Day 1-3 of the #Grandsheltandadventure



yellow boat and red phone box


Pru on the afternoon walk

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Friday morning both Pru & I got up bright and early to go for a long walk after a delicious breakfast of porridge, coffee, toast, marmalade and fruit.

We headed up the road past the shetland ponies and sheep, the boat on the inlet and the red phone box. Continued along the road and round until we came across some sheep and an old falling down croft – the red route is what we took in the am.


we saw a rainbow in the afternoon

Burrastow_House walk day 1

red is the morning walk – orange is the afternoon

Everyone arrived after around lunch time and after sandwiches we all headed off for a long walk – this is the orange walk.  It was fairly easy going and about 1/2 way a few people headed back to the house whilst the rest of us with Mary Jane continued and made a loop back again tracing back out route from the morning.  We saw the island Foula in the distance – which we incorrectly labeled Ham on our instagram photos that day – Ham is on the island.  We were serenaded by seals on the way which was quite special, again saw lots of sheep.  There are over 200,000 sheep on Shetland and under 30,000 people a fair ratio if you ask me.


Dinner was delicious and Dieuwke, our room mate, arrived during dinner.  Dieuwke was very quite about her design life to us and not until she had left did Pru and I cotton on to her talents – well we had an inkling as we both were eyeing off her jumpers but not the extent of her work.


Day 2 we made our way to Holswick Visitors Center in Sandwick on the south west of the island for either a day of dying or a day of spinning – phew I didn’t wear my jumper as Gudrun had on hers that day.  I had the wonderful Niela who with her amazing assistant the talented Mavis took us through a day of various dying techniques.  We painted sock blanks and had a variety of both yarn, silk in various forms and fleece to dye.  We used pots on the stove, oven, microwave and steaming.


Neila on the left and Mavis on the right



Sandy in her gorgeous vest


Mary Jane admires the rainbow colours with a visitor to the centre



Gretchen, Patti and Denyse (I know I spelt this wrong)



Photos of Day 1 spinners


Irma on the wheel Elizabeth in the white jumper behind


Carmen on the left and Irma at the wheel


Part of the community centre where the classes were held was a museum and had a collection of radios that was used as part of the Shetland bus during the 2nd world war.


In the afternoon we went down to Niele’s shop and maybe I did by a few things……a gorgeous cardigan and a scarf or two.



At the end of the day Mavis showed us her amazing knitting and knitted items from spinning which blew us away, I suppose at this point I should say that all Shetlanders’ are extremely modest and are quite modest about their work and Mavis was no exception so no doubt if she or any of the other Sheltanders’ that read this blog would be quite embarrassed at my enthusiasm for their talents.




Day 3 was the opposite of day 2 for each half of the group and I did wear my jumper on this day.  I was privileged to learn some fleece preparation and spinning with the amazing Elizabeth Johnston.  Unlike fleeces that I have seen here in Australia each fleece of a shetland sheep is graded from 1-5 – the spine section and even the neck with felt with the weather and other parts are not so great either.  On the whole they are alot cleaner than I have seen here as well.  We pulled off some fleece, combed it and started with a drop spindle, some moved straight onto the wheel but I stayed with the spindle for the day.  I really wanted to get the hang of it as I had bought one recently and want to get into spinning on a small scale again.


Day 3 spinners – Elizabeth showed us the long draft…..

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Day 3 dyers – Pru managed to strangle a smurf and get quite blue hands on this day – the day previously I had glove fail and had 3 pink fingers…..


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Farewell Edinburgh, hello Aberdeen and hello Shetland

I had no internet whilst on the Shetland Island so I am going to keep going in the order of days as it happened – I did start this post on our first day there.


We packed up our amazing Air bnb early and headed for the train station. Collecting tickets with only a small hiccup of me leaving my card in the machine and getting a lecture from the station person we then jumped on the train bound for Aberdeen. A few knitting hours later we arrived. Hot footing it to the boat terminal – a short walk from the train station – to check in to the boat and leave our luggage for the days wandering.


We then headed into town proper and had a most delicious lunch at Moonfish, then wandered up to Scottesque where ‘someone’ had a lot of fun trying on skirts and perhaps ordering one in a particularly delightful red tartin. We had a quick look at the local yarn shop and sadly had to restrain ourselves in preparation for Shetland. A very fast look at the maritime museum we then hot footed it back to the boat in time for boarding.


