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: http://www.highlandvillage.gov.ns.ca/

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: http://www.knitting-and-crochet-guild.org.uk/. 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: http://www.joycejamestours.com/ 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, knitting@joycejamestours.com.

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, http://www.joycejamestours.com/. 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. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-knole.It 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.