Category Archives: travel

Highland Games, Harris Tweed

When we decided to meet Tyler in Scotland, highland games were high on my list of things to see. The Lorne Highland Games are pretty small, but going to Oban meant we could take the train from Edinburgh and not have to drive. Also, puffins! (Still not over them.)

Admit it, you’re not over them either.

These games were small but fun, and included most of the things you’d expect.

Highland dancers, Lorne Highland Games

Highland dancing.

Mull & Iona Pipe Band

Piping. This is the Mull and Iona Pipe Band.

Scotland the Brave! Of course.

Track and field events, and the heavies. Heavies? Hammer throw, heavier hammer throw, stone put, throwing a weight over a high bar, and caber toss. (Like tossing a slim telephone pole.)

It’s cool to watch kilted men and women make the hammers fly!

Unfortunately, we had to leave to catch our train to Glasgow before the caber toss. I’m guessing caber toss comes last because it’s like a finale, and also because it must really tear up the field! This just means I need to go back to Scotland for more games.

I did come home with an awesome souvenir, though. It even involves wool!

Harris Tweed bag

This is my new knitting bag. It’s certified Harris Tweed. What does that mean? The wool has to be sourced in the UK, and it’s spun and woven on the Isles of Harris or Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The fabric has to be woven in a crofter’s home, on a human-powered loom (not electric). Some weavers weave for Harris Tweed, and some are independent weavers designing their own cloth that will be certified as Harris Tweed, but not sold by Harris Tweed. The woven fabric goes back to the mill for washing/finishing (*see below for historical sidenote) and inspection. Independent crafters can purchase this fabric for their designs.

Harris Tweed bag by Thistle Fairy Designs

This bag is made by Shona of Thistle Fairy Designs. I love the colors of this tweed; it’s so vibrantly pinky purple!

Harris Tweed bag by Thistle Fairy Designs

The fabric lining features Highland cattle (hairy coos!), stags, heather, and pheasants? grouse? All very Scottish.

It was a pleasure meeting Shona and talking to her about Harris Tweed. Her work is exquisite. I love my new bag!

*Woolen fabric used to be finished by hand, and this was called waulking the wool. It involved stale urine(!), rhythmic beating, and usually singing to pass the time. More info here (this is the singing group I wanted to see at Auchindrain on our Oban weekend, but it was too far and we didn’t have a car). Nowadays this finishing is done by machine at the mill, using ammonia rather than urine. Thank goodness.

A taste of wool waulking

Now I’m home, catching up, trying to decide if I like my current design project enough to continue with it. So far, it’s not blowing my kilt up. No pictures! I’m also trying to perfect that no-hump crescent shape I mentioned earlier, so I can make a tutorial, as requested.

And I’m dreaming of more Sheepish Sock yarn from Ginger Twist Studio in Edinburgh.

I have the blue in the center, Pappy’s Garden. I wrote to Jess to see if I could get a coordinating color so I could design a shawl. She suggested either Dove on the left, or Breakfast with Ginger on the right. What do you think? So far Dove is trending on Instagram and Facebook!

Scotland vacay within vacay

We had a great vacation last month. Our older son was on a two month sabbatical trip through Europe, and we caught up with him for a week in Scotland near the end of his trip, spending time in Edinburgh, Oban, and Glasgow.

Oban was our vacation within a vacation. It’s a sweet town on the water, and a hub of the Caledonia MacBrayne ferry system. I picked it for the Lorne Highland Games going on that weekend, and for its proximity to Iona and Staffa, two islands that I wanted to visit.

Kilchrenan House

We arrived on Friday afternoon and settled into Kilchrenan House.

Dunollie Castle

It’s just down the road from Dunollie Castle. We walked up to the castle, but it was closing by the time we arrived. No worries; it was time to head for our tour at Oban Distillery.

No pictures allowed in the distillery, but here’s one of the whiskies we tasted.

I quite liked it. We also tasted the Oban 14, which is smokier/peatier. Who licked the ash tray?!

On Saturday we took the Three Isles Tour with West Coast Tours. It was spectacular. We took the ferry across to Craignure on Mull, then a scenic bus tour across Mull to Fionnphort to take a smaller ferry over to Iona. We spent two hours walking on Iona, the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland.

Nunnery ruins on IonaMedieval nunnery ruins

St. Oran’s Chapel on IonaSt. Oran’s Chapel

Iona Abbey

Iona Abbey is ancient and beautiful, but that was not our destination. We were looking for the beach at the end of the road, and we found it.

