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