Our room was quite amazing and we then went up onto the top deck to watch our departure from the back deck. Leaving Aberdeen harbour was quite spectacular – as it is still a working harbour, and my poor travel companion got a detailed lecture on containers and cranes as I am part way through a book  on the subject.                         IMG_1765     IMG_1770 IMG_1771  IMG_1773  IMG_1775 IMG_1776 IMG_1777  IMG_1779   IMG_1785  IMG_1787 IMG_1788 IMG_1789


We had quite a good crossing with only a little bit of pitching in the middle of night – Pru had preventative pills and survived the night. We woke to the bright lights of Shetland – when we opened the blind at 7am the light streamed into the cabin. We had a bit of breakfast and headed off into Lerwick for a look around before meeting our hosts at 12pm back at the ferry terminal.


We headed in search of the Taxi rank where there is a real time web cam beamed around the world so that the Birthday girl could wave to home. As both Pru and her other half had a plan by which she would stand at the taxi rank and she would wave. We started texting to ready the Australian part of the plan a bit to early and were getting ‘chop chop’ texts back. It took a few minutes to position ourselves correctly and then we got the ‘I can see you Clem Fandango” text and mission was accomplished.



Next stop was the visitors’ centre for maps and brochures, then the camera shop for a new sim card for the phone, then the Peerie coffee shop for birthday breakfast #2 and coffee. We then found Jamiesons yarn shop and had a good rummage around but again held out – nearly bought a tartan cape but thought I best think about it first.


IMG_1805Then we scooted down to the Shetland Museum where we had a brief but very well briefed tour by a wonderful New Zealander Cushla who has relocated with her husband in retirement to live here. We had the 10 minute speed tour that did not in any way skimp on detail of the knitting section and then hot footed it down to the ferry terminal to meet one of our amazing hosts Mary Jane Mucklestone. A complete delight that within the first 5 minutes she was plotting with us to sneak up to Jamison and Smith but Gudrun texted us to wait so that we could all go together if there was time. And there was, and yarn was purchased and other knitters spied. Gudrun then drove us via the supermarket, then the terminal again as I forgot my computer in the lock up, to our accommodation the gorgeous Burrastow house on the west side of Shetland.



We kicked back for a few hours – Pru read a book and I went on a walk along the cliffs, spying Seals in the bay and amazing views. We have been so lucky with the weather so far – I think not much wind and blue skies – I did crack out my sun hat for the walk.



Birthday dinner was with a few knitters and Pru was surprised and delighted with the cake and candle.  We went to bed excited to be meeting our fellow travellers the next day.


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Edinburgh and Glasgow then on to Aberdeen


Monday was sort of a slower day – that was what was intended but all good plans go astray in some way or another.  We woke to rain and a slower start with a coffee at our now favourite Wellington cafe  then headed off to Cath Kidston for a sticky beak, then in search of a few extra supplies for the trip to the Shetland Islands.  A wander to the other side of the castle and lunch at Spoon was the precursor to a walk up Arthur’s Seat.



What had started as a rainy day had transformed into blue sky and sunshine galore, the higher we got though the stronger the wind.




By the time we had scrambled to the top vertical hairstyles were the rage.  We had taken the vertical route up and opted for the gentle route down via the ruins of an Abbey.


Then off to the Safari Bar for a knit with the Ginger twist crew.


We meet up with some fellow knit course members and very welcoming locals and had a great night knitting at the pub.  A stumble up the royal mile led us home and to bed, after a good dose of Doc Martin.


Today we were up early to check out the tartan mill just up the road, on the advise of one of the lovely ladies last night.  Having walked past the other day we though it was a true tourist trap – but it was an absolute treasure with working looms and lots of tartans being made.  I picked up a packet of remnants for some crafty future use….


Then onto Kathy’s Yarns which was an absolute treat.  Kathy stocks mainly local yarns and is both generous and knowledgeable about her stock.  We both scored some pretty wonderful yarns there.  And I was also given a photo of the sheep one of my yarns is made out off.




After a coffee at a truely hipster stop we made our way to the train station and onto Glasgow to meet up with Jules in real life, having been a subscriber to her blog and watching her journey in fibre and also moving to Glasgow this year.  It was so great to meet a fellow yarn enthusiast and one from Australia both Pru and I had a wonderful time as we went to Queen of Purls and met the lovely Zoe and then had lunch in town.  There was quite a difference to the architecture and feel of Glasgow to Edinburgh and definitely worth another trip down the track.



