Friday, December 25, 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015

Winter Solstice

Happy First Day of Winter and the shortest day of the year, starting at 9:49 PM, mountain time.

It'll take a while, but I'm glad that the days will start getting a bit longer again as driving to and from work in the dark is not my cup of tea.  It's d*mn cold here in Calgary.  Could I ask a favor of those of you in warmer climates?  Send us some heat!  Thank you.  :-)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Scotland - Part 2

From Dundee we travelled to Fife, passing the famous golfing destination of St. Andrew's, and listened to a talk and had a workshop with designer, Di Gilpin.  Some local knitters joined us and it was delightful to visit with them and see some of the amazing things that they were knitting.  Di talked about her design inspirations, the process, yarn and the business of designing, as well as answering all of our questions.

Di Gilpin (left) and local knitter

As someone who loves intarsia, I was drawn to this piece that one of the ladies was knitting.  It was even more impressive in person than it is in these photos.

The inside was neatly finished and looked as good as the outside.  This is always a goal of mine.

The pattern is "Mondrian -style Blanket" from the Scottish Island Knits book.  (Ravelry links)

Later we went to Di's studio, a restored stone bothy.

  1.                    (in Scotland) a small hut or cottage.

It was very cozy and I'm sure that many of us could picture ourselves sitting and knitting on any given day among all of the sample garments and yarn.  We did knit out in her courtyard for a while.

Di has her own line of yarn.  Her cashmere was lovely but I was taken more with "Lalland", 100% Scottish Lambswool.  It's close to a sportweight.  I bought a sweaters-worth of two colors:  ruby red and storm petrel. 
I haven't yet decided what I'll make.

Both yarn pictures - (c) Di Gilpin
From her website

I spotted a ball of yarn that was something I'd never seen, or expected to see.  It wasn't for sale.  John and Yoko yarn?  Who knew?

As if that wasn't enough yarn-y goodness for one day, we decided that we needed to visit a yarn shop when we returned to Dundee for the night.  The shop "fluph" was small but so welcoming and stayed open past closing time to accommodate our group of enthusiastic knitters. I found a skein of yarn from a local dyer for my Travel Afghan (more on that in a later post).  

Next stop.... a fabulous day with a kilt maker, and then on to Shetland.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Mini-Mitten #6

Another mitten for the Mini-Mitten Garland is completed and this one gave me some problems.  Stranding a dark color, in this case the red, under a light color means that some of the dark shade will show through, particularly where the strands are caught.  Mine was showing much more than I was comfortable with, so I needed to fix it as best as I could.  I had hoped that blocking would help, but it wasn't enough.

I was thinking about solutions --

- Skip this mitten and create a new one of my own: I liked the design and wanted to stay with the patterns of the knitalong, so this was a "no".

- Redo the mitten in a dark color as the background:  a good solution, but a white mitten would add some brightness to the collection.  I wanted to stick with the white background if at all possible.

- Redo the angel section, working it in intarsia in the round:  I've never learned intarsia in the round (it's definitely on my must-learn list) and I wanted to keep going with this project.  If I set it aside for a while as I learned a new technique I would run the danger of not picking it up again for many months.

- Redo the angel section, leaving the side open and working back and forth:  this is what I was planning to do until someone on Ravelry said something that made a lot of sense - and it was a simple solution.  She said, "Why catch your strands?  It's not like anyone is going to wear this mitten."  Well, yeah, that's true, and that's what I did.

I got out my scissors and cut off the angel section, picked up the live stitches and reknit.  There is no catching of strands on the red/white section.  You don't want to look inside the mitten, however.  I tend to be a little particular on making the inside of a project as neat as the outside, but I need to get over it in this case.  I'm just not looking inside!

Now I've started Mitten #7 and moving right along.  There are no long floats on this one, and the colors are dark anyway.  After this one I'll have just 17 to complete before December 1st, 2016.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Visiting Lithuania

I love to knit and I love to travel, that's no secret, but I'm not able to go everywhere.  Thank goodness for those who write books so that I can visit go vicariously through them.  This time, I'm in Eastern Europe in the country of Lithuania thanks to Donna Druchunas and June Hall.

The book is called Lithuanian Knitting: Continuing Traditions.  Donna is a friend and when she asked me to do some test knitting, I was happy to be able to do it.  I was thrilled to see my name on the Acknowledgments page! Lithuania is near and dear to Donna's heart and she has talked in the past about her trips.  It's the home of her great-grandparents and that special bond is obvious as your read through the book.  You feel like you are there with her.  

It was a good mail day when this arrived and I saw the completed book.
The book starts out with an introduction, telling why it was written, and then goes on to the country itself.  I was learning about the culture and the people as well as the knitting and I could imagine myself in the many pictures.  

From there the book educates you about the wool and how it's processed.  I found this particularly interesting, having recently visited the Jamieson & Smith mill in Shetland, Scotland - and then goes on to the knitting is various cities in Lithuania.

The last half of the 223-page is full of knitting patterns for mittens and gloves, socks and wrist warmers.  There is something for every knitter:  texture, beading, stranding, lace.  The patterns are beautiful.  

By the way... Donna has also created a DVD about Lithuanian sock knitting.  

Lithuanian Knitting: Continuing Traditions is a very welcome addition to my knitting library. Thanks, Donna and June, for the trip with you to Lithuania.   

