Thursday, December 21, 2006

And Midwinter blessings to you all

It's the feast of Midwinter, and joyous the time. The solstice, and the turning back of the sun towards our darker lands. The fire is lit and a special dinner prepared. I have put on a long velvet skirt (with purple silk petticoat because I like the swishy sound), I'm wearing pearls and amethysts (not that any evil spirits would dare to approach on a night like this) and to be entirely practical on a raw foggy night, I have also pulled on knee length Ugg boots. I look great as long as I don't raise my skirts an inch from the floor. I have a huge glass of Chardonnay (OK so it should be mead or at least poteen punch, but I still have to get through dinner without falling asleep in a heap on the floor) by the computer as I type. Greetings to you all, and love on this Midwinter day.

Watched Irish news a little while ago on television, seeing the great annual event of Newgrange, where the rising sun at Midwinter pierces through a tiny slit in the great mound, pours down a long stone passage, and floods the central chamber with light. People beg, book, bribe to be there for that experience; but for you alone, here is a picture of a rather secret and special stone circle not twenty miles from my home here.

This is Lissyvigeen, which lies off the main Killarney road, up a side lane, through an old gateway, across two fields, past two huge sentinel standing stones, through a dark and tangled wood. You wouldn't come across it by accident, that's certain. We only heard about it by chance and went to pay homage. The picture was taken rather nearer to midsummer than now at midwinter, but the power of the place is evident, isn't it? Sometimes when I visit I find a little bunch of flowers or a budding branch placed in the centre of the circle. Others feel its power too.

We've had a welcome respite from wild winds and soaking rains over the past few days (sorry,Peg, I know you're still enduring dreadful conditions over there on Vancouver Island). We've been waking up to encircling mists and cold foggy days which are more festive in many ways than the damp mild rainy ones. It makes for great pictures too and DH has had a field day. The other morning he took a circuitous route to work via Dripsey Castle (most routes around here lead past castles in fact, so it's not that difficult) and found two graceful swans emerging from the mist.

And when I was in Killarney the other evening at dusk, the lake in front of Muckross House took on a strangely beautiful magic of its own as the mists rose.

There are times, I admit it, when I scream and stamp and rant for Joann's and Hobby Lobby and Michael's, when I yearn to live slightly closer than several thousand miles from somewhere - anywhere - that stocks rosewood circulars, but at times like this I know I am blessed to live in Ireland.

Enough of this. To the knitting, to the knitting. Geraldine, bless her heart and thoughtfulness, sent me a link to the marvellous See Eunny Knit . Just go over there and see those Bayerische socks! Go on - I'll have a sip (well, a slug really) of Chardonnay while you're gone.

Pretty spectacular, huh? Now I've got to get going on those. I simply can't live without trying them out. After the Dawn Brocco cutaway cables and the Travelling Cables cardi and the Celtic Vest and the Shepherd's Vest and the Charcoal Chunky Crop Cardi, that is. At the moment, working flat out on a GIFT FOR DH, which obviously can't be mentioned or pictured here (he reads this blog y'know, so be careful in your comments, but yes, he did know about the picture of rugby-playing Donncha in the semi-altogether, so it's all right).

Like Stephanie Pearl McPhee, I don't know why I'm always so shocked to find Christmas creeping up. It's not like it was unannounced or anything. And this week all the editors have been screaming for two weeks' copy in advance so they can sneak off and get drunk or love their families or something, so it's been pretty hectic. Wall to wall pantomimes every night too. (New World readers may be unfamiliar with pantomime but UK aficionados will nod sagely. Anyone who needs a brief history of pantomime and why it is essential to scream 'Oh no it's not!' several times throughout a performance, just let me know.)

I did get round to divesting Nicholas Bear of his customary sweater and jeans and dressing him up in his Santa outfit. Here he is in his rocking chair, prior to the divesting, with Sophie being somewhat suspicious (ok, I admit I bribed her with a doggie sweetmeat on Nicholas' knee).

