Saturday, September 02, 2006

Finished, finished, FINISHED! And the knits are off to Bantry Show...

Yes, they're done, they're done, they're actually done at last. The last stitch had been put in the Elann lace crop cardi some days ago, and I'd attached the tiny beads on the points too, but still had to tidy up all the loose ends and scraps, which I finally did yesterday.

Do you know, I'm actually a bit shocked at how beautiful it looks. Whoever designed that had real vision. I just followed the pattern so can't take too much credit (and in fact any credit left over from the designer should without doubt go to YOU LOT who cajoled, encouraged, advised, threatened all the way to ensure I finished it!) I will wear it to the next posh function I have to attend and I don't really care if it doesn't win anything at Bantry - I think it's great.

And then, just when I was beginning to wonder if the nightmare would ever end, the socks too are FINISHED! Had enough yarn in the heel o' the hunt, and even a bit over. One reached the toe at midnight the night before last, and for a wonder I had the sense to wait until morning before doing the grafting; then took the second down to Cotter's Bar in Macroom, ordered coffee and said I wasn't leaving until I'd finished the toe on that one too. It was a bit nerve-racking grafting tiny stitches in a dim interior with several people watching interestedly, but got a cheer when I finished. With Anne's timely warning in mind, didn't wash them, simply blocked under a damp cloth, in case of any possible dye bleeding. The basic sock blockers for that were hastily cut out of a cornflake packet, and then I went hunting for stronger card to make the show ones (again thanks for that inspired suggestion on the Celtic motif, Angeluna!)

I have to admit I'm totally besotted with these. I slipped on the first completed one over my ordinary socks for a moment when I'd finished the grafting, and was amazed at how gloriously comfortable it was. They might be a tad too large, but although my original intention had been to get them to the show first, and hit the frogpond later, I might just leave them as they are. They are my firstborn socks and I love them in the way you can only love the firstborn. No, that tiny turndown on the cuff is intentional. Makes them look more cuddly, more judge-pleasing, I think. Me, I don't need persuading - they're perfect anyway.

This by the way was all fitted in between writing up a piece on the East Cork Early Music Festival (highlight is going to be American Benjamin Bagby reciting the entire Beowulf epic to the accompaniment of a lyre - you can't say we're lacking in culture here in Cork) and interviewing a choreographer who is staging a new dance production next week, entirely in the nude. Yes, it's going to be performed indoors, in a heated theatre, but the film which will play as backdrop was filmed out in the damp woods by a river near Bandon - sounds like her dancers are fairly enthusiastic or else she's pretty strong minded. . .

It's a wild windswept morning here - we could hear the rain all night and at one point a soft raindrop actually fell on my cheek from the slightly open window, which was rather nice. The trees are lashing their branches now and the little maple in the orchard is holding tightly to its orange and yellow autumn leaves. It will be a bumpy trip in the little jeep down to Bantry this afternoon, over the Coosane Gap, through the mountains and down to the sea. The fair is held right on the seashore, so fingers are crossed for good weather tomorrow.

But there's something else. As well Bantry Show, tomorrow is also the ALL IRELAND HURLING FINAL 'twixt Cork and Kilkenny. You'll remember maybe that I went up to Croke Park for the semi-final - those socks at an early stage of development on the sidelines, smuggled there in a lens box? That will have been nothing compared to the power of a final, and Cork and Kilkenny are old rivals, at level pegging for top honours over the centuries. There will be a gigantic television set (or perhaps more than one) in the bar tent at the show and I suspect that every single attendee will decamp there during the game to cheer, shout, roar advice, thump the table, and even, in the case of some of the older watchers, say the Rosary (yes, of course the Almighty is on Cork's side. Was there any doubt of that?). DH has managed to get himself put on show duty for the paper, so I will be able to provide front line pictures for you. I must crochet or knit a quick decorative scarf in Cork's colours of 'blood 'n bandages' - or red and white if you prefer.

Socks and cardi on their first show outing, The Rebel County playing the Kilkenny Cats - life doesn't get more stressful. Yesterday evening, when the show stars were finally tidied up and having a nice early night, I wearily went to my stash and looked for something really really relaxing to knit, as a winding-down exercise. You know how you fantasise when finishing something interminable about other things you could knit, other projects you'd love to start? I have a whole line of those waiting, but last night I was too tired. That gorgeous hunk of manhood, the Sirdar Denim Chunky, put a comforting warm hand on mine and said, 'Let me look after you.' I yielded - how could I do otherwise? - and let him make the running. Whatever he suggested, I'd go along.

