Sunday, October 15, 2006

Lord of the Dance and Laying Out Yarn Skeins

OK gang, EXCLUSIVELY for your eyes only, courtesy of photographer supremo, my very own DH, here is Michael Flatley arriving at St. Patrick's Church in Fermoy yesterday for his wedding to Niamh O'Brien, the girl who starred with him in Celtic Tiger and danced her way into his heart. To give the man his due, he wanted an open, public wedding with no limitations on people who wanted to come and give him a send-off - although I think he didn't quite expect the crowds that did block the way so that the car couldn't get through and he had to run the gauntlet of well-wishers.

And here's the one you really wanted to see, when they emerged after the ceremony. Ah isn't it sweet?

Now to yarn matters. Don't think I told you that on the security check at Stansted Airport the other day, my bag was singled out for searching (this after the hour and a half of queuing). I was apprehensive that they would find the Brittany dpns (3 sets) which, although they are birchwood, are still knitting needles and therefore banned. The big cheerful man started rifling through the pockets, all the time keeping up a bright banter (you know the kind, planned to find out every last thing about you) about where I'd been, where I came from, whether I'd had a good day, etc. etc. I told him all about the Knit & Stitch Show as he pulled out balls of mohair from one side pocket, blinked at Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn in the other, and recoiled as a great hank of hand-dyed wool exploded from the controlling zip of the front pocket. Then he opened the main section and his face cleared as he saw yet more masses of yarn.

'Oh that's all right then,' he said. 'Wool is a natural fibre and so it shows up on our screens as something else - won't tell you what!' He zipped up the bag, handed it back and wished me a good flight.

Wonder what it shows up as?

Anyway, it was just as well that I didn't have any dyes with me. I can't imagine they'd have got through in hand luggage. Fortunately the adorable Julia is bringing me some when she comes to Dublin at the end of the month - and I'm still in the market for more if you want to send me some in exchange for a skein or so of Muckross Forgottens. Plus wooden dpns and circulars. Of course if you have access to Lantern Moon or Colonial Rosewood needles you can name your choice of yarns - but only if you actually know a local shop that has them. Otherwise it would mean you ordering them by post and then sending them on to me by post which is daft. And HANDS UP those of you who live within hollering distance of a great big Joanns. You don't have to send me anything right now - I'll send you a skein or two of your choice as a bargaining counter for emailing you later on with a frantic request for some little useful gadget or notion they have on offer there. Joanns won't mail outside the US and it drives me mad to go on their website and see something I need and can't get! I need friends near Joanns...

But mention of the Muckross Forgottens reminds me to tell you of one cone I got there that I haven't shown you yet.

This is my Rescue Shetland. When I was burrowing around that wonderful shed and throwing gorgeous things into the big carton, I saw this one sitting sadly and quietly on a corner on its own as if it knew nobody wanted it. It was grubby. There was something very like an oil stain on one top corner. It had been thrown away because it wasn't clean and fresh and beautiful.

Well what would you have done? Of course I took it. I brought it home and gave it a nice place to sit and stroked it and told it that it was adorable. I looked inside and for a wonder it had a label. Pure new Shetland wool, spun in Scotland. It's about worsted weight or what I would call double knitting (DK), maybe a little finer, maybe not, in its original natural colour of creamy white.

I'm going to skein up the first layers and see if I can wash those very gently. I imagine that underneath it will be just fine. Then I'm going to find a really really special project for it. Rescue Shetland has found a good home and will be valued for the rest of its life.

Erica was asking if I have a shop on eBay. I don't because I haven't the time to maintain a constant supply all the time, what with the day job and all. I just list both my designer yarns and the skeins of ordinary ones I'm selling from time to time. And today I finally got round to creating Samhain, in honour of the Celtic New Year festival fast approaching, and took it and Sophie out to the woods to photograph it for eBay.

Here are the two of them enjoying the mossy stillness of the woods. I've tried to reflect all the ancient traditions of Samhain (or Hallow-E'en) in this blend - the red of flames and rosy apples, the bright oranges and soft browns of autumnal colours, the inky blackness of nightime, shot through with the gold of those otherworld peoples who cross to our world on this night. Once I've finished talking here, I'll go and list it on eBay. That means writing a piece about our traditional customs for observing this festival here in Ireland as well - the bobbing for apples, the mirror scrying, how to avoid being taken by the Good People if you venture abroad after dark, all that kind of thing. And I really must get round to skeining up some of the stash to sell too - the house is beginning to look like the store room of a rather large yarn store.

