Monday, October 31, 2016

New Neckwear

Last night I finished the cowl/gaiter I had as my bus project on our trips the last couple of weeks. I'd worked on it a bit on the way to Clifden and then most of the way to Sligo last week. No bus trips coming up, so I finished it up--wanted to do that before moving on to other projects.
I love this welt stitch. It is essentially a horizontal rib and it is very stretchy. I have plans for a few more projects using this, but for now I made this simple cowl, using 5mm circular needles and a DKish weight yarn. I cast on 85 stitches, using the crochet cast on method, joined into a ring making sure the stitches were not twisted, and placed a marker at the beginning of the round.Then I knit for 5 rounds, purled for 3 rounds, and alternated like that until I had 11 ridges. Then I knit 4 rounds more and did a knit bind off round. That's it. This stitch provides a lot of texture with no effort. I considered doing some eyelets at the top and running a chain through them, but decided not to. This would have made it so the top could be cinched and it would be turned into a hat as with this cowl that I made several years ago.

This is a lightweight cowl, but I have made a bigger, thicker one using Zwartbles wool in dark brown and some cream wool. It is very warm!
I also like the welt stitch for hats. I made this one when we lived in Ballinrobe.
I was wearing it one day earlier this year--we still lived in Killybegs at the time-- when a woman who owns a shop in Donegal Town happened to stop by--I did a bit of knitting and crocheting for her shop. She saw the hat and kept mentioning it. I'd forgotten which hat I was wearing and had to feel my head to know what she was talking about. She asked if I could make some for her shop and came by several days later with the wool. I made her 3.
The collar was one she asked me to copy from a completed one. I took notes so I can make more of them if I ever decide to do that. It is cute and I keep thinking I will do one for myself, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

This welt stitch would be fun done in scraps too, I think, with the colours either randomly changing or in a more planned way--each ridge a different colour would be striking. Lots of possibilities for this simple stitch pattern!

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Blissfuly Peaceful

We turned our clocks back last night. Yay! I look forward to the day as yet another marker of my happy season. Today I am having a purposely peaceful day to celebrate. After sleeping in this morning, I had a simple breakfast--peanut butter and jelly sandwich--and brought my coffee back into the bedroom. I arranged my pillows, climbed back into bed, and enjoyed my coffee while finishing the Miss Silver mystery I'd started last night. Then I got my second cup of coffee, kept nice and hot by my insulated stainless steel Joe Mo mug and scrolled through some e-magazines from the library.
I love this service! It makes me happy just to see the creative projects in the magazines. As a bonus, I sometimes find great motifs, stitch combinations, charts, or ideas as I scroll. I have a small notebook handy where I can jot things down. Back issues are available too, so I can go back and look at those. Most of the stitching magazines are new to me, being British--and that is fun too. There are some old favourites though, like Piecework.
I was thrilled to see this on the list when I first set up the e-magazine app. I have always loved this magazine, devoted as it is to various kinds of needlework in historical perspective. There is always something interesting to read and plenty of beautiful stuff to look at. This is the September/October issue and was particularly fun because it is a theme issue--knitting in novels! I had a lot of fun with this one and there was a nice hat pattern (not the one on the cover, though I like that too), that looks like it would be easily adaptable to different sizes and stitch variations. I also have some authors I will be looking up at the library website.

I plan to meander quietly through the rest of this beautiful day. I've just finished a cup of cocoa. I have a knitting project next to me on one side and a pile of books on the other. It is a bank holiday weekend here and this Sunday may be even more quiet than usual. One of the things I love about living in a small rural village is the slow pace of life. It suits me. It is how I want to live. It makes me feel content and at peace--even more so now in the middle of autumn and with the days getting shorter. I am grateful to be able to live this way in this place.

May your day be full of peace and contentment too.

Friday, October 28, 2016

23 Hours and 57 Minutes in Sligo

On Wednesday morning we were up early to catch the bus to Letterkenny. From there, we hopped on a bus to Sligo, where we arrived right on time at 11:50. This left us time to use the restroom, eat the wraps I'd made for our lunch, and set off for the hospital. We were early for Bill's appointment and we expected to be waiting for a while, but he was actually brought in about 10 minutes early. He was done about half an hour later. I was sitting in the waiting area with my book and was surprised to see him back so soon. The hotel was just across the river from the hospital and when we were there in June, we'd discovered that we could get there using a pedestrian path leading from the street--it goes down to and across the river, coming out right by the hotel. We made our way there and were able to check into our room. We were both really tired and had already stopped at a grocery and gotten a bit of food to have for supper so we didn't have to go anywhere, but we decided to go out for a short walk along the river.

