Sunday, November 22, 2009

In Which Thanks Are Given For Good Knitting Friends, And Floodwaters Continue To Rise.

I've said it before but it bears reiterating yet again - you lot are the absolute best.

I was in despair, total despair, over that blue cabled jacket where a cable cross had been omitted. I thought there was nothing for it but the Black Hole of Failed Projects. But you came through. Did you EVER come through, bearing not only comfort and consolation, but reviving hope and finally hugely practical suggestions. Heidi's advice on using a larger needle to reknit was invaluable. Katie K (sorry, can't find your blog address, Katie) rowed in with the most practical advice re using lifelines for the top needles, pinning down the working area, counting odd and even rows, and more. Helen emphasised working s-l-o-w-l-y, and not even thinking of a stiff drink until it was done (how well you knew I needed that advice, Helen!) My dear long-time blogging friend Pacalaga assured me that any uneven tight/loose bits would sort themselves out over time. And everybody else was so supportive and encouraging it almost made me cry. But I didn't. I resolved to be worthy of all this support and get down to the job.


You would never know anything had gone wrong. It just needed time and care, not my usual lightning-smash-grab-with-the-nearest-crochet-hook-and-if-it-isn't-sorted-in-ten-seconds-I'm-giving-up approach.

It's done, it's beautiful. But... I'm not sure after all about the side and back slits. They make it a bit too floaty. Designer catwalk stuff, possibly, everyday use, no. So I tried sewing them up.

What do you think? Vents or no vents? Cuddle factor or floaty effect? Still undecided. But grateful, so very grateful, that you were THERE. Take a huge collective bow and make yourselves individual mugs of hot chocolate.

That second picture of the jacket was taken indoors. This is because it hasn't stopped raining for more than half an hour for the last two weeks. I had to time it to the second to dash out with my latest Celtic Memory Shawl Kit and take photographs.

This neat little kit is the Mermaid's Garden colourway, with fourteen different 50yd skeins so that you can create your own work of art.

One of Jane Thornley's vest designs would look wonderful in these. They're up on eBay now. The next one, Forest Magic, with all the greens and greys and soft shades of the deep woods, will be up at the beginning of December.

That same constant rain, allied to the successful completion of the crop cable jacket, led to an uncontrollable desire to START SOMETHING NEW. And as chance would have it, Ruth had just started a gansey KAL on the Pennyroses group in Ravelry. And it was just a week before Thanksgiving, she happened to mention. So of course Celtic Memory, who has no sense WHATSOEVER, decided she'd try to make a gansey. In one week. And wear it at Thanksgiving (we don't actually celebrate that particular event here, preferring to wait until late December, but I've been observing it since blogging and Ravelry opened up such a wonderful world of friends in every corner of the globe).

Now I'm not completely daft, only partially, so clearly a sweater knitted with thread on toothpicks wasn't appropriate for this particular deadline. No, Polperro, from Country Weekend Knits (and included in a few other books too, I think) was the ideal choice, worked as it is with chunky yarn on large needles.

Here it is so far. A chunky 50/50 merino and baby alpaca blend, hand-dyed by me, on 6.5mm circular. Pockets are inset, I'm almost up to the armhole divisions. Will we make it? Read the next instalment.

(No, I don't need reminding about the book deadline. I'm trying to forget it.)

The constant rain, allied to quite frightening gales, has brought disaster to a great deal of West Cork, and DH has been out and about at all hours, recording the floods and flood damage.

This is a little road I often drive when going to Cork city. The water rose to a point where it simply poured across with immense force, and broke down the wall at the other side. No going that way for a while, then.

This view, taken from the bridge by the Angler's Rest country pub, should show sweeping green fields, with the winding River Lee way over to the left, where you can just see a white dot on what was the river bank. It's now a raging Amazon of a river.

This rather expensive hotel on the outskirts of the city was having a bad time, but DH couldn't resist the car park notices.

Guests were being evacuated to the backs of lorries with all their bags. Some Americans that DH met were being exceptionally good natured and amused about it all. Another Cork hotel (on higher ground) took them in and looked after them. Shouldn't be surprised at all if hot toddies and Irish coffees were in demand.

