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. knitting@joycejamestours.com )

An item I'd missed before was another reference to our group's visit last year. (http://www.joycejamestours.com/)
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: http://www.karinflatoysvarstad.com/. 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: http://www.wsd.org.uk/. 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: http://www.briarcliffeinn.com/ and http://www.experiencepei.ca/.

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 http://www.knittersreview.com./ 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. http://www.joycejamestours.com/. 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", http://www.theholliesbuilthwells.co.uk/. 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.