Saturday, December 18, 2010

An announcement

After much thought, I've reached the (difficult) decision to make the tours in 2011 my last. Although many of you have told me I've said that a number of times before, I really, really mean it this time! Since the first tour in 1995, I've made many friends on both sides of the Atlantic and have had unbelievable travel experiences. For a former retail travel agent who loved to knit, these tours allowed me to indulge in two of my favourite activities--travelling and knitting. Although I could always have travelled and knit, it's been the friends I've made who've meant the difference. This was especially borne out recently when I was travelling in both the U.S. and Canada, as at every venue I was fortunate to spend time with travellers who have become friends.

So.....if you've been thinking about coming to Scotland with the fourteenth and final Scottish Skeins & Skerries Tour, don't hesitate to contact me and please tell your friends and members of your knitting guilds, so that no one misses out. The information is on my website: At this point we have about eight places left.

Barbara from Iowa (thanks Barb) sent me the link to this article from the British newspaper, the Daily Mail. The article details how the traditional, hand knitted Fair Isle and Shetland knitting are very much threatened.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I've been busy & an update:

I've finished reading the book, Sweater Quest, My Year of Knitting Dangerously. Author, Adrienne Martini, set herself the goal of completing one of Alice Starmore's designs within a year. Although I didn't care for her personal style of writing, I did enjoy her explanation of the current popularity of knitting. Also, her references to knitting in Canada and on Shetland.

On Saturday, I went with Anna and Diane to an open house at Janie Hickman's lovely little yarn shop, near Perth, ON, In spite of the small area of the store, I'm always surprised at the variety of the yarns, books and notions which Janie carries. In fact, one thing I was looking for was a very small crochet hook to add beads to the current knitted lace triangle project. (I bought the beads in Italy and this particular colour has very small eyes/holes.) I found exactly what I needed at Janie's.

The special event that day was to attend an open house for Helen Hamann, Helen was there and it was a pleasure to meet her. She brought many of her designs and and a wide selection of her beautiful alpaca yarns. People kept busy trying on the garments and it was interesting to see the different effects depending on the body types, colours, etc. Although Helen was born in Peru, she lives in the U.S. and said she left her home in Tennessee in September. Since then, she has been criss-crossing North America. In fact, she arrived in Ontario from Vancouver--many miles/kilometres on her car.

I've also been busy knitting. Just for a change, I've put aside the lace triangle and have started something less demanding: a diagonal scarf from Noro Kureyon sock yarn. I bought the pattern and yarn when I was on Salt Spring Island, at another treasure trove for anyone who loves textiles and crafts.

Yesterday, I received the latest journal of the British Knitting & Crochet Guild, called SlipKnot. I haven't had a chance to read through it in detail, but was interested by the book reviews. More about the issue in another post.

Update on tours: Wales is sold out and more than half of the places for the 'Scottish Skeins' trip are filled.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This and that

Numbers update on the 2011 tours: there are four places left on the Welsh tour and more for the 'Scottish Skeins & Skerries' itinerary. The latter tour was planned to have room for potentially more travellers, although still not a large number. Neither tour will be offered after 2011--don't miss out. Please contact me if you have any questions or would like to register.

Last week I received the most recent newsletter from Treenway Silks on Salt Spring Island: I was fortunate to visit there last month and am always amazed by the beautiful range of colours in the ribbons and yarns. Their newsletter is always interesting to read and visually attractive.

I've finished my first lace triangle scarf and it's waiting to be blocked. The patterns are included in Evelyn Clark's book, Knitting Lace Triangles. Initially, I followed the instructions in the narrative form but was sidelined by an error in that format. (As far as I can tell, it's in the Medallion Lace pattern, between rows 3 and 5.) Once I realized the problem, I switched to the chart and all has gone well.

Although, I ended up unravelling my first effort--tried to rationalize the wasted time--but am pleased I did, as I'm much happier with how this one looks. (Shirley, aka known as Shirl the Purl, thanks for the inspiration and technical help.) One small thing I learned was how to add beads using a crochet hook. I find the designs somewhat addictive and have been knitting when I should have been doing other things. I'm now started on a second triangle. I'm using another beautiful yarn from Fibre-Isle International, located in P.E.I., (Have a look at their website too.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

An update on the tours

An update on the registrations received for the tours next year: there are 8 places left for the trip to Wales and more for the Scottish Skeins itinerary.

If you have been considering coming with us, please let me know so I can save a place for you on either tour. Also, if you have questions don't hesitate to contact me. Tel: 613-695-0889 or toll free at the office 1-800-267-5552, or by email:

Monday, November 22, 2010

I've been away

I've just returned from a terrific visit to Vancouver Island. I spent most of my time in Victoria and also had a great visit to nearby Salt Spring Island. The whole time was made special by the visits I had with friends from previous tours--thanks Kym, Sally and Betty. It doesn't get much better to travel, visit and knit with congenial, interesting people. In the past, I'd only been to Victoria for less than a day. This time I had the opportunity to walk, visit yarn shops, a museum and enjoy the ambiance of this picturesque, interesting city.

I should have taken many photos but the only ones I have were of a persistent bird which kept pecking at my window. Initially, I wondered what the noise was as it came from the opposite side of the hotel room from the door. It was as though he/she was used to getting food from a previous occupant of the room. I took some close-up photos but that wasn't even a deterrent. The bill was large and hooked--finally I closed the curtains as I was starting to worry that the way things were going, there would be a broken window!

The November issue of the British magazine, Country Living has a lead article called "The wonder of wool". I appreciated the effort to promote the plight of sheep farmers and the wool industry, but was disappointed that they didn't go farther. For instance Scotland and Wales received very little mention and I felt the article focused disproportionately on Yorkshire. However, saying that, it's a great magazine and one from which I get a lot of ideas for our tour itineraries.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sad news

Today I learned of the death of Alex Larkin of Boston.

I know numerous people will remember Alex from past tours--he became a friend to many of us. I'd always admired his talents (especially his needlework and his skill knitting complicated Fair Isle patterns), his sense of humour and his gentle perception and insights. I'll miss him.

Monday, November 8, 2010

More news about Shetland

People who know me are aware that Shetland is one of my favourite places--and I know I'm not alone in this feeling. The November issue of the Visit Shetland newsletter arrived in my inbox and it was full of news. Have a look at:

Some highlights:
- The Lonely Planet publication has listed it as one of the ten top regions in the world to visit next year.
- There is a concerted effort to keep the Shetland dialect alive. (Anyone who has heard two Shetlanders speaking together, will know it's distinctive and reflects its Scottish and Nordic roots.) A Shetland dictionary has been published.
- In order to keep the Shetland lace traditions alive, the Shetland Amenity Trust and the firm of Jamieson & Smith have announced a project called "Shetland Fine Lace". You can learn more about this project at: Be sure to read the accompanying article by curator, Dr. Carol Christiansen, entitled "Islands of Gossamer Thread".

