Thursday, June 28, 2012

FO: Violet

A sweet (and free) little dress, Violet, by Shelbyknits.

It's knitted top-down, with a flouncy skirt made from frequent increases. By the time you start noticing the increases and the huge number of stitches, the dress is nearly finished, and so cute, that you have to finish it.

The yarn is Cascade Ultra Pima in a ridiculous bubble gum pink. It's 100% cotton, super soft, machine washable, and buy-one-get-one-free from a trip to Garden District Needle Shop, in New Orleans. Score!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Scotland Part 3

Traveling northwards, there are a lot fewer people, and a lot more sheep.


The landscape becomes more waterscape

Finally, from the top of the mainland, a ferry to the Orkney Islands.

Orkney houses what is apparently the highest per-capita concentration of artists and artisans. Knitting and fiberarts are no exception. So you can just be wandering around and see this in the window of a hardware store.
I didn't keep very good notes for all of the knitting and yarn stores I went to, so here are the three I could sort out from a combination of photos and receipts.

R A Finn, at 12 Victoria Street (despite what the address marker says) in Kirkwall, is a half-yarn, half-cosmetics, half-gifts sort of store.

There are amazing handknitted colorwork garments for sale. It's hard to imagine someone could finish a sweater like this, let alone however many are for sale here.

The yarn comes from North Ronaldsay (an Orkney island), from sheep of the same breed. Here's a shelf filled to the gills.
North Ronaldsay sheep have evolved to eat seaweed instead of grass! So their wool and meat have a certain je ne sais quoi -- one of the other ladies in my knitting group said the wool smelled like the sea.
Sheepy goodness

In Stromness, the flagship for Quernstone is at the center of town. This is a national brand that sells not only yarn, but also knitwear.
A lot of knitwear.

More delicious knitwear, colorwork, yarns. It's kind of overwhelming.

Time for a break from the yarn-drunkeness! We took a tour of the island, including some neolithic sites, like the Standing Stones of Stenness. There are quite a few pre-historic sites and stones, and most are just part of regular farmland. These sheep have grazing rights among the Standing Stones (but taking a break to ruminate here).

There are miles and miles of these low stone walls in Scotland, built with parallel flat stones. The stones got flatter the higher north we went, and then in Orkney, the walls are topped with perpendiular stones.

Compare these walls to the walls of the neolithic houses built into the hillside at Skara Brae, about 5000 years ago.

Back to the yarn crawl. Simply Wool, also in Kirkwall, is quite new that they didn't have business cards or a website (at the time).
In contrast to the other knitting stores in Orkney that focus more on finished products, Simply Wool sells, well, mostly wool.

The other wall, plus large shelves in the center of the store, are stuffed to the gills with yarn. The yarn is mostly commercial brands, with only a small amount of local yarn/roving. I think if I lived here, this would end up being the go-to LYS -- for high-volume knitters (who aren't selling tourist goods), it is way too expensive and limiting to knit with the handdyed local yarn.

Since my luggage space was so limited, and most of these yarns are available in the US, I ended up not getting any yarn at all, but a pattern book. The pictures are in one book, and the patterns are in another booklet which is behind the counter. Very clever!

If you can believe it, total Scotland yarn purchases were 3 balls/skeins! There was just too much on-the-go traveling by public transportation to carry around a ton of souvenirs/yarn. We made our way back down southwards, spending 1-2 nights in each place.

The cows say helloooooo.

All in all, two thumbs up for Scotland! The views are spectacular, the whisky is tasty, and the knitting is worth retiring here!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Scotland Part 2


The first stop in Glasgow was quite brief, just long enough to visit Princes Square for window-shopping,

wandering around taking pictures of cats (I really missed Cammy already),

and a quick and delightful run through the Gallery of Modern Art, where these sweet knitted cacti (by Daphne Wright) were on display. 


The best street in Scotland, and possibly the whole universe, has to be Victoria Street, near Edinburgh Castle.

It's a gorgeous winding little lane lined with lovely old buildings on either side, and just hilly enough that you feel virtuous after walking up the street. In addition to two tweed clothing shops, and a cheese shop (of which I shockingly took no pictures!! but did get 2 lbs of cheese.), there is a

sweet bookshop (Old Town Bookshop)


a yarn shop!!

K1 Yarns is a light and airy boutique LYS, selling lots of local yarn. They have their own brand of yarn, named Scappa (it's the stuff in the bigger lime green shelving).

Since Scappa is from Orkney Islands, where I was about to head to, I decided to get something from some other Scottish island.
Some subtly variegated (but non-clown-barfy) tweedy fingering weight from the Isle of Harris, part of the Hebrides. It might be a touch itchy for socks, and I'm thinking it would make a really cozy cabled book cover, or a lined shawl.

We did hit some non-book, non-yarn sites, including Edinburgh castle.
The weather was so freakishly nice, that the person ahead of us in line was actually from Edinburgh, visiting the castle for the first time to enjoy the sunshine.

 Another gato guard! The (human) guards switch out every hour in front of this war memorial. This one was so, ridiculously, supermodel handsome. I bet he could repel weapons with his face, zoolander-like.

We skipped Stirling Castle to visit this absolutely stunning cemetery in Stirling (in search of DH's relatives). Fortunate are the souls buried here!

Next time: Points north, sheeps, and more yarn

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Knitting Pilgrimage aka Scotland, part 1

Hello knitters! The break was due to, in large part, a safari to this knitters' mothership:

 hint: it's never this clear and sunny, especially for 10 days straight.
second hint: Shetland, Fair Isle (faroe), ysolda

 There are so, so many pictures for you, including
  1. yarn
  2. yarn stores
  3. stores that sell other stuff and also sell yarn (ie 50%+ of stores on Orkney Islands)
  4. hand-knitted goodies at yarn stores
  5. hand-knitted goodies at non-yarn stores
  6. sheep alone
  7. sheep next to cows
  8. cows (not knitterly but very sweet)
  9. attempted pictures of sheep from the train that are actually just green farmland blur
  10. yarn from sheep that have evolved to eat just seaweed!! (In my head, they are komb-ewe*)
  11. castles, churches, cemeteries, neolithic ruins, and other old stuff that non-knitters like to look at
  12. bookstores
  13. knitting books from the 1980's that are a terrible idea even when in tourist mode

But first... upon landing in Glasgow, DH noticed two lil holes in the only hand-knitted item (and one of many un-worn long-sleeved items) I packed, Nightscape. He is a good man!

Thankfully my travel knitting was also in purple, although slightly darker. I spent the first jet-lag-recovery afternoon kitchenering 2 rows to fix each hole.

And then I never had to wear it again for the rest of the trip!

Bonus points to whoever thinks of the best joke for this picture.

*kombu is a type of seaweed