Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A whirlwind 2 weeks of visiting, chatting, and as many fibre-orientated things I could possibly fit in!

How much fibre can you fit into two weeks? Well let me tell awful lot! Firstly, the plan was a holiday, to catch up with family. My nephew came down with chicken-pox, so we skipped the Kinvara night and headed instead, into Galway city to stay with sister no 2. On the way, we stopped off in Doolin, to beautiful scenery and a play on the beach, and in Burrin, on the Kinvara road, to a hidden gem, the Wilde and Wooley Knitwear Studio. I had stopped off to have a look in the Burren Woollen Mills, (which houses the same tacky crap which you will find in the Burren House. A scary place where we did a toilet break, and ended up running away from several bus tours!!).

Follow the signs to Wilde and Wooley, behind the Woollen Mills and you will hear the swish, swish of an old knitting machine. Brings back memories of wrestling with an ancient one in my brief knitwear career..... Then you walk into a conservatory-like studio, with plants growing alongside a display of lovely jumpers, hats and other woollen goods. Take a peek inside the door, into such a homely studio that it melts your heart. A wall of shelves, filled with cones of lovely yarn!! The child being a bit on the restless, cranky side, I didn't get to chat much with the lady who runs the studio, or to check out her goods properly, but she did tell me, she was now a rarity. So many other knitwear studios have closed down, shes one of the few left. Such a shame considering our huge knitwear heritage.

Onto Galway City and yes it was the day that Michael Jackson died...It followed lots of videos on cable, and a big, cross-country telephone debate on what year Michael Jackson played in Cork...I did see this wonderful fencing along a new building development. Isn't it amazing how lovely some new things can be, if done well....

Onto Mayo, to chill for a day or two before letting the ma babysit and whizzing across country to Co. Monaghan to attend the Cassandra Hand Summer School of Lace. Crochet Lace has never been my thing, but in the attempt of trying to find out more about my textile heritage, and excuse to abandon the child for a whole 4 days, I went to this lace workshop. I had chatted to a few people going already through Ravelry, and to Maire, through emails, and I was a bit anxious about being a lace beginner. The plan was to have a few motifs done before going, but plans, mostly, go out the window. It didn't matter. Just the sheer joy of being around people who love crochet as much as I do was and is enough to fill me up with awe. You know that sense of awe, when you see something hand-made that is simply fabulous, that always stays with you, the wonder of how it was made, who made it, and my god the work that went into it. That's the awe I felt and still feel after a wonderful weekend. It was crammed with crochet, trips to lace museums, crochet, visits to weaving workshops, more crochet, a few pints, more crochet....sheer heaven!! The weather wasn't great, but well, we were indoors so who cared!! I don't know the North well at all, and it was fascinating to hear stories about the area, the North, the Troubles, the now open boarders. Here is a collage of photos, the drive across Leitrim, Carrickmacross Lace we saw at the Monaghan Museum, the Class of 09, and the weaving workshop we visited.

I had nothing definite I wanted to make, I simply wanted to learn the techniques, and how to do the clones Knot filling. So I made a few motifs, and started to put them together into a doily type thing. At the workshop I got the motifs done, then started the filling. Between returning to my mums house, and the past week, I got the piece finished, finally, today, and it is now in the sink, soaking as we type! This is a pic of the motifs just being tacked in place, and I am about to start the Clones Knot filling.

So, after the return back to Mayo to my folks house, I discovered that I hadn't missed Sheep and Wool Day at the Museum of Folklife as I though I had. Its only a half-hour drive to Castlebar so I decided to head over for an interesting hour of sheep and shearing!

Before and after shearing!

After shearing, the fleece was brought into a marquee where a lady from Connemara proceeded to spin it. I had hoped she would go into details about grading the fleece, but she didn't. And as usual, as soon as I start to show an interest in my surroundings the child acts up, and we head home shortly after...How do kids have such a knack of being angels when your gazing into space, but when you shift your focus to something they suddenly turn into little bundles of trouble! So, I didn't get to ask any questions, or chat to any of the knitting circle that was enthusiastically knitting in the corner....

After all this, a glutton for punishment, I went camping for the weekend in very, very wet conditions, in Tipperary. We had been planning this for ages, a weekend of friends, kids, and camping. The campsite was nice but with the weather, we didn't get to see or do much besides sit around chat, cook food, drink, chat, dry the kids, chat...but what more could you want! The campsite had a small pet farm attached, complete with a solitary alpaca and rather grumpy sheep....I knew there had to be some textile connection, even when camping!!

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