Saturday, December 15, 2012

I've been reading

I get a lot of travel-related newsletters. For those who enjoy rail travel, I thought you would be interested in this site.

http://www.ACP Rail

-  Treenway Silks newsletter. I love the vibrant colours of the silks.

-  While a number of the trades have minimal interest for me (i.e. snail breeding and cooking), it's an interesting read. 


-  This week, I received an email from Bill Lawson, widely acknowledged expert on Hebridean family history. Specifically, Bill has recently completed a comprehensive study of families on Harris. (Our visit to Chris and Bill's family history centre, on the Isle of Harris, is one of the highlights of our stay in the Outer Hebrides.)

For anyone who is thinking of travel to Wales or Scotland in 2013, the trips are getting close to being sold out. If you have been thinking about joining us, please contact me for information. 

email: or

Friday, November 30, 2012

I've been knitting

I love knitting Evelyn Clark's designs and recently finished another lace triangle. I used yarn from Fine Fibre Isle which used to operate in P.E.I., but I understand it's (regretfully) no longer in business. Although they are hard to see in the photograph, I've added beads from Italy on the edge and points. They show up better in actual wearing.

I've started Gudrun Johnston's hap shawl, knit in Jamieson & Smith, 2 Ply Lace Weight. However, I've had to put it aside now that I'm at the complicated lace part, where I have to concentrate on each row. 

Today I received the latest edition of 60 North. As always, it's full of interesting news about Shetland, including an article by Kate Davies about Wool Week.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Interesting newsletters

No doubt I spend way too much time on the internet--but on the other hand, the benefits can be many and allow me to learn more than I would have any other way. Here are some newsletters and sites which I've enjoyed and found helpful:

1.  Twist Collective: I read through the whole newsletter in detail and really enjoyed the contents. The answers to knitting queries were helpful and there was a wide variety of patterns and articles. Have a look---

2.  A map of British craftspeople in the Heritage Crafts of the U.K.: Saying that, a glaring omission is the fact that there are no craftspeople listed on Shetland, which I know not to be true! (I'm going to see what I can do to have this corrected.)

3.  Craft and Music on Isle of Yell: Andy Ross who lives on Yell writes I find the site interesting but a reservation is the format, which can be difficult to read.

In my previous post, I should have elaborated on the photos of the knitting. The Fair Isle jumper (sweater) on the woolly board was outside the Bod of Gremista in Lerwick, home of the Shetland Guild; the beautiful example of Shetland Lace was one of the winners in a contest the Guild had. I should have made a note of the creators of these examples of knitting skill--they would be members of the Guild. (A woolly board is an adjustable device used to block and dry sweaters.)

Friday, November 16, 2012

2013 Tours to Scotland and Wales

I wanted to let you know that the details for the 2013 tours to Scotland and Wales are (finally) on my website: (With many thanks to my talented, long-suffering Website Guy!) I apologize for the delay, as I know that a number have been waiting to register.

These will be great tours--I've incorporated many high points from previous tours, and have added a number of visits and venues which I feel certain you will enjoy. Both tours have been planned to be a balance between free time to just reflect and knit, and also to experience the special ambiance of our travels. 

If you have friends and/or relatives who are non knitters, there is much in these unique itineraries which will appeal to them. Many people comment on the value of the tours and we have a considerable number of repeat participants.

 Please contact me if you have any questions, either by phone at 613-695-0889 or by email: Hope you can join us.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Kate Davies

I'm excited to announce that Kate Davies will meet with those who are coming on the Scottish Skeins & Skerries Tour next July. She will give us a presentation on the Saturday afternoon in Glasgow and will join us for dinner at the hotel. She also indicated she will be happy to answer questions. 

To continue with my Wool Week activities: another of the many highlights was the opportunity to take a workshop from Kate. I have followed her blogs and admired her designs for months--don't know how she manages to accomplish so much! Kate is both an excellent speaker, organized and very giving of her expertise. The workshop I took was entitled taking a design from concept to finished article and how to sell it on Ravelry. 

There was/is no way I would ever be able design anything but I really enjoyed listening to how an expert does it. Kate's presentation was very informative and centered on the design of a historical cap worn by fishermen. She has the finished product on Ravelry--it is called a Sixareen Kep. This photo shows Kate taking a picture of a photogenic  classmate wearing the kep/hat/toque (to Canadians).    

