Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Shetland Wool Week 18: Day 26-28 : Aberdeen to Norfolk

Thurs 4 - Sat 6 Oct

We got up, on the ferry, early even for us (5.00) so we could have a relaxed breakfast in the lounge and be ready to go down to the van and drive straight off and on our journey. We were at the front of the car deck and thought we would be first or second off the ferry. We had both slept quite well and were anticipating fairly quiet roads initially. We like to stop at Glendoick which has a large garden centre and nice cafe and is just off the A90.  The aim was to be there for opening time at 9.00 without rushing things. 
True to prediction this worked well and we had a good stop, sitting looking over the garden and noticing how much more autumnal the trees were looking compared to the journey up. I then took over driving and our next stop was to be Cairn Lodge at Harpenden. This used to be rather run down but has been taken over by the Westmorland Group that run the independent motorway services at Tebay on the M6 Northbound. This one is having a makeover and is already a huge improvement. The rest of the journey was uneventful, I tried to do the Times crossword while M drove. We were booked into Hoddam Hall, a campsite we have only just discovered. It is a nice site and is very spacious, with a bar serving food  which is OK. However we decided to cook our own  and enjoyed a nice meal of salmon brought down from Shetland. This was the longest leg of the journey. 
A view from the van at Hoddam Hall

It was a very wet night but there was no wind and it was quite mild. I had not slept well, but we were only driving down to Clumber Park so we could afford to take things slowly. The rain stayed with us all the way down the M74. Today we had our second breakfast at Rheghed and then as always looked forward to the journey over the A66, which rarely disappoints with the spectacular and varied views across. However today it was not at its best due to heavy rain, and at times it was decidedly  unpleasant with the spray from the lorries. We  decided to stop at Bowes Museum towards the east end of the A66, and as we left the rain had stopped. Again it was west side of the country wet, east side dry, something we have been very aware of having lived on the wet side in Cheshire for several years and now returned to the drier east side. 
We were glad that it was dry driving down the A1 to Clumber Park. We noticed that Fish and Chips was an option for dinner and we decided that would be good. The day had turned out to be more tiring than anticipated due to the poor weather conditions. We did well with the crossword that day doing all but two clues. 
A view from the van at Clumber Park (actually taken in April! ) 

And so onto the last leg of our journey home. We had covered about 2000 miles in all over the 28 days. We were keen to get off early, it was wet again and not at all pleasant. We had a stop at Cambridge services, a nice croissant and coffee but a silly high price. It did the job though and we then carried on in the rain and got in by 12.00. We emptied the van straight away as even heavier rain was forecast. It had been a wonderful holiday but it was nice to be home. 
As might be  predicted we slept well that night. 
It is now under a year until we hope to undertake the wonderfully memorable experience again. 

Monday, 10 December 2018

Shetland Wool Week Day 24 and 25: An Extra Day

Tues 2 Oct and Wed 3 Oct 

We were to leave on the Tuesday evening ferry however as it was forecast to be gale conditions we swapped to the Wednesday. We were surprised, the lovely lady at the ferry  terminal was so sure it would be calmer then.  It didn’t take any persuading to have an extra day in such a wonderful place. So my last minute ‘Textile’ shopping could be spread over two days.
Tuesday was windy and we decided to use the morning as part of the shopping day and for the rest of the day I read and enjoyed myself doing more fine lace knitting of the Dunella Scarf. I had hardly touched this since Wool Week proper had started and after so many days with so many activities a rest day before the drive back to Norfolk was good. 
We did manage lunch in Hay’s Dock, such a beautiful place to sit and look out to sea. This turned out to be our last lunch ever there as it was closed later in the year as unfortunately it was not making a profit. A sad loss for Lerwick and Wool Week. However, I do understand and there are now many more lovely places to eat in town than there used to be. 
It was a windy night as we went to bed and we parked the van in the lee of the building. After midnight the wind dropped considerably, so perhaps Wed  night would be much calmer. 
We do get fantastic views from our mainland ‘home’, this is a couple  of them on the day we were leaving 
 Wonderful Reflections

