Friday, December 05, 2008

Christmas Yarns, A Thumping Wheel, And Sunshine in Schull

I meant to post last night, keep up the good work, but eBay took so goldarned long over processing my listings of yarns that it was midnight before I gave up and went to bed. I had realised that Christmas was (once again) approaching surprisingly fast and if I didn't get the last batch of yarns up, it would be too late to post them to anybody in time. Hence the long session with eBay.

They're not even all up yet. Managed to get the hand-dyed alpaca/silk skeins on. These are good for the current rage, neckwarmers, with matching wristwarmers if you choose a pattern that doesn't use up too much yarn (alpaca being heavier, doesn't give you as much yardage to 100g as, for example, bamboo/merino sock yarn, WHICH isn't listed on eBay YET - got to do that next. And get dinner. And look nervously once more at the ironing.)

Here are some of them, in case I forget.

Getting the newly-dyed skeins dry was difficult enough, but when it came to photographing them... Ireland, and particularly West Cork, has been languishing in a fit of the sulks lately, with heavy cloud, rain, icy winds, and a general gloom. Yesterday looked as though there just might be the occasional break in the clouds, so I positioned cameras and baskets of yarn in the hall (safely above Muffy the Yarnslayer's snatching level) and went about other jobs, keeping a sharp eye out the window every few minutes.

We both bolted for the garden, snatching cameras, lenses, baskets, along the way. Grass was far too wet, so the containers were positioned on the garden chairs. Of course the second we got out there, the sun went and hid behind a grey blanket again; but we waited, and got another few seconds of brightness. 'Twas enough.

I promise I'll list the new sock yarns as soon as I've finished this posting.

I mentioned Muffy the Yarnslayer. I'd been polishing the new baby Kromski spinning wheel the other day, and incautiously left a lambswool polishing pad on the ground next to it. It had of course disappeared when I came back a few minutes later, but I tracked its progress to my study, where the course of events was clear enough.

I don't think Nicholas Bear was very impressed. That reminds me, I must look out his Santa Claus outfit. He usually gets garbed up for the festivities about mid-December

And still on the dog theme, I think it was Charlotte who asked how Sophy Wackles got her name. She is called after a minor but delightful character in Charles Dicken's novel, The Old Curiosity Shop. Sophy Wackles was the beloved of Dick Swiveller, but eventually transferred her affections elsewhere - to a market gardener called Cheggs in fact, causing Dick to lament broken-heartedly for all of one or two days. She was a naughty little flirtatious minx, which was appropriate for my own Sophy, but most of all I thought the name reflected my girl's banshee shrieks, Wack, wack, wack, wack, wackles.... whenever she sees strangers approaching.

So many projects have been listed, discussed, started, over the past few weeks, that it seemed entirely reasonable to start a completely new and unexpected one.

This one slipped under the radar quickly and easily. It's the Ellen Neckwarmer from clever Heather. I love its cable and lace pattern, and found just the right tiny shiny shell buttons at The Button Factory in Cork (more on that wonderful place another time). You might not be able to see, but I got these buttons in two different hues, one more deep blue, the other paler.
I chose Ellen because it didn't use up so much yarn, and I had just one skein of gorgeous, costly Fleece Artist Silk Cashmere. So economical was the pattern, despite my working it flat rather than in the round (if it goes over my head it won't stay up on my neck, and vice versa), that there is enough over for wristwarmers too. Which are currently being worked. Along with the socks in Fleece Artist Somoko. And Jeanie's Cathedral Socks. And the Noro jacket. And I have just put out an invitation to all and sundry on Ravelry to join me in an Alice Starmore Eriskay KAL. Do I need a brain scan? Or what?

There is something odd about the new baby Kromski. I hadn't noticed this before, but now that the spinning is going ahead more rapidly, there is a regular thumping, banging sound as I treadle. It appears that the wheel is bumping back and forth between its uprights, which doesn't seem right. Will have to check with the Kromski experts on Ravelry.

But oh, having a new wheel does bring all kinds of dangerous side effects. The instant desperate need for lots and lots of new fibre, for one thing. One might have thought that a full pound weight of Gotland might be enough to be going on with, but I got this little temptation from Craftspun Yarns up the road in Kildare yesterday.

That's Wensleydale in the middle, and two natural shades of BFL flanking it, a light and a darker grey/brown. How could I resist? And when I rang Warren at Craftspun to tell him so, instead of just taking my order like a responsible supplier, he deliberately offered to tuck in some samples of space-dyed roving as well! What kind of man is that, who calculatedly sets out to trail seductive temptation in front of a fragile mind already hard pressed by the thought of bathing in, rolling in, sleeping in great heaps of silky rovings. Mad, bad, and dangerous to know, obviously. Move over Lord Byron, Warren is right up there with you in the temptation stakes.

