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.