Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Mandibles--Seems So Plausible

The other day I finished reading The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver. I loved the book. The Guardian published a review earlier in the year, so I refer you to that rather than rehash plotlines here.

Briefly, the story opens in 2029 with the dollar collapsing and continues on exploring the aftermath of the crisis through the eyes of the Mandible family. I love stories where some event, whether cultural, societal, or natural, disrupts life as people know it and force them to examine their world and to recreate culture and social institutions and structures. Most culture change happens due to some sort of disruption, partly because this is what causes people to open their eyes and look at things differently.

The story was very plausible to me--in fact, I could see some of this stuff happening already. There was a lot I liked about the book, but what struck me the most was how much people were not paying attention, even when things started to collapse. One boy, who was 10 or so when the story begins, was the only person to correctly read the information that was there and the cultural changes that resulted. everyone else was caught up in old stories about the way things used to be. They denied what was happening before they moved into denial about what was coming. 'That will not happen. This is the United States.' or 'That country would not treat us this way. We are the United States.' They were so invested in and blinded by their belief in the USA as an exceptional, respected, powerful superpower that they were unable to deal with the world as it was in their present day. This is always dangerous. The world changes. Empires rise and fall. International relationships are not static. Within countries cultures, societal institutions, and attitudes change and these things have an impact on relationships between countries. Reality is constantly shifting. Clinging to a mythical past does not really solve problems, but it does allow people to get away with stuff and it prevents people from usefully responding to problems both big and small.

In spite of what may seem like a bleak scenario, there was some humour in the book too and I found myself laughing at times. Shriver is an excellent writer and storyteller and she is very good at a kind of dry wit. I was especially amused by the hapless economics professor who clung to his theories no matter what. Fortunately for him, he had some reality based people around him to help him navigate.

Since we have moved to Ireland I have become increasingly fascinated with the ways in which the cultural stories about the past differ from those of the US and how these stories still have quite an impact on the cultures today. This book fits in with that, which may be one reason I enjoyed it so much.  It did take me a few pages to really connect with the book, because economic details are not really my thing. Once things became more about the culture, society, and people's responses, I was hooked.

It is an entertaining story, but it can also serve as a nudge to all of us to pay attention and to not settle for easy, surfacey answers. The world is not the same as it used to be. We can help to direct the inevitable changes or we can deal with them after they are thrust upon us, but one way or another, we will have to engage with how things are instead of how we would like them to be or how we think they were in some mythical glorious past.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tilting the Jar, Spilling the Moon

I was browsing the library shelves a couple of weeks ago and came across this book.
It is a collection of old Korean poetry in translation. Not having read anything like it before, I was intrigued and checked it out. 

The editor/translator provides an introduction that covers some of the forms of this old style of Korean poetry and a bit of biographical information where possible, although there is a section of anonymously written poems. These are brief, but good overviews. These poems would have been written in Chinese characters and other regional influences are plain as well. Most of these are short and contain some references to nature--similar to haiku from the Japanese tradition, although the structure of these poems was based on character lines and not syllables as in haiku. Buddhism makes an appearance in one way or another in several of these poems as well. It is a good little book and I learned some stuff by reading it--always a good thing.

These were my two favourites from the book. The first is by Yi Kyu-bo (1168-1241) who was apparently a bureaucrat and someone who frequently over-indulged in wine.
A mountain monk coveted the moon;
he drew water, a whole jar full;
but when he reached his temple, he discovered
that tilting the jar meant spilling the moon.

The other is by Chong Ch'ol (1536-1593)--someone who was considered brilliant, stubborn, and controversial during his life and career in the military and government.
Why does that pine tree stand
             so near the road?
I wish it stood a little back,
             perhaps in the hollow behind.
Everyone equipped with rope and axe
             will want to cut it down.

This is one of many reasons I love libraries.You never know what pleasant surprises are just waiting for you on the shelves!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Hem to Head

 I was rummaging around in the fabric stash this morning when I came across this.

