Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Putting myself out there.

A few weeks ago I happened into a curtain/ knitting shop in Ennis. After talking to the shop keeper and browsing the collections of both curtains and yarn, I enquired after the lace curtains. She also let me know there was a knitting group twice a week. She handed me a few cards with info on it and I took it home, placing it on a window sill to rest for a few weeks. Almost forgetting about it. Then, this past Sunday, I remembered that it was almost Tuesday when one of the knitting groups happen. I mentioned it to Jubal that I'd like to go and he said of course. I was thoughtful about the fact that joining up with a group of people I didn't know did not fill me with anxiety. I have been to enough knitting and spinning circles to know in general what to expect and in the past the idea of doing something like this would have taken a lot more than someone I didn't know suggest I try it. For some reason, I like to really stew over things. And in doing so, I talk myself of out trying all kind of things. In general I talk myself out of taking risks with people I don't know such as putting myself out there. For reason, over the last several years I've been collecting this shell around me in order to protect me from getting hurt. I became so fixated on "getting hurt" and being wronged that I think at times it's kept me from seeing when I wasn't getting hurt AND when to stand up and say what I wanted. Sigh. More on all that later. But, being here, in Ireland, with my new husband, my other half, I've been noticing some really interesting changes in myself. I'm more decisive, articulate, I'm trying harder and more  consciously to make positive choices. Especially when it feels really hard to do so. Anyway, getting to this knitting group was something I did that I was proud of. It was a lovely 2 hours or opening up a little to 6 other women, engaging with them on their projects, listening to their conversations about their children and projects. Fascinating conversations. I helped a lady finish the toe of her sock. Actually it went like this: Irish Lady, "does anyone know what I do next? I finished the other one but someone else finished the toe for me." Me: "I can show you." She was so happy and ran over to where I sat. I pulled out my scissors and tapestry needle and started to show her, I did two stitches and then said, "so thats what you do. You just knit here and purl there until your done." "Oh! can you keep showing me?" and then she laughs with a twinkle in her eye for I then realize what she has in her mind. She wants me to do it for her:) I do happily and she is very grateful. I plan on and look forward to going back next Tuesday. I felt so good when we got home. Energized with a momentum. Later in the day I called one of my dear friends and hashed out some future plans and I felt so good and blessed for having the ability to reach out to others to connect, for whatever reason. As my friend said over the phone, "See! talking is GOOD!" 
Opening ourselves up to others, even our own family members can be really difficult at times. We spend a life time working so hard building a shell of protection and self preservation both because of past experiences and the what ifs of the future. I know for myself, it can limit just how happy and how much I could shine when I hold onto my shell and not let others in. I've been slowly figuring out that through my craft, it's self, helps me to connect with others. More on this very soon <3

Some things I've been up to here at our cottage with the red door in Doonagore Village; lichens.

Last weekend while at the Giant's Causeway, I came across several boulders by the sea with this yellow lichen in the crevices and the green lichen sticking off the rocks. I collected just a small hand full of each leaving plenty behind. I stuffed each kind in the pockets of my trousers and sort of forgot and it for 3 days. After wearing them the next time and finding the lichen pocking me through my pocket, I folded each into its own napkin. Yesterday I began the fermenting process for these two. I was able to identify each which I will post later in the comments.

Here the jars just after being set up with the 1:2 solution of ammonia to water.  

30 minutes later, this happened.

The two jars on the left are the newer ones, the two on the right have been going for 3 weeks. I read today in a blog that by opening them and letting oxygen get in was good for deepening the colors in addition to shaking the jars. 

While at the natural dye workshop this past weekend with Kathleen, we dyed samples of wool skeins and cotton calico cloth. I had to ask what calico cloth was. Even though I was holding it in my hand, I had no idea and was confused as I had always understood it to be something else- a print. I learned that calico was simply the basic weave of a cloth. Cloth that was mor common before 1960?? I should look this up because I'm very curious now. While in the knitting shop today, I could not resist choosing a "few" colors to bring home to try on my dyed swatches. It really brought me back to when I would pay .25c for a skein of embroidery thread at the Grand City on Maine Street in Brunswick. I would spend summer days with a safety pin affixed to the knee of my pants of shorts and tie knot after knot forming rows of rainbows into a bracelet for one of my sisters or friends. Picking out the colors was especially fun and felt like such a luxury.  

