For some time now, I’ve been wanting to make a range of Irish Beasties. Of course, my Beasties are already pretty Irish – they are born here, after all. But it always surprises me how little of the yarn we get in this country actually comes from here. And when you have a whole world of beautiful fibres to choose from – South American alpaca, merino wool from Down Under – it’s very easy to take what you have at home for granted.
Fortunately, I recently got a couple of timely wake-up calls. A while ago, some of my knitting friends and I started taking “Knit Days” – we’d hop on a train, or form a convoy of cars, and travel to another town or city to enjoy a crafty day out, usually fuelled by copious quantities of tea and cake. One of these Knit Days took us to the village of Graignamanagh in Co. Kilkenny, which is the home of Cushendale Woollen Mills. This family-owned mill has been producing yarn and finished woollen goods since the mid-1800s, and we were lucky enough to get a full tour during our visit. Since then, I’ve been looking out for a project that would allow me to use some of their products… even more so after I helped my friend with the annual stocktake at her wool shop, and I couldn’t stop admiring the beautiful colours of the Cushendale yarns. I realised that they reminded me of the countryside out in Roscommon, which is where my boyfriend comes from, and somewhere I never get tired of visiting…
So, I picked out the four colours which I thought best summed up the peat-bog palette, and got knitting! Having completed my first full All-Irish Beastie, I had to give him an accessory… something really IRISH. I could have gone the obvious route – shamrock, leprechaun outfit – but I wanted something a little different, that still reflected everyday life in this part of the world. So he got…
A BIG MUG OF TEA!
Bet you didn’t see that coming… but, no matter who you consult, we Irish always make the top 3 in the world tea-drinking charts.
Our only challengers for the title are Morocco and Turkey, where people must be making cuppas 24-7 to hold us off the top spot. Truly “Irish” tea is made in a teapot, then put back on the range to stew into a viscous tar-like substance, before being thinned out with liberal doses of milk and sugar. But most of us settle for throwing a bag of Lyons or Barrys into a mug and just stirring it around a bit!
More All-Irish Beasties will be landing soon! Let me know in the comments if there are any you’d particularly like to see!