It was a perfect August day today - a day like they used to make them, when we were young and the school holidays stretched never-ending into the blue distance and woodlands were magical places where you might well find elves or fairies or even a marauding troll. Speaking of which -
- what do you think of this Defender of the Deep Forest who suddenly appeared in front of me in the depths of Killarney woods this morning? I have to admit he made me stop short. But I don't think he was threatening, just reminding that the Old Ones were there long before we foolish humankind and will be there long after we have gone.
I'd taken Sophy down for a bit of a day out, having worked hard over the weekend and yesterday so that we could have this time off. We had morning coffee at the thatched cottage you've seen in previous posts - Sophy is allowed into the main, flagstoned room, as long as she stays there and doesn't try to sneak into the section where food is actually prepared and served. The cottage still has its original leaded windows which give it a lovely peaceful atmosphere.
No, of course that slice of cake wasn't for me. I sneaked little bits of it under the table for Miz Sophy from time to time, so that she wouldn't fret at me to come out from this place and go for a lovely run.
By dint of that bribery I was able to get a few rounds done on the Nancy Bush Anniversary Socks from Favorite Socks. I'm knitting them in a very fine black cashmere, used double (I know, always leads to trouble, splitting yarn, loops left off, don't tell me), so it's not very easy to show the pattern, but it's coming up very nicely. Why black? Well I was on my knees in front of the sock stash (which now occupies a huge plastic container all by itself - good heavens, how it's grown from the days when I could tuck the few skeins into a tiny box), sorting greens from pinks and explosive oranges from purples, when it slowly became borne in upon this tiny Celtic Memory brain that what I actually needed was a really nice pair of knee length black socks, preferably lace patterned, to wear under long skirts. Much addicted to long skirts, Celtic Memory is.
A dusty cone of black cashmere was recalled - although actually finding it took more time than expected - how do cones of yarn disappear within the confines of one room? - and duly wound double. The pattern called for US size 1, so I came down to size 0 because of my regrettable tendency to looseness (on the knit front, that is). The sock is looking a little large at this stage but that's OK: as I want to make them knee-length, I'll switch down a gauge when I calculate I'm halfway down to the heel. Trouble is - have never been able to find size 00 anywhere, no matter how hard I search. Even on the Net, sizes seemed to go straight from 0 to 000. Ah well, we'll see how it goes. It is possible to work a loose tension first, and then gradually tighten up, but it's not particularly easy, and downright impossible if you're watching television as well or even allow the mind to wander to a recalcitrant small dog tearing up cushions or jumping gleefully on beds to dry off muddy paws.
When Sophy's mute pleading looks turned to whinges and whines, the Anniversary Sock was tucked away and we went for a walk. Sunshine everywhere, belying the fact that we've had the wettest summer on record. Even the horses drawing the jaunting cars were in good mood, tossing their heads and almost prancing through the woods.
It is Celtic Memory's birthday today (and thank you so much Peg for that lovely e-card - I laughed until I cried at the little bluetit with the bottle of champagne and had to play it all over again for DH - whose birthday isn't until tomorrow), which is why we were out playing truant instead of slaving over a hot computer. And right on the dot, two self-generated gifts arrived by post - what timing! Now prepare yourself and take a breath before you scrutinise the next picture.
I have to say that I ordered the Starmore before DH surprised me with that amazing weekend in Texas - it's just that post from the US can take an awful long time. And no, I did not win it on eBay. I've looked at it there a few times and have always pulled out of the frantic bidding which pushes the price into stratospheric figures. I had been checking regularly on one of my favourite secondhand book sites and found it there, at a fixed price which was comparatively reasonable when you look at the eBay final bids. And it arrived today! Thank you, Fate!
Leaning elegantly against it are two Colonial Rosewood circulars, a 4mm and a 4.50mm. I have circulars in this size already, but Angeluna's advice about always having several pairs in the same size to hand, the better to start new and indulgent projects, has been found excellent and will be adhered to forthwith.
Now it's possible you don't know about Alice Starmore's Aran Knitting. And you may also wonder what makes a circular knitting needle a worthwhile self-birthday-gift? Oh are you in for a bit of a shock. If you are one of those few (I suppose everyone has to start knitting sometime, and it's like - oh, I don't know, maybe the war, or baking bread, or trying to buy tickets for a pop concert - there is a time in your life when you simply don't realise what is involved, the huge swathe of experience opening up in front of you, some of it less pleasant than others, but all of it life-changing - where was I, what was I talking about?)
Oh yes. If (a) you are a Starmore innocent, and (b) you think all circular needles cost the same, then don't stay here a moment longer. We'll chat among ourselves (and giggle a bit) while you run right over and see if you can buy a copy of Alice Starmore's Aran Knitting anywhere on the Net. When you have results on that (a half hour should do it, one way or the other), go check the price of Colonial Rosewoods.
See? Now you're older, wiser, more shocked. The shock will pass. Believe me, the day will come when you hurl bank books, credit cards, the keys to your husband's Ferrari at an eBayer selling Starmore's Aran Knitting while all the time knowing in your heart that it won't be enough - it is never enough.
(On the other hand, knowing the fraught relationship I have been enjoying - if that's the word - with La Starmore, I wouldn't put it past her, despite the constant and continuous refusals over the years that the book has been out of print, immediately to organise a new paperback edition of the said text. Anyone want to take a bet?)
No, on the other hand, don't make a bet. I don't want to think about that, even as a joke. Let's think about success.
Pomatomus is finished!
I was really pleased to get to the end of these. I love the pattern to bits and I will most certainly make them again, but quick they aren't. What a great design though - Cookie A, you're a genius. I must meet up with you sometime.
The Swallowtail Shawl has progressed one more pattern repeat, and the crop lace cardi is still below the shoulder on the back, so nothing worth photographing there. And Angeluna, the Travelling Cables Cardi is still sitting firmly in the back of my mind. The original yarn just didn't seem right and I haven't found an alternative yet. Nor a colour. I promise I'll tell you when I do. (But suggestions welcomed.)
And then there was one of those late-night sessions on eBay when lots of fascinating knitting patterns came up for sale and I couldn't resist them. Eagerly awaiting their arrival - more temptation to stray from the current projects, more insistent little hands tugging at my sleeve... oh the life of a fanatical knitter is a hard one, no doubt about it. What do you do when temptation beckons just when you've started the second sleeve of a long-in-the-making project? How do you turn your back on the seductive siren? Maybe we should create a helpline - a lifeline? - for those led into temptation?