It is a hem from the leg of a pair of short shorts I got from the euro box at a charity shop in Ballinrobe. There was not much fabric, but I liked it and there were a couple of good buttons too. I used the fabric for other stuff, but apparently had this hem left! I pulled it out and tugged on it a little to see if my recollection of these being part spandex was correct. It stretched a little, but not too much. Then I thought it looked like it would be the right size for a headband so I wrapped it around my head. Perfect! I grabbed my ball of variegated blue thread, a B crochet hook, some sewing thread, and a needle and began.

I sewed the ends together and then ripped that out--I had twisted the hem. I was more careful the second time and got those ends sewn together. Then I crocheted around the hem until it was a headband.

This will be useful, so I am glad I came across the hem--love that sort of thing because the edges are already finished and I did not have to do much prep work.

I am off to make a batch of oatmeal muffins. After supper there will be reading, tatting, and some BBC Radio 4.

Happy Monday!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Keeping Hope Alive

Since I finished the socks the other day I have been on the fence about what to start next. I have a couple of different tatting projects on the go, but those are going to be larger pieces that will take some time to do. I like to have different projects going at the same time so that I am not constantly repeating the same movements over and over again. I have a crocheted lace shawl that has about 10 rounds to go--last time I worked on that it took me a little over 2 hours to do a round! That has been set aside for the moment because it is too warm to have on my lap. I have some other projects planned, but those will also be big so I am waiting for cooler weather to start them. I have been planning some nice mohair socks for months now, but have put that project off, waiting for summer to be over.

It has been warm for the last couple of days and it was close (muggy) yesterday. Then we had a thunderstorm last night and it got cooler--cool enough that Bill grabbed a second wool blanket for the bed. Today it has been windy and bordering on chilly. My hope that we are at the start of a seasonal change deepened. I decided that in the interest of keeping that hopeful vibe going, I would start those socks, so I gathered the supplies I will need.

That is the cone of mohair I got in the charity shop a year and a half ago, on the first day we were in Killybegs. I paid 5 euro for it and so far I have made a bed jacket, a pair of slipper socks, and a brooch with it. Still plenty left on the cone. I will hold it with the Poems sock yarn and knit them together. That is what is left from another pair of socks I made and I have another ball of it. I am hoping to get two more pair of socks from what I have. To stretch that yarn, I will use it only on the heels and feet and use the scrap balls of green for the cuffs--it is a lovely, soft yarn that used to be a scarf/shawlette sort of thing. A friend found it in a thrift store and got it, even though it had a hole in it. I ripped it out and will reuse the wool. I would not use them for any part that will get walked on, but this will be perfect for the cuffs. For the heels and feet, the nylon in the sock yarn and the mohair will provide strength and help them wear longer. I love my socks with mohair--both the slipper socks and my crocheted socks with mohair toes--so nice and toasty. Who knows--maybe by the time I finish these, it will be cool enough to wear them!

We went out this morning to pick up a few groceries and noticed that the water was dark and rough on this windy, cloudy day--and the tide was high. We brought the groceries home and after lunch we went out for a walk. It was wonderful out there! The waves crashing against the rocks were loud. The wind was blowing. It was not quite chilly, but almost. The sky was grey and sometimes spitting. I felt so energized!

 When it is not high tide, there is a lot more beach down there!

Flowers are still blooming.
The light was changing constantly as we walked.

Here's hoping your day is energizing too :-) Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 25, 2016


I was starting to think I would NEVER finish this pair of socks, so I was thrilled when I wove in the last end.

I started these months ago, at the beginning of summer. I made them for our daughter and I plan to post them tomorrow or Monday. The yarn is a cotton/wool/nylon blend and the lace pattern on the top of the foot is one I adapted from my stitch dictionary, where the author called it 'heavy rain.'

It started out well on sock number one--I cast on, knit the 2x2 ribbing, did the heel flap and heel turn and started on the gussets. Here is where things started to slow down. I knit my socks using four double pointed needles--three needles holding the stitches and one working needle. Having tried other methods, this remains my favourite. This means that when doing the gusset decreases every other round on needles one and three, I was also trying to keep track of where I was in the 12-row lace pattern on needle two. This required attention and all too frequently this summer provided me with days in which attention and that kind of focus was simply beyond me.