I have always been inspired by stitching, embroidery, tapestry, and anything to do with threads. It's so beautiful  to me and I will break for thrift shops just to dig around for a discarded piece of hand embroidered linen. It's only accorded to me recently that I needed to make my own. Using my own doodles and botanical themes, it feels awfully freeing to DO something that I've admired for so long like make my own embellishments on my clothes, and scraps of cloth here and there. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Monday in Ennistymon

I love this town. One might not think there is a lot happening but it's not really sleepy either. There is just something about it that whenever we venture this way for the post, milk, our beloved crepes, or the hardware store, I just feel uplifted and inspired. Maybe because it's just the right around of busy. 

Jubal and I had a great plan today. We went for our morning walk and then were going to go to Ennistymon for crepes, and a few errands. At my father's request I'm attempting to research where the wheat comes from here. I planned on going to Unglert's Bakery to enquire about this but they are closed on Mondays. I was going to go to the charity shop, but they are also closed on Mondays. So instead I walked around a bit enjoying the sun and soaking up all the colors and textures. :)
Instead of our crepes, we settled for the hotel on the corner, Byrn's. I had the cannenoli special and it.was.so.good. 

I left a happy and content Jubal to read his book as I strolled around.
This yellow and green I found in a alley really struck me. A narrow passage walking down to the river. I love finding colors in otherwise unseen crevices.

I'm not 100% sure but I think this is the flag for County Clare. The spirit of the different counties around the country is fascinating to me. It reminds me of the kind of school spirit schools used to have when I was very young and before. 

This velvety purple was just too irresistible to not photograph. And I love that I didn't have to do any color enhancing (which I love to do- but I know when to leave well enough along).

This garden center is out behind the hardware store. It just goes on and on. Really enjoyed looking around in here.

As I walked through the garden center, I found myself contemplating and entertaining the idea of Jubal and I moving to Ireland or at least living here more often as we have been doing. It's OH SO TEMPTING. But- there are a few super important things right now that keep us in the states. Our families and the difference in the cost of living. In Ireland, it's a bit more than the states. But if we had to, we could do it happily and with hopes our family would want to come visit:) 

And speaking of family, I took this picture me da. (That was Irish for my dad) what? I can't help it, the various local vernaculars are really seeping in my mind and heat. Especially after I spend a bit of time with my friend Cáit in Dublin, all the talk in my mind after that takes on a much softer rounded ending to each word. 

I watched this guy go back and forth into the butcher shop with a pig or a side of beef over his shoulder. It was fascinating to me!! An older man walked up to me and said in a sly and humorous tone, "if you have a saw, we could nip off a piece each and have ourselves a nice dinner." Us accent was thick and fast I had to ask the poor guy three times what he said. Then I just laughed and said, "no, we can just lift it off the hook and take it away!" 

I enjoy finding breaks in the walls with a little gate. These little passage ways offer a view into someone's garden of church yard or who knows what!

The parking garage under the Supervalue market. Why don't we have this in the states? Or do we and it just hasn't reached southern Maine? That I've noticed anyway. There is a lot here that I see, systems like this and accommodations a for others that we just don't have. 

As we drove from Northern Ireland into the Republic, we didn't know for a few minutes if we had crossed over. Now, this picture is not from Northern Ireland but just down the road. But how we figured it out which end we were at was when we saw the road signs. In the Republic of Ireland, all road signs are in the Irish and England, in Northern Ireland the signs only in English. 

Cannot ever resist the urge to take photos of sheep. This I think is my favorite yet. 

Now normally I crop out the car's edges when I take photos from the car (as Jubal is driving). But this one I just found too interesting. Jubal's glasses are reflecting the clouds. The rear view mirror has a sliver of pink from a shop front behind us. And this stone building with the green trim has a painted scene of a window. It's old and decrepit. And interesting. 

I took this photo mainly for what I saw peeking atop and behind the buildings. Forming kind of a lacy effect. You can't really see it now but the way the Celtic crosses where peeking out was such an interesting contrast to the long smooth rooftops in the fore ground. But mainly because I really enjoy seeing a layering of landscape. Land above the rooftops.

View of the cascades from where we ate lunch. It's actually the River Inagh.

