More Yarn Will Do The Trick

Wednesday, 31 October 2012


Was so looking forward to our Greek holiday, a chance to relax and wind down after a hectic year. But best laid plans and all that...
We set out for Manchester Airport at 3am to get our 6.30am flight to Athens, having had little or no sleep, but the adrenalin was high and we were in good spirits.  Flight full but on time,  we settled down for four hours of idling away the time snoozing and scanning the paper.

About an hour into the flight I noticed P was looking very grey and unwell and asked if he was OK.  The reply was Don't speak to me or touch me, I feel awful.  Not his usual response so I felt slightly concerned, then the steward passed by and spotted P and asked if there was anything he could do. Water and a high-sugar drink were brought as they thought it could be low blood sugar, but by that time P was too ill to drink either.

He subsequently started to shiver violently, went completely grey with cold sweat pouring from his face, eyes rolling, then completely blacked out. He was sitting bolt upright with no movement whatsoever and the steward was looking at me as if to say Has he died? I was shaking him and trying to wake him up calling his name and getting more and more anxious by the second, then I slapped his face (a gentle slap I might add) and he woke up.  Highly relieved, he seemed to be much better but still not very responsive, then a few moments later it all happened again.  This time the blackout was shorter and the whole episode can't have lasted longer than three minutes but it was all very scary - when someone is icy cold and unconscious it seems like a lifetime. A call went out on the tannoy asking if there was a medical doctor on board.  A kind young man stepped forward but said he couldn't do anything as Easy Jet don't carry any medical equipment other than two canisters of oxygen!

After P came round the second time he seemed better, but didn't know anything about passing out. P was given a canister of oxygen and the head steward went to talk to the captain. He came back with the shocking news that the plane was being diverted to Munich, where an ambulance and paramedics would be waiting.  By this time the oxygen was having an effect and P was getting stronger by the second and he started to argue there was no need for a diversion. Too late, air traffic control had been alerted and we were on course for Munich. 
Walking with John in the mountains
Paramedics were brought on and although they couldn't find anything wrong they said he needed to go to the hospital and have a CT scan and blood tests. P insisted adamantly that he was now fine to fly on and appealed to the captain, who said ok with the proviso that he signed a waiver, absolving Easy Jet of any responsibility.  P was happy to do that and we settled back down into our seats waiting for take-off.  Another tap on the shoulder from the steward, asking P to go to the cockpit again and P returned with the news that head office refused to allow us to fly on. By this time I'd had enough and was on the verge of tears, but I swallowed hard, bit my lip and did my best to be stoic as we were escorted off the plane. While they looked for our luggage the head steward was very helpful, telling us to go to the Easy Jet desk first to find out about flights and then to go to the airport clinic.  He told us that before P would be allowed to fly with Easy Jet again he had to get a fitness-to-fly certificate.
Local cats on hot car roof
We subsequently found ourselves wandering around Munich Airport in a bit of a daze, which by the way, is not a bad place to be if you get thrown off a flight - clean, airy, bright, decent food, they know how to do it in Germany. Eventually we found the Easy Jet desk and it took a while before it slowly dawned on us that they don't fly to Athens from Munich. Screeeeeeeeam!  
Lovely local with the pattern in her head and hands
By then thoroughly dejected, angry and confused, I suggested we go to the airport clinic which I'd seen on our travels, so we could try to get the fit-to-fly documentation. The doctor was the main one we'd seen on the plane and was very surprised to see us as she had thought they were allowing us to fly on and remarked it was all bullshit. After some basic medical tests, she gave P the required piece of paper with the warning that it was only for that day.
There were some good times...
After much deliberation - shall we go on, shall we get a hotel, neither of us really knew what we wanted to do except wipe the date off the calendar in future years -  we eventually decided to continue our journey and get an onward Lufthansa flight at 340 Euros each. By this time we just didn't care, crossed our fingers and hoped the insurance would cover it.
Does yarn come in this colour?
We arrived in Athens seven hours late but managed to pick up our hire car and drive the four hour journey to Kalamata, as we felt we wanted to put an end to this whole episode in one go.  The thought of getting up the next day and having to drive on was even more alarming than driving in the dark on the other side of the road!  We had the backup plan that if we got too tired we'd find a hotel on the way. As it happened the road was empty and we mercifully had an uneventful trip, arriving around midnight, unable to sleep straight away as the adrenalin was still pumping.  When we did manage to get into bed we slept round the clock.
Just to prove P seems perfectly OK now
Two weeks later, we were again slightly nervous when we fetched up at Athens airport, in case EasyJet decided they weren't going to allow P to fly back to the UK without yet another exam. However, thankfully this didn't happen and we had an smooth trip back. Phew!
Rainbow entering Verga, Peloponnese
Greece was lovely as ever - people, landscapes, food, music, cats. It was good to reconnect with locals we first met many years ago and to hang out a little with the expat community, as we were staying in a friend's home. 

Only blot on the landscape was the mosquitoes and midges, for whom I was fine dining.  I immediately acquired 40+ bites on my feet alone, then they must have decided to invite their friends and familes and I ended up looking like an oozing pincushion, applying cortisone, anti-histamine, and the most horrible chemical repellants in the constant battle to keep them at bay. As it's the ph in the skin which determines whether or not you get bitten, I was also applying vinegar, salt and garlic to my skin - P commented I had the aroma of a walking fish and chip shop!
Ruin in Kardamili Old Town
Feels great to get my spotty feet back under the kitchen table - even the imminent deadline for next book doesn't seem so bad! 

