Sunday, 14 December 2014

Hand me down...

“Time does nothing but hand you down shabbier and older things.”
Cabbages & Kings NY
It was forest green, covered in tiny flowers with an attached, white lace pinny. The skirt of the pinny had worn away or was removed because it was worn. It was made from 100% polyester. There is a photo sitting at home, in the farmhouse, of me at a family function wearing the remarkable dress that seemed to have lasted through the war and maybe still is doing the rounds. As a child, I guess, I didn’t have a voice on what I should be wearing. Those were the days when polyester was hailed for its washability and durability.

So, yesterday, quite by chance, I came across this gorgeous retail website, specialising in luxury kids knitwear. Alpaca appears to be the yarn of choice and all knitting is done by hand through a fair trade initiative, in South America. Ethics aside, its the asthetics that caught my attention. Cabbages and Kings NY is a modern, cool, re-invention of kids knits that didn’t exsist when I was growing up. We had to make do with itching powder infused Arans from Auntie Nodie or oversized, geometirc knits from Mum. I had one of those moments, where you find yourself checking out kids clothes and wishing they made them in adults sizes. This clobber is beautiful! The colour range, the style, design and workmanship is all exquisite.  The site committed me to full on retrospective envy, on behalf of my younger self, who, alas, made do with hand me downs, from the far side of  sibling number six. 

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Let it Snow...

Make your mistakes, take your chances, look silly, but keep on going. Don’t freeze up.
Last Sunday, I was attending and annual Christmas fair in my local town. It was great, it always is. Everything you would want and expect from a good Christmas event: tasty food, hot drinks, crafts and the airy fairy, flighty atmosphere of a good sunny Sunday when there is nothing better to do than go for a wander and see what other folk are doing.
Another day in Killarney...
And stuck in the middle of all of this magical and calming mayhem are the food and craft sellers. The same faces keep popping up and the same old chats and catch ups that you look forward to and remember why you keep doing this. My friend and I, who had met up the night previous and jokingly decided we should concoct a book of clichéd sayings that riddle every craft fair across the country. But it was all done in good taste and with our tongues somewhere skewed firmly into our cheeks. 
We met for another glass of wine, in the gorgeous Malton Hotel Bar, after the goings on and mulled over ‘what another fine day’ we had done. We laughed and jibed at the same clichéd sayings that were respun across the fair and our same pulled faces looking on willing things would never change. Whatever the draw of the fair is, both the sellers and buyers enjoy, if not for very different reasons. It’s like going home for Christmas….we all fall into our roles and somehow manage to make an annual habit (secretly loving it) but nonetheless, kicking and screaming all the way.
Keep Smiling!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Chickens for the Soul...

“Roads are no place for naive chickens dreaming of nirvana.”

I think on occasion, I have spoken of our friendly chickens, at home on the farm. We have six hens, one rooster and two peacocks. They are a great family addition, not only for their extensive egg production but they are funny. The hens are a positive in the household. They are treated well, are completely free range, allowed to eat grass, flowers, herbs, insects and freely roll around in the turf shed, whenever the dog will allow it. 
It’s heartbreaking when reading about the horrific conditions of battery hens. Well, I was delighted to see my fellow, favourite knitter, Pauline McGlynn doing her part in helping ex-battery hens, find their feet on real ground. Pauline has created a fantastic range of knitted sweaters to hens, who are recuperating and adjusting to life in the real world It’s a wonderful story and so fitting! 

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Half Empty?...

That was one of the virtues of being a pessimist: nothing was ever as bad as you thought it would be.
Now, I don't personally consider myself a pessimist, however, today was a pessimists nightmare. It all started out beautifully with bright sunshine, winter warmth and fallen leaves. There was nothing wrong, the fridge was full and I felt like a good walk in the woods. Cue the change where our unique climate turned and stuck its tongue out and bawled its eyes out leaving things wet, cold and slippery underfoot as I made my way back from my walk. I had found the perfect location for a winter wonderland photo shoot suitable for that next ever optimistic day.
With the rain stopping the photography short, I recalled some images from my collection of baby wear which continue to be a super success and a big ‘yeah’ from all the Alpaca swaddled babies. 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Me, Myself & Why?

“Why was I holding on to something that would never be mine? But isn't that what people do?”

As the door opened, a quick crash, smash and jump backwards happened. I had forgotten that last night, the Iron had fallen sideways, knocking over some glass jars in the opposite side of the press (under-the-sink cupboard where everything goes). That jar, unfortunately, passed to jar heaven, was given as a gift, holding Italian Hot Chocolate made with real chocolate from the cake shop, where the giver, worked. I drank the chocolate and kept the jar. Like almost everything that comes from Italy, this too, was so damn pretty.
Seeking Shade in Chocolate
Now that jar sits in the recycling bin, wrapped in newspaper.

