Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ireland: Part 3 (Irish Wooooooool)

Let me begin by apologizing for how picture heavy this post is. If you have dial-up you will probably hate me. So, sorry for that.

Now, you may or may not have wondered why it has taken me so long to post since the last one. The short and simple answer is that I was avoiding the web like the plague because I was convinced (as a result of a few close calls) that the answer to the ending of the Harry Potter book was going to jump out from the web and bite me before I finished. However, I am back again despite the fact that I am not finished with the book. So far I have not been bitten by the end -- I've been very careful not to find out and I plan on staying that way until I have finished the book.

Anyway, back to Ireland! In my last post I stated that I had finally found yarn and that I was elated, but that I was utterly convinced that I was not going to be able to find any more yarn in Ireland because a) I hadn't found much yet and b) the woman at the store said so.

Turns out I was wrong (sort of -- I only found one kind of yarn, basically). But, let's do this chronologically, shall we?

From Kinsale we went on to Dingle, or An Daingean as it is now called on the maps (I use them both interchangeably). This naming, as it turns out, has been a point of major contention in the area. Ireland has been working on reclaiming its language (Irish) and part of this has been to designate areas of the country as unique for the maintaining of cultural traditions and language (a heritage site, basically). An Daingean was one of those places. The result was that the government renamed what had been called Dingle for a long time -- they called it An Daingean (obviously). This is all well and good, in theory, but unlike the rest of Ireland, where everything is posted bilingually -- in English and Irish -- An Daingean is now listed only as that (not Dingle). Long story short, the business owners of Dingle were never asked whether they wanted the town's name changed and they are mad about it, because they feel it could affect their business.

Anyway, so we went from Kinsale to the town of An Daingean/Dingle on the An Daingean/Dingle Peninsula. It is just north of the Ring of Kerry, which is apparently famous for its beautiful sites. Happily, Dingle is just as beautiful, but supposedly less crowded. No, I suppose it really is less crowded, but holy cow were there a lot of tourists there anyway. Happily, when we went off to do our car tour of the area, there weren't that many people on the road or at the sites. It was terrific.

The scenery on our drive onto the peninsula was spectacular. I don't have a great camera, so I can't even begin to describe what it looked like with this crappy picture, but hopefully you get the idea.

On the way in, we saw lots of these:

I read somewhere that An Daingean has about 40,000 people year round and 500,000 sheep. Imagine what we knitters could do with that place!

The town of Dingle was where we anchored ourselves for that part of our Ireland stay. It was a really cute little town and it was full of great music and yummy ice cream.
One of the coolest things about it was that it had many multi-purpose places of business. It had a barber shop where hair is cut by day and drinks are served at night when it becomes a pub. It has a hardware store like this too. What a hoot!!

On our drive around the peninsula, besides lots of green stuff, we saw a huge number of ruins. Apparently the ruins have been unusually untouched because the people in the area consider them haunted or enchanted. If you mess with one of these places, you mess with the fairies that live there too. And for those who don't believe in fairies, I'm sure they've come to appreciate the value of these ruins for business as well. There were a lot of famous ones in the area, but I'll just show you two shots:

Pretty cool if I do say so myself.

On our drive around the peninsula, we got stuck in a traffic jam. I saw the slow down up ahead and I couldn't believe it -- was fairly irritated, in fact. And then I saw what it was that was keeping us up:

Suddenly, I wasn't so irritated anymore. The sheep came complete with shepards and sheep herding dogs, neither of which I got a good picture of, so I don't have one to show you here.

But what about the yarn, you ask?? Well, we found two places to buy yarn. There was the Kerry Woolen Mills place that had yarn that wasn't too exciting, but the guy was nice and price was right, so I got some yarn there.
I got what I believe he was calling "organic wool," if I remember correctly. It is wool with its original color. I would not normally be that excited by this, as I am a color woman, but something about the fact that I had seen so many sheep while I was there made me want something that looked a lot like them (more than hot pink does, for example).

Then we went to this wonderful place called Commodum. At first I thought the woman there wasn't very friendly, but eventually I figured out that she was just letting me do my thing and that English wasn't her first language, so perhaps she was a little shy about approaching people in her shop. In the end, the woman was nice and I enjoyed myself very much. (My husband got me a birthday gift there too, which I have forgotten to photograph. It's a beautiful little sculpture.)

How could I ever have doubted them, with windows like this?:

At Commodum, I went a little nuts. Here is what I got:
The colorful stuff is for the blanket that I am going to make (which I mentioned in a post before leaving) that is going to be a memento of our trip and in honor of our wedding. We are both excited about this!

The big thing of grey wool is for a sweater for myself. I really need a no-nonsense wool cardigan. My old cardigan is wasted and my mom makes fun of me every time she sees it..... To give you an idea, it has something elastic in the yarn and although it started out as a perfectly normal cardigan, it now practically drags on the floor when I wear it. Nice, huh? Perfectly unacceptable for a knitter, I say!

So, we found yarn in Ireland finally. Perhaps too much. To give you a sense of how much yarn this is (you have to imagine us dragging this around in our backpacks and in additional bags), I give you a picture of my husband with the yarn on him (including that from Kinsale) to give you scale. Yes, I think that WOW would be a reasonable response!

Only four more countries to go!

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