The skies are pretty spectacular too

On Wednesday we treated ourselves to our last second breakfast at Mackenzie’s for the year. I wondered how I would break myself of this habit once home! I completed the textile shopping in Lerwick, buying some coned machine yarn form Jamieson and Smiths and had a lovely coffee in the Dowry.
I just love this ‘knitting’ Tote from Jamieson’s shop which I also visited: 

To stop us feeling too sad we decided to go somewhere ‘new to us’. Chris Dyer had pointed out some places on mainland to M when he was on the Croft trip. We decided to investigate the Lerwick one and drove down sea road until it looked interesting.
So close to town and so different. We had lunch there and it was  a lovely way to end the holiday. The only problem was I took no photos. Once at the ferry terminal we were through to the holding yard and on the ferry fairly soon- we are often nearly the last on. We knew nobody in the lounge, which was unusual but rather nice. The crossing was calm and neither of us even heard the clanking that accompanies the stop in Kirkwall. 3 days of travelling through Scotland and England and we would be home. 

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Shetland Wool Week 18: Day 23: Machine Knitting and the Scalloway Hotel

Mon 1 Oct 

When I was in Shetland in the summer, I visited Anne Eunson so that we could have a ‘play day with knitting machines’. I have had one of my knitting machines, a Brother 830,  24 stitch  punchcard with 850 ribber, for many years. It was bought new  in, I think 1974, and has been used ever since. (It has also been joined by many accessories and some other machines but that is a long story for another time). Anne is currently using 2 electronic Brother machines, but has at least one other and also first used knitting machines some time ago! I believe she did have a period of knitting as a  paid job. 

So we have a love of machine knitting in common and we both have Brother knitting machines. We had a great day together in the summer learning from each other but a day went too quickly and so the Monday after wool week was to be another ‘play day’. However, I was quite tired from the week and Anne must have been more tired as she had run several workshops, I had only attended workshops. 

We only had 2 possible days left to have our wonderful second breakfast at Mackenzies, so this was our first stop. Anne was coming into Lerwick early so it seemed a good opportunity to meet up at the Dowry for a coffee.  M joined us and was then planning a free day which was to include visiting some of his favourite spots and looking at birds I guessed. We would then all meet up at the Scalloway Hotel for dinner.  

All went to plan and we stretched our minds getting our heads around the different types of double jacquard and investigating the best yarns to use to get the finishes we desired. (1) We did stop for a quick lunch but kept thinking of other things to try. By the end of the day Ann had started experimenting with  yarns for a skirt and I was working out alternative stitch combinations  for another jacket. 
Some of my samples

Anne’s knitting machine

All too soon it was time to pack up and head for Scalloway. It was wet and the wind was getting up. As we met M he wondered why I had not picked up the endless texts and emails he had sent. I had only used my iPad for taking photos of stages in our machine knitting and I had left my phone in the hall. It turned out M had made contact with NorthLink  about  our ferry booking to mainland the following evening as they predicted it was going to be very stormy. Due to lack of any communication with me he had provisionally booked us onto the ferry on Wednesday as they were able to take the van as well. So we were to get an extra day in Shetland again. (We had had 3 extra days last October as the van could not be fitted on when we had also changed the booking due to bad weather). We would need to go to NorthLink in the morning and make a decision about what to do. 
The meal at the Scalloway Hotel was very good indeed. We had not eaten there before but decided this would definitely be a place to add to the 2019 visit. Besides enjoying the food it was good to talk about ‘things Shetland’ in general. It was lovely to have a quick word with the Fruity Knitting team of Andrea and Andrew who were also eating there although none of us got our knitting out. (Well if anyone did I was obviously talking too much to notice! ) 

By the time we left, it was very wet and by the time we got to bed the wind was getting very strong too. 

