Yes, they're done, they're done, they're actually done at last. The last stitch had been put in the Elann lace crop cardi some days ago, and I'd attached the tiny beads on the points too, but still had to tidy up all the loose ends and scraps, which I finally did yesterday.
Do you know, I'm actually a bit shocked at how beautiful it looks. Whoever designed that had real vision. I just followed the pattern so can't take too much credit (and in fact any credit left over from the designer should without doubt go to YOU LOT who cajoled, encouraged, advised, threatened all the way to ensure I finished it!) I will wear it to the next posh function I have to attend and I don't really care if it doesn't win anything at Bantry - I think it's great.
And then, just when I was beginning to wonder if the nightmare would ever end, the socks too are FINISHED! Had enough yarn in the heel o' the hunt, and even a bit over. One reached the toe at midnight the night before last, and for a wonder I had the sense to wait until morning before doing the grafting; then took the second down to Cotter's Bar in Macroom, ordered coffee and said I wasn't leaving until I'd finished the toe on that one too. It was a bit nerve-racking grafting tiny stitches in a dim interior with several people watching interestedly, but got a cheer when I finished. With Anne's timely warning in mind, didn't wash them, simply blocked under a damp cloth, in case of any possible dye bleeding. The basic sock blockers for that were hastily cut out of a cornflake packet, and then I went hunting for stronger card to make the show ones (again thanks for that inspired suggestion on the Celtic motif, Angeluna!)
I have to admit I'm totally besotted with these. I slipped on the first completed one over my ordinary socks for a moment when I'd finished the grafting, and was amazed at how gloriously comfortable it was. They might be a tad too large, but although my original intention had been to get them to the show first, and hit the frogpond later, I might just leave them as they are. They are my firstborn socks and I love them in the way you can only love the firstborn. No, that tiny turndown on the cuff is intentional. Makes them look more cuddly, more judge-pleasing, I think. Me, I don't need persuading - they're perfect anyway.
This by the way was all fitted in between writing up a piece on the East Cork Early Music Festival (highlight is going to be American Benjamin Bagby reciting the entire Beowulf epic to the accompaniment of a lyre - you can't say we're lacking in culture here in Cork) and interviewing a choreographer who is staging a new dance production next week, entirely in the nude. Yes, it's going to be performed indoors, in a heated theatre, but the film which will play as backdrop was filmed out in the damp woods by a river near Bandon - sounds like her dancers are fairly enthusiastic or else she's pretty strong minded. . .
It's a wild windswept morning here - we could hear the rain all night and at one point a soft raindrop actually fell on my cheek from the slightly open window, which was rather nice. The trees are lashing their branches now and the little maple in the orchard is holding tightly to its orange and yellow autumn leaves. It will be a bumpy trip in the little jeep down to Bantry this afternoon, over the Coosane Gap, through the mountains and down to the sea. The fair is held right on the seashore, so fingers are crossed for good weather tomorrow.
But there's something else. As well Bantry Show, tomorrow is also the ALL IRELAND HURLING FINAL 'twixt Cork and Kilkenny. You'll remember maybe that I went up to Croke Park for the semi-final - those socks at an early stage of development on the sidelines, smuggled there in a lens box? That will have been nothing compared to the power of a final, and Cork and Kilkenny are old rivals, at level pegging for top honours over the centuries. There will be a gigantic television set (or perhaps more than one) in the bar tent at the show and I suspect that every single attendee will decamp there during the game to cheer, shout, roar advice, thump the table, and even, in the case of some of the older watchers, say the Rosary (yes, of course the Almighty is on Cork's side. Was there any doubt of that?). DH has managed to get himself put on show duty for the paper, so I will be able to provide front line pictures for you. I must crochet or knit a quick decorative scarf in Cork's colours of 'blood 'n bandages' - or red and white if you prefer.
Socks and cardi on their first show outing, The Rebel County playing the Kilkenny Cats - life doesn't get more stressful. Yesterday evening, when the show stars were finally tidied up and having a nice early night, I wearily went to my stash and looked for something really really relaxing to knit, as a winding-down exercise. You know how you fantasise when finishing something interminable about other things you could knit, other projects you'd love to start? I have a whole line of those waiting, but last night I was too tired. That gorgeous hunk of manhood, the Sirdar Denim Chunky, put a comforting warm hand on mine and said, 'Let me look after you.' I yielded - how could I do otherwise? - and let him make the running. Whatever he suggested, I'd go along.
He calmly and gently led me into a really simple shepherd's vest in a patchwork pattern of stocking stitch and double moss stitch which was so easy to knit that I could do it with my eyes closed. (In fact I discovered with a start that that was exactly what I was doing, and that I would have to frog back some of the moss stitch.)
It's proceeding at a comfortably slow pace and I'm enjoying every minute of it. Next week, though, I'm going to swatch up some really beautiful Cheviot yarn in a fine weight, for a thoroughly complicated Aran design... Can't afford to let this sudden space in a knit-obsessed month close up through lack of use!
Kathy, you were asking for the link to the acorn-tipped handmade knitting needles that Angeluna told me about. Hope you can find it this time. If not, email me via Knitter's Review Forum (Celtic Memory Yarns there too) and we'll work something out. They're worth hunting for.
Mary tells me she stayed at Dunmanus Bay years ago, and also actually owns a square foot of Macroom! Mary, get in touch with me through Knitter's Review Forum (you don't seem to have a weblog), give me the details and I'll find those few precious inches and photograph them for you, promise! And tomorrow I'll put on a picture of Dunmanus especially for you - it's one of my favourite places.
Now a few more pieces to write up, and then it will be time to take my precious babies down to Bantry. They have to be into the craft barn (a genuine huge old corrugated-iron-roofed barn) before 5.30 pm, as the judging takes place at 6.30. If I get there fairly late, they'll have set up most of the entries, so I might be able to hang my own pieces to their best advantage (did that before with quilts, in another existence, so I know it's possible). Then I'll have to leave them there overnight! Hope they'll be OK, what with the wind and rain and all. After that it's wait and see. I don't care really about winning (don't we always say that?) 'cause I know they're unique and special and lovely, and I'll tell them so as I leave them and head home.