have many rainbows here and I’m always looking for a pencil so maybe Patricia does too.
My little helper helped me wrap, then didn’t quite understand that they needed to stay wrapped, so I had to wrap the various gifts two to three times each. But he is a sweetie and too little to really understand, so no hard feelings.
It took a bit of doing to fit it all in this waterproof envelope.
What I Received from My FibreShare Partner Jenny
I am literally speechless. Without words. This was like Christmas came early with sweets for me and the kids, plus woolly treats I had been wanting to try.
My beautiful and amazing #fibreshare package arrived from @wollsuchti and it is like a the sugar plum fairy bestowed a stocking-full of treats on me. Nine photos to scroll through to see sweets and treats. The kiddies weren’t forgotten either. And now to browse Ravelry to see what I can make with my six new yarns. They each are amazing and lovely. I’m so lucky and Jenny is so thoughtful. #daretofibreshare2018 #daretofibreshare #carepackage #sugarhighcoming #knitstagram #knittersofinstagram #christmascameearly
If you were creating a package that is a taste of your city or county or state or country, what would you include for sure? Is there a local dyer or delicacy not to be missed? I still remember when a close friend gave me chocolate-covered potato chips from Ohio. Mmmmm.