Saturday, April 23, 2011

More news about Wales

Even though there is so much in the news about Wales, with the royal wedding approaching later this week, there is much more in the principality than the royal connection.

I've come across a really interesting site called: Gathering the Jewels (Casglu'r Tlysau in Welsh!). It covers a wide gamut of topics and is stated as being the website for Welsh Cultural History. The introduction to the site indicates that there are over "30,000 images of objects, books, letters, aerial photographs and other items from museums, archives and libraries throughout Wales." Again, I've spent way too much time looking at different topics, mostly history and the textile arts.

A few of the sites which I've noted: images of hand-knitting items from the former Cambrian Mills, now known as the Museum of Dre-fach Felindre, the Welsh Wool Museum (where we will visit on both tours of Wales); a photograph dated 1885 of a ladies' club; and two photos of women knitting in the Welsh national dress, dated 1875. (Concerning the stove-pipe hats, I once read that a wealthy, titled woman decided that the Welsh needed a national dress and decreed that style of hat would be included!)

While I've been researching highlights for our itinerary, it's been very interesting to learn of all the small farms and wool producers. It's reached a point where I've had to omit several stops as there just isn't enough time. Such an interesting, beautiful area. Come join us on the tour in September.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Today is Earth Day

My family chides/teases me the way I'm so determined about recycling--I think they secretly feel I'm obsessed. Composting is not allowed in the apartment building where I currently live, so I take many bags of orange peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc. to a son's home, where composting is collected. (Especially necessary when I've bought a case of juice oranges.)

I don't think my kids feel that dementia is approaching as I've been recycling since the 1970s, when I used to take bottles and cans to a City of Ottawa works yard. I would wash all the cans, remove the labels and flatten them. The bottles had to be separated by three colours; clear, green and brown (I used to wish that more people in the city did that.)

I'm happy that there appears to be a heightened consciousness of looking after the environment and recycling, however, I think we still have a long way to go. Just hope it isn't too late.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Welsh Drovers

During the first tour which included Wales and England--I cannot remember the exact year but think it was 1997--we had a speaker in Wales by the name of Idris Evans. (With a name like that, he would have to be Welsh!) Idris had been recommended by a contact at the Welsh Tourist Board and was reported to be an informative, interesting speaker. He certainly didn't disappoint us. The subject of his talk was the tradition of the Welsh drovers, something we all found very interesting.

I'd lost touch with Idris since 1997 and as you know, times have changed a lot since then, but thanks to a search on Google, I was able to locate him. (I also learned that in the interim, he had written a book called Hard Road to London.) For both our 2011 Welsh tours, it's been arranged for Idris to speak to us about the drovers, In addition, he'll tell us about the flannel mills which used to operate in Wales and the knitters of Bala. This will be another opportunity to learn more about Welsh traditions and a chance to ask questions.

As I've indicated before, the May tour to Wales sold out quickly but there is room on the September version. Have a look at the details on my website:

Still working away on the final details of the piecework blanket--haven't had much time lately but its coming along. I'm looking forward to getting it finished.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Celtic music & knitting in Calgary

For anyone who is interested in Celtic music, I've received an announcement that ticket purchase is now open for the Hebridean Celtic Festival. You can learn more of the events at the following sites:

As I've said before, members of our 2011 Scottish Skeins tour are fortunate to be in the Hebrides at that time this July, and some have already bought their event tickets.

A friend in Canmore (thanks Frances) sent me news of the very active knitting scene in Calgary. Here is an article from the Calgary Herald:

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Welsh quilts

I received an email from Jen Jones in Wales this week.

Jen is the person who realized the treasures in antique Welsh quilts. When she first moved to Wales and became aware of the quilts, they were not valued and were used in inappropriate ways as in cattle byres, under mattresses for additional padding, etc. Since that time, the Welsh quilt and its traditions have received the attention they deserved. Jen's first shop is next to her home near the small village of Llanybydder--very diffcult to pronounce unless your Welsh! In 2009, Jen opened the Welsh Quilt Centre in the town of Lampeter. She has also written two books on the subject and has taken her collection for exhibitions farther afield than the U.K., there was one in the U.S. and another in Japan several years ago. When I was in the U.K. last year, I was very fortunate to be in London at the same time as a special exhition of quilts at the V. & A. Museum. That visit enabled me to learn more about the Welsh quilts.

Have a look at her site: In this larger venue, she is able to offer workshops, more extensive exhibitions, a small tea room and even details of a quilting project they have with a charity in Ethiopia.

In 2011 the exhibition of Welsh quilts is called "Oh That Summer Would Last Forever". We'll be meeting Jen during the May tour to Wales, and we'll repeat the visit during the second tour in September. As of today, there is still space on that second tour, but that trip is also small and is limited to 14 travellers.

See the details of the itinerary and let me know if you have any questions and would like to register:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Shetland News

I receive a monthly newsletter from Visit Shetland, the tourist information centre. I always enjoy reading the contents and seeing the photos; In the current issue I learned that Jamieson & Smith is offering a Shetland Wool Week this year from 11 to 14 October. It is probably meant for those who live in the U.K., but wanted to mention it in case any North Americans will be in the area at that time. Yarns International (http://www.yarnsinternational/) has announced a new collection of Fair Isle patterns, called 'Shetland Fishing Villages'. The first design, Fethaland has been announced and until April 30, there is a 15% discount on the kit. Recently, I've been busy doing other things and haven't had much time to work on the Piecework Blanket. However, I've finally found a suitable flannelette for the backing--more involved than I expected--and have to finish the ends. It's getting there, if slowly!