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tours to Scotland & Wales

Finally, I've been able to send Garth (my talented website guy) the details for both tours in 2011 and expect them to be on my website: within a couple of days. I apologize for the repeated delays having the details and registration available, however I assure you they will both be special trips. Both itineraries are on my website.

We'll visit Wales from May 13th to 23rd, and an optional three-day extension to London is planned. This unique itinerary will include memorable travel through the Welsh valleys, visiting small picturesque towns, weaving and quilt centres, yarn sources, castles built by King Edward I to establish English dominance and control the 'feisty' Welsh, and much, much more! Come with us to this proud land of poetry and song.

The important flight reservations on Loganair have finally been confirmed and the Scottish Skeins & Skerries Tour (the fourteenth time it's been held) is scheduled for July 1st to 18th. I've revised our itinerary slightly and have added a day trip to the islands of Unst and Yell, the mostly northerly in the U.K. As in previous years, we'll be meeting with members of the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Weavers & Dyers in addition to two half-day workshops with talented knitters of Fair Isle and Shetland lace. We'll also visit Orkney and the Outer Hebridean islands of Harris & Lewis.

There is limited space on both tours, don't miss out!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

News about Shetland

I love to hear people talk in detail about their travels and to see their photographs. However I know not everyone feels the same, so I'll give you a break from my Italian travelogue. Besides, as is evident, I have problems placing the photographs--they rarely go where I indicate and where I'd like. I'm going to work on Picasa again and see if I can do a better job than just clicking on the 'Image' icon on the toolbar.

Disappointing news was to learn that knitting will no longer be taught in the elementary schools on Shetland. Although knitting is still very important to the islands, there is an age group of young women who, although they know how to knit, do not or do very little. The economy of Shetland has changed greatly since the development of North Sea oil; before that they saw how hard their mothers and grandmothers worked (as a necessity) to produce complicated Fair Isle and Shetland lace projects, for very little compensation.

Consequently, the children on Shetland are not likely to gain knitting skills when they are young. The members in the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers work very hard to foster the traditions and to raise funds for a museum of their own. However they are all getting older (as are we all!) and it is difficult to attract younger members as many have full-time jobs, are looking after aged parents or have young children at home. I feel I can speak for all those who have come on the tours, that a visit with the guild members is one of the enduring high points of our travels. I have renewed my subscription to the Guild newsletter and really look forward to when one arrives. The membership secretary is Jennie Bradley and she can be reached by email at:

This week I received an e-newsletter about Shetland Hamefarin (Homecoming) which took place in June of this year. Have a look at:

Recently, I phoned to Shetland and was told that the person I had hoped to speak to "had gone to Scotland"! I always find it amusing how Shetlanders do not consider themselves as 'Scots'!

Apologies to those who are waiting for details of the 2011 Scottish Skeins Tour. Please bear with me that I am still waiting for confirmation of the domestic flights. It will be a great trip and I've included some variations in the itinerary from previous years. Please keep checking into my website: and I will be contacting each person on my mailing list as soon as registration is open.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Busatti in Anghiari

A memorable tour for me was our visit to Busatti, a special place for lovers of textiles. Busatti's pledge is "never disown the origins, the taste and the quality". I can confirm that the Busatti/Sassolini families have stayed true to this pledge for over a hundred years! Not only did we get to see the looms weaving the beautiful fabrics, but were privileged to be guests in the private apartment on the top floor of the building with champagne and hors d'oeuvres. We were hosted by a charming Sassolini grandson, Stephano, who graciously answered a number of questions and discussed the challenges of the current global economy.
The image of a small selection of fabrics doesn't do justice to the wide range and exquisite standards of their finished textiles.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Following on....

On the left is a typical photo of Venice and on the right, one of the chandelier which hangs in the lobby of the Giorgione--it's enormous and very intricate. When we (reluctantly) left Venice, we travelled by water taxi along the Grand Canal to the landing where our coach was waiting. Our driver was Elio, who spoke about as much English as I did Italian, but we managed to understand each other. He was a very capable, safe driver.

Our next overnight stop was in Anghiari, a medieval-walled village, where we stayed for five nights. We were met by Mark (an old friend) and Weston who showed us to our apartments. Later, we met at Garibaldi's, a local bar, coffee house and general gathering place in the main square of the village. Giuseppe Dini was there. He is the author of An Adventure in Tuscany, a charming description of both Giuseppe's life both growing up in Anghiari and with suggested travel information and itineraries in the area. The book is attractively illustrated with watercolours by English artist, Dawn Angela.

It is hard to describe Anghiari--a special place which is tucked away in the Tuscan hills. (The village isn't even mentioned in Rick Steves' book, Florence & Tuscany and selfishly, I hope it never becomes too well known.) We had a refreshing 'aperitif' and then walked to our first dinner in the area. I won't go into the details of the delicious meals we had in Anghiari, the surrounding towns and in fact, wherever we travelled. Trust me, no one left hungry or thirsty! Our restaurants were usually small venues, with freshly prepared local food and frequently we were the only ones who weren't Italian.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Back from Italy

I returned from Italy earlier this month and again was reminded why this is one of my favourite countries. I could return again and again! I've taken a lot of photos and will show (just some) of them over the next few posts.

Our tour started in Venice--I don't think there is a more magical city. Although venues like St. Mark's Square and the areas around it were very crowded, fortunately our hotel, the Giorgione, was centrally located, yet tucked away in what was largely a residential area. It didn't take long to walk to vaporetto stops and from the open window of my room, I could hear the chatter of children walking to school. The absence of motorized vehicles gave a special quiet calm to the narrow streets. On our first night, after a reception in the garden of the hotel, with an introduction to Venice and Italy by a local guide, we walked to a nearby restaurant and dinner of delicious local dishes.

Our group spent a memorable dayon the island of Murano . Our guide was Amy, from the American Midwest, who makes her home on Murano and she gave us a unique perspective of what life is like for a North American in Italy. Amy is apprenticing under Luigi, a master craftsman. She took us for a tour of the island, where we visited the workshop of a family of glass blowers. They have carried on a tradition for over a hundred years. It was a privilege to see the distinctive creations, with intricate arms of flowers, curlicues--all in different colours and designs. Hard to believe the artistry!

We also had lunch at a little restaurant where the glassblowers and other locals eat. Another memorable time when we sat out in the garden and ate delicious, freshly prepared local specialities. I am embarrassed to admit that I ended up getting lost after lunch and never did make it back to Amy's and Luigi's studio. I wandered around and admitted I had no idea where I was and ended up just taking a vaporetto back to mainland Venice. (How can anyone get lost on Murano?)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tour to Italy

In final preparation for the tour to Italy, I've been reading a lot about the country. Lately, I've been concentrating on books by the American Donna Leon, who has lived in Venice for the past twenty years. Her books are mysteries and the central character is a Venetian policeman, Commissario Guido Brunetti. I've really enjoyed the plot twists. It's been fun to read about the streets, bridges and canals, and to think that I'll be seeing them soon.

