Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Was There Ever Such A Secret Stash Shed?

I know you've all been waiting, checking, fuming, but I got here as quickly as I could. Poor DH had to go out in the pouring rain and howling wind to take pictures at a football match. I did offer to go with him, for moral support, but he kindly declined. So the curtains are drawn against the night, the lamps lit, and I'm tucked up here at the computer to tell you about a morning of dreams come true...

Actually it was very cold and bright this morning, and the road looked stunning as we drove down to Killarney, but I couldn't relax. I was chewing my fist all the way for fear that John Cahill might have had to rush off somewhere else and I wouldn't get to THAT SHED. When we took a wrong turn I nearly shrieked. But at last we arrived, and he was there, and immediately led the way to the most unprepossessing container-shed you ever saw in your life, marooned there amid the long wet grass and tangling brambles.

Inside it didn't look much more promising - just a sea of cartons and the sound of rain dripping on the roof. But I got busy, clambering around and peering into boxes.

Soon treasures began to emerge. John, the sainted man, hauled out a huge empty cardboard box and put it on the floor for me. Then he whispered those seven little words that mean so much to any girl in my position:

'I'll leave you to it, shall I?'

Can you imagine a happier situation? Me, a shed full of unknown yarn yummies, and time to myself? No shopkeepers, no observers, no security guys, no nothing, just the sound of the falling rain and lots and lots of boxes to explore. (DH popped in and out to record the happy occasion for posterity, but largely I was alone. And loving it.)

I explored some more.

Soon the treasures began emerging. I felt like Carter excavating the tomb of Tutankhamen (only without the curse, of course).

I tell you I went mad in that shed this morning. I couldn't believe I was having so much fun! I just wished with all my heart that all of you could have been there as well. Just imagine the hysteria, the shrieks, the laughter! It would have been the best girls' outing ever, wouldn't it?

After about half an hour John reappeared with a large roll of sticky tape which he used to fasten up the carton (now extremely full) securely. Even then I saw another cone here, a hidden one there, a poor lonely one with a few dust smudges on it, lost over in that corner. I carried those under my arm while John toted the rather heavy box back to the weighing scales in the weaving house.

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but it weighed over 20 kilos! (That's not counting the extra cones I was hugging to my chest which he adorably threw in for nothing. Can one love a virtual stranger? If he has access to that much yarn, very probably.)

Then I suddenly remembered the bright red variegated viscose yarn with which several of you had fallen in love. Now this special order yarn is never likely to get relegated to the stash shed. It is leading a popular and successful life on the looms and thereafter in the shop at Muckross House. But I asked, very sweetly and humbly, if I could possibly buy another cone, at whatever full market price he cared to put on it. John was a tad reluctant to part with even a smidgen of his treasure, but I was as persuasive as I knew how.

'You cannot be serious! '

But I got it, dear reader, I got it.

I have to admit though that I didn't get any alpaca this time (sorry, Dez darling, I did try, honest). He's short enough of the precious stuff, apparently, but is expecting a shipment in from darkest Peru any week now. It will cost me if I do get any more, but hell, even at the price he charges, it's still about half what I'd pay anywhere else.

We were so exhausted (me from the trauma of being next to, in with, so much hitherto unknown yarn, and DH from capturing every stage of the expedition) that we had to go for coffee in the dear little thatched tea house not far away.

The tea room closes at the end of October for the winter and doesn't re-open until Easter, so if you want some rhubarb crumble, you'd better get on to the travel agent right now. It was fine enough to sit outside and the sun had warmed the chill air somewhat. After the coffee we wandered for a bit and found some lovely fly agaric toadstools just waiting for the leprechauns to come back from their own tea break.

You can just see them in the foreground here, with the jaunting car trotting past in the background.

And then it really was time to go (me with a last longing look back at that magical magical shed).

Oh what a triumph arriving home with the loot! First there was a huge box to lug out of the car...

and then it all had to be stacked neatly in the sitting room.

Les Girls really got involved in the excitement, especially Muffy who is, as you know, a bit of a yarn fiend in her own right. She became so worked up that I had to give her a discarded swatch (you know the kind that obstinately refuses either to behave or to rip back so you hurl it away in disgust).

That kept her happy for quite a while, by which time I'd got all the yarn stacked and organised.

Now I know you want to see the whole lot in close up, but I think I'm pushing Blogger by this stage. I'll try a couple more (don't blame me if the whole thing blows up).

