Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Of Ravelympics, Country Buses, And A Lost Island

Been too busy lately. Honestly, what did we all do before Ravelry? Got a lot more done that isn't being done now, that's for sure. As soon as one special event or contest finishes, another seems to start, and we're all in a constant whirlwind, saying to ourselves, 'When all this is over, I'm really going to...' Think about it. Haven't you said that lately?

I'm getting worried that there never is going to be a time when it's all sorted and there is plenty of space to catch up.

The Ravelympics, of course, took up a fair bit of time. Frogged some Rivendell socks which were going to be far too small, and also a Dogi vest (from Vicki Square's Knit Kimono) which would never have suited me anyway.

Made these Turquoise Gull Wing socks from some Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn, using a gusset heel from Wendy Johnson's Toe Up book, and seriously adapting a Faux Gull Wing stitch pattern from Barbara Walker. The gusset heel is a bit fiddly to work from the toe up, but fits beautifully when it's done.

And at long last the Conwy socks got finished. About time too. These were started at the UK Ravelry Day last June for heaven's sake!

Didn't succeed in finishing the Anny Blatt jacket nor yet the Espresso jacket, but it was daft to take on so much anyway. Have sense, do! (Celtic Memory is not renowned for her sense, especially where starting new projects is concerned. Optimism triumphs over practicality every time.)

And if further proof were needed, we are now waiting for Sock Madness to start. More days of frantic hysteria! Getting fidgety in the waiting though (it tends to be that way when there is even a tiny break between high-pressure events - are we becoming hooked on pressure? Don't answer that.) Began a little neckwarmer scarf in a complicated Aran pattern just yesterday, but got totally tempted this morning by the Travelling Woman Shawl (that was your fault, Angeluna, for telling me about it, you know it was), and cast on for that this afternoon. See? no sense.

Managed to find time to dye up some new sock yarns, and get them listed on eBay (the listing takes almost as much time as the dyeing).

Merino/silks here, as well as merino/tencel and some rather nice lambswool/angora in a laceweight which would make divinely warm little neckwarmers, cowls, shawls.

I'd like to share a recent heartwarming trip with you. DH was given the job of shadowing a country bus driver on his very last trip before retirement. Jim has driven the Cork-Tralee route for forty-three years and is well known and well loved everywhere along the route.

The day started early, with a Full Irish at the bus station in Cork. (Those with high cholesterol, don't even think of enquiring about the nature of a Full Irish, ok? On this occasion it was something of a rite of passage, with extra black pudding and rashers and things like that.)

The route took them past the end of our road, so I came down to the crossroads and hopped on to share this special last day too.

You wouldn't believe the places he had to stop to allow old ladies to push packets of sandwiches or bags of biscuits through the window, friends to climb into the bus briefly to shake hands, other bus drivers to block all the traffic while they exchanged good wishes through their respective windows. One very silent woman on the bus from Macroom to Millstreet got up to leave and suddenly produced two Mars bars from her bag, putting them wordlessly down on the seat next to Jim. That brought a lump to my throat and, I imagine, to his as well.

In Millstreet town, as in several others, there was a reception committee of wellwishers, taking pictures and pressing little gifts on him.

This flag-waving friend on the Cork/Kerry border must have been watching from his window for the bus to appear round the corner. He dashed out, brandishing the Kerry colours wildly, and cheering Jim on his last run.

After forty-three years, Jim knows absolutely everybody. Even this farmer driving a slow and battered tractor in front of us. 'That's Neily,' he cried in delight, drawing abreast of the cab and slowing to hold a shouted conversation. It could only happen on these quiet country roads.

And that's not the half nor the quarter of it. The sheer number of people coming out to celebrate his last day driving the Cork-Tralee bus speaks volumes for the man and the affection he has engendered over the years.
We came down through the hills to Killarney, where fresh snow was lying on Magillicuddy's Reeks - a view that Jim has enjoyed every day of his working life.

At Killarney, sons, daughters, grandchildren were waiting, and a few got on the bus to keep him company for the last leg to Tralee.

This is one grandson squeezing out a lively tune for the end of the road to keep his grandfather cheerful (not surprisingly, Jim was getting a little choked up by this time).

He even got a police escort for the last leg, I kid you not! Flashing lights and all.

At the end of the road, Jim's wife wanted to see what I had been knitting on so busily during the bus trip. 'Well I've never seen socks done on circular needles before,' she observed in puzzlement. I told her where she could buy some, and I hope she does.

No time to tell you just now about this enchanted little lost island. I promise I'll give you all the details in the next posting. Do you know the film, Secret of Roan Inish? Well that might have been set in Donegal, but this place is an absolute dead ringer for it. Read the next instalment...


Sally said...

Oh, my! You DO have a way of putting my own words on paper, Jo! Do we all just thrive on stress and deadlines and breathless waiting? It seems we do. Thanks for letting us all know we're not the only ones.

As to your lovely little journey....what a delight it is to see. Thanks, too, for that small peek into the Irish countryside.

shandy said...

I thought perhaps you had been in Southern California all this while. Lovely story about the bus driver.
I always wonder what you did about the little stove you bought some time back. In December I posted a picture of ours, which looks very similar, on my blog.

Angeluna said...

How lovely. Life does move at a different (and very human) pace in West Cork.