Where are we going next?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Christmas Mini-Mitten Garland

I don't know what it is about Christmas knitting projects.  When I see them on Ravelry I just want to do them all:  the little gnomes, reindeer, Nativity scenes, Santa's clothesline, tree lights, snowman and more.  Some are in my queue and I will make them at some point, I'm sure.  They're cute, colorful and most are small, easy-to-complete quickly, fun projects.

This year I succumbed to the Advent Mini-mitten Garland knitalong (Ravelry link) by Kat Lewinski.  I started well after the knitalong began and my mini-mittens won't be finished for this year.  Each Monday we were given a new mitten pattern and I'm only working on #6.  It's addictive and I'm enjoying it.

I'm using Shetland or Shetland-type wool from Jamieson & Smith, Jamieson's, The Scottish Collection (which I understand is Jamieson's), Rennie Handknits, Shetland Wirsit and Harrisville - and some small balls that have no label from stash.  Some of the yarn was purchased at Fancy Tiger in Denver and and some was purchased in Shetland last September.  I'm glad that I chose to use these wools as I'm quite pleased with the way they are working up.

There are 24 patterns in all, each mitten is about 4 inches long, and I still have a long way to go, but I'm in no hurry for this project to end. The plan is to display one mitten per day from December 1st to 24th.  Details on my mittens are here.  

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Scotland - Part 1

It's going to take more than one blog post to talk about the trip to Scotland.  It was arranged by Jean at Celtic Journeys and she did an exceptional job of taking care of us.  Nothing was overlooked.  The leader on the trip was Amy Detjen (I had to type that in purple as it's her signature color!).

The flight to Edinburgh was an overnighter from Chicago on Sunday night.  We ended up delayed, and delayed again, so five of us arrived quite late on Day 1, Monday morning, but the driver and all our other travel mates waited for us.  From there we went right to Dundee, just over an hour away, and checked into our hotel.

The rest of the day was for relaxing, getting acquainted and exploring the city.  It wasn't difficult to get used to the time change.  The return a couple of weeks later was not as easy.  Dundee gave us our first excellent impressions of Scotland.

The view from our hotel (click on the picture to enlarge)
On Day 2, Tuesday, after a good night's sleep, we were off to Scone Palace near Perth.  The long hallways showed the history of the Palace with the pictures, old wallpaper, tapestries and furnishings.  In one of the rooms a video was shown and we learned about the visits of King Charles II, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Queen Victoria, Mary Queen of Scots and others.  The grounds surrounding the Palace are beautiful.

I would have guessed that Scone Palace had something to do with the scone biscuits, especially after stopping into the kitchen coffee shop.  The scones were the best I've ever had and now I'm on a search for a recipe for scones that are just as good.  We learned that there is no connection between the Palace and the scones. As a matter of fact, the two words are pronounced differently with the Scottish accent.

From Scone Palace we went to a distillery, stopping along the way to look at some hairy Scottish cows.

The Edradour Distillery is one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland, located in Pitlochry.  We passed by St. Andrews on the way.  Think "golf".

Even though I don't drink I like to see how things are made and this was interesting and educational.  You can take a little tour yourself via YouTube videos - part 1 is here.  After the tour we went for whisky tasting and an audio-visual presentation.  Aghhh.... many loved the whisky.  I found it much too strong, but I'm not used to it.  No...the picture isn't blurry because I was drinking!  One of the others on the tour was happy to take my glass of whisky so it wasn't wasted.

The day ended with a return to Dundee where some of us went to a pub for dinner, then some knitting back at the hotel.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Out of Blogging Retirement

Hi everyone,

Well, here I am, out of blogging retirement.  I've missed my blog in the past 11 months and have decided that I wanted to come back to it.  I can't tell you how many times something has happened and I thought, I should blog about that.  I hope you will join me as I continue forward.  A lot has happened so I'll be posting about the past as well as the present and future, in no particular order.

I've had a couple of great knitting trips this year and will tell you more as time goes on:  a fun retreat sponsored by Jimmy Beans Wool at the Northstar Resort at Tahoe and a wonderful trip to Scotland which included the Shetland Islands.

Window shopping in Dundee, Scotland
I joined in a Knitalong called "Camp Loopy", sponsored by the Loopy Ewe.  What a challenge it was to create so much in such a short amount of time, but I did it!

I've met some amazing people along the way - and even some knitting celebrities.

I have exciting plans for the coming year, including teaching at the DFW Fiber Fest in April. I'm really looking forward to that!  I love teaching.

There's a planned return to Shetland, this time for Wool Week in 2016.  Interested?  We may have a couple of slots left to fill for the trip.

I've been knitting constantly.  That never changes.  Right now I'm working on a set of 24 miniature mittens for Advent.  It's a knitalong and I learned about it late, so these will likely be for Christmas 2016.  I've got other exciting projects to tell you about: a new Travel Afghan, sweaters, new designs, and more.

And, the very best news of all, I became a grandma for the third time on October 15th with the birth of Alyssa Jane Freeman.

My plan is to post about once a week, but you know how plans sometimes go.  It may be more often, or there may be a gap at times, but I hope that you'll check in when you can, maybe leave a comment.

I'm glad that you dropped in and I hope to "see" you again soon.  Joanne

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Time To Say Goodbye

After almost 15 years of blogging, it's time to say Goodbye.  For my knitting projects, they'll be on Ravelry and I'll continue to post there.  Thanks for dropping by and reading, from "Keep Talking" up to "Rhythm of the Needles".  Joanne