Sunday, November 26, 2006

Some Starmore Up There Doesn't Like Me...

I am not having a very good time with the Starmore design, thank you for asking. Yes, the Eriskay gansey in bright red cashmere, which I am endeavouring to make for the Red Sweater KAL. We won't rehearse the early setbacks, in some of which Muffy the Yarnslayer featured prominently. Nor the stress caused by tardy realisation of the sheer number of stitches involved in the original pattern.

Let us, however, recall briefly my surge of enthusiasm when I decided to recalculate the pattern for thicker yarn and a larger size needle. Full of energy I cast on and worked away on the ribbing. Then, you remember, I realised that it really would be better worked in the round rather than the flat (it's the way she lays out the pattern, very difficult to follow with right and wrongside rows), so frogged back and started again.

Was getting along fine. Took it with me several places, including a dark session waiting in the car while DH photographed a society ball. Maybe that's where things went wrong. Because last night, when I took it out, thinking that perhaps I might photograph work so far for the weblog, I realised with a sickening jolt that the blasted thing was twisted.

Let's skip the knowing laughter, shall we? I know about this particular pitfall and I had taken very great care indeed to ensure that it was not twisted when I joined the ends. It hadn't been twisted on the first two rows either, because I checked all the way. Somehow - and I do not know how - between then and the eight or so rows of dreary endless k1 p1 rib that I had completed so far, it had turned itself round. It can't have, I know - but there it was. I even showed it to DH. (Yes, he laughed.)

I ripped it savagely back and rewound the ball yet again (I've lost count of the times I've performed that particular action to date). I waited until this morning, when I felt stronger after a night's sleep. I cast on AGAIN. I worked a row. Funny, must have cast on one stitch too many - I have a knit stitch at the end of the circle instead of a purl. Oh well, p 2 tog and forget about it. Onward.

Halfway through the second row I realised that I had done 2 k stitches one after the other instead of the regular k1 p1. Half the first row, therefore, and half the second one, were out of synch. Wrong again.

I see.
So that's the way of it, is it?

I put the knitting down very quietly. I took some medication. Medication consisting of an entire bar of Ghirardelli Toffee Interlude, kindly and thoughtfully provided by my health advisor, Ms Knitingale. Thank you, Ms. K, you don't know how much I needed that pain relief right then. I'm feeling much better now. A little delicate, a little close to tears, but much better.

I think the Eriskay and I are going to take a little break from each other, while I go up into the attic, light a few candles and scatter herbs around. Then I'm going to work a spell. I don't know what the Stornoway Stitcher has put on me, but I'm going to see if a bit of Cork Celtic charming can't break it. Why shouldn't I make her sweater? Why shouldn't I adapt it to suit my needs? How does she know where I live? Answers by email please. (Only - wouldn't she be able to see into those as well, by osmosis or something? Better not.)

And no, I do not have pictures of the many, many stages of work in progress. I think that only enrages her further and it would probably put a permanent hex on my camera.

IN the meantime, a happier story, because it actually has a swift and successful conclusion! The other evening, looking wildly around at the sheer number of actually-in-progress-right-now-this-minute knitting projects, I began to feel a bit hemmed in. So I did the only thing possible - started a new one.

But not just another one. I suddenly yearned for those heady days of youth when I would quite happily run up a new dress, a skirt, in an afternoon. Into town, buy a length of fabric and a zip, back home, and whizz - ready for a party that night. (I remember once making a velvet trouser suit in a weekend but that did take a bit for work.) Wouldn't it be lovely to start something right there and then and finish it the same evening? (It was 5 pm at this stage.) Yes it would. And I knew what I wanted. A bright cheerful sexy little cropped vest to wear over a white shirt. I had a beautiful variegated mohair wool boucle which would be idea. Better use it double to ensure speed of completion. Wound up a double-thickness ball, and grabbed a great big crochet hook.

YES, A GREAT BIG CROCHET HOOK. Because you know as well as I do that when it comes to speed, needles simply can't compete with a crochet hook. There's no status about it, no purity of purpose, just practicality. And I wanted to finish the same evening. No arguments. No discussion. Subject closed.

This where I wanted to show you the work in progress at 7 pm the same evening, but the computer is refusing to see the camera. (Great heavens, is she interfering with CROCHET now, too?) I'll try once more.

Nope, no luck. However, I did finish it the same evening, sewed it up , found a kilt pin and buttonholed it with the same yarn to add a bit of style. And I wore it to lecture the following morning. I assume my students were dazed with admiration, or possibly they were still asleep at that early hour. Anyway, DH, bless his heart, took a picture of the finished article and that picture I do have.

Isn't it fun? I worked it sideways from one front edge to the other, round the back, and then sewed up the shoulders. I got the idea for covering the fastening pin with matching yarn from that expensive designer item I saw in that boutique I told you about. And it was conceived, worked up and FINISHED in one evening! I didn't even go to bed late, honestly!

(And incidentally, if you have sharp eyes, you'll see a blue scarf around my neck that I also finished - one of those handy little ones which Peg told me about, that are an elongated triangle, just right for knotting casually and covering up a bare neck. Doesn't quite tone, but who cares. That's another one finished.)

I love that variegated boucle. It's so bright and colourful. I might make something else drapey and swoopy in it - one of those cardigans maybe that doesn' t have any real shape but relies on pins or buttons to hold it somewhere in the region of your body. They charge enough for them in designer shops so why not?

We were up at Cork University the other evening, for the launch of a new website for the Honan Chapel, a lovely little place with some real treasures in the way of mosaic pavements and Harry Clarke stained glass windows. The website shows off all its treasures which is a nice way for anyone far away to share its beauty. On our way back to the car, DH thought the Stone Corridor was looking particularly beautiful.

This is a corridor in the old part of the university building where Ogham stones collected over centuries are displayed. In my college days they were just there, not doing very much, but now they've been very skilfully lit, which sets them of tremendously well at night, don't you think?

I got Richard to take this close-up of one, so you could see the ancient markings on its side. Ogham is our earliest form of writing and a fairly basic one (after all, cutting lines in solid rock isn't an easy option) but all the more fascinating for that.

We are down but not done, here in West Cork. We don't feel at all like re-tackling the Eriskay. There really does appear to be a jinx on that pattern. If I tried another yarn? Is it the cashmere to which she objects, frugal Scottish housewife that she is? Should it only be made in her own yarn?

I think I'll go play with the chunky charcoal crop cardi. And the shepherd's vest. And the Irish Hiking Scarf. Oh, and the Norah Gaugan assymetrical cardi. When should the winter Vogue Knitting and Interweave Knits arrive?

