Sunday, November 10, 2013

Season of Mists and Making Preparations

Because it does creep up on you, doesn't it?  The festive period, I mean.  One minute you're enjoying the late summer sunshine and gathering apples from the reliable old tree in the back garden, the next you're lighting the woodstove at four in the afternoon and frantically calculating how many pairs of wristwarmers you can get finished in time.

Just cast off this first Estonian-style comfy gauntlet and must now cast on for the second.  I've made these (Nancy Bush's Colorful Cuffs, as I recall) before, but only short little pulse comforters.  These are longer, to give more of the snuggle factor on bleak winter days.

Which it's been here lately. Bleak, I mean.  If there is any cloud or rain going, then West Cork gets it, with a double dose at weekends.  Chilly too.

The cats have quickly realised that dogs make a good hot water bottle and Podge, although he treats canines with amused contempt most of the time, is quick to take advantage of a sleeping Tamzin.  Can you see, he's actually parked right on top of her, to get maximum warmth?

Whenever there is a bright moment, a break in the clouds, though, Taz and Lucy (yes, the Lucy Claire brigade won the day and that's her name from now on) head for the orchard to play games.  Those of you who enquired if the puppy's arrival helped Taz to overcome her nervousness and bad memories, see if this will convince you.

She adores the little monster and will patiently endure having her ears chewed, her tail tugged, all sorts of indignities and discomfort.  Now and again, after a particularly energetic session, you will find her sneaking off to the highest chair she can reach, to get some rest before the next bout.

Yes, I did say 'monster.'  Lucy is one tough little scallywag, afraid of nothing, jolly as the day is long, and always, but always ready to play.  Gosh, aren't puppy teeth sharp?

We did have one scare with her a week or so back when she went for her booster shots.  Within minutes of getting home, her eyes were swelling up, her skin, underneath the fur, had gone bright red, and she was showing signs of extreme distress.  Broke all records getting her back to the vet who provided antidotes to the evident reaction and took her home for the night.  Fretted and worried until next morning when I could at last collect her again (none the worse, brighter and chippier than ever) and bring her home to Taz who had gone into a positive decline at the loss of her precious charge.  Put puppy down on the lawn and let Taz out of the house to discover her.  Taz's hysterical delight as she realised Lucy was back, her dancing and rushing around and licking and barking, was lovely to see.

Oh yes, I almost forgot.  Not only is Tamzin more than qualified to receive her Yarnslayer medal already, but Lucy is showing incredible aptitude in that direction also.  Leave a project or a basket of yarns unattended at your peril.  I thought the cats were bad, but they just run off with a single ball and dab it around underneath the furniture in a sort of cats-cradle game.  The Dastardly Duo attack each skein or ball as they would a good piece of steak - holding it down with both front paws while hauling up succulent mouthfuls.  I never thought any animal could make such a chaotic mess of a neat basket of  yarns in such a short time.  And no, I didn't take pictures.  I was too busy shrieking.

Fortunately they didn't get hold of the new festive range of yarns I dyed up during the last bright spell and hung out to dry in the orchard.

These are the Silver and Gold range, where a fine thread of glimmering luxury runs through the soft merino fingering, making it irresistible for gifts and general festive projects.

Here is Moonsilver,

and Rose Gold.  You may not be able to see the lovely glimmers of silver and gold in these pictures, but believe me, they're there.

Have also been busy making up some more Special Shawl Kits because it appears everyone wants them at this time of  year.

They look cute as anything tucked among the moss-covered rocks in the orchard, with ferns leaning over in admiration, but I had to whisk them back indoors pretty rapidly as Lucy was about to launch herself upon them with gay abandon.

We went out to Lough Ine recently, to see if we could get a really nice shot of the ancient well there, traditionally resorted to for eye troubles.

Our editor thought it might be good as a cover picture for De Next Book and I'm inclined to agree.  It's marvellous to see a place like this in the depths of the woods, clearly well resorted to by all kinds of people all the time, as the little offerings and tokens placed all around or hung on the trees show.  Oh the old ways may not be immediately visible in Ireland today, but they're only just underneath the surface, that's for sure.

On the way back we stopped at Bandon to look at the weir which was well flooded after heavy rain.  DH decided to try a slow exposure of a motionless heron against the rushing water.  I thought you might like to see it.  Isn't it beautiful?