Sunday, December 22, 2013

Wild Fibers Magazine, News from Yell, Travel articles

Linda Cortright, intrepid traveller and publisher/editor of Wild Fibers Magazine sent an email about her latest project to Ladakh, India, a journey which was supposed to take 21 hours, but ended up stretching to six days. I hope her latest email is available on her website:

Also Andy Ross of The Centre for Creative Industries on Yell, sent his latest posting. He sent a follow up message that there was a 'bug' in the subject of bugs and textiles, which didn't transmit correctly.

For those who are interested in a travel newsletter: Scroll down to the article, "Hurry It Up--The Harder They Try.........". Read the whole article about how the time taken by passengers exiting planes has decreased by 50% since 1970. I have my theories!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Google's home page, Socks & Madrona

I briefly glanced at Google's home page a number of times today before I noticed their current logo--appropriate and clever. Make sure you see it, I expect it will disappear tomorrow.

I've finished the black socks and hope they fit the recipient. My friend, Judy S. in Colorado helped me get started. It seemed that I knit forever on the ribbing, but it was a good project to have when I was at the retreat--didn't require much concentration and I could enjoy the conversation of the group. Once I got back home, I found Ann Budd's book, The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns, to be very helpful.

Earlier this week I received an email from Madrona that they still have space in some of their classes. To commemorate the 15th year of the retreat, two patterns have been designed, one for a hat and the other for a scarf. The instructions are both available without charge on the Madrona website. I'm going to knit the scarf by Evelyn Clark. I've long been a fan of her designs and my copy of her book, Knitting Lace Triangles, is practically dog eared as I've used it so much.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Knitter's Review, Shetland, Orkney and North Ronaldsay

Clara Parkes's latest newsletter, Knitter's Review arrived. As I've mentioned before, this is one newsletter which I look forward to receiving and always read it in detail. Clara does a lot of research and offers interesting subjects. Don't miss this issue.
Liz Lovick, well known author and teacher has published another book, Magic of Shetland Knitting. I haven't seen a copy of it yet, but the reviews are very positive. Although Liz lives on Orkney, she seems to travel between Orkney and Shetland frequently.

On the subject of Scotland, and specifically Orkney, today I phoned to Kirkwall and spoke with a representative of Loganair there. I wanted to find out about the 2014 schedule of same-day return flights to North Ronaldsay from Kirkwall, so that our travellers could visit this tiny island and specifically the mill there called, A Yarn from North Ronaldsay. The mill processes the fibres from the breed of the same name, which vitually only eat seaweed.  On previous tours, this optional excursion to the mill has been a consistent favourite with Scottish Skeins and Skerries tour members.

Saying all that, the airline has increased the number of flights and I will reserve eight seats for two consecutive days. Once you're sure you'll be coming on the 2014 Scottish Skeins and Skerries tour, and if you'd like to go to North Ronaldsay, let me know and I'll save you a place. Travel is on a small plane, which only takes a maximum of eight passengers and I can assure you, the previous tour members thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The flight just takes 18 minutes each way and the fare is 36.00 UKL round trip--heavily subsidized.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wales and Shetland

An announcement from my favourite Welsh contact for small hotels and travel arrangements, If you see a trip to the U.K. in your future, here's a chance to win a voucher, good for a stay from a wide choice of distinctive hotels and inns. I hadn't looked at their website for awhile and see they have many recipes for delicacies served at the properties they represent. (The ingredients and cooking temperatures are shown in the UK version, but can be easily adjusted to our North American style.)

This week, I received the current newsletter of the Shetland Amenity Trust, titled the 'Unkans'. Take some time and have a good look at the whole site. I'm certain I can speak for all those who have come on the Scottish Skeins and  Skerries Tours, when I say that a visit to the Shetland Museum is one of the highlights of our stay on Shetland. Shetlanders are justifiably proud of the building and the collections, and the Museum is the venue for many local events.
A photo of the museum from outside, on a sunny day.Looking up at boats hanging from the three storey Boat Hall.A family play with a spindle whorl in front of a replica cow - © Malcolm YoungerLarge sheets of textile hang down from the ceiling in one of our temporary exhibition areas.The Museum and Archives in front of a deep blue, night sky - © Mark Sinclair / Phatsheep Photography
Shetland's Story Starts Here...


Looking up at boats hanging from the three storey Boat Hall.A family play with a spindle whorl in front of a replica cow - © Malcolm YoungerLarge sheets of textile hang down from the ceiling in one of our temporary exhibition areas.The Museum and Archives in front of a deep blue, night sky - © Mark Sinclair / Phatsheep Photography

The Mareel, a stunning new building is next door, and also situated on the waterfront. To
give you an idea of the facilities and activies at the Mareel, I've copied from their website.
"Mareel is the UK's most northerly music, cinema and creative industries centre.

Situated in a prominent quayside area in Lerwick next to the Shetland Museum and Archives, Mareel has a live performance auditorium, two cinema screens, rehearsal rooms, a recording studio, education and training spaces, a digital media production suite, broadcast facilities and a cafe bar with free high speed wi-fi internet access."

Monday, December 16, 2013

the Outer Hebrides, the Faroes & the Blanket (finally)

Bill Lawson has published another book about Hebridean migration, this time to Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. I had always just assumed that people from the Hebrides, who settled in Canada, went to the maritime provinces, especially Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island. Bill is a highly respected genealogist and fount of knowledge about family and social history throughout the Hebrides. 

Our visits to his research centre, Seallam! on Harris are always a highlight on our Scottish Skeins and Skerries tours. We'll be visiting Bill and his wife, Chris, again in 2014. Take some time to read through his site, with the links:

Also received information about a BBC presentation:  (Thanks Ann) The article is both a visit to one of the smaller islands in the chain, but I found the historical description of the Faroes more interesting. It shows how there is never one story, but a number of interpretations. 

