Sunday, January 17, 2010

In Which A Very Long Scarf Is Hooked, Yarns Are Dyed, And Woods Walked

Gosh, I've never known weather like it. Floods were followed by freezing, followed by snow, followed by more floods, and more snow. Roads were treacherous going on lethal, people were slipping and breaking limbs everywhere, the local councils were run off their feet (well, generally we don't have much need of snow ploughs and grit in this part of the world) and overall everybody had to stay indoors for the best part of a month.

This was the view from my study window on a typical day. It was midday by the way, not dawn or dusk.

And this was a dawn view from the upstairs sitting room. You can just see the sun trying to break through the icy fog.

Now I do realise that this petty little shimmy of less than perfect weather will make many of you laugh hollowly - especially those of you in Canada, Alaska, Maine... We, however, are so unused to it that it nearly drove us mad. One chilly night, one or two bouts of frost are all we ever get, before returning to the normal mild damp and drizzle.

So we were mightily pleased to see the sun yesterday and today. Still pretty cold, but at least there was blue sky. The roads were packed with relieved families getting out to shop, to socialise, to get the fresh air. Let's hope we've seen the last of the ice and snow. (The last of the rain? Ah don't be silly. That's a given. How do you think we keep so green?)

Oh while I think of it, a few people (including Laurie M) asked to see a closer view of the Polperro jacket, so here it is. Still quite pleased with it, and wearing it constantly (which is more than can be said for every Celtic Memory project - bet I'm not the only one with a few horrors in the closet over which endless time and money were expended).

But that project is well finished, and by way of finding something to do during those enforced days when cabin-fever threatened, I became a new pupil at Hogwarts - that is, I joined the Harry Potter Knitting & Crochet House Cup group on Ravelry. (Slytherin House of course). The first homework I undertook was for the Divinations class, where we had to make something to protect the palms of the hands.

I thought fingerless gloves would be about right, and they suited the bleak weather very well. Silk cashmere from the stash, hand-dyed in my favourite violet and used double. These are based on the lovely Cabled Fingerless Gloves by Kimberly, but I adapted the stitch count and the cable pattern a bit.

Here's the fun bit - since they emphasised protection of the palm, I put a tiny pocket on the palm of each glove, suitable for the tucking in of some powerful herb. In times of real danger, both hands can be raised with the palms outwards, thereby knocking any evil influence for six. I've hardly taken these off since completing them. Not so much to protect against bad spirits as to keep my hands warm. Why did I ever mock fingerless gloves? They're wonderful, even at the keyboard.

And then, for the Potions class, I made a Monkshood scarf. I do have this plant in my own physic garden, but at this time of year it's well underground and better off there too.

Using these blue and violet shades of mohair reminded me of how beautiful the monkshood looks in summer. It is apparently excellent as an external embrocation, but exceptionally poisonous if taken internally, so always treat it with respect. Yes, the scarf is hooked rather than knitted. Wanted to make sure I hadn't lost the skill.

Tried something new for me on this project - some delicate beading to emphasise the curving edge of the scarf. Added the beads with the final row of colour, just using a very very fine crochet hook to pull the stitch through each bead. A lot of fun. Must do some more beading.

And finally, since I'd promised faithfully that I would list the new yarns today, at noon, some dyeing had to be done.

These are in a new blend, a rather gorgeous mix of 50% superwash merino and 50% silk. The yarn has a lovely lustre, and a delectable drape. Soft sumptuous socks certainly, but I see cowls and scarves and gloves here too. Left to right, Marsh Marigold, Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry, Wild Iris, Woodland Moss, Wild Rose, and Blue Pool.

You may take this picture for granted, but it took days to achieve, waiting for a gleam of sunlight long enough to get them hung on an obliging tree and then caught swaying gently in an icy wind. Oh for spring! (Those of you digging your way out of twelve feet of snow, feel free to laugh scornfully.)

And then we have these, a right aristocratic pair. Absolute pure silk, both of them, light fingering weight or heavier laceweight, depending on your attitude, 400m to the 100g and - well, what can you say about silk except, 'Grrrr - gimme!'? Enchantress Green on the left, Bluebell Woods on the right. Love 'em both, but have a sneaking preference for the wicked green lady on the left. What a lace scarf she'd make for a Slytherin House student!

It took ages to list them (it always does) so once they were safely up on eBay, a treat was in order. I grabbed Sophy Wackles and we set off for Killarney Woods. Would you believe I haven't been able to get down there since November? Can you imagine the state of the roads after all that appalling weather? I can tell you, I've been in some war zones just after hostilities had ceased, and those roads looked a lot better than the one between Macroom and Ballyvourney. And going towards the city was no better - poor DH has to get four new tyres on his car. Fortunately a jeep can cope better, but even so it was a careful journey down to the woods.

Whenever life is trying, the woods which enclose Torc Waterfall restore the balance of things. There is something about the timeless peace of the place, the ancient hazel woods, the moss-covered rocks, that strokes the heart into calmness. There is a well-used path up to the foot of the waterfall but both Sophy and I prefer to make our way to it through the woods . So would you, I think.

There is always the chance of coming across something unexpected like this little length of old stone wall right in the middle of the trees, on its own, keeping its counsel about what it's doing there. Me, I think there is probably a private entrance leading from that dark little gap at its base to the nice warm tree behind. And very probably a leprechaun or a clurichaun tapping away inside, keeping busy with orders from the Good People for dancing slippers to see in Imbolc or Brigid's Day at the beginning of February. Gold satin for the Queen, better make sure they're ready by tomorrow night or there'll be ructions. High heeled red shoes for that wan, who does he think he is, cocking himself up like that? Where did I put those buttons? And didn't I have a bit more of that green leather left?