He calmly and gently led me into a really simple shepherd's vest in a patchwork pattern of stocking stitch and double moss stitch which was so easy to knit that I could do it with my eyes closed. (In fact I discovered with a start that that was exactly what I was doing, and that I would have to frog back some of the moss stitch.)

It's proceeding at a comfortably slow pace and I'm enjoying every minute of it. Next week, though, I'm going to swatch up some really beautiful Cheviot yarn in a fine weight, for a thoroughly complicated Aran design... Can't afford to let this sudden space in a knit-obsessed month close up through lack of use!

Kathy, you were asking for the link to the acorn-tipped handmade knitting needles that Angeluna told me about. Hope you can find it this time. If not, email me via Knitter's Review Forum (Celtic Memory Yarns there too) and we'll work something out. They're worth hunting for.

Mary tells me she stayed at Dunmanus Bay years ago, and also actually owns a square foot of Macroom! Mary, get in touch with me through Knitter's Review Forum (you don't seem to have a weblog), give me the details and I'll find those few precious inches and photograph them for you, promise! And tomorrow I'll put on a picture of Dunmanus especially for you - it's one of my favourite places.

Now a few more pieces to write up, and then it will be time to take my precious babies down to Bantry. They have to be into the craft barn (a genuine huge old corrugated-iron-roofed barn) before 5.30 pm, as the judging takes place at 6.30. If I get there fairly late, they'll have set up most of the entries, so I might be able to hang my own pieces to their best advantage (did that before with quilts, in another existence, so I know it's possible). Then I'll have to leave them there overnight! Hope they'll be OK, what with the wind and rain and all. After that it's wait and see. I don't care really about winning (don't we always say that?) 'cause I know they're unique and special and lovely, and I'll tell them so as I leave them and head home.


Anonymous said...

Well, you certainly are a very focussed one, aren't you! Finishing both entries, and even making time to embellish the sock blockers to make them look even more appealing. I would have thought you'd drop onto the couch with exhaustion, but no, you've started something else! You surely must be able to see me grinning with admiration from here.
No wonder you're pleased with ELCC as it looks spectacular, and those socks look very inviting.
Bantry Show will not have seen anything quite so beautiful, so I'm sure all of the luck will be with you.

Anonymous said...

The cardi is stunning. And you are right, even if it doesn't win, it is beautiful. Same goes for the socks.

Love your description of the beginngings of fall and the rainy night. Just makes me long to be there. We're just starting to feel the approach of autumn in the mornings, but it still gets hot enough to have wilted all the plants by late afternoon. Just reading your blog makes me feel a bit cooler.

LornaJay said...

Those needles: I think blogger does weird things to long links if you don't use the html coding for them.

Try this.

That cropped cardigan is gorgeous. I tried on a few recently before deciding whether to make one or not - and the answer is definitely not. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

It is truly beautiful..well worth all the frustrations I think? I have a bit of an urge to buy some of that yarn .I do have an enormous cone of Cotton /linen in chocolate though.
I love laying in bed hearing the rain ,sadly for Holly on a Friday night it will be mixed with squeals and screams of the bingers coming home . When the neighbours go away for the weekend I enjoy pulling back the curtains to see the stars and just enjoying the peace.
I have two W.I.Ps on the go so must start a third maybe a fair-isle waistcoat for Holly .I love "Rosemarkie" by Alice Starmore.

Anonymous said...

Jo, The ELCC is absolutely beautiful, I've eyed that pattern before and am now inspired...someday perhaps, funny how certain things can be so very appealing to a person. The socks look great, very inviting, yes, homemade socks are a wonder to wear, someday all my socks will be homemade (I have 3 pair so far). Good luck at the Fair (although it's not really luck, rather fine craftmanship or in this case craftwomanship that is obvious) will be waiting to hear how they fared. May your best team win, have you started the team scarf?
Thank you for the cool rainy night, the weather is cooling off a bit here but still getting up into the 80s F in the afternoons. I yearn for wool wearing weather. Have a lovely weekend.

Anonymous said...

FANTASTIC!!! Jo, the cardi and the socks both look wonderful. Quite impressed by your rendition of the Celtic Knot, color coordinated and all. On pins and needles to see how Bantry receives them. Are there local knitting politics to beware of? A real giggle to think of you knitting at Cotters. I've been immersed in the Swallowtail Shawl (finished the clogs in time to be posted to N. Ireland, yeah me) my first lace project. Pretty enough to merit some SeaSilk next time around, though seeing the stitches and the charts requires two different pairs of spectacles, most annoying. Managed to get a horrid case of poison ivy, which is definitely cutting into knitting time. Scratching carefully with the knitting needles, then having to sterilize them before knitting again. Hope this passes sooner rather than later.
LornaJay, thanks for taking care of that URL, I was going to do it, but you beat me to it.
Still hot here, but did have a gaggle of wild turkeys in the garden yesterday. Probably checking out hideouts to escape hunting season.