We'll be visiting the Faroes briefly during the 'Follow the Viking Route Cruise and Tour' in May 2014 as part of our cruise on the MS Fram.

I finished the mitred-square blanket last week and hope my grandson likes it. Will try to get a photo on my next blog.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Scotland, Vikings & "Gotta love that snow!"

I've been receiving registrations for our "2014 Scottish Skeins & Skerries" tour. If you'd like to join us or have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me: Plus, don't forget about the "Follow the Viking Route" cruise and tour. There are a very limited number of cabins available. As it is a relatively small ship and a unique itinerary, the space fills up quickly.

I had an email asking about any Shetland or Orkney blogs. (Thanks Shirley) My first thought was Hazel Tindall's site, which listed many Shetland blogs which she follows--look on the right-hand side for her list. I haven't looked for Orcadian blogs yet, but will do so.

Even though winter hasn't officially arrived, I thought these photos were amusing. (Thanks Jean for sending) Some people just have way too much time on their hands!
Gotta love that snow!

Oh, and by the way, WINTER is just around the corner!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Iceland, Textile Museum in Toronto, a London Tour

This newsletter was in my inbox this morning. Although this issue is understandably oriented towards winter travel, the newsletter illustrates the scope and diversity of the country. Well worth a read.

We'll be seeing many of the Icelandic sights during our 'Follow the Viking Route' cruise and tour in May. If you'd like to come, don't hesitate to contact me, as cabin space on the ship is getting booked up.  

Also, the Textile Museum of Canada sent their December Dispatch newsletter. There is a lot going on there too--interesting to read about both the permanent collections and special exhibitions.

Last week I went to a presentation hosted by Visit Britain, Air Canada and a number of hotel and rental car companies. One tour I learned about in London, was a custom tour in a classic Mini Cooper car. No doubt an alternative to the open-sided bus tours.

I am going to London for a week after Christmas with one of my granddaughters. Although I've been to the city a number of times, it's been more a matter of connecting flights at Heathrow, or staying at an airport hotel. I've enjoyed researching about the city--so much to see that a week won't be enough, but at least it's a start!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Irish tour in September, 2014 & the Fastest knitter in North America

I'm into the planning for our trip to Ireland in September and below are two books which I've been reading.(Marilyn King of Blackwater Abbey Yarns lent me the copy of Irish Hands and told me about the other by Irish designer, Carol Feller.

I have a lots of ideas for our itinerary and it will be a matter of making sure that we aren't too busy, yet miss as little as possible. We will be using Abbey Yarn for our group project during our Irish travels.

Linda Benne of Mississauga (next to Toronto for those who don't live in Canada) has been named the Fastest Knitter in North America. I always admire people who can knit with such speed--I'm more of a 'plodder'.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Spinning Wheels, Scotland and the Blanket

The Spinning Wheel Sleuth: This is a really interesting site. I'm not a spinner, but admire people who are. There is something very peaceful and somewhat mesmerizing about someone sitting at a wheel.

The National Museum of Scotland, in Edinburgh, has been given the Trip Advisor's, Travellers' Choice award as the first-place museum in the U.K., and "the most popular U.K. visitor attraction outside of London".

I've visited the museum a number of times and can attest to the quality of its collections and displays. There is no admission charge and the building is in central Edinburgh, within easy walking distance of so many sites. I usually walk up Victoria Street after a visit to Bill Baber's knitwear shop, and the other interesting places to see in the Grassmarket area.

For those who aren't tired about hearing of the blanket I'm knitting: I've finished knitting the edgings and just have the ends to work in and the lining to sew on. (It's apparent that I've been knitting when I should have been doing a number of other things.) Initially, I started the project at the request of one of my grandsons, plus it seemed like a good way to put leftover yarns to a useful end. Along the way, I decided that the blanket would lack enough variety in the squares, so I bought more yarn--which wasn't the idea! I still have a lot of leftover yarn.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Websites, a magazine and my blanket update

I get so many emails per day that sometimes, particular ones which I like to read, get buried in my inbox. One example is from Brooklyn Tweed, which arrived earlier this month. This is one I read in detail. I particularly like the beautiful photographs, the designs and the biographical sketches of the designers. I see the patterns are available on Ravelry, in addition to their

Also news of the 10th anniversary of the magazine Wild Fibers. Linda Cortright always has stunning photographs which accompany the articles about her travels to remote areas with textile connections.

Andy Ross of Yell, Shetland sent his regular newsletter--where does he gather so much information? Those who came on the 2013 Scottish Skeins tour this year will remember our visit to his gallery and weaving studio. I was surprised and impressed by the facilities--also bought a couple of handwoven scarves which were woven by one of the weavers in residence.

My blanket update: I've completed the knitted borders on three sides. I was very pleasantly surprised that this part has gone much faster than I'd anticipated.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Twist Collective, Wales (lots), Knitted blanket

The latest Twist Collective newsletter arrived in my inbox yesterday. I'd forgotten what an interesting presentation it is--so much to read from a range of articles (knitting history), to technical help (darning techniques) to a large range of patterns. (I've darned socks for years, but learned some helpful tips.)

I also received the Visit Wales, Red Dragon newsletter.

I loved reading about the little steam trains which have been restored and travel 'off the beaten path' in this special place. It reminded me of the train trip we took during our May 2013 Welsh tour from Caernarfon to mid-Wales, through Snowdonia National Park. It was a beautiful sunny day and a treat to travel through the woods with daffodils blooming, waterfalls, little villages.......

