In crafting terms anyway. We'll probably get quite enough of the other kind without looking for them. But instead of making daft resolutions which won't last beyond January 2, it might be a good idea to try and stretch oneself a little, try something more difficult than usual, or at least something which requires a little staying power (not Celtic Memory's strongest suit, it has to be admitted).
Which is why there are two major items on the To Start List for January 1 2009. Firstly, that albatross of ill omen, the Eriskay gansey, beautifully designed by Starmore, attempted by Celtic Memory at least twice in the past.
The first had been with a nondescript, perfectly adequate yarn, but the incredibly huge number of stitches somehow got twisted on the third round. Not the first as you might expect, but the third. No I didn't behave well. Inner Child came instantly out of hiding, screamed with rage, and wrenched the whole sorry mess from the needles before rushing off to find several other new projects to smooth over the hurt.
A year or so later, memory having blurred the worst bits, another attempt was made. This time, for some insane reason, a very fine and very beautiful pure cashmere, of which a large cone had been snaffled some time in the dim distant past, was brought into use. The casting on was a success (that, in itself, is a triumph with a Starmore special, which tends to demand in excess of 300 sts right at the beginning). The joining went fine. The working of several rows of ribbing (can you imagine just how fine this darn work is?) went well.
Then, flushed with success, Celtic Memory left the knitting on the armchair upstairs and went down for a celebratory coffee. Inadvertently leaving the door ajar...
Ok, ok, for all those of you who wanted to see it again (sadists!), here it is. Happy New Year to you too!
It's taken a little longer this time to blot out the past, but the encouragement of Ravelry and sundry friends thereon have worked the irresistible alchemy. There is now an Eriskay KAL, beginning on New Year's Day 2009. And Celtic Memory is ready, with the poppy-red Shetland wound, the frighteningly fine needles standing by. This time, maybe this time...
She'll be celebrating Hogmanay. Maybe she won't have her look-out posted in that direction. If I could even get past the initial ribbing, perhaps the spell would be broken?
You'll hear all about it here anyway.
The second challenging project for Jan 1 is the spinning of sufficient yarn for a sweater. This was thought up by the Spinner Central Group on Ravelry, and it seemed like such a good idea, CM jumped right in there with the others.
Thought I'd get a bit ahead of myself, and try out that new Corriedale over Christmas. It would make a beautifully cosy sweater.
The Kromski Mazurka is working beautifully. Angeluna, you would love one of these. Its old-world elegance would complement your home, and you would find it a joy to work with. It didn't complain even when spinning continued for hours and hours. Two huge bobbinsful were created, and then plyed before being wound into a nice big skein and soaked to set the twist. Drying was watched impatiently, but at last it could be wound up into a big ball -
- a rather small ball actually. Can you read that label? 'Almost 60m', it says hopefully. 60 metres. Less than the usual ball I'd buy.
HOW MANY OF THOSE IS IT GOING TO TAKE TO MAKE A SWEATER FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE?
No, no, don't all shout your estimates. I know, I know! It was a rhetorical question, OK? I've been making sweaters long enough. I don't need to have the sums done for me. It is sufficient to realise that despite this first skein taking as long as the Forsyte Saga to make, there are a great many more necessary before I can even think of casting on.
Oh woe! Oh despair! Oh almost giving up!
Mind you, the good advice given by Boogie, moderator of the SpinAlong for a Sweater group, does offer some hope. She suggests using the first hard-won ball to knit up a swatch. Not only will this give an idea (however unwelcome) of the amount of yarn needed for the final product, it will also provide (it is suggested) a surge of delight at seeing how beautiful the finished sweater will be. Going to try that this very evening, once I've finished posting.
In the meantime, starting two new projects really should mean finishing those in progress. Or at least the currently visible ones. A scarf, a pair of socks, and a washcloth were all done for Christmas; now the Noro jacket is being attacked.
Back and fronts done, both sleeves being worked at the same time. This is fairly mindless knitting (which reminds me, Blogless Dicksie (renowned on Ravelry, though) considers Eriskay a mindless knit. What, one wonders in terror, does she consider a challenging one?) and can be progressed a bit at a time, while waiting for the kettle to boil, watching TV, even waiting for something to upload on the computer on a slow evening.
Christmas was grey and dark and damp, but yesterday was one of those brilliantly clear days you rarely get here. A wind that would take the horns off a goat, and a chill that came from Eastern Europe, but still it was sunny, and we headed down to the coast, with a flask of hot coffee, turkey sandwiches, and Sophy Wackles.
The aim was to explore some of the tiny winding boreens that undulate in and out, up and down, along the coastline, sometimes stopping dead without any warning, sometimes turning themselves inside out and arriving back very near to where you left the main road, but sometimes leading you to totally unexpected corners or coves or viewpoints. You simply never know what you're going to find around the next corner.
Like a skewbald pony tethered to the roof of an old cottage, with a friendly collie coming to greet you, slightly embarrassed by a very Christmassy ribbon tied to his collar.
Sophy (who also had a bright red bow on her harness in honour of the festive season) was not at all sure about the pony. Narsty and dangerous was her opinion, and she declined absolutely to make friends.
Then you come round another bend and are rewarded with a totally new view of the coastline with Jeremy Irons' restored castle standing proudly on its headland beyond -
- or drive down a really narrow muddy lane and discover an entirely new castle that you never dreamed existed. This one is White Castle, which is interesting because we already knew Black Castle, further down along the coast, but hadn't realised that its counterpart was here all the time, far from the madding crowd.
These new views and hidden secrets of West Cork are something we are particularly hunting out at the moment because (to let you into a secret) DH and I have been commissioned to produce a new book about West Cork in words and pictures, during 2009. It's something we've long wanted to do and we are determined to produce something that will be as beautiful, as fascinating, and as much a long-term love-affair as the place itself. Of course there have been plenty of books about the region before now, and that's why ours will have to be different - more off the beaten track, with lots of little nuggets of information and history and stories and legends, as well as DH's breathtaking pictures. The kind of book you'd keep by your bedside and dip into time and again.
That's going to be the third challenge for 2009. And I suspect it's going to take centre stage before long, causing Celtic Memory's usual calm, methodical approach to come to the fore (that's hysteria, followed by insane laughter, followed by total panic, followed by despair... you know, the usual. Think Sock Madness and then some.)
I don't suppose we'll be including this image in the book though.
Can you read that? It says Independent Waste Removal. But I think somebody lives there. I just love that. It was in a lane miles from anywhere.
There were so many adorable little ruined cottages, you would have been hard pressed to make up your mind which one you wanted to rescue and adopt.
How about this one, high up on the side of a mountain, in a little copse of trees? I dreamed about this little ruin last night, of cleaning it out, and putting in a window at the back, and making a wooden door for the front, and looking after it...
Or this one, dozing in the sunlight near White Castle? It's clearly been deserted for years, maybe even a century or more, but it would respond so much to love and care. I want to look after them all! (But given the number of ruined cottages in Ireland, that would really be impractical. Maybe we could start a group?)
And of course we found standing stones.
This fine gallaun was right down by the seashore, minding its own business and enjoying the salty air.
And these two sturdy sentinels on the slopes of Mount Gabriel are all that remain of what was once in all probability a long stone row leading to a circle or other important site.
As the sun was setting, we decided to make the demanding ascent up the hill to Dunbeacon stone circle, to pay our respects at the ending of the old year, and get something for you to share too.
And finally we braved the icy winds on top of the hill to look out over the bay.
May the old year end peacefully and happily for you and yours, and may 2009 bring us all the things for which we wish most. (Hint though: don't wait for them to come to you - go out and hunt for them!)