Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Concerning An Ancient Way Over The Hills, And Cunning Transportation of De Book

Well what a lot of fun we've had with the book signings! The O'Brien Press simply could not believe that so many people in America, Canada, Australia and other far off lands wanted personally signed copies. This before De Book has even reached Amazon.com! I don't think it had ever happened to them before, and they are thinking that clearly they need to pay a lot more attention to abstruse topics like 'blogging', 'knitting', 'Ravelry' and the like.

Sarah came down from Dublin with two boxloads and as we signed, I carefully ticked each one off the list I'd been keeping. (We had to have that double check, because O'Briens wouldn't know who wanted the personal inscription unless you'd told me as well.) Then we put a sticky note inside each individual copy so that there was no chance of one going to the wrong address.

Of course even as Sarah headed off again, more emails were coming in with requests from more lovely people who had ordered from the publishers but wanted an inscription too. We actually chased after her, and signed another one as she got a puncture fixed at the local garage, and the garage staff were all delighted. But then she was definitely gone (I know you think Ireland is so tiny that Cork and Dublin are only a hop, skip and jump apart, but believe me it's a good three hours' drive and that's before you hit the Dublin traffic, so it's not to be undertaken lightly). For the next batch we had to think of something else.

Enter Tall Fair Sitar Player, who happened to be coming down from Dublin on the Tuesday and going back up again on the Wednesday. I'm not giving you his real name because he might be embarrassed, but he is sort of part of the publishing family. And yes, he does both teach and play the sitar. Sigh...

Look, we can't just sign all these on the back of the car outside this locked car park, can we? Yes we can, there are no traffic wardens about.

(The Music Department of Cork University is situated in the delightfully-named area of Sunday's Well, but the narrow roads were never intended for heavy traffic and parking here is really at a premium.)

Settle down, settle down. I'll convey your good wishes to him, right? But he's spoken for, he's spoken for...

Anyway, we have now set up one of those particularly Irish arrangments known as 'going with the milk and coming back with the bread', ie that whoever is coming south from Dublin will bring additional supplies, and whoever is going back will take the personally signed books. In the meantime, I email their very helpful girl in charge of sending out orders, so that she knows to hold one until the properly ascribed text arrives. So if anybody else wants to order an individually inscribed copy for someone's Christmas present, make sure to tell me as well, so that I can set the wonderfully circumlocutory mechanism in motion. No, we haven't tried a donkey and cart yet, but I would love to. The next batch is heading up to the capital city with our editor tomorrow (Wednesday) morning. MaryJo, Kira, your copies are in there, so they should be on their way to you soon!

That's quite enough about De Book. Let's have some knitting content. Knitting has been continuing - in fact it was ideal for picking up and putting down while all this was going on.

Here's a little vest made on the knitting machine with Noro Silk Garden Sock. Two strips, joined together at the back, some little buttons for fun, and a stockinet strip (the machine won't do i-cord, but the strip curls under just fine) to finish it off. Good use for the long colour changes of Noro.

Fell madly in love with Thu's Kimono Vest when I saw it on Ravelry and determined to make it myself forthwith. As in, bought the pattern there and then, downloaded, printed out, found the yarn and needles, and cast on. All this at midnight!

Worked obsessively on it for two days and nights, in the intervals of book signings, and Sophy Wackles got a bit upset (she was upset anyway at all this to-ing and fro-ing of book reps and sitar players, but my attention being focused on something else was the final straw).

She had been sitting moodily on DH's lap, watching me work on the by now cumbersome project, and then, determinedly, climbed up on to the table, shuffled across, and lay down right on top of the knitting. Isn't that exactly like a cat? They can't stand your attention being diverted from them for a moment, but I hadn't known a dog show this annoyance before. I remonstrated, and said I couldn't really work double moss stitch with a heavy lump of fur lying on top of the piece.

Don't care. Staying here till things get back to normal.

Managed to finish the vest anyway. Isn't it delightfully simple and chic? Can't think why everyone isn't making this one.