(1) By some people Fair Isle Knitting is referred to as Jacquard Knitting. In machine knitting there are two types of Jacquard Knititng, neither of which is Fair Isle Knitting. In both cases two rows are knitted in one colour and then two rows in another colour. A colour changer additional fitment  is not essential but is the sensible practical way to do this if knitting more than a sample. There are no floats on the back of the knitting. The pattern is selected by the punchcard  or electronically. 
Single Bed Jacquard is the equivalent of mosaic or maze knitting in hand knitting. It gives a lovely finish.
The pink jacket that I wore at SWW this year was completed with this technique. I will write more about it when this Shetland Journal is complete. 
This is a sample 
Front                                                                  Back 
Double Bed Jacquard uses the ribber  as well as the main bed of the knitting machine. Essentially any floats are trapped between the two layers of knitting. There are a number of choices for the back of the knitting, some depending on the machine used. Choosing the correct, quite fine fibre is a major key to the success of the overall finish. 
It is not surprising that many ‘home knitters’ do not use this technique. Done well it is lovely but there can be a number of pitfalls. It is quite difficult and time consuming but worth the effort, in my opinion. 

This is a sample of embossed jacquard  using any yarns I could find, but I love the design as it is. 

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Shetland Wool Week 2018: Day 22: Sunday Teas and Eshaness

Sunday 30 Sept 
The last Sunday of wool week is always one of my favourites, as the Shetland Guild of Weavers, Spinners, Knitters and Dyers put on a Sunday Tea. 
However, I was distracted this morning as I had got something in my eye and was unable to concentrate on thinking about anything other than my eye.
I tried having a shower, washing out my eye and using eye drops but nothing was going to work.  M had told me there was quite a large spike that looked like grass in my eye but he had been unable to remove it. So after breakfast we decided that A and E was the place to go, but wondered what our son (an A and E consultant in England) would say!  
We parked easily at the hospital and noticed there was no ambulance queue, which is normal in England. M took another look at my eye and said the spike was near the corner and he thought he could get it, which he did. Hurrah, no A and E needed and no need to tell my son I had  been to A and E in Lerwick. We then picked up a few provisions in Tesco as we were driving past and went to Mareel  for a congratulatory coffee and croissant. 
We decided we would drive on to Brae slowly and be there in time to get ourselves some lunch in the van before the Tea and Exhibition opened.
It was a good day for Rainbows as we were driving over to Brae

There were two other events close by so we thought parking might be at a premium. 
We got one of the remaining parking spots at the Hall. I chatted to Eve as she had arrived well before us and at 14.00 we went in. 
It is a lovely that there is a display of members work and the chances are the makers  will be there so you can talk to them, or watch them demonstrating spinning or knitting and even possibly buy one of their items.  

Kathleen Anderson’s lovely fine lace shaped shawl

I think this is a Pearl Johnson’s, just look at that rib.

There is a short video on my Facebook page taken at the Tea,  you can see me wearing my ‘wool week’ jacket and of course talking about knitting.(1)

It was a lovely afternoon and I did lots of close looking, talking to Wool Week friends and to members of the Guild which is very special.   Providing the food for the tea and managing the giving out of the tea is a serious undertaking and both the drinks and food were constantly being refreshed. It is an amazing extra burden on the Guild, many of whom would have been involved in classes during the week. It is a wonderful end to the week. As always we were some of the last to leave - too much talking M would say! 

It was getting very blustery. We decided we would treat ourselves to Frankie's Fish and chips for an early supper. First we thought we would take the opportunity to drive over to Eshaness and see what the sea was looking like there. It is a beautiful drive  over  and as soon as we could see the sea, it was clear it would be a dramatic experience. I took lots of photos, firstly with the iPad and then with my ‘real‘ camera, but all from the comfort of the van. 
Very atmospheric

As we turned to begin the journey back to Frankie's, we were so pleased that we had decided to visit Eshaness and saw one or two more couples from wool week who had decided to ‘take a look’ too. 
What a wonderful end to Wool Week this was.  However, we had two more days left and I had a special day planned for Monday. 

