It really is pretty wild here tonight. Thanks for your kind thoughts, Barb in Texas, but we're fine. So far anyway! Luckily our house is a little down from the top of the hill - something I used to deplore because it meant we didn't have such a good view of the lakes when the trees were in leaf in summer, but right now I'm rather glad we're not up there in the teeth of this stormy weather. It howls for a day or two, then quietens down, and then returns again refreshed with renewed force. Never known anything like it. Right now the gales are shrieking round the house and the trees are lashing their branches frantically. It's definitely a night for the fireside and a new project on the needles.
No, no, NO! Scrub that last phrase. Not another project, ABSOLUTELY not. Finish what's on the go, get to the bottom of the WIP basket, and THEN, only THEN (well not then either, the ironing mountain has grown to the height of the Himalayas en masse by now) can one even afford to think about new projects.
The temptation doesn't go away, though, does it? Having devoured both Interweave Knits and Vogue Knitting in one sitting (so much for rationing myself and making them last) I have at least three I want to start right away. And there are still those beautiful projects from previous issues - do you know, despite purchasing all that exquisite Seasilk and Silk from Fleece Artist, I still haven't started the Swallowtail Shawl, and not only do I want to make that stunning Michael Kors Aran sweater in the fall issue of Vogue Knitting, I even have the right silk/cashmere to do it justice. Plus Peg drew my attention some time ago to a glorious cabled crop cardi on Knitty.com which would be a really useful addition to my wardrobe in these darker months if I made it in a nice bright singing red.
But progress has been made. Yes, smiling modestly, I can at last announce that not just one but TWO WIPs have made it past the finishing line and are now FOs. First that chunky charcoal crop cardi, copied from an unbelievably expensive French item barely glimpsed in a snobbish boutique.
Made this one entirely by guesswork and it hasn't turned out too bad. Nice and warm too, despite its exiguous length. The sleeves are wide and can be turned up to the elbow to change the look.
Then the shepherd's vest finally got completed and I had just enough of the original yarn to finish the front so no need to frog part of the back, thank heaven.
DH is out in the stormy night, photographing debs or politicians or something, so I couldn't model it for you, but take my word it has inset pockets on the front and alternating squares of stocking stitch and moss stitch. It's pretty simple in design, just rectangles, and the top corners turn back naturally to form lapels. It's nice to shrug on over a sweater on cold mornings for extra warmth when taking the dogs out to see what damage the winds did overnight.
So there is a certain amount of satisfaction chez Celtic Memory that two at least of the growing heap of WIPs have moved on into usefulness and public life. Now the Celtic Vest and the Travelling Cables really need to wake up from their extended winter holiday and get back into action.
However, in the meantime, an exciting package arrived from Texere Yarns. I had ordered some alpaca and some cashmere/silk/angora fibres and they galloped over from Yorkshire post haste, in the teeth of an opposing gale, bless them.
I was a bit nervous about spinning with the alpaca for the first time so consulted the expert in the shape of Anne who advised trying small samples first. I decided to take the safe route and used a little drop spindle for preliminary trials. You can see it in the picture above. So far I'm make rather lumpy, uneven yarn, but I'll persevere and it may smoothen out. Think of being able to supply your own knitting needs with alpaca yarn!
Had a most happy and serendipitous experience today. Heading home from giving my Saturday lecture to journalism students (today's subject: we are totally and utterly controlled by one form or another of pervasive media and should never make the mistake of thinking that we think for ourselves because we can't any more, or aren't allowed to) and popped in to a local antique shop to wish them a Happy New Year. There in the corner was the most adorable, cuddly, desirable little sweetheart you could ever imagine.
This is a genuine tiny gypsy stove, the kind that was fitted into a horse-drawn caravan and was used for cooking, boiling water, warmth, everything. I've wanted one of these all my life! (No, of course I didn't tell the shop owner that. I bargained and produced real cash - always a good way to bring the price down.) Then he helped me to lift it into my little jeep (it's a heavy little thing!) and I brought it delightedly home. It's sitting here in the fireplace of the sitting room and I've lit a candle on top of it right now to make it feel wanted and welcome.
Look, you can lift up the decorative top and there are two little hot plates underneath! And two tiny doors open at the front to feed in fuel or to make toast! Now all I have to do is take it down to Paudie Cronin in Ballymakeera and get him to make me a flue pipe for it (it's got a very odd oval-shaped outlet at the back, but Paudie is well able to create anything in iron - he makes the most wonderfully decorative gates). I don't know whether to call this new member of the family Sam Wild (after a Victorian travelling showman I researched once, who had a stove like this in his caravan), or Baba Yaga after the Russian witch of fairy tales who lived in a stove in the deep forest - a stove that danced on thin chicken legs. That image always delighted me as a child (still does, now I come to think of it).
I've been commenting on other people's weblogs on the following issue, but now I want to put in my own tuppenceworth about the Blue Moon and Socks That Rock vs NastyStupidBank fiasco. I know you'll all have heard about it by now, and I'm just as certain that it must be making you as incandescent with rage as it does me. What a typically stupid, narrow-minded, MALE mindset (sorry all the men I know well and love - you're excepted). Imagine being so smugly sure that you know all the really important things in life that you decide knitting and loving yarn simply aren't possible on a large scale, and that in no way could thousands of women enjoy such a hobby as making beautiful socks.
(If by any chance you've been out of the world for the past couple of weeks, you can get an excellent summary of the fiasco on Yarn Harlot's weblog.)
I've done what I can so far. I've sent messages of support to Blue Moon and I've ordered a skein of their sock yarn (Nodding Violet, as I recall). But that's not enough for my temper. I want that bank to KNOW what it's done. I mean I want its directors to really REALISE the extent of their huge and excruciatingly embarrassing blooper. I want the WHOLE WORLD to laugh at them, point their fingers, and then take their accounts elsewhere. What incredible arrogance and ignorance. Oh just wait until I find out their identity. They'll be sorry they were ever born to be bankers (did I spell that right?)
Gosh, I'm all worked up again as I think of it. I think I'll go and do a teeny weeny swatch for the Michael Kors cabled sweater to calm me down.