Friday, August 12, 2016

Summer Shenanigans


We had the great pleasure of being invited to a South Asian wedding by our neighbours. It was entirely enchanting and the bride and groom are grown up children of D's clients. Lots of dairy farmers in a transformed corn field! So many beautiful saris and the bride and groom were very regal.

I finally wore my featherweight when we went to Vancouver Island, Courtenay for a family reunion. I started meeting D's cousins when I was just 15. So in some ways it really feels like my family too. Love to see our kids all getting together. 

Of course he piped for them and they couldn't get enough.

Emily gave me my birthday present, a Pumpkin Ale sweater she knit for me! No words.

Because of the drive and ferry rides, I was able to finish the Alpine Flowers stole. It ended up 80 x 18 inches which I think is big enough for our elegant friend. We are already looking forward to seeing them in September in NYC.

Had to restart the cables on the Stovetop hat. I am getting into a bit of a struggle with charts right now. But I recognized that Tin Can Knits patterns are beyond reproach, and maybe I should check my knitting when I start fudging numbers. Just a hat, I know, but it is the dream of all the hats I didn't buy in Ireland.

Received a delightful message from 88 Stitches yarn shop that my yarn had finally been dyed. Sweet Fiber is exquisite, but she has to finish all the colours before starting over with this subtle Winter. Hope to find out where I was in March when I realized I hadn't bought enough yarn.

Also cast on the dragon hat. Can you see the first spike. I had to sit quietly and figure out the construction. I think it can be improved, but is doable and rather clever. I hope to make 3 or 4 of these for the great nephews.

And the cashmere. So delicious. I saw a scarf on Kenneth Brannah as he played Wallander. Le sigh. I thought it would be a nice manly gift for our NYC host. I thought I would start with the seaman's scarf by Myrna Stahman and just add some cables. Well, maybe not. So I have reverted to the pattern, but marked everything with highlighters because, did I say I'm not reading charts so well.
Now I dream of casting on something mindless. But that would make too many things on the needles and all these need to be made anyway. If I work hard on just one item, and finish it perhaps I can settle down a little. But this summer is going to quickly. And there is more fun to come!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Books In Ireland

We were lucky to stay near the Samuel Beckett bridge in Dublin. DH went to the Convention centre (with the glass cylinder) for events. I did some pre-reading of my Irish author books before I went and was excited about some of the places to visit. I am not a huge James Joyce fan, but have read Ulysses a first time. I studied Beckett in theatre, and have a soft spot for Yeats. 
I was invited to Trinity College. It was very high on my list. You can't take pictures in the exhibit, but it was well laid out. The wait wasn't too long, but the crowds were thick. If you have read Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose, you've done most of your research.
Behind the exhibit is the Long Library. Truly a wow presence. This room was used in a Star Wars movie for the Jedi library. The Guinness family renovated it. That's why the ceiling is shaped like a barrel.
The first thing I saw on my left was a lovely bust of my favourite, Shakespeare. Each of the sculptures is of an author.

The books are set in side rooms like horse stalls. There is evidence of alphabetizing but it is rather confusing.
Each stall has its own perfect ladder.
These are really old books but are available to scholars.
At the Epic Ireland exhibit, there was a good overview of history and a celebration of Irish artists like Joyce, Beckett and C.S. Lewis.

D and I walked down O'Connell street on one of our first days to see the 100 year anniversary exhibit of the Easter 1916 Uprising. It was beautifully done with artifacts and films.

One of the original proclamations. Another is in the Long Library.

All public buildings and most pubs had some photos and information about those who started the fight to remove Ireland from British domination.


St. Patrick's Cathedral is only a few blocks from Christchurch Cathedral. It is also Protestant, Church of Ireland, or Episcopalean (Anglican).
Inside the cathedral is the burial site of Jonathan Swift. He was Dean of the church, like head minister, for many years. His work is actually really biting satire of individuals of his time.
In the park at Marrion Square is a great statue of Oscar Wilde.

This is the National Library with the most exquisite reading room. But no pictures allowed and no postcards of it to buy. It rivals the reading room at the Library of Congress in DC. Also you are welcome to do genealogy research here.

In the exhibit space, they had a event on W.B. Yeats and it was amazing. Some people wandered in because it had started to rain a little, but they were disappointed with the tables and tables of his writings, under glass. Each area had a theme, like family, the uprising, theatre and publishing. It was so much information, but was gently given. They started with images of his poems being read by famous Irish people. Perfect.

The famous Halfpenny Bridge also crosses the River Liffey, not far from Temple Bar and just celebrated its 200 year birthday with a fresh coat of paint. Across, on the north side, you can see the yellow building.
It's the Winding Stair Bookshop. It reminded me a little of a small BookMan (our local shop) and the people were very quiet and pleasant. A mix of old and new. I really was trying not to buy books because they are heavy, and I can get so many of them at home. 

Loved this more academic bookshop, closer to our edge of town.