As soon as the swans saw us, they started gliding over--guess they thought we might have some food for them. They were disappointed.
So were the ducks.
They had to content themselves with swimming around among the boats, one of which had capsized, and waiting for the next, hopefully more generous, person to come along!
It is a nice walk by the river.

We headed in that direction because we wanted to see what one of the buildings is--we saw it both last time and this time from our window and the thing on top reminded me of a lampshade. I have no idea what it is, but the building is the county offices.
The Riverside Hotel, where we stayed, has a great breakfast menu and buffet, which is included in the price of the room. Bill got scrambled eggs and smoked salmon and I had scrambled eggs and mushrooms stuffed with pesto and tomatoes--their vegetarian option. I am not usually a huge mushroom fan, but this was really good!
I surprised myself by ordering it, but when I looked at the menu, it seemed like that is what I should get and I am glad I did. The buffet itself is so extensive that even if you just ate from there, you would not go away hungry. They have breads and pastries, fresh fruit, fruit salads, bowls of grapefruit segments, yogurts, and cereals, including some excellent homemade granola with lots of nuts and seeds. I rounded out my hot breakfast with a piece of brown soda bread and a scone with raspberry jam, plus a bit of yogurt with some granola mixed in. There was coffee too, of course. Between the extremely comfortable rooms, the nice tea and coffee, the view of the river, and the wonderful breakfasts, I am glad we stumbled onto this place. It is perfect for us, since the only reason we have been in Sligo is for Bill's eye appointments and we are tired when we are there--it is nice to have a comfortable place nearby to go to after his appointments.

After breakfast we hung around for another hour or so before leaving to meander back to the bus station. I thought this was an interesting paint job.
And I took a closer look at this pair of wee trousers in a shop window (sorry about the reflection).
Turns out the shop won an award for being the best independent drapers and this is their trophy! Clever!

Of course, the very first stop we made in Sligo as we were on our way to the hospital was this funky little shop where we'd stopped last time after Bill spotted yarn in the window. At the time, I noticed some beautiful variegated thread and bought a few balls. I had to check again this time and see if there were any more wonderful colours. He only had a few balls of thread and one was black and one was white, but he did have this brown variegated, which I love. It has come home with me :-)
The bus pulled in from Galway to let a bunch of passengers off and load a bunch more of us in, pulling out at 11:47. We made it to Letterkenny with an hour and a half to spare until we had to catch the bus to Moville. We stopped in Tesco there to grab some extra mature cheddar, which we cannot get locally, and a few other things. It was nice to get home--it felt like we were gone for longer than a day.

It's a bank holiday weekend here and we change our clocks back this weekend. Yay!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Priorities and Preparations

Bill has an appointment tomorrow afternoon with the eye consultant, so it is off to Sligo we go in the morning for an overnight stay by the river. Of course this means I need to make sure that my priorities are in order when it comes to filling my backpack with the stuff I will need for the bus rides there and back, some time waiting in the hospital, and in the hotel room tomorrow night.

The book has been chosen. I wanted a novel that would be a fun read that I do not plan to keep and can be read in places where people are talking and going about their business. The length is such that I can assume I will not finish it too quickly, but I might finish it on the way back. If so, I can do a book bomb and leave it in a bus station with a note saying it's a free book for someone to take and enjoy. If not, I will finish it here and place in the wee free library when I'm done. It is paperback and not heavy.

I thought long and hard about the stitching--I always do. I decided to bring a lace piece that I want to have finished within a week or two. It will be two colours, but I started it this afternoon and got to the spot where I will switch thread colour. This way I only have to bring one small ball of thread and because it is thread, it takes longer to crochet, so I will get more crochet hours out of the small ball of thread than I would with thicker yarn and a larger hook.
That is not all though. I always make sure to have different projects using different techniques, so I also packed some scraps of aida cloth and embroidery floss--if I feel like cross stitching instead of crocheting tomorrow night, I am prepared. Finally, there is a suitable bus project to consider. For that, knitting with circular needles is perfect. I cast on a cowl last night, placed my marker, and knit a couple of rounds, so I am all ready to knit away on the bus or in the waiting area if the mood strikes.
Doesn't look like much yet, but by using the circs and a skein of yarn instead of a ball, I safeguard against unfortunate tool-dropping/ball-of-thread-bouncing incidents. I would hate to drop a needle or a crochet hook on the bus and not be able to get at it, or to have my thread roll under the seats and tangle around feet, so this works well. Everything stays connected so if I dropped my work, I could just pull it back up by the working strand of yarn. Yes, I have thought this out carefully. :-)

I've spiced up some chicken breasts and cooked them so I can use them to make sandwiches in the morning. We will bring those with us for lunch. We will have time to eat between getting off the bus and checking in for Bill's appointment.

