Maybe it's the weather we've been having. Misty, drizzly, the sun only showing its face every third day, and then for the bare few minutes to remind us it's still around before it disappears again.
When Sophy Wackles and I went down to Gougane Barra for a stroll the other day, even the enchanted little island seemed to be floating above the lake, insubstantial as a dream.
The holly berries were already ripening, though, and giving a welcome flash of scarlet against the grey hills where the druids walk -
- and the woods were as magical as ever. The luxuriantly thick moss covers everything, and you have to look hard to see the vague outlines of what were once sturdy little stone walls around hard-won fields, before the trees took the land back.
Here's a closeup of that tree, so you can enjoy the rich variation of greens and browns as much as I did (can't give you the wonderful scent of fresh earth and moss and damp, unfortunately). Wouldn't you love to create something like that in fibre? Don't think we could ever match Mother Nature, though.
Here's some of her superfine lacework -
- and her dreamy stained glass.
Maybe it is the weather then, creating that urge to snuggle up by the woodstove with a nice knitting or crochet project. It's that time of year after all, and within a few weeks everybody will be panicking wildly about holiday gifts, so getting a head start makes sense really - doesn't it?
Which is one way of confessing that start-itis has broken out with rampant ferocity chez Celtic Memory during this last while. Now there were more than enough projects OTN already without any further bright ideas springing to mind, but somehow all control seemed to go. Brilliant thoughts proliferated, exciting possibilities even invaded dreamtime. Just one teensy new project then. Oh but how about that one? And this? Oh look, isn't that just divine? And wouldn't this make an ideal gift?
Shameful it is. But I can wear the sackcloth and ashes with the best of you. Behold me then, crestfallen and repentant (well, maybe...), trailing the following behind me:
The Charcoal St. Enda. Impeccable lineage from the Starmore stable, which must be why I laid the cashmere/silk version in palest cream to one side and started it again in darkest Shetland yarn. You can never have enough Starmore can you (says she cravenly, hoping to break that Stornoway Curse for once and for all).
The Somoko Socks, in (I think) Oblique Spiral Rib. Or maybe not. It's in Sensational Knitted Socks anyway. This is the yarn I got in a rather good trade-off with Alynxia and of course it's Fleece Artist - what else could it be with those vibrant colours? - in a luxurious blend of merino, mohair and silk. How could you not cast on for these, once the idea had occurred?
A Noro raglan cardigan, worked from the top down. This is from that eminently sensible and easy to follow book, Button Up Your Top Down by Deb Gemmell, and since I had just frogged the Noro from a project that was one of those 'what on earth was I thinking when I started this?' disasters, it felt delightful to cast on for something completely different. Looking at it now, one does wonder if Noro Kureyon was the best choice for a top down - there are so many stitches at the widest point that you only get tiny stripes instead of waves and bands of colour. Not frogging it at this stage though. Not when I've just got to the exquisite relief of taking the sleeve stitches off on to lengths of yarn to await their own moment later.
The Schoolmarm Vest from Interweave Crochet. Wanted to make this for ages, and when I saw Loremor's beautiful rendering of it on Ravelry, I couldn't put it off any longer. I'm using some dreamily variegated boucle mohair from the Little Secret Stash Shed in the Woods and yes it is crochet, it IS CROCHET, and I'm glad I tell you, I'm glad, I'm GLAD, hahahahaha! Celtic Memory plays with everything, be it knitting needle, crochet hook, spool with nails stuck in, hairpin lace, broomstick lace, bobbins, spindles, the LOT!
The gorgeous Jabot Scarf from Knitspot. Well it seemed such a tiny, indulgent project, surely it couldn't take very much time to make, and I had this sinfully beautiful skein of cashmere/silk (also Fleece Artist, how that woman does seduce our souls...) product of another happy trading exchange, this time with Raspberry - what nice friends one finds in the blogging world!
Kind of keen at the moment on neckwarmers and little scarves and cowls and things like that. Of course it's the cooler weather, but also they don't take up too much yarn (you should see the way the Noro top-down is gulping in entire balls of yarn - seem to be splicing ends every second row at the moment), are a quick knit (well, a quick knit if you aren't doing seventeen others at the same time), and make ideal gifts. So there are plans to make quite a few more - perhaps a gansey-style neckwarmer? That would be fun. Maybe taking an idea or two from Starmore's Eriskay?
(Ducks and runs for cover as another thunderbolt hurtles from Stornoway towards West Cork.)
Whew, that one was close!
The Jane Thornley Sunset Vest (only mine is going to be The Mermaid Vest, obviously). I'd gathered together this stash ages ago, and it had been languishing underneath a table, but one fleetingly sunny morning I caught sight of it and decided to get started.
Nearly finished before it got underway, though. I kept the door of the upstairs sitting room rigorously closed, or so I thought... when I got home that evening, DH called, 'Er, Jo - did you leave the door up here open...?' Took the stairs two at a time -
Fortunately Muffy the Yarnslayer hadn't really got into her stride. She'd attacked some nice silky green eyelash, and was just starting on a rather good glitter when we spoiled her fun. She may have been kept away from yarn or even the sniff of yarn for several months, but you can't change basic instinct, can you? No, I will not make her a Mermaid Vest. Can you imagine what she'd do with it? Be sensible now.
Somehow also found time to dye up some more yarns.
Here are a few of them, grabbing the ten minutes of sunshine allocated to West Cork last Monday. From left to right, Chocolate Fudge, Autumn Leaves (both merino/bamboo), Secret Woodland, and Spring Hyacinth (alpaca/silk). The last one on the extreme right is a new experiment, a blend of organic cotton and tencel, and I want to see how it knits up into socks before I force it on any unsuspecting customers.
What do you think of this one? It's a superfine kid mohair boucle and I wound up a nice big 500m skein so that whoever got it would have plenty for an airy shawl or stole. Now that I look at it critically, the colours aren't too far off those of Fleece Artist's Somoko, so maybe I'm getting there.
And now, the real reason I haven't been posting. The result of days of exhausting struggle down in the depths of the stash room, of woe and misery and fury and frustration and all the other concomitants of yarn creation.
This is Samhain 2008, and, because so many people asked me to make a big one, it's a huge skein this time, around 264m or almost 300 yds. That mightn't seem like a lot, but believe me, when you consider that there are over twenty different yarn combinations in there, and each combination can contain anything up to four separate yarns, you might realise that getting it together was a major task. I made up just two before I collapsed from exhaustion and they're both up on eBay now, along with all the others. I just hope nobody asks for half a dozen more! Its ID number is 170271677183 if you can't find it. Sometimes eBay lets me link to US and Canadian sites, sometimes it doesn't, and I can't work out why.
I was looking at Bionic Laura's blog today, and enjoying her picture of lots of nice people making tiny hats for juice bottles al fresco in Co. Dublin (look it up, you'll enjoy it as well). She tells me that she too gets adverse reaction to her knitting in public, and even anger, as if she shouldn't be disgracing women's rights by doing something so demeaning. It was good to find someone else putting words to this experience - I wondered if I'd been mistaken in the hostility I sometimes encounter, but apparently not. Is this just an Irish problem or do any of you in other countries come across disapproval or opposition to your public crafting?
OK, it's open season on holiday knitting now. Yes, I realise we haven't passed Hallow-E'en yet, but this year - THIS YEAR - Celtic Memory is going to be ahead of the game. Honestly...
UPDATE. Following morning. Gosh, that Samhain designer yarn went quickly! Didn't expect that. Well done, D, for snaffling both of them - they're on their way to you right now.