Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pictures from Scotland

We have just arrived at Glasgow Airport. If you think I look tired, you are correct. Gabriela managed to sleep but not me. Three buses, and an unwelcome tour of the University of Stirling Campus (No one seemed totally sure where we were supposed to register), we arrived for the first event, the "Clapotea Party" where we met Jennie from South Africa.

No one else was drinking tea, so I decided to take advantage of my first opportunity to try some Scottish beer.
There is a large loch right in the middle of the campus. It is rather long and sprawling but not very wide at any point. This bridge across the loch was our most direct route from our dormitory to the cafeteria and class rooms.

The grey building in the upper left corner was our dormitory. The loch was home to a large flock of swans, several ducks and some other rather odd looking birds Gabriela and I could not identify. We were told that all swans in the United Kingdom belong to the Queen and as such are protected.

At one end the loch narrows to just a few meters......
and then opens into an area bursting with beautiful water lilies. The swans seemed to prefer the more open areas of the loch, but the ducks seemed happiest among the lilies.
Remember, all this beautiful scenery is not a park. This is right in the center campus of one of the largest universities in Scotland

At the bottom left you can see just a bit of the lily pond. The hills in the background surrounded about two thirds of the campus.

We walked this path several times a day. It led from our dormitory, to the bridge. The whole campus was incredibly clean and free of litter. It was a pleasure to roam.

Every where you went there were herds(I don't remember the correct term for a collective of rabbits) of the most adorable little brown bunnies. We found one little black guy who was always on the same grassy hill every time we passed by.
I will forever think of Scotland whenever I see a rabbit.

Our first class was knitting side to side with a delightful young Irish woman, Carol Feller. That is Carol in the green.
Carol's website, Stolen Stitches, if you would like to see more of her designs.
You can also view many of her designs on Ravelry.
Our class project was her Raspberry Layers Vest seen below, being modelled by Carol.

Gabriela has turned this vest and its short row shaping techniques into a class for the fall.

Coincidentally, Carol is also the designer for Karen's Leitmotif Cardigan KAL. Details of the KAL are on our website under classes.Leitmotif also involves side to side knitting. It is knit from the center back. A very ingenious short row shaping produces a beautiful seamless sleeve shoulder.

There are still a few spaces left in this free KAL with Karen.

On Wednesday I attended a class on Cowichan Style knitting. Cowichan knits are the designs made famous by the West Coast Canadian First Nations Salish who reside in the Cowichan Valley area of British Columbia. In addition to teaching and designing, the instructor Jon Dunn, also dyes. He is well know for his "Sushi Sock Rolls". I picked up this earthy brown/green colourway and I am still looking for the perfect project. Jon's sushi rolls have very, very long colour repeats, sort of like Zauberball yarns but producing even wider stripes.
Jon's website.
He is also on Ravelry as Easyknitter.

Friday for me was one of the highlights of the whole week. We were in a class with the Jared Flood, knitting his beautiful Girasole, which is Italian for sunflower. As soon as she got home, Gabriela grabbed a bag of a deep green shade of Rowan Tweed and started knitting. Look for Girasole among her fall classes. Cascade 220 would be an excellent choice for this project. But if you want to treat it like the heirloom it will become, try the Rowan Tweed DK. It will require 15 balls which would normally cost $165. We have decided to offer students in the Girasole class a special price of $125. We have correct amounts in several colours.

Jared's website if you care to see more of Girasole.

Believe it or not, Gabriela and I passed up one of the PUB nights for a walk around the far end of the loch.

We sat in the last rays of the sun watching the silly swans playing and we think, fighting.

They would glide along and then all of a sudden totally tip upside down, head deep in the water feeding on something.

They were not at all afraid. The darker ones in the back were the younger swans. Again my memory fails me for the correct name for baby swans, I think it is something like signets?

The William Wallace (remember Braveheart) memorial is on the grounds of the University of Sterling.

Gabriela walked the 264 steps to get these pictures for you from the top. That is the city of Stirling of in the distance.

The hills...... no need to guess why the phrase highlands is so often associated with Scotland.

One evening several of us piled on a bus for a 45 minute drive to Loch Katrine. It is only a few kilometers away but the road was very narrow, hilly and winding, so slow speeds was the only way to go. I was happy to hear from our driver, Lennox, that he had been driving "coach" in these hills for 36 years.

Jennie and I waiting for our turn to go out on the boat.

We chatted with designers Annie Modesitt (in the red resting her head on Jennie's shoulder) and Norah Gaughan. It was another one of the highlights of the week to meet Norah, the shorter lady with dark hair and glasses.