With the onset of autumn, vests are definitely on the knitting agenda. Two down, and several more in the planning process. The Jane Thornley group on Ravelry are having an Autumn KAL on any one of her patterns, and I'm going to do a variation of the Sunset Bolero.

I've been making up some new Samhain kits for those who requested them, and will use one of them myself for the new JT vest.

This is the Samhain one, in the traditional fall colours, which would do just fine for the vest, but my mind right now is running on deep green woods and mosses, so I think I'll go for the Secret Forest colourway.

Can't wait for October 1 to start knitting this.

Yes, I'm getting to the ancient way over the hills right now! And it's all linked in together really, now that I think about it - De Book, and the green secret forest places and the old traditions and everything. Because the publishers have tentatively suggested the possibility of another book, this time on the old Irish faery traditions. Not just looking at the stories as we know them now, but going behind them to see where they really might have originated, how perceptions and attitudes changed over the centuries, and how today's funny Little People might once have been the ancient gods and goddesses of the landscape. A fair bit of research in there, but can't think of a nicer subject, can you?

And it so happened that last weekend was Gougane Sunday, the late September day when, for hundreds, probably thousands of years, people gather at the lake in Gougane Barra. Originally I suspect they came to venerate the spirits peopling the source of the mighty river Lee in this strange cirque or bowl in the hills, but in later time Christianity took over, and now Mass is celebrated in the little church on the island. What interested us though was the fact that as well as jamming the one narrow roadway into the hidden valley, people traditionally come in by the old routes over the hills and mountains. These are the paths and tracks that have been used since prehistory, and on this one day they are used again. Suddenly we needed to be there. And early was a good idea, not just for parking, but (whisper it) to enjoy some of the cafe's legendary baking as well.

We were tucked up comfortably in the old bar, enjoying coffee and freshly baked scones, when one of the family came in and pointed to one of the mountain crests towering high over the lake.

The first pilgrims had reached the top already! They would have left the valleys of Kerry several exhausting hours earlier. Refreshments forgotten, we dashed out and up a rough side road where we knew they would come in.

DH found a useful gate to lean the camera on while waiting for them to come into view.

I don't know why it should be so moving, to see those tiny figures in the wild landscape, making their way down the old mountainside route, but it was. I felt very strange indeed, witnessing an age-old tradition still reverenced today.

Sure 'twas only a bit of a stretch of the legs, said Timothy, from whose farm this group had set off. And 'twasn't too bad on the top, although you'd have to watch your footing. And then he was off again, heading down the road to Journey's End with his travelling companions.

They would all have dearly liked a sup of something, I would think, after that gruelling trek, but custom is custom, and Mass came first.

The tiny church on the island isn't very old, but there are ruins of a 17th century monastery with monks' cells there too. However, people have been coming to this hidden valley and mysterious lake around the time of the autumn equinox since back in the mists of history, to venerate far more ancient spirits. I'm glad we were there to see it still happening in today's world.

This is far older than Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, than Santiago de Compostela. This is older than time.


Angeluna said...

What a jolly good life you have. Peopled with wonderful quirky eccentric characters. Do you remember when we thought an interesting life required being in London or Paris or New York or Rome? Who knew it was in our backyards all along. Of course your backyard is more interesting than most.

Love the idea for the new book. You will remember I wanted you to work them into this book, but to have a tome of their own is a better idea.

Now to get down to serious, that Tall Fair Sitar Player is the man I've been waiting for all my life. Didn't know he really existed. Since this one is taken, taken, does he have a brother? Uncle? Of course, they have to play the sitar, too. I'll be waiting to hear on this one.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the pilgrim's story. I had to call DH in to my computer to read it, too. We both enjoyed it!

knitski said...

Wonderful! Love the idea of the new books as well and will look into getting your current work. Your blog is simply a treat in every way! Thanks for sharing.

Windybrook Spinner said...