Who needs a bright red Scottish gansey anyway?

(As I typed that, a gust of wind shook the house and a door slammed somewhere. Better get going on the magicking before I try anything else...)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Canine Yarn Harlot's Been At It Again!

Gosh we've been having wild windy weather here. If this is a smidgen of what you've been enduring in the States, then you have my awed sympathy. Our trees were bent double, leaves ripped from their moorings, and rain battering the windows. Sophie thought the rattles and bangs from the attic were gunshots (if ever a dog was gun shy, this one is) and spent the whole storm time curled up on my lap with her head buried in my sweater.

And yet, in between, it was exceptionally cold, with the first snows of winter on the Kerry hills.

You can just see the first whitening of the hilltops here as Cork becomes Kerry. Further down, in Killarney town, the snow was closer and more menacing, speaking of cold months to come.

It's a wonderful time of year for cuddling down by the fireside and giving thanks for warm places and loved ones. Tomorrow, I know, is when Thanksgiving is celebrated in America, and so I shall celebrate it too, because of all the friends I have made there since I started a weblog in July. I shall think of you all tomorrow, gathering with your families and giving thanks, and I will raise a glass to you.

It's almost midnight here now (and thus almost Thanksgiving!) because we've both been out and about. I had to review a new play opening in Cork, based around JFK's assassination on this day in 1963. It was one of those 'clever' pieces where you promenade from one part of the theatre to the other for different sections (in one part we had to sit in the dark wearing black masks while being bombarded with aural stimuli) and by the end I was wondering if this particular emperor did in fact have any clothes on (or, for those who aren't into Hans Andersen, whether this play actually possessed any merit or was relying on its 'cleverness' to dazzle its audience). In the meantime, DH was down in Crosshaven, a seaside town, stalking a folk singer whom we are writing up for Ireland of the Welcomes. More about Jimmy Crowley and his songs in a future posting. And now it is midnight, and high time we were both abed, but not before you are brought up to date on events chez Celtic Memory.

The first, and most appalling, concerns yet again the reprehensible Muffy. Those of you who expressed the desire to take Muffy into your own homes and love her for ever might wish to reconsider. When I went up to the sitting room this morning, the sight that met my eyes was not a pretty one.

No, not the red cone on the windowsill, the pathetic pale scraps on the floor. Yes, the wild dog had struck again. I could have sworn I had shut that door firmly! But there was the tragic evidence. This is - had been - a ball of fine kid mohair in a lovely lavender shade which I was about to skein up prior to posting off to a friend. Sorry pet, you'll have to wait.

I gathered it up without much hope, remembering the cashmere saga. However, kid mohair appears to be made of sterner stuff; it still held together, although hopelessly tangled. Maybe a few patient evenings untwisting and coaxing might bring it back to a stage of usefulness again? I'll let you know.

IN the meantime, I had been feeling more and more embarrassed about gaily taking the Irish Hiking Scarf Knitalong button for my weblog without actually doing anything about it. Ah, you will say, being Irish is enough. You are born with the ability to twist cables without ever using a cable needle, so you don't need to make the scarf. Well, that's true, but I still felt a bit out of things, so to speak. And thus it came about that last night I finally cast on for my own version, in the famed cashmere/silk (the one that smells like a manure heap when you wash it). This is the story so far.

OK, so I know you're supposed to follow the given pattern but that one looked a bit too simple - not enough of a challenge. This is the Celtic Braid, from the Harmony Book of Stitches, placed twice with a small 3 stitch panel between plus edge stitches. Don't know how long these scarves are supposed to be, but I might just go for a shortish one that I can fasten elegantly on the shoulder with a wooden knitting needle. Life's too short to go for a toe-length one.

And what about the Red Sweater KAL you cry? Indeed, what about it! You know (diverging again to avoid having to talk about Starmore and Eriskay), I sometimes wonder why we bother spending our time knitting these garments when you can buy them so easily. I was asked that at the dentist's the other day, when I was working on the Blackberry Pie socks while waiting my turn.

I explained that the pleasure both of making and wearing them was indescribable but the receptionist was still doubtful. Later, when we'd both been pushed and prodded around enough, we took ourselves to Blarney Woollen Mills for restorative coffee and I found an amazing Aran-knit jacket in soft grey merino marked down to €39. I imagine it was machine-made, but honestly, for that price?

OK, OK, back to the Red Sweater KAL. I've been hanging fire on this one for weeks now and it's been nagging me all the time. I looked at other patterns. I started new ideas several times. I gave up, went away, came back. And the Alice Starmore Eriskay pattern kept plucking at my sleeve. 'I don't want you,' I said crossly. 'Nobody wants something that requires 320 stitches cast on, and anyway I've skeined up all my cashmere into 5-ply. Go away!' But it wouldn't, pesky little thing that it was.

Then tonight, just as I was getting (reluctantly) tidied up to go to the theatre, I had a brainwave. If the Eriskay pattern was so beautiful and desirable (which it is, oh it is, have another look in case you'd forgotten)

then why didn't I try making it with the lovely yarn I now had, with slightly larger needles, but with fewer stitches? Could I? Dared I? Would Starmore instinctively know, up there in Stornoway (and I bet the wind is blowing wild there tonight) exactly what I was up to, and come right down to West Cork to read me a helluva riot act? Probably. But let's see. Now if she demands 8 stitches to the inch, and I've currently got 5 to the inch in this swatch... yes, all I have to do is divide her total by 8, multiply it by 5 and there I am!

Except that then the patterning wouldn't fit, would it? Yes it would. This chart which is followed for the main part of the body is for 16 stitches, repeated across. So make sure my total is divisible by 16, right? But what do I do when I get to the serious patterning, up on the yoke? Oh that won't be for ages yet. Get started anyway. Cast on for the front. Work two rows (this, by the way, as DH is revving the engine outside and calling, 'You're not going to make the first act, you know'.) Realise that it really really should be worked in the round, as Starmore dictates, not in the flat, as otherwise it will be a dickens of a job following her pattern. Rip it out again. Is it going to be necessary to revive this yarn by washing yet again? No, can't put it through any more.

I'll keep you posted on that one too.

Whoever asked, .Dervla Murphy's birthday is on the 28th - sorry, one gets mixed up with dates when
writing a piece for publication several days ahead. In this case, the feature is going in on Saturday November 25.