Here are some of the reds. Top left and right are two variegate boucles, roughly chunky weight. Below left is an orange-red 'mousse' - that's a gorgeous yarn roughly about sock weight or maybe even worsted, a very very soft wool, probably merino, moussed round a nylon binder. Pride of place in the centre goes to the variegated viscose wrested with such effort from John, and on the right is a pink mousse.

OK, so far so good. I'll try to put in the blues next.

This one's a bit dark, I'm afraid, but I didn't want to drag DH out yet again, after the sterling work he'd put in this morning. Top left is a pale lavender, very fine, kid mohair, and underneath it is a lambswool in a darker lavender, also very fine (you'd need to double it for hand knitting). Centre top, a variegated boucle, under that a quite thick (chunky I'd say) mohair in greeny-blue. On the right top, a dark blue mousse, and under it (the colour doesn't show up well in this picture) a lovely grape wool, very fine.

Now there were some real prizes in this hunting expedition - among them a huge cone of dark charcoal lambswool which, doubled, just makes the gauge for that Norah Gaughan asymmetical jacket in Vogue of which we spoke recently, and a slightly lighter charcoal in the mousse yarn. There was a very fine kid mohair boucle in natural (yes, a big cone) and a very fine kid mohair plain, also in natural. Pride of place though had to go to an absolutely stunning find. Get ready to bow your heads in reverence. About worsted weight, maybe a little less (I can never remember what worsted weight is) oatmeal or ecru, looked like thick string from a distance but up close, oh my Gawd! Silk and cashmere. Yes, you heard me. Silk and cashmere. Wow, wow, and triple whammy wow! I couldn't breathe properly after handling that. But believe me I handled it into the carton pretty darn quick.

I did take a picture of it tonight but I don't think I did it justice. Oh look, I'll put it on anyway and then get Richard to do a better job tomorrow. Just imagine something more beautiful than you've ever imagined or touched and you might be getting halfway there.

You can't see the subtle shine, can't feel the unbelievable softness, but take my word for it, this makes life worth living. What a world that hath such yarns in't! I feel a better person for knowing it.

Look, stop snarling for a minute, will you? I just want to say, yet again, that if it hadn't been for all of you, I'd never have discovered this. I was so embarrassed and so exasperated at having to admit to the lack of yarn here in Ireland that I went hunting and searching and poking until I found at least some places where the stuff could be tracked down, even if those places were absolutely not and never would be public yarn stores. It isn't something everyone could do, and I admit freely that I used the journalistic ploy more than once to gain entrance. But having done it, I'm so thrilled that I seriously owe you my sincere gratitude. OK, OK, gratitude AND a stray skein of any of my finds that take your fancy. All I ask in return is a little something from your corner of the world (even bamboo needles would do...)


gwtreece said...

I want in that shed. Please, please, pretty please.

Anonymous said...

Oh Jo, while reading this post and looking at all your goodies, well, sweetheart, I wasn't snarling, let me put it this way, if the windows had been up the neighbors would be thinking DH had come home early. We are talking moans. Big time. With feeling.
I'm thinking I'm even more smitten with Mr. John Cahill than before...
I agree, wholeheartedly, it would have been THE BEST GIRLS' OUTING EVER!!!!
I'm with GW, I.want.in.that.shed.
And I'm laughing with pure delight that you got to go in that shed.
Did he invite you back? Or did you completely 'fleece' it?
I'll just go have a wee bit of a rest now.

Peg-woolinmysoup said...

Jo - my dear lass - I can see a Bianca sweater in that Cashmere and Silk. Like I say the words Cashmere and Silk both deserve Captial letters.
What a wonderful day. I had fun through your adventure.
We may have nice LYSs, but I do NOT, I repeat NOT, have a shed anywhere in my world full of such delicacies. Would a bottle of fine Irish brew - something to die for - entice the man to show you the shed again. I can say, if you fall in love with John Cahill, that he is easy on the eyes and easily persuaded to part with any number of fibrey goodies! Thanks, Jo, for taking me along on your day.

Anonymous said...

What amazing fun! Mr. Cahill came through splendidly for you, didn't he? Lovely yarns. Lovely shed. Lovely day. Lovely Mr. Cahill! Thank you for sharing it with us! Now you have to get busy, stitching up all your wonderful goodies!

Anonymous said...

Oh, what a lovely day for you! I'm so happy you found some wonderful things and what a good story it makes. By the way, I'm coming to Dublin at the end of October, so if there is anything you want from the states let me know and I can mail whatever it is to you from there. You never did mention whether you found your dyes, so perhaps you would like a selection of acid dye powders?