Continuing with a Welsh theme: I enjoy listening to a CD of a Welsh male choir which I keep in my car. I bought it earlier this year when we went to one of their practices. (I'll have to check where they are from.) I also got distracted looking at YouTube presentations: This one is of an actual train trip. As the commentator said, it's a matter of "enjoying the journey". Read about all that is going on in Wales: a cookery school, adventure travel, castles--no end of things to do!

The site also mentioned the best places to have a cup of tea in Wales. There was a photo of Welsh cakes--which are a real treat. Plus, a reference to Dr. Who. I'm not a science fiction fan (although I'm probably in the minority) but apparently there are a number of connections/references to Dr. Who and TARDIS in Wales.

A mitred-square blanket update: I've finished knitting the squares, all 96 of them and now to work in the ends, knit a border and line it with flannelette. I know the method I'm going to use for the border. (Thanks Judy)

Monday, November 25, 2013

More about Joyce James Tours - The 2014 Viking Route Cruise & Tour

Join us for this unique opportunity to visit  Norway, ports in Scotland, the Faroe Islands and  Iceland.  Throughout the tour, you'll be travelling in comfort on an outstanding ship of the Norwegian Hurtigruten fleet. We will be accompanied by a team of resource specialists and lots of time for relaxed knitting.

For more details on this special trip and to learn about other tours for 2014, visit my website:
Click this link to view a full size PDF version of the pictured flyer.
(will open in new browser window)

"Memorable Travel for Knitters & Friends"

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Shetland and Tacoma, Washington

The 16th 2014 Scottish Skeins and Skerries Tour is already one quarter full--don't miss the opportunity to travel with us next year. 2014 is the year of Homecoming Scotland.

Hot off the press--or the internet equivalent!  When I opened my email this morning, there was the December 2013 version of 'Postcard from Shetland'. There is too much to detail and read immediately in this (always) informative post. However, I intend to go back and read about the Christmas craft fair, the kayaking journey from Shetland to Norway and the Craft Trail, plus watch the video diary of Shetland Wool Week 2013.

I find that Shetland has changed in many ways since my first visit there in 1995. They are still the same kind, gentle people but there is now a confidence in their many abilities, and they don't seem to be as reserved about their pride this special place. As an example: when I first visited, they referred to their beautiful knitted creations as "just knittin". Now, they have published book about Shetland lace and for the past four years have offered 'Shetland Wool Week', which just goes from strength to strength.

Well-known Shetland knitter, Hazel Tindall has a website:

The Madrona Fiber Arts Festival, sponsor of the Winter Retreat opened for registration this week. (13 - 16 Feb, 2014) Again, I managed to forget to register on the first day. I didn't intend to take any courses, although there is a full range offered, but wanted to stay at the main hotel, the Murano. I was fortunate to get a room at a nearby Holiday Inn Express, which is maybe just as well, as then I'll have to get out and walk a couple of blocks. I've attended this event several times and always enjoy it--especially the collegiality of knitters.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

2014 Scottish Skeins & Skerries Tour

I wanted to announce the details for the 2014 tour are now on my website. To all those who have been waiting for this information, I apologize--it's taken longer than I'd anticipated. Be assured it will be a great tour. I've sent out  emails to those on my mailing list. If I've overlooked your contact information, please let me know.

If you'd like to join us, complete the registration form and email it to me. Space is limited and there has been a lot of interest in the tour--the sixteenth time it has been held.

Just received the latest copy of the Shetland newsletter, 60 North. As in previous issues, it's full of a wide variety of news and beautiful photographs. If anyone thinks that not much happens on Shetland, they are very much mistaken. Be sure to take the time to go through the contents.

The Selvedge newsletter this month is full of lots of news--mostly about activities in Britain, but also of interest to those who won't be able to visit the U.K. in the next little while.

Anyone who has visited Orkney, will be aware of the Orkney chair. On some of past 'Scottish Skeins' trips, we have visited one of the few chair makers in business. It is a very labour-intensive craft and the waiting list to purchase one is long. (Thanks Alice)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Colorado, Scotland, Viking Cruise

I arrived back in Ottawa earlier this week. It was a wonderful time in Colorado and I was touched by the generosity and friendliness of the people I met. Needless to say, they were mostly knitters, although I found those in restaurants and shops to be very helpful. 

I've sent the draft of the 2014 itinerary and registration form for the 2014 Scottish Skeins & Skerries Tour to my talented, long-suffering 'Website Guy'. I expect that information to appear on my website next week. The dates are the 03 - 21 July, 2014 and the cost will remain the same as it was last year.

Concerning the Viking Cruise, I'm getting close to filling the allotment of cabins which I have reserved on the MS Fram, of the Norwegian Hurtigruten fleet. If you would like more information about the tour, either have a look at my website:, phone me or send an email. The 2014 itinerary is unique, the only time next year that the ship visits such a variety of ports.

At present, the MS Fram is visiting the Falkland Islands. One of the crew members writes a blog: Have a look at the latest photos from Stanley, the Falkland capital. The blog is an interesting read and gives one a better idea of the facilities and scope of the ship.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Greetings from Colorado

I've spent a wonderful six days in Colorado. Currently, I'm at knitting retreat in a beautiful area called Buena Vista, which is south of Denver.  Most of the attendees at the retreat are members of a knitting group which meets regularly in Denver. They are both talented and friendly and made me, as the only newcomer and Canadian, feel very welcome.

It's been a treat to just sit and knit, all the while visiting with others who are devotees of knitting.