Angeluna's memories of formal horseriding in France brought back even more memories. It was never a particularly privileged pastime in Ireland - if you knew someone who had horses - and you always did here - then it was no big deal to borrow one and go off for the day or at least a few hours. My favourite time of all was St. Stephen's Day, the day after Christmas. A whole gang of us would go off to a farmer who kept horses and have ourselves a great gallop across the frozen fields. One year his wife, doing the thing properly, brought out the traditional stirrup cup. A little girl on a plump pony near me asked nervously what it was. 'Don't worry,' I said comfortingly, 'it's only a nice hot blackcurrant drink.' I tell you, that kid took her fences flying that day!'

But I was going to tell you about banks. We have a lot of very high, solid banks along our roads in Ireland - they might have started out as low earth enclosures around fields or even stone walls, but over the centuries have grown into ten foot high solid structures, great for clambering up to get a view over the countryside. When thundering along a laneway, or across a field, you would sooner or later reach one of these. Your horse, if he was a good one, would pause, measure the obstacle thoughtfully with his eye, then make a violent clambering leap, scrambling up to the top while you hung on for dear life. Reaching the top, your troubles had only just started. Below you was what looked like a sheer hundred foot drop into a boggy field - usually with a black stream at the foot between you and even vaguely dry land. You had just time to twine your hands in the horse's mane, shut your eyes and utter a brief prayer before he launched himself out into the void. Oh yes, the other thing you did was hold your head to one side of his neck so that you didn't break your nose against it on landing.

Great fun. And when you got home, and out of your muddy things, and stretched your legs by the fire with hot tea and toast (the hot whiskey came in later years), you felt so exhausted and satisfied and happy. Gosh, I'd nearly do it again. But I'd better not tempt fate. I was always proud of the fact that I'd never been thrown. I wouldn't want to break the record.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

On Being Unable To Travel With Travelling Cables

Today is Sunday and the intention was to wander off down over the border into Kerry, stop off for coffee, and perhaps take a walk in the woods. But the stormy weather that's been ravaging the North American continent has finally galloped across the Atlantic and going out is not a good idea. Poor DH had to, unfortunately - racing at Mallow, followed by basketball in Mayfield - but I at least had the luxury of choice. Being hyper-active by nature, my normal pattern whenever there's a spare moment is to head off in several directions at once, but when I couldn't even shut the gates after DH because of the howling wind and rain, I got sense. After all, it's easy enough to have coffee at home. One could even recreate one's favourite cafes. That's a thought. Soft lights, newspapers, some music in the background, a cafetiere and some warm scones... Who needs to travel?

Oh listen, while I talk of travelling, a mistake on my part must be corrected IMMEDIATELY. Dervla Murphy, travel writer extraordinaire and great lady, is 75 next week, not 76. Abject apologies - although she herself
certainly doesn't bother about age. You would never get Dervla looking coy and saying, 'well how old do you think I am,' or anything so silly. In fact when you meet her, she could be anything between, say, forty - because you don't get her kind of wisdom any earlier, I think - and a thousand (because her ability to distil the experiences and facts of history is frightening). Still as a journalist it behoves me to get my facts right! If you check back, you'll see I've already amended that posting. And happy birthday for next Tuesday, Dervla. You're ageless as far as I'm concerned.

Lorna Jay gave me the simplest and most delightful solution to my circular needle tangle. A strip from a cereal box with holes punched in the sides and something to hang it with from the top. Thank YOU Lorna Jay! I tried it out immediately and it's hanging down in the workshop right now. One good thing was that it made me realise I was still short one or two sizes - 7mm and 7.5mm, I think. Although the ones I use most are below that - 2 and 3mm when we're in Alice Starmore country, and 5s or 6s when I'm feeling happy and relaxed with 'normal' gauges.

Erica also gave a helpful hint: she uses those roll-up toiletry bags for both circulars and dpns. Going to try that right away for the dpns - they were getting into a right old mess in the bottom of the same hatbox as the circulars and really need to be sorted for all the socks I intend making over the winter. Think I'd better discuss those on the Knitted Gifts KAL site, otherwise CLOSE COMPANIONS might get wise...

Loved all your own revelations about the right and wrong way to knit, and, spinning off from that, schooldays. Dez said she still gets nervous feelings in her stomach when she sees a school bus or nuns. Oh YES, Dez! With you on that last one! Dear heaven, my private nightmare for years afterwards was that someone would dump me in a convent behind locked gates and drive away! I still find it difficult even to go into one in the pursuit of my job. They would occasionally put a plump white hand on your arm as you scurried by in those long-ago days, and say with gentle insistence, 'Did you ever think you might have a vocation, dear?' The terror that such a thought evoked would send my stomach churning for days on end! I think we can safely say that no, I did not, have not, have never had, the slightest inclination towards a vocation.

And I loved all your stories of the 'right and wrong' way to knit and other people's ideas of what you should be doing. I especially enjoyed Ruby's tale of the 'kind' lady on the plane who took the other lady's knitting out of her hands and showed her how she should really have been doing it. Whereupon the first lady, nowise upset, simply smiled and took it back and went on doing it exactly as before. Good for you, sister!

And Angeluna's story of the woman at a knitting class who was told she was 'knitting wrong' and wouldn't be taught, or her fees refunded, until she learned 'properly'. It actually reminds me of a riding weekend I went on once in the UK. Now in Ireland you learn to ride the same way as you learn to live - get on, stay on, survive, have fun, and the hell with how you do it, as long as you do. It wasn't quite the same way, I found, when I went to live in England. The first place I went for a bit of a gallop, the woman in charge surveyed me coldly and said I would have to come regularly, at least three times a week, until I learned to ride properly. (Yes, it was an exceptionally expensive stables, and yes, I'd just jumped a five-barred gate.) At least where riding is concerned I was confident enough (you do get that way when you've survived the legendary Irish 'banks'), so just laughed and didn't go back. But later I went on a riding weekend with some friends to Wales. When we got there, a nervous young man in our group surveyed the impeccably attired riders already there, who were gazing at our lively party with that particularly British disapproval, and bolted off to the nearest town. He returned after an hour, considerably poorer in the pocket, and dressed appropriately for the Royal Show from black jacket and fawn jodhpurs to polished boots. Honestly! I don't think the horses cared what you were wearing, and THAT'S ALL THAT MATTERS.

Now Angeluna also alerted me to two divine patterns which, she said, would suit me down to the ground. That girl has one helluva eye for fashion. I don't know how she does it, or how she learned it, but everything she suggests is absolutely smack on target. The first was that spectacular Celtic Vest (or Cul de Sac, to give it its correct title) which I cannot wait to get started on.