I was whinging, you may remember, about having to travel so far to events like the Knit & Stitch in London, and Carrie gently observed that it was 750 miles to her nearest fibre festival. Then Laura (co-founder with Anne of the Red Sweater KAL - have you seen and admired the way I put their button on my sidebar, have you, have you?) said at least I didn't have to cross a continent AND an ocean to find things. OK, perhaps I'm not the most wretched of deprived kids after all. I just thought I was. You do have a slightly larger continent to cope with, most of you.

Yarn Yard (I really must start on that divine Mango Sorbet sock project) has some lovely hand-dyed stuff on her site at the moment. Read Natalie's blog too, it's so much fun - and then see if you can resist the Chocolate Orange Mousse sock yarn. And a big hurrah for the said Natalie of Yarn Yard for her special offer on a pink sock yarn for October (this being Breast Cancer Awareness Month), with some of her proceeds going to research.

I'd been feeling the need for a while of a skein winder or swift, so went hunting on eBay. The new ones seemed a bit expensive so I searched further and came across a delightful little antique one which I managed to secure.

Isn't it adorable? It stands on three sturdy little peglegs, but I might make a heavier base with three holes in it, to keep it steadier. Lovely little thing. It's going to be well used. That's a skein of the natural alpaca on board, which underwent an experiment with dip-dyeing.

Now I've swatched up a bit for the Eriskay gansey which is intended to be my contribution to Knit A Red Sweater. I say swatched up a bit because for heaven's sake the number of stitches and rows required to reach four inches is rather frightening.

I mean look at this! I've put in a matchbox and an American cent as well as the tape measure to give you some idea of what we're working with here. I must be insane. But it would look so beautiful... Let me check - does Starmore suggest circulars or dpns for the sleeves? Hold on, I'll be back in a moment.

Hmm, she says use either. Well she doesn't say anything so helpful, she just lists both sorts. Never one to waste time on the niceties, Starmore. So any of you wishing for a Muckross skein, I might be in the market for longer dpns as well as the short ones - in US sizes 1 and 2. Maybe Christmas 2007 would be a good occasion to wear the Eriskay for the first time? Or 2008?


Joanna said...

Love the Michael Flatley photos...just got back from knit and stitch show, was looking for some red yarn to join the the red sweater knitalong, have got some autumn..finn wool to spin up so may be awhile until I join! Like the button though, have made progress by getting my flickr to work on blog, still can't get the links to work, still early days!x

Anonymous said...

I live near Joanns - in fact, there are at least 3 within 20 minutes of me. I know, it ain't fair! Whenever you need something, let me know. All of them are pretty close to shops where I get my crickets to feed my lizard so I'm there often.

Anonymous said...

The wedding photos were beautiful. Terribly exciting, quite the romantic story. Gosh, I wonder what on earth wool *does* show up as???curious.
Oh, Jo, Samhain is brilliant! Love all the mix, it's quite exciting isn't it.
Sophie is look stunning as usual.
Jo, you have my email address, I live not terribly far from a JoAnn store, so send me a list of things you've noted that you need and I'll get back with you..

Anonymous said...

A wig, a partial head,lots of rope for tying up passengers? No I can't be anywhere near but I'd love to know. Being a ghastly old English person with no sense of traditon Riverdance sends me into fits of laughter but believe me no prejudice involved Morris men have the same effect.I have to walk away if I see one at a festival. An awful lot of dancing can have the same result .I wonder how close to really traditional dancing Riverdance is? Ballet also has me in fits but I adore the costumes. It hardly helps that we have an awful dance hall near us into which are dragged little Irish girls in velvet dresses, poppets in vile Latin inspired Carmen Miranda outfits with drooling mums all wanting them to be a star .I had enough trouble with men in satin shoes and big red satin trousers prancing in my new T.V series .

Anonymous said...

It looks from the photo that you intend to knit your red sweater from embroidery thread. That can't be good for the sanity, darling.

cindy said...

How neat to see Michael Flatley! Great pics of the bridal couple kissing.