(1) I can’t copy the link due to my lack of technical skills, but I posted it on my Facebook  page on 1 Oct  18 

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Shetland Wool Week: Day 21: Maker’s Market and Removing the Weaving from the Warp Weighted Loom

Sat 29 Sept 

Last night had been very wet and windy and we were glad to be snug in our little abode, but did spare some thoughts for those travelling back on the ferry. It was likely to have been a little choppy. 
Mackenzie’s did not open until 9.00 as it was Saturday but we were there and waiting for our second breakfast,  before travelling into Lerwick for some provisions. Then it was on to the High School, which was the venue for the Maker’s Market. This seemed  a good choice as there was ample room for parking and the market was more spacious and thus less crowded than last year, which had felt a bit like a scrum. 
It was nice to meet up and say goodbye to some wool week friends who were returning home tonight. I had not planned on any large purchases this year, but was tempted  by a few items as always. I particularly liked these buttons, which are about an inch in diameter: 

It was great to talk to Bunchy who runs the Natural Dye business Spindrift Crafts. I ‘follow’ her on Facebook and we have fairly frequent chats so it was especially good to put a name to a face and have a real conversation. 
This is some of her blue dyed yarn, indigo plus lady’s mantle and marigold, and such a lovely colour. She dyes Shetland jumper weight yarn and also lace weight yarn so her colours can be used in many projects. 

The parents were serving refreshments and again  it was good to see more of the school. 
Somebody on high was keeping watch! 

It was also impressive to see the list of activities supported by the parents through such fund raising activities as this.

We decided that lunch in Hoswick would be a great idea. Lunch in Hoswick is always a good idea in Wool Week and we guessed today would be our last chance. There were still classes going on and I quietly removed my weaving from the loom and hope I did not disturb Austin’s class too much.(1) 
We were having another quiet night, I still had two more days of activity left  before the journey home began. 

(1) Austin is a great photographer and I have attended one of his workshops in Wool Week. Well worth doing if you are are interested in taking photographs of your work or the landscape. You can see more of his work at http://www.austintaylorphotography.com/

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Shetland Wool Week: Day 20: Advanced Taatit Rug Workshop

Fri 28 Sept 

Last year I took the Taat chat at the Bod with Carol Christiansen (1) and a Taatit Rug workshop with Kathy Coull and Father Christmas remembered  where I had put the Taatit book I purchased.(2) I really like looking at the book and rereading it and enjoyed finishing my sample at home. However, as I was finishing it I was wondering how the correct way of finishing this would be for a larger piece. So, when I saw that Kathy was running an advanced course this year I was keen to sign up. I was even more interested when I saw that a large Taatit Rug was entered for the National Exhibition for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers in Glasgow this summer. Unfortunately I did not get to see the exhibition so I couldn’t examine this piece in person. I thought the back looked rather different to my sample but perhaps that was due to the angle of display. 

I had some thoughts about design and what would be possible for me in terms of completing a much larger piece. I was keen to weave my own background this time. I thought a wall hanging would be more realistic that a bed cover, just in terms of getting it finished in my lifetime as I know I have other textile interests and it will never be my only project on the go - although I do find it addictive. I had also thought about a colour range and had a stimulus photo of a midsummer sunset at Westing beach which I took a few years ago. I had  also collected some  photos of architecture from elsewhere as well as I hoped I could make the rug  a contemporary look but to include traditional elements of symbolism as well. The other question for me is that I like the pile and the woven side equally so how could  I best display it to show both- or whether this was in fact possible. 