Have a look at Kate's site on Ravelry. There are a number of excellent photos of the design and details to purchase the instructions.  
patterns>Kate Davies Designs>Sixareen Kep

(P.S. A sixareen is a Norse name and was a specific model of a fishing boat, rowed by six men, each with a single oar. They rowed out to the fishing grounds as far as thirty miles from land--all in an open boat.)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Wool Week and lots more

One of the highlights of Wool Week was the presentation of the book A Legacy of Shetland Lace, by members of the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Weavers, Knitters and Dyers. It is a collection of designs and instructions of traditional Shetland patterns, with some of contemporary adaptations. I highly recommend to everyone to buy a copy--not only for the patterns but also the knitting advice and the biographical information of the designers. There is a project for every level of knitting expertise.

At the moment, it is only available from the Shetland Times Bookstore,  The ISBN number is 978-1-904746-76-8 and it is priced at £23.99 plus postage.

I took several workshops during the week and it was a treat to be so immersed in knitting and associated textile subjects. It seemed when I wasn't actually knitting, I was talking knitting! The workshops I took were held at the Shetland Museum and at Jamieson and Smith (known locally as The Wool Brokers), although there were activities mostly on the main island, but also to Unst and Yell. The workshop in the photo was one given by Hazel Tindall in a Fair Isle design. (Not sure who the man was--he kept turning up all over the town--I was told that he has written several books about spinning wheels.)

At J. & S., it was a real treat to see the many colours and weights of yarn arranged around the walls, including their new Shetland Heritage line. The weather during the week was very fair and I spent times walking along the seafront and just enjoying being back on Shetland again.

More to come in future posts.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

On my way back from Shetland and Wool Week

I am currently in Aberdeen and take the flights home tomorrow.

Even though I've been privileged to visit there a number of times before, the time on Shetland was as enjoyable as always. Wool Week was well organized, with many workshops, events and visits, that sometimes it was difficult to make a decision on what to attend.

As always, the Shetlanders were very friendly and welcoming. This year was special as the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Weavers, Knitters and Dyers have produced a book of lace designs, with biographies of the designers. More to come in future posts.

I haven't forgotten about the tours for 2013. Soon after I return home, I expect to have the final details I need to give everyone who is waiting the tour cost and to open registration.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Baskets, baskets......

I was fortunate to visit Namibia and Botswana in July, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the trip. (In fact, in 2014 I would love to offer a tour to these two African countries.) Anyone who knows me would not be surprised to know that I came home with many beautiful baskets. I never thought I would say this, but I admit that even I don't have room for anymore baskets! 
The photo below is from Namibia when my son and I visited a small settlement--it wasn't even a village--where we found many women and numerous dear little children sitting amidst piles of baskets, and obviously awaiting our appearance. The women work very hard to collect the grasses, dye them and then weave them into graceful shapes with their own designs. In a future post, I'll share more photos.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Two interesting newsletters

Earlier this week I received two newsletters which I enjoy reading. The first was from Meg Swansen and her latest update: I always find her newsletter full of advice, interesting news and patterns.

The second was from I originally heard about Yarns International many years ago, during one of our first Scottish Skeins & Skerries Tours. At that time, Oliver Henry of Jamieson & Smith, spoke very highly about the support which Betty gave them in developing a new line of their yarns. Their most recent newsletter announced a book of new designs from J. & S's Shetland yarn.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Shetland Wool Week, 2012

For anyone who doesn't know, Shetland Wool Week is a special event which is held this year throughout Shetland  from the 08 to 14 October. It will be a celebration of Shetland traditions, an opportunity to take workshops from talented Shetland knitters, hear speakers at the Shetland Museum--so much going on that I'm really excited to be attending.

The Shetland Guild of Spinners, Weavers & Dyers has produced a book of Shetland lace patterns which will be introduced at the event. You can be sure, I'll be in line to buy a copy--or more.

I'm travelling with three keen knitters who initally came on past Scottish Skeins & Skerries Tours as unknown participants (to me), and have become friends. Jamieson & Smith (known as the Wool Brokers to the locals) is the primary sponsor and Kate Davies is the honorary patron this year.To learn more about the details, have a look at: .

