Monday, 27 April 2009

My legs hurt

But the marathon in Hamburg was still good :)

The weather was warm and sunny. After almost 30 km my puls went up - not good - and my feet started to demand attention, not good either. But what the heck, it's not as if you'd expect it to be easy and completely painless to run 42.195 km / 26.2 miles, now would you...?

I'll do it all over again as soon as possible.


And after!

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Wooly stuff.... and pie

A Faroese Sweater for Frida.

Here's a project I should have finished a long time ago. So many things got in the way, though. It's for a six-year-old and the yarn - 'Fritidsgarn' from Sandnes - is bulky and nice, so it doesn't really take that much time.

Rhubarb pie! :)

Friday, 17 April 2009

Oh it's such a perfect day

Today I found time to get a good chunk of work done in the garden, bake a little and knit. If only all days were like this one :)

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Going Back

I'm back in Denmark.

I wasn't beamed back like they do it on Star Trek - would have been nice though.
Friday evening I packed my stuff. Not an easy task!! Had it not been for my new rucksack that is slightly bigger than the old one it would have been impossible to fit everything in there! It was like pushing an elephant through a sieve! Without breaking needles and such, mind you.

Without eating anything for breakfast - there wasn't time for it - I drove to the airport. I enjoyed the drive and many times along the way I heard myself go "wow!". The landscape is just amazing. You have to go there yourself to really comprehend what it is I'm talking about. I cannot explain it to you using words or photos. You have to go there yourself. It's that simple.

When I got to the Sumburgh Airport it was closed! It didn't open until 8 a.m., which reminded me that this isn't London, it's Sumburgh :) On Sundays it opens at 10 a.m., just so you know :)

Remember how Tony Mouat, who I met in the dining room at the Alderlodge Guest House, had told me about the lace shawl his wife, Irene, had knitted many years ago? And that it was kept in a showcase at the airport? Well, I found it! A lovely piece of work and art.

From Shetland I flew to Edinburgh. From Edinburgh to Heathrow (London). From Heathrow to Copenhagen, and from there I took a (three hour) train to Aarhus. I caught the last bus to our house. I was home twenty past midnight with a snotty nose due to 16 hours in air con. But it was just the vacation I was after - I'm so glad I went :)

Favorite Fibers

To begin with Lise wasn't sure if she wanted me to buy some lovely Shetland wool on her behalf. I asked her again and she said thanks, but no thanks. But then she changed her mind! ;)

And good for her. I know how much she luuuuuves Shetland wool so it felt like going against nature not bringing something back for her. She had only seen the shades that Jamieson's carry so it was up to me to try and find similar colours down at J&S's. I did my best, and here's what I got....I love those colours!

Well, I don't what to spoil the fun for Lise telling you all about this yarn and the project that lies ahead. Just note how much yarn I took home with me ;)

A proper goodbye

What better way to say goodbye is there than doing so with a small token of appreciation. And God knows I appreciate the past week in the Shetland Islands. So of course I deserved a present! ;) A yarny one.
Thus I went back to Jamieson & Smith in Lerwick. By now I know Lerwick quite well and I'm able to take shortcuts here and there. This time around it took only about 10-15 minutes to walk to the shop. I probably would have gone to Jamieson's too if it had not been for the fact that their mill and shop are a 45 minute drive (and many many sheep) away.
The staff at J&S seemed pleased to see me and we chatted for a while before I desided on a colour of the 2 ply jumper yarn I had come for. I love most of the colours, so making that kind of desition always takes a while. Give me a menu card and I'll order a burger, but give me more than three colours of yarn and I'm in at the deep end.

I ended up going for a dark brown, and once again I have to point out that this is soft Shetland wool, not itchy I-don't-want-it-near-my-skin-if-my-life-depended-on-it type of wool.

