Been away for a couple of days, seeing a show in the UK that is coming to Killarney next month. A new and very lively production of Fame, with a cast so young and so energetic that it made me tired just watching them throw themselves all over the stage. Great fun, but it was nice to get back home to West Cork where life is greener and quieter and the industrial revolution never happened.
Some nice treats to tell you about. First of all, an eagerly-awaited package from Jenkins Woodworking of Fiberjoy fame, containing some of Ed's wonderful circular needles in rare and beautiful woods. The packages from Jenkins are always so carefully wrapped to protect their precious contents, but this time the stiffening used to keep the needles straight was not cardboard...
but a bar of dark chocolate truffle! Isn't this just the kind of nice surprise everyone should get in the mail?
I'd ordered two circulars in a fit of self-indulgence, since these are undoubtedly the Rolls Royces of needles and I felt like being queen for a day. One 6.5mm in pink ivory wood, and one of Ed's newest productions, a fine 2.75mm in bloodwood.
And just look at this! I hadn't expected it, but there it was - my name, and CMY for Celtic Memory Yarns! Not only on the larger gauge but, incredibly, on the fine one too!
(I asked Richard, not with much hope, if he could possible arrange a magnifying closeup of the finer needle to show the fairy lettering, and to my surprise he managed it right away. 'How do you think I photograph ants?' he asked exasperatedly. Hadn't thought about it at all actually, but there you are, I should pay more attention to what he's doing when I'm yarn hunting.)
How can you live without some of these needles in your own collection? Mind, I don't guarantee that they will come with your name in teeny tiny lettering. And the chocolate bar was a personal gift. But to own some of Ed's beautiful work and have it in your home is a joy. Get over there and drool right NOW!
Of course I could have kept both of these as works of art, but the temptation to fondle, handle, get them working, was too much. And so, dashing out to the airport frantically late for the trip to Leeds, I grabbed the finer ones and a ball of hand-dyed sock yarn, plus the pattern for Pomatomus.
This is as far as I got, from flying out yesterday (well it was a short flight!) to getting back this afternoon. Cookie A's patterns do demand that you concentrate on every single row (indeed every single stitch) so it isn't one of those you can happily work away on while conducting interviews or having dinner with PR folk, unfortunately. I'm enjoying it very much so far. Doubtless there is rough water ahead, if not Niagara Falls, but the new polished wood circulars from Jenkins are wonderful to use and seem to be enjoying themselves too.
Har har, I hear some of you chuckle in the background. Didn't take her long to get started on a new project, did it? So much for those wonderful resolutions, those goals listed so nobly in her last posting. Well har de har to you too, 'cause it didn't take me too long to discover the flaw in my beautiful reasoning and I suppose you spotted it as well, didn't you?
If you take the two goals:
(a) Use up ridiculously huge stash IMMEDIATELY, before ever buying any more yarn;
(b) Don't start ANY new projects until everything already there is finished;
almost immediately it becomes clear that it will be difficult to achieve (a) without smashing (b) beyond hope of repair. After all, how the heck is one supposed to use up stash if one doesn't DO anything with it?
Which is absurd, as they used to say in geometry classes (and what, oh what, was the use of geometry? Maths, yes, that skill has come in useful since, even if only to calculate the number of stitches by which one is out in a particularly difficult pattern, but geometry?)
Where was I?
Oh yes. It is clearly absurd to have the laudable aim of using up stash in the first place if one then puts in place additional (also laudable but in this case regrettably unachievable) aims in the second place, which in effect try to stop you doing just that in the first place.
So no, thank you for asking, but there was no twinge of guilt at starting the Pomotamus.
And while we're at it, I might as well come out in the open and confess that I also started a rather good little crochet vest in that nice cashmere/silk yarn that looks like string and smells like a manure heap when first washed.
And I am not sorry, not sorry at all, ha ha ha! Not for starting the vest (using up stash, using up stash, da da da), and certainly not for indulging my secret passion for crochet. I'm not ashamed of it. I'm proud to be a hooker. And that's another of Ed Jenkins' beautiful products there, a very lovely crochet hook which slides and grips and hooks superbly. A pleasure to work with.
Now another package arrived today (STOP it, this was ordered way back before my conversion on the road to Stashland). This one is all Angeluna's fault (and hey, can you see that link? The best news in AGES! Angeluna has at last come on board with her very own supremely elegant blog! Yo! Go over there right now and visit. She and I are going to guest bitch (sorry, it must be my fingers that are tired from travelling, can't think how that came up on the keyboard), are going to guest chat on each others' blogs from time to time, with a frank and outspoken exchange of views on yarn and knitting matters generally. Seconds out of the ring...
Anyway, it was Angeluna - and don't try to deny it girl - who innocently emailed me with a link to these amazing socks, knowing that as soon as I set eyes on them I would be done for. Which I was. Ordered the kit immediately from Jennifer at vanCalcar Acres, and there was the package in the postbox this morning.
This is the most wonderful design, with Celtic interlacements all over the place and even a special separate motif on the ankle bone, done in i-cord. This will have to be my first pair for the Summer of Socks, most definitely, don't you think?
