The name refers to the lush greenness of the landscape of the island, laying off the west coast of Great Britain, the colour of the rural environment due largely to the mild, well watered, oceanic climate.
Politically, the island is divided between the Republic of Ireland, an independent state, and Northern Ireland , a constituent country of the United Kingdom. Both are members of the European Union and there is free movement of goods, people and services across the border.
When I think of Ireland in floral terms, I always think of flax, that hard wearing and beautiful fibre that has been, in the past, a long time staple of the Irish economy and a source of income for small homesteaders and craftsmen.
Called "Línéadach Éireannach" in Irish, myth and legend surrounds the development of the flax industry in Ireland, as with so much else in the misty past of this romantic island race. Flax is believed to have been introduced to Great Britain and Ireland by the Romans, who introduced the wild Linum angustifolium during their time in the islands. The first recorded evidence of an organised flax industry in Ireland occurred in the twelfth century. By 1796, the Irish Linen Board published a list of nearly 60,000 individuals engaged in flax fibre production across most of Ireland. Spinning wheels were awarded based on the number of acres planted. People who planted one acre were awarded four spinning wheels and those growing five acres were awarded a loom as well. Donegal and Tyrone had the highest number of awards during that year.
The pretty little blue flax flower, Linum usitatissimum, the cultivated plant now used for linen fibre production, is my chosen plant for this week.
Chris and did a quick search through the storage shelves and I found a couple of rolls of carded mohair and sheep wool tucked away amongst my old spinning paraphernalia...the combs, drum carder, lazy kate et al which are sadly under utilised these days, and although the fibres are now really too dry and coarse to spin with comfort and expertise, at least I have something to work on and can leave Ann's lovely fine silky (by comparison) wool tops in her bag.
I have to say that I seem to have lost almost all my spinning skills, and with my prosthetic knees and back pain, really cannot manage the peddling with any consistency or smoothness, but I am hoping that practice for a few days will show some improvement in that area. The ergonomic design of Ann's wheel is excellent.
Looking at the yarn I have managed to produce today though, I do have to say, in all modesty, that I am far better than Ann at creating "lumpy" yarn! ;) We were just laughing yesterday that, once one becomes experienced at creating a smoothly even fine spun yarn, how hard it is to return to the rustic slubby yarns of ones first efforts at the craft....but I seem to have managed it beautifully!
Karina surprised me with a wonderful additional gift last evening when they arrived with a huge bag of goodies, including a new bluetooth dongle, a you-beaut keyboard and mouse to replace the rather basic ones I had been using, and a gorgeous, very funky, JBL speaker like the one Sarah has been using recently...far too generous by half. I am a very lucky person, everyone has worked hard on this project!
You can check out the other inchies here...