Wednesday, 30 December 2009

adventure holidays in ireland?

the times, where we can enjoy the weather are well and truly over! there's no snow left, most of the white has melted in the fields and the garden - but not on the roads:(( unfortunately all the cars that travelled during the snowy times compacted the snow on the roads, then it started to thaw - and then the big freeze arrived. yesterday we had to go to town to get a few essentials such as firelighters, loo paper etc. - and it was obvious that using our bicycles would be a no-no. we took our rucksacks and our toughest boots and went... as soon as we left our gravel road to the house, we saw that the main road was sheer ice... for a while it was ok to "walk" (more like climb, because of holes, grass clumps and bramble shoot footangles:(() at the side of the road, but it became worse the further we got - in some spots I couldn't cross the road to the safer side without scratching some loose soil out with my hands to throw it over the patch of road! we found several abandoned cars along the way and I was very lucky that a neighbour passed halfway and offered me a lift! it took me two hours to get into town, most of it was spent on foot of course:(( the town itself was ok, but when we left the supermarkt it started to rain! I had the idea to buy a 3 kg bag of cat litter to throw in front of me when hitting really bad parts on the road, but halfway home not only did I run out of the stuff, it was also nearly dark at that time! I am not someone who scares easily, but at that stage I feared that both DS and myself would not make it home in one piece - it was bad during daylight, but impossible to walk home further in the dark! it was sheer luck that another neighbour passed in his 4wheel drive - the only vehicles that are still able to get around - and after he passed us and my heart sank - he turned back and picked the both of us up. I can't describe how it felt to know that we'll make it home safely after all! I only really realised that we'd been very lucky when I was in bed later and couldn't sleep, because I kept thinking about our "adventure" and how foolish we had been! that scare taught me a lesson - I'll get some shoe spikes asap - even if it means that they stay in a box unused for the next 10 years! and more emergency supplies for storage! the worst is that there is no relief to come, more bad weather at least until the weekend! and we are lucky! even though our hot water froze (it's back today) we still had cold water, the washing machine ran and of course we get drinking water from the well, so no problems there. we have enough food as well and are all set for at least the next 10 days or more. but we saw on tv that some people are less lucky - the doctor can't reach the old people's home in the next village etc.!

amazing though that the postman (my hero:)) made it on those roads! and he brought me a late christmas present - with a very nice surprise. I don't often receive handmade gifts, probably because people think that I can make them myself? to my great delight I unpacked my first nostepinne (an old-fashioned but very practical wool winder) and an inch gauge - both handmade and both things I didn't own! both were wrapped in a very pretty handwoven bag, in double weave made from handspun yarns, with a lovely handmade cord and mother-of-pearl button.
this was really my only "textile" christmas gift - apart from a subscription for 2010 for "wild fibers" and the back issues of 2009:
I also finished the second bag made from the small cone of texere linen that I bought at the K&S in Dublin. it said in the pattern that it would be enough for two bags, but actually I made one following the pattern, made the second one a good bit larger and added two handles plus a drawstring - and still have a little bit leftover. that was certainly good value for money! the net is extremely stretchy and can accomodate quite heavy loads - and the linen is very tough and hardwearing, but nice enough to work with. it's easy to carry around because it can be rolled together tightly and bound with the handle.
...and rolled up.

I also finished two sets of wrist warmers, which I made from leftover silk/merino in gray, with leftovers of angora yarn in light lilac. I thought they still look a bit bare, so I added some beads and also a few embroidery stitches in darker purple. not the most ambitious project, but they are very soft and warm and are nice to wear, esp. right now:))
after the first set I still had leftovers, so I used the last bit of angora for the borders - I will add some embroidery to the grey part to make it look a bit less bare.... the colour looks a bit odd in the photo, the lilac is far softer in real life.
(I got the inspiration for them here: a german blog "farbenfaden")
tomorrow I am going to start the next "proper" project - I have to dye the sock yarn for Janel Laidman's tree of life socks from "the enchanted sole"... in a hurry, what's new? this will most likely not change for "twenty-ten":))
A happy and healthy new year to all - and better weather for all those in ireland, who can't put a foot out of their door right now!

Friday, 25 December 2009

peaceful days?

yesterday we took the opportunity to enjoy the last of the sharp cold weather - with another trip around the village, sled in tow:)) we were quite late and the sun was going down when we arrived back at the front gate. just at that moment swans were flying high above us (I think they stay on the small river down in the bog) and we caught them on camera...
looking outside now, everything has changed - we had min. 10 deg. C during the night, the coldest night for us for at least a decade - but now we managed to make it into the "above freezing" area for the first time in days. and the lovely fluffy snowflakes changed into wet sleet - which will turn into rain in the next few hours, I am sure. it's only a question of hours now until everything turns to ugly slush - but the next wave of freezing cold temps. is just around the corner or so we are told! peculiar weather - and this has been going on for the last 2 years! well, right now I am happy enough to stay inside in front of the warm oven, with some knitting or spinning - but I am not looking forward to the next few shopping "trips" (more like adventure holidays!).....