I know I've shown you Torc before, and indeed admitted before that the world holds many larger, more splendid examples of waterfalls. What I love about this one though is the way it is cradled in such luxuriant greenness, with ivy and brambles and bushes and trees reaching out and dipping their fingers in the crashing water all the way up to the top. It's at its best after rain, sometimes even three days after, since it takes quite a while for all the water to drain from the mountains down into the rivers.

Take the feeling of Torc to bed with you tonight, and imagine that you are tucked up snug in a little warm cabin in the woods near to the foot of the waterfall. It will make you sleep sound.
[Update. Heavens to Betsy, while I was out in the woods, half those yarns sold! Sorry if you wanted the Chocolate Strawberry or the Woodland Moss...]


Sea said...

Love the wild iris yarn, beautiful!
Also good to get a closer look at the Polperro jacket.

Sam said...

Fingers crossed the snow storms are over for you. So glad it was last year my DH and I were visiting. The weather was bad then but much worse this year. Stay warm and safe!

sprite said...

I'm working on a pair of beaded socks at the moment, so I totally understand how addictive it is!

Anonymous said...

What a magical place. I do hope to see Torc myself someday. I've just returned from a week-long visit to one of my own magical lands: northern New Mexico. I'd like to see what your husband's camera would make of it--

LaurieM said...

Thank you for the close up shot!! It's lovely to see all the detail you put into the sweater. Beautiful work.

You're solidly on the blue side of the spectrum these days with those greens and purples too. As an antidote to the storms? Come to think of it, I'm into those colors too and we're pretty stormy-grey in southern Ontario.

Liz said...

The photos you post of your area are enchanting, and the words you include are magical. I can see a marvelous children's book in the making, full of fairies and gnomes and magic circles. Pretty Please?

Audrey said...

Thank you for that lovely walk. I could smell the moist earth. Intoxicating! Can't wait for my packages from that Emerald Isle. Glad to see it is green again instead of white!

Erin Wallace said...

Oh, your blog makes me wish I could hop on a plane to Ireland today. I'm going to check out the Hogwarts KAL that you mentioned, though I will be joining Hufflepuff, as more quizzes than I want to mention have told me that this is where I belong. Your ruffle scarf is beautiful; I just recently finished one, too, but yours is far more beautiful than mine - the color is glorious!

Anonymous said...

You live in an enchanted part of the world.

Trade you for hot, dry California!

Kathleen said...

There may be those who are used to more snow and cold weather, but that's no reason for anyone to snicker at your struggles with the unexpected wintry stuff. You have my condolences on all the challenges and my hopes that no serious or permanent damage is done by the nasty weather you've had.

Thank you, too, for the lovely visit to Torc Falls. What a thrill it would be to see it in the flesh someday.

I shall have to check out the Hogwarts KAL as well--Ravenclaw for me, I'm thinking.

And my apologies for "genious" in reference to your GENIUS photographer husband. If I type too fast, my sometimes rebellious fingers insert an extra "o" in that word--just to make me look the fool.

Lynn said...

Jo, Thank you for sharing your pictures with all of us. I live in the desert southwest, so the green is always a treat for my eyes. I wonder if anyone else can see the Greenman sitting to the left of the waterfall in the picture? The limb that is coming out straight into the photo is the top of his head, his eye is a dark area just below the top of his head and his mouth is the dark area below and a tiny bit to the right. He seems quite comfortable sitting there and enjoying the falls. Lynn

Anonymous said...

I am sorry moved your way but I am glad to be done with it.

Kathleen C. said...

Your words and your photos make me yearn to see it for myself and breath in that deep intoxicating air. I am lucky though... when I sleep at night it *is* in a little cabin tucked into the woods with a swift running stream, just yards away, whispering me to sleep (or roaring as the case may be after our 2 foot snow melt this week).

Oh how cool!... my word verification is "conies"... that's rabbits right? How appropriate for your hidden green woodsy niches!

Crafty Students said...

I just clicked onto your blog from another one and I'm glad I did. It's fabulous! The snow has been so bad. Luckily it's all melted away up in Dublin! I love the arm-warmers you knitted, the look great. I hope the snow melts soon :)

Deborah (aka Mt. Mom) said...

*Love* that hazy dawn photo, Jo!

We, indeed, are shoveling out from under the 2nd of 3 snow storms expected this week. First one: 10.5 inches (what's that in cm? 27 maybe?), second one 22 cm, tomorrow's storm predicted to be up to 2 meters!

But then, as you say, we're more used to it (if usually less extreme).

Julia G said...

The Polperro gansey jacket is lovely, I love the color! And thank you for sharing the photos of the Torc waterfall and surrounding woods -- very peaceful.

You were right to worry about the sturdiness of ice on the lakes last post, it's very tricky, and even one or two sunny days can make it unstable. Even people who live in our northern states where lakes freeze every winter have to be extremely careful.

My verification word is “swine”! Another commenter might take offense, but I am a farmgrrrl at heart – loved the Jacob rams last post!

SunshineDreams said...

Even in snow-bound Maine, we understand that feeling, especially when there's not much for sun!

Lovely post, as always. Brightened my day to read it! :)

Anonymous said...

As always, your words are inspiration, your photos are beautiful, and your spirit shines through it all. You are a blessing.

Anonymous said...

Love your little, secret herb pockets! Very sensible.

Imbolc greetings to you! (Sun shining here today... that old Hag will be out gathering firewood.)


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