Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Why Did The Cows Cross The Road?

Had a flying visit to London last week on business and found time to get down to Stash Yarns in Putney as a treat. Been meaning to visit this little treasure house for ages, mostly because its website shows that it stocks a whole lot of rare and unusual yarns that aren't normally found at ALL this side of the Atlantic. Dream in Color Smooshy, Shibui, Koigu - and those heartstopping names that make you forget everything else and head right there - Fleece Artist and Handmaiden. With temptations like that, what chance did business meetings have?

Here is a tempting glimpse of just one corner

and here is owner, Michelle (originally from Connecticut), showing me even more temptations. This picture is a little blurred because I hadn't taken my camera to London, in the interests of travelling light, and have borrowed this from Michelle's blog. Indeed, if she hadn't been kind enough to send me on that top picture of her shop, you wouldn't have had one at all, so thanks, Michelle!

But I was able to take pictures of the little luxuries I acquired, once I got home.

Stash from Stash Yarns, indeed. Two skeins of utterly irresistible Shibui sock yarn, in the Seaweed colourway, and two skeins of Koigu ditto, in a rich poppy red. I also picked up the Twisted Sisters Sweater book, which has that wonderful top-down Aran in it. Pretty restrained I know (had to turn away from the Seasilk in case my resolve weakened) but the determination to restrict stash enhancement stayed fairly well in place. Sock yarn doesn't count, right?

While enjoying a leisurely browse at Stash (with the mobile phone turned off in case anyone tried to find me) I chatted with Ali, who works there a couple of days a week. She is a pretty nifty knitter - she was working that morning on a pair of entrelac socks and assured me that they were really quite easy to do. Looked wonderfully complicated to me! Go and check out her blog to see them, and also for the most delightful account of a slumberknit party which I wish I had been at.

Places like Stash Yarns are so worth visiting. If it were not for them, those of us on this side of the herring pond would never get a chance to fondle divine yarns like these, up close and personal. Any of you visiting London in the next while, make a point of popping in and saying hallo - as well as drooling over the Adirondack and the Smooshy and the Lornas Laces and the Mission Falls and the Blue Sky... who would have thought that one small shop would have such rarities in it? (OK, New World dwellers, you might have them on your doorstep, but for a UK shop to order and stock them is pretty unusual, I can tell you. I don't know a single other place I could find these without making a long distance flight.) I'm certainly going back when I'm in London again for IKnit in September.

Oh I almost forgot. More goodies for UK and western European knitters. Ali reminded me about The Inside Loop , a new UK online knitting magazine. Issue 2 is out today, so go look at it.

Goodies arrived by post recently. I'd been waiting absolutely ages for books from the Needle Arts Bookshop and at last they arrived. Not the shop's fault in any way - since they were heavy, I'd opted for camel train and slow boat via China rather than priority posting, so I was fortunate to receive them in slightly less than the anticipated six weeks.

Doesn't Marsha at Needle Arts make up the most beautiful packages? Lovingly wrapped, beribboned, and with a bookmark and bookplates tucked in as extra gifts. And do you see that poem, The Prayse Of The Needle, printed on the back of the invoice? A pleasure to do business with someone like that.

Here's one of the books I got from Needle Arts - the Japanese publication 1000 Stitches. This tome contains every pattern you could ever possibly want, and quite a few you wouldn't have believed possible. Easy to work out too, with plenty of charts. I think Marsha offers a free translating leaflet on her website as well, if I'm not mistaken, that you can print out and refer to as necessary. I've joined the Japanese knitting group on Ravelry, which is very helpful for anyone working from the beautiful books they produce over there.

I also got two of Annie Maloney's books from Needle Arts, the cable one and the lace one. Looking forward to trying some ideas from those as well.

You may remember that we have been leaving the back gardens strictly alone for the past few weeks, because of nesting birds. This led to the front driveway being festooned with not only drying handknit socks but also drying hand-dyed yarn skeins. These are the ones currently listed on eBay - that listing ends tonight, as far as I remember, so I'll have to start on a new lot.

I confess that I rather like having colourful skeins blowing in the breeze as I drive in or out, but when it comes to getting sheets and other laundry dried, the airing racks in the utility room do not give at all the same fresh clean scent that outdoor drying does.

And so I was heartily relieved to discover that at last the blackbird nesting right by the back door (so close that to open the door meant shaking the nest) was feeding well-grown young.

There was still the mistle thrush to consider, though. She nested very late this year (normally their young are up and active before ever a blackbird starts building) and she took her own sweet time hatching them too. 'Get on with it!' I was shouting exasperatedly through the window as she sat peacefully gazing into space, day after day, week after week, in the tree that supports the washing line. But at last ...

