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.