It's our August Bank Holiday this weekend. We take the first Monday of the month, the UK takes the last, and everybody's happy. Outside my window I can hear the sound of traffic faintly drifting up from the main road to Killarney as the caravans and the camper vans head west into the setting sun (well, actually into the thickening mist - the spirits of the Irish climate don't like to make things too idyllic in case it gets too crowded, so they are pretty well guaranteed to provide wind, rain and associated wild conditions on every Bank Holiday. Keeps the dust down - hah, as if dust ever had a chance of forming here!)
Where was I? Oh yes, it's the long weekend and oh the pleasurable anticipation of time - time to spend on lovely knitting projects. It's been another busy week, not only on the hack journalism front (interviews here, previews there, summaries and stories in the far corner) but also in dye matters. You may recall an attempt a few weeks ago to create a colourway worthy of being used to make those stunning Fawkes socks designed by Socktopia in honour of Dumbledore's wonderful mythical phoenix which not only gave a feather to Harry Potter's wand but saved his life too. Well that first attempt gave a nice enough result but not good enough. So, with Angeluna's warning ringing in my ears to use vermilion, use pink, not to stay just with the oranges and the yellows, I got going again. The skeins were dyed. They were overdyed. They were dunked, painted, edged, touched. And finally Phoenix Feathers was finished, washed tenderly in lavender shampoo and hung out to dry.
I'm quite pleased with the result this time.
Cameras are notoriously troublesome when it comes to reds, but you can see the apricot pinks in here too, I think, as well as the warmer vermilion. I made just four skeins of this (they took a lot of work) and listed one of them on eBay last night. I will probably list two more in the weeks ahead, but one of them is definitely staying right here. This is August, this is my birthday month, and I'm going to have a pair of Fawkes socks to show for it!
Ye-e-e-s, there are one or two projects already sitting around expectantly in baskets or bags, now that you mention it. The never-ending Pomatomus, for example -
so nearly finished, so nearly finished. Working down the second foot. Should get through them this weekend - maybe tonight even. That's if I don't get distracted by -
Item: The lace crop cardi. This is based on a nice design in Nicky Epstein's Knitting On The Edge and I'm working it out as I go along. Done the armhole shaping on the back and heading for the neck. See the nice felted basket holding the yarn? It's lovely and light for slinging on my arm and wandering around the garden, knitting as I go.
Item: The Swallowtail Shawl. Yes, Celtic Memory has finally got her act together and started on this iconic piece just about a year after everybody else. (Gosh, when I remember how I yearned for the pattern, yowled for it, searched throughout British Columbia for it, ran it finally to earth on Quadra Island, bought Sea Silk for it, bought Lace Silk for it - and then... well, got distracted, I suppose. How these things do happen!)
But ANYWAY, the urge came back uncontrollably when I saw Lynn working happily away on hers at the Sisters of the Wool get together when I paid that flying visit to Texas. Suddenly I couldn't bear to think of Lynn making this and me not making it with her - you know the feeling? Hunted out the Blue Heron Beaded Rayon, since I'm conspicuously lacking in courage when it comes to treating Seasilk badly, and would prefer a trial run. So Lynn, I'm a bit behind you, but I'll surely catch up this weekend.
Although there are other distractions too. You won't believe this, but I made a wonderful discovery in my own city of Cork today. I'd stopped to speak to the receptionist in the building where the Irish Examiner is now located, and she confessed that she crocheted to while away the long hours. This naturally led to a long discussion and exchange of views ("go away you silly visitor, can't you work out what floor you want yourself, can't you see we're busy?") and a promise on my part to bring in some shawl patterns for her to try. In return she told me that she'd seen some nice knitting books in a shop called Vibes & Scribes on the other side of town. Knitting books in Cork? Knitting books in Ireland? I think not. But to humour her (and because I can't pass up even a whisper of a hint of a rumour where knitting books are concerned) I headed over there.
Omigod! It can't be true! I don't know if they've hired a new buyer, or if someone with a sense of what is really important in life has made it to managerial level, but this bookshop has turned over a whole section to crafts, and not only craft books but craft SUPPLIES. A window display of beads that was stopping the traffic, handmade papers, stamps, paints - and yes, a big central unit full of knitting and crochet books - and YARN!
Now once again I realise that for a great many of you, this stunning discovery won't hit home. You'll yawn (I nearly typed 'yarn' there!), nod, maybe admit that it's nice to find a new source, but that will be all. You won't realise the total lack of such facilities within the Emerald Isle. You won't feel, as anyone living here does, the desperation akin to that of a thirsty man in the desert. But if you can imagine that man in the desert, stretch your mind a bit further and imagine him rounding a sand dune to discover a little oasis with flags fluttering, green trees offering shade, and a smiling waiter with a tray of iced drinks....
Vibes & Scribes, I salute you (patience, patience, I didn't have a camera with me, DH is on the task and will provide images tomorrow, I promise). Not only did you have several books which I would have been delighted to find in the Land of Promise and Unending Yarn Supplies (aka the U.S.), but also - take a deep breath, gang - Artesano! Yes, all shades of Inca Cloud, Inca Mist, and Hummingbird. Plus Brittany needles and crochet hooks. This in a city where until recently all you could find was pastel acrylic and count yourself lucky! How things change.
I don't know how long that oasis is going to last in Vibes & Scribes. I hope that the good people of Cork will hail it with cries of delight and keep it so busy that they'll have to re-stock again and again. But I won't take any chances. I'll buy all I can.
On this occasion, however, since I was on a strict post-Texas economy drive, I confined myself to two books.
It was a close-run thing between this and the Vogue Little Book of Bags & Backpacks, but this one made it in the end, since it had more variation in its designs (quite a few of those in the Vogue book looked to be just different yarn or colour versions of the same pattern).
I think I'll make this one first. And then another one the same, maybe in a lighter gauge yarn as a cute gift for a new baby. You know, like saying you're never too young for your first backpack...? With a toy inside. Or no - for the older child when the baby gets a quilt. Then he or she won't feel left out but will feel important.
And this one I was really really chuffed to bits to get. I'd admired it in Canada but balked at the $50+ price tag. I yearned for it again in the States, but still found $35+ unacceptable. And then, where should I discover it, but in my own city of Cork and - wait for it - REMAINDERED! I got this beauty for €19.99. YO and again YO!
There might be time for some ironing this weekend. There may be a little sweeping, a hint of cooking. But the majority of the lovely long weekend will be devoted to knitting. Even Sophy Wackles got into the mood, hauling out a shawl pattern to decipher before going off to hunt for a chewy circular and some enticing yarn.
Mamma, you know where it says "yo, k2tog tbl...?"