(Look, it's in the stash NOW, ok? Ordered before the moratorium, and will have to be used anyway. And I don't need an excuse now that I think about it, because it's a kit, and it's sock yarn, so it doesn't COUNT. )
(And thank you Dez for checking the records and confirming that it was indeed the Kashmir Knit Free, Knit More (And More) Convention which formally decided in 2000 or thereabouts that sock yarn did not count as stash. I knew it was in the files somewhere. Indeed, if I remember rightly (and surely I do, the Celtic Memory brain is not yet ossified), that convention was only the final in a long series which debated the burning issue of Sock Yarn As Stash over several decades, wasn't it? Who could forget the Council Of Crete? The Sock Sessions of Baltimore? The Defrogging Of Prague? Angeluna, you're the expert here, along with Dez. It's time these great historic battles were revisited, rediscussed, made better known to younger, more innocent knitters.)
And look what came in the package with the Imbas kit.
Another little bag with a small skein each of two blue yarns, and a note from the Yarn Fairy saying they were for heels and toes as well as stash enhancement (my italics). Isn't that a nice way to do business? Yo Jennifer, I'll be back!
But shock, horror (and alas for the determination and strength of character of Celtic Memory) now the Imbas pattern has a strong rival. Beth mentioned that she was thinking of doing the Brigit design for the Summer of Socks and of course I had to find out about this, didn't I? Thank you Beth for letting me know I could find it on Socktopia. Just go and look at it. Amazing!
I can't believe all these people out there who can design such amazing socks. But I'm very glad they do. I've got amusement for the rest of my life and I haven't even begun hunting for patterns on my own (might be better not to!)
Angeluna, you asked about Tibb's Eve. It's the Irish equivalent of the Twelfth of Never, as in, 'You'll see that fella get married and settle down on Tibb's Eve', or 'You might be waiting until Tibb's Eve for that bus to come along.'
And a couple of you asked about 'composed yarn'. I couldn't think how else to describe the yarns I put together - yes, there are long lengths of different yarns knotted together, but most of the time there are two or three in each length, each one of a different texture or fibre, so that you get all kinds of cadences and lights and unexpected effects. The most fun (as well as the most work) comes in combining different shades of the same colourway and then introducing another colour to complement them, all linking to a specific theme. In Wild Roses of West Cork, for example, up on eBay at the moment, I looked at the hedgerows around here, and saw how the wild roses varied in colour from white through pale pink to deep rich pink, and how their leaves were every shade from grey-green to dark. And then I wanted to put in yarns which looked like gossamer webs with the dew on them, and the twining brambles, and all the other richness of the wild hedgerows. When a skein is knitted up, it should give the effect of seeing such a profusion of lush growth and reflect its colours. The next one I'll do will be Lunasa for the beginning of August, with all the golds and oranges and dazzling colours of harvest and haymaking in the countryside.
Speaking of the countryside, we had a gift of a day last Monday (which was Whit and a holiday here - the English celebrate it a week earlier but Ireland keeps to the traditional date in early June), and I took Sophy Wackles down to Killarney to celebrate the beautiful weather. A week ago the hills on the Kerry border were blanketed in mist, but on this occasion the skies were amazingly clear (it is seldom you get a clear sky in Ireland, there are usually clouds somewhere) and the unicorn who guards the border between Cork and Kerry was reaching proudly into the heavens.
Although the usual tourist places were crowded, the woods at Muckross were empty and we were able to wander in complete peace through the mossy silence.
Sophy enjoyed herself thoroughly, clambering about and reading strange messages in clumps of fern and behind bushes.
In case the dog lovers among you are wondering, I know I have called her Sophie in past postings, but that was me being lazy and going with the more usual spelling. Her correct name is in fact Sophy Wackles, after the young lady who broke Dick Swiveller's heart in Dickens' novel, The Old Curiosity Shop.
And a propos, I think a lot of people, Celtic Memory included, will be waiting eagerly on July 21 for the issue of the very last book in the Harry Potter series, wondering in an agony of suspense who will win through and who will not survive. What has this to do with Dickens you enquire? Well, when The Old Curiosity Shop was being serialised, copies of the weekly numbers were sent across the Atlantic by ship to the New World, there to be seized upon and read with avidity by Mr. Dickens' American fans who loved the tale of the old grandfather, the terrifying dwarf Quilp, the mischevious Dick Swiveller, and the saintly Little Nell. When it came close to the end of the book, crowds were waiting on the quayside for the final instalment, and as the ship came in, there were huge shouts from shore to ship of, 'Did Little Nell die? What happened?' It's an image that remains very vivid to this day - so many people so eager to find out the denouement of a famous book.
Much as I love them, I hope J. K. Rowling doesn't write any more in the series. She said she would only do six, and that makes them a cohesive whole. Authors have often been tempted out of retirement by huge financial promises, but the result is seldom worth it. There really shouldn't have been a Bridget Jones 2, let alone 3. And yet, and yet... when Arthur Conan Doyle was persuaded to bring Sherlock Holmes back from the dead, he created some of his most exciting adventures thereafter. Maybe it depends on the strength of the character involved.
Goal for this week? Not to make any promises I don't intend to keep.