Thursday, September 05, 2013

Proliferating Projects, Picking Blackberries, Visiting The Cailleach - oh, and Enlarging the Household...

I've fallen victim to that dreaded virus, Proliferation of Projects.  There are so many on the go that I am starting to forget the ones in the study while picking up a stray one in the dining room, and ignoring the several in the bedroom.

There is the Raven Shawl, for example, being worked from my very own handspun yarn.  Oh I'm hugely proud of making something right from the fleece, there's no denying that.  And it's a lovely pattern, just right for wandering in the autumnal woods and pretending you're a bird woman.  But it went on and on, and then one day, while looking simultaneously at a big pack of Noro Silk Garden yarn in my favourite colourway (08) and at my knitting machine, I conceived the idea of making a jacket in strips - the Panel Jacket if you're on Ravelry.  Handknit or machine, I wondered.  And then, 'Why not both?'  Two separate jackets, two different methods, let's see which is faster and which looks better in the end.

On the left, two strands of Shetland in Persian blue, machine knit, with cables every 10 rows.  On the right, two strips of handknit Noro, because I never can resist seeing if one ball knits up differently to another (it always does).   Machine knit jacket will be lighter, thinner, Noro handknit much thicker.  No, they're neither of them finished.  What a surprise!

More than enough to be going on with.  But then, in a wicked moment, my eye fell on some utterly gorgeous pale silver grey Norwegian silk/alpaca yarn which I'd bought (with a second mortgage of course, you know Norway) some time ago.  And I remembered the beautiful Japanese vest pattern I'd had for ages.

Now this pattern, as tends to be the case with Japanese designs, is so complicated you need three sets of eyes and five sets of hands, plus concentration and will power.  You can't take your eyes off the chart(s) for a moment or you're sunk.  Oh stunningly beautiful, no doubt about that.  But demanding.  Seriously demanding.

See?  No sense.

But last week we had one of those days given from the gods so all projects were dropped (can you imagine working a Japanese pattern in a bumpy car on a twisting road?  No, I couldn't either) and headed down to the Beara Peninsula.  Editor of De Next Book had indicated that a couple more images of still-utilised pagan sites might be handy, and where better to go than the Cailleach Beara, The Wise Woman, the Ancient One, who stands in lonely splendour at the very end of the peninsula that bears her name.

The clouds were just floating over the hills at the other side of Dunmanus Bay, and there was a warm breeze with the scent of heather and damp earth.

Went to pay our respects first to the Ballycrovane Stone, which stands on a hilltop outside Eyries.  This is a really massive old monument, fully 17' high, and there is probably as much buried under the modern landscape as there is showing above.  It's also one of the few stones with ogham inscriptions that has been left where it belongs rather than carried off to a university museum, and for that we must be grateful.

Here is a closeup of the ogham, painstakingly etched along the edge of the stone uncountable aeons ago.  It can be roughly translated as 'Of the son of Deich, descendant of Torainn.'

There were many offerings on the Cailleach, some older and rusting away, some very recently placed.

This caught my attention:  a beautifully assembled little token, sea-smoothed driftwood and a little carved pottery figure, tied with wool.  I wonder what the story was behind that offering?

There was a very nice American lady there who said she'd been attending a retreat locally and they had come as a group to visit the Cailleach several days earlier.  She was due to return to the States at the end of the week, and wanted to come back here by herself for a quiet moment.  So we left her to the peace and power of the place.  Whoever you were, I hope you got back home safely, and that something of the Cailleach will have passed into you.

The ruins of Kilcatherine Church stand a little further on along the coastline, and we thought we'd better pay our respects to the ancient cat too, while we were at it.

I know I've shown pictures of the Kilcatherine Cat before, but not for quite a while, so here's a closeup for you to decide whether you think it does look like a feline or not.  It's certainly ancient, and the tradition has always been that it is the Kilcatherine Cat, so perhaps better not to doubt the tradition.  You'd never know what might happen.  And again, one does wish one knew the story behind the legend.

The dogs were panting by this time, so we had a stroll by the water near Glengarriff.

Gosh, the blackberries were ripening finely.  Simply cannot pass a bush of ripe blackberries without reaching for a bag and gathering as many as possible.

Fingers get soaked in rich purple juice, clothes get torn on the brambles, and it's hot work, but how could you leave them there?  Every one that drops into the bag speaks of winter evenings and glowing pots of jam on high shelves, pies emerging smiling from the oven, crumbles and cordials and all the other comforts that bring peace to the heart with the knowledge of harvest safely gathered in.

Finally we made our way to Dereensaggart stone circle, outside Castletownbere.  There were still flowers starring the grass around the ancient site, even in September, and I noticed a few little bunches tucked here and there in crevices of the individual stones.  Clearly visitors still know that respect should be paid to such places.

And then it was time to head back, weary dogs very glad to climb into the car and collapse for a well-earned sleep while we turned the car for home.

Hang on, wait a cotton-pickin' MINUTE, I hear you cry.  Who's THAT?  The little raccoon-eyed thing there between you and Tamzin? Ah well, yes.  I know, I know, we have quite enough of a zoo here already, with two dogs and two cats, each one a roaring individualist and demanding of special attention.  But Sophy Wackles is getting elderly.  She's stiff in the joints and inclined to be grumpy when Tamzin - only recently starting to discover the joys of playing and having fun,  you will realise - wants to romp and jump and tangle. Sophy snaps, sulks, shuffles off to bed.  And Tamzin wonders what she's done wrong.

