Thursday, May 23, 2013

July In Scotland

Last September I started looking into fiber related tours to the UK.  Fiber as in wool for knitting, not fiber as in lentils or grains for digestive purposes.

Three years ago I went on a CraftLit tour to London, Bath and Wales with Heather Ordover and 24 other fiber/literature enthusiasts and had a wonderful time.  See my video of that tour here.   Being a fiber, yarn and wool hog, I wanted another tour to explore even more of the UK and learn about the origins of some of the fibers I so love.

Doing some internet research last year, I found Joyce James and her tour into Scotland and the Shetland islands (the outer islands north of the mainland).  The Tour I decided on was James' 16th annual one into these fascinating ancient places and is called "Scottish Skeins and Skerries"; you can read all about it here.  The group is small (20 people) and was booked up by last December, so I am very happy my reservation was booked last Thanksgiving.

A few facts about the tour:
  • Daylight hours will be close to 19 hours a day
  • The outermost northern island visited is only about 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle
  • Glasgow is the origination point in the tour, 8 hr. ahead of MST
  • the time frame of the tour is from July 3-22, 2013
  • average temperature for July will be from 50-62 degrees F with lots of rain!
In addition to visiting Glasgow and Kilbarchan with its historical Weaver's Cottage restored by the National Trust and nearby Paisley (a textile historical area with shawls, of course), a few places we will visit to the north of the mainland of Scotland will be:
  • Lerwick (a featured town in Ann Cleeves' mystery crime series of books) and Jamieson & Smith
  • Scalloway with a museum dedicated to the participants of the Shetland Bus operation during WWII.  That operation and a quick history of those fishing boats can be found here.
  • visiting a working croft (The Burland Croft)
  • the Shetland Guild, including meeting with curator Dr. Carol Christiansen, and the Shetland Museum
  • tours of the islands of Unst and Yell, the most northerly islands in the U.K. (we will see the Muckle Flugga Lighthouse
  • Orkney Island, where I especially want to see the St. Magnus Cathedral founded in 1137
  • the Outer Hebrides, including Lewis and Harris islands.  The Hebridean Celtic music Festival will be playing.  Look here for more information about that Celtic music festival.
  • weaving sheds, crofts, textile dyers, historical experts, (lions and tigers and bears, OH MY! with apologies to the Wizard)
Joyce James has sent an extensive reading list in order for the tour group to be somewhat versed in the Scottish culture.  So far I have read or will read prior to July 3:
  • The Crofter and the Laird by John McPhee (excellent!)
  • The Shetland Bus (David Howarth) (good history)
  • perused A Traveller's History of Scotland (Andrew Fisher)
  • Sea Room, An Island Life in the Hebrides (Adam Nicolson) (not finished yet)
  • Between Weathers (an excellent suggestion by Annie of the Knitsofacto blog) by McMillen (excellent, also)
  • all of Alexander McCall Smith's 44 Scotland Street Series of books (very Edinburgh)
  • The House with Green Shutters (George D. Brown) (did not like so much)
  • Ann Cleeves series, of which I have read two: Black Raven and White Nights (am now a fan girl of Cleeves)
So that is it in a nutshell.  Woot!

Oh, and we get to see puffins up close and personal on the tour.  Here is a cute picture of a puffin, courtesy of Bing.

I am finishing up a wool sweater I want to take to Scotland and it should be finished today.  Pictures of the knitted cardigan tomorrow (if that last cuff gets knit) on Finished Objects Friday.


  1. Wow-I'm also impressed by your reading list!
    Hope you have a great time!

  2. How exciting, Nancy! Sounds a fabulous tour and very atmospheric. If it were not booked up I'd be tempted to join you - never been to the Hebrides. So nice to get in the mood by preliminary reading - I love to do that. By the way I've replied to your comment about passionfruit curd and have put the details of what I do in the reply box. Hope that helps and that you feel able to give it a go. It's very easy, just a bit time-consuming but read one of your Scottish holiday reading volumes while stirring and you won't notice the time at all! E x

    1. Thank you for your details, Miss E. I will attempt this, for sure, since it will definitely be a new recipe for our house! Thanks for your reply, also.

  3. You will have so much fun! We went to Scotland last year and loved it. It is breathtakingly beautiful and the people are so friendly. You are more adventuresome than we were though - getting off the beathen path.

    1. I'll just bet THIS summer with Valerie's wedding will be VERY exciting for you! Hugs, Nancy

  4. How exciting, Nancy! I can't wait to hear all about it!
    I also can't wait to see the sweater!

  5. Oh what an exciting trip:) I can't wait to hear ALL about it! Have a blessed day dear Nancy, HUGS!

  6. Nancy that`s a fantastic tour! I know you will have a great time.

    I just found out I have allergic asthma and it`s slowed me down a little so, I haven`t been posting. I do keep up with all your posts. I look forward to the wonderful experiences you will share about your trip.

  7. As a fellow knitter, a fiber field trip to Scotland sounds divine! Enjoy your travels!


  8. That sounds like oodles of fun! Enjoy!

  9. You will love the Orkney Islands. There are standing stones in fields you can walk out to and stand in the middle of (unlike Stonehenge). There is a lovely wool shop in an old croft. St. Magnus Cathedral is great, but across the street are ruins of an old castle. There is another even older castle ruins about 3 miles away from the town center. Sheep everywhere. One of my favorite places to visit on this earth. It's awe inspiring. truly. Triple7tahoe Ravelry

  10. OMGosh! I am green! This sounds like such an exciting tour. You are so lucky to embark on this soon.


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