North Beach, Iona

Next time we’ll climb Dun I, but two hours isn’t enough to do everything. Iona is a most bucolic place. Peace abounds.

We saw this rounding up of sheep on the walk back.

Good dog! or dogs.

From Iona we took an even smaller ferry to Staffa, home of Fingal’s Cave, and a puffin colony that comes ashore to nest in the summer.

If you sit very quietly, the puffins will come to you.

This was my favorite part of our entire vacation.

Tyler’s too! We spent about half an hour with the puffins, and then decided to hurry down to see Fingal’s Cave before our hour ran out. The hexagonal basalt columns are very cool.

Fingal’s Cave on Staffa

(as seen from the water)

We made it back to the boat with one minute to spare before the appointed departure. I was the last person to board. Do you think they would have left without me? (They were counting the passengers as we boarded, so I hope not.)

It was a perfect day. And on Sunday, we attended the Lorne Highland Games. More on that in the next post. I’m trying to give you something a little wooly in each post, and there’s a Harris Tweed story in the next one!

What hump? Better crescent shawl garter tab cast on

I’m back! We took a wee trip to Scotland. And Barcelona. And St. Louis! More on all of that when I get myself sorted. I did manage to visit one yarn shop while I was away, Ginger Twist Studio in Edinburgh.

Jess’ shop is tiny and packed with beautiful yarn, much of which she dyes herself. I bought only one skein, this lovely British BFL fingering; the color is Pappy’s Garden.

I wish I had bought a coordinating color, but I needed the bag and yarn to fit in my purse because we were hiking the Salisbury Crags that afternoon after a visit to the Scottish Parliament. Packing in the fun! (The bag is wrinkled from being crammed into my purse, true story.)

I took a new shawl design project on this trip. I didn’t have a lot of knitting time, but it kept me occupied on planes and trains. When I got home, I decided I didn’t like how the later stitch patterns were playing with each other. Or were not playing with each other, really.

I asked Biscuit what she thought. “To the frog pond!” she squeaked. I agreed, but not before tackling another issue that was bugging me.

My first try at this had a hump in the middle. Sometimes these block out, and at the beginning of my knitting it looked like it might.

But it seemed to look worse the further I got. Since I was going to frog it anyway, I wanted to try to avoid the hump on the next version.

This is so much better. The difference? A much longer garter tab cast on.

My first one was very short, because the numbers worked. But there were so many stitches concentrated right there at the beginning, and a short, unyielding garter tab. Hump! Even worse, when I tried to straighten it, it folded over.

Besides the longer garter tab, I added YOs between the picked up stitches along the edge of the garter tab. This serves two purposes. It adds a stitch between the picked up stitches, which gives a little more stretch. And it mimics the YOs that are going to continue along the edge of the shawl.

I’m back on track, and it’s flying along.

Do you ever feel like you need a vacation after a vacation? Catching up!

Drum roll…the winner of the Delicate Details e-book is Terri Oliver. Thanks to everyone for commenting and playing along!

Coming soon…puffins!

36 hours in Ellensburg

One catch up post!

I spent 36 hours in Ellensburg, WA to celebrate a friend’s birthday the weekend before Knot Another Fiber Festival. It was quick but we packed in a lot of fun!

Saturday was LYS Day. I wasn’t near my LYS, but Ellensburg has a very nice shop, Yarn Folk. Ann Miner’s shop has lots of high quality yarns and is full of inspiring shop samples. I didn’t need any yarn (do I ever?), but I needed a shawl pin so I picked up this leaf pin by One of a Kind Buttons. (More about the book in a bit.)

There was a sheep to shawl exhibit by Thorp Mill at the rodeo grounds, and I met this sweet lamb, as well as some spinners and weavers.

In the afternoon Vickie and I took a beyond basics block printing class at Gallery One. Every time I play with block printing, it gets a little better. So much fun!

This particular class was about chine collé (like collage, adding contrast papers in the printing) and puzzle blocks (cutting your carved block into pieces so you can put it back together while using different colors for the different parts). In three hours we sketched and carved blocks, and tried these two new techniques.

Pictured above, top row: Carved block (it’s been cut and put back together), original test print. Bottom row: Chine collé bird print, and puzzle block print. I’m looking forward to playing more with this block, or even re-doing it now that I know what I want it to look like.

In the evening we went to the college rodeo. Why yes, this was my first rodeo! It seemed about time my boots went to one.

