Saturday, 3 December 2016

Shetland 2016: Day Twenty two: Arriving Home

Thurs Oct 6
The journey from Knaresborough to home seemed short and there were no hold ups. In fact I didn't write a thing in my journal! 
We were home about 15.30 and then of course it was unpacking,sorting through the mound of post that had built up and finding a home for our purchases. 
We had had a great time and although initially we planned to return in two years we are now wondering about another trip next year. How can we miss the great scenery, wool week activities, camaraderie and birds? 
But before then we need to complete the decorating. I am not sure we are refreshed as we feel pretty exhausted but we have a large lounge & dining room to decorate and hopefully have finished before Christmas. But of course there are other priorities too-like the order for extra long double pointed needles so I can knit the Makin Shawl by Donna  Smith from the Wool Week Annual.  I have the wool and want to practise my developing skill of using a knitting belt!  Then of course there is the Shetland lace knitting, the jumper for M, more dyeing, teaching a Nuno felt class and so on..... It all keeps the brain going. 

I hope this has inspired  you to take a look at Shetland and maybe visit. The landscape is special and the people are very special too. Thank you all for making our visit, once again, special. 

The fingerless meadowsweet gloves finally get finished- shown on my new gloves boards

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Shetland 2016 : Day Twenty one - Rheged and Bowes Museum

Wed Oct 5
Today was a short travel day so we treated ourselves to a visit to Rheged. So often we are just passing and don't feel we have time to stop. Today we had a second breakfast in the cafe which was very nice indeed. There was an exhibition of Cumbrian Artists ( being defined as artists with links to Cumbria), some nice shops including an excellent extensive toy shop. It was so nice to see actual toys, rather than rely on online shopping. 
An interesting piece - thought it was great when I saw it in the exhibition but now I am home I 'm not so sure. ( Fortunately, it stayed in the exhibition!) 

We then drove on to Barnard Castle along the A66, a journey which has lovely scenery. We determined that we would come and stay in the area for at least a week in the spring. We like to park at Bowes Castle and eat in the cafe. We were lucky to get a seat by the window and had a nice lunch. I like to do clothes ' observing' when in the cafe- usually there are one or two lovely pieces and today was no exception giving me ideas for a modification to my normal shawl cardigan pattern (clever use of lace placement!) 
We arrived at The Caravan Club Knaresborough  site at about 15.30. One of the bonuses to staying here is the Bistro. We had booked dinner which was enjoyable. So our last meal out before  driving home tomorrow
As I have mentioned our motorhome is a Wildax and we were interested to find that another was in the spot next to us. On talking to these neighbours we found that there were another two on the site. We have never seen so many together before. 

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Shetland 2016: Day Twenty Aberdeen to Troutbeck, Cumbria

Tues 4 Oct : 

We have 526 miles to drive to get home. Rather that knock ourselves up we have decided to take it relatively easy and enjoy the journey- one of the pluses of being retired! 
We are very lucky that we are in the motorhome which is a pleasure to drive and can be self sufficient. We do like to stay on recognised camp sites and have booked in to the Caravan Club site in Troutbeck. We have stayed there before and although a long drive we will get an early start, the roads are good and the traffic is likely to be quite light. 
I didn't have my best night on the ferry- I think my head was too full of plans based on what I had learnt and bought during wool week. I must remember to load my iPad with podcasts as there is no radio reception! M took the motorhome of the ferry and then returned to finish his breakfast. We had done this before and it worked well, it is much better than rushing at the start of the day. 
The downside is that the route is not well provided with service stations. Stirling was our stop for coffee and then the spacious Happenden for lunch. We were at Troutbeck for 16.00 and had arranged to have a meal from our freezer for dinner - although it was a day when the Fish and Chip cart visited the site. 
We had seen some great sunsets in Shetland but the one from the site was good too. 
We began to wish we had planned to stay another night or two! 

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Shetland 2016: Day nineteen visiting Wilma Malcolmson and Jamieson and Smith

Mon 3 Oct 
Well, our last day in Shetland had arrived, we were catching the evening ferry back to Aberdeen. 
We had really enjoyed our stay at Aithsvoe  Marina. Today the weather was good and as everyone else was taking photos of me I thought I would have one for myself. So wearing my hat and holding my covered notebook M took photos in the lovely morning light. I am not a fan of having my photo taken but think this one is OK! Unfortunately despite my best efforts the fingerless gloves were not finished so they are missing from the set! 

I had promised Wilma that I would visit her studio before we left. We were very close as she is situated on the main road in Cunningsburgh. What a feast for a knitter's eyes it is inside. Wilma also showed me her box of samples from designing with her latest set of colours. She has an amazing eye for colour and her fair isle knitwear is lovely.(1) M was 'eyeing' the jumpers but wanted to think about them, so this is first on the list for him in terms of a purchase next year. It was good also to see a thank you photo from Jimmy Perez who also appreciates Wilma's skill. It was good to hear that a granddaughter is keen on working with Wilma. I think I have a good knitting space but this was even more desirable! We were glad we managed to fit in the visit and highly recommend it! 