Back on the train to Edinburgh we have picked up supplies for a dinner at home, a quiet night in and some knitting on the very comfortable couch ready for tomorrow’s adventure.



Aberdeen, Lerwick, infinity and beyond……


All praise the wonderful world of fibre.


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Stitch in time

Sunday saw us down at the train station off for an adventure over the water.  Actually we got up , knitted, had a few cups of tea, knitted some more, a coffee, bit more knitting, put on some washing and knitted just to make sure we had not forgot the action and then went off to the train station.


Another glorious day here in Edinburgh but just a bit colder than the previous day, we are now about at the time for woollens and long sleeves and I cracked out my mobius for the days outing.





On the train off to Kirkcaldy for the final day of the Great Tapestry of Scotland, sadly one of the panels was stolen a week ago but there were still another 159 to see. It was quite amazing.  The theme was the history of Scotland, so there were a few sheep in there, and the idea was hatched by the guy who brought us the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency      and other great writings – there was a designer who drew up each panel and then a lot of dedicated embroiderers who worked on the panels, they all had a small section in the bottom corner to sign.

Just a few highlights of the work…


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After all that history and gorgeous stitches we headed off to the cafe for lunch.  There was a board that in chalk faintly said a word and plus crusty bread, when asked it was “Stovies” our natural response was to ask what is this?  The poor lady rallied around and explained what it was – well we had to order then, after sitting down and a quick google search we gathered quite a national well known dish and a bit like bubble and squeak.




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After we needed a small post stovie stroll and wandered through the town down to the beach, dodged the HUGE seagulls and went back to the train station via the cemetery of the oldest christian church in the area.  Just having missed a train we knitted some more, nope still remembered how to, and then trained back to Edinburgh.



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Still suffering recovering from stovies we bought a large amount of green veggies and some salmon for dinner, made our way home and watched a few episodes of Lewis back to back.


I got the poison I got the remedy

Still knitting and drinking tea and squeezing in a wafer of chocolate finally the effects of the stovies were wearing off.


Great day in all

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After a quick commute on the tube we arrived early for coffee at Kings Cross Station on Friday for our train trip north to Edinburgh.


mini harbour bridge in Newcastle

We had great seats on the train and had a very pleasant journey north.  It rained a bit on the way out of London but the further North we went the better the weather.


We arrived to glorious sunshine and a very long set of stairs to climb.  Then another set and then 6 flights to get to the flat.  It was SO worth the view!!!  That is our apartment viewed from New Town.


After a minute to catch our breath we headed out for an explore and would you believe found a wool shop!!!   Ginger Twist Studio is a tiny space filled with a really great collection of yarn and inspiration. There were yarns purchased.


After this excitement we had a cup of tea and shared a Banoffee pie.  We headed home through the centre of town.  Diner was in a great bar downstairs and I had venison stew and Pru had fish of the day.  We retired to more knitting and bad TV,  it is quite nuts how mesmerised one is by advertising in other countries.


Saturday was another glorious sunny day and we started with a coffee & croissant at Wellington St which serves flat whites – an Australian invention I was told later in the day.



On the recommendation of Lyn we then headed over the the Georgian House in Charlotte Square New Town which was really fantastic.  We then understood why New Town area was build and saw the day to day running and living in the house.  And of course there were dress ups – so far I have not shown you what has been going on but there has been a bit of fun starting at the V& A and this continued here as well – photos pinched from Pru on faceache.




After a brisk walk through a couple of shops we went over to the older side of town to meet up at a pub in Infirmary Place called The Royal Oak, if this is at all familiar to you then you would already have guessed we were on a Rebus walking tour.  This was 2 hours of walking the streets and places that the fictional character Rebus written by Ian Rankin would tread.  This also covered the history of the area and other interesting facts, including the house of Peter Higgs who thought up the idea that then the Hadron collider achieved.


During the tour we passed what looked like an interesting cafe and turned out to be a Dovecot studios a tapestry studio with a cafe – this was then to be our lunch spot for the day – and we spied an person knitting in the corner.  She then came over and said hi- drawn by Pru’s jumper and turned out to be Mica who organises the Edinburgh wool week.  We then got some great tips for wool hunting.