Waiting

Birds on a wire

Matched set

I came home Sunday to teach a class, and picked up the new Mason Dixon Field Guide, Transparency.

I love the look of this Shakerag Top. (Thanks, Biscuit, for helping with the picture.) It’s knit with one or two strands of yarn to create the striping, but the yarn is all the same. This particular yarn is Jade Sapphire Sylph, a blend of cashmere and linen. I love linen and I love cashmere. It’s a little spendy, so I have to decide if I’m really going to make it. Also, deadlines! We shall see.

Knit on!

Crafty Moms 15.0, plus FlexiFlips needle review

This past weekend was the 15th annual Crafty Moms weekend at the Oregon Coast, whoa. Fifteen years of friendship and fun.

Fifteen years of beautiful sunsets and walks on the beach, and projects we may or may not remember.

I’m putting the rest of the pretty scenic pictures at the end of the post, so I can talk knitting at the beginning.

I started Anna on her first brioche project. Petite Brioche, of course! Funny how her colors match her clothes. Everyone has a palette, right?

I finished my green brioche design project (no pix yet) and went back to my Nymphaea Shawl. This one is in Bumblebirch Heartwood, Atlantic and Hellebore. The colors might seem familiar to you; I used them in my Tumbling Leaves Shawl, too. It’s a very different look when you feature the blue instead of the green.

(Love this view)

Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the rest of the beads, so I didn’t get very far. Oops.

The blue/brown yarn is Malabrigo Mechita in Cielo y Tierra (Sky and Earth). Perfect name.

I sketched and charted an idea for this yarn combo, but it wasn’t cooperating in the swatch, so I set that aside, too.

I’ve been wanting a pair of worsted weight socks, and I’ve been wanting to try Skacel’s new FlexiFlips needles. They come in a set of 3; these are US5. They’re like dpns except they’re flexible in the middle. One end has an Addi Rocket tip, and the other has an Addi Turbo tip, so you can choose your desired pointiness. I like the pointier of the two tips.

The idea is that you hold the work on 2 needles, like using 2 circulars or magic loop. The third needle is the working needle. This means you have one fewer needle than when working on dpns, and no flappy needles as in 2 circulars, and no loopy ends as in magic loop. I don’t mind dpns, but one fewer interruption in the knitting is nice. And I don’t mind magic loop, but that gets a little dicey with brioche and the YOs.

Verdict: I like them! I cruised through most of a cuff down sock, pausing only to puzzle out how I wanted to arrange the heel/gusset stitches. What I’m not loving is that this blue yarn is leaving dye all over my hands. I look like a Smurf.

The dye washes off my hands pretty easily, but now that I’m home the project is in time out. According to my dyer friends, I should treat the yarn with a good bath and some citric acid and heat. It’s a pretty big skein; I could:

  • Finish knitting the socks and then treat them
  • abandon this sock and just reskein and treat the rest of the yarn, hoping there’s enough for a pair
  • or frog the sock and reskein and treat all of it, then knit

What would you do? I’m afraid to wash some but not all of the yarn; there’s a good chance I’d end up with two different colors.

I also tried a small brioche sample with the FlexiFlips, and I liked them for that, too. Mmmm, brioche. I don’t know that I’d want to buy a set in every size; they’re $24/set. Maybe one more set in a reasonable sock size? This is breaking my 5 year sock knitting hiatus!

Now that I’m home, I’m back to knitting Nymphaea. This is the shawl for the Fall Shawl Retreat with me and Laurinda Reddig in November. I want to have a sample in semi-solids; the original is in gradient mini skeins. I may want one in a continuous gradient, too. It’s a pretty simple and zen knit!

As promised, more pictures below.

What’s wrong with this picture?

When you don't have an iron, you make do. #justlikethepioneers

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We didn’t have an iron

Sunset

Gorgeous Monday morning

Nature signs her handiwork with a flourish

Leftovers for Monday morning breakfast. Here’s to friends!

Catching up! RCYC, Lantern Moon Retreat

Still catching up…March began with a trunk show at For Yarn’s Sake to kick off the Rose City Yarn Crawl.

I took two whole pictures. But I had fun! It’s a group trunk show at For Yarn’s Sake with Knitted Wit (Lorajean Kelley), Shannon Squire, and Debbi Stone, and it’s become a tradition, with bubbles.

I didn’t go yarn crawling; instead I packed my bags to head out for the Lantern Moon retreat in Sisters, Oregon on Saturday.

