Friday, March 29, 2013

News from Shetland

This must set a record--I can't remember if I've ever posted twice in the same day!

Today I received the most recent issue of the Shetland magazine, 60 North. I haven't read throught it yet, but if it's like previous issues, it will be time well spent and I'm looking forward to reading it in detail.

In addition, expert knitter Shetland Hazel Tindall, sent me the link to her new website. I haven't had time today to read it, but at a cursory glance, it's full of advice, her patterns and lots more. I expect many people will be familiar with Hazel's name as she competed and won the title of the world's fastest knitter. Anyone who has seen Hazel knit, will understand why. She is also the chair of the Shetland Guild, one of the many talented, welcoming people we meet on our Scottish Skeins tour.

They're finished!

Here is a photo of my beautiful granddaughter, Madeline, wearing the knee socks which I knit. I am very pleased with how they turned out, and especially because they fit. Many lessons learned in the process!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Wales on TV and in print

I love watching TV programs from the U.K. Two of my favourites are the British version of the Antiques Roadshow and another called A Place in the Country. Lately they've been featuring Welsh venues and it's exciting to think that we'll be there in a month.

I also received an email from the British magazine, The Knitter. Their most recent issue (#56) has an article featuring the event, Wonderwool Wales, where we will be starting our tour. I've been to this event before and have wanted to return ever since. It's called a "Festival of Welsh Wool and Natural Fibres."

If you've been thinking about joining us on this unique itinerary, I still have room for three more people, but don't delay in letting me know, as soon I'll have to release the extra hotel rooms I'm holding.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ireland and a reflection

Last week I went to a presentation hosted by the Irish Tourist Board, plus several wholesalers and hotel owners. It was an evening well spent: lots of helpful information; gracious hosts and good food. Their website is extensive and informative--have a look.

As some of you may know, I started working as a travel agent in 1979--certainly a travel industry 'Dark Age' in many ways: there was no computer and all bookings were done by phone, frequently getting a busy signal and trying and trying again to reach a person; all air tickets were written by hand (I still have a bump on my finger); and I used to take home stacks of invoices and itineraries to type after dinner.

Due to costs, the internet and 'webinars', there are relatively few actual presentations these days, so the Irish evening was a reminder of how much I've enjoyed visits to Ireland and it gave me ideas for  a future tour. There is so much to see on this island, which I learned is approximately the size of Nova Scotia. (The Irish ambassador to Canada welcomed us and said this in his short speech, so it must be true!)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Wales and In the Loop 3.5: Making Connections

In describing the principality, Visit Wales says there are: 3 National Parks; 641 Castles; 6 UNESCO sites; 870 miles of coast path and just 2 hours from London..........

The title says a lot about Wales, but not everything--the Brecon Beacons have just been announced as only one of just five places in the world to be an "international dark sky reserve". (Thanks Amy) Have a look at:

I also received an email announcing the draft programme for "In the Loop" to be held on Shetland from the 31 July to the 02 August, 2013. Ever since this event was first held in 2008, I've really wanted to attend. It is usually held every other year, 2010, 2012 and this year's 3.5 designation may indicate that it's half way to the fourth event. The theme this year is Nordic. For more information go to:

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Shetland on TV

I received an email about an upcoming TV special called Shetland.  It's a mystery drama and is based on the Ann Cleeves novel, Red Bones. It's on BBC 1 this coming Sunday and Monday (10 and 11 March). I'm not sure if those in North America will be able to access the program--but I'm going to try. I'll have to figure out the time difference. ( Plus keep in mind that it's daylight saving changeover tomorrow.)

To learn more about the book, the author, the production and the area, have a look at:

I find that more and more there is a heightened interest in Shetland. Well deserved too!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Wales, Fair Isle, Shetland and the Hebrides

I received a copy of the current Visit Pembrokeshire Magazine--thanks Emyr. Even though I spent several weeks in Wales last year and a fair amount of time in Pembrokeshire, this publication has given me more ideas to include in our 2013 Wales Tour: History, Heritage, Handicrafts.

