Well, into every life a little rain must fall. And you were all getting pretty fed up with me - seeing my existence as one constant round of parties with leprechauns followed by orgies of indulgence in yarn sheds. Fine for her, you mutter as you trudge through the daily misery of on-tap Joanns, Michaels, LYSs with nice friendly staff, local fibre festivals and special events, laden shelves in the craft section of your local bookshop. All she has to do, you snarl, is click her fingers and unique yarns appear out of nowhere, and good-looking farmers too.
What I am about to reveal will shatter that illusion (never a very good one anyway I have to say, hauling my wellies out of the mud on the third successive day of unending downpours). And in the spirit of those knowing newscasters who intone seriously, 'The following report contains images that may prove distressing to some viewers', I warn you that you aren't going to like it. In fact some of you may have to dash for the powder room. It's not nice. It's not pretty. But it's life in the raw in West Cork and I think you have a right to know. (Well actually, you don't have a right to know but I feel like making you know about it, OK? Any problems with that? You at the back? Right. Sit down then.)
You remember of course that I have signed up for the Red Sweater KAL. In joy and anticipation I singled out the Alice Starmore Eriskay gansey and brought out from its ivory tower my cherished cone of very fine scarlet cashmere. I swatched up a teensy bit and showed it to you. Here it is again, in case you'd forgotten how beautiful and how fine it actually was.
Some of you made jokes about embroidery thread, others calculated the probable length of time it would take to finish the Eriskay. Others contented themselves with laughing quietly. It didn't matter. It was such a softly beautiful cashmere that one should not expect quick and easy results. This sort of quality demands time, and probably some suffering.
Ah yes, suffering. This evening I went upstairs to look at the swatch again. I'd put it on the windowsill in the sitting room pending the arrival of the correct (appallingly fine) gauge of circulars from one of my dear blogging friends in the New World.
The door was ajar. Alarm bells - it shouldn't have been. I've been keeping that door tightly shut for the past couple of months. I pushed it open and went in. It was dusk. I switched on the light.
I didn't scream. I didn't yell. I think in fact all my breath came out in one gasp of utter despairing disbelief. I sank to my knees. Tenderly I started to gather up the pathetic scraps. But Muffy wasn't having any of that.
'It's mine!', she roared. 'My yarn. You go get your own. Leave me be!'
I sat back on my heels and tried to get my brain round this catastrophe. You know how when something like that happens you just can't believe it. You think you somehow haven't come into the right scene - it's all a mistake. You'll wake up in a minute and everything will be like it was before.
Only it wasn't. The sad little shreds (if any proof were needed that this was one hundred per cent pure cashmere, not a trace of nylon binder in sight, it was alas amply shown here, with each tiny scrap torn from its moorings and pulverised beyond hope of recovery) lay around Muffy's growlingly protective presence. She picked up one or two lengths carefully in her teeth and tucked them under her paws where they'd be safe from my grasping hands. Then she looked up at me with huge clear brown eyes and suddenly I heard her. I swear I heard what she was saying.
'Did I do it right, Mamma? Am I a good knitter too? Am I as good as the Yarn Harlot and all the others? Will you tell everyone about me on your weblog? Am I the best?'
Yes, Muffy. You're the best. Forgive me for thinking a few yards of cashmere mattered more than a small dog who wanted to please me by trying to learn this strange knitting hobby too. Nothing matters more than the light in your eyes as you look for approval.
And yes, I will tell everyone about you on my weblog. (I will also, however, put the remainder of the cone of cashmere on a very high shelf indeed. I might even do my knitting up there.)