It snowed a little at the beginning of the week, just enough to be pretty but not a problem.

Is showing up at an event wearing the same sweater the same as showing up in the same gown? Nah, it’s way more fun. This is Virginia in her Stopover, and me in mine. (Pattern by Mary Jane Mucklestone.)

I taught a version of my Tink Drop Frog: Lace Edition to two lovely groups of knitters, and also gave a blocking lesson. Susan B. Anderson taught a shawl design class, and a sock class.

Artist Kathy Deggendorfer (left) was our speaker on Monday evening. She told us about her process when painting with watercolors (color first, then lines come after), and how she uses those images on other products or in other media (clay tiles, for example). She opened her studio for us the next day and showed us what she was working on (shhh, it’s a secret). Karin purchased this original watercolor of chickadees, and I went home with a chickadee tile.

Wednesday I had the opportunity to join the retreat students for a block printing class with Valori Wells at the Stitchin’ Post.

I had chickadees on my mind, so I traced a photo off my phone and made a chickadee block for printing.

I was really happy with how it turned out. This was my fourth experience with block printing, but my first with fabric instead of paper. And each time is a little better as I figure out positive/negative space.

The gift baskets were amazing. Here’s a sampling of what was in them, but not everything!

This soap is a work of art, and smells divine.

We had afternoons off to relax (hello, spa!). On Wednesday afternoon I went on my favorite walk in the woods with my friend Becky, who moved to Sisters with her family 2 years ago. Becky is one of my Pie Birds; I love singing with her and Claudia.

Looks like cake

Madrone

Scars of last summer’s Milli fire

Putting this here so I know what to call it next time I’m trying to explain how to find it!

It was a fabulous retreat. If a small (about 30 people), luxurious knit-focused retreat with lots of time to relax is what you’re looking for, you should definitely check this out next year. Thanks to Lantern Moon for inviting me to teach!

Two steps forward at the coast, one step back at home

I finished this hat on Saturday evening, but changed my mind about the crown shaping. About to start that again.

In other news, happy birthday to DH! I decided to get cases for his autographed baseballs. They’ve been rolling around in a drawer for 30 years, so it’s about time we did something with them. Top to bottom: 1984 Portland Beavers (AAA farm team for the Phillies back then, and DH’s first job in baseball); 1986 World Champion NY Mets (DH’s first year working in Major League Baseball); 1968 St. Louis Cardinals (boyhood home team).

My Saturday stranded colorwork class was full, and my Sunday class was cancelled, so I ran away to the coast overnight.

Sasquatch lives! The ocean was rough, and the wind was intense, but the coast always clears my mind and brings me joy.

What’s bringing you joy this winter? I’ll have more joy when these hats are done!

Fiendishly simple? And aloha!

A hat is a fiendishly simple thing. It’s a tube, closed at the top. Easy peasy, right?

I’ve been playing with this hat project all week. It’s been a Goldilocks experience. Too tall? Too short? Just right? The top of this pink hat has been reworked a couple times, but I can’t complain about the view.

The pink version is snug and a little (but not too) short; it’s a cute beanie.

The blue version has 12 more stitches than the pink one, and at the same height it doesn’t feel quite secure on my head. I’m re-working it to be a little taller so it can come further down over the ears, or folded up at the bottom.

I’ll be knitting one more for a size in-between. Who said hats were simple? There’s a lot of planning going on here!

Oddly enough, it’s been very comfortable knitting with this wooly yarn in Hawaii! I brought a fingering weight shawl project, too, but I’ve been so smitten by this brioche I can’t stop playing with it.

We’ve had a great week. We came over on December 26, and now it’s time to go home. But here are some pretty pix from the week.

Beautiful He’eia Bay is just around the corner from our condo.

Lots of honu (green sea turtles) at Ai’opio Beach, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park.

More turtles at Kiholo Bay, and we saw this petroglyph at the water’s edge.

When Hualalai erupted, these shells were caught in the lava. They’re being revealed through erosion. They look like frosting!

Kiholo Bay

We went night snorkeling with the mantas! (Picture from the Eka Canoe Website; I highly recommend this.) There were at least five of these magnificent creatures swimming with us, somersaulting and backflipping, close enough to touch (but you’re not supposed to. One brushed by DH; he said it felt like a shoe.

My favorite bird, the yellow-billed cardinal.

And favorite guy, on our morning walk.

