Sunday, July 28, 2013

Outer Hebrides, Lewis & Harris, Orkney, Scotland

The southern part of Scotland, with music by Heather Heywood

Friday, July 26, 2013

Royal Prince George: Christening Gown

Friend Mary who writes this blog passed along a few articles that may be of interest to fibre enthusiasts.  Here is one of interest from the Shetland Times about the royal baby's christening gown that Sandra Manson from Bressay was commissioned to knit: ARTICLE HERE

...a quote from the article:
The robe was made of Shetland supreme one-ply worsted spun yarn, which is the nearest to homespun it is possible to get. Although the full-length garment only took two weeks to make, it took six weeks to plan.
We met Sandra in Shetland two weeks ago; what a nice woman and talented knitter!

Then another on Shetland Woolens here from a blogger who knows her stuff.  Mary also found that article.

And to end on this note: I am knitting up a dog sweater with a kit purchased from Jamieson & Smith while in Lerwick, and loving knitting it.  It is made up with sheep and rams' horns in nine natural colors of the different sheep on Shetland.  And the name of the pattern is clever: A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing by Kate Davies.  Here is the finished picture of what it will look like:

And here is where I've gotten so far:

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tour of Northern Scotland to Music

Folk music "Maggie" by Lori Watson (Maggie); go here to see Lori singing (after minute 2)

It was a great trip; this video shows only half of the tour.  The southern island of Orkney will be a second video, if you care to watch more later.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Goodbye Scotland

And thanks for the memories...

Shetland and Hebrides Sheep photos shared by Barbara Bonham

Our traveling group !

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Harris Tweed on Harris

We visited the Harris Tweed supply showroom.  It was actually an old, large, tin roofed shed with bolts of tweed fabric, both solid colors, herringbone patterns, and what is generally thought of as "tweed" fabrics.

In order for wool fabric to be an official Harris tweed, it must be wool from sheep raised and sheared in either Shetland, the Orkneys, on the Hebrides or any island on the western coastland of Scotland.  Further, not only this, but the fabric must be woven by foot powered treadles machines.  The weaver does his work, usually on a croft, and make a bit of money on these projects, but likely not enough to support himself in a comfortable manner.

Here is Donald Mackay working on his loom, working away in his small shed as he chatted with our group.
Another shop with Harris Tweed jackets made to order in his shop on the Butt of Lewis.

His prices:

The Butt of Lewis and its lighthouse:

Friday, July 19, 2013

In the Hebrides: Isle of Lewis

Stone Age Village replication of houses 4000 years ago:

Standing Stones:

The Lewis Chessmen were also found here in a small chest on this island and date back to the 12th century.

A link to the chessmen:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lichen, Lobster Boxes, Highland Cows

We were told by a bus driver that one form of lichen grows only on the Hebrides because of the pure ness of the air quality.  I've not yet found this particular species yet, but here are a few pictures of lichen and lobster boxes.

Kilts galore for sale!

Highland cows

St. Magnus Cathedral on Orkney:

Monday, July 15, 2013

Time with The Shetland Guild

At a community meeting house, we met and chatted with lovely ladies from the area who do more fibre activities in a day than any teenager texts in a week.  Get the gist of how their world is centered on sheep by-products?  These ladies not only were knowledgeable and sharing, but also were gracious hosts.  They provided us with an excellent tea.

Alan Raistrick has been studying spinning wheels for years. Not only is it his particular hobby, but he also has contributed articles to The Spinning Wheel Sleuth (their website is  He attended the guild meeting where some spinning was going on.

The spinners and knitters were likely giving him literary forage for his next article in 
The Spinning Wheel Sleuth.  He has quite a series of his articles in their index going back to 1993. Thanks for talking with us, Alan!

More pretty pictures, this time the photographer was not this blogger, but Barbara Bonham from Ohio.

And my favorite:

Sunday at Services

Parish services at St Magnus Sunday were just a bit different from our church in the USA.

The most significant, in my mind, were that the Scottish Episcopal with which St. Magnus is identified, had no musical scores to follow. It seemed that worshippers just sang from the bottom of their souls, having known the incantation all tunes since times past.

What a thoughtful song this was, poetry in song. It seemed to reflect the homily centering on the take away and ponder topic of "faith is love."

Thank you, St. Magnus choir and parishioners, for being such a gracious congregation. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fair Isle Knitting

After a workshop where three local knitting guild members taught us an introduction into Fair Isle knitting, it is no longer intimidating.  After four decades of knitting, I think perhaps it could become a new obsession for this old dame.

Fair Isle knitting began on the Shetlands islands centuries ago.  It is an excellent way to use up bits of yarn used for previous projects.  Very Scotch.  The Prince of Wales popularized this form of knitting when he appeared in Fair Isle vests in 1921.

On display at Shetland Museum


Fair Isle knitting uses only two colors per row with one of the two colors becoming the background color.  This child's jumper (termed sweater in the US) was from 1924.  It was made for a child, and as she grew, cuffs  and the bottom were lengthened by adding on more knitted rows in brown.  Again,very economical and a method to make the most of this jumper as it could last a girl through her primary years in school.

These ladies are knitting while we happened by, and were king enough to let me snap their pictures.  Shortbread had been packed for their tea.  Their shortbread was packed in the white plastic container.

After a workshop teaching us how to knit Fair Isle, manipulating two colors of yarn in one hand, I was able to produce this writer that will be turned into an iTouch holder.

Fair Isle is a traditional knitting technique used to create patterns with multiple colours. It is named after Fair Isle, a tiny island in the north of Scotland, that forms part of the Shetland-islands. Fair Isle knitting gained a considerable popularity when the Prince of Wales (later to become Edward VIII) wore Fair Isle tank tops in public in 1921. Traditional Fair Isle patterns have a limited palette of five or so colours, use only two colours per row, are worked in the round, and limit the length of a run of any particular colour. Traditional Fair Isle patterns have a limited palette of five or more colors, only two colors per row, and are worked in the round. (Wikipedia)

We visited Doreen Brown's shop and saw these swatches on the wall for selection by the customer just in case one did not prefer what was available.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Burland Croft and Scalloway Museum

We visited Tommy and Mar Isbister's croft.  The link to their croft is here:  A croft is a small area of land used for food production.  Background reading gave an excellent overview of how crofting developed centuries ago through the book The Crofter and the Laird  by John Mcafee.

Pictures from the croft:
A Shetland pony and then with her little one:  (perhaps that tiny one was tired of being photographed)

A gorgeous rooster:

The Scalloway Museum was a highlight.  The museum is new whereas artifacts go back to the Norse times.
Viking boat:

Gracious volunteer staff at the Scalloway Museum

A Shetland Bus boat used during WWII on display.  An excellent history of the Shetland Bus operation is written in the book The Shetland Bus by David Howarth.