I've received a number of registrations for the Viking Route cruise and some of the cabins have been assigned. If you would like to join us, please contact me next week--I'll be back in Ottawa then.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Viking Route Cruise & Tour

Finally, I can let everyone know that the details and registration form for the Viking cruise are on my website. I have a limited number of cabins reserved. is the only year when this particular itinerary is offered. The cruise is on the MS Fram of the Norwegian Hurtigruten fleet. The tour also includes two nights each in Bergen, Norway and in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Please have a good look at the details and let me know if you have any questions and would like to join us.

I'm off within the hour to drive to Gananoque, Ontario, situated beside Lake Ontario. The event is the Needler's Retreat, which has been held for many years.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Quilts in Wales, Quilts in Houston and yarn/fibre sources in Canada

Today I received the Autumn Newsletter from the Welsh Quilt Centre. I was glad to hear they have extended the exhibition of Kaffe Fassett's quilts at the Centre in Lampeter, Wales. (Those who came on the May Welsh tour will recall our visit there.)

This is a very extensive site and is replete with a wide variety of news, including a video by Jen Jones, who originally recognized the importance of the Welsh handmade quilt tradition and has been passionate about saving antique quilts. She has branched into Welsh shawls and blankets. Be sure to watch the video and see as much as possible of her collection. (After watching the video and reading the site, I spent more time looking at other connected sites under the Antiques TV banner.)

The 2014 schedule at the Quilt Centre: "Main exhibition - Early to Bed, Early Welsh Quilts and Janet Bolton
Secondary exhibition - Sandie Lush with her exhibition of Sweater Quilts
Art exhibitions from Sarah James (March to mid-May). ValĂ©riane Leblond, (mid-May to the end of June) and Ruth Jen (July and August ).

On a personal note: the whole site brought back happy memories for me. I spent a memorable time last year with my Canadian and Welsh family, just down the lane from Jen's original shop at Llanbydder.

In contrast, from quilts in a small Welsh town is the quilt festival in Houston, Texas: The event opens tomorrow, 30 October and continues to the 03 November. Hard to imagine 1000 shopping booths, 415 hand-on classes and events, and 1300 quilts on display. It would be fun to attend.

I learned of two sources of fibres, one for silk and the other for angora and qiviut (from the muskox.) Thanks Velma.

-  Sericin Silkworks & Other Fine Fabrics in Waterloo, Ontario

-  Cottage Craft Angora,, in Woodstock, Ontario




Monday, October 28, 2013

Mostly Shetland

More news from Andy at Global Yell: this time about the spectacular improvement in the Scottish textile industry.

Abby, the author of the Visit Shetland newsletter has sent out the November version. One of the most interesting newsletters I receive: I always make sure I read it in detail.

The whole publication is really comprehensive. Just a few examples: I listened to the broadcast of a programme from BBC 4 radio about Shetland Sunday teas--there are even two recipes given. Also a review of Shetland Wool Week: Those who've come to Shetland with me in past years will recognize familiar names like Hazel Tindall and there is a photo of Mary Kay holding up one of her beautiful lace creations, during a workshop.

Mitred blanket update: I've completed 68 squares. (You can tell I've been knitting when I should have been doing other things.) It still puzzles me, that with all the squares which have been knitted, that I still have a lot of yarn in my basket!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wales, Shetland, Madrona, Ireland

I'm back home now and will be working hard to get caught up. If I've missed replying to your emails, or haven't returned phone calls, please remind me and I promise to contact you and give the information you need.

There has been some interesting information in my inbox:

-   Welsh Rarebits a small company which represents quality accommodation in Wales. We've stayed at a number of their properties during our tours and have never been disappointed. Have a look at their website: In the latest newsletter there is a contest for a significant prize (250.00 British pounds) which can be used towards a stay or a meal at one of the properties. Well worth a try.

-   Shetland: I may have posted the following before, but in case anyone has missed it, here are some contacts:  A - Z of Shetland video!Postcards from Shetland and the online magazine, 60 North

-  Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat is scheduled for the 13 - 16 February, 2014 in Tacoma, Washington. I've been twice and plan to attend again next year.

-  I been advised that there is no information about the tour to Ireland next year on my website. (Thanks Shirley) As soon as I post the details and registration forms for the Viking Cruise and Scotland, I'll be working on the tour to Ireland for September, 2014. I have a rough itinerary in mind but need to do more research.

re: The mitred blanket update - I decided to make it a bit bigger, so before I'm finished with knitting the squares, I will have to complete a total of 108. At present, I've done 49.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I'm still here........

Didn't mean to take so long between posts, but I've been out of town for over a week and didn't have access to my computer. There were a number of interesting articles in my inbox which I think are worth passing on: 

-  Andy Ross of Global Yell and his news about Wool Week, highlighting fibre artist, Deborah Gray -

-  The newsletter of the American Textile Museum in D.C. Also read about the Advocacy Project and the importance of quilting in helping a number of communities which have experienced privation and lived through terrible events.

-  Treenway Silks October newsletter. I understand the company moved several years ago from Salt Spring Island in B.C. when it was sold to an American couple. I still enjoy seeing the vibrant colours and news they send. They are asking if readers will support them with votes in their efforts to secure a very helpful grant.

- This year's competition called 'Sheep to Sweater' takes place throughout a number of countries. I'm not exactly sure of the date for the 2013 event, but will try to find out. (I have heard it used to be called 'Back to Back' and the ladies from Shetland won every year. As a consequence, I understand they can no longer compete.)

Monday, October 7, 2013

The quilt Index and another new word (well, to me)

As I think I've indicated before, I don't quilt but love the craft and cherish the handmade quilts that I have. One is over 50 yrs. old and was made for me by my grandmother. I can still remember the patches, which were left over from when I used to sew a lot, which she incorporated into the quilt.