Anonymous said...

Oh, you've done a wonder! I'd send up prayers for your excellent work to be properly recognized...but I suspect, with the time difference (I'm in Louisiana, USA) the judging has already been completed.

It pleased me to read about the hurling match, as the mystery I'm enjoying has just introduced two visiting American nuns to hurling.

Anonymous said...

well if you don't win with that cardigan, i'll eat my fleece!
jo that sweater is . . . sublime! can we see a picture of it on you?? would love that. it is windy and rainy here in ohio today too—a good day to curl up with some knitting.

judy said...

Your cardi is beautiful. Great choice of beads to use with it. What book is the pattern in? I am enjoying your writing and wonderful pictures.

Charity said...

Congratulations on your beautiful finished objects! The sweater is truly lovely, and the socks are great! I hope you do well in the show - Good Luck to you! :0)

Lorette said...

If I were the judge, I'd give you the grand prize for that cardigan.
And I got a good laugh at the folks in the bar cheering as you finished the socks! And at you knitting a "blood and bandages" scarf.
Good luck at the fair!

Kit said...

Hello! I've found your blog through the comment section of the Yarn Harlot's blog! I really enjoy your images of Ireland and all the stories of them. Your works are stunning as well and I look forward to reading more.

Good luck with your entries!

rho said...

They both turned out great! The socks look so comfy -- If they are a bit big they will be great for slouchy around the house comfortable socks.

it is by my reckoning about quarter to 7 your time -- do you learn right away or do you have to wait till tomorrow to hear how you
did. Be sure to take pictures of all the entries... I LOVED the acorn needles - I think I am going to be looking for acorns.

We are having a blowy day -- the remnants of Ernesto are blowing thru - great day for knitting.

blasted word verification - do they have any idea how hard that is for a dyslexic to do -- third try now.

Anonymous said...

Your Elann crop cardi is absolutely beautiful! I have been eyeing the pattern for some time with great desire. Your success may be just the push I need to get yarn and cast on. Buying yarn. . .Oh how fun. I am seeing you with a Blue Ribbon for the cardi. Best of luck from Pennsylvania, USA

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on finishing your show pieces! They are beautiful, and the sock blockers are very clever. They add a lot to the overall presentation, and I'll bet you do win something!

Anonymous said...

Fabulous job on the show entries. Just lovely. And the thought of the folks cheering you on to finish the grafting - how wonderful. You must've given them quite a bit to talk about at home that night.

If some Sirdar Denim Chunky ends up in my home soon, it will be entirely your fault. As is the fact that I'm now convinced that I MUST find a pattern to make a sweater for my wee boy out of the stuff.

Best of luck to Cork in the final. (even though Kilkenny is the name of one of my favourite brews.)

Shelley L. MacKenzie said...

You've done beautiful work on your cardigan and the socks as well. I don't know if the link for those acorn needles was found, but I came across that very thing this afternoon - hand made ones with acorn end pieces (also hand made). I'll post the link here in case that is the one that is being looked for.

Good luck at the fair with your cardigan and socks!

Lynn said...

Giving you a 5 DP salute or a sitting ovation, your choice. As they used to say in "Ladies Home Journal", never underestimate the power of a woman!

Both the cardi and the socks are beautifully made. I can't imagine the judges not giving you best of show.

We've gotten a little rain here, too, much needed. Thanks for sending some of it our way.

Looking forward to your account of the show and all the other activities. Here in Texas, "hurling" is what happens after you've eaten bad Tex-Mex.

Roggey said...

What a gorgeous cardi you knitted! I hope all goes swimmingly for your entries - best of luck on them...

Martina said...

I am in love with the cardigan! You did an awesome job and I'd say it is a sure win! Thanks for visiting my blog!

Anonymous said...

That cardigan is gorgeous. You've got to take some credit for it. It's just gorgeous.

The entire Beowulf epic in an evening? That is one long night. Hmm. I just went looking for my CD of it to check the time on it - after all, it used to be an evening's entertainment and I can't find it.

Charity said...

Hey, Jo, I sent you an email, but maybe you didn't get it? I live in Prince George, BC, which is about 8hrs of driving north from Vancouver. Are you going to be up this way? :0)

Anonymous said...

About your comment on Ouessant sheep. I keep this breed here in the U.K. I could post you a fleece! £2.50 plus postage for a raw organic fleece. Or look on ebay in June after sheering. I sold fleeces to a felter this year, (I think) I'm not sure whether there are any of this breed left on the island of Ouessant.