Today is Sunday and the intention was to wander off down over the border into Kerry, stop off for coffee, and perhaps take a walk in the woods. But the stormy weather that's been ravaging the North American continent has finally galloped across the Atlantic and going out is not a good idea. Poor DH had to, unfortunately - racing at Mallow, followed by basketball in Mayfield - but I at least had the luxury of choice. Being hyper-active by nature, my normal pattern whenever there's a spare moment is to head off in several directions at once, but when I couldn't even shut the gates after DH because of the howling wind and rain, I got sense. After all, it's easy enough to have coffee at home. One could even recreate one's favourite cafes. That's a thought. Soft lights, newspapers, some music in the background, a cafetiere and some warm scones... Who needs to travel?
Oh listen, while I talk of travelling, a mistake on my part must be corrected IMMEDIATELY. Dervla Murphy, travel writer extraordinaire and great lady, is 75 next week, not 76. Abject apologies - although she herself
certainly doesn't bother about age. You would never get Dervla looking coy and saying, 'well how old do you think I am,' or anything so silly. In fact when you meet her, she could be anything between, say, forty - because you don't get her kind of wisdom any earlier, I think - and a thousand (because her ability to distil the experiences and facts of history is frightening). Still as a journalist it behoves me to get my facts right! If you check back, you'll see I've already amended that posting. And happy birthday for next Tuesday, Dervla. You're ageless as far as I'm concerned.
Lorna Jay gave me the simplest and most delightful solution to my circular needle tangle. A strip from a cereal box with holes punched in the sides and something to hang it with from the top. Thank YOU Lorna Jay! I tried it out immediately and it's hanging down in the workshop right now. One good thing was that it made me realise I was still short one or two sizes - 7mm and 7.5mm, I think. Although the ones I use most are below that - 2 and 3mm when we're in Alice Starmore country, and 5s or 6s when I'm feeling happy and relaxed with 'normal' gauges.
Erica also gave a helpful hint: she uses those roll-up toiletry bags for both circulars and dpns. Going to try that right away for the dpns - they were getting into a right old mess in the bottom of the same hatbox as the circulars and really need to be sorted for all the socks I intend making over the winter. Think I'd better discuss those on the Knitted Gifts KAL site, otherwise CLOSE COMPANIONS might get wise...
Loved all your own revelations about the right and wrong way to knit, and, spinning off from that, schooldays. Dez said she still gets nervous feelings in her stomach when she sees a school bus or nuns. Oh YES, Dez! With you on that last one! Dear heaven, my private nightmare for years afterwards was that someone would dump me in a convent behind locked gates and drive away! I still find it difficult even to go into one in the pursuit of my job. They would occasionally put a plump white hand on your arm as you scurried by in those long-ago days, and say with gentle insistence, 'Did you ever think you might have a vocation, dear?' The terror that such a thought evoked would send my stomach churning for days on end! I think we can safely say that no, I did not, have not, have never had, the slightest inclination towards a vocation.
And I loved all your stories of the 'right and wrong' way to knit and other people's ideas of what you should be doing. I especially enjoyed Ruby's tale of the 'kind' lady on the plane who took the other lady's knitting out of her hands and showed her how she should really have been doing it. Whereupon the first lady, nowise upset, simply smiled and took it back and went on doing it exactly as before. Good for you, sister!
And Angeluna's story of the woman at a knitting class who was told she was 'knitting wrong' and wouldn't be taught, or her fees refunded, until she learned 'properly'. It actually reminds me of a riding weekend I went on once in the UK. Now in Ireland you learn to ride the same way as you learn to live - get on, stay on, survive, have fun, and the hell with how you do it, as long as you do. It wasn't quite the same way, I found, when I went to live in England. The first place I went for a bit of a gallop, the woman in charge surveyed me coldly and said I would have to come regularly, at least three times a week, until I learned to ride properly. (Yes, it was an exceptionally expensive stables, and yes, I'd just jumped a five-barred gate.) At least where riding is concerned I was confident enough (you do get that way when you've survived the legendary Irish 'banks'), so just laughed and didn't go back. But later I went on a riding weekend with some friends to Wales. When we got there, a nervous young man in our group surveyed the impeccably attired riders already there, who were gazing at our lively party with that particularly British disapproval, and bolted off to the nearest town. He returned after an hour, considerably poorer in the pocket, and dressed appropriately for the Royal Show from black jacket and fawn jodhpurs to polished boots. Honestly! I don't think the horses cared what you were wearing, and THAT'S ALL THAT MATTERS.