I was watching a sewing program on PBS yesterday and a guest talked about the Quilt Index. I had a quick look at the website and will go back and read it in detail when I have more time. It is extremely comprehensive.

The new word I came across is 'tovacuddies'. I first saw it mentioned in a talk given by Carol Christiansen, curator of textiles at the Shetland Museum. Wonderful Bess Jamieson, who I was extremely fortunate to meet on my first visit to Shetland in 1995, explained it further. From what I understand, tovacuddies are places along the seashore where finished cloth can be firmly attached and the ebb and flow of the sea acts to full the fabric. Bess said the end result is similar to the tradition on Harris when the ladies sit in a circle and move to cloth around, all the while singing traditional fulling songs.

The success of the Scottish Skeins & Skerries tours is entirely due to Bess. She helped me plan the tours, introduced me to a number of craftspeople and over the years, made innumerable helpful suggestions. I should have bought a lottery ticket the day I met Bess!

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Viking Route Cruise, the Textile Museum of Canada and Reclining airline seats

I've completed the details for the Viking Route Cruise in May, 2014 and my talented website guy will be updating my site soon. Watch this space!

I have been doing a lot of knitting on the mitred square blanket--just 70 more squares to go! It's a big project as once the knitting is completed, I will still have to work in the ends, line it with flanelette, and knit a border. I know that Brandon and Kaffe would disagree with my approach, re working in the ends of the different colours as they would just knot the ends, however I just couldn't leave them like that. Some things I obsess about.

I knit a blanket like this a number of years ago for one of my grandsons and now that the recipient has grown a lot, he asked if I could make it longer. (Which I really couldn't.) I told him to give it to his little brother and I would know a longer, wider version. This size should last him a long time. It will eventually be a total of 99 squares.

Today I received a newsletter from the Textile Museum of Canada. There is a lot going on and I urge anyone who will be in the Toronto area to visit.
The displays are very interesting and there will be a sale of fabrics this month.

I read about a survey of how airline passengers feel about reclining seats on aircraft. I don't know the details of the survey (size of the sample, where it was conducted, etc.) but apparently 90% of people don't want them to be allowed. The survey said that frequently flight attendants have to resolve 'disagreements' between passengers.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Knitter Magazine

iPhone Screenshot 1

Yesterday I bought this copy of The Knitter,

It's not the most recent issue, but as I've indicated before, in Canada we are behind in obtaining the latest issue--not a hard thing to live with.

Again, I found the contents to be interesting and focused on many of my interests. There was an article about Kaffe Fassett and his love of colour. (Timely, since I'd just heard him speak three days ago.) The designer of the sweater featured on the cover and with the directions inside, indicated that she was inspired by a traditional Norwegian pattern. There was also an article about hiking and knitting in Iceland, also well timed as I'm doing a lot of research on that country in general, and knitting in particular.

English designer, Jane Crowfoot, has a design for a crocheted bag. I don't know how to crochet, but met Jane a number of years ago. We had a tour to Yorkshire and took a workshop at Rowan from her about beading a knitted bag.  A thrill to actually be at Rowan in Holmfirth. We had a great day there and our group bought a lot of beautiful yarns which were available at one British pound each.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Brandon Mably, Kaffe Fassett and Shetland

Yesterday I took a full-day workshop from Brandon Mably. It was about colour selections and a large group were there to knit the poppy design in colour combinations of one's choice. Late in the afternoon, Brandon pinned up each person's knitting on a board. The variety of knitted poppies was really interesting, and he stressed it was better to stand back a distance to best assess one's work. Brandon was a very good teacher--he went around to each person and critiqued their colour combinations. Also gave help to those who needed advice on the Fair Isle knitting technique. I enjoyed seeing some of the sweaters and other knitted garments knit by Brandon, Kaffe and one from the Peruvian Connection.

In the evening there was a slide presentation, introduced by Brandon and commented on by Kaffe. The slides showed patchwork, knitting, needlework and art, and even a photograph of a rose which is named after Kaffe. It was a pleasant surprise to hear Kaffe talk about the display of his quilts at Jen Jones's Quilt Gallery. (We saw this exhibition during our tour to Wales this past May.) There are photographs of these quilts on Brandon's newsletter.

Both men have extensive websites and I've signed up to receive their newsletter. They have such an extensive travel schedule that it's really amazing they can continue to be so creative.

Unfortunately, although there were many opportunities to take photographs, my camera refused to work. (As I keep saying, "Timing is everything!")

I also received the most recent newsletter, Postcards from Shetland. Abby has included a lot of information about the Shetland Islands. She obviously loves living there very much.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Knitter's Review and a ship inspection in Montreal

I'm always happy to see the newsletter, A Knitter's Review written by Clara Parkes in my inbox. It's one of the few such publications which I find informative. This issue gave detailed instructions on unravelling and treating the yarn from an unhappy project, whether completed or not. I like the way Clara explains the reasons behind the steps in the process. She also has written another book, entitled the A Yarn Whisperer and has a number of visits to bookstores in the U.S., and even one in Toronto, to promote the book.. 

I went to Montreal last week for an event sponsored by Oceania Cruise line, and a visit to one of their ships, called the Regatta. I took a VIA train from Ottawa for the day and was amazed at how many people were on the 0629 departure. The train station in Montreal is centrally located (where all train stations should be) and on arrival there were large crowds who were no doubt hurrying to work.

I treated myself to breakfast at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel (conveniently situated as part of a large complex of offices and stores) just above the station. My plan was to sit in the lobby and get caught up with emails before going to the dock to visit the ship, but was surprised that the hotel charged $13.95/day plus taxes to access their WiFi. Decided not to do this.