Was I holding onto the jar? ….or the person who gave the jar of hot chocolate? Or was just holding onto the memory. I’m not a hoarder but I have kept obscure items with no rationality. Why keep them? There are photographs of benches, bus tickets from decades ago, and dried flowers. It’s like a network of memories, which keep the person. 

Keeping the memories is important if only to serve one purpose. Remind you who you are? A jar, however, may not be the safest place to hold that thought.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

I still love you Bilbo Baggins...and you, Kili

" I have no use for people who exhibit manners."
Amy Vanderbilt

Finally, I got to watch The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Needless to say, I loved it.  It's story about another world full of strange characters, adventures, lots of running, archery and lots of hair! Not so unlike my own world! Mind fluffy knits and orcs don't really match up. Nevertheless, The Hobbit is a great story, simple and almost childlike, and visually, the film carries itself.

And then there is the cast. Where do I start. Bilbo is still my sworn mate. He would be if I lived an alternate life, born into the world of The Shire, was a shorter lady and talked in a Northern accent. The rest just writes itself.  Despite our compatability, the damn Hobbit keeps strange company and disappears alot. What’s a girl of the Shire to do? Move on, I’d say.
Kili has been described as “reckless” by his mother and god knows that’s always a good chat up line, to get the ladies going his way. It worked for Evangline Lily and it worked for me. It may be out of the frying pan and all that, but still, I only have the attention span of a ...oh, who’s that?

It's not's Kili!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Martin on the Moon

As soon as one promises not to do something, it becomes the one thing above all others that one most wishes to do.
“I will be here a year, from next month”, I said to a colleague, just as a decent pile of folded sweaters tumbled off the edge of the table, onto the floor. “ A year well spent, Isobel”, retorted my colleague, and walked away. While my knitted Rabbits and Beanie Bears do harbour a good chunk of my day, I do also hold a part time, day job. I work in a sweater shop (though not to be mistaken with a sweat shop). Then again…
So this time management, self-analysis, micro magnetic, connecting the dots thing is not a blaring beacon on my radar but, I get there eventually.
My Dream Life
The day usually begins with breakfast and a mouthful of emails. Followed by a cup of tea. Then I check my plan for today, written yesterday and strategically try to follow it, presently. In theory, it all works out brilliantly but in reality a little bit of my life sneaks back in and creates chaos.
Like Mum rings or I ring her. A friend wants to meet up for a chat or it’s like, I don’t care, I’m already there! So, plans get messed up.
What I need is a mindset shift. If I prioritise the fun and scale back the importance of work…ta dah! Would it happen that suddenly the pile of armless teddies would soon be real Teddies? Or would I screw the system and find more loop-holes than a Granny Square? I’ve already answered that question. 

One day.... it will happen!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

It's a Walk in the Park...

“Why was I holding on to something that would never be mine? But isn't that what people do?”

As the door opened, a quick crash, smash and jump backwards happened. I had forgotten that last night, the Iron had fallen sideways, knocking over some glass jars in the opposite side of the press (under-the-sink cupboard where everything goes). The said jar, that this morning, passed to jar heaven, was given as a gift, holding Italian Hot Chocolate made with real chocolate from the cake shop, where the giver, worked. I drank the chocolate and kept the jar. Like almost everything that comes from Italy, this too, was so damn pretty.

Now its sits in the recycling bin, wrapped in newspaper.

Was I holding onto the jar? ….or the person who gave the jar? Or was just holding onto the memory. I’m not a hoarder but I have kept obscure items with no rationality. Why keep them? There are photographs of benches, bus tickets from decades ago, and dried flowers. It’s like a network of memories, which keep the person.
The Self(s) 
I thought this was an interesting take :

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Waiting for my clothes

You never realize how much of your background is sewn into the lining of your clothes.

That scraggy cat from next door has just left and I hadn’t even noticed her enter the room. Her hair is missing in patches and she walks at a tilt. She’s no beauty but apparently, she is loved. Today, at this moment, I look like her. It has been a busy week with tossy nights sleep. I sit in my writing pose....poised sideways, V shaped, across an armchair with legs hoisted up on the couch. I’m dressed in scraggy jumper with parts missing and jogging pants. Minus the jogging.
What she needs

What I need is good. Who cares what you look like when the only pair of eyes looking at you is wearing herself worse than you. We are beyond equal.