In many households we can see these lace curtains from the outside. They are so beautiful to me as I am so found of lace anything. 14 years ago I found a hole in the wall shop in Galway City, about an hour and half from Doolin- north. This shop was an antique shop and had shelves upon shelves of vintage and antique curtains. I did buy one for £8 way back then and it's hanging in our upstairs hall window. I tried finding it again the first time we got to Galway but no such luck. I asked around and no one had heard of it. I then went to a familiar shop that was still open from "my time before" where they did sell "antique" ones. But they were €70 at least for one panel. Yikes!! Oh well, guess we will not be outfitting our home with these, hahaha! But then luck found me twice in a more practical way. While in a charity shop near the Northern boarder in Co. Donegal, I found both a lace curtain and a hand embroidered piece of linen for €1.50 (!!!!!!!!!!!) yes, I know where to find the good stuff. I also found a shop in Ennis that will cut you the length you want of whatever lace they have for curtains and they charge about €4-7 a panel. Not antique but it does not matter. They are so beautiful and we look forward to getting just a few:) 

When I see these heavy machinery vehicles, I think of my nephew, Abel. I keep snapping pictures of them when ever I can just for him. I'm sure he can straighten me out and tell me what they are. 

Rooftops and dandelions.

I loved finding this little spot behind the bakery down the yellow lane. 


I've also been collecting pics of doors. I only cropped out the other stuff and straightened the photo but I left the color as is.
I found these two egg shells on our morning walk today. Such a rare finding and such beautiful and delict colors. 

Being here for this as long as we have been, has helped me to decompress in a way I knew I needed and longed for but also in a way I didn't expect. Just changing our routine, my routine even has helped me to see things again in a way I've missed and in ways I haven't before. Walking around in either a new place or a familiar place can hold so many visual treasures. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Knee deep

It's been a while, sorry! We've been busy doin' stuff though like driving around and exploring and planning side trips. This past week we did our biggest one yet, 6 whole days east north and west plus an extra unplanned spontaneous day so I could attend a natural dye class. It was really wonderful to come to our little haven atop the bog and chill. Today we took a walk down the road with plastic bags for filling with road side trash (because it just hurts to see litter in such a beautiful place) and me with my spindle. I really enjoy walking wile using my drop spindle. It's both meditative and I'm multitasking! 

I had a lot of fun taking these pictures in Dublin. I especially love taking pictures of every day sort of things like fruit stalls and butcher shops. I've often contemplated the fact that I am a meat eater. I have thought of what it might be like to go vegetarian and lots of lively discussions with my vegetarian friends. For me it's really simple. I love meat. I do my best to make an effort to know where it comes from, which is really important for all the food I eat. Anyway, I really took this picture for my dad. We love talking about meat and how to cook it. 

Walking through this hall in the Long Room at Trinity College is treat (when it's not over crowded with other tourists that is) I've always found these shells just stunning even though I have no idea what these books are. Just love to look at the shelves. 

Jubal and I outside Trinity College. A rare shot as we are seldom with other people. Here on the other side of the camera is my dear friend Cáit and her husband Rob. We spent the day touring Trinity, the Guinness store house and then Howth. Two newly married couple we are:)

A collection of various Guinness bottles over the years.

I found this really fascinating. The lease to the building and property which the building sits on. Under glass, in the floor. Sir Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease. Very clever man. 
I loved this bit; at the end of the tour you get a free Guinness. You can have it in the sky bar at the top where you get a 360 degree view of Dublin. Or, you can learn to pour your own, which Jubal took advantage of. He's a natural!

Howth was really beautiful and a wonderful end to our day. 

With the rest of the time we spent in Dublin, it was so full or rich color, and interesting things around every corner. One of my favorite moments was when we located This Is Knit in Powerscourt. Such a fantastic knitting store. The lady who helped me was so sweet and kind, the selection was amazing and I was just in heaven. I was really good though and only bought two tiny balls of this 100% Shetland yarn in dark green and light pink. Trying a new yarn rule- (they change all the time!!) the price was so good I was obviously moved to get a smidgen. But I had no idea what to make with it so I only got a little bit so I could experiment with it. Also, I can order more if I decide on a sweater or something crazy like that. 

Our Dublin trip came to a close with out sadness because we have plans in the making to go back to stay with Cáit and Rob in a few weeks. More Indian and Jameson & gingers in my future with great company!