Before going to the cruise terminal, I learned an important lesson: not all taxis in Montreal accept credit cards. As I had neglected to go to an ABM, I knew that this could be a problem, as I didn't have time before the cruise event started to find a cash machine. The helpful doorman at the hotel went to a number of cars before he found one who would accept payment with a card. My spoken French is very rusty and both drivers spoke less English than I did French. (One was from Morocco and the other from the Caribbean.) I was pleased that some basic French came back to me, especially when one said "You speak French". I gave him a really good tip!

All in all it was an enjoyable visit to Montreal--I learned about the ship, visited a number of cabins on board, enjoyed an outstanding lunch and more so, a treat to just be in this cosmopolitan, attractive city.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

I've been knitting

Patchwork BlanketThis is a photo from the pattern for a mitred blanket, called A Patchwork Blanket. I'm knitting away on another--the third I've done. It's lots of fun and somewhat addictive, as I think I'll just do one more square (or more) before I get at what I really should be doing. It's also a good use of leftover yarn.

I bought the pattern at Wonderwool Wales and when I went to the website of the English company which sold the design, Lakeside Crafts of  Herefordshire, I was disappointed to learn that they ceased business in late August of this year. Too bad, as they carried a wide variety of products and their booth at Wonderwool was certainly busy.

Something else I've finished knitting is a tea cosy by Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop in Yorkshire. I bought the kit for this project at Wonderwool also. We visited the company on a previous tour several years ago and I'd forgotten how lovely and soft this particular yarn is. I just have to 'fit' the cosy on the particular teapot it's meant for and it will be completed.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Background information

Andy Ross of Yell recently posted a reference to woollen sails which the Vikings used. (How does he manage to keep up with so much information?) The article is fairly long, but the preface will give you an idea of the research and conclusions. I see that Carol Christiansen of the Shetland Museum was one of the contributors.

I also learned from both Andy's site and from Hazel Tindall about a TV presentation on BBC Four, titled "Handmade in Britain - Fabric of Britain: Knitting's Golden Age". I tried to watch it but was unable to make a connection from Canada. However, there was a fairly detailed description of the program which sounded very interesting. I see it is the first of a series.

From Norway, there is a well-patched tunic on display in the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo. (I learned about this in a newsletter from the Smithsonian Magazine.) The tunic was found due to the melting of a glacier and is thought to have been worn 1700 years ago.

Monday, September 16, 2013

News from all over

Shetland Heritage Publications are very proud of the latest title, due to be released in time for Shetland Wool Week and now available to pre-order. Shetland Textiles: 800 BC to the Present traces the history of textiles in Shetland through fabrics and garments together with the fibres and tools used to craft them, and the people who made and wore them. It brings together in-depth research with personal memories of local people, lavishly illustrated by stunning images.
Pre-order now, with 10% off at
 A new publication on the history of Shetland textiles is announced to mark the launch of Wool Week 2013. There is a pre-publication discount of 10%.

I also received the latest newsletter from Brooklyn Tweed, issue Fall 13. There were a number of sweater patterns which I would love to knit--I really liked the simplicity, with interesting cable designs.

On Monday, 16 Sept. I went to the opening meeting of the Ottawa Knitting Guild for the 2013/2014 year. Their newsletter called the Tangled Skein is full of plans for the upcoming year and I'm always amazed at the talent in the guild. One doesn't always appreciate it until I see the examples during 'show and tell' and the contest entries. I merely follow instructions and admire people who greatly adapt patterns or even knit their own designs.

As I've mentioned before, I get a variety of newsletters. A recent travel newsletter announced that Ethiad Airways (which is in pool with Air Canada) has a new service called a 'Flying Nanny'. I don't know what it costs, but apparently an employee trained to look after young children, will assist parents during the flights. I would think this service would especially help a parent who is traveling with more than one child.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Greetings from Las Vegas

I've spent the past three days in Las Vegas, attending a Destination Britain event. It's been an unbelievably busy time, meeting suppliers from all over Britain. They represented tourist boards, hotel chains and tour wholesalers. (The meetings took place in 12-minute sessions and the younger members of the group tell me it reminded them of speed dating.) When a buzzer would go, we would make our way to pre-arranged appointments at numbered tables. It's been two days of extremely intense activity, which went from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. In the evening there would be receptions sponsored by different airlines. I leave tomorrow morning for Ottawa.

I've been staying at the Aria Hotel, an enormously large complex: casinos, 4000 hotel rooms, pools , restaurants, etc--hard to believe that it is just one hotel out of many in the city. I've been so busy that I  haven't even gone outside.

In the meantime, I've been receiving many interesting emails and will report on them in future blogs. I find it hard to keep up with everything going on.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Knitter Magazine

Yesterday, I bought a copy of my favourite knitting magazine, The Knitter, Issue 61. (I see that the next issue has reached the newstands in Britain--we always seems to be close to a month behind to get one in Canada.) I've read through it from cover to cover and keep every past issue, which I don't do with all knitting magazines. Their website is informative, with a blog, errata, free patterns, etc.

I like the immediacy of some of the articles: for instance, Issue #61, which was published in August, contained an article about this year's Woolfest, the fibre festival in Cumbria, held in late June. There was an article about the Estonian Haapsalu shawls and even a pattern by Albertan, Barbara Brown. And much, much more..........


Friday, September 6, 2013

It's really hard to keep up--a new word and a new knitting stitch

The new word is 'aleatoric', in a blog by Tom of Holland--thanks Barb for mentioning it. In this case, it was aleatoric rhythms used in Fair Isle patterns.