No, it couldn't go on like that.  I knew you'd agree.  And so the hunt was on.  It took a bit of time.  You have to know, the second you see them.  You have to fall in love on the spot.  Anything else just won't do.

And finally, it did happen.

Little Shih-tzu puppy, just eight weeks old, was tiny enough to be tucked into my desk drawer here where I work at the computer.

 Taz took to her instantly, and constituted herself Baby's minder-in-chief, ensuring that she got her vitamins and that cats didn't interfere.  ('I just want to know what on earth it is,' said Pollywog in fascination.)  And when Sophy started to glower, Tamzin was instantly there, placing herself between them and clearly letting Sophy know that she wouldn't stand any bullying.

Sophy is now enjoying a little more peace and quiet.  Puppy is getting more rambunctious by the day, tearing here, there and everywhere, chewing everything she can find, developing quite a firm little 'wuff' of her own when she thinks it's mealtime (puppies always think it's mealtime).

But did it work?  Did Tamzin  rediscover the joys she had never had as a baby herself, of tussling and rolling over and chasing with someone who enjoyed it to the full?  Running from one end of the garden to the other with a companion, leaping and dodging and generally having free and happy FUN?

Yes.  She's still very gentle with smallest one, but you can see her gradually strengthening the nibbles, the pushes, as the puppy gains strength.  And she is so, so much happier and playful, it would bring tears to your eyes.  They are going to have many contented years together.

No, you're absolutely right.  I haven't mentioned her name.  That is because we simply can't make up our minds.  Babyboots or Chucklechops are fine for now, but what about when she's a beautiful and elegant fully-grown Shih-Tzu?

  Buttercup?  Sasha Alexandrovna?  Tatiana of Tana Bru?  Saffron?  Lucy Clare? Little Egypt?  Princess Shan Li?  Lady Precious Stream?



Anonymous said...

A happy morning, to be greeted with a new post from you - and a new puppy, to boot! I'm falling down on the name suggestions, though. Your description of the "raccoon-eyed" pup has so influenced me that all I can think of is Raccoona or Raccoonalinda. I'm sure you'll find the right name sooner or later.

Best wishes for a lovely autumn,

Katie K said...

Princess Shan Li seems to fit.

pacalaga said...

Having always had blue-collar canine gals in my life, my tastes run toward the silly, so I can't help you with the name, but she's certainly a cutie.

Sharon Jones said...

How lovely to "see" you again! Your little lady is an absolute charmer. I can't really help you with a name. I've always tried to find characters from my favorite literature that match the personality of my pet - hence my current puppy is named Scout after Harper Lee's character in To Kill A Mockingbird. She's smart, rambunctious, and incredibly kind.

Angeluna said...

Oh my, the baby is bigger by the day. What a joy to see Tamzin playing so happily.


Kari W. said...

She definitely looks like a Sasha to me.

Anonymous said...

Fine rambles to old places and blackberry brambles, but best is the cunning cute puppy!

Tatiana of Tanu Bru runs on the tongue nicely with Tamzin: Tati and Tamz.

LinDragon said...

Hello! Lovely to 'see' you and the girls again.
I thought 'Pixie face' as soon as I saw the first picture. So, Pixie Andromeda? any help to you??
Warm regards,

Unknown said...

Very cute! I love Tatiana of Tanu Bru but do wonder if it would confuse Tamzin. And I quite like chucklechops, but can see that might not be the sort of name that you want to grow up to be.

Anonymous said...

It's so good to see a post from you! Congratulations on your newest family member. Good luck with the naming--one would think it would be so easy, but it has to be just the right one!

Loved the pictures of the ancient sites, as always. Just viewing them, one knows they are special places.


Christiann said...

Awwwwwww a new baby !! And we have two new at our house now. :o)
As always I LOVE your posts. Absolutely can't wait for the new book !!
Hugs and scratches behind each little canine and feline ear all the way over the ocean from Canada !
PS ( Good luck with the name !!Not an easy job....)

KiniaCat Crafts said...

I've been feeling the yen to start new projects myself of late. For the most part I've been knitting preemie hats and revisiting projects that got laid aside for one reason or another. Thusly they seem somewhat new. {grin}
08 is also my fav Noro color way! You have such good taste!! (The Japanese vest is stunning!)

"Editor of De Next Book" had a grand idea for an outing and thank you for taking us along! The pictures are quite spiffy, but without your descriptions, it wouldn't be quite as much fun to peruse. My thanks to you both.

The latest addition to your family has such a sweet face and cheerful grin! Has the puppy-breath companionship eased Tamzin's nerves some?
I think I like best "Tatiana of Tana Bru" - but is it too close to Tamzin when shortened? "Princess Shan Li" would be my next favorite.
I'm sure the name you settle upon will be just right, no worries.

Anonymous said...

She looks like a Lucy Claire to me.

Anonymous said...

Lovely post! I so enjoy vicariously sharing in your travels. I, too, vote for Lucy Claire. Madeleine

Nancy said...

The Kilcatherine Cat is very interesting as this type of a stone work figure is used in Peru and Bolivia in the Pre-Inca days. Oh the connections and similarities in the world! A great post and thanks for sharing!