This has been a bad summer for allergies of various kinds--worst I have had in years and a lot worse than anything I experienced in my previous two Irish summers! Even with allergy meds I have had many days when I was simply unable to function normally-- there was plenty of the usual congestion, sinus pressure, lack of sleep and all the things that are a part of my summers. There were also a whole lot of days in which I experienced brain fog, general achiness, queasy stomach, and a weird inability to keep my eyes open. Light bothered me more than it usually does. Concentration was impossible. These were not the days to be keeping track of gusset decreases and lace patterns, so the socks sat in my little bag by the bed for weeks at a time. It was starting to bother me, seeing them there, and I started to wonder whether I would be able to get them finished and in the post before summer was over.  When I felt good, I worked on the sock and eventually got the first one finished. Then I repeated the process for the second one. The other day I decided to make a dash for the finish line. I did have to tink (knit backwards, or unknit) one row, but other than that, I was able to enjoy the knitting once again.

I am hopeful that the worst is behind me for this year. I have been able to stop taking the allergy meds. I was curious about how I would feel today, having gone out for a longer period of time yesterday. Things had gotten to the point where I knew that if I spent a lot of time outside, I would pay for it the next day, which I would pretty much spend in bed. I am OK today though--no brain fog, body aches, pain or pressure. I can still feel the scratchiness in my sinuses and throat, but I can deal with those things.

Maybe the transition out of summer and into the good time of the year has begun. I hope so.

Maybe I'll cast on another pair of socks.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Lunch, Lace, and a Game of Thread Chicken

Decided to pack lunch, lace, and my water bottle into the backpack today and go hang out by the water for a while.

That project bag is perfect for tossing into the backpack when I want to stitch on the go! It is the perfect size--not too bulky but holds all my supplies. My friend, Karen, made it for me and it has come in very handy!

We'd stopped along the way to fill our water bottles from the well and the water was nice and cold. We sat for a while, chatting, munching, and enjoying the view.

There were a lot of people out today--the sun is out and that gets people here excited. There is less than a week until the kids go back to school, so I imagine that was another good reason to get them down to the green to run off some pent up energy. There were some folks who came to walk the path and some who just went to the green or a bench by the water to eat their lunches. We decided to go down the path instead of staying near town so we could sit and listen to the water gently lapping against the rocks.

We had a nice, quiet anniversary yesterday and Mother Nature decided to give each of us a little something. In the morning we went out in the misty drizzle to call on fruit and veg man and get our produce for the week--he sets up his stall on Tuesdays in Market Square. Later on, Bill suggested we go get subs at the little shop in town. It is called Catch a Sub, but it is not just a sub shop--it is also a coffee shop and has the normal takeaway stuff, like fish and chips, sausages, chicken, and stuff. It looked like a sort of hole in the wall when we would pass by, but there is actually a nice little dining area inside.

The weather was changing by the time we left to get our supper.

A couple of hours after supper the sun was out and we decided to get an ice cream, so we went to the little grocery store and picked something from the freezer case, taking it down to the water to enjoy there. Ice cream is a big thing here and there are a few places in town to get scoops of it, but we wanted something smaller, so opted for the grocery store. Then we walked to the pier and spent a bit of time there just looking at the water and the changing light.

Last night I picked up my ongoing patchwork tatting project and worked on that. I was using the bit of thread that was left from a hat I made recently and decided to play a little game of thread chicken. I was not sure whether the small ball I had left would be enough to do another row, but decided to go for it--if I ran out I would not be bothered about finishing with a different thread. I made it to the end though :-)

Tonight we are going to the library to hear a guy talk about local food as part of Heritage Week. I think he is an expert of seaweed, so should be interesting. I hope so, anyway! Guess I will find out!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

36 Years

Today is our 36th anniversary. I always make something to mark the day and this year I decided to include little pieces of Moville.