These houses look so beautiful, seeming to float on the tranquil water. However, this isn't Venice, and their ground floors don't bear thinking about.
Now I realise, of course I do, that other parts of the world get far far worse flooding and indeed far harsher weather conditions than we do in Cork. It's just a shock when it happens here. It's not uncommon to get some flooding in a wet winter - a deep pool or two on a country road, maybe even a street or two under some inches of water in the city. But to this extent, never. To make things even more worrying, the gales and torrential rain are set to continue for at least the next week. Fortunately we're safe and snug on our hillside here, but others are not so fortunate. Ironic though it might seem, thousands are without water supplies and don't seem likely to get it back for some time.
It will come around. It always does. The soft wind will replace the gales, and the water will fall back to its usual path. The fields - Irish fields are most competent sponges - will regain their normal green grass in no time at all. While it's here though, it does make you feel more at one with those who live in, for example, New Orleans. (You OK there, Dez?)
Incidentally, does anyone else have current problems with placing pictures on their posts? For some reason, Blogger no longer lets me move images around the page to put them in the right spot. Is it something I've clicked or failed to click? One of life's reminders that nothing stays the same? Advice welcomed. As it is, I have to put all the pictures on first, in reverse order, and then add the text between the images. Which is adequate, but not particularly conducive to stream-of-consciousness writing. (I had a student once who called that 'steam of consciousness'. Love it!)
And while I think of it, the Hit Counter has put itself back almost to 0. Well to just a few thousands anyway, nowhere near what the actual total was. No way of sorting that, I imagine. Ah well, these things are sent to try us.
Strewth, it's raining again. I was almost certain it had stopped for two whole minutes there...

Here is a view from my study window this morning, as I type. I'm surprised those russet beech leaves have hung on with the high winds we've been having. Glad I topped the eucalyptus last year though - they're as high as they used to be, but it's only light branches rather than heavy trunk, and they'll be fine.
And to finish, a nice warm little story. For this hopeless romantic anyway. We were at the local recycling centre, bringing in all our glass and plastic and cardboard and such, and DH suddenly pointed out a tiny object at the top of a heap in a lorry, about to be tipped into an enormous container about fifteen feet below on another level.
'Isn't that a little waggon? See its red wheels?'
I was over there like a streak of lightning and grasped its pull handle just as the small object was about to fall into oblivion. The man looked surprised. 'Don't know where that came from. D'you want it?'
It was wet and full of decaying leaves. The tyres on its little red wheels were in a pretty bad way. But it was solid, and sturdy. And it came home with us. It's drying out slowly and carefully right now, in the garage. Not too quickly, in case it damages the wood. And then it will come into its own at Christmas, piled with presents or yarns or other lovely things.

But I took it down to the grove first, and placed it in the very centre of a fairy ring under the crabapple tree, to have its picture taken.
Ta failte romhat, a leanbhain. You are welcome, littlest one.
Anybody know where I might get some spare tyres for a little wooden waggon?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

It Was About Time For Another Disaster...

But this one struck to the heart. I mean, Anne of Green Gables with the iron entering her soul had nothing on today's cosmic mother-of-all disasters. Nothing, I tell you!

This is the cropped jacket somewhat-after-Ragna, on which I have been working for months. Almost a year. I was knitting on this when we were in Norway in late May, I know, since I photographed the WIP by a frozen lake. It survived being lost in that roving yellow suitcase, and gradually, slowly, painfully, the pieces came together to be worked in unison to the neckline. Trying to keep track of a dozen different pattern pieces, as well as where they did and didn't overlap wasn't exactly plain sailing. But at last, during the past few weeks, I began to think that perhaps, just perhaps there was a very faint glimmering of light at the end of the tunnel. Only another repeat or so of the braided pattern and we'd be there. I had even started mulling over designs for a cabled collar.

Then - this afternoon - was it really such a short time ago that the world was bright and every prospect pleased? - I spread it out to gloat. And saw that at the centre back, where for some idiotic reason I had decided to put a double cable where two patterns met, instead of leaving them separate as I'd done everywhere else on the jacket - I'd missed out one of the double cables. A whole repeat back from where the work was now at.