One visit I'd already included in the itinerary was to the Last Invasion Tapestry, I've visited the exhibition several times and am looking forward to seeing it again. For those who aren't aware of the exhibition, the tapestry was created by the talented hands of 77 local embroiderers. It is somewhat based on the Bayeux Tapestry in France and tells a story, with narrative in Welsh above and English below. In the centre is a pictorial representation of a failed French attempt to invade from 1797.

I've just become aware of another talented, keen knitter who lives on Fair Isle. (Thanks Barb!) I hadn't heard of Mati before and I wouldn't be surprised if some of our 2013 Scottish Skeins and Skerries travellers will be asking me to arrange an optional day tour to the tiny island. In the past, some tour members have visited Fair Isle for the day, and there were others who tried, but inclement weather interrupted their plans. As I keep saying, "Timing is everything"!

Also, received an email from the people who organize the HebCelt 2013 (short for Hebridean Celtic Festival.) With a number of months to go before we arrive on Lewis (in the Outer Hebrides) the excitement will just build and build. That is why I booked our hotel rooms many months ago, so that we would be on the island during the festival.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Knitting and reading about knitting

I'm coming along knitting the knee socks for one of my granddaughters. It's been a somewhat creative process for me, as I usually follow a pattern to the letter, and I've taken some artisitic licence with this one. As is obvious, I still have to complete the second sock and work in the ends. Hope she likes the finished product.

I was pleased to see that the weekend edition of the Ottawa Citizen featured an article with addresses of yarn shops in Ottawa and area. The preamble mentioned that knitting was no longer strictly the interest of grandmothers, plus commented on the great increase in participation of all ages. (It must have been written by a man--many knitters have been enthusiastic about the craft for a long time!)

I also bought the current issue of one of my two favourite magazines, The Knitter, and while I didn't care for many of the designs in this particular issue, I liked the articles. Good to see there was a design by Albertan, Barbara Brown (which I liked).

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Kaffe Fassett in Wales

I've copied this image from the website of the National Wool Museum in Wales and the upcoming exhibition of Kaffe's knitwear, which fortuitously takes place while we'll be in Wales. I'd already planned a visit there and this will enhance our day.
This will be in addition to viewing Kaffe's exhibition of quilts at the Welsh Quilt Centre, with a commentary by the founder, Jen Jones. Jen has done much to raise the knowledge and appreciation of this craft.

Friday, March 1, 2013

St. David's Day - How could I forget!

Today is St. David's Day, to celebrate the national saint of Wales. In Welsh, it's Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant. (The Welsh language must be one of the most difficult to understand and to learn. I was happy to hear that its usage is growing and Welsh is taught in the schools.)
Whenever I'm in Wales, I love to hear the Welsh accent when they speak English--it's lilting and musical. Their official flower is the daffodil.

The Welsh official colours are red, white and green and I expect the flag with the red dragon will be flying throughout the principality. Although the dragon looks fierce, the people are warm and friendly, as travellers on our Welsh tour will experience.

The Welsh pride is well deserved for the quality of the food served throughout the country. Welsh cakes and cawl (a traditional stew) are among my favourites and the cawl will most likely contain leeks, another symbol.

Travel far and wide

I regularly receive a Government of Canada travel advisory. As would be expected, it's written with a Canadian perspective, i.e. wait times at security for Canadian airports and at border crossings for travel by car.

I recommend the site as it offers general information re travel. (Something I immediately looked up was to see if knitting needles are now officially accepted in the plane cabins--they are!) I think it is a worthwhile site: and being Canadian, it is offered in both official languages. I also find it useful as it contains advisories for potentially dangerous countries or areas to avoid.

Another message which appeared in today's inbox was the Visitor Newsletter from Shetland.This site is authored by Abby and is subtitled Postcards from Shetland. As in the past, I wasn't disappointed in the contents: a pot pourri of events, sites, a festival, a contest and interesting people (a travelling bookbinder, an ecologist and of course a knitter and a weaver). Don't miss the last item about a 'dancing' Shetland pony--it's sure to put a smile on your face.