Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas Magic: Winnie’s Craft Café

OMG! We made it to Ireland! IRELAND! I have been stuffed in Cathy’s bag for almost three months and I finally saw the light of day! (Well, it was night when we got to the knitting group meeting—but whatever, I was out of that bag!)

We arrived in Ireland on a cold December 11. Immigration gave Cathy a bit of a hard time because she did not have a date when she planned to leave the country. He was worried she would try to work in Ireland. Cathy?? Work?? You got to be kidding. But, in the end, the officer stamped her passport and we got in. 

On her second night in Dublin, Cathy found this incredible group of ladies that meet at Winnie’s Craft Café. Wow—another café and knit shop in one place—perfect! And so magical right before Christmas. The ladies were very welcoming and I got passed all around. Marina, the owner, has a great stock of so many kinds of yarn and she started off contributing to me with a bright pink mohair boucle from Cushendale Wollen Mills. It is spun in Kilkenny Ireland by a 200 -year-old family business. As Marina says, “It doesn’t lend itself to fancy stitches!” But it is fancy enough just by itself. 

Marina adding sweet pink boucle from Cushendale Woollen Mills

Then Clare added a knit 2, purl 2 checkerboard section, and Jackie knitted some lace stitches with a blue handspun yarn. Finally Geraldine used a nice hand-dyed yellow sock yarn from Green Elephant Yarns.  I’m back in business, baby! It was so fun meeting these ladies and Cathy says we may rejoin them if we come back through Dublin on one of their Knitnights. 

Winnie's Craft Cafe KnitNight group...Tea, cakes, cookies, and Christmas chocolates
and knitting...what more could you want?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Liverpool on a Lark

On a lark—and kind of at the last minute—we ended up in Liverpool, England. Cathy quickly researched knitting meet-up groups and found one that met on the very day we arrived, and only about a mile from the hostel. So off we went…for a delightful evening at Cuthbert’s Bakehouse, meeting with the young working women of the Purlesque Knitting Group.

While Cathy knitted and ate the richest brownie in the world, I got passed from lady to lady! 

Sam wrote about her rows: 
“I’ve used Létt Lopi in a shade that is only available from the Handknitting Association of Iceland shop in Reykjavik. I bought it there on my travels in January. I am currently knitting a Klukka dress with it.”

Look at me now!

Cathy will send me on to be stored in Santiago, Spain for a while, so she can GO HIKING.....AGAAAIIIIN! This time on the Camino de Santiago. 
She is leaving me for TWO MONTHS! 

But after that, I think I heard her say that we might head for Ireland for the winter. IRELAND!!! OH MAN! I think I’m going to cry…

Here are my latest contributors from England:

Monday, August 21, 2017

The North Yorkshires—My Idea of Heaven!

We made it to the English Yorkshires. Now we are in the cute little village of Hawes in Wensleydale and there are sheep and knitters everywhere you look! Wow! Cathy has deigned to take me out and show me off and I am in heaven. 

We visited the Dales Countryside Museum that was chocked full of displays and information about the Yorkshire way of life, especially in years past. Check out this amazing wall hanging created by 20 local fiber artists to celebrate Wensleydale fiber. They use fiber to tell the story of fiber! Coooool! The background is handwoven and all the yarn is hand spun and hand dyed in natural colors. 

There was a display of these interesting knitting sheaths. They look like lethal weapons and I bet there have been a few ladies who have used them as such. But they are normally inserted into a waist belt and one knitting needle is inserted in a hole in the top. That keeps the needle steady so the knitter can work a lot faster—kind of like the knitting belts we saw in the Shetland Islands. Many sheaths were plain, but it was often customary for young men to make specially carved ones for their sweethearts. How romantic!

But the best day was August 8, what we are calling Lamb and Yarn Day.” Tuesday is market day in Hawes because
for who-knows-how-long it has been the day when the Auction House runs its weekly auction. Then, vendors of all kinds line the streets with shopping stalls selling all kinds of wares, from cabbage to coats. 

We met Rachel Bates, with her Cosy Posy knits. Cathy left me with her while she went down the street to check out some slow-roasted pork she had seen earlier at another stall. Rachel added a few rows between waiting on were talkin!

Rachel must keep her hands busy producing all these warm, cozy knits!