Gabriela and Fiona discussed favourite hair colours. Her hair now has purple highlights, but for her recent wedding, Fiona had teal highlights to match her dress.
The boat arrives.
Lady of the Lake is one of only 2 motorized boats allowed on Loch Katrine. The loch is the main water source for Stirling and Glasgow. Lady of the Lake and her sister boat or powered by fuel made from recycled cooking oils. Any fuel residue or leakage is therefore nontoxic and biodegradable. The only other boats allowed on the loch are canoes, paddle boats and sail boats.
Again, the hills. Breathtaking. The corner of an island which shows up in the bottom left corner was of interest to me. My McElman ancestors were driven from Scotland during the Highland Clearances. They escaped to Ireland. Two brothers eventually came to North America, one to Massachusetts and the other to New Brunswick. There are very few McElmans in North America but I am told we can all trace our ancestors back to these two brothers. Our guide on the Lady of the Lake told us this island was often used as a hiding place during the Clearances. I might have gazed upon the very spot which was the start of my family's journey to Canada.

Three-quarters of the loch was surronded by steep hills.

Sunset on Loch Katrine.

Pictures courtesy of Gabriela (She has about 750 more if you want to see them)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

We are back.

Gabriela and I are back from UK Knit Camp 2010. What an incredible experience. Gabriela took over 800 pictures which we will go through and share with you later. I thought I would just give you a few highlights.

It was Gabriela's first trip to Scotland and my last trip was about 20 years ago. Getting there was 3 airports, 2 flights, 2 bus stations and 3 buses, and we only got lost once. I think we did very well. For travelling knitters - both of us has Addies in our carry on luggage and no one even blinked an eye. They had us removing shoes, sweaters and jewelry, throwing out water, but not even a raised eyebrow about metal or bamboo Turbos. In the actual travel department, all went very smoothly and on time except our last flight Sunday night from Heathrow. We were late leaving and had to land in the midst of those horrible thunderstorms Sunday night. I am a very nervous flyer under the best of circumstances. The dark clouds and lightning all around us coming in was a little disconcerting. I was pleased our landing SEEMED to be going so well. I emphasize SEEMED. We were about a couple of hundred feet off the ground in our descent, when all of a sudden, the pilot gunned the engines, we ascended sharply and went into a steep bank to the right (my side of the plane). I immediately went into deep breathing mode which I learned years ago to calm myself when absolute terror is taking over. Gabriela was so sweet. She immediately went into "Mother Mode" ( which is ridiculous because I am the one old enough to be her mother). She grabbed my hand, very calmly announced every thing was OK and covered the window with her pillow so I couldn't see. I am kind of laughing to myself as I write this, but I sure was not laughing at the time. About 2 minutes later the pilot came on to apologize and explain. Evidently there were a lot of planes stacked up waiting to land due to the storm and he was a little uncomfortable with how close some of them were so he thought it best to move to a less crowded area for a while. A big loop down to Oakville and back and we eventually landed very smoothly without mishap. I am glad it was the last of 4 flights for the trip and not the first.

The University of Stirling has a huge, beautiful campus. Gardens and flowers were everywhere. The buildings are lovely, extremely clean but set up like absolute mazes. I felt like I was participating in a psychology experiment. Every important activity of the day was in a different building separated by literally kilometers of paths, halls, bridges, elevated walkways. We stayed in the Main Halls of Residence. The cafeteria and pub were in the Atrium Student Center. Our classes were in the Cottrell Building. Our dinners were in the Stirling Management Center. The Marketplace and weekend activities were in the Pathfoot Building. We were constantly lost. If you are interested, click on the link below for a virtual tour of the campus. To help you appreciate the scale, Gabriela and I guess it was about a kilometer from our residence to Haldanes cafeteria in the Atrium.


We quickly got into walking mode, we really had no choice, and enjoyed our travels throughout the campus. I forgot to mention, in addition to the distance between buildings, everything is either up or down hill. The campus is over run with the cutest little brown rabbits absolutely everywhere. All the lawns were perfectly trimmed and I did not see one lawn mover while we were there .... the bunnies?? The loch we walked across everyday was home to dozens of white swans and ducks. And the campus was incredibly clean and free of litter.