So I had lots I wanted to discuss with Kathy. I knew the workshop would be small as we were meeting in Kathy’s bijou space in the Lodberries. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was when due to unfortunate circumstances I would be the only one at the workshop. How good would that be? 
Needless to say I had a great time, I looked In detail at the large piece based on Fair Isle and it’s lighthouse that Kathy is completing, which took us into design and practical modifications of the pattern. We also discussed edgings etc and all the other questions I had from completing my sample piece last year. We worked through ways  of forming a circle that would appear as a circle and getting sloping lines to ‘work’ as planned. 
A sloping line sounded easy but still needed full concentration

Kathy  had woven me a large sample piece for the background from her own sheep on Fair Isle. Time went fast and even though there were only the two of us we still ran over! (3) 

I had arranged to meet M for lunch in the Dowry, our first lunch here. This (Thai soaked salmon and mini noodles) was very tasty. We then drove back down to Hoswick and today was the day I would finish weaving my sample  on the Warp Weighted Loom. I would delay taking it off the loom until tomorrow. 
Weaving on the loom just before it was cut off

Ruth Gough was finishing a class and it was good to catch up with her. The class took me back several years (15 or so) when we lived in Cheshire and I did several spinning classes  with Ruth and know that my spinning is so ‘scientific’ due to her methods. (4) 
Anne Eunson who was also finishing a class so there was another opportunity for a catch up. I was not going out tonight so could spare the time to look at the delightful weaving of some of the college students that was being displayed in the upper room of the workspace at Hoswick . 
BA student’s weaving 

Then it was time to go back to base and collapse.
This is the Suffolk ram which has been in the field  through all weathers each time we have stayed at the campsite. 

Today marked the end of the 2018 Shetland Wool Week workshops for me and I already had a list of ones I am hoping to sign up for in 2019. 

1.  Carol Christiansen has been interviewed discussing  Taatit Rugs for a Fruity Knitting Podcast - number 66
2. I have written about Taatit rugs on posts of 2Jan2018 and 23July2018
3. Kathy Coull has a website at www.kathycoull.com 
4. I smiled recently when I watched a tutor teaching fancy spinning. I asked about how the tutor ensured that the yarn was balanced, only to be told that fancy spinning yarns could not be balanced. It is things like this that make me smile with gratitude that I was taught to spin by Ruth. Another recent nonsense (imo) is the need to ‘thwack’ some yarn after spinning. It is possible to be taught to spin yarn without the need for this if you have a teacher who really understands how spinning works. 

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Shetland Wool Week: Day 19: Walls, Bonhoga and Bressay

Thursday 26 Sept

This was an official rest day, but again with an evening event. We started the day by having a lovely drive to Walls, we couldn’t remember visiting there before. 
Walls from the Club car park 

There was a Wool Week event ‘Cafe, Knitwear, Fleeces, Sheep and Ponies’ in the Walls Regatta Club - for the Thursday and Friday. As always there was coffee and cake and  textile related stalls by some local folk and lots of fleece for sale.

Tea and cakes, with some of the knitwear in the background

I resisted the fleece (and this continued for the whole trip!) but did treat the grandchildren to notebooks covered in fabric from Jamieson’s mill. I chose for each to have a Viking on the front! 
We had not visited Bonhoga on this visit so decided to drive back there for lunch and enjoyed this very much. It is a lovely place to have a meal and cabinets with work on display in the cafe. Today much of this was weaving so that was great. 
We did have a rest in the afternoon and an early meal as I was meeting Alison at the Bressay ferry terminal and we were going over to meet Roisin McAtamney and look round her studio. She runs R.A.M knitwear (1) which is machine knit based. Both Alison and I machine knit and are proud of that. It was a blowy and wet evening so we were very pleased to be met at the ferry terminal. It would have been too far to walk to the schoolroom where Roisin is based. We had a great time, including a glass of wine, looking at and discussing her samples and resulting knitwear. 

The tie I bought for M

We were both really pleased to have visited Roisin, although both of us seemed exhausted already by the week and it’s great activities. 
M met me at the quay, we had supper and tumbled into bed. Tomorrow I would have nothing in the evening. What a great week this had turned into. 

1. Roisin, works at the Shetland College as the Textile Technician. She is responsible for programming and running the electronic knitting machines and finishing equipment for both students and local businesses that use these facilities. Her knitwear can be found at R.A.M Knitwear, and you can find out more about the wonderful things she knits on facebook.