(I really must clip her fringe before Christmas.)

And here he is, all dressed up for the festive season.

The briefcase holds his Swiss bank account, naturally. What else? (Actually this is a strange tale. Many long years ago I invented a background for Nicholas Bear, and decided he was really a Swiss banker. Then I decided he needed a (non-existent in teddy bear terms) brother, whom I christened Julius. Why? Oh I think it was because I'd found the tiny briefcase in a shop and it suggested banking. Anyway, years later, I was in Switzerland and discovered -guess what? Yes, there was a renowned financial firm headed up by Nicholas and Julius Baer. I thought I'd better not invent any more stories after that.

Now here's something very very special. I've kept it until last because it still moves me so much I wanted to wait a while. I got a tiny package in the post this morning, yes on Midwinter morn. It came all the way from Lapland, and in it I found...

Lene sent me these. And they arrived at the solstice. Aren't they the most beautiful things you ever saw? They brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. As they should to yours.

I'd better show you just how tiny these exquisite things are. Here is one of the miniature mittens, next to a ruler.

That glorious little thing is two inches long. Look at that thumb! It's all of 3/4 of an inch! Lene, did you knit it with fairy needles and gossamer yarn?

The mittens and the heart are bookmarks, and will be treasured and used for the rest of my life, on the most special of my books, but right now they're precious motifs which will be hung on the Christmas tree and honoured throughout this festive season.


Thank you.

Blessings of Midwinter.


knitspot anne said...

oh jo, what a wondeful post! i love the pictures of your stone circle—it must be really REALLY neat to have your very own secret place.
and lene's gift is just TOO MUCH! how pretty those are!
thank you for such wonderful blog writing. i cn't always comment, but, i DO always read!

Anonymous said...

Happy Solstice, my friend. The way you're celebrating the day sounds perfect.

Anonymous said...

Happy Solstice to you too. My logs are ready to light this evening and I have a spiced, hot punch waiting.

The stone circle is wonderful, magical. How lucky you are to have something so special close by.

Marianne said...

I gasped when I saw the little mittens and heart from Lene...which by the way, Lene, if you're reading this,I'm sure I'm not the only person trying to leave a comment on your blog and unable to...
The photos are beautiful, the stone circle, the castle, the lake, all absolutely breathtaking. Yes, you are definitely blessed getting to live there...
Midwinter blessings to you.

Anonymous said...

Richard, since you read this, your photos are stunningly beautiful. Thank you.

Yes indeed, you are lucky to live in such a beautiful place. Joann's and Michael's and Hobby Lobby will come and go. Your secret stone circle will still be there and is in it's way more impressive than any grander monument. Nicolas Bear looks like a much loved member of the family. Was he yours as a child, or is he even older?

Have a wonderful celebration of the solstice, and may all the blessings of the new year be upon you both.

Anonymous said...

Thought I had mentioned SeeEunnyKnit to you long ago. Sorry if I forgot. She is a beautiful and inspiring knitter. Just wanted to mention that her lace tutorials are excellent. And those socks are kick-ass!!!

Fiberjoy said...

If I ever get to Ireland, please take me on a tramp to visit this secret circle.

What blessed gifts Lene sent!

Good cheers to you.

Peg-woolinmysoup said...

Thanks for showing me the sun, Jo. We did catch a glimpse today and the trees are thankfully resting - let's hope that is the end of high winds for a bit. I love the little mittens and the heart bookmark. Lene is certainly a sweety! I would rather your scenery than a LYS near, but I am lucky, as I have both. Richard would enjoy being here just now. On Tuesday, past, we counted 941 swans in the farmer's field where we count each Tuesday over the winter! Happy Midwinter Solstice! Pass the Chardonnay!

Faren said...