Today the auction house was dealing in market lambs and we spent over an hour there watching the process. Cathy was fascinated and I dont understand why. It was a noisy affair with lots of baa-ing, people talking loud, and slamming gates.  And you could not even understand that auctioneer! Turned out that these are mostly poor little lambs that are destined for the plates of the British. 

Cathy thought it was interesting to watch the handlers working and listen to the farmers talking among themselves in an English that is indecipherable.  It was like a scene from All Creatures Great and Small! Indeed, this is James Herriott country. He practiced all over these hills, and much of the show was filmed here. For me, I just wanted to go out and find some more knitters. 

FINALLY, we got on a bus and headed to Leyburn where the famous Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shop is located. Ahhh, we were sure to encounter some knitters here. And sure enough, Kath Hume, the owner was thrilled to meet me! She deals exclusively in yarn and spinning fiber from the Wensleydale Longwool sheep. She is proud to show off how beautiful and LONG the locks of wool can be. 

Look at the crimp in those locks! This display looks like a
girl with curly white hair is looking out the window.

Kath just loved me! She added some rows of garter stitch in some luscious Aran weight Wensleydale Longwool yarn in a color called Buttertubs.” It is just the color you would expect. She also very creatively knitted in uncombed burgundy locks and left their tips flowing out from the fabric.

While we were there, Katie and her mother walked in. Katie just learned how to knit last April and was enthusiastic to add a few rows of stockinette using a black and white yarn that was over-dyed with blue. She has got to be my youngest contributor so far. What fun!

Cathy purchased some soft white and purple combed tops to spin and a batch of uncombed lavender locks. Cant wait to see what she does with it. 

Too soon, it was time to board the bus back to Hawes. But it sure was a fun day!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A Very Special Encounter...

Cathy spent a couple weeks without showing me off at all...I just sat in her pack while she went off hiking around the Scottish Highlands. You would think she would at least take me out a couple times, but NOOOO...there I sat bored and not growing at all. What a waste of a beautiful scarf! 

But on the train between Glasgow and the English Yorkshires, my fate changed. Cathy sat down next to Ann from the Isle of Jura on the west coast of Scotland. They got to talking and Ann is a knitter...and she loves to knit lace, just like Cathy. Well that was enough for Cathy to walk to the back of the train and retrieve me from her luggage so Ann could make a significant, lacy addition. Wow...Im back in business!

It was a short, but very special and serendipitous encounter. We had to transfer to another train in Carlisle and say goodbye to Ann, but she invited us to visit her in Jura if we return to Scotland. 

Can we go, Cathy?  Can we? 

Later, Ann sent us the photo 
she took of Cathy modeling 
me on the cramped train.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Amazing Shetlands: Part 2

Cathy was truly enjoying the our stay in the cozy mansion that has become the Islesburg House Hostel in Lerwick (voted the best hostel in the world in 2010 and 2012for good reason). We ended up staying almost two weeks!

At the hostel, we met other knitters: Kirsten and Josephine added a couple more sections to me. Josephine, from Wollongong, Australia, was visiting Shetland on holiday with her husband.

On Friday, the 14th, we decided to finally travel by three buses and two ferries to the farthest north part of Scotland—the island of Unst and the tiny village of Haroldswick where the finest of Shetland lace comes from. On Friday afternoons, the Unst Heritage Center has spinning and knitting demonstrations. While waiting at the bus stop in Lerwick, Cathy met Shuko, another knitter who was visiting Scotland and who had the same plans to visit the Haroldswick knitters. Yay! A traveling companion made for an extra special day.

We got there before the museum opened, so there was time to visit Victoria's Vintage Tea Room where Cathy experienced her first (but not the last!) cream tea—that luscious and rich combination of buttery scones, clotted cream, jam, and a huge pot of tea. Victoria obviously did it up right!

Visiting with Hazel and Dorothy and watching them knit with their knitting belts made for a memorable afternoon. Cathy tried knitting with a knitting belt and was completely befuddled. Hazel tried adding some rows to me using my short needles and was completely befuddled. Cathy re-threaded me onto one of Hazel's needles that would fit into her belt. 

Now watch how adept these women are at knitting!

Hey, wasn't that me in the starring role?