Straight to Be inspired fibres we had a great hour or so petting yarns and chatting with the lovely owner Mei.  Again there were yarns purchased and a lot of fun was had.                        IMG_1597    IMG_1602 IMG_1603


oh and I had haggis for dinner and it was YUMMY!!!!



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Farewell London Town


Pru and I at the theatre about to be entertained….

Book of Mormon was everything you would want and more – we had such a fun time and I think that Jesus was my favourite character of the night with his light up gown.


Thursday saw the first real day of knitting and I cast on some brioche – yes the bug has hit.  It did take about 6 goes to get going where I cast on and stumbled through the tab cast on each time getting closer to understanding the stitch – thankfully Pru had gained her brioche knitting master level badge so I had my own personal tutor sitting next to me.

We meandered along too the Tate modern via the Portrait Gallery where our dear friend Kitchener got another visit and tribute.  We searched high and low for Cromwell but only found the other one not the one we wanted.  Then a quick detour via the changing of the guard and all those gorgeous horses to the Tate Modern.


Time for lunch and tea then a serious look at some art and the gift shop.  An entirely different space to the other galleries we had been in over the week,  the Tate has a completely different sense of scale.


At this point I headed off to Notting Hill to catch up with an old work colleague and Pru headed home to Soho.


After a tea and catchup I also headed back to Soho and we had a delicious diner of Indian around the corner – and saw the start of fashion week in the party atmosphere at Carnaby St on the way home.


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London town


Monday morning I found myself back on London to meet up with Pru, who flew in early, we meet up at Yum Chaa for tea and cake before a quick trip to Liberty(where in the lift we found out about the #spill)


happy at the #spill along with anticipation of wool faces


Then onto Loop  via a bus in Islington – but we got our days all muddled and ended up in front of a closed shop – the consolation prize was an extremely delicious lunch at Ottolingi.  Then back to our digs in Soho for an early night.


insert sad face at this point


Tuesday we were up early and hit the Victoria and Albert Museum before it opened – and then went on a great guided tour with Merry who had such great enthusiasm for the museum and unlocked some very interesting stories and facts for us about the exhibits.  We then took ourselves on a trip around the tudors, jewelry and at that point our heads exploded and lunch was required.  A quick look in the shop and then off to Loop for round 2 – and yes this time it was open.


Another case of exploding heads as in that small shop is the most wonderful yarn collection – quite overwhelming as without a specific project in mind it was quite hard to choose yarn.


Pru picked a scarf pattern and went from there – I went with a vague idea of a shawl and picked my yarn, and also purchased needles for our upcoming series of workshops in Shetland.


We then caught the tube back to liberty for well earned afternoon tea.


Followed by a small scarf & pattern purchase and then back to our digs where I met up with Blitz, a fellow mermaid wrangler from that film in Melbourne and we proceeded to drink our way through the evening with some new found English friends in the pub round the corner – where Frances Bacon used to hang out.




Nursing a rather sore head this morning 4 cups of tea later we traipsed off to the British Museum and this time had a tour around the Mesopotamian gallery which was really amazing.


Pru was the best guide for the Museum as a whole as this is her area of expertise – and it was a treat to see the marbles of the Parthenon as well.




Tonight we are off to The Book of Mormon round the corner which I am really looking forward to. Finally unlocking the gold plate of religious education level.                     IMG_1517 IMG_1518 IMG_1519    IMG_1525 IMG_1526IMG_1522

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On leaving Paris

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the courtyard outside our apartment


IMG_1428 IMG_1429 IMG_1432               Another delightful meal by the Seine of Croque monsieur for me and a roast vegetable baguette for Tim, breakfast dessert of Far Breton with prunes – yum.  We had a noisette in the tabac and by far this was the best coffee in Paris.



We started off to the Mussee D’orsay and again by about 10.o0 it had started to rain.


It was a quick trip to the gallery and full of highlights.  Mainly I wanted to look at the Toulouse Lautrec paintings and furniture 1:1 drawings


I think this was the best time to go as when we left the line was huge.


We walked back to our apartment and bought lunch at the Patisserie  for the train – then a metro ride to Gard Du Nord and one last cafe stop – this time hot chocolate whilst watching the world go by.


The train trip is so quick and so easy I am certainly going to make  it again some time.

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Ben met us at the station in London and we walked across to Soho for dinner at a great Indian restaurant.  A few tube stops later we hoped into the car and drove back to Cambridge.  Hard to believe how fast it was to travel across the Canal.