In addition, I've been doing a lot of highway driving and recently listened to a book on tape, The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt. The book focuses on the burning of the opera house, La Fenice in 1997, but also has many references to famous people who made Venice their home.

I'm really excited about the tour and am looking forward to greeting friends from previous tours at our first hotel in Venice. This tour will be a mixture of history, beautiful scenery and special visits to craftspeople--glassblowers, a weaver, a lacemaker, lunch with Nora Kravis and her cashmere goats--just too much to list everything. I'm especially looking forward to our Tuscan cooking lesson/dinner in a chestnut grove. I'll attempt to send reports enroute.

I've confirmed our hotel reservations for the Scottish tour next year. Still waiting to hear from the airline for their fares and schedule. I'll send the information I have to Garth (my talented website guy) and he will post it on my website: Please send me an email if you wish to be included on the mailing list,

Saturday, August 28, 2010

It's finished!

I've finally sewn the flannellette lining to the back of the Piecework Blanket. I hope the two layers won't make the finished product too hot. I'll get a report once the recipients (my daughter and her family) use it.
Ten years ago I assembled the squares I'd knit for the master knitter designation into a blanket. (I won't admit when it was that I'd started the project.) It was way too large, so I cut it in half--it will be much more manageable this way. I don't know how to crochet and just sewed the 48 blocks together with an overhand stitch. I found the sewing tedious and remember thinking at the time I was originally assembling the squares that I would rather have been knitting.

Friday, August 20, 2010

This and that

I've posted several photos which I took when I was on the tour of the rooftop garden of the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. It was a great opportunity to get another perspective of the city, and to see the skyscrapers reflected against each other in their walls of glass.
I was going to take a closer photo of the beehives, but the inhabitants were buzzing around and I wasn't sure how territorial they were. I do know that the bees spend a lot of time around the lavender plants.

This week I received another newsletter from the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Weavers & Dyers. This issue was also full of their activities and a description of the temporary home of the Shetland Textile Working Museum at the Bod of Gremista in Lerwick. Their current exhibition is called "New from Old (Changes in Fashion)" and shows the evolution of textiles over the decades, reaching back to former centuries. Having seen a number of past exhibitions, I can imagine this one is another innovative display of treasured knits.

There was an amusing reference in one part of the newsletter about a journey to "Scotland"--a reminder that one doesn't dare call the residents of these islands 'Scots'. They are Shetlanders!

Update on the Piecework Blanket: I haven't worked on it for several weeks. Still just have to sew the lining to the blanket.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Earlier this week I took four grandchildren by train from Ottawa to Toronto, where they were meeting family and then going on to spend a week at a cottage on Lake Huron. I intended to return to Ottawa later in the day. That left me with a few hours to fill in before the return trip. To pass the time, my plan was to read while sitting on a comfortable couch in the lobby of the Royal York Hotel, located just across the street from the train station. Fortunately, while walking through the lobby, I noticed a sign about Sunday afternoon tea in the Library Bar. I spent a very pleasant time enjoying the music of a solo performer, the delicious food and the general civilized ambience.

While I was there, I learned about a tour of the hotel roof to see the garden and beehives. Thus, a small group of us were escorted by two young chefs, who explained in detail what was growing in the numerous raised beds and talked about the beehives and the resident bees. It was interesting to learn about the variety of plants and the honey produced for use in the special dishes served in the hotel restaurants. The enthusiasm of the chefs was fun to hear, and a treat to see the city from that elevated vantage point. I did take a number of photos and will post them on my blog in a few days.

I've completed most of the arrangements for the Italian tour and the complete tour package will be sent out in two weeks. Then I can concentrate on the planning of next year's tours to Scotland and Wales. (Still waiting to hear from Flybe about the domestic Scottish flights.) However, as soon as I have a few more details, Garth (my 'website guy') will be updating my website and announcing when registrations will be accepted.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A slow news week

I promised myself I would post every Tuesday, but life got in the way this past week.

Earlier this week, I heard on the news that there is coastal erosion at the Fortress of Louisbourg site on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. I was concerned that this had occurred in the area which had been so carefully restored. However, apparently it isn't in the actual renovated site, where we visited last summer on the 'Maritime Memories Tours', but where they are working on the archaeological dig. (Susan, thanks for updating me on that.) It has meant increased pressure to recover whatever possible of artifacts and traces of the earlier occupations. A recent study warned that the coast could erode by about 30 metres in the next 50 to 100 years. By the way, if anyone is interested, it is possible to be a member of the fortress's volunteer program and to take part in the dig. A good reason to spend more time on Cape Breton.

I finally got an update on the Flybe service to Shetland, Orkney and the Hebrides for next year. Well, not exactly a full-blown disclosure, but a notice that Flybe would be releasing the fares and schedule for 2011 at the beginning of September, 2010. Then, I will be able to complete the information for those who've been waiting for details about the fourteenth 'Scottish Skeins & Skerries' tour scheduled for next summer.

The Piecework Blanket has also hit a bit of a stall. I did buy some very colourful flannelette for the lining, but have been just too busy to sew it on.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

'Makkin and Yakkin'

I've seen the Shetland Islands described as "the crossroads of the northern seas". This statement is certainly borne out by reading more of the newsletters of the Shetland Guild--about the diverse groups who've come to the area and make a visit to the Guild a priority. (If anyone wants to take out a membership to the newsletter, it's 15.00 UKL/per year. Just email me and I'll send you the contact details. )

An item I'd missed before was another reference to our group's visit last year. (
This is what they said: "Joyce brought a group of American and Canadian craftworkers to the Germatwatt Centre. There was plenty of 'makkin and yakkin' and Joyce brought another generous donation from our American friends to the Textile Museum." (Anyone whose come on the tours will endorse that a lot of 'yakkin' goes on!) That particular donation refers to the money sent by attendees at the Madrona Fiber Festival held each February in Tacoma, WA.

Last summer they had two separate groups from Norway. These visits provided an exchange of traditional skills as the Norwegians brought their knitting, felting and weaving, and the Shetlanders reciprocated with a display of their fine lace and Fair Isle knitting. Karin, the tour organizer has a website: During one of Karin's visits she gave two felting workshops. There are detailed instructions and a number of photographs of the beautiful felted flowers in the newsletter.

In September 2009, the Guild hosted a group of Japanese. One of the group, Fumiko Ueda is a member of the Guild and had visited Shetland before. She brought along two items which she had exhibited in the 2009 Highland Show: a stole which took the "Best Overall Exhibit" and a photo of her Fair Isle knitting, which won a first prize. The group had a busy several days visiting the Shetland Museum and a number of accomplished textile experts on the island.