The driftwood, shell, and lopsided heart rock were all things we picked up on the beaches here. The yarn is wool from the charity shop in Killybegs and the motif is one I adapted from a chart that I got years ago from somewhere. Before we left Maine I took pics of charts and swatch pictures from stitch dictionaries that were either from the library or that I knew I would not bring. Tough decisions had to be made because we had no weight available in those suitcases! But the files weigh nothing, so at least I still have these things to refer to when I want them!

It has sure been an interesting 36-year journey as we have made our way across one country, up to the north, back down again, across the same country the other way, across an ocean, and then making our way up the left side of this island. We have lived in and learned about many places and met so many wonderful people along the way! I am grateful to have spent the last three and a half decades with someone who really is my other half and I am glad that we have more to look forward to and experience together.

I love you, Bill :-) Thanks for everything these 36 years and for the years still to come!

Who are those people?!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Buttoned Up

I had an idea for one of the buttons I got at the charity shop in Buncrana a couple of weeks ago, so this afternoon I decided to try it out. I grabbed one of the big black vinyl buttons, the ball of size 10 purple variegated thread that I brought home from Sligo, and my 1.5mm crochet hook, which I got in Fairbanks years ago, and I started crocheting. A while later, I'd ended up with a bracelet.

When I started hooking this, I thought I might use a smaller button to close it, but then I remembered that in my little collection of odds and ends I had a little lobster claw clasp from somewhere, so I opted to use that instead. I crocheted it on and reinforced that with the end as I was hiding it.

The button is about 1 1/2 inches across by itself and with the crocheting, it is about 2 1/4 inches. I have three more of these buttons--not sure what I will do with them or the others I got at the same time. Guess time will tell!

Hope the new week has started off well for you. Happy Monday!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Spaces in Between and The Ends

As I was writing my blog post about using scraps the other day, I glanced up and saw my scrappy shawl folded on top of the wardrobe. I realized I had never posted it because I did not have a pic of the whole thing. I asked Bill to take one this morning.

 I made this earlier this year when we were still in Killybegs, but knowing we were coming to Moville. It was an in-between sort of time. I made it out of many scrap balls that came from charity shops or that were left from other projects--all acrylics or acrylic/wool blends. It was a good project to work on during that transitional time in my life. It is the same mindless lace shawl that I have written about before (tutorial here). It is very meditative to work on and that was a good project for such a time. I did not join all of the balls together ahead of time, but I did use the Russian join to attach several of them at a time. I joined the smaller balls into larger ones, picked up my hook, and crocheted happily away. At the end I did a shell border and just had one end to weave in--yay!

I like to use the Russian join for lace projects when possible because it's better than trying to weave in a bunch of ends in an open stitch pattern. I also find it useful in knitting projects where I will be having yarn changes randomly in the middle of rows. If you are unfamiliar with the Russian join, here's a short video that shows this very useful method.

If I am doing a crochet project without lots of open spaces in between stitches, I will usually just tie the yarn ends together before winding the smaller bits into a larger ball because I can easily weave the ends in when the project is done. I did that with a bunch of small scrap balls of sock yarn, making two scrappy balls, which I then used to make a pair of scrappy socks (crocheted, toe up), which I wear all the time--they have held up well.

Some of the colour changes are happening in each kind of sock yarn and some is just where one scrap balls ends and another began.

Sometimes I do nothing with the ends at all and I call them fringe.

If I just have a little novelty yarn, I use it by itself--making as many chains as I can, closing into a ring and looping it around my neck a few times like a necklace or around my wrist as a bracelet. Or I might cast on a bunch of stitches on circular knitting needles, bind off, and use the tails to sew the ends together and attach a glass bead.

In my previous scrappy post I also mentioned doing abstract cross stitch with thread trimmings. Sometimes I use the trimmings for a piece that is not abstract.
I guess one reason why I like working with scraps so much the enjoyment I get out of looking at a small ball of yarn or a short piece of thread and figuring out how to use it instead of throwing it away. There is something satisfying about that for me and I am always happy when I see the scrap pile growing.