I was delighted at how much my french had returned during the trip – and certainly I have enough to get by,  the Parisiennes  are very generous with their language and seem to be happy when you try.



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Il a pleut dans Paris aujourd’hui


So today was meant to be the grande Versaille adventure but the weather and the fickle nature of my travel companion and myself combined had other ideas.  We started off to go to the grand palace but it was raining and miserable so we decided on a day wandering the streets with a few objectives in mind.


A noisette later we hatched a plan – tea shops, knitting shop encore, taxidermy and anything that might take our fancy then made up the day, along with some more coffee and perhaps some lunch.



What ever we did had to include La droguerie again – I know I had to go back it is that good, and I have infected Tim with the desire and promise to learn to knit again.  As I write this he is knitting is first row on a delicious alpaca scarf!! – (photos of yarn tomorrow when I get better light)


Our rough plan came together like this – Springcourt shoe shop – where Tim purchased some black and lime green high tops, a visit to the Camper shop – a few style the same as I had just seen in Sydney.  A detour past a charity shop where I found a great jacket and tshirt and Tim bought a scarf and a jacket as well.


Then onto La Droguerie – via another shoe shop – Trippens on sale!!! but none I liked in my size pooh.  Then there was more wool – I had done a bit of internet work last night and really wanted to knit a scarf or two to play with the wonderful yarns – I have a sea blue triangle on the go already and a blue and silver yarn to make a lace square with.  Tim as I have already said bought some gorgeous alpaca.


After respite during a really full on down pour we had lunch of pasta, wine and then dessert – and were dripped on a bit as it was that wet – I think my poor shoes might not dry out properly and I hope it doesnt rain too much tomorrow as I am not sure my cloth sneakers will cope.


Then was the Astier de Villatte the amazing ceramics and candles of Paris where I procured some gorgeous cards and delighted at the wonderful collection on display.


In search of tea for Mr S.V. we went to one of the oldest tea shops in Paris Mariages Freres where some tea may of be procured but that may spoil a surprise.  Again I may of found some single origin chocolate 75% but again that would be telling.


We then made our way back across Paris to Deyrolle to check out the garden supplies and taxidermy – pretty amazing but quite confronting all those stuffed animals in one place.


Then another walk across back to the digs – and we are now on our beds both knitting and drinking tea – hurrah

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Paris textile adventure

After the long walk last night and an early wake up I decided to sleep a bit longer – and woke up at 12pm – whoops.  This travel caper is a bit tiring especially after walking over 10kms the night prior – didn’t realise that last night.

We didn’t quite have the hot water situation worked out – common in Paris I am told – and so after a brisk cold water splash we dashed out to find breakfast/lunch before the grand textile tour began.  A delicious bagel consumed by the river – best dining room ever!!! prepared us for a fantastic afternoon of yarn, fabric, trims and tapestries.


Barbara meet us at our apartment and had great knowledge of all the textile treats of Paris – we started at La drougerie (Hardware store is the translation) – as you know I am fond of wool.  Major yarn purchase here,



then a series of fabric arcades and shops, tapestry shops and haberdashery shops.  All quite amazing – one shop had a knitted cake and cheese window display by Madame Tricot



knitted cake and knitted cheese window




a vertical green wall and then the patron Saint of the fabric district St Catherine of Alexandria


hand painted tapestry shop where I practiced my terrible french but pretty much had a conversation with the owner


Barbra and Tim hanging on the red couch as I bought linen


Last stop was an amazing fabric shop Mahlia Kent where they weave their own colourful and amazing fabrics.  We sadly said good by to Barbara and found a cafe to sit on the side walk watch the world go by and have an aperitif and a cheese plate for dinner.


the ‘haul’,

  1. fabric from the colourful textile store Mahlia Kent, on has red skulls and purple mohair, these are all offcuts or remnants,
  2. light grey yarn is cashmere wool blend- enough for a shawl,
  3. donkey grey is wool angora for a cardigan with ribbon trim,
  4. dark grey is alpaca, and  a grey bag from the shop,
  5. the check fabric is cotton and the blue and mint below are linen two slightly different weights.



Dessert was from the local pastry shop and eaten by the river – so much fun!!!


If you do get the chance to visit Paris I would highly recommend getting in touch with Barbra as she is such good company, has such amazing knowledge and contacts in the textile world of Paris, and is full of great information as you wander around – we both had a fantastic time



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