There was also the reminder of Wool Week in Shetland next month. I went last year and enjoyed every minute--hard to believe another year has just about passed. Have a look at the activities for this year's event. It just gets better and better.

Also, came across a new knitting stitch--well, new to me. It was in a pattern for a tea cosy in a kit which I bought at Wonderwool Wales this past May. The instructions were to "k2 tog-b, and then k the same two stitches tog. again through front loops". I struggled and struggled and finally went to see my friend Anna, who figured it out. The instructions were part of a four-row repeat to give the appearance of fleece on a lamb.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

It's hard to keep up

No sooner did I post that the British knitting magazine, Yarn Wise, was going cease publication due to the proliferation of (British?) knitting magazines, than today I learned of a new one from Britain.

Fabulous Knits has announced their first issue. It appears to be published by the same British company which issues Homes and Antiques.

I am trying to restrain myself and do not buy nearly as many knitting magazines as I once did--it just gets too expensive and I find they are frequently of limited interest. Although, saying that, my favourite continues to be The Knitter. I find that I keep every issue.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Libraries and Iceland

A close friend sent this link in Facebook and I think the photos speak for themselves. I love libraries, even if they don't occupy "breathtaking" buildings. The first thing I do once I move to a new place is to get a library card.


The newsletter for Iceland has been renamed and is now called "The Icelander". Lots of information in this issue:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

News from Yell and beyond

Andy Ross, of Yell, is a prolific poster and I marvel at the frequency and wide content of his blogs. I had the opportunity to meet Andy this past July during our day trip to Unst and Yell while we were on Shetland. He is a musician, originally from Zimbabwe, and has established an art gallery and weaving centre on Yell. Although I'd been reading about the site for several years, I wasn't prepared for the two modern and attractive buildings, which were essentially 'in the middle of nowhere'. The centre is also the place where the community gets together to hear concerts, view film nights and generally as a place to gather.

As I've indicated before, I'm not a weaver but like many people, am interested in all things textile. The weaving centre is bright, with a number of looms and supports weaving students. I bought two beautiful scarves there.

I read a number of newsletters. I sometimes feel that my time would be better used elsewhere, however found the following interesting and pertinent, especially the part about people who rustle around in their baggage stored in the upper bin. The fact that they are completely oblivious to those waiting to reach their seats is both irritating and hard to believe. The actual article is much more detailed, but the following gives you an idea:

<<Now Boarding: Airlines Continue To Experiment
Loading an airplane quickly and efficiently isn’t easy, though it should be and could be. Mathematicians and scientists have yet to come up with a definitive answer, which is why there are almost as many boarding procedures as airlines. But we may finally be nearing the day when we’re not all waiting for 17D to jam his overstuffed suitcase into the overhead bin.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

More news

I received the September newsletter of the Textile Museum of Canada, I encourage anyone who lives in the Toronto area, or who will be visiting Toronto, to be sure to visit. It is centrally located in downtown Toronto, close to subway and streetcar stops.

Also, I received the book which I bought in the Hebrides in July. It was not inexpensive, but worth every page! It is titled, From the Land Comes the Cloth, with photos and narrative by Ian Lawson. I haven't gone through it page by page yet, but what I've seen is wonderful. It's also a treat to see photos of people who we visit during the Scottish tour.
Harris Tweed VideoHarris Tweed - From the Land

Friday, August 30, 2013

Wonder if this is a sign of the times

Click to EnlargeLast month, I bought the previous issue of this British magazine. It isn't my favourite magazine, but was slightly interesting and did have a shawl pattern which I plan to knit. I was surprised to learn that the next issue of the magazine, #63 will be the last. Their announcement said: "Tailor Made Publishing has decided to close the title because the market for knitting magazines has become too crowded." I wonder if that will happen to the American knitting magazines. There are so many in print at present.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Postcard from Shetland

I've just received the September issue of Postcard from Shetland. As always, it's full of interesting news and a calendar of events this month. .

Also, learned that there is a special embroidery project called the Great Tapestry of Scotland. . The section which the Shetland Needleworkers were assigned is entitled: 'Orkney and Shetland ceded by Denmark to Scotland 1469', and is one of 150 panels. For any of you who have seen the Bayeux Tapestry, it will be similar to that wonderful creation, and I'm assuming also the Welsh 'Last Invasion Tapestry. The languages featured are English, Gaelic, Latin & Scots.

Read the website of the Tapestry--it lists all the panels, the history of the idea, embroidery stitches used--very interesting.

I've behind on this announcement and just learned of it from a past newsletter of the Shetland Guild. Apparently, the completed tapestry was due to be hung this month in the Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh. That's where I'm going the next time I'm in Scotland!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Where to start?

I can't believe it's been close to two months since I've posted. I wonder if there is truth to the adage that time moves faster as we get older--in my case it does! In any case, my sincere apologies.

As most of my followers know, I was in Scotland for the better part of the month of July. It was a busy time, with sunny days and lots to see. Since my return, I've been trying to get caught up--most importantly getting the details for tours in 2014 to the point where my long suffering website guy can take over. 

I can tell anyone who has been waiting, that there will be three tours for 2014:

-  A special cruise from Norway to Iceland, with a number of visits to ports in Scotland and the Faroes in May. This cruise itinerary will only be offered once next year and I have reserved a number of cabins in a variety of categories.The tour will start with two nights in Bergen prior to the sailing and two nights in Reykjavik after the ship has docked.

-  Scottish Skeins & Skerries, beginning in early July. I've booked all the hotel rooms but am waiting until October until I can get confirmation from Loganair for the domestic flights I've requested. As this year, the tour will start in Glasgow and we'll also visit the Outer Hebrides, Shetland and Orkney. Hard to believe this will be the 16th time this tour has been held.

