Friday, November 23, 2012

Shetland - Days 7 and 8 - October 12 and 13

And then the week was nearly over... We'd made lots of trips, saw beautiful knitting, and only had 1 more full day for more experiences and activities. For Monique, this meant a trip to Eshaness, for me, it meant a bus trip down to Sandwick.

Taking bus trips abroad, is always scary in the beginning, but once you're on the bus, and you realize that everyone else (well, the two other persons apart from the two that are obviously going to the airport) is heading the same way, it's fine!
We were going to Sandwick for a carding workshop, given by the endlessly enthusiastic and energic, very talented and creative Niela:

and pattern, knitting, dyeing, spinning and carding diva Liz:

Some of the participants had spent the previous days up to their elbows in dye, but for those who hadn't, there was plenty of fiber deliciousness for use. Well, not the stuff in the foreground (that was Niela's (core)spun and carded stuff), but the masses and masses in the background (the heap was HUGE...).

After an introduction of the carding process, we got to grips with the different types of carding machines...

Even an electrical machine, which churned out humungous batts. I was too busy with my mind wanderings and spinning that I didn't even get a go ;)

And the machine which I've got at home as a Junior edition, the Louet. This was my fave to work with (funny that...).

It was great fun playing colours, sparkles and different textures...

We learnt lots about layers, folding, colour accents and the use of different types of materials.

And as I'd brought my wheel, I could spin up some of the carded batts straight away...

After a lovely lunch and more playing about, I went home with a head full of ideas and a table full of silly batts and some spun yarn... ;)

Apart from one silvery white one with bits of blue, it's all spun up now!

Green tweed: my fave

Closely followed by Sheherazade


Sari Cored


and Fluffy Core

This was so much fun! I spent lots of time just looking at colours and feeling textures, and I brought some fun stuff home to experiment with. I've even started scouring the house and thrift shops for fabric to rip into strips and use, haha... More carding to come soon!

And then... after taking ages to fit everything into our bags and suitcases (the words 'This is HOPELESS!!!' were muttered several times), a very short night's sleep and an early rise, we had to head back to the airport and home...
The wind had picked up a bit, and we wanted to take advantage of this to take some pictures of the sea. And for the first time that week, we smelt the sea! 

There was even a sheep that let me pet him. Well, running away is a bit hard when you're tied down... 

We also made a stop-over here, at St. Ninians...

This was a-ma-zing! We walked across, did some beach combing, reflecting on our week, and tried to spot seals. And then we turned around and this happened... 

How cool was that!!! The seal had been keeping an eye on us, and as soon as we were far away enough, he just quickly crossed the beach... Leaving only his footsteps behind...

And that was it... after dropping off the car, a coffee at the airport, it was time to board our private plane...

Dreamily look at the clouds and the sun...

Get slightly flabbergasted at the fact that Lady Gaga was singing at Glasgow Airport... The same 6 songs every half hour. Poor girl...

Poor us. A four(!!) hour transfer...

And then we were home again! With lots of memories, photos, YARN, and most of all, lots of inspiration after meeting all those other wool lovers in Shetland. WE MISS YOU!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Shetland - Day 6 - October 11

And before you know it, two weeks have gone by... Time for another Shetland update! I've also got lots of knitting news from the home front, but that will have to wait until after I finish this Shetland trip... ;) In the meantime, I've also written a few pieces on this trip (in Dutch), which will be available to read soon. More about that when I know more!

But without further ado: the trip to Unst. This was definitely the trip that we looked forward to (and dreaded) the most. Three hours in the car, two ferries... We were crossing our fingers, hoping everything would work out.
We set out with glorious weather, me driving, Monique with her Krell pill in hand to combat the motion sickness. The journey up went like a dream. Again, we stopped here and there to check out the beautiful scenery. We arrived at the first ferry on time (we had booked this one in advance), and after a short wait, we could drive on. Right next to the fuel truck!

Monique thoroughly enjoyed herself during the crossings!

And after crossing Yell, the next ferry!

This one was tiny! Look, and we were the only car!!!
After arriving on Unst, we first drove around as we had plenty of time until our appointment in the Heritage Centre. We found the old Castle of Muness, which was open for viewing. No key required indeed ;)
The cool thing was that there were massive torches available for use, so you could go underground and discover more hidden treasures. Well, someone stole all the wine from the cellar, because it was all empty... Despite it being a small castle for modern standards, I can imagine how the Bruces were quite comfortable here in the 16th century.
Then we drove on to the Heritage Centre. We passed it once, as we were looking too hard, but once we found it, we loved it!

There was lots of lace on display.

When we got there, we were immediately drawn to a beautiful lace shawl. The grand-daughter of the knitter was there to explain more about the patterns. So intricate! We were allowed to photograph this shawl, a few others were just too delicate to photograph.

On display were several beautiful shawls, and in the cabinets below, we found even more treasures. Tops, socks, shawls... We went from one astonishment to the next. Monique saw this shawl (above) and immediately started charting. A shawl with these patterns will probably come out shortly! I'll not elaborate about the dancing men with 'third legs' I saw in the design ;)

When Hazel, one of the guild knitters we chatted to over coffee, found out about Monique and her lace knitting, and her quest for the Williamson stole, she immediately took us back to the lace area, and opened up even more cupboards. One after the other, rolls were unfolded, with beautiful old shawls, but alas... not the stole we were looking for. As they are only on display for a maximum of two years at a time, and then either return to storage or the owner, it was impossible to say where it was. 

