We went away for a few days.
We flew north. We slept a few hours in an airport and woke to fly even further north.
We took a car and drove.
By birch forests where the silvery white of the trunks contrasted with the vivid fresh green of the fluttering leaves.
By vast and silent lakes where cranberries and bilberries were growing thickly on the shore.
We came at last to the quietest lane of all, leading down through the woods to the quietest lake of all.
Can you guess where we were? Who lives there? Here is a clue.
This dog is called Tina.
And we had found Lene. Lene of Dances With Wool.
This meeting is something I have wanted for a long time. I didn't think it would be possible. But then, almost as if they knew and sympathised, Finnair opened a flight from Dublin to Helsinki which made it all suddenly feasible. It took some organising to ensure that one flight linked with another, but we made it. And at last Lene and I could talk, laugh together, show each other our knitting projects, exchange ideas and confidences.
Here we are, sitting on the porch, giggling like a couple of schoolgirls.
We had such a happy time together, I wish it could have been longer. All too soon Richard and I had to get into the car, drive, get to airports, head back to our own world. But I will return to Lene's world in the autumn. I will! I want to sit there again and talk about our passion for crafts (and the inexplicable reason why a project can be the love of our life one day and thrown underneath the table the next!) And I hope she will come to visit me in Ireland too. When we parted, she gave me some skeins of genuine Finnish wool in natural colours. I will make a shawl to remind me of our happy time.
Finland, and especially Lapland, is utterly beautiful. Richard found so many things to photograph and I was entranced with the scent of fresh wood everywhere, the clear cool air (mercifully it was not too hot, so the mosquitoes were not too troublesome), the endless skyscapes. It was strange to wake in the middle of the night and see the sun still shining brightly. I know it would be very odd in the middle of winter too, when there is no daylight, but I would like to experience that as well. I want to know it the way Lene does, see it with her eyes.
What do you think of this? It was in the Santa Claus Centre, right on the line where you cross into the Arctic Circle. A comfortable rocking chair, a big circular needle and a huge roll of knitting already done by friendly visitors. I sat down and added my row.
Of course I had to prove that I had been to the Arctic Circle as well, by working on Pomotamus right by the sign. This is a lovely pattern, a sheer delight to work, and I will probably start another pair as soon as I've finished this one. Lene was right, the pattern, although it appears unbelievably complicated, is very easy to memorise. Working on the foot now, though, which may prove more of a challenge.
And to add icing to the cake of Lapland, I even found a little shop selling traditional crafts, which had a whole wall of YARN! Not just yarn either, but handspun local yarn.
Found some beautiful thick soft grey wool and got enough for a vest. Then couldn't resist some fine sockweight in a natural soft grey, a lighter shade than the thick wool. Tucked them carefully in with Lene's gift skeins and brought them all home in triumph. Even managed to track down some reindeer horn buttons to use on the vest. Will post pictures when I start it (oh, does this count as starting a new project? Maybe if one regarded it as healthy activities pursued during a trip it wouldn't...)
A wonderful, happy, so special few days. Treasured for always in my heart. Lene, thank you for making us so welcome. Kiitos.