If you would like to attend next year, the dates in 2013 are from 07 to 13 October.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

In the Loop 3 Conference, Southampton England

The In the Loop 3 Conference took place earlier this month in Southampton, England. The conference is held every other year. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it's been an event which I would liked to have attended. Maybe in 2014.

The list of speakers was extensive and it would have been a treat to have heard them. Several familiar names from Shetland spoke and I see the keynote speaker was Carol Christiansen (curator of the Shetland Museum). Carol's talk was entitled: "The Best of British: Knitwear used by Polar and Himalayan explorers". Friends who we meet on our Scottish Skeins tours, Wilma Malcolmson and Hazel Tindall were also active participants.

Hard to believe that a month from now, I'll be back from Shetland Wool Week. I'll try to take photos and post throughout the event. It's going to be fun!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

North Ronaldsay sheep, Orkney

A friend told me that the Yarn Harlot had posted on her blog about the unique yarn from the North Ronaldsay sheep. (Thanks Heather)

On our Scottish Skeins & Skerries tours, a maximum of seven lucky people get to visit the tiny island of North Ronaldsay for the day. I say a maximum, as the Loganair plane is very small and only has room for eight people--hopefully seven of our tour members plus the pilot. I always plan one day when we're on Orkney so that a trip to North Ronaldsay is possible.

As you can understand, these seats are very hard to come by and as soon as booking is possible, I reserve as much space as I can. Sometimes it isn't possible to get seven seats, as this involves two flights for the same-day return excursion. On past tours, sometimes space is also taken up by local residents going to medical appointments in Kirkwall, and one year, a banker was making her monthly visit to the island.

I haven't yet been to North Ronaldsay--just haven't had the opportunity--but always look forward to our travellers' return and to hear about their day. They have always been full of enthusiasm about their visit: with meeting Jane Donnelly at the mill, seeing the flocks of sheep who live most of their lives on the rocky shore, and just experiencing this interesting area. The yarn is very soft--I'm told that's from the kelp which forms the bulk of their diet.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Travels in 2013

So that you can make plans for your travel in 2013, I didn't want to keep the many "knitters and friends" waiting any longer for details.

I am pleased to announce that the day-by-day itineraries for Wales and Scotland are now on my website. I'm not able to give tour costs yet--but expect those very soon. However, hotel rooms have been confirmed, coaches booked and personal visits arranged. It will be another memorable year for travelling and knitting--two unique opportunities to tour special parts of Wales and Scotland! Have a look at my website: to learn about the many highlights of these tours.

The 2011 version of Wales: History, Heritage, Handicrafts sold out early. For 2013, I've included a number of favourite stops and have added more venues that we just didn't have time to visit last year. This tour begins on Friday, 26 April and ends on Wednesday, 08 May. The starting date will give us the opportunity to attend Wonderwool Wales--an outstanding annual event. 

As I've indicated before, the upcoming Scottish Skeins & Skerries Tour will mark the 15th time it's been held. I've scheduled this tour for July. It's an ideal time to visit these special areas of Scotland and places where many people have not had the opportunity to experience.  

Don't miss out on either trip as tour sizes are limited. Please email me and let me know if you have any questions, and if you wish to make a provisional registration for either tour:

Kate Davies' blog:, has photographs of a knitted fence from the island of Burra, designed by one of the many talented Shetland knitters. When I'm on Shetland next month I'm going to go by and have a look, plus am looking forward to meeting Kate, as she is the 2012 patron of Wool Week.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

More news about Shetland

For those who've been waiting, the details for the 15th Scottish Skeins & Skerries Tour are just about completed. I can tell you that the trip will begin on the 04 July, 2013 in Glasgow and we'll also go to Shetland, Orkney and the Hebridean islands of Harris and Lewis. As in past tours, our itinerary will include visits to craftspeople, stunning scenery, historical and archaeological sites, beautiful gardens. I've planned a balance between touring and free time. Space is limited and once registration is open, my website will be updated, I'll announce it on my blog and will send out notification to those who've emailed me. However, if I miss you, please let me know.