After we all said our "goodbyes," Hazel rushed out. She still had many hours left in the day. It is shearing season and she was going back to help with the shearing. "How many sheep do you have," Cathy asked. 

"Oh, I don't knowmaybe about 700," Hazel replied, matter-0f-factly.  

And here is the latest list of my talented contributors. Oh look—see there right at the top, Cathy did add a lacy pattern using the yarn she spun from the hentilagets: 

Don't you just love Catherine's section of purple bling at the bottom?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Amazing Shetlands: Part 1

On July 5, we took a train to Aberdeen and embarked on a luxurious Northlink ferry for Lerwick, the capital of the Shetland Islands. It was about a 14-hour overnight trip. Cathy was very fortunate that the seas were very calmshe gets seasick easily. 

On the way, Cathy met Catherine and Oliver Henry while standing in the stern watching Aberdeen shrink behind us. It turned out (serendipitously?) that Oliver has been the wool broker for Jamieson and Smith (those people who make some luscious Shetland yarn!) for many years. 

Of course, as soon as they opened on Monday, we made a beeline to the Jamieson and Smith yarn store, right next door to the brokerage house.
The Jamieson & Smith Brokerage--almost all the fleece from the Shetland Islands comes through these doors. Since it was the height of sheering season, Oliver was very busy.

Cathy found some cobweb weight yarn to practice making finer lace.

Look at those colorful Shetland sweaters!

While on the ferry, Catherine had invited Cathy to come by to visit one day, so after our shopping spree we found ourselves in the cozy Henry home overlooking the bay. (Have I mentioned how friendly the Scottish people are? Well they are doubly friendly and helpful in the Shetlands!) Catherine had not knitted in a number of years, but broke out her stash to add some funky purple bling to meI was growing again!!

Lerwick has a wondrous Shetland Textile Museum museum where knitters and other fiber lovers can drool over the creations, old and new, of the incredible knitters, spinners, and weavers here. Cathy was completely enthralled by the exhibits of vintage lace knitting. Look at that sock!

Shetland shawls are famous for being sheer and fine. You can see right through them and some of them can even be passed through a wedding ring! Incredible!

On Tuesday, Cathy took a short ferry ride over to the Island of Bressay--right across the harbor from Lerwick. She hiked to the top of the hill there collecting hentilagets which she then began spinning into yarn. She explains in this video:

Wouldn’t you like to try that? I wonder if there is any chance some of that hentilaget yarn will end up on me???  Hmmm...maybe if I  try flattery:  Cathy sure is a lot of fun to travel with!

You can read more about Cathy's visit to Bressay here.

To be continued here

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

So Many Knitters; So little Time!

After leaving Glasgow, we made our short way by train to the little town of Musselburgh, a quiet retreat outside of the busy Edinburgh. It is named for all the mussels that are found on the beaches there. Cathy didn’t like Edinburgh very much -- “Too many people!” she said. She did visit Kathy’s Knits in the city which only stocks products from the United Kingdom.

Durrow Shawl
Catherine, the storekeeper, added a few rows to me while Cathy perused the merchandise. She found an intriguing pattern that she just had to have. It is called Durrow and is the creation of a local designer, Lucy Hague. Just look at that cable work! I have no idea when Cathy thinks she is going to make it; she cannot even keep up with updating my blog!

On the Fourth of July, we traveled the short way from Musselburgh to Haddington for the day to meet some knitters, spinners, and weavers at the Haddington Poldrate Mill Art Center. Marie met us at the train station and took us to the mill where we met Denise, Catherine, and Vicky.

Marie and Denise (behind) and Vicky and Catherine (front) gave us a warm welcome.

Look at their fantastic workspace for teaching the fiber arts!

We knitted and chatted for a couple hours on a very rainy day. It was quite cozy inside the mill.

Marie knitted this cool Fair Isle pattern from memory with yarn from North Ronaldsay in the Orkney Islands. It was the same yarn she used to test knit a sock pattern in Debbie Zawinski’s book, In theFootsteps of Sheep. A few weeks later, we would find ourselves on that remote island of North Ronaldsay!

Denise’s hands flew through the stitches of her rows of a stitch called gradual drop stitch which she recently learned from her spinning tutor.

It was a fun day in Haddington, I sure hope we get to go back to visit those ladies again someday!