Those mittens and heart are just adorable! So tiny! I would trade all my hobby lobby's and JOann's for that stone circle that for sure! Ok, so the closest store 30 minutes away, but still. I hope someday I can manage to visit Ireland, it looks so beautiful.

Dez Crawford said...

Oh Jo. Your yarn is MAGNIFICENT and it arrived on Solstice. That in itself is magic.

I found it upon my return from the post office, where I sent your package of yarn and neeedles on its way, in the midst of a stormy Solstice morning.

Of course the first thing I do is smell new things. It smells of Ireland. Whatever the sources are for the various fibers doesn't matter, your yarn smells of green and mist and moss and faerie dust. It's enchanted and I cannot wait to knit with it.

You will have another package following your yarn, but it has to do with today.

When I come to Ireland I must go to your secret circle. I caught my breath hard when I saw it. A powerful place indeed.

Thanks so much for the magical yarn. I hope you are pleased with the exchange!

Slainte' and Happy Solstice,


Anonymous said...

So you invent lives for your bears ...I thought we were bonkers ! I shall have to post a photo of Grandpa Bailey ( a vet. of W.W.1) so he tells us or Albert the chocoholic who does hoists on Thorntons vans..... beautiful pictures.Holly would love the sound of your outfit , swishing is a great feeling. I must admit to not understanding the ancient myth stuff but there are places I've been that can chill and you can't say why. Then again peaceful harmony too but we don't get close to nature often enough.Happy Mid-winter a bit late.

Anonymous said...

Perfect post, Jo!

artyfartykat said...

What a beautiful post.
Hope your midwinter celebrations are joyous.

Joanna said...

What a lovely post Jo, and such lovely little mittens, wishing you abundant blessings for the soltice and the season x

gwtreece said...

Amazing as always. Wow Lene, those mittens are heart are darling.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the beauty of your surroundings. All the best wishes and Midwinter blessings to you.

dawnbrocco said...

I half expect some faeiries to leap out from behind those stones!

What a perfectly earth-celebrating place.

Oh to be in Ireland...

Charity said...

Happy Solstice to you, Jo. I was thinking about you yesterday. :0) I hope all the blessings of the season are yours, now and in the year to come.

Tracy said...

You have such an appreciation for beauty in the world and a gift for sharing it with the rest of us. Thank you for giving us a window into your world!

Roggey said...

Good Solstice to you, dearheart! Those wee items are just too sweet for words...

LaurieM said...

The image of the stone circle is a lovely gift to your readers. We have nothing like that in Ontario except what the glaciers have left behind.

There are two significant rock formations in the woods where I walk. One is a spill of rocks down a hillside that leads to the creek. It reminds me of the bones of the earth. The second is a large boulder that butts onto a meadow. The bolder is lower on one end and raised on the other with a bit of a dip in the middle. Almost like a hand cupping some precious treasure. I like to sit on this rock and daydream that I am the earth's child and this rock is my mother's knee.

Happy Holidays to you and best wishes for a prosperous new year!

Anonymous said...

Happy Solstice! I was thinking of you earlier this week as I travelled through Revelstoke and past Lake Louise. You should see it now. So beautiful with all the sun and snow - just blue and white all over. Thank you for the beautiful pictures of Ireland that you give us all year round - they are great gifts.

profbookwurmknits said...

lovely post.
i love the tiny mittens.
i knit my christmas cards
and i would love to find that pattern.
happy holidays

Dympna said...

Happy Solstice.
Every Solstice my father explains to everyone the meaning of Newgrange. When we are with them we pull out the photo albums to show my Children Newgrange and Mellifont.
I'm glad to hear your weather has improved. My Uncle said it was miserable the last time I spoke to him.
We've been cold but only had one day of rain in the past week. Just the way I like it.
You've missed a rash of earthquakes. Nothing to write home about but they do make you stop and think.
Thank you for a beautiful post.
I love the bookmarks. I may have to make them for gifts next year. Great way to use up leftover yarn.