In less than a month, I'll be back on Shetland to attend Wool Week. I'm really looking forward to returning to one of my favourite places, seeing old friends and attending events planned for the week.

Thus, it was timely to receive the online 60 North Autumn Issue last week.  Whether or not you've visited Shetland before, there is a range of interesting articles: the Shetland Bus (heroism and hardships during World War II when Norway was occupied by the Nazis); an update on the new home of the Shetland Textile Museum at the Bod of Gremista; an interview of novelist Ann Cleeves and much more! It's well worth reading.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Bishop Richard Rutt

I mentioned a number of posts ago that Bishop Richard Rutt's wide collection knitting books, patterns, clippings and tutorials is held at the University of Southampton library. Recently I learned that a number of very old knitting books, dating from 1800 to 1911, have been digitised and are on the internet.

Have a look at: I've just had a cursory look through some of the pages and it's interesting to read about the knitting techniques, vocabulary and patterns and how they have changed. Which is not surprising considering how far back the collection stretches. Who knits a "Sontag" or "Cephaline" anymore? (From the 1844 issue of My Knitting Book.)

Another book, printed by The Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen, titled Helping the Trawlers and dated 1800, has a long list of patrons and vice-patrons. In addition to patterns for clothing to help seamen withstand the harsh weather on open ships, there is a section for donations to Labrador. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

More upcoming tour news

I recently learned that the date for the 2013 HebCelt Festival on Lewis has been moved to a different weekend, from when it had been held for the past number of years. (A number of months ago I'd made hotel reservations for the usual weekend and assumed the date wouldn't change.) Fortunately, I've been able to secure alternate reservations at a new property and I am looking forward to having next year's group stay there. Even if one doesn't attend the organized concerts, it's fun to be on Lewis during the festival, with musicians on the streets giving impromptu performances.

I've just become aware of a new emigrant website organized by Bill Lawson, who we visit at his geneaological centre on Harris. Have a look at the website--
(Kathy, thanks for telling me about this.) One thing I learned that Hebrideans who went to Virginia and the Carolinas were a more privileged group than those who moved to Canada and Australia.

In addition to the services it offers I enjoyed reading the articles and have signed up for the free newsletter. Our groups have visited the centre for a number of years. Bill and his wife Chris are both extremely interesting and welcoming, and members of our groups frequently have so many questions, that we take our lunch stop there.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Has it been that long!

Note: I thought this message had been published several days ago. In spite of a friend telling me she'd read already read it, I see it still shows as in draft form. Will try posting again.

Today was the first time I'd opened my blogspot since I'd last posted. Initially I was intending to post but then realized how behind I was in reading posts from others.

It's been a most unusual summer, with two special trips. I'll start with one highlight from the most recent journey and a stay in Wales. I went with several members of my family and the best part was reconnecting with Welsh cousins--a most memorable time. In addition to visiting, we travelled around south west Wales a lot and I learned more of this beautiful area. I'd rented a cottage from Jen Jones. Jen is a well known supporter of Welsh quilts and a key person in raising the profile of this style of quilting, but more so, she has made the Welsh aware of these treasures of their heritage.

Jen told me that next year's exhibition at the Quilt Centre in Lampeter will feature the quilts of Kaffe Fassett. Our 2013 Welsh tour is timed so that we can attend Wonderwool Wales in late April, and we will also see Kaffe's quilt exhibition during our tour. In fact, I have already reserved rooms at the nearby Falcondale Hotel. (This hotel was a favourite of those who travelled on the 2011 tour to Wales.)  

More to come later this week........

Friday, June 8, 2012

More This & That

Later this month is the annual event, Woolclip: It is held in beautiful, rural Cumbria and I'd love to go. Each year I promise myself I'll attend, but then something else comes up. Well maybe next year!

Something that has come up is that I'm going to Namibia and Botswana next week. I'll be travelling with one of my sons. Botswana, especially, is known as an area of talented basketmakers and my son has promised that we'll include some visits in our itinerary.