Can you tell me how you put the Red Sweater button on your sidebar? I ,too, use Blogger.

Peg-woolinmysoup said...

Thanks for the wedding shots! Love her bouquet - wonder what the significance of the one white rose is - you see I met my DH while working in his Dad's flower shop!
I agree with rachel h - it does look like Starmore sweater is being knit with embroidery yarn. She will be beautiful and need a beautiful black wool long skirt for quiet evenings by the fire with a glass of something and some other fibery goodness.
Have you gone to Jo? I find things so hard to find on Ebay. Probably just me. I am also tired of getting 'spoof' emails from Paypal - oh well, that would not stop me from buying some yarn or exchanging something for said yarn!!
Sophie looks lovely by the yarn. Want to hear more of the story of your Irish version of Halloween!

LaurieM said...

Have you every tried Wilton's Cake dyes? I hear they give very intense colors.

As a favour to those of us on the look out for things on your shopping list, could you put them all together in one bulleted list? That way I (ahem, I mean we) could do a print out and put it in our purse. I am walking distance to a lovey yarn shop that carries all sorts of beautiful wood needles, including rosewood.

BTW-Please tell the darling shetland that I love him too. The poor dear should know that dirt washes.

rho said...

I loved the bouquet in the wedding pic. also. And what did you do to get that wonderful pose out of Sophie -- it is super.

viIf you think wool caused you a hold up with security -- don't ever try to bring a friend honey -- apparently it has the same viscosity as some type of explosive. They said I should put it in my checked luggage in the future -- I asked if then I would have to come and open my checked luggage instead of just my carry-on. Or does it mean they wouldn't catch it in check in luggage -- now that is an unsettling thought isn't it? So now when I travel and buy local honey for a friend I ship it home :D

knitspot anne said...

sigh! i just love a beautiful wdding. i get all teary-eyed every time!

Anonymous said...

Okay, it isn't fair, I know, but we have a JoAnns, AC Moore, Michaels, and three yarn shops all within 20 minutes of us. If you need anything from our way - send us on a mission to find it, and we'll do our best. My daughter and I are so envious of your newly acquired stash!

pacalaga said...

It's true, I do live near a big ol' JoAnn's, and a Michael's, too. I'd be happy to post things to you if you need them. (JoAnn has always felt like a sort of Wal-mart of craft stores, so I don't go there as much as I do to the locally owned shops. If you don't have WalMarts where you are, just thank your lucky stars!)

Anonymous said...

"The Laying of the Skeins"...sounds like a Samhain rite.

Just to show off with everyone else, I have JoAnn's, Michael's, Hobby Lobby, Walmart and two LYSs within 5-15 minutes of home. Each has it's high points, so hit all somewhat regularly. Bamboo needles or accessories, bags, books, etc. etc. So whatever your heart desires, just let us know. Darn sight better than those 3 paltry wishes Aladdin received.

I just feel frustrated that none carry Koigu or Noro, nor the more "out there" patterns. And I don't get to drive through beautiful woods full of deer and leprechauns to get there.

Lynn said...

All that Angeluna said, plus I work in Dallas. I also followed Knitspot's link to the Addi dude on eBay and scored 2 (w/shipping) for about the price of one w/sales tax locally.

I still prefer to support the LYS's, but every so often that dormant Scots gene must be obeyed.

Very nice to know that The Gorgeous Michael is straight. May they step-dance into the sunset happily for decades to come...

Fiberjoy said...

A yarn swift! Forgive my jealousy. I've been pricing them, and a ball winder on ebay for a while. I'm getting desparate and won't be able to hold out much longer.

I'm happy to say we don't live close to a JoAnns, or Walmart, though my LYS unfortunately is on the spendy side compared to other YS.

(Oh great, I'll never get the word verification right on the first try.)

Laura said...

I wouldn't say it's big, but I do have a Joann's nearby, and I wouldn't mind posting things to you now and again.

So sweet of you to put our Red Sweater KAL button on your blog. :-)

That's a wonderful old swift!

That red yarn is gorgous. So fine! You're going to knit a Starmore sweater with that? You're braver than I, that's for certain.

kelli ann & lorie said...

jo, i love your sweet little swift too. cheers! (that's all!)