So, new attire has been in need for a while. At least for the knitted  Boogle Bunch. There was much talk and kerfuffle regarding the attire worn/ or not by my first samples. A need for clothing was discussed and much chat overheard, generally late at night. It would seem, knitted toys can be just as opinionated as the rest of us. Having taken one look at their creator, heads dropped and were shook slowly, with drawn breaths.
I give up!
Okay, so  how about an Autumnal look for the coming season? You get over Summer pretty quickly when it’s all rain and shuffling around in light jackets. A little taste of what The Boogles can expect....Tah Dah!
I like it! 

Monday, 14 July 2014

Fortunately, The Milk

“If the same object from two different times touches itself, one of two things will happen. Either the Universe will cease to exist. Or three remarkable dwarfs will dance through the streets with flowerpots on their heads.”
I was up early this week. Sleep hasn’t stayed long enough over one evening so it’s just been a lumped together, week. A friend has recently given birth to her beautiful new baby and I got the chance to hold her. The baby. I almost fell in love with her. Said friend is getting very little sleep and hasn’t heard the pop of a bottle of wine opening, since...sometime ago. I think her sleep patterns are catching on though. In fairness, all I had to show for my wine sabbatical and red eyes was a two day visit to Limerick Milk Market. It was worth it.
Alpaca Doughnut Balls
Day 1: I don’t make it to Limerick often so, naturally, I got lost. I drove around the city, early morning, meeting and greeting every red traffic light with a frustrated grunt. I saw parts of the city I honestly didn’t know existed, and it was great. It almost felt like being abroad!

Finally, I set eyes on the elusive white peak of the Milk Market roof. Whoa! A near accidental collison with a white van later, I gratefully unload the car, thinking there has to be better ways of making money.
Home, Sweet, Sweet Home...
Day 2: I got lost. Well with even less sleep and an earlier start losing my way was inevitable. This day was even busier, bustlier and more foodie. My eyes watered, my stomach panged and a decent chocolate croissant was badly needed. And a coffee, some cheese tasting, a quick scoot around the plant section, oh the Falafelle dinner a couple of stalls down, some cake tasting and a big bottle of water. With food time over, the business of the day got on way. 
Jule & Jim

Until the next visit......
It was a beautiful day....

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Summer I turned pretty...freckly!

The most certain sign of wisdom is cheerfulness.

The sun has been making its unusual aquaintance with us again this summer, which by my humble opinion, is good.

What better way to spend a summery weekend in June….a Flower Festival!

An early arrival was still late by others standards, as stalls were busily being erected, paintings were hung, ducks ushered in and food stalls were set up.

I dropped a couple of boxes, a folding table and a big bottle of water under a tree while I found a suitable parking spot.

The crowds rolled in, late morning as the smell of freshly cooked food welled in the woody park. A guy in stilts walked past, several times, each time giving the same cheery ‘hello’, with waving hands. I slip on the sunglasses and suddenly my phone seems awful interesting. A unicycle performers rides up and down the pathways, pushing the segmented front half of a bike, completely in tandem with the atmosphere of the day.
The dog show draws a lot of well-groomed dogs whose hair is better kept than my own. There is a puppet show further down the park while the stilted guy passes again with the same cheery hello. I smile, again.

So, great summers leads to warmth and opens rural communities to a hive of outdoor activities. Long live summer.

And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

Sunday, 25 May 2014

The Winner takes it all...even the insults!

“The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That's real glory. Thats the essence of it.”

This week, I won. Yeh! I won tickets, through a radio station competition, for a Jack White gig this summer. As I’m a massive fan, clearly, I was lifted. That lift was weighed down somewhat, by the fact the radio producer, mistook me for an apparent ‘stalker’ type lady who has been harassing him for alt tickets. Wrong gig, Ed and wrong girl! Oh, but how we laughed!

So, maybe winning isn’t everything. Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose. It’s not the destination but the journey… blady, blady, blah blah.

So, this week, I am not winning but taking part in two major events, in Kerry. Listowel Writers Week will resume its’ beautiful assault on Listowel town from this Thursday. WW is fantastic. Not only a great socializing event, it houses storytellers, poets, drunks, craic, crafters and a couple of writers. I have been to see many great speakers such as Richard Dawkins, who intelligence far by-passed his audience but still managed to remain intriguing. Alain de Botton was witt, light and sharp as a tack. David Sedaris, won of my favourites was speaking in St John’s theatre sometime before or after the stage play Carnage. As the latest addition to Listowel, the Craftshop na Mear, will also be hosting events throughout the week. I will be there.