Moonset in the morning (January 2)…

Sunsets in the evening…bliss.

Aloha!

Go Tell the Bees KAL progress

The Go Tell the Bees KAL is halfway done, and FO’s are rolling in!

Photo by chainstitcher on Ravelry

Photo by BlossomWorks on Ravelry

Photo by BlueberryHill on Ravelry

Photo by knitcrazycpa on Ravelry

Photo by maybaby24 on Ravelry

Photo by knitacat on Ravelry

It’s not too late to join the KAL; it runs through July 10. Prize drawings for participants every week, and a special drawing for finishers at the end.

It’s also not too late to snag the discount for newsletter subscribers on the pattern, and on Fierce Fibers’ gradient yarn. Both of those discounts run through the end of June. (Hurry!) If you’d like to subscribe to the PDXKnitterati newsletter, let me know in the comments. It’s not the same as subscribing to this blog.

I’m making progress on my KAL shawl, too. I spent a very pleasant few hours in the air with a free movie (thanks, Alaska Airlines!), prosecco, and knitting. Because it was the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter book, I chose Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, and was amused that there was a Dumbledore knitting reference in it! ⚡️

I’m finished with my short rows, so it’s on to the top edging.

My favorite view flying is Mt. Hood and the Cascade range. Here are the views outbound last Saturday

And inbound last night

I love the blue sky and the peaks of Hood, Jefferson, and the Sisters, but the texture of the clouds with Hood and Jefferson is even more interesting.

We had a great weekend celebrating mom-in-law’s birthday, and now I’m back home knitting, knitting, knitting. Designing and deadlines!

How was your weekend?

Organizing via project bags, Crafty Moms weekend 14.0

Last weekend was the 14th annual Crafty Moms weekend at the coast. It was pretty laid back, with some crafting, and some not! But great to get together with this group that met because our kids were in elementary school together, a long time ago.

I brought several projects to work on, because knitting is both work and play for me. Design projects, books for review, mindless knitting…and I shared some quick lessons in crochet, magic loop, and magic knot.

Lately I’ve been using Binkwaffle bags, one for each project, and then piling the collection into a larger bag or basket for transport around the house or out for travel. I like the smaller Dumpling bags for one or 2 skein projects, but last week I bought one larger Dumpling bag for a 3 skein bulky project (done and ready for secret pattern writing!). It’s too big for most days, but it came in handy this weekend.

These fabric bags are squishable but still have enough body to stand up by themselves while I’m working out of them, and the loop handle is great if you want to walk and knit at the same time. The large grommet for the handle to loop through means no yarn snagging. And the reversible fabrics are fun.

Guess which one Biscuit likes best?

I brought a couple mindless projects, which are great for social knitting. I finished a Kilter hat and started my replacement red Zephyr shawlette; I gave the original red Zephyr to my sister for her birthday. It was better than having her wait for me to knit the eventual replacement; this will be done…someday.

I spent some time reacquainting myself with the brioche stitch that I learned from JC Briar at Madrona. I had planned to knit only a couple repeats of this scarf pattern from the class handout, just to learn how to work the increases and decreases, but it’s really pretty and kind of addictive. I’ll just keep knitting as long as it’s engaging.

Dark side of brioche knitting

I can now tell where I am in the pattern, and don’t have to think so hard about the selvedge edges any more. I know that the increases and decreases only happen on the light side of the fabric, with the light yarn. But I’m operating a lot on instinct rather than reading the pattern, and can’t explain why it works. So I’ll keep going for a while!

My selvedges were wonky for the first few rows, and there’s one dark strand of yarn crossing where it shouldn’t, but otherwise things are looking pretty good. Onward!

The Oregon Coast is one of my favorite places on earth. Watching the waves clears my mind, and walking on the beach makes me look at everything with a different eye. I’ll close with some pretty pictures, so you can feel like you were there, too.


This dog wandered into my picture and made it infinitely better. Serendipity!

A gift from the sea.

Transportation for sea life!

These pelagic gooseneck barnacles caught a ride on this tree. They’re a little dried out, not as spectacular as the ones I saw a couple years ago.

It was stormy when we arrived, so the next few days saw the beach littered with these pyrosomes, pelagic colonial tunicates. Weirdly pretty, but apparently no longer alive.

Wouldn’t this make a great gradient yarn?

Spectacular sunset this evening. #craftymomsweekend

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And here’s your nine seconds of Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh. Looking forward to the 15th annual Crafty Moms Weekend next year!