Now Angeluna also alerted me to two divine patterns which, she said, would suit me down to the ground. That girl has one helluva eye for fashion. I don't know how she does it, or how she learned it, but everything she suggests is absolutely smack on target. The first was that spectacular Celtic Vest (or Cul de Sac, to give it its correct title) which I cannot wait to get started on.
The second, and the one with which I am utterly and irrevocably in love, is The Travelling Cables Cardigan. In fact if you glance at the sidebar, you will see that I have already joined the KAL for this stunning project.
Well, I know I had enough on already, but wouldn't you? Isn't that jacket something? I think it's a Karabella pattern, so of course I got hunting on the Net for it right away. Yarnmarket was the first place I ran it to earth - BUT they wanted to charge the earth. I'd noticed they had Lantern Moon circulars size 5.5 in stock, so thought I'd order them at the same time. The cost was around US $30 for the two (OK, Lantern Moon are expensive - not as expensive, I can tell you, as my absolute favourites, Colonial Rosewood, but then nothing compares to knitting with Colonial Rosewood so I suppose you get what you pay for.) Well, listen to this: for one pair of Lantern Moons (weight around an ounce or two) and a paper pattern, they demanded $32.50 postage! Pull the other one, Yarnmarket! Off to Knitpixie. Here they wanted $20 to post out just the
pattern. It's that post office business all over again. Look, I know the pattern would go in an ordinary letter envelope and I also know that the postage on a letter from the States isn't that bad.
(In the interests of fairness, I should say that I emailed Knitpixie to point out that I was going to mention this on my weblog and they answered pretty promptly, saying that quite often they refunded overpaid postage if they found the item could be posted for less. Mmmm, not quite good enough as far as I'm concerned, but thanks for telling me anyway.)
So the Travelling Cables Cardigan has to wait awhile. It's maddening, because I want to work on it right now (not least because I suspect it's going to take quite a bit of work) but nothing much can be done without the pattern. Sometimes you see designs which you can more or less work out for yourself from a glance, but this, I suspect, isn't one of them.
Now the little French crop cardi that I told you about was the kind you could have a go at yourself. I want to make it it Misti Alpaca Chunky (or any chunky alpaca that I can run to ground), but in the interests of experimentation (and because I'm so impatient), decided to do a trial with Sirdar Denim Ultra Chunky. This is a good yarn and I've seen others speaking well of it too - it has both wool and cotton as well as acrylic, knits up very well with good stitch definition, and, best of all, works up SO FAST! I mean, cast on 53 stitches for the back, 8 rows of ribbing, another 12 to get to the armhole (it's a very cropped style, barely reaching the waistline.
Did this last night, after dinner, while watching TV. Now galloping up the fronts. The sleeves, however, as I recall, were quite big and showy, with large ribbed turnback cuffs. I'll experiment. Then by the time the luxury fibre gets here (or I get to it), I'll have sorted out the design faults.
Had a double lecture the other morning at Cork University, which can be a bit tiring, but fortunately the students were very lively and talkative which is very helpful. You can get drained if they just sit there and absorb everything with blank faces. Afterwards the quadrangle was looking so beautiful in the morning sunshine that I took its picture for you.
Isn't it gorgeous? I'm unashamedly sentimental about my alma mater, and wherever I travelled, and in whatever universities I found myself, I would always keep Cork safe in my heart. It's my favourite and always will be.
Have you seen The Devil Wears Prada? I thought it was so much fun, especially the utterly divine Emily Blunt as the grouchy jealous Number One Assistant to Meryl Streep's Miranda Priestley. Apparently they all had a ball making the movie and trying not to laugh during the furious outburst scenes.
While DH was gasping at the idiocy of anyone, let alone lots of people, thinking fashion was so important, I was gasping at the haute couture, envying the clothes they got to wear, getting ideas... I think I'll get it on DVD when it comes out, and keep it as one of my 'movies to iron by' collection. So far only Moonstruck has got that honour and I know it backwards by this time. You don't want anything too demanding or challenging, or distressing when you're ironing, but something that makes you laugh and feel good about things is great if you can get it.