Friday, July 31, 2009

July Homework

Just wanted to show the blog this cute picture of my July Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup Homework.

Adorable, eh? They're called Korknisse, and though I saw the pattern online, I just made up my own rather than read the directions. I think they're hilarious. The goal is to make an advent calendar with the Felted Trees from Mason Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines, and then make a little forest where the Korknisse live. It's going to be great! Of course, I'm going to make many, many more Korknisse. I have tons of corks - one of the yarn store ladies saved her corks up for me for months and now I've got them coming out the ears.

As soon as I have time to knit them!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Vacation Post #2

After Malahide we went to the Botanical Gardens, but I don't have any pictures because I was too tired to go in, so I sat on a bench outside and knit. I didn't know it at the time, but I was coming down with a killer sinus infection that would stick with me for several weeks.

Anyway, while I was knitting on that bench, little kids kept coming by and being fascinated. They were super cute, but my favorite was a little boy about 3 who came running up to me and said emphatically, "We HAVE to see the ducks!" I looked at him very seriously and said, "Well, that does sound important." His mom came up behind him and laughed and said "Oh, it is important." (Except picture those two with charming Irish accents.)

The next day we left Dublin and went to Kilkenny Castle, which wasn't my fave, but there was a really cool artist studio center thing across the street that had some great textiles. My sister got a truly gorgeous handwoven blanket made in Ireland from Irish wool - super jealous. I wanted to get a handwoven blanket myself, but didn't see anything nearly as nice the rest of the trip.

Our hotel that night was the Glasha Farmhouse. I was getting really sick by this point, and so unfortunately didn't see much of anything. I pretty much ate dinner and went to bed. The food was delicious though - the porrige we had for breakfast the next morning was amazing - one of the best things we had the whole two weeks.

We visited the Cobh (say it Cove) Heritage Center the next day, which was a nifty little museum. Cobh was a shipping town, (lots of the survivors of the Lusitania were put up here and it was also the Titanic's last port of call) and there was a great emigration museum about, essentially, Leaving Ireland Through the Ages. This is Annie Moore and her two brothers, the first family to be processed at Ellis Island. They left from Cobh & apparently there's an identical statue in New York.

Next was probably the eeriest thing we did. We went to Glengariff and took a boat ride to the Italian Gardens. I say it was eerie because you get on a little boat and putt out past a couple of small islands where (sad to say) mean-looking seals are chilling (we got this close!) and then you land and walk into this imaculately kept garden-island. There were all different kinds of garden there, of varying levels of formality and theme. The Italian Garden, of course,

But there was also a Temple looking out over the water at the mountains on the other shore.

The whole time we were there Jorah kept saying he felt like he was in World of Warcraft, and I kind of agreed with him. I don't WOW myself, but it definitely had that feeling of being too romantic that you get from video games - like no place could really be this beautiful. They even had their own Martello Tower for the Orcs to hide in!

Martello Towers were all over the coast - they were originally a part of the early warning system to watch for raiders. You could just go up inside this one to the roof. None of my roof pictures are that spectacular, but it was pretty breath-taking. There was a strong cold wind blowing that just invigorated me. The whole trip I kept saying over and over, "This is my favorite thing!" Going up in this Martello Tower was definitely one of my favorite things.

The next day was one of my favorite days in Ireland - I'm not surprised that it is the most popular day tour. The Ring of Kerry. Let's check the photographic evidence, shall we?

These are mostly taken in the Gap of Dunloe, where there's an little old road and you take a jaunting cart with a jerry (one horse cart with a driver) back to see the scenery. This was also really the only time that it was foggy or rainy the whole time we were out in Ireland and Scotland - for the most part it was all bright and sunny. And hot!

All these beautiful colors made me want to knit a sweater. It's in my head, this sweater, and I'm hoping to make it this fall, possibly out of Manos of Uruguay.

You can also see the picture of me petting a lamb. When we were coming back through customs we had to go through the Agricultural line, because I patted this sheep. The customs people were a little eye-rolly at us when we told them our only contact with animals was that I patted a sheep for five minutes in a parking lot. What can I say? Jorah and I are rule followers - we can't help it!

Anyway, even after the Gap of Dunloe there was lots more driving and getting out and taking pictures and honestly, it almost felt like a completely different planet. Everything was so ethereal and spectacular, it was hard to believe that we could all exist in the same place. I felt bad because at this point of the trip I was really quite sick and would no sooner get on the bus than I would pass out.

It was good to have sickness as an excuse though, because later that night we went to the Liam O'Conner Irish Show, which was utterly ridiculous. It was making my brain pound on the outside of my skull, (never a good sign) so Jorah and I left at halftime and walked back to the hotel. We were staying in Killarney at that point, and it was much more enjoyable to just walk and take in the evening. And then go to bed.

Monday, July 27, 2009

End of Knitting Ennui

For the last couple of weeks I've been really bored with my knitting. Not exactly bored even, just not excited. I've been working on the same pair of socks and baby blanket for quite a long time now, and haven't really made much discernable progress. I was feeling like I wanted to Cast On something new, but couldn't decide what, even though I'm sort of flush with good yarn right now from the Ireland/Scotland trip.

I hate that feeling, not know what I want to knit. I have mentioned my obsessive personality - I don't do well without a project to occupy myself.