Update on Piecework Blanket: All I have left to do is to back the blanket with flannelette. Will go to buy some today. Next project is one of Lucy Neatby's designs, the Rainbow Sheep Sweater. People who know me will have heard about this for a number of years--translation 'too many years'! It's had a chequered history--not at all the fault of the design--but I'm determined to complete it this time. I'll concentrate carefully on my gauge. It won't be something I can easily pick up and work on while I watch TV, but as knitters know, that's not a hardship.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More 'A La Carte'

I've learned a lot from a more thorough reading of the bulletins of the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Weavers & Dyers. Even though the membership is relatively small, they are a very committed and active group. Especially remarkable, as many members have to travel on ferries from outlying islands and drive considerable distances on single-track roads.

The Spring 2010 issue (January, February & March) had a detailed description of their joint meeting with the Needleworkers. There was a display of quilts, intricate cross-stitched pictures, knitting and crocheting (all made by members), plus workshops on Moebius knitting and Indian 'shisha' mirrors (a special technique of attaching small pieces of mirrors to fabric with a blanket stitch). As if these weren't enough projects for one day; after lunch Bess Jamieson demonstrated making felt beads and buttons. We don't accomplish anything nearly as much at any guild meetings and workshops I've attended.

In the same issue was a description of the fastest knitter competition at the world's biggest shopping centre in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, I can't tell you much about this event as it is written in the old Shetland dialect! The title is: "Takkin da Makkin tae Minneapolis". I could see that Hazel Tindall competed--many who've come on the Scottish Skeins tours will remember meeting Hazel at the Shetland Guild get together. Although she held the title as the world's fastest knitter for several years, I don't think she won this time. I'll try to get a translation.

Also in the bulletin is reference to an interesting website of the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers: The links are numerous and varied. I enjoyed looking at the British Hand Knitting Association site. Weavers would probably be interested in National Hand-weave and Hand-spinning Week scheduled for 01 May/2011. It's called 'The Big Weave'.

An update on the progress of the Piecework Blanket: I've cast off the border stitches. Just left is to work in the ends and to line the blanket.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Ever since I decided I must post to my blog in a regular fashion, I was concerned it would be difficult to find enough news to write about. However, it's turned out to the contrary. I'm finding that I have lots of ideas, although I admit I really should be adding photos. (Will work on that!) It was Garth, my talented, long-suffering 'website guy' who strongly encouraged me to start a blog.

At least I know one person reads it. I was pleasantly surprised yesterday to receive an email from a couple in PEI, literally hours after I'd posted the one about PEI. Have a look at their websites: and

Each week I receive number of newsletters, mostly by email. One which I always look forward to reading is the Knitter's Review by Clara Parkes (also the author of The Knitter's Book of Yarn). Her newsletters are always informative and even it's a review of a new yarn which I doubt I will use (at least in the short run), I enjoy reading Clara's thorough analysis of the properties of the yarn, washing instructions and a background of the mill where it's processed. Have a look at The subject of the latest issue was a review of a new yarn company, Quince & Co., owned by Pam Allen. In reading more about Quince, I ended up spending way too much time on that website and especially found the associated links very interesting.

Last week my mail brought several newsletters from the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Weavers & Dyers. They really do a great job and offer a variety of interesting articles--in fact there were a number of photos and an article of our group visit last July, when we spent another wonderful afternoon with the Guild. This get together is always something I treasure and a highlight of our tours to Scotland. It's like visiting old friends--they make us very welcome, bring along their knitting and spinning and to top it off, serve a delicious, homemade lunch. Each year, a member of our tour presents the Guild with a group contribution to help them with their endeavours to keep the traditional textile crafts alive. In a future blog, I'll share more of their articles.

Update on the Piecework Blanket: I've picked up at least 800 stitches and am knitting the seed stitch border. It's going to take awhile until this stage is completed.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Prince Edward Island

If you came on last year's 'Maritime Memories' tour to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island--and even if you didn't--you may want to tune into the TV program, 'Live with Regis and Kelly' starting on Monday morning, 12 July. I don't follow the program, but their venue for the week will be the provincial capital of Charlottetown.

I think I will tune in tomorrow, just to see what's planned. I understand that the Government of P.E.I. has paid $800,000 and the Government of Canada, $200,000 to the organizers of the show to film there. The justification was that it would stimulate tourism numbers. It would be regrettable if the island attracted too many visitors. I think I can speak for the members of our tour, that the beauty of the setting, the friendliness of the people and the many amenities speak for themselves.

Still on the topic of P.E.I., I read in the Globe & Mail that the Culinary Institue of Canada, located in Charlottetown, is offering one-day cooking 'boot camps' to learn the rudiments of kitchen fundamentals and tips, plus preparation of some delicious dishes. Sounds like fun!

Monday, July 5, 2010

A la carte.....

We are in the midst of a heat alert both in Ottawa and also farther afield--it sounds as though it's affecting a large portion of Ontario and Quebec. In fact, it was announced on CBC radio that the temperature here is higher than in Bangkok. Most people who know me are aware that I grew up in Alberta--I think they are tired of me and other prairie folk saying that our summers there offered a much more comfortable 'dry heat' (and a 'dry cold' in the winter!) Although saying that, from listening to the weather reports, Alberta and Saskatchewan have had little else this summer other than rain and cool weather.

Another recommendation for a British B & B is "The Hollies", It's located in Builth Wells (in mid Wales) and is operated by Joy Stockton, who is also a local taxi driver. I first met Joy when I hired a taxi and was happy that she had a room for me at her B & B on my last night in Wales. My room was very comfortable, with a number of amenities. Conversation at breakfast the next morning was interesting, as the other guests were in the area specifically to attend Wonderwool Wales. You can imagine how much we talked about yarn, knitting, patterns, what did they buy, etc.

I can't close without announcing that today I've completed the last mitred square for the Piecework Blanket. Next I'll knit a border. I've received a request to knit a second blanket--think it will be awhile before I do that. I've enjoyed the project but have other patterns I want to try next. (Although it's surprising how much leftover yarn I have on hand. Where did it all come from?) I can't use the excuse that I don't have enough yarn.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A recipe from Nova Scotia

Those who came on the Maritime Memories tour last year will no doubt remember our visit to the Highland Village Museum--in Gaelic the site is called An Clachan Gaidhealach. If you are planning a visit to Cape Breton Island, this is well worth a visit. The site is located in a large rural area near Iona, overlooking the beautiful Bras d'Or Lakes. It's called a 'living museum and cultural centre', with a collection of buildings from various locations on the Island. The interior furnishings are in keeping with each structure. There is a progression in the ages and styles of the buildings, starting from the time the first settlers arrived from Scotland. In one rudimentary abode we had a demonstration of spinning and weaving. The staff were all in costume. If you want to learn more about the site:

In one of the homes the hostess was waiting to serve us tea and freshly baked oatcakes, prepared on a wood burning stove. She gave us the recipe, which I had mislaid, but fortunately located it a couple of days ago. The recipe is called Annie's Oatcakes. I haven't tried making it myself yet--but will do so--and thought I would share it now:

Annie's Oatcakes

3 cups rolled oats
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups shortening or margarine
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
2 med. or 1 jumbo egg
3/4 - 1 cup brown sugar

Roll out on floured board and cut with cutter. (Adding a small amount of rolled oats to flour may prevent sticking.)