This is what I'll use for the Firs & Flakes Shawl :)

As you can see in the photo above I bought 8 balls of 2 ply jumper yarn. Unfortunately, something happened. I don't know how this could happen, but it did. Seven of the balls are fine and exactly what I thought they would be, shade 80, lot 03295. But when I got home and emptied the content of my carrier bag on the bed it jumped up and bid me in the nose! One of the balls where off somehow. I checked the dyelot number - all wrong! I thought the difference was so big that it made me check the colour too. Not good. Oh well, there was nothing I could do about it, but since I expect to need that last and 8th ball I'll write J&S an email and ask them to mail it to me. I don't think it will be that much of a problem.

I'm not sure it's that obvious but the ball in the very front is sort of green! Not something I would want in the middle of my shawl. Give me another 9-10 balls of that shade and I won't complain as much ;)

Friday, 10 April 2009

Fair Isle and more

I was feeling so tired this morning that I skipped breakfast and stayed in bed for a while.

Gillian, the owner of Shetland Art Company, was kind enough to let me drop by today and let her assistant, Mary, teach me fair isle knitting. Though it is Good Friday all the shops were open, which was rather nice since it's my last day in Lerwick.
Anyway, before going down to the shop, I stopped for a new rucksack at The Bag and Travel Shop just down the road. A strap on my old bag had snapped at the airport, so I had to have a new one before heading home.
So I met Mary; a very very nice lady in her early 60s. She claimed to be no expert but judging from the nearly finished garment she showed me, well, she wasn't no newbie either :)
We sat down in the middle of the shop - she had a small table at the end of some shelves we used. Mary grabbed a fair isle pattern from one of the shelves, I began knitting a rib just to have something to start off of.
The next couple of hours went by so quickly; me trying to knit the fair isle pattern Mary had laid out before me, and Mary telling me about fair isle patterns and colours.

Buttom right: The things I bought at the Shetland Art Company. Five balls of Patons Diploma Gold, a 4 ply wool/acrylic/nylon blend. A rosewood circular needle from Lantern Moon and a book on mittens :)

She also told me about how knitting had been a part of her life always. Her mother knit, her grandmother knit, and there used to be a wool mill run by her family as well. All very exiting!
I learned so many new things today, not only about fair isle knitting, but about life on the Shetland islands, e.g. that when Mary was a young girl they weren't allowed to speak anything but what was considered proper English in school - no Shetland dialect, so they always had to make an effort.
Mary was, I think, surprised that I knit continental style, mainly because she thought I was from England. I was then equally surprise when she said that she didn't knit English style as I had assumed. As it was done previously Mary uses a knitting belt! :) When I went to the Shetland Museum I saw one of those belts and again in the J&S shop. I believe many Shetland knitters still use them. I didn't know the first thing about knitting belts, so I was so pleased that Mary could, and not least, would show me how it works :)

Mary also showed me how she does fair isle knitting using a knitting belt.

I sat in the shop knitting as other costumers came and went - some of them thinking that I worked there :) Some had a glance at me knitting. And some seemed very interested in what I was knitting and how I was knitting. Everybody was so nice and friendly, and when I left Mary thanked me, which was a bit wrong :) I eagerly thanked her as well, because I had such a good time there, and all the things she told me where so very interesting. Thanks, Mary! :)


Jamieson's vs. Jamieson & Smith

Tone from Norway asked me this very good question. She asked if there was any significant difference between Jamieson's and Jamieson & Smith. And if the two companies compete against each other.

First things first. The short answer is: yes.

The longer version is that yes, there's a difference or several.
Jamieson's make yarn from Shetland wool. It's done in a very industrialised manner. They use heavy machinery from start to finish, and their costumers are yarn shops all over the world. Besides making knitting yarn they also machine knit garments sold world-wide. They weave fabric for garments as well, and last but not least, they make blankets.
The Jamieson's knitting yarn is a bit more scabrous, or itching if you like, because the fleece is sorted by a machine. And the machine includes more of the rougher outer layer of the fleece, which is the least soft bits of fleece.