The second, and the one with which I am utterly and irrevocably in love, is The Travelling Cables Cardigan. In fact if you glance at the sidebar, you will see that I have already joined the KAL for this stunning project.

Well, I know I had enough on already, but wouldn't you? Isn't that jacket something? I think it's a Karabella pattern, so of course I got hunting on the Net for it right away. Yarnmarket was the first place I ran it to earth - BUT they wanted to charge the earth. I'd noticed they had Lantern Moon circulars size 5.5 in stock, so thought I'd order them at the same time. The cost was around US $30 for the two (OK, Lantern Moon are expensive - not as expensive, I can tell you, as my absolute favourites, Colonial Rosewood, but then nothing compares to knitting with Colonial Rosewood so I suppose you get what you pay for.) Well, listen to this: for one pair of Lantern Moons (weight around an ounce or two) and a paper pattern, they demanded $32.50 postage! Pull the other one, Yarnmarket! Off to Knitpixie. Here they wanted $20 to post out just the
pattern. It's that post office business all over again. Look, I know the pattern would go in an ordinary letter envelope and I also know that the postage on a letter from the States isn't that bad.

(In the interests of fairness, I should say that I emailed Knitpixie to point out that I was going to mention this on my weblog and they answered pretty promptly, saying that quite often they refunded overpaid postage if they found the item could be posted for less. Mmmm, not quite good enough as far as I'm concerned, but thanks for telling me anyway.)

So the Travelling Cables Cardigan has to wait awhile. It's maddening, because I want to work on it right now (not least because I suspect it's going to take quite a bit of work) but nothing much can be done without the pattern. Sometimes you see designs which you can more or less work out for yourself from a glance, but this, I suspect, isn't one of them.

Now the little French crop cardi that I told you about was the kind you could have a go at yourself. I want to make it it Misti Alpaca Chunky (or any chunky alpaca that I can run to ground), but in the interests of experimentation (and because I'm so impatient), decided to do a trial with Sirdar Denim Ultra Chunky. This is a good yarn and I've seen others speaking well of it too - it has both wool and cotton as well as acrylic, knits up very well with good stitch definition, and, best of all, works up SO FAST! I mean, cast on 53 stitches for the back, 8 rows of ribbing, another 12 to get to the armhole (it's a very cropped style, barely reaching the waistline.

Did this last night, after dinner, while watching TV. Now galloping up the fronts. The sleeves, however, as I recall, were quite big and showy, with large ribbed turnback cuffs. I'll experiment. Then by the time the luxury fibre gets here (or I get to it), I'll have sorted out the design faults.

Had a double lecture the other morning at Cork University, which can be a bit tiring, but fortunately the students were very lively and talkative which is very helpful. You can get drained if they just sit there and absorb everything with blank faces. Afterwards the quadrangle was looking so beautiful in the morning sunshine that I took its picture for you.

Isn't it gorgeous? I'm unashamedly sentimental about my alma mater, and wherever I travelled, and in whatever universities I found myself, I would always keep Cork safe in my heart. It's my favourite and always will be.

Have you seen The Devil Wears Prada? I thought it was so much fun, especially the utterly divine Emily Blunt as the grouchy jealous Number One Assistant to Meryl Streep's Miranda Priestley. Apparently they all had a ball making the movie and trying not to laugh during the furious outburst scenes.

While DH was gasping at the idiocy of anyone, let alone lots of people, thinking fashion was so important, I was gasping at the haute couture, envying the clothes they got to wear, getting ideas... I think I'll get it on DVD when it comes out, and keep it as one of my 'movies to iron by' collection. So far only Moonstruck has got that honour and I know it backwards by this time. You don't want anything too demanding or challenging, or distressing when you're ironing, but something that makes you laugh and feel good about things is great if you can get it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Frogging Is The New Knitting

I want to raise an issue here before I forget. I have become totally smitten with a beautiful new passion - to be precise, Misti Alpaca Chunky in natural black, which I glimpsed across a crowded Internet last night. Hunting for stockists I found one US provider and asked for postage costs (I've been ripped off badly in that department before so always check now). First of all they refused to give me a costing unless I actually ordered. Sorry guys, I've been trapped there before, no flipping way! Then they conferred at their end and sent me an email saying they had now listed the international postal rates on the site so I could check. I did. The yarn in question was around $12 a skein. Postage would be an additional $8.50 per skein. No adjustment for bulk buys, no reduction for a big package. Come on fellas, we know perfectly well that there are stages in packaging where two (or three) costs the same as four or five. We know that. Are you seriously telling me that I will have to pay almost as much again per skein to get it across to Ireland? Thanks, but no thanks.

They did say that they also factored in the cost of having to send someone to the post office to mail the package internationally (my italics). Now here I need your help, gang. What is it with this going to the post office in the States? Is it a really really serious adventure, the kind that needs a rucksack and a week's supply of chocolate? Is it risky to the point of inadvisability? Are there endless miles of jungle or desert involved? Does it require advance vaccinations and a visa? Are your post offices the size of major European cathedrals, with side apses and corridors and catacombs where a girl could get lost with her package of yarn? Do you get fingerprinted on the way in, bodysearched, subjected to the kind of indignities that make late night television? What is it about your post offices that makes people so unwilling to go there? (These alpaca people weren't the first to be strangely reluctant or downright difficult about posting to Ireland.)

I pop into my local post office a couple of times a week (lately, with all this yarn being sent out, rather more often), to post packages, pay bills, say hallo to the staff. It's friendly, relaxing, part of the daily round in a small country town. When I go away, I let them know and they keep my mail until I get back. I slip oranges across the counter at Christmas. When we had a spectacular crop of grapes this autumn, I brought those in too. We love our local post offices and give them all the support we can. So tell me what's so different. I really want to know.

Oh the Misti Alpaca Chunky. I'm currently talking to another web provider who seems a little more human. It still may cost more than I'm willing to pay to get the delectable stuff across, but we'll see. Wonder if it would be cheaper to go to Peru and get it from the source...? In the meantime, I suggest you check out postal costs whenever you buy on the Web, and slap down HARD on those who misuse the system grossly.

Seriously happy holidays by Frog Marsh at the moment; in fact, so relaxing does a good frogging session feel that one could definitely get hooked. Might frogging yet turn out to be the new knitting? I know I thought I was imagining the calm pleasure before, and then someone else said she loved frogging as well, and then another - so what is it about this act of ripping out what took such blood, sweat and tears to create that gives such a feeling of fulfilment?

