Friday, August 03, 2007

The Anticipated Pleasures of a Long Weekend

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...?"


Anonymous said...

Yowsa that's a wonderfully fiery yarn! I think the Phoenix would be proud of you. And oh, your swag! What a lovely discovery, and gorgeous new books--congratulations! Happy-dancing is ensuing for you. ;) Long live Vibes & Scribes!

Needles said...

I. Love. That. Yarn.

Congratulations on the new book and yarn place. It sounds a lot like how I felt when I first discovered knitting on the internet.

I'm a relatively (all things being relative) bright person, but it never occurred to me to search for knitters, crocheters, and the like online. And then there was the discovery of yarn stores online. Who thinks of these things, and why didn't I get the memo?

fluffbuff said...

Nah, you're not knitting Swallowtail after everybody else. I'm knitting it, too. :)

pacalaga said...

Great books. I have coveted Fiona's book for ages, too, but have never just bought it. (I have been seduced by lace, that's why.) I can't believe you'd fly half way round the world and then balk at a book...

Dreamin Diva said...

I love your Phoenix inspired yarn, Jo. In Canada (Nova Scotia) I'm also enjoying a long weekend with time to devote to WIP and spinning. I have fond memories of Cork, too many years ago it is true, but one never knows when the next trip to Ireland will materialize.

Happy long weekend!

Charity said...

Jo, you're so very close to finishing the P socks! Don't get distracted, hang in there for the big long weekend finish! I know you can do it! (Rah, rah, rah!) :0)

The Inspired Cable Knits is incredible. I've been eyeing it up, too, but like you, can't swallow the price here. I'm waiting for the new IK to come out this month, though, it's filled with luscious cables.

Martina said...

Congrats for finding the store!! I am amazed that a book store carries yarn! FYI, Fiona is coming out with new book in October.

Lynn said...

I got my copy of Fiona's book from KnitPicks at a *huge* discount. I buy most of my books there, unless I have a coupon. And I realize that the postage to Ireland would probably cancel out the savings. Huzzah for progress on the yarn front in your part of the world!

I have some of that Blue Heron bookmarked on eBay. When you're done with Swallowtail and we have our next praline/goodie exchange, would you send me a snippet of what you have left so I'll know if I want to invest in it? Thanks!

Your dyeing adventure turned out wonderfully, and I've never found Angeluna to be wrong about color advice. The more variations on a theme, the better, as far as I'm concerned.

I'm glad you said what you did about red not photographing well. I thought it was just my novice photography skills.

Anonymous said...

We need to swap Jo ...every year Summer ends abrutly on July 31st . This means Reading Festival goers slosh about in inches of mud and probably get colds or worse. So you guys can have our holiday as it rains on yours anyhow ..what do you say ?

Roggey said...

One day soon, I'll get the inspired cable knits book...meanwhile, completely envious of your future cabled backpack project. Fine, yes, even highly medicated, I have the knitting lust.

MoMo said...

Don't even consider feeling badly about your Swallowtail. I just started a pair of Jaywalker socks when most of the Knitting Universe made them years ago. I meant to, but just never got around to it. Well, you understand. :-)

Love the picture of Sophy "reading" the pattern! And your Fawkes yarn is stunning!

Katura said...

Lovely yarn, Jo!!!
I'm crazy about your Lunasa yarn as well, you really have an eye for color!

I am coming to Ireland! I was lucky enough to get a 12 hour layover in Dublin on my way to Germany and since you are the only person I "know" in Ireland, I was hoping you could let me know what not to miss on my day in the city? I am hoping to find a good place to eat some Irish food because I am a chef and food is my other passion, besides knitting! Other than that I was just thinking to walk around and see what I can. I can't wait to see your beautiful country in person, someday I will get to see it properly and travel to the countryside! Thanks in advance! ~KC

Peg-woolinmysoup said...

Jo, I have not knit the Swallow tail shawl yet! I now have four skeins of Sea Silk, so I will soon have to get busy and just go for it.
So happy you have a good source of books, yarn, etc. I am so lucky here, but I know it is not as easy in Cork!
Sophy Wackles - she is looking fit for a little gal post surgery! If she is back to knitting, she must be feeling better!

LaurieM said...

Congratulations on getting a LYS! It's a good think you're not a knit-snob and that you stopped to talk to that happy hooker.

PS. You're dying is beautiful Those socks are going to be awesome.

Emily said...

Sophy Wackles? I'm sorry, but how cute is that?!(Hello American- "cute" is being bandied about!) Love the dog pictures!
As far as Virginia, this is my first time spending any real (i.e. not a teenager) time in that state. We're going specifically for two concerts, one in Bristow, one in Virginia Beach and, in theory, for a family trip to the beach. I'll do updates!
On the Fawkes socks, do you know if there's a pattern variation for DPNs? I'm far too intimidated by the complexity of the pattern to make this my first two-circs project.
Love the blog!

Angeluna said...

Too fab...Vibes & Scribes...sounds like it is just around the corner on Diagon Alley! You must support them in the knitting book section. Thrilled for you!!

Fawkes looks divine! Can't wait to see the socks. Must make some, too.

Swallowtail was my very first lace knitting project and I found it very easy and loved it so much, I plan to make it again, with extra Lily-in-the-Valley charts. I already have the yarn if you can imagine that.

All of your knitting is looking wonderful and I can't wait to see things finishing up. Ahemmmmm, Travelling Cables???

cindyl said...

Jo, Jo, Jo.
I am seriously disheartened by this latest blog. I've always considered Ireland, England, Scotland, all of you "lands," as the lands of knitting. When it is a hundred and eight degrees here, I love picturing my "land" knittersisters, wind and rain chasing each other around the corners of their cottages, needles in hand and a fluff of some heavily cabled woolen taking shape in their laps. To think that you have to hunt so hard for a LYS makes me just plain sad. Like finding out the Easter Bunny is just a greedy dentist in a fuzzy suit.
From here in Texas, where I'm working on a bamboo/cotton tank top to wear on Christmas Day.

Marianne said...

GORGEOUS handdyed yarn, Jo. I'm frantically trying to catch up with everyone, you've been so very busy!
Congrats on having a book and yarn source so close by! I know I'm not the only one who finds that such an island with so many 'yarn on the hoofs' lacking in yarn to be quite the puzzle, I know, you've explained it a very far past post...still. It does boggle my mind.
I don't know what's worse though, not having lys close by or being on an even stricter 'no buying allowed' and having 3 lys in town.
Love the Swallowtail, I have another one on the needles but no real time to knit...yet.
(Thank you for all the kind thoughts you've sent)