I had downloaded The Little Prince on my kindle app and was tickled to see it published in Irish. Such a gentle read, a good one to read again when you are far from home.

At Ulysses Books, a rare book seller, there was an amazing complete set of Roald Dahl.

Here is James Joyce near O'Connell Street. In June they celebrate Bloomsday with tours and pub crawls.
Loved these Lady Bird books introducing topics like the hipster and the hangover. I had some of these when I was little and I found some for my kids when they were learning to read, but the topics were child like and simple for teaching.

We took a tour to NewGrange and to Tara. It was fabulous. The Irish give you lots of time to potter about and have tea or a pint.

 At Tara was the Old Book Shop, but it was a bit of a shambles and a little heavy on new age crystals and such.

I wold have been happy to find a copy of the Turf Cutter's Donkey. My eldest sister used to read it to us and it is a fantastic story of children on an adventure in Ireland. But I did find a copy at our local store, and I didn't prepare with the author's name.


These beautiful journals are hand bound in Ireland. I was tempted several times. But, like yarn and books, I have a few.  I finished a book about Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherford and handed it along to another guest at the Forge Bed and Breakfast in Galway.
In the duty free at the Dublin airport, I felt that this whiskey explained how the Irish understand their writers.



Friday, July 22, 2016

Wool in Ireland

We took off for Dublin from Vancouver on Canada Day, July 1st. I had prepared two toes for sock knitting, but as this is medium weight Socks That Rock, they were amusingly large. Of course I didn't find out until I pulled them out on the plane and had to start over. 

By the time we landed I was into the ribbing pattern on the foot. These are for DH. I have only knit him one pair of socks before and they were heavy DK for boots. He has only worn them a few times, but they are intended for bitter cold winter days in the barn.

As he was attending the World Buitatrics Conference for cattle Veterinarians, he had symposiums to attend and I got to walk around Dublin at my leisure. Loved the warm welcome at the Constant Knitter. The welcome everywhere was very lovely and we felt more like family than tourists. My family roots are from Ireland, so I was charmed.

This shop has a good range of regular yarns and Studio Donegal (which I can get at home). But I found some locally died speckles from Fine Fish and Ella and Ada.
I also picked up this lovely book. The patterns are simple, but it is charming and a good souvenir. There were many books I would like to have but not to carry home. I will do a whole post on book shops.
Bumped into the Dublin Cloth Shop. Very lovely, but they didn't have what I was looking for or willing to invest in.

This Is Knit was a fabulous and fun shop. It is on the second floor of a former block of flats around a courtyard that is now a restaurant. They had Hedgehog Fibres. This is what I really wanted! I didn't buy it right then because of wool fumes, but I went back with D and also found a beautiful button and some Knit Pro Zing needles.

Only Hedgehog could mix these bright colours so delightfully.

The second project I brought is the Afternoon Tea Shawl by Helen Stuart of Curious Handmade in the merino silk blend from a Vancouver dyer, Kinfolk Yarn & Fibre. It is truly a desert island knit.
We took a day trip to the burial ground at New Grange and Tara and had lunch at the New Grange Farm. Loved seeing all the animals.

In the National Museum of Archeology there are so many ancient treasures. This is the Brooch of Tara. Something any of us would love for our shawls.

Just outside the museums we found this amazing store.

These are really handknit, unlike the ones on the high street.

Was tempted by this yarn, but the pricing was confusing and I was already feeling like a wool pig.

I felt as if I had discovered the shop, but it has a strong on-line presence. Am so happy I bought a hand woven linen shawl. It was perfect for the cold and warm weather when we were walking. 
In the tourist shops there are lots of hats and sweaters. This makes me want to knit cables! It was hard to find a linen dishcloth because there were so many cotton and "linen union" (blended).

Avoca is a local store akin to Anthropologie and had locally hand woven lovelies.


We took a train across to the west coast and a Bed and Breakfast in Galway where the music festival was in full swing.
A delightful day trip to Inishmore, the largest island in the Aran Islands gave us the best experiences. 

These luscious sweaters were beautifully displayed.

Inside was a treasure trove of hand knits.  I was surprised the socks, worsted weight machine knit but with lots of cables, were only 19 Euros. The yarn to make them would cost almost that! 

The wool was lovely and came in many colours. There were even sweater kits. 


In the back was such a nice video of sheep to shawl. I think all wool tutorials should have an Irish accent.


Back in Galway, we were able to walk anywhere and enjoy the music on the streets and in the concerts. DH googled yarn shop and found this lovely store that we had walked past before.
The owner was up for a wooly chat and told me all about her shepherd who sheers by hand, dyes and spins the yarns. The light grey had to come home with me.

On leaving Galway to return to the airport in Dublin, I found "what's on".

Enjoyed the quiet of watching podcasts and continuing on the socks in tandem while we hurtled across the country. DH wore his sweater and said it was quite comfortable, especially in the chilly wind. 
Such a dream to go to Ireland, and not disappointed!