I've just finished reading the June newsletter from Visit Shetland from cover to cover--another interesting site to read in detail. Their publication is called: 60 North and you'll find articles of interest to both knitters (and also for those who aren't as  passionate about the craft) in the summer 2012 issue. One article to look for is authored by Kate Davies and features a history and many photographs, including one of Mary Kay who teaches our lace workshop during the Scottish Skeins & Skerries tours. Another is of many beautiful lace shawls stretched out to dry on grass after they'd been 'finished'.

Earlier I received the Promote Shetland Spring mailer This also has a lot of helpful and pertinent information.

I wondered why I was getting emails from hotel chains about availability of rooms in London during the Olympics. Then I read an article that many people are steering clear of London at that time, plus the Olympic organizers (in their bureaucratic wisdom) had blocked off a large proportion of rooms and now they are not needed. 

I live a block away from the (former) Syrian embassy. Late last week there was a flurry of activity while diplomats and staff were busily securely wrapping boxes, suitcases, etc. and loading them into a number of sleek, black Mercedes and BMW cars. Watching the process was a Mountie in an RCMP van. I was happy that the Canadian government took a stand and said the embassy had to be closed and the staff to leave the country, although it hasn't changed the brutality of the Syrian government.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A wonderful weekend and more news from Shetland

Earlier this month I attended a weekend knitting retreat. It was organized by three talented artists from Wakefield, Quebec and was the third time it had been held. The registration fee included two nights accommodation, wonderful meals, three different knitting-related workshops, and lots of time to just knit, visit, and enjoy the rural setting. It was very relaxing and I asked the organizers to put me on next year's registration list.

While there, I didn't complete the projects as I'd hoped and expected. I frequently (in fact usually) am extremely unrealistic at how much I think I will accomplish. However, it was a treat to just sit and knit with compatible knitters, without any interruptions. In addition to taking along a man's vest I'd started several years ago, I also brought Lucy Neatby's rainbow sheep sweater design, which I am essentially reknitting. (That was started in another century!)

As of yesterday, I finally have internet connection at home. The downside was that I had 899 emails in my inbox, but the upside was definitely, that amongst those messages, I had an email from Shetland announcing a publication called 60 Shetland. I haven't read through it thoroughly, but on a quick perusal, it is full of interesting articles and not just knitting. Go to: to get the magazine and you can also sign up to receive future issues.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

News from all over

This week I completed two projects and was able to give them to two grandaughters. Both items had been essentially completed for way too long. One was a mitred blanket which finally got its flannelette backing and the other a sweater, which only needed a few touches. Just have two UFOs--one I expect to complete during a weekend workshop in early May.

Earlier this month I ordered a small iPad cover as a gift from my computer in Ottawa. It seemed a straight-forward transaction and I assumed the purchase was filled directly from a location in either the U.S. or Canada. However, I was astounded when I received the details of the tracking information:

-  12 April - Order processed in China;
-    "     "    - Departure from Shenzhen, China;
-    "     "    - Departure from Hong Kong;
-    "     "    - Departure from Anchorage, AK;
-   13    "    - Departure from Louisville, KY;
-     "    "    - Arrival Mount Hope, ON;
-   14   "     - Arrival Concord, ON;
-   16    "    - Delivery Toronto, ON!

I realize this item wasn't alone on all the flights, however feel that the carbon footprint was extremely great. Made me feel guilty at how I'd added to the world's pollution. It shows how much manufacturing has moved off shore.

On a more positive note: I learned about the Twist Collective and their excellent newsletter via an email received from Foxfire Fiber & Designs. Another site I want to follow regularly:

It is reported that Kate Middleton, a.k.a. the Duchess of Cambridge, supports Harris Tweed