I am happy knowing that I have prepared well and that I will not be stuck somewhere twiddling my thumbs and waiting for time to pass. I am not good at that, unless I am very tired or not feeling well. But put a book or some yarn in my hands and I can be content wherever I happen to be.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Scrappy Scarf

A couple of weeks ago I was scrolling through a crochet e-magazine, borrowed from the library. I LOVE the e-magazines that are available. There is a good selection of titles that we can borrow and I always have several on my tablet, on topics ranging across genres--food, books, news, archaeology, and of course, stitching and making. I have found some good charts in these magazines and plenty of information that sparks ideas.

So I was nearing the end of that particular issue when I came across a lone chart for a motif called, 'Hydrangea.' I love hydrangeas, especially here with the amazing deep colours, but the word also brings back memories of a cat we used to have whose nickname was Queen Hydrangea. I grabbed a hook and some sock yarn scraps and started making a hydrangea motif. It was only a few rounds, so worked up quickly. I liked it, so grabbed another scrap ball of sock yarn and made another one, joining to the previous motif on the last round. I was having fun, so I kept making more hydrangeas and joining as I went. The night before we left for Clifden, I decided I had enough hydrangeas joined together to be a scarf, so I grabbed some black fingering weight and started on a border. I was making it up as I went and ripped back to start again several times, but I finally had something I liked. I did not get all the way around before I had to give in and go to bed because my eyes did not want to stay open. We left early the next morning and I'd brought other stuff to work on there. When we came home the other day I finished the last little bit and wove in the ends. I like it and it looks like perhaps the temperatures might possibly drop a little next week, so maybe I can start wearing this kind of stuff soon!
A whole bunch of these attached would make a fun throw, afghan, shawl, jumper, or waistcoat.

And I added a couple of rounds to the original motif and made a small coaster, using size 10 crochet thread. So many possibilities.
In a little while I plan to settle in with another cuppa and scroll through another e-magazine. Who knows what kinds of ideas will show up?

Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Egg Cups

When we moved into our first Irish apartment, in Ballinrobe, I knew that it would be furnished right down to forks and teaspoons. That's how it is here--everything is already there when you move in. I was surprised to see that egg cups were in the cupboard. I had not seen an egg cup for decades--my mother had some when I was a kid and that was the last time I'd seen them. I am not a fan of anything runny in my eggs, so I have no need for egg cups. Soft boiled eggs are not my thing--my stomach gets weird just thinking about it.

Obviously they are popular in Ireland though, because we also had 6 or 8 nice wooden ones in Killybegs and a few were placed in a prominent top shelf position in the tiny kitchenette we had at the apartment in Clifden. They were cute.
When we walked around town we saw egg cups of various kinds in a few shop windows, but one shop was really keen on the egg cups, cosies, holders, and an egg safe. I took the pics from the sidewalk, so there is some reflection from the window, but you get the idea--all of these were in the same shop window.

Funnily enough, we had no eggs at all while we were there, but if we'd wanted some, we had the pot to cook them in and the egg cups to serve them in. Some of them are cute--I am partial to the tiny hat egg cosies, of course.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Clifden's Sky Road

On Thursday we packed lunches and headed out for a walk up Sky Road. It turned out to be a nice walk in the countryside, but not what we were expecting. We also learned that we've been spoiled by the shore walk here in Moville, where we can walk peacefully at the water's edge without dodging lunatics behind the wheels of cars and large trucks. The traffic along the Sky Road really made the experience less pleasant than it otherwise would have been--and we were there after tourist season. I can only imagine how bad it would be during the height of the season. In spite of the traffic, it was a good walk.

We passed many animals living near the edge.

 There were a couple of castles around.

At the top there is a small area with a couple of benches, a couple of picnic tables, an information board, and a sign to let you know where you are--the wavy design on top is the logo for the Wild Atlantic Way (WAW). We lived along the Wild Atlantic Way in Killybegs and do again here, and there we were on a different part of the route this time.