Then I went in to the yarn store this weekend. I have SEVERAL pretty sweet classes to teach this fall, (which I'm planning to post about in the next day or two). The bosslady and I were talking about my classes and the shop models I need to make so that people see what they're going to learn if they take my class. She loaded me up with about $150 worth of yarn and sent me home to get to work (that's more than one class).

As soon as I got home, did I start the shop models? Or did I cast on for a new pair of socks for my brother and finally decide what to make with that mystery alpaca I got several years ago at the Midwest Alpaca Fest?

So now I have four projects on the needles, with two more I need to cast on this week. Oh yeah, and the Heartwarmer has been stalled for several weeks too . . .

Ahhhh. That's better.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Vacation Post #1

I keep thinking I'll blog when I knit something, but it just so happens that right now I'm awash in a sea of knitting indecision. All I've really got going are the Dragon Socks and the Cabbage Leaf Baby Blanket, which I've been working on for ages and you've completely already seen. So I'm going to write up the vacation instead!

The first day we got to Dublin and drove around a little before walking to a pub and having a Guinness. It's true what they say - Guinness in Ireland is completely different from US Guinness. I'm not much of a Guinness fan stateside, but it is delicious in Ireland. I had some Donegal Lamb Pie that first night too, and by the way, they are as delicious to eat as they are to knit with. We were pretty exhausted and turned in early-ish, but not too early - have to beat the time change!

The next day we started by going to the Boynne Valley. You pull up to a little Visitor Center and then take a little bus to Newgrange, Nowth, or Dowth, which are all sites of Passage Tombs. We went to Newgrange. Passage Tombs are pretty cool. Here are my two favorite boys walking down to the visitor center.

They might not even really be tombs, but they obviously had some kind of cerimonial purpose for the pre-Celts and people think that whoever they were, they worshiped the sun. The tombs are some of the oldest surviving man-made structures on Earth - 500 years older than the pyramids. When the Celts got here they thought the tombs were the entrances to Faerie and left the places assiduously alone. The Irish name Bru na Boinne, means, "The Otherworld at Boynne." (I was extremely happy about all of the Irish on road signs and waysides and museums. Everything has to be written in Irish too, and police and lawyers all have to speak fluent Irish because you have the right to demand your trial take place in Irish!)

The only entrance to Newgrange is a narrow, somewhat winding tunnel that slopes just slightly upward. Over the door on the outside is a little window box, which is exactly level with the floor in the center of the mound. On the morning of the winter solstice, the window box precisely lines up with the sun rising over the mountains on the other side of the valley, and the light creeps up the passage and touches the center of the room. Nowth and Dowth are lined up for the Equinoxes.

We were pretty near Drogheda, by the by, (I took a picture of the map) but didn't make it to the home of the Clarys. Father du Bricassard is a jackass, by the way. Also, it's not pronounced Dro-gee-da, it's DhroHEDa. So there.

Anyway, after Newgrange we went to Malahide Castle, which was really fun, and our first experience with the cafeterias in all of the historic places over there. NPS take note - I bet they make mad profit with their good variety of hot food in all of the parks.

I was extremely excited that the castle had a doorbell.

Malahide was cool, but the best part was the garden in the backyard. The family retired to Tasmania awhile ago, but spent most of the 20th century making a beautiful garden with specimens from all over the world. If you know my family, you know one of our favorite things to do is to wander around gardens and say, "What do you think this is? It looks like a . . . but I've never seen one this shape before . . . see if there's a sign . . ." We amuse ourselves.

My brother and sister and I also reenacted an old photo from our past. Of course, in that photo, we can reach all the way around the tree. (And we're like, 11, 9, and 8.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Traveling Summer


Just got back from my friend's wedding in California, where I have been for the last week. It was completely beautiful and I had a blast, but I am glad to be home.

This summer has been pretty chaotic so far, but I'm feeling good now. Just one more month until Jorah is back, and no more traveling and living out of a suitcase or sitting in airports. My work schedule will normalize and I'll be able to knit and blog with regularity again.

And tomorrow I pick up the dogs!

Here they are chilling together in my office. They love that chair.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Can't Sleep Clowns Will Eat Me

I'm sick as a dog and miserable as all get out, but I can't take a nap because I have a Dr.'s appointment in 45 minutes. After they sent me home from work this morning (thank the gods) I downloaded a bunch of vacation photos (I had to dump them onto Jorah's laptop while we were traveling because my memory card is itty-bitty - he's emailing them to me.) I have almost all of them.

Just to warn you, I am planning on writing up the vacation - I have lots of beautiful photos (although not much knitting content) and I want to be able to remember this vacation in the years to come, and I'm not really convinced that I have a rabid knitting following anyway which will be perturbed if we veer into vacation photos for awhile.

But until then, here's a teeny-weeny bit of knitting content - the bare minimum I did to not get kicked out of the Knit & Crochet House Cup. Divination's July assignment was to make something tea or coffee related, and so I present to you, The Mug Snug.

Isn't she lovely? This is my favorite mug, and I use her all the time, especially now, being so sick. Russian grannies the world over recommend chai s'myodum (tea with honey) for the sick, and I am all about it. I pretty much always have a pot on the stove making me some more.

As you can see, there is a built-in coaster as well. I have convinced myself that there's such a thing as scorching a table and that I need a coaster for hot drinks. I have always been scornful when I've seen patterns for these in books but the truth is, I realy like it. It really is nice and cosy. The only problem so far is that I was admiring the smooth way I picked up stitches to knit the bottom at one point, tipped the cup too far, and poured hot tea in my lap. Well, we can't all be smart.