Anyway, the latest frogging indulgence was with yet another red vest that hadn't turned out quite as anticipated several years ago and had been languishing in the armoire ever since. It was a particularly nice orangey-red shade of mohair/wool which suited my colouring perfectly, and the lavish use I had made of it for the vest meant there wasn't quite enough left on the original cone for anything else. I hunted rather casually for it and couldn't find the pest, so gave up overnight; then saw the cone again, had another go, and this time unearthed the offending item.

Looks quite OK doesn't it? But it wasn't. It was far too big for one thing (how is it that you check gauge carefully and yet end up with something several sizes too large?), and for another, the vandykes or points at the bottom just looked naff, not cute at all. AND of course I'd done a crochet band around the edge, because I couldn't face picking up all those stitches, and THAT was too tight on one side and too loose on the other. Oh boy do I have a degree from the University of Unfitly Finished Buttonhole Bands! With honours!

Now it's all back in its original state of loose yarn, skeined up and washed, awaiting a new project which is the utterly gorgeous Celtic Viking Vest (or is it Viking Celtic Vest, I forget) from Knitter's Fall 2003. It was the adorable Angeluna (Angeluna WHEN are you going to get a website so that we can all enjoy your witty style online?) who reminded me of this particularly beautiful pattern, so that's what the yarn is now going into. Can't wait for it to dry. Wish I could hurry it along but if I know one thing it's that you can't speed up the drying process where yarn is concerned- it's asking for trouble and I get into enough trouble as it is without asking for more.

The new swift (well the antique one I got on eBay) works beautifully, I'm happy to say. I never thought it would stand on its own, but it's so beautifully balanced that it does, without any clamp to keep it secure. I used it to wind up the lovely raspberry ripple sock yarn from Ms Knitingale.

How quickly one becomes addicted! I now find that I can't be doing without a pair of socks on the go. I miss having them to work on when I'm out and about (couldn't these annoying eBay sellers of Misti Alpaca take socks with them to the post office for heaven's sake?). In fact I'm going to re-christen this lovely Knitingale gift the Blackberry Pie Sock Yarn, since that's what the colour is like (especially if you add ice cream to the pie and mash it up a bit). I was so delighted with this soft merino from Nature's Palette (where did you get it, Ms. Knitingale?) that I kept going and cast on for a new pair of socks right away.

Here they are, all ready to go. I did think of trying the toe-up method, but when I looked it up and read about provisional cast-ons and wrapped stitches and slanted increases and abstruse calculations that wouldn't disgrace a nuclear physicist, I felt faint and decided to stick with the tried and tested cuff-down. But this time I'll be canny. I'll weigh the remaining yarn on the ball every now and again, and when I get to half the original weight I'll know it's high time to be heading for the heel if not too late altogether.

The tale of knitters who would a-frogging go is not finished, though. You may remember I was crowing the other evening about the Red Sweater KAL and how clever I'd been at moving to a quintuple strand of cashmere and 6mm needles. Late last night it became sickeningly clear, although the obvious was resisted as long as possible, that the sweater was just that bit too loose-textured on 6mm needles. Tried to ignore it (after all I was right up to the fun bit where you do the patterning across the chest) but in the end had to accept the truth. Another session by Frog Marsh, followed by a refreshing dip (for the cashmere that is, not me.) Have now hunted out the 5mm circular and will try YET again.

How do you store your circulars? Mine are in a hideous muddle in a sort of circular hatbox.

I've been fully intending for over a year now to make one of those wall-hanging circular needle storers, with a neat tape label by each size, but haven't got round to it yet. Even sorted out what fabric I'll use - but time is at a premium chez Celtic Memory right now and unlikely to reduce in price this side of the New Year.

Someone asked, and yes, I suppose I should use the official pattern for the Irish Hiking Scarf... but I did see that someone else had used a braided cable which looked superb, so I kind of thought... Playing outside the
perimeter again, Celtic Memory! When will you learn to play the team game?

UK Jo asked what my slanted cast on was, that I had thought of using for the scarf. It's not an official way of casting on as such, just a way I worked out of giving a scarf a slanted end which sometimes looks better. You cast on about 3 to start and then increase at one end either every row or every second row until you get to the right width. Then, when you reach the required length for the scarf, you reverse the shaping by decreasing at the other side to match until you get back to 3 stitches, then cast off. It takes a bit of fiddling around to get the pattern blended into this increasing, and sometimes it's easier to work a band in moss stitch until you're up to stitch count. Another way would be to cast on the correct number and work short rows, but I don't think that gives such a good effect as the increasing way.

UK Jo also said (quite innocently I am willing to believe), 'Nice to see so many projects on the go.' HahahahaHAHHH! She means the two or three (or four?) I listed! Jo, do you know about cupboards and
closets and wardrobes and tin trunks in the attic that strange, obsessive people sometimes fill with WIPs? Pray heaven you never do. It's not pretty. It's fun, it's addictive, it possesses a strange yeast-like expanding quality of its own, but it's not pretty.

And yes, there is yet another interest on the horizon (well, on my desk next to me as I type actually). A new Japanese book, this time on Guernseys and Arans...

What is it with these Japanese books? They're coming out by the dozen, all beautifully photographed and full of superb designs. You don't need to be able to read Japanese, the diagrams are self-explanatory. I know Francesca is obsessed by them too, but at least she's learning Japanese so she has some excuse. I just like the pictures! And oh the temptations! Show you some in the next posting.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Did I Actually NEED More WIPs?

The early stages of knitting insanity (no, make that the secondary stages, who's kidding who, this girl has been in the early stages since she first picked up a pair of old-fashioned steel knitting needles several centuries ago), have definitely set in. The other day, when I could have been attacking the ironing mountain (it's the kind that gets bigger when you turn your back, you know that sort?), washing dishes, giving the lawn a winter haircut before it gets entirely out of hand (the grass never quite stops growing here throughout the darker months, just to be annoying), even, heaven forfend, tackling the frightening number of copy deadlines looming, what did I do? None of these, you chorus, and quite right too. I decided to join yet another Knitalong. And this time I did it purely and greedily (can you pair those two adjectives?) because I wanted the button. It's a cute button and since it has to do with Irish I felt it should be mine. Immediately. And it is. Now. After a bit of struggling in the HTML sector and having its passport queried and lots of officials saying 'you can't do that 'ere, nohow', it got through Checkpoint Charlie and on to my weblog sidebar. Where it's made friends with the Red Sweater KAL and the Knit Some Holiday Cheer KAL. See what I mean? I've got absolutely nowhere with the Holiday Cheer department, although there are some ideas lazing around on sofas in the back of my brain, and the Red Sweater (laughs hollowly), well you know some of the history there. So why another one? Well I wanted to, you hear? I wanted to. The hell with the fact that it's rarely really cold enough here to warrant an Irish Hiking Scarf or indeed any other nationality of neckwarmer. I'm Irish, pureblood Irish (well, on my mother's side anyway - on my father's I suspect a little input of Breton or Norman blood around the 11th century), so if there is an Irish Hiking Scarf Knitalong on the go, then shouldn't I include meself in? Don't know what yarn to use yet, but there are two important aspects here. Firstly, as any knitter knows, all cable patterns should be in a fairly firm and preferably light-coloured yarn, to show off the stitch definition. Secondly, all scarves should be in a warm, soft, pliable yarn, to snuggle the neck. Do we see a conflict of interests here? We certainly do.