We ate our lunch up there and after we'd finished, a van pulled up and the tourists tumbled out. 'Where you from?' one guy asked in a southern US accent. 'Moville,' I started, planning to add that this is in Co Donegal. He cut me off with, 'Mobile?!?' 'No,' I said, 'MoVille, in County Donegal.' 'Oh,' he said, laughing, 'I had you pegged as from Alabama.' 'Nnnnoooo,' I said. The tour guide started talking about how beautiful Donegal is and compared Slieve League to Cliffs of Moher, where the group had been the day before. Slieve League is better, in his opinion. Cliffs of Moher have been given the tourist trap treatment and for me that makes them less appealing anyway. But that has not happened to Slieve League yet although it may. That truly is a spectacular place--highest sea cliffs in Europe and an amazingly beautiful spot.

Anyway, they had less than 10 minutes to look and take whatever photos they wanted before the tour guide hustled them back into their van and drove them away. we stayed up there for a few more minutes and then started the 4 mile walk back to the apartment.

I seemed to notice the plants more on the way down.

The owner of this B&B thought up a clever sign--this is across the street from the sheep and castle pictured above.
Nice view of town on the way down, in spite of the haze--the mountains are quite spectacular. the tourist info highlights the fact that Sky Road is coastal, but for me, this was the most breathtaking view on the walk.
After our walk we went back to the apartment and put our feet up. I finished the book I was reading and left it on the pile that was already there. The next morning we gathered our stuff and caught the 9:15 bus to Galway to begin our journey home. It was a lovely few days and we are glad we went. One thing about being there was how much it made me appreciate my own little patch of the planet in Moville. There's no place like home!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Walking Around Clifden

We had a leisurely morning, taking our time with our simple breakfast of bran flakes, bananas, toast, and coffee. We made sandwiches, filled our stainless steel mugs with water, and headed out at about 11. We started by walking down Market Street. This is the view of one end of Market Street from one of the windows in the apartment.

This is a closer view of the yellow building and the business to the left of it. I liked the 'victuals and vegetables' under John Malone's name.
We saw these stone sheep outside a shop.
We walked down past Market Square and came to a fork in the road. Left is Beach Road and right is the Sky Road. We opted for Beach Road today because it was a bit shorter and we wanted to walk around town a little more afterwards. We plan to walk Sky Road tomorrow. Just after the fork in the road we came across this memorial Celtic cross.
We came to the quay area where there were a lot of boats tied up alongside this interesting house. I like the porthole style windows. They had blinds in them--must've been custom made.
The birds were hanging around on this beehive thing out in the water.
I was pleased to see this sign. Most people did drive at a reasonable speed, but we did have one person who had his lead foot firmly planted on the gas pedal.
The road leads to a small beach, a cafe, and a lifeboat station. We turned around and headed back towards town, passing this heron standing in the water.
I had the thought that this might make an interesting needle felted piece. Might have to give it a try sometime!

Coming back we could see the back end of town.
Back up to Market Square, where Bill was able to call in at the jeweler on the corner and get a new battery for his watch.

 There are a lot of old bikes around that have been turned into plant stands. There's one right outside the jeweler,
and these, just down the street from our B&B.
We climbed up a side street and at the top saw these beautiful hydrangeas--I love the colour! On my screen it is showing a little more pink than in real life where they are more of a deep red.

Coming down the street we got a nice view of the opposite end of Market Street from where we started this morning.
On our way back we picked up food for lunches and suppers for the rest of our time here and for the journey home and we admired a lot of art in a lot of windows. We walked a 6 mile loop around Clifden and along Clifden Bay. It was a perfect day for a walk--comfortable temperatures and no sun. We got home and I made a nice cuppa. We both like the town a lot and it seems so quiet. Must be interesting for the locals to live in a  place that is crowded with tourists for part of the year and then shuts down and get really quiet for the rest of the time. We wondered whether by this time people are sick of tourists because, with a few exceptions, people here are generally not as 'nice' as they are in our neck of the woods (or Ballinrobe and Killybegs). We are so used to smiles and exchanging pleasantries (usually about the weather) with people that we pass while walking that it is sort of jarring to walk by people who silently stare straight ahead with grouchy expressions on their faces. Oh well, they just make the people who DO smile and comment on weather stand out more!

Tonight we are relaxing in our comfortable little apartment with our feet up--reading, crocheting, coffee, music are all on the agenda. Hope you have a pleasant day/evening too!