Bake in a 375 to 400 degree oven for 15 mins.

I have 14 more squares to knit on the Piecework Blanket. It's been a very busy week and I haven't had much time for knitting.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lots of news........

Today I experienced my first earthquake! On the Richter Scale it wasn't that great, but I now have a very slight understanding of the terrors which people experience in earthquake-prone areas. The movement was sudden and unexpected: the whole apartment building noticeably shook and there was a large noise--rather like a plane or a freight train close by. I have to admit I was scared. Within a few seconds--it seemed longer--everything settled down. It wasn't long after that people were emailing the radio station with amusing situations they found themselves in during the incident, and the TV with shots of people standing in Ottawa streets after leaving highrise buildings. That would be scary.

The summer 2010 issue of Slip Knot arrived in my mail today. It is the journal of the Knitting & Crochet Guild of the U.K. In my opinion, it has improved a lot since I received my first issue --it's much longer and full of interesting articles and useful contact information. The website for the Guild is: I urge you to consider joining the Guild. The executive is working very hard to make it a success and to encourage more interest and participation in the textile arts. This would be a worthwhile purchase for both individuals and guild libraries. It was simple to take out a membership, as I just phoned and gave my Visa number. For simplicity, I took out a three-year subscription. The membership application can be downloaded from their site.

Anyone who reads my website: will notice that I have had to regretfully postpone the trip to Vancouver Island. However I plan to offer it in 2011, probably in August. The itinerary is still on my website and if you think you'd like to join us next year, please let me know,

More travel for 2011: the popular 'Scottish Skeins & Skerries Tour' in July. This tour was first held in 1996 and has been repeated many times since then; and another tour to Wales in May. I'm still working on the details and waiting for fares--as soon as they're available, the information will be on my website. Contact me to make sure you're on my emailing list.

As an update to my Piecework Blanket project: I just have 18 more squares to knit. (That is, as long as I don't decide to make it larger than 72 squares.)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Piecework Blanket

This isn't a very good photo--I'm still on a rather steep learning curve and need to learn how to crop--but I wanted to show my current WIP. The whole project is somewhat addictive and it's fun to see my collection of leftover yarns put to a good use. It's also a good 'put down, pick up' endeavour. In addition to using up the remainder of various projects, I've started using some whole balls which I realize I probably won't knit up otherwise.

The pattern called for a total of 35 squares, however I wanted this as a lap rug which wouldn't be skimpy. At this point, I'm planning to knit 72 squares. Once I've completed the knitting and worked in the ends, I plan to back it with flannelette.

Shetland Hamefarin started today. They are making a special commemorative quilt which will be revealed later this month.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

An interesting read

I've recently purchased a book entitled The Culture of Knitting by Joanne Turney, published by Berg in 2009. The author is on the faculty of the Bath School of Art and Design (in England) and the notes on the back cover indicate that she specializes in the study of textiles and fashion as "material culture".

The title caught my eye as I've long felt that it would be a worthwhile project if a sociologist studied the importance of knitting and how it appeals to such a wide spectrum of devotees. I've found it very interesting on my tours that such a diverse group of travellers--who come from a variety of locales all over North America and have a wide range of ages, backgrounds and interests--are drawn together in such a cohesive, compatible group. As far as I can tell, the common factor is a love of knitting and all it encompasses.

I haven't had a chance to read the book in detail, but from what I learned from a quick scan, it deals with knitting from a variety of angles. Although, ironically, I didn't see the subject of knitting tours and travel described. Something for a future edition!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Scotland in 2011 & a National Trust property

We're going to Scotland again next year!

I'll have to count back to see how many times the 'Scottish Skeins & Skerries' tour has been offered since 1996. At this point, airfares on the routes to Shetland, Orkney and the Hebrides have not been published for 2011, but I've begun reserving accommodation and can tell you that we are confirmed at the Kveldsro, our favourite hotel on Shetland. As soon as I have more information, I'll be updating my website, The trip will take place in early July, 2011.

One of the National Trust properties I visited in April was to Knole in Kent, the home of the Sackville family dynasty for over 400 years. was a stunning place and hard to take in the endless treasures--paintings, furniture, textiles and overall opulence. One area I found especially interesting was the King James II's bedroom suite, which at this point concentrates on the conservation and restoration of the bed and the textiles of the curtains and bedhangings.

While this particular set of late Stuart upholstered furniture is over 300 years old, it's condition was especially harmed in the 1960's when the Rural Industries Bureau (RIB) used synthetic adhesives which later discoloured and became brittle, causing the textiles to rapidly deteriorate. This was added to the general degradation of the bed caused by time, exposure to light, dirt, dust and relative humidity. The National Trust is working on a long-term program to conserve and where possible to restore the suite. It's a very expensive project and one which takes place in many of their properties.

On a literary note, Knole was the birthplace and childhood home of Vita Sackville West. She was unable to inherit the property as the possession passed through the male line. Later she and her husband Harold Nicolson purchased nearby Sissinghurst and developed the beautiful gardens there.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I've been knitting

This was a good project while I was travelling.
I'd purchased the pattern from Marilyn King of Black Water Abbey Yarns, The design is by 'Two Old Bags' and is called 'Garden Party Shawl'. There were two options for the edging--one a picot and the other, which I used, a ruffle. I made some changes: shortened the project so it was not a whole shawl but rather a neckerchief, and added extra stitches and another row to the lower ruffle to make it fuller.
The yarn was from Lucy Neatby's Celestial Merino line, in two colours: Blue Vesuvius and Royal Blue. I found the yarn excellent to knit with--it neither split nor broke, especially as it was under great strain when I was doing the ruffles.
Since this was a shorter project, I had yarn left over. I'm using it in a pattern called 'A Patchwork Blanket', designed to use up the many bits and pieces of yarn remaining from other knitting projects. I have accumulated lots of that!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Woolfest 2010

I've been able to get an option for a limited time period on two more rooms for each stop throughout our trip to Italy. Have a look at my website: I'm working on two different itineraries for 2011, and the Italian Idyll Tour will most likely not be offered next year, so don't miss out! You can email me at: or phone me at: 613-695-0889. I'd be pleased to answer any questions you have.

