Thursday, February 15, 2007

Spring's Gone Back Indoors, So Let's Knit

You should just see the morning we have here in West Cork. Wild shrieking winds buffeting the house, rain slashing diagonally across the garden. The dogs had to be tricked into going out (me saying, 'Oh look, that's definitely a BURGLAR down by the gates, do you see? Run, run, quickly and defend our lands!' It worked for about five minutes). It's as dark as the inside of a hat, and I feel like retiring to the airing cupboard with a large bar of organic dark chocolate and a Brother Cadfael novel. The winds howled all night, and I thought of the wild headlands, and gorse bushes bending against the storm, and little animals tucked far down in their moss-lined burrows (well they might line them with moss, why wouldn't they?)

Yesterday was one of those marathons. It's my own fault, I never seem to be able to get work done until I hear that thrilling sound of deadlines approaching at speed. Between dawn and dusk I managed:

One full length feature on the Chinese New Year, coming up this weekend (with Irish interest of course, editor demanded that, interview with lad from Fu Jian Province married to Cork girl, that sort of thing).

One full length feature on the cottage industries of Muckross House, Killarney (tee hee!) for Ireland of the Welcomes, May/June issue. This was scheduled for July/August but they decided to make the earlier one a focus on West Cork and Kerry and asked me to get it in sooner. Richard had to burrow around in his files pretty frantically too, as he couldn't remember where he'd filed John Cahill that lovely weaving man. How could anyone lose a man with access to such divine yarns? I have his cellphone number, the gate access number and the ages of his three children inscribed on my heart. (Heck, I should have checked when their birthdays were. When HIS birthday was. Too late for a Valentine? Maybe a bit unsubtle.) No, it's not all about John and his shed in the woods - the bookbinding/conservation workshop and the lovely little pottery are in there too. This earlier publication will do them some good for the summer months, I hope.

One advertising feature on a new prestigious housing development outside Mitchelstown.

One advertising feature on a Wedding Fair coming up at an Elizabethan country manor near Ballymaloe, East Cork.

One Theatrenights column, a regular weekly round up of what's on and coming along.

One Busy Today column, another weekly regular. This, however, entailed driving down to Ballymakeera with Richard to locate and photograph a delightful young man who is making bread like it used to be (you know, when you were carrying it home and couldn't resist breaking off a bit of the crust to nibble?) It's so good that people are travelling from all over the county to get a loaf. Then back to write it up and email it in. Isn't the Net wonderful? (R was bribed for that outing with the promise of a freshly ground coffee and scone at An Cruiscin Lan in Ballymakeera, but they'd just had a power failure - disaster! Went on to another place further away where they only had heavy brown scones that cracked the plate when you dropped on (it was accidental, I swear, why would I want to draw attention to its weight and hardness?) and a huge bowl of raw onion on the table next to the jam which was a trifle offputting. No names, no pack drill, but you know who you are. We have serpents even in the Garden of Eden. While we were there, we also called in to see Paudie Cronin who does wonders in wrought iron, to see if he would be willing to make an oval flue pipe for the tiny gypsy stove. He's going to call round one evening to measure angles and chimney gaps and frightening things like that.

All this meant that by teatime the duvet and the pillow looked awfully tempting. However, the fire was made up, and the knitting hauled out. And yay, here's the good news -


I am aware that this image is a little lurid. You are not, however, aware that it took DH several attempts, a great deal of varied and expensive equipment, and more than a few muttered swear words even to get it to this standard. I think it's the red that does it - it seems to be the most impossible colour to capture. But you can see the motifs and that I got there in the end. Whew!

Of course Angeluna, Devil in Prada that she is, having pressured me to get on with the Celtic Vest (and she has a way of making you jump up and do something without even considering whether you want to or not), then immediately sent me a couple of images from somebody's completed Travelling Cables Cardi . 'Aren't these beautiful?', she asked innocently. Yes, they are. Are you being helpful to my Celtic Vest project? No you're not.

So I went hunting for the TCC, ran it to earth behind the big armchair up in the sitting room (luckily Muffy hadn't found it first), and started the painful task of trying to discover where I'd got to. It was so long since I'd started out enthusiastically (way back before Christmas, I think) that I had no idea what was going where and which cable went which way. Managed to get a few rows done, so you know I'm on the task.

No, not much done since last time, but at least I've got the markers in and started the travelling. For some reason it's giving me a lot of trouble - maybe I'm out of practice on this pattern. I keep forgetting my Make One or my P2Tog until I'm way further on in the row, and then have to frog back, muttering darkly. Maybe it will get easier when I get back into the swing of it.

