Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Scotland: Old Friends and New…and Many More Knitters and Spinners!

You may recall that last July 4, Cathy and I met and spent time with the fiber magicians of the Haddington (Scotland) Spinners and Weavers at the Poldrate Mill Arts and Crafts Center. (You can read about that visit here.)

Debbie adds a few rows to me while
Marie works at her loom in the back
Well…we returned to Haddington in early March! On Tuesday, the 6th we spent the day in their studio, and a few people, including Debbie Zawinski, author of In the Footsteps of Sheep, added to me. Master weaver Marie Lindqvist was teaching a weaving class in the afternoon and we got a chance to see the looms in action!

Debbie had a friend take a photo of me being held up by these incredible women! So much fun to be with them again! 

Left to Right: Catherine, Debbie, Marie, and Cathy

The next day, back in Edinburgh, we visited the Ginger Twist Studio yarn shop and Jess, the shop owner who was so busy getting ready for exhibiting at next week’s Edinburgh Yarn Festival, was able to break away for a minute to knit a few rows for me! Thanks Jess! Cannot wait to see you at the Festival! 

Cathy has been suffering from some kind of malady that comes on when she has not had some ridiculously complex lace project on her needles. She has been on the lookout for a special yarn to knit a pattern called the Scottish Thistle Shawl, which I guess is pretty appropriate, since we are here.  She spied the perfect almost-cobweb-weight yarn in Jesss shop and refused to leave without it. It was organically grown in the Falkland Islands, spun in Yorkshire, and dyed by Jess. Special, indeed! We barely made it back to the hostel before Cathy had one hank balled up and cast on!

And then, a very special event… One of the reasons we returned to the Edinburgh area at this time was that the Haddington group was going to be demonstrating their crafts on March 8. So, I was taken to the International Women’s Day Weave, Knit, and Spin-in in front of the Scottish Parliament! While Cathy visited with knitters, several sat down to contribute—I am growing so FAST here in Scotland!!!

A large contingent of University professors and employees were protesting changes in pension rules that day, and the group kind of swallowed us up. But the Haddington group supported the strike/protest and stayed put—glad to be a part of it. As a result, we had lots of people interested in the fiber artists and several Traveling Scarf contributors. Among them were Jess who did some yellow and white stranded colorwork, Joan who added a fisherman’s knit diamond design, Joe, a professor and avid knitter who created some garter-stitch rows, and Frieda who used some of her Massum handspun. Massum sheep are a cross between longwool and mountain breeds. They are bred for meat and a tendency for multiple births. A bi-product is a soft, multi-colored fiber with barely any lanolin.

Left to Right, Frieda, Joe, and Jess

Marie brought along a small backstrap loom, attached one end to the building’s post, and stood weaving the entire time. 

We had great weather for the event. Only a week before, almost the entire UK had been ground to a standstill by a brutal winter storm. But we were still a bit cold by end of the day, so afterwards, we went across the street to the Holyrood Palace Café to warm up. Holyrood is the place where the Queen stays when she comes to Scotland!

While visiting with fiber folks in front of Parliament, Cathy learned from Frieda that the Gorgie Farm Spinning Group meets on Fridays. And Joan told her that she absolutely could not miss the knitting and crochet group that meets at Edinburgh’s Akva Swedish café on Saturdays. 

This was to be a very “knitty” week, indeed!

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