Not A Highland Games!!!

And there was me thinking I’d be writing about a Highland Games next. How could I have forgotten about The Portsoy Traditional Boat Festival when I come from a seafaring background and heritage!

Portsoy is an old fishing village on the north-east coast of Scotland with a picturesque 17th century harbour. The construction of the harbour walls is unusual as they were constructed with vertical stone rather than horizontal. Since 1994 it has been the venue for  an annual boat festival. In the past I have tended to miss it because I was never home on holiday from Saudi at the right time. Not any more!

Traditional boats in the harbour.

Traditional boats in the harbour.

Of course there a variety of boats to be seen.

Boats of yesteryears -big and small!

Boats old and new – big and small!

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Coracles drying.

Coracles.

Coracles.

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Music of all kinds -nautical, folk and pop.

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A chance to ‘have a go’.

The ‘culture tent’ focussed on the similarities and differences between Norwegian and Scottish fishing folk lifestyles.

A part of the Norwegian display.

A part of the Norwegian display.

The typical Scottish fisherfolk diet.

The typical Scottish fisherfolk diet.

But it was disappointing to see that the British jumper for sale was from Guernsey and not a local Gansey.

What no Ganseys!

What no Ganseys!

Not everything was sea related.

This miniature bus taking children around the village made me smile.

Cute miniature bus.

Cute miniature bus.

Earlier in the year I heard that there was a doubt that the Boat Festival would run this year. I’m so glad that it did as I thoroughly enjoyed my visit.

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Ganseys.

One of my lasting memories of my maternal grandmother is that she was always ‘wyvin’ -or in English knitting. And the garments that were always on her ‘wires’ or knitting needles were Ganseys-  patterned fishing jumpers. My father and uncles were fishermen so she always had someone to appreciate her knitting. Despite this she found time to knit for other people who were not so skilled in the art of the Gansey. She never used a pattern and used to mix and match ideas from other jumpers she had seen. Using 4 shiny, silver, metal, double-pointed needles always looked a dangerous procedure to my young eyes. Added to this she wore a knitting sheath/belt where she stabbed one of the needles into, to take the weight of the Gansey whilst she knitted. Each time she thrust the needle into the belt I could hardly believe she hadn’t done herself an injury!

After my grandmother died in 1993 I don’t think I ever saw anyone knit a Gansey again. The fishing industry had declined and the younger fishermen bought ready made clothing (perhaps their womenfolk had other things to do with their time?).

This week the Gansey came into my life again when I read that there was an exhibition in The Maritime Museum in Aberdeen of Ganseys. I just had to go!

2 Ganseys.

2 Ganseys.

One style of neck detail.

One style of neck detail.

Pattern detail.

Pattern detail.

More Ganseys.

More Ganseys.

i am so happy that this skilful art has been recognised and examples saved for posterity. But even better The Moray Firth Gansey Project has not only made more people aware of this knitting heritage but has also encouraged knitters to keep the art alive and evolve new ways to use the patterns like this ladies jumper by knitwear designer, Di Gilpin.

Jumper by Di Gilpin.

Jumper by Di Gilpin.

I also got a lovely surprise to see that 2 of the Ganseys were credited to Mrs. Isabella Stewart- my grandmother!

A new knitting project- Slippers.

On a recent trip to the Lake District I was charmed by the endearing Herdwick lambs. Sadly, the wool from the sheep is too coarse for knitting but in a shop dedicated to sheep things I found some lovely 100% British Wool called Herdy. I just had to have some as a momento of my trip.

Herdwick sheep and lambs.

Returning home I had a pair of socks for my niece’s fiancé to finish before I could get to ‘play’ with my new wool. A few months ago I printed off a free Ravelry pattern for slippers using chunky wool so decided to try it out with my Herdy wool. After trying 3 different sizes of needles I still couldn’t get the gauge right so had a few brain aches trying to work out the correct number of stitches. The first slipper was slow going due to having to make adjustments but the second was ‘a breeze’. I’m thrilled with my finished slippers and my mother has already hinted at a pair which I’m more than happy to knit for her. There is more than enough wool left for her pair too.

Herdy slippers.