No, I haven't forgotten the Celtic Vest. I observed the safety routine by immediately casting on for the left front, the second I bound off the last stitch on the back. But it hasn't gone any further since then. I need a break.

The Blackberry Pie socks are coming on just fine, though. Isn't it great when you get beyond the heel and can start whacking down the foot?

The top sock here is on the instep shaping and the bottom one is ready to move down towards the toe. Somebody (was it Wanda?) suggested decreasing a few more stitches down from the original at this point, if you have a narrower foot, and I've done that. Thanks for the tip.

On the last pair of socks (the beautiful but uncomfortable Glitz) I also did some individual toe shaping, since I don't have an evenly shaped end to my foot - more of a sharp angle. I was able to work that into the toe decreases so I now have a left and a right sock, just like shoes. This is one of the things that is holding me back from trying toe-up socks - I don't know if I'd be able to recreate that backwards and in high heels, as Ginger Rogers would say. (Actually she was pointing out, wasn't she, that she was an even better hoofer than Fred Astaire and she had a definite point.)

And since my Celtic Memory stash yarns seem to be selling merrily on eBay, I had a little indulgence and ordered some of my own personal absolute luxury, Colonial Rosewood Circulars. Now I like Lantern Moons very much, I have great respect for those old dowagers, Holz & Stein, and I use bamboos all the time, but there is nothing in the world like Colonial Rosewoods. Think Chanel rather than chain store, organic 85% chocolate rather than Vegeolate and you're close. These are simply the most wonderful needles in the world and once you've tried them, you won't want anything else.

Which is one way of breaking it to those of you who don't already know that these are expensive. Seriously expensive. So expensive that I'm not even going to tell you, in case you have a seizure.
Dear heaven the wind is still howling. But you're having it worse. I know it's freezing in the UK, and North America, gosh, you're in the middle of a storm warning, or so it looks from my TV screen. Anne and all those of you headed to Portland, Maine, for the SPA knit-in, take care on the way and have a lovely time. Wish I could be with you. Deb of The Irish Ewe, are you going? Oh why am I over here when you're all there and I should so obviously be there too?

I think I feel a strong coffee and scone coming on.


pacalaga said...

I prefer to knit my socks toe up - aside from my pathological fear of running out of yarn at the toe, I dislike the first few rows of circular knitting intensely. Last time around I considered adding some offsides shaping to my toe since my big toes are the longest. I didn't get it right, and just wanted to knit so I ignored it, but it's still floating around in my head. If you come up with anything, lemme know.

Jan said...

Thank you for the lovely words on my TCC but I really do think yours will be lovelier (is that spelled right?) than mine.

Fiberjoy said...

Your storm is being shared with us in the Pac NW. Howling gales of drenching rain are pounding our world to mudpies. My animals are let out the bare minimum absolutely necessary. Kobie the pom wants to scratch his scent deep into the yard then merrily transplant globs of it onto the kitchen floor.

I wish I could take credit for sock decrease along the foot - which I do- but I don't recall passing on the idea.

The patterning of the grey TCC is very appealing.

Peg-woolinmysoup said...

Love your Celtic vest, Jo. Red and black are two of my favourite colours, but they do not like being photographed! You can see on my blog that I started it in the delicious Silk and Cashmere you sent me!
We are having the rains, minus the gales here!

Charity said...

I'm loving your Blackberry Pie socks! I like the idea of shaping the toe just for you, it's so couture of you. :0)

Oh, Jo, those Rosewoods! It's very cruel of you to introduce me to luxuries like that!

Anonymous said...

I certainly shan't complain about our cold snap (a wimpy thing when compared to the trials and tribulations up north) after hearing about your gales. Those poor brave little dogs, being tricked out of the cozy house to chase burglars.

OK, OK, the back of the vest is STUNNING. Congratulations. Keep those fingers busy, you are now quite close and I KNOW you are going to love this one. You will have it on your back before you even work the ends in. Think what a cozy extra layer it would be on a stormy night.

I have the same nightmare with both my "real" cameras that go click and my digital when trying to capture reds, pinks and oranges. I'm sure there is a technical explanation for this and I'd love to hear it one day. Color saturation or somesuch.

That was a nice TCC, wasn't it? It was just so good to see one finished and being worn and how flattering it was. Inspirational.

What an eclectic bunch of assignments on which you have been working. At least it's not boring routine. And to write on Muckross House must have been fun. What sort of pottery is it? Would love to taste that bread. And really good dark chocolate is quite the cure for most of what ails us, is it not?

Peg, I did go to your blog and saw your lovely crop cardi and vest and Cul de Sac starting up. Sorry I couldn't post there since I am tragically (but intentionally) blogless.