May your weekend be creative and peaceful.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The White Road: A Pilgrimage of Sorts by Edmund de Waal

At some point during our time in Ballinrobe I discovered a series on you tube called 'What Do Artists Do All Day?' I love it and check back for new episodes regularly. I am always intrigued about people's creative processes and in how they discover the things in their lives that they are passionate about. Around 10 years ago Bill and I were working at a museum in south central Oregon and we did a life story project with 10 local artists. The division of labour was pretty much me doing the interviewing and Bill doing the recording and audio processing, though he would ask questions sometimes too. I learned a lot doing that project. Some of what I learned was about the kinds of things Bill and I notice and are interested in--when he would ask a question it always involved how someone did something. My interviews, which I structured as very open-ended, unstructured conversations, were about the why questions. When the project was done, some of the artists told me they learned a lot about themselves in the process. One woman told me, 'For the first time in my life, I understand why I do what I do.' I was glad about that!

In this book, Edmund de Waal seems like he might be on that sort of a quest--to discover some of the reasons why he has been obsessed with white pots for over four decades. I'd heard about the book somewhere, but the description of the book and my experience with his first book, Hare with Amber Eyes, which I thought was choppy and uneven, combined to discourage me from finding this book at that time. Then a couple of months ago I watched the episode of What Do Artists Do All Day? that was about him. I was intrigued by his description of his pottery work as poetry. You tube put some suggestions on the side of the page and one of them was a link to a talk he gave about this book, so I clicked on that. Listening to that made me want to read the book, so I found it and requested it. It came recently and I finished it the other day.

Overall, I liked the book, but once again, it felt choppy. That is just his writing style, I guess. Now that I think of it, it may well be his speaking style as well, but I only have a talk and an interview to base that on.

He is doing several things in this book--it is part history, part self-reflection, part autobiography, part travelogue, and part art process discussion. These things go back and forth throughout the book. One sentence is a description of a Chinese village and the next one is about an email he sent to his daughter. It took me a little while to settle in with the book, but once I did, I enjoyed it.

He tells the reader early on that when he was 5, he convinced his father to take him to a pottery class where he made his very first pot. The next week, the instructor asked him which of the many amazing colours he would like to choose for the glaze. He chose white then and has been choosing white ever since. He is obsessed with white and the qualities of different whites. He wants to know more about the history of porcelain. He travels to places where porcelain was made to see for himself and to bring back pots, clay, shards, and information. He wants to see these places for himself, all the while reflecting on his own life, his process as an artist, and why the white speaks to him in such a powerful way.

There is a lot of concrete information in here about the history of porcelain in various places, the culture of the times and places where and how it was produced, the economics of porcelain, its use as a status symbol, and the personal stories of some of the people who worked out how to produce it. These ideas are interspersed with his personal reflections on his life and work and on what he is learning. He covers both the 'how' and the 'why' questions surrounding porcelain and himself.

It was a fascinating book and I am glad I read it. The artist talk on you tube is worth watching for a sort of abridged version of the material he covers in the book.

 He never really gets an answer to why he was drawn to white pots in the first place and why he is still obsessed with them. I do not think any of us can ever really know why we are passionate about certain things, but in the process of thinking about it, we can learn a lot about ourselves. I will never know why it was that yarn/thread grabbed me over 30 years ago (!!!!!) and has not loosened its grip yet. I do not know why my heart leaps with excitement when I see yarn or thread in a shop or even in a painting or photograph. It is a mystery to me why I can look at yarn and thread and have ideas colliding with each other in my mind, yet a tube of paint or lump of clay does not spark the same thought process. I have no idea why making things with strings is something I have to do or be grumpy, antsy, unhappy, and a little bit agitated. Knowing what is important to us is crucial to creating a peaceful and contented life for those of us lucky enough to be able to do that. For Edmund de Waal, white pots are part of the foundation upon which he is building his life. Yarn and thread are my white pots--what are yours?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Chicken Pot Pieless

Bill and I both like chicken pot pie, but Bill is not a fan of pie crust, so I make this chicken pieless version instead.

As with everything else I cook, it is a little different every time. The ingredients are basic, so I had them around and when I found myself with an unexpected chicken, I was able to use some of it for this.

