Tuesday, August 07, 2007

To The Green Woods

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?


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, dear Jo! What wonderful presents - you deserve the needles and the elusive book (I have a copy too - shh, don't tell anyone). I'm one of those annoying people who gets physically uncomfortable if I start too many projects, so mostly I just plug away on the two or three I have going at any given moment, and plan for the project I will start when the current one is done. I may stray into swatching or winding skeins into balls for the next project, but I rarely have more than three going at once. Yes, I am a bit of a freak. Anyway, have a lovely birthday, and tomorrow for DH too!

Angeluna said...

Hope it is wonderful and sending you wishes for many, many more. It looks like you planned the perfect day.

What a stunning photo of "the Defender of the Deep Forest". And I love, love, love your Pomatomus. Very elvin in the green.

What a perfect auto-birthday gift is the Starmore. I congratulate you, I suppose for flinging any hint of practicality to the winds and just buying the darn thing. I'll get there soon.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Jo! May you have happiness and peace, and may more delightful knitting books and yarns and tools find their way to you in the year to come :)

Thank you so very much for sharing your nature photos with those of us who cannot (yet - hopefully someday!) walk amid your Green Isle and it's hosts. I love this Defender, in all his fantastic, forbidding glory.

LaurieM said...

Happy Birthday Jo! I'm happy for you that you had a chance to get away and that lovely things came for you in the mail. We have A.Starmore's Aran Knitting in our local library and I have plans to knit a sweater from it.

Needles said...


This chart was sent to me via my blog.

Jo, did you mean 1.25mm needles? Steel? I picked up some of that size a week or so ago at my LYS. Small and fine and lovely. Or if you meant 1.75mm, I have had some of those for a long while, well as long as I have been knitting. I think they are an INOX product. Very reasonably priced too. I'd be happy to check if they have some more in stock and could ship them off to you asap if they are indeed something you would be interested in. They have some amazingly tiny ADDI Turbos in stock too.

They are not the lovely rosewood needles. I'll sit and sigh while I envy you those. Next month.

Needles said...

I'll try that link again.


All on one line of course. Now if only I could figure out how to really link in comments.

Emily said...

I've been reading your blog daily for a little while now, and I like it a lot! By the way, happy birthday!

I saw someone already offered it, but I too know a store that has 1.75mm needles. DPNs that is, I haven't seen circs in that size yet (though I have a pair of addi turbos in 1.5mm). If you are interested I don't mind checking if they still have the size and buy you a pair. I'm in Belgium so shipping isn't a problem. Just let me know, I don't mind at all!

Happy knitting!

Ambermoggie, a fragrant soul said...

happy birthday Jo and Mr CM:))) hope you have a great time:)

Lene said...

Happy birthday!

You really should not let those beautiful needles lie useless but put them into use soonest! :)

Bridget said...

Many happy returns of the day! Sounds like you had a wonderful birthday, and excellent timing on the self-bought prezzies.

On the size 00 needles--I have a spare set that I would be happy to send you in honor of your natal day (bought them thinking they were 000, then lost the receipt before I could return them). I would feel it was an excellent return for all the enjoyment I've had reading your blog. Email me your address: kriketbml (that last charachter is a lower case L, not a numeral one) at juno dot com.


Charity said...

Happy, happy, happy birthday, Jo! The P socks are amazingly wonderful, I'm so glad you stayed in the game and finished them up! I'm also deeply impressed by the black socks, they sound like the perfect combination of function and luxury. :0)

Micki said...

Happy birthday! What nice presents you give yourself. :)

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday to you and your sweetie. It looks like you celebrated in a very rewarding fashion...

pacalaga said...

I too would be happy to send you 00s, should you require three sets. I knit loose fabric, but not loose enough to require 00s! Susan Bates makes a very inexpensive set of DPNs that (I think) goes to 000 with 1s, 0s, and 00s all together. They're aluminum and each colored differently so you can tell them apart. Say the word and I shall send you some.
Otherwise, I will have to scout out some Addi circs in that size.

pacalaga said...

Oops, I forgot!
Happy Birthday to you and to your patient wool-laden husband!

Anonymous said...

Happy, happy birthday, Jo. what a great idea to organize your book and needles to arrive on the right day!!! I hope the sun continues to shine for you and yours.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely way to spend your birthday! You have the most wonderful adventures. Thank you for sharing them with us in word and pictures.

Peg-woolinmysoup said...

Happy Birthday, my friend. Did you drink or bathe in champagne? Sure hope so, but don't take the Alice Starmore to the bath - NO, NO, she would never forgive you for splashing on her covers!!
I am knitting a little wrap/scarf on Rosewoods! It sounds corny to say that needles feel like silk, but they do!
Enjoy the day!
I am struggling with a mobeius cast on in some ridiculous way - might end up making a long triangle and cleverly twisting and sewing!!