Here is what the mill looked like on the outside. It used to be a corn mill.

Here is an update on my growth and all the contributors. (At least Cathy thinks she got them all correct!)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

I LOVE Scotland!

We arrived in Glasgow, Scotland, after a chilly 2-day stopover in Reykjavik, Iceland, from where I was taken to the village of Alafoss for a day tour with Ragga Johannsdottir of Icelandic Culture and Craft. This is where first industrial mill was located in Iceland and where lovely Lopi yarn is made from the warm wool of Icelandic sheep. After Ragga gave a little history of the area and took us to the wonderful Alafoss Yarn Store, she and the other visitor, Heidi, each contributed a few rows.

Antje (right, proprietress at the Yarn Cake) and customers helped out!

Once we were in Glasgow, I got over to the West End to visit a really wonderful little yarn store, The Yarn Cake, where you can enjoy both yarn and cake IN ONE PLACE! Sit and knit, drink tea, eat cake, shop for a wonderful array of yarn! How can life get any better? Well it does. Don’t we wish all proprietors of yarn stores were as friendly and helpful as Antje (pronounced An’ tee-ya)? Immediately, Cathy felt right at home laughing and joking with her and the sweet contractor who comes in regularly to be sure there are no moths in the shop. (Smart yarn shop owner!) The lemon polenta cake was delicious along with the two pots of tea that Cathy imbibed! Antje added a few stockinette rows to me, and while she was helping some customers, a couple other visitors inserted some garter stitch rows between Antje work. All the while, everyone talked and laughed and had a good old time.

Look at this cute pair of cardigans
Alison (at the Sparkle Horse) made 
for  a friend's new twin grandsons!

Okay…yarn, cake, laughter, conversation, a lovely store and NOW….We moved down the street to The Sparkle Horse—yes you read that correctly…The Sparkle Horse, one of the most popular pubs in the West End of Glasgow. And what was going on there? A “Stitch ’n Bitch” meet up of 9 women who crowded around a table, eating delicious pub fare, drinking some nice ale, and sharing patterns, advice and knitting. What a hoot! They meet here twice a month—what a fabulous knitting venue!

Knitting at the Sparkle Horse!

Two days later, Kate (the mother of Elspeth, who was our host at the AirBnB home where we stayed) came to visit and she LOVES to knit. So, of course, Cathy passed me to her! Elspeth’s friend, Emily was there too, and she added a few rows as well. Then, Elspeth, herself, who does not knit, but who does know how to crochet, wanted to add something. She is the FIRST crocheter to add to me! We were not sure how she could add a crochet row to a knitted row easily, but her mum, Kate, wisely suggested that she add to the beginning end and voila!

My first crochet addition, double crochet and scallops, by Elspeth Berry!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Look at Me Now!

After my sojourn to the Vashon Sheep Dog Trials, I am LOOKIN' GOOD! 

More knitters added to me on Saturday and Sunday and I am now a foot and a half long (46 cm to the rest of the world). So many cool stitches and yarns.

So far 16 people have contributed and I am only on my first stop on this around-the-world journey! Lois Yunker remarked, "You're going to have to get a bigger bag!" as she handed me to the next knitter.

It was fun to visit the Farm Girl Products tent and meet these lovely ladies, JoAn and Sarah.

Here are the stats so far:

Stay tuned...

Sunday, June 11, 2017

First Stop: Vashon Sheep Dog Trials!

My Guest Appearance at a Great Festival

My first two days at the Vashon Sheep Dog Classic have been a blast! Yesterday was Worldwide Knit it Public Day--and knit they did! Knitters of all levels have been contributing to me and I am taking on a lovely shape. But first, a few images from the weekend. Check out these GIANT balls of yarn along with their needles and drop spindle. It took a watering trough to hold them!

At midday, when they bring in a fresh flock of sheep for those dogs to chase around the field, these C-UTE piping and drumming girls play for the crowd. They have been playing at the Trials for several years and have become Vashon celebrities here.

There is lots of spinning going on in the Fiber Village here at the Trials. These ladies enjoy demonstrating their skills in this ancient craft to visitors, young and old.

And, of course, quite a few knitters added to my size:

My mom could not wait...she is blocking me (so far) today. Photos tomorrow!