Monday, 8 October 2012

Rosleague Shawlette

First of all I'd like to resolve the winner of the Classic Woolly Toppers hardcopy. After notifying the first choice last week, with a request for her address, I've heard nothing, so have picked a second chance winner.  Many congrats to Sally BC, if you could please email me your contact details, this dream collection for hat-lover's will be winging its way to you.
Rosleague urn
I've just spent the past two weeks in Ireland, hosting our Knit Ireland tour for twenty-five lovely guests. I always try to focus on one piece of knitting while I'm away and so, knowing that space and weight was at a premium, I chose this gorgeous cobweb lace yarn - 50% baby suri alpaca, 30% mohair and 20% silk.  I bought the yarn on our last tour in May at a mill in the Dales and have had it sitting in my studio asking to be knit ever since.
Natural Born Dyers cobweb lace yarn
The first few days of a tour are always hectic so by the time we'd travelled through the Burren and visited Galway and Inis Oirr, one of the Aran Islands, I still hadn't managed to cast on.  So by the time we reached Letterfrack in Connemara and settled into the beautiful Rosleague Manor that was to be our home for the next few days, I was determined to make a start. 
In The Swirl workshop
The morning after our arrival I was teaching a workshop called In The Swirl - the basics of swirl knitting.  Previously, when I picked out the yarn, I'd thought how lovely it would be to design a swirl shawl. Perhaps I needed that extra bit of impetus and the buzz in the workshop provided just that, so in the afternoon I got stuck in and started what turned out to be a very interesting and enjoyable knit. 
First few rows of my swirl shawl
Everyone worked hard in the workshop producing many lovely medallions, with the resident dog, Reuben, amusing us and keeping us company.
What a handsome workshop model!
Workshop in the orangery
Rosleague Manor, a lovely pink-washed Regency house overlooking the tidal inlet of Ballinakill Bay, was the perfect place to wind down after several exciting days on the move. Standing in its own 30 acre woodland garden, planted with rare shrubs and plants, the whole Rosleague ethos is a haven of cosy tranquility.  Many of our guests commented that they felt a deep sense of peace and relaxation there, and certainly from my very first visit, I felt there was no better place to recharge the soul.

View from Rosleague over the inlet
Indeed, we had such a fabulous time hanging out in this gracious old house, that I decided to call my shawl the Rosleague Shawl. Most of the knitting was done on the bus on our travels around Ireland, from the west coast to Dublin, then down to Killarney and around the Dingle. I was pleased when I realised I'd be able to finish it off at Shannon Airport, on our long wait for our evening flight, so I'm proudly able to say it was knit in Ireland - even though the finishing was done back home. I have to add I don't consider this to be my best piece of knitting ever, as I had lots of other things on my mind during the knitting, but I'm trying not to be bothered by the mistakes and see its flawed beauty as a bonus. 
Finishing the shawl the day after we arrived home
I decided to finish the shawl with turquoise beads to match the garden urns with the fairies above, and work a crocheted shell stitch across the bottom for those little beauties on the beach just up the road.  

During the Swirl workshop I mentioned to everyone that I would be giving them the pattern of the swirl beret that's featured in my next book, Sweet Little Gifts.  That afternoon I tried, with the help of Loretta at Rosleague, to print out the pattern.  Unfortunately this was not to be as the file was ginormous and the printer would not play ball.  Kismet! On mentioning it to Philip he told me it was 
probably not a good idea anyway as I was sure to breach copyright issues with my publisher. Phew, am I grateful to that printer for letting me down! However, to make up for this, I planned to write the pattern for the swirl shawl and make it a gift to each of our guests.
So as soon as it was finished I did a critical assessment of the piece and then wrote a pattern for the revised, hopefully perfect swirl shawl - rather than my peppered-with-small-mistakes version.

Back view tied in the middle
When I looked at ways of wearing it, it turned out to be quite versatile as it works well worn in the conventional way tied at the front, but also great worn from side to side and tied at the shoulder.

Worn in a swirl
But the way I like to wear my Rosleague Shawl is to swirl it around my body in a comforting cocoon, making me feel I'm back at Rosleague Manor, enjoying the warmth and charm of this colourful and friendly place - a hotel with a heart.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Knit Ireland photo essay

Today I'm delighted to announce the lucky recipients of Woolly Wormhead's Classic Woolly Toppers.  Many congrats to Kiki who has won the hard copy (could you please email me your contact details before Saturday 6th, when the prize goes to the reserve winner?) and to Debbie, who'll be receiving the ebook in her Ravelry library shortly. Enjoy! The numbers were picked by a non-knitting guest on our Knit Ireland tour. The absolute favourite was Sumner, followed closely by the Camden cap, with the beautiful Ravine coming in third. Many thanks to everyone who entered the draw.
Camden Cap
You may have noticed I haven't been very active on the blog recently, mainly because for the past ten days we've been travelling around Ireland with a bunch of twenty-five lovely people. The tour ends on Friday, but meanwhile as I'm strapped for time, I'll post a couple of photo essays to give you a flavour of some of the things we've been up to.

Lisdoonvarna & the Burren
Cliffs of Moher
Matchmaking Festival at Lisdoonvarna
Harebells in the grykes
Wild flowers in the Burren

Poulnabrone dolman
Druid at the dolman


Guinness delivery
Ard Bia restaurant
Nimmo's Bar
Ard Bia bread
Music shop
Galway pub

Spanish Arch
O'Maille's - first shop to import sweaters from the Aran islands

With Edward Wilde

 Aran Islands - Inis Oirr
Arriving at Inis Oirr
Our island transport
Heath the horse whisperer
Island home

Local shop
Workshop with Una McDonagh

The Plassey, wrecked in 1960, crew of eleven saved by islanders

On the quayside contemplating the gale before we leave

Boarding the ferry after a fabulous day
Just realised it's late and we have to be up early in the morning, so will post more pics anon.
Night night...