What would you do? Of course hindsight (and DH) tell me that it would really really REALLY have been better to ignore the non-crossing, put in a decorative stitch or two if necessary, and GET ON TO THE FINISHING LINE.

But of course I knew better. Nah, we can fix this, can't we?

Now ripping back twenty or more rows over hundreds of complicated stitches was not an option. No it wasn't, and I don't need that voice from the back of the class, thank you! We're talking innumerable stitch markers, decreasing-point markers, different sets of stitches for this, that and the other - no, not ripping back. Not nohow.

But Celtic Memory is something of an expert on cables, isn't she? I mean, she's Irish, it's practically in the bloodstream, isn't it? Why not simply (simply, hahahahaaaa!) drop the relevant stitches right down to where the crossing should have happened, and then work them up again to the present point? Yes? Of course. Easy!

Oh ye heavens!

Here (and those of tender susceptibilities may wish to look away now) is the current situation. This is after a very unpleasant session involving several circular needles, seventeen stitch markers, three crochet hooks, two daylight lamps and a lot of swearing and hissing, which I don't want to remember. Ever.

That stitch marker is roughly the point to which I pulled back the relevant stitches. Above it is the pig's ear made of the reknitting process. Loops where there shouldn't be, holes where there shouldn't be. Skintight stitches next to wide gaping gaps. This is never going to look right. Never.

What would you do NOW?

I know what I wanted to do. I wanted to throw the whole thing on the ground, scream and stamp on it. Then hurl it out into the bushes. Possibly set fire to it if it ever stops raining round here, which it might do next May. Or give it to Muffy the Yarnslayer for her bed.

But I have spent so long on this jacket. It is (was) my pride and joy. I'd worked out all the stitch computations, the side slits, the coming together at the armholes, even kept track of the decreases across hundreds of stitches from then on. I was so looking forward to wearing it, showing it off, maybe doing a little quiet boasting here on the weblog.

It's down there now, still lying on the ironing table where I left it. I couldn't trust myself near it. I retired to an armchair with a bag of Jelly Squirms and Patrick Leigh-Fermor's A Time of Gifts. Reading about his travels through pre-war Austria, one night shivering in a hay barn, the next dressing for dinner in a crumbling schloss, had a calming effect.

But that jacket is still there, waiting. Wondering, probably, what's gone wrong, and where I am.


Enough. Let's try to think of something else. Like De Book, which is still slouching heavily towards the publisher to be born.

We went hunting for a couple of pictures still needed the other day. First an ogham stone at Templebryan, not far from Shannonvale.

It's quite an awe-inspiring sight when you see it from the muddy track below, dominating the top of a little hill. It's inside an ancient enclosure which was apparently once a monastic site, but this stone is a bit older than Christianity. Ah well, not the first time the new rulers took over the old symbols. Just to the left there you can see a bullaun stone on the ground. These were specially hollowed-out rocks which held water or something else during ancient ceremonies. Best not to enquire too closely.

And we weren't alone as you see. This charming Irish draught horse colt has the confiding nature of his breed and came up to bid us welcome to his field.

Then his mama came over to check that we didn't intend any harm to her pride and joy.

And finally this wild looking little mare climbed into the enclosure to check us out. The smaller the horse, the more you should beware of their nipping tendencies so we kept a sharp eye on her as she sidled around. She may have been looking meanly at us, but you can't really tell, can you? She wasn't too impressed at being immediately christened Templebryan Tumbleweed though. Honestly. These tourists they come up here, climbing all over me field, and then call me out of me name! Honestly! As if everybody didn't know I'm Theda Bara of That Ilk!

Then we went hunting for a famed holy well down by Lough Ine. This one has a reputation built up over centuries of curing all kinds of eye ailments. You have to go up a rough track, cross a stream, and there it is, standing quietly in the woods as it has done for millennia.

It's clearly very well visited, being hung all round with every kind of token, from beads to statues, scraps of cloth to handwritten notes, shells and small stones, even ferry tickets. So many hopes, so many prayers, so many dreams.

Here is a closeup. You might like to make a virtual visit. I'm sure it would work just as well over the Net, if your intentions are clean and clear. It's a lovely quiet peaceful place, the moss-covered trees and rocks sheltering it on three sides, and the bubbling little stream on the fourth.
A good place.