Jamieson & Smith don't have the same machinery, and my guess is it will stay that way. They take pride in making soft, organic, natural shetland wool, and to do that you need to disregard the fact that machines can make things go easier and faster. Due to the extra amount of work put into this type of yarn the price is slightly higher compared to that of the Jamieson's knitting yarns. But well worth it, if you ask me.
Jamieson & Smith's primary products are fleece, knitting yarns along with a small variety of blankets and rugs.

I believe the two companies do compete against each other - as two companies producing Shetland knitting yarn would do - but I think it's not really that big a deal to either of them, since they seem to be doing fine. The whole name confusion is somewhat inconvenient for both of them, I think.

I hope this makes things a bit clearer :)

Firs and Flakes Shawl

I get great ideas late at night, fx to start making a shawl. Especially the type of shawl that begins with: "cast on 452 sts".... great ideas, I'm telling you.

I actually cast on the 452 stitches but now I'm not sure I want it made with just a single strand of my 2 ply yarn on needles size 3 mm. The pattern calls for a thicker type of yarn and thus thicker needles, size 5 mm to be exact. So now I think that perhaps I should knit it with two strands of yarn on needle 5-6 mm. That way I could blend the two purples I got from Jamieson & Smith..... I could also go back to the shop and get a completely different colour and use that with or without the purple.

What do you reckon? I'm open to even greater ideas :)

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Sumburgh Head - puffin hunting

Before I left Denmark I did quite a lot of research that would prevent me from wasting valuable time whilst in Scotland. I read about Jarlshof, a prehistoric archaeological site near the Sumburgh Airport. I read about birds, otters, whales and the weather. And today I wanted to go see for myself. So instead of driving back to the Alderlodge Guest House I headed south. Around 45 minuts later I arrived at the Sumburgh Hotel where Jarlshof is situated.
The weather had changed again. More rain.
Before anything else I had to go eat something. I parked in front of the hotel and went in. In the bar people were eating and talking vividly. I went straight up to the bar and grabbed a menu card and ordered a lamb burger :) It was good and afterwards I had a single scoop of ice cream with a wafer on the side.

Quite full I went outside and took the time to read the sign about Jarlshof - in some sort of Norwegian :) Surprisingly enough they charged an entrance fee. Rather weird since I could see it from where I stood. Anyway, I thought I'd go see some puffins instead. They had been my main priority all along. My dad thought 'puffins' was another wool related word ;) And now we all know that he doesn't know a lot about knitting or birds ;)

I didn't see any puffins to begin with. But I did get a taste of the extreme winds that blow here on Shetland! And I saw a couple of rabbits - yes, rabbits, not hares. So cute :)

Top left: The Sumburgh Lighthouse.
Top right: A puffin!!!! :) You should see those little guys fly; every other bird I can think of holds its feet close to its body while flying. But not these fellas. No no, their feet just hang out like an aeroplane's landing gear still down. Puffins let the wind carry them, not just up like seagulls do it, but also from left to right and back again. They're like little missiles (cute ones, that is) so fast and fun to watch :)
Buttom left: It was actually somewhat sunny in spite of the darkness in the photo. The wind, however, was overwhelming and very real.
Buttom right: View to the South

A woolen treasure

From the Jamieson's yarn shop in Sandness I bought 10 balls of 2 ply yarn. Eight balls of the colour 'Burnt Umber' and two of the equally lovely colour 'Olive' - I love them together and apart :)

There were so many colours to choose from, but before I went out to the mill I did a bit of homework checking out colours on Jamieson's website, which you can find here.

Sandness - Jamieson's

This is where I went first today. It's the Jamieson's Spinning Mill in Sandness. (Not to be confused with Jamieson and Smith in Lerwick).

Yarn and knitwear all over! Just brilliant! :) I love the design of the hooded vest.