Anonymous said...

You do make me laugh Jo! Glad to hear your birthday was a good one. By the way, I love the green socks.

Dez Crawford said...

Happy, happy birthday, dear Jo! You deserve your lovely presents, and the lovely day, and Starmore!

Once again, you have taken my breath away with the Defender of the Deep Forest. I hope you noed the spot, as you must take me directly to meet him when I visit you.

Huge birthday hugs to you and dear hubby.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday! The Pomatomus look great! Congrats on making it to the end with them.

Anonymous said...

Happiest of birthdays to the two of you! I'd forgotten you share kindred days.

The old guardian is very grand with his many faces and widespreading arms. My first thought was "what wonderful branches to rest upon with a book" but his stern visage gave me pause and realization dawned that he is too venerable.

But I wouldn't be able to resist giving him a hug. :-)

Anonymous said...

Oh my...the Defender gave me goosebumps. Absolutely beautiful. So are the Pomatomi [g], congratulations on finishing them! And I feel for you with the 00 dilemma - I'm a loose knitter too, and those Daffodil socks? 0's. So far the only sock yarn I have that I can knit on 1's is Knit Picks Memories. Everything else insists on 0's! You can see why I'm going so slowly. ;) Aside from just generally being slow.

And Happy Birthday, to both you and DH! What wonderful timing on the book and needles, not to mention the luck (and patience) on finding the book in the first place. Sounds like a goddess is smiling on you! Brighid, perhaps?? Cent' anni!

Martina said...

Happy Birthday! HOW does 29 feel?? The defender is amazing as are the potomus socks!

cindyl said...

Happy Belated to You, Jo, and Happy to hubby. I have my first ever pair of socks on a set of rosewood dp's at the moment, my second ever on 2 sets of Addi circulars. Leave it to me to not even have finished my first sock, let alone pair, before starting another pair. I think there's a psychological diagnosis for this, but to look it up in a book would take time from the darling little dress I'm starting for a granddaughter today.

Anonymous said...

I love your Pomatomus. Great job and wonderful color.

The pictures on your blog made me so anxiuos to visit your area...alas, I am terrified of flying.

Denise said...

Happy (belated) Birthday, Jo!! It sounds like you had a perfect day (Starmore is an appropriate gift for any occasion but even more so on one's birthday).

Please wish Richard a "Happy Birthday" too from both Mr. CPA and me! How fun that your birthdays are so close together.

Congratulations on finishing the socks! They look great and I love the color.

What a fantastic picture the Defender of the Deep Forest is! He reminds me of the Ents in Tolkien's stories.

I must say your photos from the little thatched cottage had me longing for another taste of their delicious desserts...

Chris said...

Belated Birthday wishes from one who has scoured the libray system the length and breadth of the U.K. to get my clammy mitts on anything Starmore and FINALLY picked up Stillwater, PCH and In the Hebrides in a freak of luck on ebay!
(I've been lurking for a while, Love the blog, it makes my day!)

Anonymous said...

Happy (belated) birthday, Jo, and happy birthday to your hubby today (although with the 9-hour time difference, I think it's already tomorrow where you are.) Sounds like you had a perfectly lovely day. I loved the picture of the Defender of the Forest--don't think I'd cross him.

I am lucky enough to own Alice Starmore's Fair Isle book, purchased long ago by my hubby. I didn't realize until recently the true value of this book--holy cow!

Do enjoy knitting your cashmere knee socks. They'll look lovely under your skirt. Where does the sock yarn come from? Honestly, I only began knitting socks just over a year ago, and have, shall we say, an extensive collection already. Perhaps I didn't purchase it all--could my sock yarn be having baby skeins behind my back?

Cookie A. is a genius. I have almost literally drooled over every pattern of hers that I've seen. Your Pomatomuseseses are beautiful.


Anonymous said...

Lucky you!
Nice green woods, thatched cottage,leaded windows,a good cup of tea.....and Alice Starmoore!
It's like a dream, or an Elizabeth Goudge's novel!
I love the socks!
Happy birthday!!!!!!

Cindy/Snid said...

A late Happy Birthday to you and also to Mr. CM! (mine is on Sunday!) I envy you your rosewood needles, those look delicious. And as for the Starmore books- I understand completely! I am fortunate that my local library has both the Aran and FairIsle books, which are sitting right next to me. v It is nice to be able to check them out, I can understand why it would be nice to own them (why won't they reprint these?!)
Your Pomatomus, look great- I would tell Cookie that you think she is a genius, but I always feel weird telling her such things! Come to one of our meet-ups if you are ever in the area and you can tell her yourself. As for me, I am trying to work on the Thelonious socks...

Desperate Housewife said...

Wow, you make me want to visit Ireland. You and Maeve Binchy.