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

More textile news

I don't like to begin with sad news, but wanted to let you know that after much discussion, the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Weavers & Dyers has regretfully decided they must close their Textile Museum.
As many of you will know, they once occupied a wonderful space in a renovated mill at Weisdale. Unfortunately, their lease was just for ten years and the lease holder, Bonhoga Gallery refused to extend the Guild's occupancy. Last year we saw a much smaller exhibition, when the Museum occupied the Bod of Gremista, just outside Lerwick. For a number of reasons, this space proved to be unsuitable, plus too expensive to heat. The Guild found that the effort in keeping the Textile Museum in operation was monopolising too much of their time and energies to the detriment of other Guild activities. In the economic climate of the U.K., the funding required is virtually unavailable. I understand that the renovation of the manor house for their dreamed of/proposed Textile Working Museum has also been put in abeyance.
Another interesting article in the latest newsletter from The Centre for Creative Industries:
Nike does seem like something of a trail blazer, as it was the firm which recently revitalized the Harris tweed industry when they ordered a trainer made from tweed. Master weaver, Donald John Mackay said when he first read the order, he was sure that there had been a misprint in the number of yards ordered. Once he realized it was correct, he had to enlist the help of weavers on Harris and Lewis.
In the 2012 British Honours List, Donald John received an MBE--Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Those who have come on the Scottish Skeins & Skerries Tours, will remember Donald John from our visits to his tiny weaving shed, overlooking beautiful Luskentyre Beach on Harris. He is always very gracious and welcoming and eager to talk about weaving and answer our many questions--in fact, it is sometimes difficult to get him to leave the loom and sell us some tweed.
I have a subscription to the quarterly magazine, Wild Fibers and enjoy the articles and the stunning photographs. Recently I received two emails from them, one with the sad announcement of a fire at Earth Art Cashmere Farm in Marshville, Nova Scotia. The other was about a sale of woven articles which the publisher Linda Cortright bought in her travels. Have a look at:

Sunday, March 4, 2012

News from Shetland

Earlier this week I received the latest newsletter of the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers. I always look forward to reading about friends who've I've met on trips to Shetland and always learn more about textiles, mostly knitting.

In the current issue there was a reference to a publication called The Journal, which appears to focus on weaving, spinning and dyeing, but would appeal to anyone interested in textiles. Their website is: and it looks like an interesting publication.

I also learned a new word--'dags'. They are mittens or gloves which were meant for outside or messy jobs. The design and yarn used allowed for adaptations--i.e. "the thumbs were inset to fit either hand, so there was plenty of wear in them!"

In following up to learn more about the next "In the Loop 2012" event for September 5 to 7th in Winchester, I came across an interesting blog:

I would love to attend, but am looking forward to Wool Week on Shetland this October. Details to follow once they are available--expected in April.

I hadn't read Kate Davies's blog for awhile, but whenever I do, am constantly amazed at what she accomplishes! The latest includes a lengthy interview with Jean Moss, plus recipes, stunning photographs and designs, and even Shetland news.

More about the Shetland Guild in the next blog.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wool Week in Shetland & Knitting Morse Code

Earlier this week I spoke with Sarah at Jamieson & Smith, who is organizing Shetland Wool Week for 2012. She told me they are working on the activities and expect to offer more visits and venues than took place in 2011. Sarah said the final schedule would be available in April.
Several people who've come on the 'Scottish Skeins & Skerries Tours' have indicated they are very interested in attending. I am planning to go and have spoken with a representative of the Kveldsro and Lerwick hotels in Lerwick. She will put aside a small block of rooms at each hotel for those who wish to attend. I'll be posting more details in the next few months. This won't be an organized tour, just a suggestion for those looking for accommodation. It is expected to be a busy time on Shetland as a fiddle festival is taking place at the same time.
Received this website from Creative Industries Shetland. There is information about a small textile tour they are organizing for July, plus information about the African Asante cloth.
Some people never cease to amaze me: I was listening to CBC radio last Saturday and heard an interview of an American academic, Kristen Haring, who knits in Morse code! The interview was called "Beauty of Binary." Kristen also has a video entitled: "How to Knit a Popular History of Media" which is available on the CBC site:
I regretted having to cancel my visit to Madrona in Tacoma this year but am looking forward to hearing all about it from friends who are currently attending.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Up Helly Aa

I'll be away on the 31 January, but wanted to post advance notice about the special event held then on Shetland, Up Helly Aa. There will be a live webcast at Don't forget to take into account that Shetland is in another time zone and you'll have to adjust for this. You can also watch the sail racing, which starts in Aberdeen and is scheduled to arrive in Lerwick for Up Helly Aa.

I received the text which follows from Promote Shetland. There was an excellent photograph from a previous year, but I couldn't get it to copy to my blog.