While Monique did some more charting, I had a look around the rest of the museum. This mock-up of an old croft house was quite amazing. And then to imagine this was a quite a luxurious set-up. Many people had almost no furniture at all, apart from a few chairs, a cupboard and a bed. 

After our visit to the Heritage Centre, we needed to clear our heads a bit. And where better to do that than at Hermaness? We walked for miles...

Unfortunately, the first sheep we encountered, was positively deceased... It looked like the birds flying above and other predators had a good meal out of him... (or her)
But then a flock of sheep came blaaaaating past. They looked at us funny, and walked around us in a circle.
To follow their route again a bit further on... 

And then disappear from the view... 

And then it started to get dark... and we had a ferry to catch! We didn't make it all the way to the top, but after walking back to the car, we'd realized we had walked a fair distance!

It was a great day, and we dreamt of lace that night...  

The next entry will be the last one on Shetland... about carding, chatting, finally grabbing hold of a sheep, a fake Lady Gaga, and two flights back home...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Shetland - Day 5 - Wednesday October 10

Today, Monique and I jumped in the car for a visit to the spinning mill in Sandness. We were really looking forward to this trip, as our friend DutchJan had already said that the west of Mainland Shetland is just amazingly beautiful.
But, before we set off, we went and did a small shop, as we didn't know exactly what time we'd be back, and had a walk through Lerwick again, to buy some more yarn, postcards, stamps etc...

Someone had asked us before: 'Have you seen the selkies at Tesco's?' And truth be told, we hadn't even looked there! Right in front of the store, across the road, in Breiwick bay, there they were: suntanning away, relaxing and letting their bellies hang out. Have a look how many you can find in the picture! Their camouflage is amazing!
In town, we had lunch at Fort Charlotte, being watched by a very hungry seagull... He looked as if he wanted to just rip the cheese sandwiches out of our hands! But to no avail, we were hungry ourselves, so he only got the crumbs...
Then it was time to set off. We stopped so many times to enjoy the view, I don't know of half the places where it was, haha... A few piccies we took...

Voe, with trees!
Down to single lanes...
...with passing places. And sheep. Lots of sheep!
Sheep galloping...
Running away up the hill
And following the fence for miles to find the frigging gate... to get to the other side...
And then we got to 'Sandness Industrial Estate'. Consisting of one, single-story factory. Which only made a soft humming noise... We had some time to look around before the tour started, so enjoyed being at this end of the world...

The town of Sandness. And the skies, people. The skies!

And the fields right next to the factory, with more sheep.
The spinning mill of Jamieson's of Shetland uses only local wool, and they do everything in-house. It was fascinating to see the whole process, from fleece selection to the actual packages with 10 balls of yarn that are sold in the store, and completed sweaters! Pictures!
First, a look at the weavery:

The factory has two large tweed looms
Garry turned one on so we could have a look (and listen... noisy buggers!)
The punch rolls with the weaving pattern
We then saw the process from fleece to yarn:

Garry in front of bags and bags of fleeces. The tubes behind him
suck up the wool to be cleaned in the next room.
Big baths to rinse and clean the wool.
One of the dye kettles. It's big!
The start of the carding process, after dyeing.
Turning it into fleece matts...
Thinner strips...
And rolls of pre-yarn!
Now, you can knit with this stuff, but it's hardly got any twist, so it would break as soon as you point at it with your knitting needles. And that is where the 'grannies' come in...

Pre-yarn at the top, going along rolls into the spinning holes...
And the spun yarn on the cones! These are singles. 
Plying the yarn onto different cones again...
And then turning the yarn into neatly wound balls...
...which are packed up and ready to go to the store!
At Jamieson's, they not only sell yarn, but also knit garments. And these are knit in a room where a very busy man has to look after around 7 knitting machines...

When a colour runs out, the operator has to go and fetch new cones.
Stacks of sleaves, backs, fronts and cuffs...
The knitted parts then have to be assembled into garments, which is done by these lovely ladies:

Meticulous assembly of the fair-isle garments.
The knitting has to line up exactly!
Before we went to the store to see what goodies they had on offer, we got the opportunity to check out 'the fabric room'. Garry had told us before that a famous designer (we won't name any names) had ordered a roll of tweed, but had then not paid for it. The tweed was returned to Shetland and is now here. Of course, a few of us ladies were very interested in seeing that!
The fabric room
The famous fabric. Plain, but a lovely weave!
And then we were let loose on the 'bin'... There were so many left-overs, we were more than welcome to take some home. Honestly, don't say that to five women with deep pockets and big bags!!! It almost looked like the Sales at Harrod's....
After stuffing our bags with odds and ends, we also had a nose through all the great colours in the store.

The store at Jamieson's
And after dropping Monique off at the trunk show, I drove back to the house to have a quick bite to eat. Look at that sunset!

And the stash for today... Not a lot, but treasures nonetheless!

I've a few ideas for this already!!!

Tomorrow: another trip - this time to Unst!