It's been a busy time. Was committed to two parades on St. Patrick's Day so a blustering bright morning found me setting up the trailer at Ballinagree, aided by a helpful piper.
It was the Kromski's first ever public appearance but it took to the open air and the birdsong and the general attention very calmly indeed. And, after adjusting to the stops and starts and bumps, I found it was quite possible to spin the Corriedale as we chugged into the village.
Yes, it's a small place, Ballinagree, but every single man, woman and child that wasn't in the parade turned out to cheer it on. Here we are outside the pub. I'm at the back, sitting on the old wooden settle with Eileen who's crocheting; in the middle are Deirdre with her Ashford Traveller, and Kathy knitting an endless scarf, while in front, standing up, is Sue demonstrating the drop spindle. People really did seem fascinated by it all, and I have lively hopes of resurrecting a once proud Irish tradition, pushed into the background by too-swift progress.
Hey all those of you down there in New Zealand who remember Deirdre with affection, here she is, getting in the warming coffee in the pub after the parade! She's getting married next month is Deirdre, and of course doing all the preparations herself from wedding dress to bridesmaids, so she's got quite enough on her plate, but she turned out for the parade like the good committed spinner that she is.
It was lively outside the pub too. We even had a harpist rattling out the tunes along with the fiddles and squeeze boxes and bodhrans. Real genuine traditional village entertainment, not created by PR companies or TV stations at all.
Nora Casey from the Alpaca Stud decided in the end that it would be enough to lead just one young lad on the day, and it's as well she did, since Vinnie, although he started out well enough, decided he'd have a rest right in the midst of the whole thing, and nothing could move him.
People shouted helpful advice, Nora tugged and pulled, the parade marshals couldn't quite keep their laughter under control, but Vinnie wasn't going anywhere.
Go away and leave me be. Moidering and messing me about. I'll walk in no more parades this day and that's the truth of it.
Eventually Pat stopped his tractor and came down to lend a hand. They lifted Vinnie into the trailer with all his pals, which is what he'd intended in the first place, and he rode in style to Macroom for the second parade.
Here we are waiting for the off in Macroom. We were really lucky with the weather - normally St. Patrick's Day is an excuse for a real downpour (not that the Irish climate really needs an excuse, it does it anyway).
Here are the Woodland String Band from Philadelphia, bringing a touch of American glitz and professionalism to the streets of Macroom town.
It was a grand day.
Two days later, it was Sock Madness 3 - or Sock Madness Forever as it's now called - and there wasn't time to think, let alone post.
The pattern came down at about midday West Cork time and by evening I was able to post a progress pic.
I put them on this Drunkard's Path pillow because the lovely pattern by Ronni (Raspberry on Ravelry) was based on that quilting design. The yarn is one of my own self-striping experiments - didn't turn out quite as intended (do they ever?) but liked it a lot all the same.
On course to finish within my two day record.
Only... the next morning dawned bright and beautiful and DH wouldn't hear of the day being spent indoors knitting. Off to West Cork with us, to gather even more material and pictures for The Book. OK, I could live with that. What did an extra day matter? The socks could come too.
Here they're being worked on Sheep's Head, on an absolutely deserted small boreen winding high above Bantry Bay. Nobody in sight or hearing, even though 'twas a Saturday (well Sophy Wackles was there, but she's being kept out of the picture for the moment).
Oh all right, here she is with some spring narcissi. Can you see the thread of sock yarn in her topknot?
And here is one of the socks, among some early wild violets (know what to call the colourway now, don't I?)
We had a good day, wandering on the lesser-frequented byways and looking for hidden beautiful places.
Like this green lane wandering up to a farmhouse on Three Castle Head -
- and this ruined village beyond Lissagriffin. You'll have to look closely to see the little stone houses blending into the landscape, with the gorse and the bracken and the ivy gradually taking them over, but the more you look, the more of them you'll see. Echoes of the past is the phrase that always comes into my mind when I see a place like this. Those tiny fields, the little houses that once held whole families, the lanes where children ran and men drove cattle - all now silent under the sun and the wind from the sea.
Oh the socks did get done, in only a little over the two days, so there is time to relax and rest the hands before the next round.
They really are divinely comfortable (now that the stitch marker left inside by accident has been located and gently removed) and I'm very happy with them. But of course it's impossible actually to stop knitting the darn things now. Found a pair of Jeanie Townsend's Cathedral Socks that I'd been working on (before Christmas for heaven's sake), and worked out where I was in the pattern (not always an easy task). They'll keep me going until Round 2. The hand resting can wait.