No help for it, it will have to be that divine silk/cashmere which looks like dignified string but feels like heaven on earth. It has to be admitted that this has been hoarded, because there is never a project quite worthy of it, but someday it really ought to be brought out and used. It's too beautiful not to be.

This is the yarn that has a faint scent of a manure heap when you hold it close, a scent which magnifies into a serious social problem when you wash it (gently, gently, barely squeezing, barely swishing, this is a royal blend after all), but which then, mercifully, fades into the background once more on drying. That's fine, it's the prerogative of royals to do as they please and our gratefully thankful duty to accept its quirks and oddities. It will display a Celtic patterning on the Irish Hiking Scarf stunningly - remember that swatch I did in the Saxon Braid which Dog Lovin' Knitter seduced me with - well she showed a stunning picture of her own work on her weblog which comes to much the same thing?

Oh stop being pedantic there at the back! I know it's called the Saxon Braid. If you're going to be difficult I'm going to go and have a hot chocolate with shortbread petticoat tails on the side and not play any more. If I say it's the Irish Saxon Braid then that's what it is. For now.

I see this as the central pattern with perhaps a two-stitch twist either side and some garter or moss stitch at the edges. Wonder if a slanted cast-on would look good or would it be a bit frivolous for an Irish Hiking Scarf?

Anyway, listen, back to the Red Sweater! You can check on that KAL for my posting there recently, to read the Scary Story of Starmore And The Series Of Unfortunate Events Which Led To The Frog Pond - suffice it to say here that I saw the light and am now working with, not a doubled strand of gossamer-thin cashmere, but a quintupled strand of same, which gets along quite a bit faster, I can tell you - especially when worked on lovely comfy 6mm needles!

Howzat for an evening's work? There is a band of moss stitch at the hem, and then the plainness of the back is slightly offset by two-stitch cable twists with a purl either side, which serve the double purpose of breaking the monotony and keeping the work slightly more elastic, and less likely to bulge/flop. Once the armhole level is reached, we can go mad on patterning - some ideas from Starmore, some from other books on Guernseys. Yes, one does feel a little guilty, rather like when you snatch something from the prepared-meal counter instead of slaving over a hot stove for hours - but heck, we didn't have until Tibb's Eve to get this done! It is to be worn at Midwinter and we're not all that far away from December 21 are we?

Dez asked what is my knitting style. Her own, mostly-German granny, she says, knitted in the Continental way, while her Irish granny knitted in the English lever-style (although, says Dez, she is likely spinning in her grave at the thought of doing ANYTHING English style...) You know, Dez, when you asked that, I felt an old, old tremor of panic which stems way back to childhood days and girls at school laughing at my knitting and the way I held the needles. It didn't have anything to do with being lefthanded - I learned to knit from my mother who wasn't - but being a Bohemian do-it-my-way, totally inconsistent girl even then, I didn't tuck them tightly in, didn't keep a grip on both needles the entire time, and didn't wind a strand of wool round a finger so that I could tuck it round the needle point without ever letting go my grip of the whole shebang. My casual, happy way was to drop the working needle for an instant to wind the wool round the point, and then pick it up again and carry on. And that, with some adjustments for tension control, is still pretty much what I do today. And every time I see new-to-knitting women being shy about the way they knit, I make a special point of encouraging their individuality and diversity. 'If it works, then it's right,' is what I hammer home. I just wish I'd had the courage of my convictions way back then. Instead I hid my knitting and would never be seen with it anywhere that someone might comment on my 'wrong' way of doing it. Hang on while I find my soapbox.


Just think how badly some knitters with disabilities or other difficulties must feel when someone cruelly, smugly, tells them they're 'doing it wrong'. At the risk of lowering the tone of this weblog, one might suggest the gentle rejoinder, 'there's two 'f's in 'off',' but one shouldn't, really, should one?

And just for the record, I always knit into the back of knit stitches when working ribbing, because I think it gives a neater finish. My mother taught me that too.

Gosh, sorry Dez, I went off in a bit of a spin there. I think you awoke an old unhappiness that I'd almost entirely forgotten. That dread of all the huge, terrifying, hockey-playing, purple-legged girls in gangs who mocked anyone that didn't quite fit in. And if you came from a book-loving, music-loving, long- walks- on remote- hillsides kind of background, where each child was encouraged to develop his or her individual talents, then no, I sure as hell didn't fit in. There are still autumn mornings when I wake up and realise with deep thankfulness that I don't have to go to school.

ANYWAY, back to the knitting. The Norah Gaughan is also progressing apace, past the armholes on the back and heading for the home run at the neck.

It looks a little browner here than its soft charcoal grey (see, you can easily tell when DH isn't at home, can't you?), but it's so soft and beautiful that I keep stopping to stroke it. This could turn into a serious alpaca addiction - now I understand the term 'buttery soft'. And speaking of asymmetrical crop cardis, which this Norah Gaughan is (Fall Vogue Knitting International), I'm beginning to see them everywhere in the smart shops. Saw the most stunning little one in a very chic boutique the other day and actually went in to get closer to it. I imagine the price was in four or five figures, but I just wanted to get an idea. Someone was buying it, and one of the lissom exquisite staff put it on and modelled it. Worked in the thickest dark grey wool I've ever seen - way beyond bulky, I would say, and probably spun specially for the French company that did this (Lilith, I think). Huge long sleeves coming right in to the short cropped little body in dolman style, then a separate panel working up the back. The whole thing tied casually with a big kilt pin in front and looked devastating. (Even the pin had been carefully buttonholed in matching yarn, by the way). I sketched it hastily when I got back out into the street and will have to try to reproduce it.

