Sunday, 23 October 2011

Work interrupting reverie.........and things breaking down!

I've been busy this past week working on a tender for a possible contract lots of effort and time goes into these things with rewards coming thin on the ground - still needs must when the devil drives and I'd be bored without some work coming in not say poorer.

The pressure of deadlines - and do printers 'know' when a deadline is lurking?   I'm sure that the printer gremlin was at work when my printer decided not to speak to my computer; to chew up paper and not spit it out; finally refusing to switch on at all.   Nothing for it but to check how cheaply I could get a new one.

Having said that I did manage to escape to the hills on Wednesday the only good weather day this past week.   Just an hour north of where I live there was snow on the tops!!!  

Picture taken on smartphone except I'm not smart enough to transfer it to PC yet as the smartphone software on my PC tells me it doesn't recognise my phone!   Stupid machine and why are they programmed to state the obvious or worse still try and second guess you when you create a document - no I am not writing a letter and yes I'm sure I want to delete this!!   Rant; rant.

In between thinking about the work deadline I'm getting ready for my granddaughter to visit next week - only one more sleep.   Don't know who is more excited!  

What happened yesterday - my sky box dies.   Thankfully engineer coming on Monday morning to fix as can't be without favourites like Peppa Pig and Dora the Explorer which are part of the night time ritual before book reading.  

In preparation - just to keep the Scottish / Irish roots alive for my Scottish/English granddaughter I'm going to introduce her to the 'Katie Morag' books by Mairi Hedderwick.   Katie lives on the Isle of Struay.

A fun packed week will be in store with promises having been made to explore rockpools; do some baking; visit a 'secret forest'; go on a ferry - lets hope I can keep up!

This morning I passed one of my neighbours as I was taking my broken printer to the garage for storing until I can get to recycle it.   Bemoaning my two broken pieces of electrical equipment Eddie advised me to 'break a match' which would then be the 3rd thing.   Why wait when you can take charge - so I did.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Feather Quills - the only way to learn to knit

When I was at primary school around 7 years old we were asked who in the class could knit.  There were only two of us who could and this is the story of how I learned.
My Aunt Catherine taught me to knit during one summer on holiday in Cruit Island, Donegal.   Catherine was my Dad’s sister and she lived on the farm looking after my Grandfather and doing all the usual tasks like feeding chickens etc.   During the summer the house was always busy because other uncles and aunts would come back and visit especially to help on the farm taking in the hay; tending to the cows, gathering crops or fixing up the house.   One year my uncle Dominick caught this huge salmon which was the first time I had ever seen and tasted salmon.   I remember it being divided up so that it could be shared with everyone and the feast enjoyed - with potatoes of course!
Anyway back to the knitting.   Catherine was a professional knitter; big boxes of wool would arrive which she would turn into jumpers, cardigans and shawls which were then posted off.   The type of knitting Catherine did was of course Aran knitting and some of the names of the stitches I remember her telling me about were blackberry stitch; the diamond pattern; cable and moss stitches.   
I must have pestered her about learning or more likely she tried to keep me still and in the one place.
At that time in the late 1950’s the knitting needles were made of steel or some other metal because I remember the clicking noise they made as Catherine knitted away.   I’m sure she didn’t trust me with the real thing and not surprising since I would have only been 5/6 years old.  
Catherine made knitting needles for me from stripping the long tail feathers from the Rooster – I’m sure he was not best pleased with losing a couple of his tail feathers.   The feathers were stripped back leaving the white quill.   These were to be my knitting needles.  
I have shared this story before with friends and always get a quizzical look and I'm sure that using quills was the way Catherine was taught and so this was the method she passed on to me.
I can’t remember the trial and error of learning to knit and I’m sure there must have been some – either it was something I just ‘took to’ or Catherine was a really good teacher.  
Catherine never used a knitting pattern and had a great knack of just looking at someone and knowing what size to make the jumper or cardigan.    In fact many years later when my own daughter was about 2 years old I sent up to date pictures over to her and she presented me with a beautiful cardigan which fitted perfectly.
So when it came to that day in school – imagine my disappointment when the first thing we knitted in class was a dishcloth out of some grey material which was not even wool.
Now – to answer your question do I still knit?  
Well I still have my knitting needles (you'll be pleased to read that I've graduated to using the real thing) and have knitted for friends and family when the mood takes me.   I did lots of knitting when my children were small and knitted for my nephews when they were growing up.   Yes I love Aran knitting however I follow patterns and for me it’s a winter pastime which means the time is now right for passing this skill on to my own grand-daughter.    With quills or not with quills - that is the question???