We went into our little grocery store on Main Street the other day and discovered large whole chickens for 4 euro, which is a very good price. My tiny freezer compartment is stuffed full so I could not buy one for the freezer, but I did pick one up to cook that night. We pay for electricity at different rates--peak time is 9 am-midnight (it will be 8am-11pm once we go back to winter time) and the rates are cheaper during the off-peak hours. I stuck the chicken in the slow cooker at midnight and cranked it up to the high setting, leaving it to cook overnight. In the morning I let it cool a little and got all the meat off the bones.

This always creates liquid in the crock of the slow cooker, which I pour off into wide mouthed jars (salsa jars here are short and wide--very handy for re-use). Once chilled, the fat is solid at the top and can be scraped off. I use what is left to make gravy, which I start with olive oil and onions in the pan. This time I also used some finely chopped yellow bell pepper. Once the onion was translucent, I added some flour and incorporated it well, then I added the drippings and a bit of water. Once that was thickened I added black pepper, frozen peas and chopped, cooked chicken. Sometimes I also add cooked potatoes and carrots. This time I had whizzed up some carrots in my little chopper and added them to brown rice when I cooked that, so they were already in there. We have the chickenand veg gravy over the brown rice instead of having it in a crust.

Before I made this, I'd used part of the chicken in a Mexican mac and cheese bowl kind of thing. We'd felt like having mac and cheese for dinner one night so I made that--and we had cheese sauce left over. Later that night I cooked the chicken, so the next night I added some cooked chicken, a can of chilli beans, and some chopped tomato to the cheese sauce and we had that over pasta. I'd have used some corn too, but I did not have any. I could have added salsa to the sauce as well and that would have been excellent.

We got a lot of mileage out of that chicken--three suppers and two lunches for each of us. Love my slow cooker!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Scrap Work

In yesterday's post about my lace hat, which a friend pointed out could also be worn as a snood, I mentioned the last round of slip stitches that I ripped out. This left me with a length of thread along with what was left from the ball, which is about the size of a ping pong ball.

I do not like to waste anything, so try to find uses for all my different scraps and leftovers. I do different things with them, depending on the length of thread/yarn or the size of the leftover ball.

With the bit of thread that had been the round of slip stitch, I tatted the last ring in a short length of linked rings that I've had. I connected both ends with this ring and it's just the right size for a bracelet.

I had enough left to start another set of linked rings and to add a ring or two to my ongoing abstract tatting piece.

I have also crocheted linked rings using worsted weight yarn in the past, making a garland for over the back door. Would make a fun and easy holiday decoration too--orange and black for Halloween, fall colours for Thanksgiving, Christmas colours, or even a bunch of bright colours for a baby's or child's room.

With the leftover ball of thread I am adding to a patchwork tatting thing I started with some of the linen left from the shawl I recently finished. What this will end up being, I have no idea at the moment.

Lengths that are too short to be made into a ring or a small motif are set aside for abstract cross stitch--I started this piece today using the trimmings from the rings and some scraps of the gold thread I used in the shawl. No idea what it will look like in the end--I just start stitching and move randomly around the cloth.
Snips of thread and yarn that are too short for anything else, get saved for needle felting, where they can be felted right into the fabric, either randomly or in a more structured way--these trees were made with short lengths of yarn that I felted onto the background, as are the flowers and bird on the second piece.

In the past I have also made cards by folding some cardstock or watercolor paper in half, covering the front with glue, and laying on a bunch of random snips.

I have a thing for scrappy projects--I love them and I love seeing my scrap pile grow. It takes a while to finish the projects made this way and I often have no idea what each one will end up being, but they are good creative exercises. And they are very satisfying and enjoyable to work on, too.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Walking, Chewing Gum, and the Need for Lace

I am frequently walking and chewing gum--yes, at the same time--outdoors. Being outdoors here means that I am usually walking (and chewing gum) in either a breeze or the wind. My hair is fine and does not stay up, back, or any other direction besides that in which it wishes to go, no matter how many clips, barrettes, scrunchies, or tiny elastics I stick it in. This means that when I am walking and chewing gum I am also pulling strands of hair out of my mouth and trying to get it out of the gum. This is annoying, so I avoid it by wearing hats.