And as if all those WIPs weren't enough, realised this morning that there were no socks on the needles. Which yarn to choose first? So many lovely ones sent as gifts, plus all those indulgences from the Canadian trip. Maybe the delectable raspberry ripple merino from Ms Knitingale ? Or the glorious Socks That Rock in Watermelon/Tourmaline from Angeluna? Isn't it lovely to have the choice? And aren't there wonderful choices out there? Gosh, it makes one seriously grateful to be alive and a knitter right now. When I was a kid, socks were knitted in Nylox (yes, just about as depressing as it sounds) in dark school green, dreary fawn, or end of the world grey. Not much inspiration there! Think I'll go and gloat over my sock yarn stash.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

That We Should All Be Like This at 75!

Took time off from knitting the other day and went down to see our greatest travel writer and probably my favourite person of all time, Dervla Murphy. She's just published her latest book, Silverland, on travels in Siberia. We know Dervla from way back, but it is always a huge pleasure (as well as a relief!) to see her strong characterful face at the gate, there in Lismore, Co. Waterford.

She lives in this marvellous place which used to be the old market of Lismore - it's for all the world like one of those compounds you find in African or occasionally Asian countries, with buildings round a central courtyard. One building is strictly and absolutely Dervla's own writing room and study - here she has the bookcases which her parents used to use, and so many objects from her travels. Her daughter Rachel and her three granddaughters were visiting when we were there, but the children didn't go into her study and neither did most of the dogs and cats - just the eldest dog who had special rights.

You have to be on your best form with Dervla - she isn't a woman who suffers fools gladly. When she asks your opinion you feel that momentary panic that you hadn't felt since a professor fixed you with an eagle eye in a particularly difficult lecture. But just hearing her soft voice recounting this incredible episode or that in her adventures - all taken for granted by this serene seventy-four year old (she'll be seventy-five on November 28 and that we should all have even the tiniest smidgen of her strength and character at that age) is a privilege. She'd be exasperated at me for saying that, but it's true.

We swapped dogbite stories and when I showed her mine (remember last December in the Carpathians when I got that homespun yarn?), she gave it a professional glance and said, 'Oh yes, a good one - a farm dog I'd say.' Bang on, of course. She was bitten on the latest Siberian trip but in true Dervla style shrugged it off as par for the course. Rabies shots? Of course not. Well - general vaccinations then? 'Gave that sort of thing up years ago. Utter nonsense, most of it!' The leg on which she displayed her own dogbite was tanned, muscled and as firm as a rock.

You have to read Silverland to realise just what this septugenarian gets up to - at a time of life when we expect ladies like her (are there any ladies like her? ) to be crouching by the radiator with a bag of peppermints and a hot water bottle while awaiting the local health visitor, she's trekking across a frozen Lake Baikal or fending off young Russian ruffians trying to steal her few worldly goods. She wasn't in the least afraid of the young men, she says matter-of-factly, but was genuinely scared of a very large, very hungry Siberian bear which confronted her in the woods near Baikal. 'Well, I knew the boys weren't likely to kill me - far too much trouble if they did that - but the bear was hungry and I was meat!'

What I think I love most about Dervla is her total incorrectness in modern terms. We moved into the kitchen of the main house where she offered us tea ('China or Indian? I think a blend of both is best.') but herself flatly refused such a weak brew. 'I'm going to have a beer.'

The dogs climbed on to my lap as she boiled the kettle, while the cats watched for the right moment to steal a biscuit.

The three little granddaughters were introduced, lively, friendly, and exceptionally self-possessed (do they know who they have for a grandmother?), but when they left to go on a hike, she drew a sigh of relief and said, 'Good, now I can have a cigar.'

(I had seen a packet of cigarettes lying around but when I enquired she dismissed them, saying 'Can't imagine who left those. I gave up that kind of rubbish years ago...') A phrase of hers that has stuck in my mind from a previous book (in the Karakoram or the Himalayas, I forget which) was when some locals helpfully offered her some marijuana. 'No thanks, I have older vices,' she replied, heading for the local firewater shop. That kind of practicality and commonsense appeals to me mightily. And so as well as a token log for her fireplace and some biscuits, we had brought a bottle of old cognac.

I think everyone should buy her latest book, Silverland, not least because this incredible woman depends on the royalties to live, but Dervla herself is furious about the title. 'What are they thinking of, these publishers? It's all trendy one-word titles these days, and positioning in the market, and all that nonsense. 'A Winter Journey Beyond The Urals' is what I called it and that's what it should be.' When she signed my copy, she insisted on doing what she had done at all the famous European literary festivals - firmly crossed out the offending one-word title and only then affixed her name below the secondary title.

When you read about her adventures in those wild snowy wastes, where sometimes she doughtily used a walking stick to get around, struck up conversations with anyone who had a word of English, endured bureaucracy and officials with incredible patience and good humour, and survived adventures that would send the rest of us shrieking for the nearest luxury hotel, you feel a sense of disbelief that anyone could have such courage. But Dervla dismisses that out of hand. 'Rubbish. You're the same. You'd do it too. I know you would.' I wish I were so sure.

On the way home we drove along the lovely Blackwater river where floods still lay in the fields. Wild swans had come down to rest and feed before continuing their long journey to heaven knows where.

They seemed to fit in as part of the day very well.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Time Must Be Made For Knitting - This Is An Order.

Heavens to Betsy, four days since the last posting! The pressure of work has meant that there simply hasn't been time to do more than check email on the dash. Even knitting has barely got a look-in. Now, however, it's a beautiful Sunday afternoon here, and before Sophie gets taken for a walk in the woods, we'll catch up on things.

Went to the Knit & Stitch Show in Dublin on Thursday, which necessitated a very early rising to drive to Cork for the 7 am train. Unusually cold night meant frosted windscreens and icy conditions - most irregular for West Cork in early November, I can tell you! Lene, I imagine wouldn't even have considered it other than balmy at a mere -2, would you Lene? For us, though, it was quite a shock to the system and I had to hunt for the ice scraper before I could even get going. Still it was worth it, seeing the first shaft of sunlight come across the dark sleeping fields as the train slid by.

and then the light growing stronger and giving colour to the sky.

The exigencies of public transport meant getting to the Knit & Stitch Show at the Royal Dublin Society a full half hour late, but there was Julia patiently waiting to meet me! Isn't it marvellous when you finally meet up with someone whose weblog you've been reading and with whom you've been corresponding for so long? First Peg, and now Julia - this is getting to be great fun! We settled down immediately for a restoring coffee and muffin in the cafe at the RDS.