Lerwick Harbour was the next spot and the last visit to the Shetland Times bookshop, the 'excuse' being to find something for the grandchildren but I just had to go through their knitting books again! 
A treat to see ! 
Purchases made we made our last visit to the Peerie cafe and bade 'safe journey' to fellow wool weekers from some of my classes who were travelling back to America. It looked like the ferry would have quite a wool week contingent. More purchases at the Shetland Museum and a last look at the 19th century pattern books project  exhibition in the foyer which I had not had time to study previously. There really is so much to do in Wool Week. 
From the pattern books project

Unfortunately Hay's Dock cafe was closed for staff training on the new menu so we couldn't enjoy our usual view from the first floor over the  Harbour- instead managing with the view from the motorhome in the car park there as we had lunch. 
Then onto Jamieson and Smith and a conversation with Oliver about fleece and the purchase of cones of Shetland Jumper Yarn  for machine knitting- a cone for a jumper for M and natural coloured wool for dyeing before knitting for myself.
All too soon it was time to go to the ferry, once on board we made for the lounge, which wasn't quite full of wool weekers but there were several. We had a nice meal with Eve and chatted to a couple from Whalsay. It turns out the husband makes knitting boards ( glove boards, jumpers boards)  so I have his phone number - what a lucky meeting that was! 
Exhausted from a restful day I tumbled into bed. Once again we were stopping at Kirkwall and it looked to me as if it was not a flat calm crossing! Tomorrow we would wake up close to Aberdeen. 
(1) see Wilma's work at 

Monday, 21 November 2016

Shetland 2016 : Day Eighteen- - Shetland Guild of Weavers, Spinners, Dyers and Knitters Guild Sunday Tea

Sunday 2 Oct wool week day 9 

I guess it was inevitable that after 2 completely full days I would get a migraine. ( for those that are lucky not to suffer from this 'challenge', it seems for many of us that 'doing a lot' is fine but taking the foot off the body accelerator allows a chink for the migraine to creep in. ) Fortunately nothing much was planned for the morning so I took the medication, kept eating and drinking and hoped I would come round for the afternoon. It sort of worked! 
So we were at Tingwall early and while waiting showed a German Wool Week attendee around out Motorhome. ( I lost count of the number of tours we did while we were away!) so then into Tingwall Hall and as expected it was busy and already people had full plates for their 'tea'. We happened across Ruth Gough from Wingham Wools. Suffice it to say we have quite a history together  - M and I enjoyed many residential courses run by Ruth & her husband Alan in Borrowdale . Until Wool week it had been a while since we met!
It was a glorious afternoon of eating (£5 for a plate and choose from an extensive buffet), drinks brought to the tables non stop; catching up with friends; viewing the stunning knitwear and talking to members of the Guild who were demonstrating spinning and knitting - many of whom I had chatted to during the week. 
 Many thanks to Sarah Moran (1) for taking this photo 

It was lovely to see items from the Guilds's challenge for the year - which was an item inspired by the Guild's first book A legacy of Shetland Lace 
Just a small sample of this:
Individual members of the Guild were displaying their own items and there were  rosettes  for prizes awarded for the beautiful knitwear from many shows. An afternoon not to be missed in terms of stunning knitwear. 
I was also rather overwhelmed by the number of people asking to take photos of my meadowsweet yoked jumper - the ones I know about are going to places as far away as the west coast of America and Australia! 

Even Michael didn't escape the photographing, he writes: 'While having a quick look round I was quite surprised to be stopped by a charming American lady who asked for a photograph of my chest!  Well actually the fair isle sweater I was wearing on it.  I was of course happy to oblige but also  felt I had to admit that it had been bought for a few pounds from a vintage second hand shop in Beccles, Norfolk. Janet has knitted me a rather special fair isle jumper but not one to wear when messing around on holiday in the van!' 
The colours and design of M's fair isle jumper are superb and as it gets closer to it's end I need to chart it so I can get close to replicating it. 

What a wonderful penultimate day in Shetland - so much skill on display and so many items at the very top of the stunning scale! 
(1) Take a look at Sarah's blog - she was lucky enough to get to Fair Isle for a day during wool week, and lots of other great stuff too! 

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Shetland 2016: Day seventeen Flock sale, Photography class and Anne Cleeves

Sat 1 Oct : Wool Week Day Eight

A glorious morning, very very still with wonderful colours from the sunrise.