At first I couldn't see if the shop was open. When I came up to the door the sign there said it was open but the door was locked. I walked over to what looked a little like a barn (turned out to be the mill) and found a man there sitting in his dirty work clothes. He said hello, and I asked him if the shop was closed. He jump up and said that he would go find someone who could help me. A few seconds later the shop was open :) I didn't need to say much before the shop owner - a middle-aged lady - offered that I could have a look at everything. She said that if I wanted to go in and see the mill I was more than welcome. I was ecstatic and thanked her many times.
I started out in the shop. I looked at (also with my hands ;) all the yarns, vests, pullovers, blankets, etc. I thought to myself that if only it had all been mine... *sigh*... I would be so so happy :)

From the shop I went in the back that led directly to the mill. There I met a man and a women who seemed to be in charge of the knitting there. They had three knitting machines that worked non-stop making fair isle spencers for the Japanese market. The woman told me that it took about an hour from start to finish to make one vest, which explains the price (around 40 GBP depending on the design).
Top left: Knitting machine with cones on top.
Top right: Knitting machines and half-finished vests on the floor.

Mid left: Huge machine that puts the yarn on cones.

Mid right: Cones

Buttom left: The half-finished vests - or spencers - are being sewed up and finished by this very nice (and a bit shy) lady from Eastern Europe somewhere. She told me about her work and seemed to be glad to have somebody to chat with for a while. But the pleasure was all mine.
Buttom right: A yarn washing machine (I had no idea they would look like this).
Top left: Cones for the knitting machines.
Top right: This guy washes the hanks of yarn before you and I knit with it :) He too was very pleasant and told me about his work.
Buttom left: The big scale. Just for a second there I thought about jumping up on it. But I decided that I wouldn't want to be caught using their scale as a toy.
Buttom right: The man who did all the knitting :) He was nice and we joked about the vests he was making - you can see them lying right beneath the knitting machine. They are yellow, blue, pink, green, brown, black... every colour in the universe! As mentioned they are all off to Japan, and we agreed that those Japanese people obviously prefered something different from what he and I prefered ;)

On the road again

I've stayed in Lerwick for the past couple of days, so today was the day that I was going to see what was outside the city walls, so to speak. I wasn't too confident about the driving, and I felt I should somehow warn people on the road. But, it went just fine. Perhaps I'm a better driver than I think :) I didn't wreck the car or hit anybody, and that must be in the 'good' category, right?

I stopped once or twice because the landscape was so beautiful - the weather had also improved significantly. And I thought I'd just take a pic of myself as well :)

Here's the car - my new friend. The sheep on the right was just one of many many sheep near the road. I saw fences all over the place but they had sheep on both sides! It was a slow drive at that point.

After about half an hour the road got so narrow that there was only room enough for one car - and trust me you wouldn't be able to drive past anybody on those roads if you rode a bike! See the sign in the photo? It says that here's some spare space in case you meet another car. Those spaces come in handy :) And when you do meet other people, they all give you a friendly wave when passing by.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Purchase of the day

Obviously I didn't leave the woolen mill empty-handed. In fact, I bought so much that one bag wasn't enough. I've been on a yarn diet since before Christmas, so it felt good to just go ahead and buy the yarn I wanted (or a little less than that ;) Besides yarn I also bought three patterns, all lace shawls. I'm so happy with what I got! :)

Three different colours of 2 ply lace yarn, 200 g of each of them. Along with 300 g of Natural Shetland, probably a DK weight yarn. All of it is nice and soft :) And as I learned today this is due to a proper sorting of fleece.

Three shawl patterns I just had to have.

The first picture shows super fine and equally soft Shetland wool - the type used for cobweb lace yarn. To the right in the same picture is a piece of fleece taken directly from the one Oliver sorted for me to demonstrate how it was done by hand; it's greasy and smells of sheep - in a nice way, mind you :)
The picture to the right is the same carded wool you saw on the previous picture.

The Woolen Mill - Jamieson & Smith

At around 2 p.m I was supposed to meet up with Connie who works at the Shetland Wool Brokers (aka Jamieson & Smith Wool Brokers Ltd) - unfortunately she fell ill.

