Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's Windy And Wet and Cold And I Want A Nice New Project!

Thought it was about time for a quick update: 'twasn't just the 'flu keeping me offline, 'twas also a spur of the moment trip to a particularly remote corner of Eastern Europe, in the hope of finding dry cold weather to cure the lingering cough. Back from there with some glorious pictures but they're going to take so long to sort out and process and resize for posting that things were getting to that tricky stage where you can't really face doing the whole thing at one go.
You must know the feeling. At first, you think you'll do it tonight. Then you remember how many pictures there are to choose and work on. Then something else gets in the way. The next morning you feel somewhat less enthusiastic. By that evening it has assumed the semblance of a real headache. Only thing to do - tackle a portion of it at least. So housekeeping issues and nice happenings now, and the full travel post tomorrow (or maybe later tonight if there is surplus energy).

It really has been wild and woolly here (just looked out the window and the gales are now hurling the clouds from the north east, whereas half an hour ago they were driving them from the south-west, what is going on here?) DH has been marooned in France for the last two days (yes, I wish I were there too, but he says it's not all that much fun) because a major rugby fixture had to be postponed until today owing to the storms and gales (Jocerane, JudyMac, hope you're OK over there).

There have been some nice little rays of sunshine though, one of the most delightful being this unexpected gift from Dez , all the way from Louisiana:

Look at that! Divine Louisiana coffee, a pack of jambalaya mix, and the most delectable length of turquoise roving with an adorable little sheep sitting on top of it. Roving and pet mascot sheep are on my desk as I type, the coffee is going to be sampled this very afternoon, and DH is going to get a treat tomorrow night with a genuine jambalaya (or as genuine as I can make it up here in damp West Cork). Dez, as I am sure some of you know already, is going through serious worries of her own at the moment, so to find time to post this to me was the generous act of a good friend indeed. My thoughts are very much with you and Dave at the moment, Dez - the rest of you, go on over to her blog and leave good thoughts too. Or if you happen to be anywhere in the Deep South, go check out that lovely shop of hers and buy something!

You remember those gorgeous stitch markers Linda sent me? Well look at these incredible Horselords of Rohan creations she's come up with:

These came about because we'd been talking of linking our themes, and I'd mentioned that I would shortly be working on a spring Magic Skein, to mark Imbolc, or Candlemas, or Brigit's Festival with the beginning of February. Greens, we thought, since everybody yearns for the first signs of new growth, and some gold for the first flowers, and perhaps some icy whites and silvers too.

And here is the first trawl through my stash to start on Brigit. Can't you just see those markers against a shawl or wrap or throw made in these? She's even ahead of me, is Linda, since she's already got going on Lady of the Lake which will match with my Beltane or Bealtaine for the beginning of May with its water-inspired hues of blues and pearly tones.
(I just love those tiny horses she has on the Rohans - can you see them? Oh incidentally, that's Linda's own picture from her blog - I know she won't mind my showing it here too.)

Memo to self: stop blogging and go start on Brigit. You know it always takes far longer than you think, and February is only just around the corner. And while you're at it, isn't it time you did a new lot of hand-dyed sock yarns in the Lord of the Rings theme? Yes, thought you'd forgotten those...

I was very honoured to be advised recently that this has been chosen as one of the hundred best blogs dealing with Celtic culture. Normally I try to sidestep awards, since they generally require that you immediately pass them on to five or ten more, which puts them in the 'pyramid letter' category as far as I'm concerned, but this one didn't ask me to do anything, just let me know that I'd been selected. So it was nice. Must go over and check out all the others now, and see what I can find out that I didn't know about Celtic culture!

Thank you all very very much indeed for the good advice on E-k-y, hereafter referred to as the E-number. That tip on working back and front separately for a few rows is excellent - wish I'd known of it before. Now, as I said (and Celtic Memory never changes her mind, not nohow), the E-number and I are now officially strangers. I have no intention of ever testing the Fates again by deliberately and knowingly straying into that territory.

However.... I have been playing around with a very nice cone of fine Shetland spun in a lovely petrol blue shade with flecks of colour, and thought I might as well do some swatches in it. Very wide swatches, with a lot of stitches. In k1, p1, ribbing. Got one completed, but thought I needed a second. To compare, you know.

When the second swatch is completed, I might try joining them together and working in the round for a few rows. Just for fun.

It is only swatching. It is an Unidentified Swatch Of No Importance. But the wind is from the north-east, and storms are forecast - now let's see, what islands lie north-east of Ireland....?

Progress report later.

Trouble is - with all this freezing wet and windy weather, the urge is growing ever stronger to cast on for a self-indulgent, quick, easy, cuddly and comforting project. Something that feels wonderful, works up quickly, and will look stunning on a depressing Monday morning. Never mind the Unidentified Swatch Of No Importance, bother the similarly secretive piece of work not entirely unrelated to another very famous Starmore pattern which could in turn be linked to the beginning of February, never mind the seventeen pairs of socks currently occupying most of the finer circulars.

Inner Child shows every sign of starting another major tantrum.

I just happened to remember this batch of suri alpaca.

The two cones at the back are the originals (no, I won't tell you where I got them, you won't get it out of me, no you won't, no matter how hard you try), and the three at the front are variations from the dyebath (funny stuff to dye, alpaca, doesn't take colour like wool, but you can get some rather nice results if you persevere).

What do you think? I'm considering a cabled vest (easy quick project) worked with doubled yarn, on nice thick needles. One that would hug the body in the cold mornings and impart a warm glow.

I wanna make it NOW! I wanna make it NOW! I don't WANT to do the ironing or the washing up or the vacuuming! An' I don't wanna blog no more NEITHER!

There are times when I do sympathise with Inner Child. But I can't let her know that.