Can't wait for the new book. What wonderful photos and delightful tale of the pilgrims. I would love to see them in person someday. That church by the lake is out of faery tales for sure and certain. Thank you so much for your beautiful blog.

Dawn in NL said...

Jo, your words about the old time just sent shivers down my spine. Delicious post in every way.


Sue J said...

A book about the old ways, places and beliefs would be a wonderful thing!! I hope yawl do that.

Anonymous said...

That new book topic is a winner. As far as I'm concerned, you're already among The Wise.

Pink Dandelion said...

What an adorable vest! It suits you perfectly.

Poor neglected Sophy Wackles, I hope you'll be able to find more time to stop and pet her soon as all De Book craziness winds down.

The pilgrims and the little church encapsulates so much of why I love Ireland. Thank you for sharing! I can't wait for that book!

I would settle for a tall fair Irishman with that incredible smile... he doesn't HAVE to play the sitar, that wouldn't be a deal-breaker, but I admit it would be an added bonus.

Anonymous said...

Now I can picture my book trotting back and forth across Ireland before it sets sail for me. Perhaps it will have been in the hands of the Tall Sitar Player as well, somewhere along the way-- so many stories before I even open its covers. Thanks to all who have helped set it on its road,

Kathleen said...

Having had the privilege of greeting the faery folk when I visited the Isle of Man lo these many years ago, I would love to meet their cousins and see their home places in Ireland.

Someday, I promise, I'll visit them myself (only saw Ireland from the top of Snaefell, through the mist), but I'd love for you and your genius photographer husband introduce us to them through another book.

The photo he took of "those tiny figures in the wild landscape" thrilled me and brought tears to my eyes. May I travel there soon enough that I still have strength for a similar adventure.

Thank you, thank you.

Unknown said...

You wouldn't consider adopting me so I could live in Ireland with you, would you? I'll clean and garden and help with your research (I do have a BA in history).
I'm nice and pretty and it'll work out well for all of us. Think about it.

Allison said...

Oh, Jo. I've been waiting so patiently since first you mentioned working on the book with Richard. And now before I ever lay hands or eyes on it, you've sunk the hook for the next one!

Considering the topic, I'll be anticipating this one even more. I'll try to be patient. Really I will. At least I'll have De Book #1 to keep me company.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I officially want to come and live in your neck of the woods. How absolutly wonderful. I am a sucker for history and tradition. Any hospitality related jobs for hubby nearby? lol.

Maggie said...

This is the Ireland I want to come and walk, it's so good of you to share it with all of us..

Mady said...

Ah, yes, a book on the old ways and traditions would be a gift indeed and a lovely pairing with the incredible West Cork. O'Brien Press: say yes!

Dez Crawford said...

My dear Jo, I am eagerly awaiting a means of obtaining a copy of your book through a local small bookshop -- one day I will tell you privately why I do not do business with Amazon. I will get it through some other source, or perhaps I will meet you one day and you can sign it then. :-)

Julia G said...

What a lovely little church, and a fantastic way to celebrate the autumn equinox by following the old ways (literally) -- it reminds us how deeply ingrained love of the land is in our collective memory.

And speaking of love of the land, I just ordered your beautiful book for my dad's Christmas present -- of course, I will have to pre-read it!

AudreyA said...

Poor little Jo and poor little Jeep! I thank God that you are all right. Had my go round (literally - a roll over!) in a Jeep in 1982 and broke my neck. I guess you've heard one too many times how lucky you are but when you're flat on your back and in pain, lucky is relative! Take care dear friend and may all those lovely stories in your head and the yarn between your nimble fingers keep you happy and occupied UNTIL you are recovered (I am giving nursing advice: Do as they say! rest, stretch, eat right, get plenty of fluids)!
(curses, I had to buy that Hitchhiker pattern. LOVE IT and its dragony tail. I draw the line. I will not buy Wollmeise, I won't, I won't... Hey, I would buy a lovely hand dyers stuff, though!