The classes were wonderful. Gabriela and I both took classes with
* Carol Feller, a delightful young Irish woman who coincidentally is the designer for one of Karen's KAL's, Leitmotif Cardigan. The workshop was on knitting garments from side to side. We learned a couple of neat tricks and shaping techniques which Gabriela plans to share with you in a class this fall on the Raspberry Layers Vest.
*Donna Druchunas, a designer and author of several knitting books from Colorado. Donna's class was on reading Japanese charts and patterns. It really is true. Thanks to Donna's notes and explanations, it is possible to knit from Japanese patterns without being able to read a word of Japanese. I plan to acquire some of the books Donna shared with us and when you see the exquisite lace and cable designs Japanese designs are known for, you will understand why the effort is worth it. Again, Gabriela has plans around classes in Japanese designs.
*Jared Flood. Jared, aka Brooklyntweed, was amazing. The workshop was his afghan Girasole.

I took a class on Cowichan knitting with a delightful Brit Jon Dunn while Gabriela took a lace class with Liz Lovick.

In addition to the teachers we met in class, we also met Nora Gaughan, Nancy Bush, Annie Modisett, Lucy Neatby, Pat Ashforth & Steve Plummer from Woollly Thoughts, Debbie Stoller from the Stitch & Bitch Books.

We also met knitters from all over the world; England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Germany, France, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Canada, USA, Australia and last but definitely not least, Jennie from South Africa. We shared a drink with Jennie our first evening there and spent most of the rest of the week in her delightful company. Jennie, if you are reading this, we started missing you as soon as we dropped you off at the train station Saturday.

And we bought lots of wool, we like to call it research.

Once we get ourselves organized we will share some of Gabriela's pictures with you.

It was fun but I'm glad to be back.

Our next adventure; I've heard about a knitters retreat in Argentina this coming March and a new Canadian Knit Camp/Yarn Fair being organized for the Fall of 2011 in St. Andrews By-the-Sea, New Brunswick. I'll keep you posted on both.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Interweave Knits Fall 2010

Interweave Knits Fall 2010
arrived today. The patterns and articles are outstanding.

Karen has selected LEITMOTIF by Carol Feller, found on page 38, as one of the two Knit-A-Longs which she has planned for this fall. (Karen's other Knit-A-Long, the Chevron Jacket, can be viewed in the July 27th blog "Introducing The Empire Club").

LEITMOTIF has a number of interesting techniques:
*it is worked side to side beginning at the center back
*beautiful cable and ladder lace panels, which are reversed from the center back to create a pleasing, symmetrical mirror image
*short-row, capped sleeves which will allow for a smooth seamless sleeve
*an I-cord bind off
I think you will appreciate Karen's help mastering these special techniques.
The yarn we have selected for this Knit-A-Long is the new
This tweed is 85% wool, 15% angora. It is a luscious soft yarn which most people would find comfortable right against the skin.
It is available in 29 colours. Please click on the following link to Diamond Yarns' website to view the colours.
This Knit-A-Long is FREE, but you need to register. The class will be Tuesday evenings, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm, beginning late September/early October. Call in to reserve a spot and order your yarn. Yarn orders need to be received by September 22. Please give a first and second choice for colours. We will make every possible attempt to acquire your first choice, but can not guarantee it.

The magazine also has articles about two of my favourite knitters;
Elizabeth Zimmerman and Barbara Walker. Elizabeth's books are great fun to read and knit from.

My favourite is the OPINIONATED KNITTER, where you will find the original pattern for the BABY SURPRISE JACKET.

There are 12,220 BSJ's posted on Ravelry

Another of my favourite knitters is
I know I am only one of many, many people who admire Barbara. If I can take the liberty of quoting the Yarn harlot's August 14, 2009 blog entry;
"Then (and I know you'll love this as much as I did) then that lovely lady, Barbara Walker, put some stitches in for you, and she did it while telling me what a wonderful time the whole summit had been for her. (I somehow managed to stay conscious the entire conversation, which was a miracle, considering that the voice in my head was screaming OH MY GOD BARBARA WALKER IS TALKING TO ME along with BARBARA WALKER IS KNITTING ON TINA'S SOCK!) She's a very graceful lady. "
Barbara is the author and stitch designer of my most favourite stitch dictionaries. I use them constantly. The sweater she is wearing above is a stunning example of Mosaic Knitting, the subject of one of Barbara's books.

I have several of Barbara and Elizabeth's books in my personal library. Many are $30 plus books, a little more than many knitters wish to spend. But I am sure you would enjoy them. I will bring my collection into the store. If you would like your own copy of any of these books, we would be happy to order them for you.
Interweave Knits Fall 2010
is a treasure trove of information and designs. Don't miss out.