I promise - a full, picture-heavy posting shortly of that trip to an undiscovered corner of Eastern Europe. Where at first glance any chance of finding fibre or indeed fibrecrafts seemed as remote as the location. But where perseverance and determination paid off in the end.

Here are a couple of tasters to whet your appetite:


Anonymous said...

Glad you've broken silence! The turquoise alpaca is lovely, likewise the Brigid yarns. Eager for the story on those striking socks in the last picture. I hope Dez's Louisiana coffee dispels any last hint of the flu.

Cornflower said...

I love all those greens - they really are spring-like!

pacalaga said...

There's always that two-color Noro striped scarf everyone raves about for a quickie comfort project, as well.
Feel well soon - if the wind is coming from the northeast, that means you're downwind and Herself can't catch wind of your swatches, you know.

Sarah said...

Wow, that petrol blue shetland is gorgeous and makes a very nice swatch (wink, wink).

Anonymous said...

Glad you are back feeling better. I actually enjoy the fact that you don't post everyday or every week. It is always a lovely treat to sit down and read your post either with a nice cup of coffee or tea.

I can relate to the wind. It was blowing here for 4 days at +20 to +40 mph non-stop!

Looking forward to your photos!

Anonymous said...

So good to hear from you. I look forward to hearing more about your travels.

My only claim to adventure/fame? I get Louisiana coffee every morning. Hope you enjoyed the packet Dez sent along.

Angeluna said...

The new swatch is looking rather good! Keep swatching.

That Louisiana coffee will cure your cough, and probably put hair on your chest, too. Lived on the stuff for years.

Can't wait for the photo laden travel post.

Charity said...

Mmm, an alpaca vest sounds wonderful! There's a group on Ravelry called Vest-uary - all about knitting vests in the month of February - might be worth checking out?

cindyl said...

If you're wanting something for big needles, say 10.5 American, check out Valour. It's a Rowan pattern. I'm knitting it up now, and it is QUICK and easy.

tmjackson said...

Yea! Glad you're back and feeling better. Congrats on your blog award, and here's hoping you can do the quick project to brighten the weather and everything else, too.

LaurieM said...

Oh I like those swatches! The are very smart swatches. The entire switch up of color is a great decoy as well. She shall never suspect....

The blue alpaca doesn't want to be cables. It told me so. The royal fluffy blueness would feel too constrained by cables and wants to be something loosely knit, perhaps even lace. I'm just passing the message along...

EGunn said...

No wonder you had a hard time getting started! That was quite a lot to fit in one post. Glad you're back, hope you're feeling better, and good luck with the Swatch of No Importance!

Linda B said...

Alpaca is wonderfully soft and comforting and I think you should give in to your inner child and start it right away. I just finished my huge alpaca shawl and gave in to my own inner child by wearing it to church yesterday despite the fact that I haven’t blocked it yet.

Can’t wait to see the new yarns. I’m still in “green” mode myself. I wound a bunch of yarn this weekend for impending projects and I had to laugh because it was all green and blue!

Are you fortunate enough to have a fireplace? Because if so, you need to sit in front of it with your new coffee and your alpaca and just let all that other stuff wait until the weather warms up!

gail said...

Fabulous socks!!! This cold winter in Wisconsin has made me realize that I should knit a few pair of knee socks to keep me really warm!

Nancy Fletcher said...

Glad you're back! Love the "swatches", and looking forward to your undiscovered corner of Eastern Europe.


Anonymous said...

So glad to hear you are feeling better!

You described my problems posting regularly to a T!

Brigid is at the top of my "must knit" list. Someday I will actually get it started and make one for my husband.

Lovely, lovely yarn! The vest sounds wonderful, and just think, you can have it knit and move forward on the other things before you know it. Think of it like warm-ups and stretching before a hearty run! Limber those fingers up and warm-up from the cold. ;-) At least, that's what I told myself when I dropped all my other projects and knit myself a nice soft water bottle cozy.

Bo... said...

As a person who is 1/2 Cajun (Louisiana) French on my mother's side, I can tell you that Mello is great coffee. Those socks are gorgeous!

SunshineDreams said...

LOL thank you for the laugh. Here in the States (Maine, to be specific) we're dealing with the weirdest head cold thing imaginable; I wish my nose would just fall off and put me out of my misery. Your Inner Child was just what I needed. I hope it vanquishes the last of the flu for you.

And the colours you created makes one want to start knitting with them. Immediately. Just so beautiful.

Hoping the gale doesn't hit you as hard as it has hit France--radio silence right now from my Maman, Beau-pere and little bro. I'm hoping the connection is down rather than that their flu is that wicked...

Dez Crawford said...

Jo, I am happy that my package arrived safe and sound. I'm so glad you liked it. :-)

Ordinarily I don't use a mix for jambalaya, but that particular local company does a fine job of a ready mix, with very authentic results, all you have to add is some chicken and/or smoked sausage per directions. Let me know how it came out.

We are celebrating Candlemas here, too.

I love, love, love the blue alpaca. Blues of all kinds and mossy greens are my favorite dyes to play with. Like you, I find that alpaca takes up dye differently and requires a longer "cooking" period for the dye to take.

Congratulations on the placement within the 100 best Celtic blogs, but personally I think you are THE very best! Can't wait to hear about Eastern Europe, too -- from those stockings I'm betting that I will be enchanted (as usual).

Dez Crawford said...

I started to send this privately but probably should share it with others of your readers who I know are concerned -- we got Dave's full biopsy results this morning and there was NO invasion into the brain. All of the cancerous material was in the anterior 2/3 of the eye socket. What a huge relief -- and thanks to you and everyone else for your thoughts and prayers and good wishes.