One of the stalls I visited at Wonderwool Wales last month was hosted by the Wool Clip from Cumbria. Those who travelled on a former tour to Yorkshire, Cumbria and Wales will recall our visit to the tiny village of Caldbeck. (In fact, the woman I chatted with at Wonderwool even remembered the visit of our group--probably because of the prodigious shoppers!)

Initially, I learned of the Wool Clip cooperative in an email from one of the members, Christine Crofts. She said that she'd noticed my website and read about our textile-themed tours, and although the timing may not work out to take in Woolfest (which takes place yearly on the last weekend of June), perhaps we would like to visit them at the Wool Clip.

The more I learned about their endeavour, the more convinced I was that I should include it in an itinerary. Consequently, the next year, saw us following a narrow road in the Cumbrian dales to our destination. (Coach drivers frequently tell me that I include routes where they have never travelled before, in fact, didn't even know existed!) Chris met us and briefly told the group how their cooperative was started--which was initially out of necessity due to the result of the devastation of the foot and mouth epidemic in the area. They have worked very hard to make this a very place interesting to visit, but also is a significant attraction in the entire area. The home of the Wool Clip is in a former water mill called Priest's Mill. The members have a wide variety of products--knitting yarn, rugs, handweaving--for sale, plus offer textile workshops and a catalogue and mail order service. There is also a small restaurant called the Watermill Cafe, serving delicious, homemade meals next door.

Woolfest takes place in nearby Cockermouth (also the site of the boyhood home of William Wordsworth.) There is just way too much information in both these websites for me to touch on the many highpoints. I know you'll find them an interesting read.

While we were in Caldbeck, there was a sign that the cemetery in the church yard was the burial place of John Peel. The Canadians in our group immediately started singing, "D'ye Ken John Peel" and when the Americans asked us what he was known for, none of us could say! I've since looked up a website which gives his history.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A good travel website

I've been impressed by the travel website: and used it to plan B&B locations during my travels last month. I was aware of the site, as I'd been receiving their updates for awhile. However, as a result of a chat with another attendee at Stitches West in February (thanks Patricia), I gained a better opinion of the standards of the site. (I receive a number of travel newsletters and usually read them with a somewhat suspicious view--I'm never quite sure of what is a realistic assessment and what is a veiled advertisement.)

I can heartily recommend two B & B's in Britain: the White House in Canterbury ( and 40 York Road in Royal Tunbridge Wells ( Both properties lived up to their descriptions and rankings in every aspect--they were clean, comfortable, and centrally located with helpful, congenial hosts. Patricia at 40 York Road (another Patricia) told me that the reviewers at TripAdvisor were absolutely "incorruptible" and conducted a thorough investigation before granting an inclusion on the site.

Another property I like in the U.K. is the hotel chain, Premier Inn, I've stayed at the location on Bath Road, near Heathrow Airport several times. It is good value. I first became aware of the hotels when I was researching a hotel near Heathrow when I travelled with my family nearly two years ago. It suited us well as the hotel allowed three in a room and there was a play area in the lobby for the children. (A good outlet for youthful energies.) The shuttle service between the hotel and the airport operates twice an hour and charges 4.00 GBP per adult per trip, but free for children. The chain has expanded to a number of locations--I think sometime I'll try one of their properties in central London.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wonderwool Wales

Another principal reason for my travels overseas at this time was to attend Wonderwool Wales-- "A festival of Welsh wool and natural fibres." It is a yearly event at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells, and I believe this was the sixth year it's been held. As I've learned, the show has gone from strength to strength, and this year was another hit. The event was well organized, with many exhibitors--mostly from Wales but also from England and Scotland--a number of places to purchase tasty, relatively inexpensive food and many spots to just sit and watch the people. From counting the number of exhibitors in the show directory, there was a total of 154 booths. These were mostly yarn producers and shops, but also guilds, classes, a number of different sheep breeds and even a large working display from the Welsh National Wool Museum. I have many ideas for a group tour to Wales in 2011.

After a very pleasant interlude with my cousins in Carmarthen, I stayed at a charming country house hotel near Builth Wells for two nights and on the third night in mid-Wales, moved to a B & B so I would be near the train station for my departure the next morning. The train station was located in a tiny little place called Cilmeris and it was stressed that this was a 'request stop'. Right on schedule, a little two-car train came chugging along, with me excitedly waving for it to stop. (The engineer couldn't have missed me as I was the only person, other than a flock of sheep on one side of the tracks and a number of cows in a field on the other.) I really enjoyed my journey from Cilmeris to Swansea--the route is called the Heart of Wales Line--and I happily sat and knit while I watched the green hills and fields of daffodils go by. It was fun to hear the chattering of Welsh accents from the other passengers.

On a historical note, Cilmeris is known where Prince Llywelyn was slain by the English in 1282 and there is a granite memorial to mark the spot. On the Welsh inscription at the marker, Llywelyn is described as "ein llyw olaf"--translation: "Our last leader". (Wonder if Prince Charles knows about that?) My B & B hostess/taxi driver told me that Llywelyn was betrayed by those of the neighbouring village of Aberedw, and it's still felt that people from that village cannot be trusted! Welsh feelings run very deep and memories are long!

Once in Swansea, my train to London was waiting on the next platform. From there, I took the Heathrow Express at Paddington and then the shuttle bus to an airport hotel. The next morning, while I was waiting for the shuttle to Heathrow, I was amazed by the number of planes coming right over the hotel--I'm sure there was no more than a three-minute interval between each landing approach. Hard to believe!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Greetings from Wales

Note to Readers: I thought I'd lost this post as when I went to send it, I got a message that the connection had 'timed out' and couldn't find the draft. I was delighted this morning (29 April) to see that the draft was there. The following was composed on the 19 April.

I've had a great time in England for the past ten days: firstly to Canterbury and then to Tunbridge Wells. Initially a close friend and I came to mark a significant shared birthday. We've travelled by train and stayed in really nice B&Bs. In addition to touring the towns where we were staying, we would take day trips to Dover, Brighton, Sissinghurst, Knole. (More about that in a later post.)

After my friend left to spend time with her family, I was in London for several days on my own. As I hadn't visited the city for several years, it was fun to rediscover the museums especially. I was fortunate to be able to take in a large quilt exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, plus saw an exhibition of the clothes of Grace Kelly. Hard to believe it was sixty years ago to the day when she became a princess. I also visited the Churchill War Rooms. I haven't seen a drop of rain since I landed in Britain--even had to put on sun block yesterday while I was walking through Hyde Park. The flowers have been beautiful everywhere.

I am really impressed by the train service in Britain. The trains are clean, frequent, arrive and leave on time, and everywhere the staff is very helpful and polite.