We headed up to Belfast and stopped in for a few hours to see another old friend, Nigel. I hadn't seen Nigel or been to Belfast in 14 years. 
In front of city hall is a Titanic memorial. 

I really loved these rich brick buildings. No idea what it is though. 

More of city hall. Really a huge expansive building! 

After the 3 of us had lunch and caught up, Nigel took up to the top of this building, a mall (one of the nicest malls I've been in) for a view of Belfast. 

We the drove to another part of the city to view the site where the Titanic was built. An area that has just recently opened to the public. Nigel was telling us that it has always been closed off. There is a good size museum here now that is brand new too. We did not partake as we didn't have quite enough time but it would be interesting to visit it someday. 

We drove on up to Bushmills for the next two nights and stayed at a very nice B&B, Sea View. The bed was Oh-So-Comfortable. Like a nest that hugged me. 

The ever famous Giant's Causeway. 

We walked this path up to the far end where you can't see the path any more and then up to where I took the picture from. I had forgotten how much walking was involved and by the end, my back of my poor knees where so unhappy with me. 

These stones configurations are just fascinating to me. We did the super touristy thing and opted for guide material as we walked. I had a phone like thing that told me a story at each point which was really cool and Jubal had a book which he loved because he's such an avid reader. We were both very happy with our materials as we ambled along oohing and awing at the landscape. 

We also visited the Carrick Rope Bridge. After visiting this place with Nigel, Cáit and other friends 14 years ago, I painted my largest oil painting that hangs now in our living room. It's a scene of the the far side of the bridge but looking back. I was really looking forward to going back to that spot again and laying in the grass to contemplate the meaning of life. But when we reached that point in the path, it was blocked off to protect nature. It made my past experience of being there all the more powerful in my memory. 

What a day that was! We were wind burned I think and for the first time in a very long time, I took a nap in the middle of the afternoon. Felt so good.

We carried on to Donegal and stayed at another very nice B&B with another very nice bed. Slept so good!

We visited Studio Donegal where they weave fabric for blankets, suits, and upholstery. We went up stairs to the work room and chatted with a man who has been weaving since the 70's. We were in awe of the workspace and where just tickled that we could be present while these wonderful fabrics where being produced. Much to my delight there was a box full of woven scraps for sale by the kilo. I got myself €6 worth of fabric, and 4 balls of 100% kid mohair grown and spun in Co. Down for €4 ea and was just happier than a bird with a french fry. 

We made our way north to our B&B and had a fun time walking around the curved street in Adara where we found this weaving shop. We had been considering stopping at the Studio Donegal again to pick out a blanket, but when we met Eddie and had such a nice chat about all his work, we knew we found our blanket. Eddie has been weaving since 1959. He used to have a tweed shop in the back of the pub next door which his son now runs. Eddie works out of this shop and creates all the fabric for blankets, waist coats and hats and capes. He also sends his fine goods to the Irish Imports store on Congress street in Portland! I look forward to checking out that place again when we return for Eddie's goods. 

We continued south east to Roscommon to meet up with a very fun and sweet lady, Michelle Fallon of michellemadethis.com I met her at the Roscommon Lamb Festival a few weeks ago and eyed some adorable cushions that she made and that I decided I could not live with out. So Juba and I went to pick them up from her and we had such a nice visit over tea and cookies. We made plans to go back and see her in a few weeks. I especially loved taking about our crafting experiences.

Earlier that day I had seen on FB that a natural dye class has happening in Westmeath the next day. We were at dinner in Athlone almost pointing south when I got a confirmation email about the class. Jubal and I quickly and effortlessly adjusted out plans to head to slightly in the other direction. Next morning we showed up at the old grocery in Tryrrell's pass, Co. Westmeath. A quiet little town but sweet and cheerful. We had our spot of tea and scone as soon as we arrived and then I headed into the workshop as Jubal occupied himself at the cafe. I met 5 other ladies and had a wonderful time exchanging tips and stories. So happy I was able to go! 
We dyed with alder cones.
A 2nd dye bath of logwood.

A 2nd dye bath of madder root.

It was such a wonderful way to end this side trip. And I made new friends and felt inspired even further with my natural dye endeavors.

On the way home to Doolin, while driving through someplace, we came across a sign reading Thoor Ballylee, home of W.B. Yeats. We stopped in to have a look. A really beautiful drive home the rest of the way even though it was raining. 

Such a wonderful trip <3