Here's Julia looking lovely as we exchanged packages in the cafe, showing each other our travel projects (mine the never-ending ribbing on the Eriskay, hers a lovely pair of husband-destined socks), oohing and aahing as we opened each other's bags of goodies. I think we were both hoping to lighten our loads, but in fact we exchanged almost exactly the same weight! I brought her some dark and light fleece, plus a book and some chocolate, and she brought me the most glorious range of dyes and an instruction book.

Look at these! A sample pack, and two separate packs for Autumn and Winter shades respectively! I can't wait to get started on experimenting. Julia's quite an expert on spinning and dyeing, and she gave me lots of advice (actually I kept on asking and asking - grab the opportunity when it offers!) as we roamed around the aisles at the show.

I know you don't believe me, but actually I didn't buy any yarn. I didn't need to, for heaven's sake! This was the same show as London but on a far reduced scale since a lot of exhibitors didn't bother to come across. It was manna from heaven for the yarn-starved Irish knitters generally, who were besieging the stalls and spending next year's income on bulk purchases, but I'd already bought so much in London that I'm still recovering - or at least my credit card is, so I refrained. In any case I had my dyes, and you know what it's like when you have the one thing you wanted safely tucked in your bag - you feel quite cosy and safe and ready to go home and try it out right away! It was the same for Julia, in fact - she had come there hell bent on finding some Irish roving (from an Irish Rover?) and happily she found it.

Having purchased this great big ball for €10, she was sorely tempted to buy as much again, but was worried about how to fit it in her suitcase.

It was a lovely day and really nice to meet up with Julia who is by now in London and probably playing merry hell with the fleece and yarn sources there. Safe trip home, Julia, and thanks again for taking the trouble to bring over the dyes. You have no idea how much it meant!

This morning, in a bid to make reparation for the aforementioned damage to credit card, listed a bundle of stash yarns on eBay under the Celtic Memory label - mostly skeins from the coned treasure I bought from Muckross Weavers. One, which I thought was an ordinary lavender lambswool, actually turned out to be that glorious creation known as 'cashwool' which is a supersoft Italian merino. It feels like silk when you stroke it and I'm going to make a shawl in it myself when I have half a spare minute. But not before I try out two irresistible temptations sent to me by dear dear Angeluna.

Sorry for the colours - I'm still a bit of a novice with adjustments in PhotoShop. But she's a pet and a half. I've been yearning for Socks That Rock yarn for so long and now I've got some! And look at the Elann Esprit - charcoal and stripy, so I can make socks with exciting toes and heels! BIG WUVS YOUR WAY, ANGELUNA!

It really seems to be about time for one of those unpleasant audits chez Celtic Memory, viz just how many flippin' WIPs there actually are within open view, let alone tucked away temporarily underneath a pile of ironing or last week's newspapers (we won't go, literally or metaphorically, into the closet where languish uncounted thousands...) What started this was a meek little letter in one of the English knitting magazines from a dear sweet lady who worried that she had a whole wardrobe almost full of stash yarn and wondered if anyone was as wicked as she? The editor asked for contributions on the topic but no way, they're not trapping me like that. One measly little wardrobe, forsooth? The girl doesn't know she's alive yet!

However, the impending audit didn't stop me falling in love at first sight with a Moda Dea design I saw in a tiny image in, I think, Vogue Knitting. I looked it up and managed to download this jpeg.

Super Moda Dea pattern J18.0124 in Tweedle Dee Knit: Split-FrontSweater.

I wouldn't make it in that colour - but I would - I MUST - make it in my Muckross cashmere silk. That's if I have enough of that yarn left - the skeins I listed sold so fast on eBay I nearly caught a cold from the draught! OK, so it helped with the overdraft, but I still hated to see it go. I'll have to check how much I have left.

But I can't get the pattern! Apparently it's 'available from your local yarn store' just for the asking, but we don't have that kind of yarn store here. Probably in Joann's, I shouldn't wonder. And I won't be there this side of next year! This is one of those occasions when you would sacrifice all the green and gold beauty of a fine November afternoon in Ireland for a good session on a shopping mall!

Oh well, truth be told it wouldn't be that difficult to copy just from the picture - the only thing I don't know is whether the back is split as well, but then, that's just a matter of deciding for oneself, isn't it? Take ownership of your life, girl! Stop waiting for someone else to tell you the right way to do it!

Tomorrow I must go to Co. Waterford to interview Ireland's greatest living travel writer (probably our greatest travel writer ever, if you except St. Brendan) Dervla Murphy. She is something else. Or why don't you look her up in the meantime so you know why I'm so excited? She doesn't like being interviewed and says no to most people but fortunately I know her from way back. I'll tell you all about it when I get home. Which won't be too early, now I come to think of it, because a John B. Keane play opens at the Opera House tomorrow night, The Year of the Hiker, a particular favourite of mine. What was it the Yarn Harlot said about knitting at the theatre? Dare I? Well dare I not, given that there has been precious little quality knitting time lately?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

To Dublin, to Dublin to buy some more yarn...

No, I am definitely NOT buying any yarn on this trip to Dublin. I am going up tomorrow morning to the Knit & Stitch just to meet Julia who's over from California and bringing me some DYES, the wonderful girl (that's if she made it through Customs, I'm keeping my fingers crossed). We're meeting at the door of the RDS (The Royal Dublin Society) and will probably have a whale of a time exchanging stories and having a giggle. But DEFINITELY no yarn. I will have a good chat, a coffee, give Julia some fleece (natural) and some fleece (black aka brown) as well as a few other small goodies, then leave for home again, virtue intact. At least that's the plan... I know I said I wouldn't go, after having so much fun at the London one, but then found out that Julia would be in town and it didn't seem polite-like not to go along and say hi!

Taking the train as a treat - the distance to Dublin is only 160 miles but on Irish roads that's quite a marathon, even before you hit the Dublin traffic. And on the train I can knit and read and relax which is more than you can do on the road.

Updates tomorrow night, but in the meantime, thank you for all the wonderful stories and comments for Hallow-E'en. Isn't it incredible the way we can exchange these thoughts across the world? Can't wait to discuss Midwinter!

Must go to bed. 7 am train from Cork city which means a 5.30 am rise. Wa-a-a-hh. Still, it will be worth it to meet another weblogger, especially one who has come all the way from California. Pictures if I can get them, I promise - ok, and the show too, although I fear many of the UK stallholders just won't bother to make the trip across the Irish sea. Still, you never know...