We've had several days of dark rainy weather but yesterday I'd had enough. Cabin fever was setting in, so I dragged DH out for a drive into the wilder regions of the South West. Sophy managed to conceal herself among the raincoats on the back seat so got a trip too - she's becoming pretty artful at slipping out of the house and into the car while we're getting organised, and even though you would swear you'd just shut her in the kitchen, there she is pretending to be a furry sweater and not making a sound (until you're safely on your way, and then she leaps into the front for some good cuddling sessions en route). We headed to Glengarriff where the local hotel said no, it couldn't provide scones with the coffee but they did have fresh warm apple pie if that would do...
One of the good things about the Irish scenery is that it looks just as effective - if not actually more effective - in the rain.
The woodlands by the Glengarriff river are wonderful for walking. This is one of those extra-sheltered regions on the West Cork coast that is warmed by the Gulf Stream, so everything grows here with additional luxuriance. And the path meanders and wanders in a relaxed fashion, and the occasional drip down the back of the neck from the trees is more fun than anything else.
This picture is for all those of you suffering severely hot conditions at the moment - Angeluna, Lynn, Marianne, Dez, Carrie, Tania, Vicki, and everyone else in more emphatic climates than ours. Sit by the banks of this virtual river for a little while and breathe in the cool damp air. I benefit so greatly from your spectacular countryside and weather when I'm over there that it's only fair you get a little bit back.
You find some very strange rock and tree formations in these ancient woods...
Isn't that like a powerful Easter Island face on the right? And can you see the mossy green frog-like being on the left, communing with it? No wonder Sophy Wackles bate the hell out of there. 'Go away small creature, we are talking of old things and you are far far too young...'
But she recovered her equilibrium and joie de vivre with a jolly good paddling session later.
'So what if I get all wet and muddy? The best bit is leaping up on Mamma's lap on the way home, all soaking and dripping, and gradually drying off...'
No matter how familiar these woods are, the sheer exuberance of growth is always amazing.
Just look at all the ferns and moss packing into the fork of this tree, and all the creepers and ivy and other greenery forming a backdrop. Just to walk here is to feel the spirits revive.
Thoroughly refreshed, we looked at the map and discovered a very narrow twisting road climbing into the hills and crossing over the Shehy Mountains towards Kilgarvan, so decided to try a little bit of exploring. In its lower reaches, the road wound through thick woods with only the slightest signs now and again that whole communities had once lived here.
This old ruined stone cottage was so thickly covered with moss you would have missed it, except for that sudden shaft of sunshine striking its gable end.
We climbed and climbed, past curious sheep (Irish sheep always prefer to use the road when they can, both for travelling and for taking a nap, so be warned if you intend driving these byways), and waterfalls gushing down rocky hillsides. The view from the top was worth the twists and turns.
See that rushing stream and the old track parallelling its path up, up and over the hills beyond? I must walk that track one day. Generations of country folk will have done so, carrying their wool and butter down to the fair at Kenmare, and it would be good to follow in their footsteps. Did that once on the steep track over the Kit Carson Pass where Nevada meets California's Mother Lode country but there it was deep snow. Every step I took, I felt just a tiny bit of the struggle and fear and effort of those who came across to the west coast this way. What an indomitable spirit they must have had.
Is there going to be any knitting content in this posting, you are asking testily? Sorry, of course there is. The Anniversary Socks (Nancy Bush's, from Favorite Socks) are progressing - the one on the go doesn't look like much at the moment, since the cashmere really should have been gently washed rather than rushed at and slammed on to the needles straight from the dusty cone, but I put it up just to encourage those of you who feel only the best will do, since this obviously isn't the best.
(Oh and speaking of the best, and of good pictures, we're nearing the deadline for the Knitty.com entries for next year's calendar - it's August 17 I think. I'm going to try to photograph my Pomatomus socks somewhere good. Yes, I know I have to take the picture myself and no I'm not going to cheat and ask DH - there would be no joy in getting a place on the calendar if I'd done that, would there? I can get someone to model them easily enough, but where to picture them? Maybe that powerful Defender of the Forest tree in Killarney?)
But back to the Anniversary Sock. I want these to be knee length so I've done a few pattern repeats on the 0 gauge circular. Now I should go down to 00 - but can't locate one. I have 000 but I think that might be too extreme a change of gauge. I enquired of the very helpful Evelyn at Knitty-Noddy and she responded with great promptitude, explaining that Addi didn't do the 00 sizing. Thanks Evelyn, I owe you for that friendly help. Mt. Mom very kindly sent me a link to The Knitting Zone who now stock HiyaHiya circulars in that gauge but they don't seem to have them in 32". I have some 42" and they really are a bit long and tangly to use for socks.
Now look. If someone can find me a 32" circular made by ANYBODY in 00 - that's about 1.75mm - then rush it to me and I'll send you a skein of hand-dyed merino-tencel sock yarn in return. Yes, in your colourway of choice. And no, I most definitely do not mind if I get two pairs from different locations! But they have to be 32" circular and 00 (1.75mm), since I already have 0 and 000. Go search your LYS! Who knows they might be hanging there on the wall squeaking, 'Here, here, buy me for Jo!' In the meantime, I'll bring the second sock down to the same staging post, and wait for someone to make contact!
No, I won't be sockless in the meantime, for heaven's sake what a notion! I gave in to temptation and started the Fawkes socks.
These are really nice to work and the pattern is looking beautiful already. More on those as they progress. But late last night the socks suddenly became unbearable. Didn't want to knit another round - you know the feeling? Hunted for the lace crop cardi (it took quite a bit of finding, being buried under several layers of other subsequent happenings - you know that feeling too?) But finally located it, sitting patiently in the nice blue felted basket, and to make up for its neglect, finished the back before going to bed rather late.
Picture? Picture? Gosh, I didn't take one. Hang on, the sun is out, briefly. Wait there and I'll go rectify the omission.
Now, how was that for speed? Gosh isn't technology wonderful? I estimate that took about eight minutes from leaving the computer to getting back to typing. And not much more than a year ago, I wouldn't have known this could be done, let alone done it!
I'm rather chuffed with this crop cardi pattern. I used that design from Nicky Epstein's Knitting On the Edge and just kept going. Fronts next, then sleeves - and not sure what to use for the band. Maybe an i-cord? You can give me your expert opinion when the fronts and sleeves are done.
Must go dye some more sock yarn. The blackberries are ripening (Lene, I saw the bilberries on your posting, have you gathered many yet?)
I'd like to do a colourway called Blackberry, but it should contain so many subtle shadings - the rich deep purple, the deep crimson of the juice, the paler lavender where the juice runs into the whipped cream ... And up in the misty hills between Cork and Kerry yesterday, the colours of heather and moss and grey rocks gave me the idea for another colourway... Better get going.