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Happy Christmas!

our christmas will be a little bit different this year - no food shopping, because there's no way we're going to tackle the icy roads on our bikes! it's a good thing that we have enough food in storage, even though I had to change the menu slightly. I just hope that there'll be free roads on monday or tuesday, otherwise we're down on a few basics:)) well, it's certainly different - and it saves me from a lot of cooking anyway:)) and it's my first white christmas in ireland - that has to count for something!
I hope everybody is going to have a peaceful and happy christmas and a healthy and prosperous new year! enjoy the holidays and celebrate - with loads of time for books, textiles - and family, if you have to:))

Sunday, 20 December 2009

White (Pre) Christmas!

will you look at this! we had a few frosty days, but the forecast (and DH insisted on it!) said no snow or only "flurries" for us... well, it turns out that the flurries were a bit more substantial - everything is covered nicely in white! I haven't had white christmas over here yet - and it's doubtful that the white sparkly will still be here next week - but better a few white days leading up to christmas than none at all! I usually suffer from "no christmas feelings" beforehand, but add a bit of snow and everything changes:)) even DS hums along with carols on the radio:))
our road leading to the house looks very pretty like this - but I suppose the main roads aren't exactly inviting. we did receive mail yesterday, but not today (we don't usually get mail deliveries on either saturdays or sundays, but the last two weekends before christmas will see one of each...normally!) and it might well be that the school bus doesn't run tomorrow if the roads turn very slippery.... yay, an extra day of holidays right before the holidays!
of course I never cease to work on something textile, but I am looking forward to starting a new project soon. here's the photo of the felted and decorated laptop carrier - in better shape now, quite sturdy and large enough too. I still have an hour or two left on a small giveaway project later, but after that - who knows? I will have to dye some yarns for the next gifts, but before I do that (not during christmas baking and cooking....) I can start something else:)) to decide for one isn't easy though!
the bag is quite heavy - 900 g of handspun South American top. dyed with acid colour named "green" - which turned out turquoise, but I complained about that already. the celtic deco is from the same dyebath, ie. from the leftover after I dyed the main batch. and the top is teeswater, lustrous and smooth, worked into a fat i-cord over 5 stitches. all the edges are secured and strengthened with i-cords too and the handle (which also forms the narrow sidebands) is doubled up to keep it from "growing"! I hope it keeps the intended recipient's laptop save from bumps and crashes. off to start something new now......

Thursday, 17 December 2009

socks, socks, socks....

I received a parcel today with two (signed) books for my collection: Janel Laidman's two sock books, the enchanted sole and the 1st one, the eclectic sole. a friend in germany (thanks, Uli!) ordered them directly from here, and sent them out to me. I saw a few of the patterns in previews and pretty much liked them all - and when I heard that a 2nd book is going to come out soon, I decided to wait to get both of them together. and I like them - a lot! the patterns are very imaginative, a lot of colour and patterns and even a few beads here and there. DS liked the socks with a small pocket inside them, I like the Galadriel stockings, even though I wouldn't know where to wear them:)) but I think I'll make the "tree of life" socks first - as a present. I have enough sock yarn, but I will have to dye it first. I need two colours for the pattern, one black and one in muted sky colours - but I suppose I could just as well use a very dark blue or purple - and maybe some "sunset" sky colours:)) somehow, when I saw the pattern inside the book, I realised that this has given me an idea for another hp themed sock: a whomping willow with maybe the sign of the deathly hallows on the foot? or a "normal" looking sock - but with a small pocket, which contains a small felted rat? we'll see....
I still have to do a lot of cookie baking - so I'll better stop ranting here!

Monday, 14 December 2009

not all my own work

I haven't been on holidays or lazing about! it's just the usual rush before christmas over here - to finish everything in time some things like blogging just have to suffer:((
but it's not only the time of rushing around and hectic jobs - it's also that time of the year, where lovely surprises arrive in the mail! like the years before the OLG has organized another christmas exchange and I was lucky in my draw for a parter for the second time - I was paired with a weaver again, which is great, because weaving is one of the textile crafts I am not really good at. and especially not this good:
aren't those bags gorgeous? they are made in fine silk in a double weave - the outside has this intricate pattern (here's the star theme), on the inside this is invisible, the fabric is smoothly woven! fantastic work, I wish I was this good! they have two small silky drawstrings to close them - or to use them as loops for hanging them up somewhere. to take the photo I hung them up in a golden yew in the garden - but I am thinking of cutting some nice evergreen branches to bring them inside. I'll hang up those pretty baggies as decorations - our tree is always full and features "one dog from each village" - and I fear that the bags will be drowned out by all that stuff!
this is a kumihimo braid, which kept the baggies together - handmade from silk yarn too!
thank you to my exchange partner Rachel - I love my baggies and I'll find a way to display them for the rest of the year too, not only on christmas!
of course not only do I receive presents, I also make some! this looks like a shapeless flop of knitted fabric - but it's not going to stay like this. in fact it's already travellling around in circles in the washing machine. it's going to be a laptop bag - without the knitting needle for closure of course. I handspun a two-ply from wollpoldi's south american top (spins nicely!), made a large sample to count out the gauge - and knitted a huge, floppy, shapeless thingy - which hopefully changes into the expected sturdy felted bag. one thing already didn't quite work out - the dye was labelled green - but I think it should be called turquoise! it doesn't really matter all that much with this project - but DH was rather lucky that it hit the bag - and not his planned cable patterned sweater! he asked for green - and I don't think he'd fancy wearing turquoise instead:))
well, I'll better go down and check - it might need another cycle, which I won't find out by sitting at the computer doing surfing, blogging and emailing!