Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Shetland, Piecework, The Knitter & the Rideau Canal

Yesterday I received the January newsletter of the Shetland Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers. It was an interesting discussion of their activities since last September. There seems to be a lot more going on there than in the past. One event was the North Atlantic Native Sheep and Wool Conference which took place at the end of Wool Week. The theme was "Sustainability". Next year's event will be held in Iceland.

Shetland Wool Week 2014 is scheduled from the 04 to 12 October. Continuing on a Shetland theme: the guild book, A Legacy of Shetland Lace held top place as the highest selling book of the Shetland Times Ltd in 2013. So far, total sales of the book are 2300 copies. (Actually, I'm surprised it isn't more, considering the book's enthusiastic reception when I was on Shetland.)

I really enjoyed the Jan/Feb 2014 issue of Piecework Magazine. One of my favourite articles was by Dr. Carol Christiansen, curator of the textile collection at the Shetland Museum. Carol's article was a detailed background on the type of yarn and style of knitting in the Gunnister cap--a cooperation between archaeology and craft. Those who've come on recent Scottish Skeins & Skerries trips will recall meeting Carol. She is both informed and personable, and I'm certain I can speak for everyone that her talk to us at the Museum was very helpful in understanding the textiles in the collection. Carol will be meeting to us again on the next tour in July. Have a look at the website: and let me know if you have any questions or can join us. At the moment, the 2014 trip is half full.

I also got a copy of Issue 66 of The Knitter. I was delighted to learn of a new knitter, Lucy Hague of Orkney. I liked her cable designs. Another good issue. While I was attempting to copy the front cover, I read the magazine blog. Must check into that often.

Even though the current Ottawa temperature is in the minus twenties and thirties Centigrade, they are still skating on the Rideau Canal.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Selvedge, Up Helly Aa, Kaffe Fasset and the Rideau Canal

Another newsletter from the high quality British magazine, Selvedge. As usual, it's full of a number of exhibitions and textile-related activities. Makes one/me wish I had nothing to do but travel.

Also, an email from Hazel Tindall of Shetland. She was reminding people of the upcoming Up Helly Aa, always held on the last Tuesday of January. Apparently this is quite the show!

Several months ago I took a workshop led by Brandon Mably and in the evening, there was a slide show and talk by Kaffe Fassett. At the time, I wondered how they could accomplish so much: with the travelling yet the prodigious output, at the same time continuing to be so creative. I requested Kaffe's autobiography, Dreaming in Color from the library and last week my turn came to read it. It was a detailed depiction of his childhood, family and artistic adventures, from painting, mosaics, needlepoint, knitting and quilting.

Kaffe must have kept a daybook from a young age, or else had an extremely talented ghost writer--the book starts from his childhood in California and the last entries appear to be from late 2011. The names of people he's worked with and of those who've 'crossed his path' are many and the book is full of beautiful photographs. Even though he has assistance with many of his projects, especially large murals, I marvel at what he produces. As an extreme contrast, I think of how long it takes me to knit a pair of socks!


In today's Globe & Mail newspaper there is an article from the Wall Street Journal about macrame. Apparently this craft has re-gained popularity--not the former owl wall hangings from the seventies, but larger pieces such as headboards, room dividers and window coverings.

After my previous enthusiasm for skating on the Rideau Canal last week, the weather changed and the Canal was closed due to unseasonal high temperatures and rain. I was driving along the Canal this morning before 0900 and was very pleased to see many people out skating already. Hope it stays cold enough to continue.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Kimonos, socks, skating, Scotland

This week I received notice of an upcoming exhibition at the Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto. The opening is Tuesday, 28 January. It's called: "From Geisha to Diva: the Kimonos of Ichimaru". It sounds as though there will be a beautiful display of kimonos and I plan to attend. As I've mentioned in previous posts, the museum has an excellent library and I've spent many happy hours reading there.

Today, Shirley (Shirl the Purl) sent me an update of the New Lanark Mill in Scotland. For years, I've thought this would be an interesting venue to visit during the Scottish Skeins & Skerries tours, ( but the location just didn't fit in with our itineraries. Just too much to see in Scotland!

I'm knitting one of my granddaughters a pair of socks from a 100% Superwash merino yarn. Her (current) favourite colour is purple. I was able to find a lovely hand-dyed purple yarn--think it's more like a lilac--from Kathryn Drysdale of Riverside Studio. (In the past, I've bought a number of skeins of Kathryn's beautiful yarns, and took them to Shetland as gifts to members of the Shetland guild.) Kathryn dyes the skeins in her studio in the little village of Wakefield, Quebec, north of Ottawa in the Gatineau Hills.

Anyone who is familiar with Ottawa will know there is a canal which runs through the city and actually continues to Kingston, Ontario on the St. Lawrence River, through a system of locks. A highlight of winter in the capital is when the Rideau Canal freezes sufficiently, and locals and tourists alike enjoy the skating. I used to skate on the canal a number of times a week until I fell and broke a wrist a number of years ago. I still feel wistful when I drive along the canal and wish I could get my courage up to try again. I see from the website that the Canal is closed today due to rain. Hopefully, the temperature will drop again soon.

Have a look at this site: When conditions are better, there is nothing like it, especially to stop and have a hot chocolate and a beavertail--a local pastry.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I'm back!

I spent a week in London, England and just returned on the weekend. I hadn't been there  for a number of years, just to wander around and take in the sights. It's surprising to me how much one can do in seven days: visited many well known attractions, saw three plays/shows, had some tasty, but not expensive meals, and generally had a very good time. I was travelling with one of my granddaughters and do regret that I wasn't in better physical shape--I really slowed her down a lot!

Before going to England, I purchased London Passes and 7-day tickets for unlimited travel on the underground and buses.They were both of very good value and I would advise those purchases to anyone travelling to London. The streets were very clean and although I saw a number of street cleaners and several postmen, I only saw two Bobbies walking on the street our last night. (That is other than the ones who were standing on the Queen's side of the gates in front of Buckingham Palace.) I did see and hear a number of police cars racing along the streets, sirens announcing, although no more than I hear in downtown Ottawa, where I live.

Before I left Ottawa on the 27 Dec., I was really busy and ran out of time to post information about a January contest connected with Shetland. Have a look at: The prize is a comprehensive book about Shetland textiles--I'd love to own that one. Also, the newsletter, "60 North" is also available, and as always has extensive information over a wide variety of subjects.

Not to be forgotten is the Global Yell post from Andy Ross: Lots of information in his post too.There are two articles about mathematics, especially one about Fibonacci.