Flemisa, Sharon, Julia and everyone else who rowed in with the sock advice, THANK YOU! It's so much simpler when you finally are able to work it out for yourself. Now I know what it actually is I'm doing, I'm on my way. Trouble was, because of that error in the pattern, I had no choice but to frog right back to the heel flap on both socks.
This is not a happy picture. It shows two socks, both well down the foot, in the process of being frogged. Once that unpleasant process had been endured, there was the picking up to do, necessitating the introduction of The Four Cs until well after midnight (crochet hook, Calvados, chocolate and cursing).
There was a soft rain falling this morning and once the most urgent writing jobs had been finished and sent off, I headed for Macroom with sock bag in tow (only two and a half more working days before show entries). Since the introduction of the smoking ban in public places over a year ago, our bars have become very pleasant places to take coffee, and Cotter's (established 1905) is all that a pub should be: dimly lit, cosy, and with a fire in the winter months. Today when Geraldine brought my coffee and scone, she picked up the knitting and admired the yarn colours. 'You've dropped a couple of stitches off those tiny needles,' she observed and straight away, to my amazement, quickly and competently picked them up on the tiny toothpicks which masquerade as rosewood dpns.
She declined all offers of needles and yarn for herself though, saying she'd done enough of it in her time and didn't see the point now when yarn was so expensive and shop sweaters so reasonable. I'll convert her another day - maybe when I've got a really irresistible soft yarn and a delectable pattern on the go.
I've been getting a bit of totally undeserved praise for some of the pictures that appear on this website. I need to emphasise again for anyone who doesn't know, that DH takes all the better shots. He is a professional and specialises in wildlife. I'm adequate when recording a half-finished sock but when it comes to capturing the look in the eye of an animal, the exact turn of the head, then there's no-one can beat DH. I stick to the words mostly, and let him practise the gifts the gods gave him.
The Ukrainian wool saga is ongoing. You may remember that I ordered some very fine silvery-white laceweight yarn but that when it arrived it was brown. Emails were exchanged, I sent it back, and yesterday got the replacement - this time dark grey. More emails and a heartrending reply from Oleh in furthest Ukraine. He wants to please me, he writes sadly, but if the next batch doesn't suit, he will just have to refund my money. I feel so guilty! But I really didn't want the dark brown or the dark grey. For safety I tucked in a few strands of various creamy white yarns I had around the place, and asked him to match those. Perhaps 'silver' is a very variable colour to interpret after all. Bless him, he even sent a picture of all the colours they have in stock over there.
I'll just have to order some more, if only in the interests of furthering East-West relationships, shan't I?
Oh the distractions that throw themselves in your path when you have so little time left to finish urgent projects. The latest golden apple to roll in front of my feet is that utterly amazing St. Brigid design from Alice Starmore's Aran Knitting. I saw a superb example knitted up by Francesca. Oh me oh my I want to work that pattern! And I really thought, being Irish and all, and raised on the darn things, I knew it all on Arans. It's the finer yarn she uses , I think, that enables her to work out such incredibly interlaced designs. Beautiful.
(By the way, St. Brigid was originally one of our powerful Irish goddesses, Brid. When Christianity reached the island, she was downgraded to gentle little interceding saint instead of all-powerful hell-raiser in her own right. Just so you know we didn't always have a patriarchal society.)
Angeluna, thank you for that link to the wonderful site for making your own knitting needles! Don't you love the acorn-topped ones? I really like the idea of using something from nature to finish them off. Yet
another project for the dark evenings (roll on dark evenings, the jobs are piling up...)
I was working away on those socks today when Patrick (the neighbouring farmer) and his son went out for a spot of rabbit shooting in the woods (well, I suppose if the little pests were eating all my crops I might feel belligerent too). Although Tasha and Muffy don't even notice the shots, Sophie gets terrified out of all reason, even though she is safely in the house. She comes bolting in, eyes wild and ears back, and launches herself at whoever is sitting down, from about twenty feet away, landing in a lap with force, no matter what else may be there at the time. She seriously affected the number of stitches on each needle several times until I gave in and let her stay there, pretending to be fast asleep, while I tried to get on with the socks.
A few people asked if I could speak Gaelic. I'm reasonably articulate, but it's my second rather than my first language. The people in the Gaeltacht areas speak it as their first choice with English coming in second. In really rural Gaeltachts (like the Aran Islands) this can result in a beautifully careful form of English. I remember one old man on Inisheer (the smallest of the Aran islands) looking at my mutts and saying politely, 'I am thinking that those would be little holiday dogs.' I thought it was a lovely way of expressing it.
Down in the orchard yesterday evening I noticed that the surrounding trees had got a bit high and some of the little apple saplings weren't getting any light. Seized the extending pruners and got to work as quickly as possible. Eventually, just as the sun was sinking, I was able to see its rays gilding one of the saplings and felt so pleased.
It's not a very good picture but I felt so happy I'd done something to help the little tree that I wanted you to share it. The branches on the left are in the shade, but those on the right are catching the setting sun, and I swear it took a deep breath and held up its face in delight. It's quite a rare Irish variety called Summer John. I also have Ardcairn Russet, Irish Peach, James Grieve, Cox's Orange Pippin, and Scarlet Crofton. The Grieve and Cox are common enough, the others are all rarities now and only available from the Seed Savers Society up in the Midlands. Cox, I have to say, though it is my favourite eating apple, is a real whinger and sulkyboots, needing constant encouragement and assistance, whereas the others get on with life by themselves most of the time, pleased to get the occasional feed or mulch, but otherwise coping admirably. One day soon I may even be able to pick apples from them (if the summer isn't too dry, then it's too wet, never quite right, apparently.) The only tree which regularly bears a heavy crop is an unidentified cooker around the back which bends its branches every autumn with huge fruits that cook down beautifully to a frothy white sweetness.
Wednesday evening here now. Thursday and Friday to go (both with quite a lot of my journalistic workload to be attended to as well, I have to say) and then Saturday morning is the final deadline for finishing both socks and Elann lace crop cardi. The latter is actually complete, all but the trying bit of tidying up loose ends and tucking away those irritating loops of glitter which created themselves unnoticed while I was struggling with the pattern. It just needs to be mounted prettily on a hanger, with a high-necked, long-sleeved blouse tucked inside to show it off properly. The socks? My main worry now, once I've finally managed to clear the hazards of heel and instep, is whether there will be ENOUGH YARN TO FINISH. The two balls are looking quite soft (I've been working from the inside out) and it is getting stressful. There is the maddest urge to knit even faster, to get there before the yarn runs out. Don't know what I'll do if it does. Make socks for exceptionally short feet, I imagine. No time for any other alternative at this stage.