Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tales of Ireland - Part 2

The story continues...

Blarney Castle

Though the weather was gloomy and icy on Wednesday morning, the knowledge that a new US President was in office made it just a bit brighter outside. There was also the anticipation of getting to finally meet Jo from Celtic Memory Yarns. (If you haven't checked it out before, be sure to. It's a wonderful read!)

Jo was nice enough to take some time out of her very busy schedule and meet Sean and me at Blarney Castle in the morning. Because of the weather (spitting, icy rain - quite nasty really) we instead made our way over to Blarney Woollen Mills.

Side note before you get your hopes up - Blarney Woollen Mills is NOTHING like Kerry Woollen Mills. It is really more of a big department store full of woven wool garments, furniture, housewares, jewelry, and a wide, wide array of tourist type things (from Guinness to Waterford to 10 Euro t-shirts). If you're visiting Blarney, this is a fantastic place to buy all your knick knacks and thus maximize your VAT refund.

But back to the visit - We made our way upstairs to see what kind of yarn was around and, as Jo had warned me, Ireland has just not caught onto the yarn/knitting/crocheting craze as America has. It was actually quite sad, too, that a woollen mill wouldn't have much of a selection. Here's what was on display:

Yarn and Needles for sale at Blarney Woollen Mills

As you can see, close to empty shelves. That bit of colored yarn on the right is not even Irish. It's just mass produced yarn sold under an Irish company name. Disappointing and not even worth the purchase. There was also a table of large cones of undyed wool. Sadly those, too, were not worth the purchase.

Yarn for sale at Blarney Woollen Mills

One other item near the yarn display was this gigantic loom. Too bad it was really only for show. The yarn threaded on the loom was a bit dusty and out of place. I'm sure that back in the day, it was a wonderful loom that made beautiful things.

Loom at Blarney Woollen Mills

But not to fear - it was still worth the trip! Though it was a quick visit, it was so wonderful to meet you, Jo! If I ever get around to saving enough money to move to Ireland and open my own yarn shop, we'd have to get together more often. And if you're ever in the DC/Baltimore Maryland, it will be my turn to show you the sights. Plenty of local yarn stores to investigate in addition to the memorials and museums.

Jo and Sam at Yarn for sale at Blarney Woollen Mills

And not only was Jo generous with her time, she was so very, very generous with her gift of yarn. Three beautiful skeins of boucle and, to my absolute delight and amazement, a gorgeous skein of authentic, Celtic Memory hand-dyed sock yarn!

Needles and Yarn from Ireland

Here's a close up of the sock yarn. It's 50% superwash merino, 50% tencel and the photo does not do justice to the luscious greens of this skein of Sunlit Moss.

Celtic Memory Yarn

Jo - seriously - thank you so much!

I should note that I did bring a skein of yarn for Jo. I brought her the sister skein of the yarn that was the BUBBLES bubbles wrap. I know that in her capable and caring hands, that skein is destined for greatness.

After our quick visit, Jo was off to work and Sean and I walked around the store. A stated before, the yarn wasn't worth buying but I did get 2 sets of the big wooden needles. For just 5 Euro, I got a pair of 13 and 15. Even if I never use them, they look cool.

Needles from Ireland

I also had to take a photo of this for you to show you the fun display of fabulous sheep-themed stuff. I know you're shocked that I only came home with the Wacky Woollies pencil case.

Wacky Woolies and Black Sheep displays

I did get something else - and while I hate to ruin the surprise, I can't help but share of photo of my other purchase. Girls - here is this year's MS&W favor! One for each of you!

Sheep Wine Stoppers 3

There's something about knitting/crocheting and wine that just goes together so well. :)

Stay tuned - Part 3 of Tales from Ireland is in the works...


CHo Meir said...

Irish bottle topper, as if it would last long enough to put a topper on it... great novelty gift.

Sara Kirby said...

Wow, this trip looks yarnie delicious! I completely agree about the knitting and wine. Love the bottle stoppers!

the mistress said...

I love them. Seriously, I have rollercoaster grin. I can't wait. I'm counting the days.

Sam said...

They also had white sheep bottle stoppers, but these little black sheep looked as though they might enjoy the wine a bit more. :)