I have been trying to post vacation stuff in bite-size chunks. So, the yarn gets it's own post. Actually, it may be more of a rant, but it ends on a positive note, as all good blog rants should :)
First let me share the projects that have made progress since the vacation. The sock that I was making for Hubbers, doesn't actually fit him. In fact it barely fits me. So I shortened up the toe, and now I have one new sock. The other half of the pair just got started yesterday.
On the airplane, I started a new project and pretty much finished it on the flight back. I'm not posting pictures here, because it's a gift, but you can see it on Ravelry if you're a member. If you're a knitter and not a member of Ravelry, you should sign up, really.
Despite spending two weeks on an island that very well may have more sheep than people... it was difficult to find yarn. In Dublin, the sweaters for sale in July were clearly for tourists. Quite pricey, and limited selection. It was recommended that Dublin is not the best place to buy sweaters, so I decided to wait until I got to Killarney to look for wool. When we got to Killarney, it was a lot easier to find nice sweaters, but tough to find yarn. I did find some, and bought a kilo of the classic Aran yarn by Tivoli made in Cork. I have no idea what I'll make with it, but I'm sure it will include cables.
In the small town of Cahersiveen, I found a little sewing/alterations/knitting shop. The owner said that the only "local" yarn she had were these hanks of 100% wool from Kerry Woolen Mills. She had natural, dark green and berry. I bought 400 grams of berry, it is much darker than the photo shows (sorry about the terrible picture, my usual camera is on vacation with Hubbers). I plan to make a sweater out of it, but first I have to learn how to make sweaters.
Here's the rant: there were only two brands of wool yarn that I found in a land full of sheep. The guy at the Killarney store informed me that most of the Tivoli yarn is actually manufactured outside of Ireland. The stuff made locally was discontinued, and so it was on sale. Most stores seemed far happier to sell you wool in the form of sweaters and the people working there knew nothing about knitting. I don't know where the Irish knitters buy their yarn. Apparently I missed out on a great store just outside of Dublin, but otherwise, the internet showed that other knitters have had similar difficulty in buying Irish yarn.
Additionally, I would have like to actually see the people who spin wool. I visited Avoca which is famous for weaving. There, they had a large store with very expensive woven articles, but no sign of weavers. The tourist experience was definitely geared more towards buying stuff than experiencing where the stuff comes from.
I now realize how fanatic New Mexico knitters and spinners really are. I knew they were fanatic, but all the hand-dyed yarns and such that we have available here is really impressive. It felt that in Ireland the crafts-people who make the yarn and sweaters were hidden away, while here I know that even a tourist could find demonstrations of people working their craft which is far more interesting than just the finished product.