We just wanted to drop you a quick email to let you know that we will once again be broadcasting Up Helly Aa LIVE through our webcam network on 31st January. Up Helly Aa truly is quite spectacular to watch and for those not able to be here on the day, we hope you will manage to watch it online with us at Helly Aa is our annual Viking event which takes place in Lerwick on the last Tuesday in January. It is Europe's largest fire festival and something very unique to Shetland. You can read about the history here.Please let us know if you experience any problems with the page this week and we will endeavour to have it sorted in time for the event.

Virtual sailing race to Shetland for Up Helly Aa offers online offshore sailracing as you have never experienced it. With super realistic boat performance, state of the art wind forecasts and realtime chat you will have the ultimate online sailracing experience.The next race, starting on Friday 27th January, will leave from Aberdeen and routing via the Moray Firth, SOLers will race through several of the Shetland Islands with the intention of arriving in Lerwick for Tuesday 31st January to take in the Up Helly Aa celebrations.To find out more about the race or to register to take part, click here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Travel, Shetland & Weaving

I was a retail travel agent for years before concentrating on knitting tours. However, anything related with travel in general still attracts my attention, and I receive many travel-related newsletters every week. I found the following potentially helpful, especially during the winter months, when extreme weather conditions can interrupt our travel plans.
Not wishing to go on too much about my interest and love for Shetland (which I feel certain a lot of people share)--I get this newsletter on a regular basis: There are a number of references to a wide variety of weaving--i.e. see the Penelope connection. I'm not a spinner or weaver but am very interested in any thing connected with textiles. There was much to read on this site--even an announcement for a weaver-in-residence post, which may be of interest to the weavers in our group :
Also don't miss the textiles blog by Deborah Gray. She doesn't just write about Scottish events but also her time at seminars in Italy.
Elizabeth Johnston is recognized as a master spinner and weaver. (She spoke to our group during a previous 'Scottish Skeins Tour' and she brought many examples of old Shetland knitting.) Elizabeth has demonstrated on the loom at the archaeological dig at Scatness Broch near the airport on Shetland, and she wove the costumes for the guides there. (Depending on when you came on a 'Scottish Skeins & Skerries Tour', you may have met her.) Today I came across her blog and was interested to see her connection with Norway. Very timely for 2012.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A short portion of the Rideau Canal was opened for skating on Sunday--a welcome announcement. The Ottawa Citizen also reported the skating rink on the grounds of the Governor General's residence is now open for public skating on weekends. I very much doubt(!) that I'll be skating this year, but have many happy memories from years when I used to go often.
Plans are near completion for a visit to Norway during the last two weeks of June. I will be escorting this trip and from experiences during a former tour, I am very much looking forward to repeating the itinerary. In addition to visits in Oslo and Bergen--the highlight will be a cruise along the fjords. I have been on this trip before and the ship, the scenery and overall experience have me anticipating a return. There will be lots of time for relaxed knitting and interesting excursions when the ship docks. This isn't just a cruise ship but a working vessel, which serves the tiny settlements along the way. Please let me know if you would like more information.
Further to the announcement that 2012 has been designated as the Year of Creative Scotland, have a look at the site:,/year-of-creative/index.asp. I was pleased to see a photo of Donald John Mackay, who many of you will recall meeting at his weaving shed, overlooking beautiful Luskentyre Beach on the Isle of Harris. Also, Sheila Fleet from Orkney. I also noticed that Shetland has produced a Craft Trail for the first time. Lots to read!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Belated New Year's Greetings

My best wishes to all for a happy, healthy, productive 2012.
After my experience dealing with excessive magazine purchases when I was packing to move, I vowed I wouldn't buy another magazine for a long time. However, earlier this week I found myself purchasing the British magazines, Selvedge and Debbie Bliss. Both issues had specific articles which convinced me that I should make the investment. (Saying that, perhaps Debbie Bliss's magazine is American.)
I used to have a subscription to Selvedge, and even though it's a quality issue, I found it to be expensive, especially once the extra costs for mailing to Canada were factored in. Plus for me, the content seemed to be either a feast or a famine. This particular issue, #43, I considered a 'feast' and enjoyed reading articles about Welsh knitting, Nottingham lace, butter muslin; linen--I even found a number of the ads to be informative .
2012 has been designated as the 'Year of Creative Scotland'.