And for heaven's sake, who needs good sense when it comes to knitting? The excitement of the yarn hunt and the cast-on, the highs and the lows of fit and suitability, the satisfaction of binding it off the needles, the pride of wearing something you've just whipped up. And think of what an inspiration you are to people like Jim's wife, who we hope set out to buy a pair of circulars.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful send-off. Thanks for reminding me there are good people out there!

Sea said...

wish you hadn't said that!
Tiz now on my list of "projects to tackle!"
Am currently working the pinwheel baby jacket from Elan. Don't have a recipient in mind...just wanted to try something different

Windybrook Spinner said...

What a sweet story about the bus driver. You made me cry. I love The Secret of Roan Inish. I have a copy of the DVD and a CD with the soundtrack. I sing my version of the lullaby to my kids. "It's a beautiful story."

Anonymous said...

So glad to read a post-- I was getting a bit worried! But I know, too, that work and just day-to-day living can keep us so busy (not to mention Ravelry!).

What a lovely send off for an obviously well-liked/loved man. And don't you just love sharing knitting tips!

Am looking forward to the next installment; I know the film.

Melody (Ga, USA)

Laurel said...

I do love your stories. Looking forward to the next installment!

knitski said...

Thanks once again for a mice little break with a trip to your part of the world! I just love seeing a new post!

CraftyGryphon said...

That's a wonderful last day of work for what sounds like a wonderful man. The picture you paint of a place where everyone knows everyone just warms my heart.

(I live in the outskirts of Washington, D.C., which has such high resident turnover I'm surprised if our bus route has the same driver from week to week. Sometimes, I'm surprised *I'm* still here - after all, I've left twice before!)

Ruth said...

I wanna visit Ireland!!!

Good luck in the SM4 Madness. I have my cheerleading outfit on for you.

sprite said...

I'm so glad you didn't frog the Gull Wings. They're stunning! (I'm just now resurfacing from my last-minute run through some WiPs of my own for Ravelympics to gulp some air and leave a few comments before Sock Madness begins.)

Wudas said...

I hope we don't have to wait too long for the next installment. That was a lovely story. And it was nice to see what sunshine looks like in your photos. We haven't seen that much of here in Central California lately.

Erica said...

Lovely socks and how wonderful that a community would come together for such a worthy individual! Good luck with Sock Madness :D

Linda from Montana said...

Jo, as always, it was worth the wait, true words for sure, with more projects on needles than common sense. Keeping my fingers crossed that I finish my CPH with the Kerry Woolen Mills yarn aquired last year on our wonderful trip to Southern Ireland. Your post brought back all of our wonderful memories, thank you!

Roggey said...

Welcome back, I missed your lovely self and your posts!

Deborah (aka Mt. Mom) said...

Charming, Jo! :)

Holly said...

I have given them all up - contests that is, and pressure events. I check into Ravelry every few days to check comments or when I need to look up something.

Amazing how much reading and knitting time I now have!

Anonymous said...

Delightful. Thanks for sharing the last ride with Jim. He will be missed on that route for years to come. What ever will his wife do with him underfoot the day long?

After the Ravelympics I swore not to take on any more challenges, at least until I finish the 800 yard challenge.

Traveling Woman Shawl called my name a couple weeks ago. Don't want to ignore her, looks like a great little shawl.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing Jim's last journey as a bus driver with us. Wonderful!

Bella said...

Lovely story to read and you wrote it very well!
I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Dez Crawford said...

I logged on to wish you a happy St. Patrick's Day and found this lovely post! Warm hugs to you from this side of the Atlantic, my dear friend!

Anonymous said...

My husband has a phrase for that kind of pressure.... he calls it "artificial urgency." Somehow that phrase always makes me relax, unclench, and slow down. Artificial urgency just sounds so unnecessary.

Loved the post, Jo. Thanks for your wonderful writing, which is always worth waiting for.

Barbara M.

Anonymous said...

This post brought tears to MY eyes and I'm on the opposite side of the globe! It is wonderful to know that there are still close-knit communities out there.

Anonymous said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

Mirela said...

Fantastic!it's beautiful!en world magnifigue!

Dez Crawford said...

Aww .... you brought a tear to my eye. So wonderful to read of the final bus ride. I love seeing the pace of life in West Cork through your eyes.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jo. Am sending you a hello from outside Atlanta, GA, hoping all is going well with you. It's always a delight to read of your travels, your lovely country, and what's on the needles, of course. Earlier today, I was listening to The Splendid Table on National Public Radio--one of the callers was a charming gentleman with the loveliest Irish accent!


josiekitten said...

I love the description of the bus journey. I can just picture it. We were over on the west coast of Ireland a couple of years ago, and I couldn't get over just how friendly the other drivers were, waving as we passed. We were based on the Beara peninsula - beautiful. Love the colour of your Lorna's Laces socks, and think that I, too, am about to be drawn to knit the Travelling Woman shawl. Just need to pick some yarn! I'm so pleased that I've discovered your blog. I'll be back!! (Not said in a menacing voice!)

Chloe said...

Goodness! My Da was from Rathmore and my mother's people were from Millstreet....and I've had many a full Irish breakfast. What an enjoyable journey you've taken me on!

KiniaCat Crafts said...

Belatedly - again, I so enjoy your blog! I'm living a little in your past - catching up and thoroughly enjoying glimpses of your Ireland.
Start-itis is the stuff of potential, imagination and love. No Worries!
Thank you for sharing the last trek of Jim driving the Cork-Tralee route - I got a little choked up as well.
I'm off to read how your April entries!