It's an exciting time to be in Britain with all the stories about the implications of volcanic ash and the election. Perhaps more excitement than I want, as even though I'm not scheduled to fly home until the 27 April, I'm wondering if that will happen. Have been considering whether I should apply for residency or declare myself a refugee!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Shetland News

I am on the Shetland Hamefarin newsletter list and today received their latest update.

In the Shetland dialect, 'hamefarin' means homecoming and it will no doubt be a memorable event, with Shetlanders from all over the world in attendance. The organizing committee has been working very hard for months. I'm going to keep following the site--2010 will be first year since 1996 that I haven't been able to visit Shetland, and it will be a little like "being there."

Everyone who has visited Shetland on my tours will remember Bess Jamieson--the talented, hard-working guardian of the Shetland Guild, and someone who has helped me immeasurably in planning the trips. I heard from Bess this week that the restoration work on the new home for the Guild at Voe House, has been delayed. Consequently, the temporary home of the Guild will be at the Bod of Gremista, former home of Arthur Andersen, founder of the P. & O. Line. The Bod of Gremista is under the aegis of the Shetland Museum.

I'm planning the next Scottish Skeins & Skerries Tour for summer 2011. Please watch my website--the details will be posted in July. I have an email list of people who have indicated they would like to come and will let you all know as soon as the itinerary and other details are available.

I'm leaving for Britain today. One thing I plan to do is to scout out sites for a tour to Wales next year. Specifically, I want to attend the 2010 version of Wonder Wool Wales which takes place later this month. I want to see if it would be an interesting stop for 2011.

Although I'll be physically away, I will endeavour to keep in touch by email. Don't forget about the limited spaces available for the trip to Italy. In my absence, you can always contact Jean Sheikh at Executive Worldwide Travel--the details are on my website.

Monday, March 29, 2010

An important deadline & the Textile Museum of Canada

I wanted to give you an update about the 2010 tours: there are just six places left for the Italian trip. Don't hesitate to contact me if you'd like to register or if you have any questions. The important deadline for registrations on this tour is April 15/10 as after that, I'll have to release any excess hotel rooms I'm holding. Due to high demand, accommodation in Venice and Florence is very difficult to obtain, and although I may be able to get rooms after April 15th, I cannot be certain. I won't be increasing the size of the tour.

While you're on my website, don't forget to read about the trip to Vancouver Island.

Last week I was able to visit the Textile Museum of Canada,, located in Toronto. I was very short of time so didn't stop at the exhibits, but headed straight to the library. I love to spend time there, reading as much as I can from their marvellous collection of books and magazines. This particular visit I was reading back issues of Selvedge Magazine, where I get a lot of information about special events, mostly in Britain, but also extensive articles about textiles, history, shops and talented craftspeople. This especially helps me with planning itineraries for the trips. In addition to the library, there is always an interesting variety of permanent and temporary exhibitions. Unfortunately, I'd just missed the exhibition of quilts, but the one featuring Kashmir shawls is on until 30 May of this year.

For those visiting Toronto, the museum is easy to get to as it is centrally located in the downtown area and is close to a subway stop, plus is well serviced by several public transportation routes. Have a look at the museum's website to learn more of their current and upcoming exhibitions, plus their schedule of interesting speakers and workshops.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Shetland scarf pattern

I receive a newsletter from Yarns International and the one that arrived this week included a pattern called 'Shetland Ombre Scarf'. It is free to download at their site:

The yarn used in the pattern is a mixture of Shetland yarns in natural colours: moorit, yuglet, sholmit and katmollet. (I had to do some searching to learn the precise meaning of these terms!) The scarf is knit with two strands throughout and although we probably won't need the warmth of a scarf for awhile, I think it looks like a nice project to try.

I've been aware of the company Yarns International for a number of years, ever since Oliver Henry ("the wool man") at Jamieson & Smith first spoke to my groups about the Shetland 2000 yarns. He stressed the commitment of Yarns International in supporting the traditional, unique Shetland breeds. This has been against a persistent onslaught of the promotion of breeds with a white coat, as this takes the dyes. I understand the Shetland 2000 line of natural yarns has now been extended to a new name: Shetland Supreme Naturals.

I'm certain that anyone who has visited Shetland, comes away with an understanding of the importance of supporting not only the traditional Shetland breeds, but also the dedication of the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Weavers & Knitters--in fact the traditions which make these islands such a special place.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Stitches West, Toll-free number & Qiviuq workshop

This year I'm making up for the travelling I didn't do in 2009, as I'm going to Santa Clara and Stitches West. I'm actually going to California one day early to spend a day in San Francisco--I've never been there before and it's long been on my list of places to visit. One day isn't much, but I intend to make the most of it. I haven't been to a Stitches event for a number of years and I'm looking forward to seeing friends I've made from the tours. If you see me anywhere in the show, be sure to stop and say hello. I've also registered for three workshops--a busy time.

When I sent out emails last week about the tours, I should have included a toll-free number: you can always call the agency at 1-800-267-5552 and leave a message for me. The trip to Italy is close to being half full. If you want to have another look at the itineraries: and

For lovers of qiviuq, I received notice of a qiviuq workshop to be held in Whitehorse, Yukon on the 26 - 28 March. Learn about qiviuq the finest, warmest & lightest natural fibre ... harvested from wild muskox by Inuvialuit. Qiviuq knitting workshop will be led by Wendy Chambers, internationally renowned fibre artist and instructor. Come join us for a Yukon Knitting Adventure hosted by Folknits in Whitehorse, Yukon. You’ll knit these hand warmers with qiviuq yarn spun from the hair of wild muskox. You’ll see muskox in their wilderness habitat. Tour the historic gold rush City of Whitehorse. Relax in the natural mineral waters of Takhini Hot Springs. Qiviuq Knitting Weekend. March 26-28, 2010. Whitehorse, Yukon.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

More Details of 2010 Tours to Canada's West Coast & Italy

I'm back in Ottawa from Madrona in Tacoma. It took me awhile to get caught up with the change in time zones, plus travelling on a 'red eye' flight from Vancouver to Toronto. However all went well and although the travelling was tiring, it was uneventful (by that, I mean safe landings.)

My apologies to all those who have been waiting for details of the 2010 tours. I am happy to let you know that I’ve just completed the planning for two special trips:

The West Coast of British Columbia, August 23rd to 31st – Victoria, Vancouver Island, Salt Spring Island and Tofino (Pacific Rim National Park). Itinerary information at:

An Italian Idyll, September 20th to October 2nd -- Venice, Anghiari, travelling in Tuscany and Florence. Itinerary information at:

Please read the details of both tours on my website: This is your opportunity to travel in a small group, with fellow textile enthusiasts. Both itineraries have been carefully researched to take into account your interests, but I’ve allowed enough time for relaxation and the opportunity to fully appreciate your travels. Due to the special areas we visit and the talented local people we meet, the size of the group will not be
expanded. Neither of these unique itineraries will be repeated next year, as I have some other destinations in mind.