Luckily the manager, Oliver, who has worked there for 42 years was eager to show me the entire place. He told me how they sorted the fleece into 4-5 different categories; he could do up to 250 kg a day! A machine will do 2,000 kg a day but it doesn't feel or see the things dear Oliver does. He too was very kind and I couldn't have asked for a better tour guide :) He told me about EU regulations that are not in favour of Shetland sheep. There were several stories about people using the term 'Shetland wool' about wool from other places in Scotland, even about Australian and New Zealand wool. Shame on them. Oliver told me how the outer layer of the wool is full of lanolin, which prevents the sheep from getting wet and cold. The next layer is wool that feels a bit like hair. And the wool closest to the sheep's body is super soft. He told about colours and that real Shetland sheep don't need a lot of food since it's a very small type of sheep. He compared the size of a lamb with a rabbit - now that's a small lamb in my world. That meant that it was all in all more profitable to go with other types of sheep, since they are often bigger and thus worth a lot more on the meat market. Dear Oliver was obviously very proud of his work, and he should be. He is trying to preserve the real Shetland wool in spite of the forces that work agains him and others like him.
He asked me if I knew Hanne Falkenberg. I don't know her personally, only by name and design. Oliver then told me that he had contacted her because she claimed to use Shetland Wool in her kits. And since Jamieson and Smith know exactly who buys their yarns and Hanne Falkenberg's name didn't turn up on that list, so to speak, he was quite sure she was mistaken. She had replied to his email but I don't think that was the end of it.

The Woolen Mill also has a shop, and the lady there was just another friendly soul :) We laughed and chatted away about knitting, patterns, yarn, ravelry, etc. I had such a good time. Unfortunately my camera and my phone ran out of battery! Thanks a lot, battery gods! Well, I did manage to take a few pictures, so here you go :)

Top left: The manager, Oliver, tells the tale.
Top right: Oliver gives a Shetland fleece a good shake! He then tore it apart in 3 different categories of wool.
Buttom left: Already sorted wool.
Buttom right: Shetland wool in the shop. There are many more shelves with yarn, you should go there :)

The Shetland Museum

Today was another adventurous day in Lerwick. Yesterday I was thinking that I would spend today in Sandness but I changed my mind. I wanted to see the various artifacts at the Shetland Museum. I can honestly say that this is one of the best museums I've ever visited! And the admission is free! Anyway, I went in and asked about their knitted items, and this extremely friendly man in a fair isle spencer (aka a short vest) nearly fell over his own feet in the attempt to help me :) He quickly offered to show me their textiles (he was already up and on my side of the desk at this point ;) Of course I accepted. He seemed so happy to show me everything and it definitely rubbed off. I was in such a good mood when he left me with a chair, open drawers and glass cases with knitwear, old and new. I spent more time than I had anticipated on the textile section. Afterwards I had a close look around on the rest of the things on that floor. I had lunch in the museum restaurant; seafood chowder with brown bread followed by a scone with jam and a cup of tea. Yum :)
I continued down on the ground floor; it was all about Shetland 5,000 years ago. All very interesting. Of course it was also mentioned that the Orkney and Shetland islands used to be Norwegian/Danish.

So many things to see - a lovely museum.


North of Shetland there's an island called Unst. This morning I met a middle-aged couple, Irene and Tony Mouat, from Unst in the dining room. They were there when I came down and they greeted me with a friendly 'good morning - how are you this morning'. I had brought my Dean Koonz book with me but that soon seemed quite unnecessary since both Irene and Tony kept me company chatting away. They were real nice people telling me about Unst, the vikings, knitting and all sorts of things like that. I listened with great interest. Tony told me to take notice of a piece of knitted lace that is on display at the Sumburgh Airport; Irene knitted it many years ago. He expressed some dissatisfaction with the fact that it was white and also placed on a white background so you can't really see all the fine details in it. I could tell Tony, Irene and I understood each other on more than one level :)
At one point Tony got up and left the dining room. He soon after came back with a brochure in his hand. It showed their B&B on Unst and they told me to please stop by their house if I would ever come to the island. I might just do that :)

Nancy Bush' infant silk socks - however, not so silky

My cousin's girlfriend is pregnant with their first child. When I saw somebody's version of the Infant Silk Socks by Nancy Bush on Ravelry I thought they were very girly and all in all perfect. Mine will be baby pink because that's what I had in my stash - and because we know they expect a girl :)

Back in the days when this pattern was originally written, infants must have had huuuuuge feet...