I suppose I could have said no, refused the offer haughtily, avoided temptation in advance. But heck, Celtic Memory doesn't shirk danger. She adopts the attitude of that sea captain in Conrad's Typhoon who says something like, 'Steer nine points out of my path for a typhoon that just might be there? Not likely.' Probably not Conrad's exact words, but the sentiment certainly.
Don't let that stop you ordering luscious Irish rovers (sorry, rovings) from him yourself, though. I am sure your characters are far stronger than mine, and none of you would ever buy yarn or fibre you didn't strictly need. You're good, you are.

Had fully intended to go into Cork city this morning with DH, to get some jobs done. But at 7 am a phone call sent him racing down to the coast on a job instead. And of course I went too.

It's very restful down around Schull and Ballydehob. People stop for a chat in the middle of the road and nobody bothers about it.

When DH had finished the job in hand, we went into Jagoe's in Schull for a second breakfast, and I discovered the inadvisability of hurling two different WIPs into the same project bag. On the left, a wristwarmer to match the Ellen neckwarmer. On the right, a Somoko sock.

The cafe soon filled up. The lady in black standing at the counter had walked in a good four miles from her home along the coast. She was telling them of another lady who had castigated her son for going out with an untidy mop of hair.

She said, 'You didn't go down through Schull with a head like that on you?'

He replied, 'No Mam, of course not. I took it off and tucked it in my pocket, didn't I?'
I wonder if you noticed that jacket at the right hand end of the counter? Thought you did, so asked DH to take a discreet closeup.

The main part of the jacket was pale shades of grey and blue, but then you had these vivid bands of bright stripes in primary colours. Did I see something similar on an ad in one of the knitting magazines, for Jamieson's of Shetland? Think I did, although that showed a spectacular white sweater with the blazing colours concentrated in just one band on the chest. Very effective. Must try it sometime (time, time...)

When you're in Schull, you can't on any account miss Gwendall Lasserre's chocolate shop.

His pralines would tempt an anchorite.

As indeed would Gwendall himself. No, no, you can't all have him. I can't mail him all over the globe! You'll just have to come down to West Cork and buy a quarter pound of him - sorry, his chocolates - in person.

I think we need to calm down a little here.

And what better way than with a view like this, of Schull Bay and its tiny offshore islands? There might be an icy wind blowing, the temperature might be down to 5 degrees, but it's still beautiful. Nowhere like it. No, I don't know if that little house is for sale. I'll go ask for you.


Anonymous said...

I went to Knit night at the Knitting Asylum, Dez's new shop, last night, and delivered your greeting and hug. She was quite pleased.

pacalaga said...

A cute young man with an Irish accent and the ability to make fantastic chocolates? I'm so there. All mine!

Linda B said...

*sigh* I want the house. Although the scarcity of sunshine sounds a little bit daunting . . .
Love the neckwarmer.

Charity said...

Now, Jo, you've given me so much loveliness to look at! Yarn, chocolate, a handsome Irishman, and that last shot - Oooooh, I miss the water. :0)

Anonymous said...

This just makes me want to live in Ireland, dance through the streets (I do that in the states, too), spending all my days knitting, and talk to people from my bicycle.

Do you work for the Irish tourism board? Because you probably should.

Heather said...

Your Ellen is lovely. I wrote that pattern almost a year ago now and have yet to sew the buttons on mine! Of course if the handsome chocolatier asked me to sew them on I'd have done it in a heartbeat.

Anonymous said...

You do realize that every time you post a new blog entry I add something to my list of "Places to make Jo draw me a map to when I come back"?

Keep posting pictures of cute young Irishmen who can make chocolates and I may be coming back to visit Ireland again much sooner than planned! ;)

Anonymous said...

By the way, an Irishman with his own chocolate shop is the knew standard I'm holding out for in my Mr. Right... whoever he may be.

(And people say my standards are too high!!)

Lindy said...

Oooooohhhh! The sea, chocolate, yarns and knitting. Then there is Muffy the Yarn Slayer. :-D In my house we have Molly the Couch/Pillow/Yarn Slayer. She has ripped to shreds one fiber filled pillow and one feather pillow :( - my living room floor looked just like your study. She has also shredded one cushion from our couch (fortunately for her it was an old, used couch). She has dragged numerous skeins of my yarn outside through the doggy door. This is where I seriously drew the line and shrieked bloody murder. I now must keep all my lovely yarn and projects safely behind closed doors when I am not working on something. We still love her dearly.

I could really use a bit of that chocolate right now along with a glass of wine :). As for that cute little guy - I'm probably old enough to be his mother. Oh well!!!!! :-D

Lindy in AZ, USA

Sallie said...

As everyone else has said, yarn, chocolate, cute Irish lad, and beautiful scenery, it's all great. Thank you for such a lovely post. I will get back to Ireland again. I will, I will.

Anonymous said...

oh the grass and trees with leaves! Winds of 50 mph here and howling all night.

Love the photos and the chocolate shop so yummy!

Anonymous said...

What's the price of the cottage by the sea?

Lovely post from beginning to end, though there was a terrifying moment when Yarnslayer went on a tangent. I feared the worst for Mr Nicholas Bear.

Anonymous said...

Mercy, I bet that wee house takes a lashing.