Sunday, September 24, 2006

Credit where credit is due

The equinoctial gales tore into town last weekend, ripping trees down and scouring my patio with rain, and finally the eerie eternal summer that we've been living through all September broke, bringing with it proper cool weather. Not very crisp, now, just about fifteen degrees centigrade; but fifteen is a lot more sensible than twenty for this time of year. Suddenly, there is a sense to all the piles of pure wool in my stash. And suddenly, my neck started thinking about feeling cold...

This is the lovely Herringbone Diagonal Rib pattern, as designed by Li, of Life's a Stitch. Alas, I have had to rip this back since, as the pattern is for a DK weight yarn, and I'm using a chunky weight. Four repeats of the rib is far too wide, so I'm doing three. I love the pattern all the same - the perfect balance between knitterly and unfussy.

I'm knitting it in an Irish yarn, Kilcarra Tweed, which has the most sumptuous colours, even if it is a little stiff. But that is one of the problems with pure wool, after all. I haven't seen Kilcarra in Dublin ever; I picked six balls of it up in a yarn shop in the little Cork town of Clonakilty last Easter. It feels good to be using a local yarn, and frustrating that Irish yarns are so ridiculously hard to get hold of. Which is why it felt so damned good to go out to visit the This is Knit stall at the Blackrock Market today.

I had heard good things of it from Aileen, and she was so right. The stall has a small but exquisitely chosen selection of luscious designer yarns, and Lisa and Jacqui were unbelievably friendly and enthusiastic and kind. Better yet, they have the same approach to knitting as mine: it was fab to talk to another Irish knitter who mostly learned off the internet after having produced a few dolls' blankets in primary school, who knew all about the patterns in the latest Knitty and Magknits, but who would prefer to knit them in local yarns, if possible; who is excited about socks and knows that most Irish knitters are likely to be only just learning to make them, and sources luxury foreign yarns while trying to track down local wool.

The knitting revival has only just taken off here, I think; only about five years ago, the last yarn shops in the centre of Dublin shut down, and an Irish Times article declared the craft of knitting dead in today's cash-rich-time-poor (bleech, horrible phrase) Celtic Tiger Ireland. As this article from 2004 shows, a few suburban shops struggled on, but knitting as a popular craft for young urban women had yet to take off. It's so fun to be able to hook up with people who are providing services and products for selfish knitters like me, who want to knit delicious stuff for themselves, not for babies. Hooray! I really, really hope that this means a revival in the fortunes of Irish sheep farmers, too, and that I can start buying locally produced yarns rather than buying imported goods from the big British craft empires.

Mind you, the new Irish knitting circle doesn't appear to be all that huge just yet... as soon as I put down my email address to be added to the This is Knit list, Lisa said, "Oh, you were living in Germany, weren't you! You took Aileen to the yarn shop in Kreuzberg!"

Yes. Ireland. About as large as a... not very large sheep farm, and Irish knitting bloggers are about as anonymous as sheep dyed luminous pink. Or something.

It would have been a sin to stroke all that lovely yarn without buying any, wouldn't it?

Lovely, lovely soy silk and merino mix yarn, destined for some handwarmers.

And some insanely soft alpaca silk in teal as a present for my lovely ladyfriend. She did get me that amazing yarn from Toronto, so it is only fair that she get something back, no?


Life's a Stitch said...

It looks great! I designed it for worsted weight variegated yarn, but it looks like tweed works beautifully. I like the pattern because it feels like it goes so quickly. Looking forward to your progress,

Anonymous said...

Oh, pretties... Such gorgeous colours! (Sorry, am a bit braindead tonight. All I can do is coo!)

la glitz said...

Thanks Katie! Argh, I owe you a gift AND a mail. I promise to be better soon!