Killorglin is home to KFest, Munsters newest cultural fringe festival. This will be taking place over the weekend. As I’m a newbie, I don’t know what to expect. It looks like a whole lot of good so a win win situation.

So a busy week for all involved in these two gems. Long may they continue to transfuse rich culture and a bit of fun into rural Ireland.  

Monday, 5 May 2014

Fear & Trembling

“Bran thought about it. 'Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?'
'That is the only time a man can be brave,' his father told him.”

What is it? The one thing that makes you quiver, wretch, draws pill sized goosepimples up on your skin, just at a thought or memory? There is the dreadful Spider family, the shimmering Heights at the top of a ladder or the slither of a cold hypodermic Needle into the arm. Ouch! My personal best is Agoraphobia which is defined in medical terms as: “The fear of situations in which escape is difficult.” I prefer this to a fear of going outside as I regulary go outside and find I have no fear at all. In fact, I quite enjoy the experience of engaging in a varying environments. The problem develops when I am unable to leave!
The dentist has particular control on creating this fear. Not only do you know you have to go, but when you get there, you can’t leave. A visit to the dentist is prolonged torture. The build up to what you can expect, the percieved sinister smile when you enter the surgery and their abiltiy to jam as many metal objects into your mouth as possible. While this is happening, they usually start up a lively converstion asking if you feel any pain! Please, take a snapshot....
The Far Side
Sometimes, I feel similar pain while working. The fear of facing my bank balance, the paper work my accountant insisted I should organise, the fear of the unknown each time I lift the needles and begin. What should emerge, what will emerge. A little bit of’s hoping. Working creatively is liberating, captivating but also incarcerating. You are confined and let loose at the same time. It makes the journey all the sweeter and more enjoyable but like all sweets, that trip to the dentist will ensue!
Thankfully, the apprenhension of fear is all in your head. Stay sane, stay knitting...and stay hungry. Thanks Steve, for that one.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Art of Travel

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.
A couple of weeks ago, I was in Milan. I’m not entirely sure how I ended up there or why, nevertheless, I was jolted awake by the drop of airplane wheels on tarmac and thought “oh s**t. It wasn’t a dream!” It was an impulse decision.

Milan was great. Although, the airport itself seemed to have been designed specifically for a Ryanair flight: as it’s own website states “..the added beauty is that it not only offers accessibility to….Italy but also in several other countries too!” Out of town then. The trip, in fairness, was easy and reasonably priced. Milan itself is a good looking city filled with stunning architecture, mouthwatering shops and people who look like life on the lens is the only way to live. Italians are the best at looking good. They don’t walk, they saunter. They seem to effortlessly exude sex appeal and confidence while not showing the slightest amount of self-consciousness. I love Italy.

So while on my two-day exile, I had time to spend seeking answers. Why am I here? What is my purpose? How much are those shoes?

It all made sense on my journey home. The plane was filled with Italian teenagers, effortlessly wearing pit black sunglasses onboard. The flight was turbulent and messy. There were bad smells, stomach-churning rifts and endless hopeful sales pitches for tea/coffee, perfumes and oversized chocolate bars. The young couple sitting beside me, continuously took photos of the airplane wing, throughout the flight, while I sat at the window seat.

The plane, finally dropped from the sky with a thud. As the door opened, an artic wind blew, rain pelted our faces and I knew... I was home. 

Sunday, 6 April 2014

How to save your life...

“Don't run away.
I’m not running away. I’m already gone.”
While passing some time with a couple of friends, recently, that old chestnut, re the role of men and women in modern society and relationships, popped up. The general consensus was, neither sexes still understand each other and what we want seems all a bit muddled.
I’m a wee bit of a commitment-phobe. Well, I spend far too much time thinking about the possible scenarios that may happen during the initial stages of a relationship. Like all the work that may be involved and thus, missing the point of the true value of  sticking with something/ someone.
While my love stands before me, looking slightly perplexed, I sense a question coming into his head. As I run for the door, believing his best intentions are chasing me down, he calls after, “I was only asking about the soccer scores!”. I’ve made my bed, slept in it, leapt out early morning to escape the possibility of “happy ever after”. It's all pointless. It's like beginning a race and half-way through, running back to the start line.
My perfect mate may well be the archetypal cave man. He has no time to sit around allowing me time to think, “is this right?”. Instead of waiting for me to come back to earth, he gives one sharp tap over the head with his club and proceeds to drag his new love away to his cave. Sometime later, I wake up. My eyes adjust to the semi darkness, shoulders drop, I sigh heavily. I start to think. How the hell I am going to improve this place?
A little something for the procrastinator in you….