Earlier participants frequently comment on the high value of the tours, which have a strong ratio of repeat travellers. The land cost is on my website and I can arrange for return flights from your home city, plus would be happy to reserve extra hotel nights before and/or after either tour. The registration forms for each trip can be downloaded and mailed to the agency, Executive Worldwide Travel in Ottawa. Payment can be made by cheque, money
order or credit card.

Non-knitting companions have not been forgotten and are very welcome. Activities for their interests are being planned and will be integrated into the schedules.

I hope you will be able to join us on a tour. If you have any questions or just want to say hello, don’t hesitate to contact me, either by email at or by phone at 613-695-0889. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

News from Shetland and Madrona

I'm in Tacoma, attempting to be productive until my flight leaves. When I checked my email, I had a newsletter waiting from Shetland, and thought everyone who's visited this special part of the world would be interested to get this news too: and

I've enjoyed my visit to the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat and this morning took a bead knitting workshop. The teacher had us make a sampler showing different methods of using beads, which will be good to keep for reference. My time at Madrona has been enjoyable: a mixture of visiting with old and new friends, admiring the numerous beautifully knitted creations worn by the attendees, and just sitting knitting. I managed to control myself in the market place and did very little shopping.

I'm glad I brought my computer with me on this trip, as I've emailed Garth (my website guy) the remainder of the details for the two tours later this year. Please let me know if any of you have questions about either tour. The information is on my website:

Monday, February 8, 2010

An announcement!

I had a phone call from Garth (my website guy), to let me know that he had completed the revisions for my website: Have a look at it and you will see it has a completely new look. I like it and after close to ten years, I think it is time for a change in format! Be sure to visit my site regularly --we'll continue to update the information as more tour details are finalized.

You'll find most of the information for the tours later this year: in August to British Columbia (including Victoria, travelling on Vancouver Island, Salt Spring Island, Tofino and the beaches of Pacific Rim National Park):

In September we'll be going to Italy: Venice, the villages of Tuscany and Florence. The price for the Italian tour is on the website:

I'll be sending Garth the tour price for British Columbia so he can do what is necessary to convert it to a web document. (It's all I can do to be a tour planner and knitter, however the fine points of programming computers and their language are way beyond me.)

I'm off to Tacoma on Wednesday and have a stack of flyers with me to publicize the tours. Reports will be forthcoming from the Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat. I've even bought a new suitcase.

Friday, February 5, 2010

I'll be travelling

Next week I leave for Tacoma and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat. I went there two years ago and really enjoyed myself. The city is interesting and I went to two very interesting museums, but mostly spent my time at the event.

Organizer, Suzanne Pedersen has done an excellent job of creating a relaxed atmosphere, providing a wide variety of talented instructors and a marketplace, but most importantly lots of time to knit and visit with other like-minded knitting enthusiasts. Many people return year after year. The host hotel is the Murano, with an outstanding display of hand-blown glass. I'm going to take one course: Knitting a Bead Sampler. I could have registered for more classes but wanted to leave time to visit with old friends who will also be attending. I'm looking forward to hearing the guest speakers too. Have a look at the Madrona site to learn more about them.

I have Mary Adams and Suzanne to thank for designating the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Weavers & Knitters as one of their charities for the past two years. The donations that the Guild received from Madrona attendees were very much appreciated and went towards their building fund for a home for the Guild and their collections.

I will also be taking flyers to tell people about the two tours for 2010. The trip to Vancouver Island (Victoria and area, Salt Spring Island) is scheduled from the 23 to 31 August. The trip to Italy (Venice, Tuscany, Florence) will take place 20 September to 02 October. Details of both tours will be on my website very shortly. (Again, sorry for the delay as I know many of you have been waiting for that information.)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A worthy project

This week I received the January newsletter from talented fibre artist, Anna Hergert, who I've profiled in an earlier blog. Have a look at her website:, and click her blog to find the 06 January entry. Be sure to go to the end of that blog and click on 'Read More' to learn about a non-profit organization called KIVA, which is organized to help women in Third World countries who are "willing to help themselves". Once these women receive donations, which are actually loans, they have a specified time to repay the amount.

Anna has also started a lending group towards this end. Hers is directed towards textile artists and she has called it "Textile Artists for Global Change". She has photos of two women, one in Nigeria and the other in Ghana.

Once you've read about the details, you may wish to make a contribution to support this worthy endeavour.

Friday, January 8, 2010

I've been knitting

I'm embarrassed to admit how long it took me to go through the steps to find and to successfully post this photo--there must be a lot of very talented people on the internet, as obviously it isn't a difficult process for most of you! I was ready to hire an expert, but thanks to an instructional video from Garth (my website guy), I was able to slowly demystify the necessary steps.

This is a photo of my elder grandaughter, wearing the scarf I knit for her from Lucy Neatby's 'Sea Lettuce' pattern. I bought the pattern and the yarn (Celestial Merino, 100 gms.) when we visited Lucy and her staff on our tour in September.

The scarf could have been a little longer, but I stopped a bit early so that Madeline's mother could incorporate some of the yarn into a hat she was knitting for her. I found the project to be enjoyable and would try it again, but did start to wonder when I would finish with all the twirling. It is a dandy pattern for travelling and when one has interruptions, as it was easy to pick up and find out where I should resume knitting.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New beginnings

After many years doing my travel planning through an agency in Toronto, I have decided to join an Ottawa agency, Executive Worldwide Travel, I am very much looking forward to this association and being in the same city will allow me to take part in day-to-day agency activities. The agency offers a number of special interest group tours and I think it will be a better 'fit' with my trips.

For anyone with travel enquiries or who wish to book, my email address remains the same and you can always contact me by that means or by phone at: 613-695-0889.

I've also been working on the second tour for 2010--a knitting journey to British Columbia. Our trip will begin in Victoria and we will travel on Vancouver Island with a visit to the beautiful gulf island of Salt Spring.

In addition to staying in Victoria--with afternoon tea at the famous Empress Hotel, the beautiful Butchart Gardens and the Royal Museum of B.C.--we'll visit the Cowichan knitters at Duncan; travel on the Island to meet craftspeople, visits to yarn shops, an alpaca farm and meet with talented, local knitters. Salt Spring Island is known for its scenic beauty and its interesting, talented population. One of our highlights there will be a visit to Treenaway Silk and we'll time our visit to take in the weekly market.

I've been listening to the news of a bad storm in the Maritime provinces and the Confederation Bridge was closed due to high winds. For those who came on the tour in September, it will bring back memories when we had to delay our crossing on the bridge for several hours, however the weather then wasn't nearly as inclement as this snowstorm.