Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Midwinter! We Have Reached The Solstice!

 Well, what a strange year it has been for everybody, in all corners of the world.  The last time I spoke to you, it was coming into high summer and everywhere was beautiful.  The advantage of lockdown was that you could really see the season changing, day by day.

When the restrictions eased enough to let us travel within our own county, we took advantage of it right away.  The fact that Cork is the largest county in Ireland did help - you can go a hundred miles and still be within the regulations.  Which we did.  Right down to the Beara Peninsula.

Bantry Bay was a heart relaxing sight after so much time spent at home.

And taking the tiny ferry across to Bere Island was just what was needed - a brisk short sea voyage.

The bog cotton was blowing across the grasslands in great swathes.  Always wished you could spin this, but the fibres are far too short, alas.

And look at these glorious old hand-built stone steps, leading up to the loft above an old homestead.  

All the crops, the hay, the potatoes and turnips, would have been carried up there and stored carefully against the winter.

The advantage of this remote region is that you have no problem with social distancing.

Unless of course it's a female pheasant casually crossing the road on her way to the shops. Yes, of course they have shops.  'A bag of nice blackberries please, and some hazelnuts if you have them. Oh, and some new socks for the children.  The way they wear those out, running round..."

To keep myself and every other likeminded knitter busy during the long quiet summer, thought it would be a good idea to start a Great Summer Gansey Knitalong on Ravelry, the online knitting club.  Well, it took off amazingly!  Hundreds came in on it, and we all had great fun comparing patterns and showing off our progress.

This is my Great Gansey Adventure, worked in three strands of a Shetland yarn which had been dozing in the stash for years.  Those trees and diamonds and things really stop you getting bored when you're beavering away on the back or the front.  We had so much fun indeed, that the KAL continued in autumn and is now going full blast for winter.  Because the seasons have swung round, and we are at the turning once more.  From now, the days will start drawing out.  And surely things will slowly get better.

You know it's winter when the zoo starts spending more time indoors.  Well actually, all the time they can possibly get away with indoors.  Brogeen (who has grown into a splendid young man) enjoyed watching Autumnwatch on TV, occasionally trying to pat a bird by way of being friendly.

When it's a cold night, cats and dogs pile up together in a warm heap.  You wouldn't think you could get two dogs in that box, let alone a cat, but Marigold is pretty determined, and can usually find a corner of opportunity.

'Oh surely there's a place up there for me, too?  Oh go on, move up a bit, will you?'

This morning it wasn't actually raining (although that was forecast for the afternoon) so we headed down to neighbouring Kerry before new restrictions stopped us going over the county bounds

Muckross House in Killarney was looking splendidly Gothic in the drifting clouds,

and the legendary lakes were as still and beautiful as they have always been.

Even the cafe was open!  I know, I know, social distancing and all that, but we were well masked up, and the place was empty, so we risked it.  Isn't this miniature display lovely? It greets you as you go in. The scones and coffee were delicious too, especially when such little treats have been almost non-existent since the start of the pandemic. You never know how much you take for granted until you don't have it any more.

But the best was kept for last!  We decided to drop in to that weaving shed in the woods (in a deadly secret location) to wish a good friend the compliments of the season.  And once there, well, how could you not look along those shelves of coned yarns, drool over colours, almost reach out until you remembered not to touch?  But our friend was in happy mood, and hauled out a box of leftovers, cones too small to be of use, inviting me to dig in.  And then, when coaxed,he allowed the purchase of a few at the top of the range too. What a haul to bring home!  The dogs raised their collective eyebrows at the big box with which they had to share the back seat of the car, but DH agreed that it could be his Christmas present to me.

Here they are, being unpacked at home.  Nearly all pure alpaca, except for some rather jolly Donegal tweed in an unusual chunky gauge.  Oh will there be some fun with these over the festive season!

Joys of the solstice to you!  Keep your woodstoves well stoked, see to the bird feeders, and if you hear the horns of the Wild Hunt sounding out in the woods between now and Women's Christmas, then clutch a branch of apple or rowan, and wish them well.  They are searching out the bad things, and are no danger to you.


steel breeze said...

Lovely to see what you have been up to! Though I've no idea what Women's Christmas is! :) Good tidings of the season to you all, anyway!

Jo at Celtic Memory Yarns said...

Jan 6 has always been Women's Christmas in Ireland, steelbreeze, since time immemorial. Women take over for the day and night, do exactly as they want, have parties from breakfast to bedtime, and generally behave like they run the world. Other countries, feel free to copy!

Anonymous said...

All joys of the solstice to you, too, Jo! How lovely to hear from you again. I'm looking forward to Women's Christmas ;) Love, Gretchen (aka stashdragon)

Barbara-Kay said...

How wonderful to hear from you on this Christmas Eve! A blessed Christmas to you and yours.
(Oh, and we have a cat who always watches American football with us. I suspect he'd like to pounce on the football when it gets away from them.)

Sally said...

Blessings and Joys of the season to you and DH. I've never heard of Womens' Christmas but it delights my heart to learn of it now. That day is also my mother's birthday - she will be 91!

Wanda said...

Well now, I must incorporate Women's Christmas into my schedule. Fancy a day of doing exactly as we'd like. Sounds like a wonderful reprove. Except, with Covid, no gatherings.

I love the picture of you on the small wandering road on Bere Island. And, what do you mean tantalizing us spinners by writing that bog cotton is too short to spin? ;)

Your Great Gansey is fabulous!!! Is Richard hoping for something similar from your terrific score on the coned yarns?

Brogeen has grown into a beauty.

As aways, it's a delight to see you've post. Stay safe and sane. (

ccr in MA said...

Your photos are lovely; I'm so glad you were able to go gadding around a bit, these days. And those yarns! You are going to have some fun with those, all right. Merry Christmas-that-was.

LornaJay said...

Popped in to see what you've been up to. Lovely to catch up even at several months and many hundreds of miles distance.

Sunshine said...

Just popping in to say I miss your posts. I do hope all is well with you and yours.