Today there was some sadness as I had my last class but one I was really looking forward to - Photography  ( The Perfect Picture) with well known Shetland photographer Austin Taylor.(1)  But before that we were off to to the flock sale. Last time I went to the Maker's Market on Saturday but this year I wanted to experience the flock sale. This is held at the auction market to the North of Lerwick and Michael had already been to see where it was. On the way to the ring where the judging was taking place we passed  some fleece with their rosettes. Walking in the ring area brought back memories of going to Norwich  market with my father. Lots of wool week hats were visible. We sat and watched some judging, very little was said but lots of observation and movement of sheep took place to get the final order. 
The fleece had been judged the previous evening and these  were the ones in the adjacent room. How could I not buy one? What would I feel like if I went home having had the chance to buy a first class fleece as judged at the flock sale? The one I really liked even came from Aithsvoe where we had stayed all week. So after a discussion with Margaret who was managing the selling of  the fleece and I had chatted to earlier in the week,  I decided on a white one with superb crimp. This would be great for spinning fine lace yarn and / or dyeing.  So lovely to get a copy of the judging criteria for the fleece and a photo of the Trophy  accompanying it too. This felt very special. 

Then on to Hay's Dock for a leisurely coffee and to give in my square for the blanket. Mona and her helper were still stitching  them together and I had a lovely chat to them. Mona  liked the 'crofthooses'  that I had incorporated into the square and I loved seeing the blankets that were already made up.... such a variety of squares. (Post of 16 Oct 16 shows my square. ) 

So back down to Hoswick and the last class of the week. I was surprised there were only 4 of us, but Austin had  run the  same class in the morning! It was also interesting that I was the only visitor to Shetland attending. I am keen on photography and when we lived in Alsager I had attended a U3A group on Photoshop that had taken my photography to a new level. I still had lots of questions, realising that photography involving textiles is specialist - trying to show the texture and colours accurately in particular. Once again  this was a well prepared course and Austin was very generous in sharing his extensive expertise. Even though I have had my camera several years I am still learning how to get more from it! We looked at and tried out a simple studio setup and it was interesting how minor adjustments could make a lot of difference. Again more to work on when I got home! Another great course. 
Sara, also on the course, contributed her hand knit shawl for us to photograph

But the day had not ended. We had noticed that Anne Cleeves was launching  her latest book, Cold Earth, at Mareel in the evening, so we set off to Hay's Dock Restaurant and for our last meal there. Fortunately we had booked  as they were completely booked! 

Lots of wool weekers were in the audience at Mareel and many going home tomorrow so fond farewells were said. The evening was brilliant, hearing not only from Anne, but also from the Emeritus Professor of Forensic Pathology , Dr James Grieve and Davie Gardner - commonly called Shetland's Mr Fixit for the TV series Shetland based on the books. Another special event. 
Lerwick Harbour  as we left Mareel

So I went to bed exhausted  and hoping for a bit of a rest in the morning before the Shetland Guild of Weavers, Spinners, Dyers and Knitters Sunday Tea which I was really looking forward to, there would be stunning work on display. 

1 See more of Austin's work at

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Shetland 2016: Day sixteen - Design at Hoswick and Lace Knitting

Friday  Sept 30 : Wool Week Day Seven

I was really looking forward to today. I had two workshops planned. 
Design - The Difficult Part with Neila Nell at Hoswick
I have done several design courses over the years and all too often I have found that whatever they are called, they revolve around a photo and  mainly involve colour. This is fine if you have not done this before but I wanted to go beyond this. 
When I saw this advertised I knew I had to attend. It sounded interesting and Niela produces such amazing knitwear I knew I would be learning from an expert.
I was not disappointed and her approach took me way out of my comfort zone - all that I had hoped for and more. It was mentally challenging which was great and the morning flew by. Neila  kindly offered anyone interested to go to her shop after the workshop and find out more about the design of her camouflage range of knitwear. This was difficult as I only had an hour to the next workshop, but I did go for a bit. Once again we were offered the option of keeping in contact as we developed the design thinking that we started in the workshop. There was much to think about from this workshop as I realised this was just the tip of a lovely iceberg that I would later explore. 

Then there was a drive up to Lerwick and the 'Lace knitting with Monique Boonstra' class  in Jamieson and Smith's shop and I had to try and switch my brain to a completely different sort of thing. I decided I would use my knitting belt. Monique was extremely well prepared, we had useful and extensive handouts and it was so good to be able to see her fine lacework in the flesh so to speak. 
Superb pieces! 
After a demonstration/ talk we set about our  lace sampler using J and S supreme yarn. 

What I hadn't realised was that my eyes would not cope well without excellent light ( I was awaiting an eye procedure and couldn't have new glasses until it was done). I started well but then struggled a bit but kept going. Once home I was able to start again with the added bonus of using my own fine spun yarn. I virtually always use wool but decided to try with some high quality alpaca from my stash ( from a farm in Cartmel Fell Cumbria). I have noted that this is 72 wraps per inch- fine but not my finest! 
I am more than delighted with the result. 

Following this workshop I am designing some seasonal bookmarks with my own motifs before doing a whole shawl. 

Another great day of workshops. 

See more about these people: 
 Neila at and if you can get to her shop in person  it is sheer delight. 

Monique's work and her superb patterns at:

Austin Taylor's work can be found at