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!