The last days of August and all the signs of autumn are here. Patrick, our neighbouring organic farmer (and believe me I thank our good luck every day of the year that he is so minded and doesn't spray his fields constantly with heaven-knows-what in the way of toxic substances) started cutting his cornfield last night, chuntering slowly all around the perimeter first, then gradually into the centre. Now just the bright golden straw is left lying to dry before being baled to provide winter cosiness for his stock.
The birds have finally decided that the rowan berries are ripe enough and are descending in flocks. When I go out with the dogs in the early morning, they fly off frantically, dropping scraps of bright red berry as they make their escape. This morning we watched two blackbirds picking and popping like kids with peanuts; then they scrambled in terror as a mistle thrush bombed low across the garden to take over.
And yesterday was Ballingeary Show (no, no relation to Bantry) which is always on the last Sunday in August. It's a very small local show, but endearing in its homely atmosphere. The craft entries were sparse, and displayed so half-heartedly at least twenty feet away behind a barrier that they couldn't even be photographed for you (yes, I commented, to many officials, again and again. Next year may well be different. On the other hand, it may not. If I heard 'Well that's the way we've always done it' once, I heard it a dozen times.). However, the baking section was as hotly contested as ever.
Just thought I'd give your diets something to think about.
I also met the most charming Irish-speaking dog at the show.
His name, unfortunately, is Poxy. His owner explained that she'd rescued him as a stray on Tenerife and had paid over €600 to get him back safely to West Cork. Apparently the locals on Tenerife used to refer to him as 'that poxy stray', hence the name. Me, I might have gone for something more mellifluous. However, since Ballingeary is a Gaeltacht (an area where the residents still speak Irish as their first language), the first thing Poxy had to do was learn the vernacular. And he has done pretty well, responding instantly to 'Suig sios' (sit down) as well as 'Ar mhaith leath beagainin ciste?' (would you perhaps like a small piece of cake?).
I've been working pretty hard on the Interlacement socks which are headed for Bantry Show next weekend. Getting to the heel flap, I tried to find straight needles in the same gauge as the tiny rosewood dpns but discovered that, surprise surprise, an old UK 12 (don't ask, OK?) is not quite the same. Nor is a size 13. I know this because most of one heel flap had been worked on the needles I thought would do (they looked identical, for heaven's sake, and almost fitted the same holes on my Susan Bates) before a long hard look at the resultant (admittedly very nice and smooth) stocking stitch forced an admittance that it was not the same tension. Eventually found a fine circular that was doing something else at the time but was persuaded (fairly forcibly, I admit) to drop that and come right over to help in the present crisis. Nothing for it. Frog, swear, pick up. Miss one that had sneaked off to have a word with its friends several rows back. Go hunt for fine crochet hook. Pick up truant stitch. Start the heel flap again. Repeat some (but thankfully not all) of the above with second sock.
Here they are with the heel flaps done, and shown with the purl side outwards just to give you a thrill.
Turning the heel was actually quite fun once you see the commonsense and reasoning behind it. The confidence engendered by this, however, was soon dissipated when I started picking up along the heel flap and getting back into the round. The number of stitches required to be picked up was far less than I would have thought and resulted in a rather gathered effect. Still, I followed the pattern assiduously, reasoning that the designer probably KNEW WHAT SHE WAS DOING and had a GRAND PLAN in mind.
Then discovered that the number of stitches I had ended up with was far greater than that indicated in the pattern. Went back over the instructions. Checked my knitting minutely. Did some maths. Yep, I was right. There was no way I could have followed those instructions and come up with the laughably small number of stitches they said I should have. In fact if I'd followed eye and instinct I'd have had even more (along that heel flap).
What do you do in cases like this? (Unfortunately the most popular one, featuring a trashcan, a gallon of paraffin and a box of matches, isn't an option right now as I have already completed the entry form for the show.) Having checked another half dozen times, gone over my abstruse mathematical calculations, and held up the sock at all angles, I decided to go ahead and hope for the best. There is provision for some reduction in stitches as the foot proceeds downward towards the toe, so I'll use that little window of opportunity to get back on the correct count.
Unless of course the designer (or indeed the printer, why blame it on the designer? And come to that, why do I presuppose it was a female? Just like a male to gloss loftily over the minor details, reasoning that they didn't really matter all that much) got it wrong, and I SHOULD have the larger number of stitches. Advice please, and quickly too. What number of stitches do you normally end up with when you get past the heel and start down the foot? Same as before the heel? Less? More? Let's hear from the experts (and cut out the snarfling laughter, right?)
An update on Muffy and her shrubbery-guarding. This morning I was working on some deadline copy (it's always on deadline, can't work any other way) when I glanced out and saw Muffy in the middle of the lawn apparently wrestling with a black shape almost as big as herself. You don't stop to think at times like this - I was downstairs and out the front door before I even registered what I was doing.
It was a very large rabbit. A very large dead rabbit. A very large dead rabbit that had popped its clogs, handed in its notice, retired from public life, some considerable time ago. You don't want to know the details but if I briefly allude to many many smaller creatures which had in the interim taken up occupancy within said rabbit... yes, I thought you wouldn't want to know. And my killer Pekingese was standing triumphantly over this prize, making little darts at it and beaming all over her face. All by herself this small dog (who a year ago was so weak she couldn't get out of bed) had dragged this precious loot through the brambles and tangled branches of the shrubbery, down a slope and out across the lawn to where she had deposited it to await congratulation and proper accolade.
NO I DO NOT HAVE A PHOTOGRAPH OF THE INCIDENT! WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Of course DH (who didn't hear about it until it was all over) said I should have gone calmly back to the house, found a camera, and photographed the hideous object from all angles (omitting none of the wriggling tiny residents). What I actually did was grab a garden spade, hoist the horrible shape on to it, and rush down to the boundary fence where there is a drop to an impenetrable thicket some six feet below.
Ever since, Muffy has been prowling around the lawn looking furious. 'How could it have escaped?', she is muttering to herself. 'I'd beaten it into submission, I'd told it not to dare move. Where's it got to now?'
I'm sorry to disappoint you on the gory shot, but here's a (fairly) peaceful one of the said disgruntled Muffy in the spot where she was discovered in flagrante rabbito this morning.
(I have to admit that I can't help a sneaking feeling of pride, though. You know, she's such a little dog really, and there still isn't much padding on those fragile bones. It must have taken quite a bit of effort and doggy planning to work out a route through the tangle of the shrubbery and out into the light of day, not to mention serious puffing effort. I might give her a little medal after all. It's a bit like that fairy tale 'Seven At A Blow', isn't it? The tailor who swiped several flies and then made himself a belt with that statement on, whereupon everyone worshipped him as a hero. Yeah, good on you, Muffy. I know what you were saying as you reached the designated show-off spot at last. 'That'll show 'em!')