 I became obsessive passionate about hats over 5 years ago now when a friend sent me a wee hat ornament for Christmas. She'd crocheted it. For some reason, that little hat sparked something and, while I had made a few hats before that, and wore those few, after the wee hat there was a time when making different kinds of hats using different kinds of string was pretty much the whole of my yarny life. I started wearing hats all the time. Bill started requesting hats--he is such a wonderful enabler. Eventually I went back to making other things along with the hats, but I still love my hats, never go for very long without making a new one, and wear one almost every day. We both have big piles of hats, and you could be forgiven for thinking that we actually have quite enough hats--more than enough, even. But what I have learned living here is that one can never have too many hats! Besides the fact that the wind is almost always blowing, people here like to talk about the fact that we can have all four seasons in one day in Ireland and after 2 1/2 years, I can say that this is correct. Sometimes I walk around with my wool/mohair mittens, a heavy cowl, a hat that is good for the cold and rain, and a hat that is good for less chilly weather all at the same time. We set out never knowing what it will be like out in 10 minutes or 3 miles. So the wardrobe of different hats comes in handy.

Then there is summer, which sometimes dumps days like yesterday and today on us--sunny and blue, too warm, and windy. So there I was--walking, chewing gum, and pulling the loose strands of hair out of my mouth. It was too hot to wear any of the hats I had, even the lightweight ones. Clearly my hat collection was incomplete. Best to remedy that as quickly as possible.

I needed something that was tight enough at the brim to stay on my head, but not so tight that it was uncomfortable. It should be loose elsewhere, lightweight, and very open and lacy to encourage air circulation while at the same time keeping my hair out of my mouth. It should be made from crochet cotton rather than yarn. I decided to use the ball of thread (size 10) that caught my eye as I was walking by a shop window in Sligo a couple of months ago. Because it is variegated--a dark greeny-grey colour, a sort of yellowish cream, a light yellowy green, and a pale periwinkle--I did not want a busy design because it would not show up anyway. I picked up a couple of lace books and started looking at the charts, focusing mostly on the centres. I picked one that would work with a bit of tweaking, got out a size D crochet hook (I wanted it to drape well and not be tight, and I am a tight crocheter) and began. I changed a few things as I went and when I got to the place where I no longer wanted it to grow out, I started working even.

I just kept sticking it on my head to see how long it would be and when it was about where I wanted it, it was time to improv a few decrease rounds. I ended up doing three. I had a round of slip stitch at the end, but that made it too tight, so I ripped it out.

Then I rummaged around in my button tin and chose the button I liked best for this project, sewed it on with the long starting tail I'd left when I began, and wove in my ends.

I am very pleased with this. I have more thread and the lace books are right beside me, but I might not make another one quite yet. I have my fingers crossed that this will be the last of the summerlike days we see this year. They say big rain is on tap for tomorrow and then again Friday and Saturday. By the weekend it should be cooler too, so I will not need my new lace hat for a while anyway. It's here when I need it though!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Treasures on the Beach

Yesterday after the fete, we showed our friend, who is really an adopted member of our wee family, a little bit more of Moville--places he had not been to the last couple of times he was here. One of the places was the beach that is on the outskirts of town and not part of the shore walk. This is the beach where we find more pottery bits and sea glass and fewer shells and stones. It's the opposite along the shore path for whatever reason. We strolled along and Bill and I started picking things up. Soon our eagle-eyed friend was finding some really cool bits!

Those are a couple of my favourites, along with this piece:
It was face down stuck in the sand. I thought it would be plain white, but picked it up to check and was glad I did because it is such a different design.

We wandered around the beach, looking down to see what was near our feet and looking out across the water to take in the view.

Between the three of us we brought home many small treasures.
 The biggest treasure of all, though, was the time we spent yesterday enjoying simple pleasures together.

Hope you are spending today with people who are important to you!