Tuesday, 7 April 2009


Today I got up at around eight and had my breakfast in the downstairs dining room. Not long after, I headed into town. I must say that a rain jacket and my new waterproof shoes were needed right away. Regardless of the weather I really enjoyed strolling along without much to do :)

Wet, but not at all too cold.

From my book about Shetland I knew that Commercial St. would be the place to go if I wanted to go shopping. Every time I saw signs of knitting - either knitwear or yarn - I went in. I spoke to the shop owners about fair isle knitting lessons and they were all most kind; they phoned around to see if anybody knew more than they did. This one lady at The Spiders Web gave me the name of somebody who supposedly teach knitting at the school in town. I went out to her office in the other end of Lerwick - Shetland Arts at the Bolt Shopping Centre. Unfortunately she was on holiday but will be back Thursday. I left a note with my phone number, and her friendly co-worker promised to let her know about my visit. I also went to the tourist office, and again I must say, people here are very friendly and most helpful. And no one seem to think that knitting is weird or out of fashion :)

On my way back I stopped a few times and took some photos.

Not many came to the park today :)

It stopped raining and the sun came out.

A knitter's survival kit.

Shibui KAL - done!

As mentioned, I finished the Shibui KAL socks on the train yesterday. I cannot tell you just how much I love this Shibui Sock yarn; I love knitting with it and wearing it. Actually, I even think it's too good to be given to somebody else. The colours, the feel.... in my head all I hear is "me, me, me!" :)

Pardon the quality of the pictures. The yellow light with red just isn't a good combination.

I'll take this new pair of socks for a walk today.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Getting here

Right now I'm sitting in my room at the Alderlodge Guest House in Lerwick, Shetland. My things are unpacked and the tea is perfect, not too milky.

Earlier today, I traveled from Aarhus to Copenhagen by train - I sat in the 'quiet zone', which I enjoyed very much. It gave me the opportunity to finish my Shibui KAL socks... yay! (More on that later). From Copenhagen I flew to Aberdeen (with a bunch of very drunk Russians around me - this one guy was so wasted that in the case of an emergency, well, sorry dude, but you're on your own. Why do they let people on board that are unable to take care of themselves??).
Aberdeen Airport. What can I say.... A very small airport that smelled of meat pies! But I did see a man in a genuine fair isle pullover! :) Unfortunately I didn't think of taking a picture until much later

Aberdeen Airport - probably not at its busiest hour.

After a somewhat long wait, I left Aberdeen (and the meat pie smell) and flew to Sumburgh Airport. On my way to Aberdeen the plane had two rows of seats on each side of the aisle. On my way to Sumburgh it had two rows on one side and one on the other - the gate was merely a corridor with a bench. Everything seemed to be getting smaller :)

It looks a bit foggy but actually it's just a greasy window.

When I arrived in Sumburgh the car rental people waited for me. And this very nice middleaged lady drove me up to their office (it was some sort of red trailer in the middle of nowhere). I filled in the necessary papers, paid, and took off. I must admit that I was a wee bit nervous because this was my first time driving on the left side of the road. Moe did all the driving in England, but somehow I think it helped a bit that was used to that though I didn't do the actual driving back then. Anyway, I did fine. No weird manouvres and no one got hurt :) And because I had brought Brirgitte (aka our GPS) the Alderlodge Guest House wasn't too hard to find.

Tomorrow I'll go visit Connie (who I know only from Ravelry) at the local yarn store. It will be so good - I just know it :)