Once the young have hatched, you could hold a garden party underneath the nest and the parents won't desert. It's only in the earlier stages that it's unwise to hang around too much.

Yay, at last we can mow the lawn, tidy up the flowerbeds, get into the conservatory again to rescue the neglected pot plants!

Or so I thought. Coming downstairs in the morning, I glanced through the hall window into the conservatory and saw that we had yet another squatter...

That isn't a particularly huge blue pot. But that is a very very small bunny. For heaven's sake, am I to be barred yet again? If you frighten them too much at that age, you see, as, for example by rushing in shrieking, 'What the blue b-z-s are you doing there, get OUT!', they just up and die on you, from shock. Or spite. Didn't want that on my conscience. Fortunately, although it hid behind some sacks when I went in first, it took my gentle preliminary disturbance as the notice to quit that I intended it to be, and left later on. Let's hope we have a critter-free garden for a while. Until I can water the poor neglected greenhouse plants at least!

When I headed off to Bandon this morning though, somehow I wasn't surprised when all the traffic on a narrow twisting country lane came to an abrupt stop.

I suppose I wouldn't really want to live somewhere that didn't have these little interruptions to a smooth and uneventful existence.


pacalaga said...

Oh, sweet little Irish bunny!
What a great shop you found. I can't find a shop with all those lovelies in one place without a long-distance flight either, though I am happy to have cheaper shipping!

Anonymous said...

Love the photos of the baby birds and bunnies! The cows in the lane made me chuckle--two years ago we were visiting cousins near Galway and paused for some cows who were peacefully filing down the lane, observing the traffic laws better than many drivers. But the best moment was when our eight-year-old son, absorbed with his Gameboy during the "boring" drive, suddenly looked up, awestruck, at a cow just outside his window that towered over the car--priceless!

Christina said...

I, too, like Stash as I was able to buy an OOP Lopi book that I couldn't find here in the US. Quick service and shipping at a fair price!

Anonymous said...

Sounds terribly idyllic. How I would love to visit Ireland some time.

Charity said...

Mmmm, sounds like a marvelous time! I'm grounded for the next while, so I'll have to keep travelling vicariously through you - keep it coming! :0)

cindyl said...

I would SO love to be stopped in traffic while a parade of cattle or sheep or llamas or most any mammal strolled across the road.
I appreciate the peace that comes through in your posts so much, particularly at this busy time of year. Keep it up, please, Jo.

cindyl said...

I would SO love to be stopped in traffic while a parade of cattle or sheep or llamas or most any mammal strolled across the road.
I appreciate the peace that comes through in your posts so much, particularly at this busy time of year. Keep it up, please, Jo.

Anonymous said...

What a cute bunny!

I've never done this before, but I've tagged you for a meme. Because I would like to know more about you living in a land so green. You go to my blog to get the questions if you want to participate. Or not.

Cindy/Snid said...

Thanks for the poke about the Inside Loop! Hadn't heard of it yet!

I am hoping to pick up some of those Japanese pattern books when we go to Singapore in June. They look like fun to play with.

The bunny is very, very cute. And the cows? Well, lets just say that we see this all the time around here. But the roads don't look nearly as peaceful and cars, buses and such just sort of veer around the cows if they can!

Barbara-Kay said...

Enjoyed your adventures. Trust you (and your DH) to have such engaging pictures of the wildlife!

Thanks, also for the link to The Inside Loop. I hadn't discovered it. Reminiscent of "a young Knitty", eh?

Anonymous said...

It is ducks and geese here slowing traffic and generally disrupting things.

As always, the story and pictures are lovely. I appreciate knowing that there is one more place in London which I must avoid....

(Cindy, there are some awesome books stores in Singapore, hit the main Japanese department store, there were five (count 'em five) full racks of knitting books when I was there).

Anonymous said...

How are all the babies faring? The wild creatures chose the perfect sanctuary at your place.

Inside Loop is a great online zine - thanks for the link. :-)

Red-headed StepKnitter said...

We had a tiny nest of adorable baby rabbits take up right outside the lettuce patch. I hate to interrupt them, but I've worked too hard to let them eat it...what to do...

Dez Crawford said...

Skeins in the trees and excellent photography of local wildlife. Thanks to both of you! Richard's photos really make me lust for a beefier zoom lens, and macro lens ...

I can't thank you enough for your posts. Reading Celtic Memory is like taking a sedative, without the undesirable side effects!