-  A tour to Ireland in September. I haven't been to Ireland for years, so have been doing a lot of reading and research. I haven't decided on our final itinerary but have a number of ideas and have approached a well-known Irish knitter for a workshop, among other highlights.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

More good news....

I've just finished watching a BBC internet presentation about the resurgence of the Harris tweed industry. It was good to see weaver, Donald John Mackay, at his loom in his weaving shed overlooking Luskentyre Beach. We'll be visiting Donald John next month as part of the 2013 Scottish Skeins tour. Travellers from past tours have thoroughly this stop. In fact, it's been difficult to get them to leave his shed and little shop.

In addition to this short film, don't miss the other programs about the British wool industry and the 'fashionable' rise of Harris Tweed. (See the connections at the end of the above program.) It was good to know that there is more demand for the tweed and that designers are featuring it in current fashions.

I also received the latest issue of the Red Dragon, the newsletter of Visit Wales. The photos are stunning and there is an entertaining video of Russell Crowe and Mark Strong talking about their experiences in Wales during the filming of Robin Hood.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Some good news......

With the current news concerning the flooding in Alberta, both the short and long term implications, I thought it was time to post some happy events.

I learned of a heart-warming story around a gift of fabrics from the 'More Than Just a Yardage Sale' held annually by the Textile Museum of Canada. (Thanks, Kathy) One of the trustees sent a suitcase full of fabric from the sale, to a family who were going to Uganda. The way the Ugandans received and used the fabric makes one (well, me anyways) realize that we/I don't appreciate the life we have in Canada.

Woolfest 2013 is scheduled for this coming weekend, the 28 & 29 June.  There isn't time for North Americans to attend this year, however for those who are fortunate to live in the U.K., you may possibly be able to attend. Although, saying that, unless you are planning to make day visits, accommodation at this late date could be in very short supply. I'm amazed at the number of vendors who will be there--sort of a Cumbrian Wonderwool Wales!

This is an event which I would love to take in. It is planned by a group of Cumbrian craftspeople and farmers, who wanted to re-energize the economy of the area after a devastating cull of their flocks due to an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease. I first learned of the group when one of the members (thanks Christine) contacted me and thought I might be interested to include a stop to their shop on one of the tours. That I did--our group really enjoyed their visit to this lovely area of Cumbria. The group's permanent home is open year round and is located at Priest's Mill in the village of Caldbeck. Well worth of visit!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

All Shetland

This week I received the latest issue of 60 North, Summer Issue. It's not as long this time, but is still good to read and filled with articles which would be of interest to just about everyone.

Friday, the 21 June is Flag Day on Shetland. I did a search on Google and learned the significance of this special day. The flag is relatively new but of great historical significance.

Jamieson & Smith have a kit to knit a Flag pillow on their site.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Where does the time go.......!?

My apologies that what was supposed to be a brief absence from posting on my blog. It's a matter of poor time management, but also a busy schedule. (I even haven't been knitting.) I have so much that I want to post, both a review of our tour to Wales and the details for the Scottish tour which departs early next month. In addition, I've started planning the tours for 2014. As anyone who knows me will realize, I'm glad I didn't retire!

I enjoyed reading Wendy's blog about Welsh socks and she has inspired me to feature some of our Welsh experiences in future blogs.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Welsh quilts and Fair Isle sweaters for Shetland ponies

I returned to Ottawa just three days ago, and am now baking up a storm to go to a cottage with my children and grandchildren for the long weekend. Thus, blogs about our trip to Wales will have to wait until next week. Suffice to say, it was a memorable experience, both during the tour and then travelling in rural Wales with a friend, and special visits with Welsh cousins. Thanks to the congenial, interesting tour members. All in all, it was a wonderful time!

Today I also received a newsletter from Jen Jones of the Welsh Quilt Centre. Earlier this month, we visited Jen at the Quilt Centre in Lampeter and then at her shop in nearby Pontbrendu. It was a treat to hear the background of the exhibition of Kaffe Fasset's quilts, hung at the same time as the traditional Welsh whole-cloth quilts, plus Jen telling us how she came to be so interested in the Welsh quilts and her commitment to making sure they were treasured and appreciated. 

I've been working on the day-by-day itinerary for our Scottish Skeins trip in July. I learned that Doreen Brown of the Shetland Collection,, was asked to march in the Tartan Day Parade down Six Avenue, NYC, to promote Scotland Homecoming Year in 2014. Doreen is the designer and knitter of the famous Fair Isle sweaters which the two Shetland ponies are wearing in many photos. Doreen told me that the ponies in the parade were American, but the sweaters they wore were the ones she'd knit. Doreen's studio is one of the favourite stops for our groups to Scotland, and we'll be there again in July.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Greetings from Wales!

In addition to being the Land of Song and Castles, Wales is also the Land of Sunshine. We've been told by many people that the growing season is at least five weeks behind what it usually is but that has worked to the benefit of our tour, as everywhere we travel there is a profusion of daffodils growing naturally by the roadside, plus primula and trees getting ready to bud.

We've seem so many wonderful sights and met friendly people, that I'll have to review our itinerary to organize for future blogs. In the meantime, I had an email that the May issue of Viait Shetland has been posted. As always, it's a good read.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

An easier way to get to Iceland and Europe

This week Icelandair and WestJet airlines announced an interline agreement. This will make it easier for those who wish to visit Iceland and other destinations in Europe, but who do not live near Icelandair's main gateways. It offers the convenience of a single e-ticket from points in Canada and the U.S., allowing for just one check-in for all flights, plus baggage will be sent to the final destination. No more collecting one's baggage after the first flight and checking it for the second flight.