I was having the divil's own luck with that Druid's Stocking I mentioned last time. The infinitesimally tiny needles and the fine yarn, though undeniably a beautiful green, made for a dreadfully harsh fabric, not to mention the havoc they were playing with my fingers and thumb joints. Eventually I got sense and went up a few sizes in needle and called upon the aid of a lovely warm soft pale grey yarn that I'd used before. Instant happiness!
Here are the new and the old, which I fitted round a pair of boots by the crabapple tree. You probably can't see the lovely patterning on the pale grey but it's there, believe me. This is just the cuff so far, and then that gets turned down and you start on the leg of the stocking. Which has its own delightfully complex cabling. Meggie really is a brilliant knit designer.
And, the birthday of a very small young friend coming up soon, I whipped up this little bag last night.
It's the Toy Tote Bag by Sherry Etheridge and is just big enough to take some tiny gifts and sweets. Then it can be used later on for special treasures and slung over a small shoulder. A really speedy crochet project for suddenly-needed gifts - you could put anything inside it from pretty soaps and flannels to indulgent chocolate treats.
We decided the other day that it really was high time to go and get good pictures of a particular stone circle down at Kealkil on the back road to Bantry. Getting there wasn't too much of a problem (as long as you can cope with climbing steep sinuous boreens about the width of a loaf of bread and never knowing if you'll meet a tractor or hay wagon coming the other way at full speed, and, having lived here a fairly long time, we can) but actually reaching the monument itself posed more of a challenge. There was a stiff iron gate standing stern amid a positive sea of mud and manure. As if that were not enough, somebody had spilled black sticky oil all around the opening side. Which meant the dog had to be carried, as I wasn't prepared to deal with black sticky oily paws for the rest of the day and night. We crossed one field, and then had to tackle the next obstacle - a steep ladder, again emerging from the depths of a quagmire, up to a bramble-bedecked bank, and another ladder down the other side. Dog had to be lifted again. This was Petroushka, by the way, who, though still a puppy, weighs twice as much as the other two and then some.
And then, having gained the final stretch, the entire field itself turned out to be a bog, with quaking tussocks of grass standing up in deep pools of inky water. How you can get a bogland on top of a hill, where you would think every drop would have drained off, beats me, but there is one here, take my word for it. Crossing it was no fun at all. You would probably have come down to solid rock after you'd sunk to your ankles, but it still wasn't the kind of afternoon stroll you would have chosen.
Eventually, though, we got to the stone circle and it was worth it. The circle itself is small, but there are two superb tall standing stones outside it, as well as a ruined cairn.
You can get an idea of the height of the tallest stone in this picture - I'm about 5'7" so I would say it was twice that. Bantry Bay is in the background, and the Kerry mountains beyond that.
Most of our clothes required special cleaning when we got home (to say nothing of Petroushka) but it was worth it. Beautiful monument. If only one hadn't got the distinct feeling that somebody didn't want us there and had taken steps to discourage visitors.
Now it's the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness as you all know (unless of course you live in the southern hemisphere, in which case you're starting to enjoy spring) and here that means apples. Our own crabapples (seen above with the Druids Stockings) aren't ready to pick yet, but we knew of a wonderful orchard on the east side of Cork and made our way there when we judged the time to be right.
This is 16thc Barryscourt Castle where Heritage Ireland is doing a tremendous job of restoring not only the structure but the surrounding gardens too. To this end, they planted an orchard with as many of the old Irish apple trees as they could find. Isn't that a lovely thing to do?
How could you resist apples with beautiful names like Offaly Lady's Fingers or Irish Peach? Kerry Pippin or Crofton Scarlet?
I just had to get a closer look at this Ardcairn Russet...
And they very very kindly let us take away some of the windfalls. I have evolved a great method of making apple butter, using the slow-cooker (crockpot to you New Worlders), and have already got the first couple of pots filled and labelled.
May your own autumn be full of fine foraging and happy preparations for filling the pantry shelves before winter.