Tan said...

Very impressive, and you got Blogger to accept all those great photos. But is it cheating to have a professional photographer, when the rest of us have to make do with the "Self Portrait" setting on our cameras?

Fiberjoy said...

Only a few hours in a shed that size with boxes and boxes of cones of yarn. How did you know where to begin?

Please let gracious Mr John Cahill know that you've some friends who wish to help you sort through and organize the lot in exchange for a "few" cones.

First glance of the shed and I thought of the huge box trailer, where I worked once upon a time, that is filled to the brim with chocolate covered hazelnuts of all flavours. It's no coincidence that some of the best finds in life are stored in ugly recepticles. :-)

Anonymous said...

I... I... Oh dear Gawd the Silk and Cashmere. There are no words.

Peg-woolinmysoup said...

Me again - you did not tell us or show us the two lovely cones of grey that sit on top of the Jewel Box of yarn on the scale. It looks great from a distance. The one of you bending over the box says it all - that look of don't pinch me, I might just awake from this dream!

LaurieM said...

I was breathless reading about your adventures. That silk cashmere looks like the king cone sitting there on it's own. Believe me, your words add texture to the sheen I see in the picture.

LaurieM said...

I'd love to do a little swap with you. It would be a great deal of fun. What would you like from Canada in trade?

I wanted to send you a private e-mail, but I couldn't find your address.

Lynn said...

Wow, *way* better than Jason's Golden Fleece!

Is Mr. Cahill single? Would he move to TX and bring his stash with him?

"Will knit for food..."

Anonymous said...

Well done on finding such a treasure trove and what wonderful choices you made.
I'm with the others - the thought of the silk and cashmere blend is very yummy.

Anonymous said...

What a day! Jo in Wonderland. And what wonderful choices you made, sets the mind to spinning. Shall I do this one or that one or another one altogether. Loved the greys, charcoal is a fave. It will make the perfect Norah Gaughan. But that Silk and Cashmere...as you said...Oh, my Gawd! It wants to be something, very, very, very exceptionally special.

You tossed it out so casually, but what the heck is a jaunting car? What a lovely word. Is it a carriage? And who are all those people in it? And where are they going? You really do live in a bucolic fairyland.

Anonymous said...

"Quick Jeff get the Mc Kenzies "

Dez Crawford said...

That expression on your face says it all -- a kid in the candy store! And you are so very, very sweet to think of me and my alpaca addiction, dear Jo, while in the midst of a treasure trove!

I need to figure out how to get cheap tickets to Ireland, and get in that box -- and I'll bring some Guinness, too.

The last time I was in one of those box-car container sheds it was full of pet needs for rescued animals from Hurricane Katrina -- the sight of all that yarn is so refreshing!

Once you recover your senses I made be interested in trading "something from here" for a little "something from there" in a lovely blue or purple. Your choice of course!

And I could see the leprechauns under the mushrooms, for sure!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful adventure and thank you so much for taking us along with you! It would have been the best of outings to have gone along with you! I must say that I'm in awe of your restraint to have taken only one box! Maybe you can go back another time and get another box! Thank you again for including us in the journey!

I would be interested in a swap for something you'd like from Oregon. I didn't see an e-mail to send you a private message.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a haul. I might have just become paralyzed and come out with one or two measley cones. Glad you didn't; that would have been a letdown for sure.

Roggey said...

HOT. DAMN. What a hau! You lucky girl, you!

Alpaca? Scarce there? Really? I'm surrounded by them here in Iowa.

{BTW, left you a message (or three) on my blog.}

Connie said...

Skein exchange with Jo! I'm sure we can find something.....

Charity said...

Of course we're up for exchanges! Let me know if there's anything your heart still desires from chilly BC :0)

What an amazing experience! My heart still hasn't slowed down! :0)

Ms. Knitingale said...

Jo, I couldn't be happier for your exciting morning yarn hunting. Like Carlarey, I fear I would have just frozen up like a deer in the headlights! That blue-green mohair made me drool...I can hardly wait to see what you make with it! I'll go wipe the drool off the keyboard now....

Laura said...

Just look at all that yarn you got. What fun! It's fabulous being able to snatch up cones and cones of yarn, isn't it? Feels like a party! And all that luscious red. Just in time for the red sweater KAL. Tee hee.

knitspot anne said...

please jo, you must dose out these sort of posts in small quantities—i feel like i ate too much chocolate! (but then—is there really any such thing as too much chocolate??)