The original pattern can be found at http://www.Ravelry.com and is called Non-felted slippers by Yuko Nakamura Designs

 

More socks!

Another pair off the needles:)
The unknowing recipient of these socks will be my brother who lives in London. I’m sure as winter is approaching there will be times when a cosy pair of socks will be appreciated- I hope!

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So who will be my next ‘victim’! Sadly, my stash is dwindling to the choice of 3.

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Living in Saudi Arabia and especially in the town of Tabuk means I have to either bring back my sock wool or order it and run the gauntlet of the mail and customs. So which colour combination will I choose for my sister-in-law who I’ve decided will be next for my socks. Well at least that was what I had intended until last night when I received a message from my niece who was ‘pretty pleasing’ for a pair after she’d seen the pair I’d knitted for her cousin!
2 of the yarns are Regia which I have so far used for all my socks but the other is the hand-dyed yarn I bought in Harris this summer. It feels so cosy being made from merino and bamboo that I’m just dying to see how it knits up. Decisions, decisions! Who will get what?

What will I do today?

As a teacher I am blessed with a lovely long 8 week holiday in the summer. Interestingly, that’s usually when others envy my job- at other times of the year they don’t want to know! My husband isn’t a teacher so he gets a lot less holidays which means that very often in the summer we will spend a month in UK and I will spend the other month chilling in the villa. I love the freedom this allows me to begin most days with the luxury of ‘what will I do today?’. One thing that I never get is bored, but I suppose I know that my time is limited and the school year will begin again and I will be once more back to fulfilling the National Curriculum and all the ‘paperwork’ that goes with the job.
So how have I filled my days so far?
I’m still hooked on knitting socks. My latest ‘victim’ is my brother, Billy. So far, all my sock knitting has been using Regia 4 ply and following the free pattern I received when I mass ordered a selection of wool awhile ago. I love looking at the wool I have and thinking about the person I am going to knit for. This is my choice for Billy:-

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I usually knit while I’m watching T.V. which tends to be for about an hour in the evening, but as I’m on holiday I’ve been able to go to the Ladies’ craft morning on Mondays and this has given a boost to the speed in which the socks have grown:) it’s also to great to catch up with some of the other women in the community and meet some ladies who are relatively new and I would probably not have the same opportunity to meet when I’m working.
Normally, I wouldn’t regard myself as much of a baker but today I excelled myself by baking a banana and walnut cake and some Stilton and walnut scones.
The banana cake recipe was in the ‘Landlove’ magazine that I brought back with me from UK. It required 700g bananas and as I was weighing them out I began to think there had been a misprint as this seemed a LOT of banana to me! However, it seemed to turn out fine and tasted good.

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After the sampling it got sliced up and put in the freezer- probably to be used on a couple of desert trips once the weather cools down next month.
I made the scones to use up some Laban (sour milk) that I had bought to make cheese scones at the weekend. I love cheese scones and usually buy some from a friend who makes them to sell in the compound community shop on Thursdays. However, she has gone on holiday so I thought I should give them a go. They turned out a bit thin but tasty and didn’t last long.

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I also had some Stilton in the fridge so googled Stilton scones and found a few recipes. I used one from the UK magazine ‘Delicious’ which also added walnuts. It was interesting as instead of rolling and cutting out circles it said to roll the dough into a fat sausage shape and then slice it to make the individual scones. Again, mine didn’t rise much but as they’re just for my husband and me and they taste good I won’t worry too much about that. Perhaps I should ask my friend for some advice when she gets back, but then again it’s just so much easier to get her to make them!

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So that was today- what will tomorrow bring? I have few ideas but when I wake up in the morning I know it’ll be my choice whatever I end up doing- how wonderful:)

Socks and darning!

So here I am back in Scotland- my home country. Unfortunately, I live in an area where the Internet isn’t very reliable so it gets a bit frustrating to try and blog regularly, as often by the time I’m finished writing the connection goes and it seems impossible to get reconnected- hmmmm! Who knows if this will actually go later?!
Anyway, it’s lovely being at home and so far the weather has been great with lots of opportunity to be in the garden.
My sock presents are slowly being presented. First, was my father’s pair. He actually looked very happy to receive them- whether he ever wears them is another story!
Someone who might appreciate their socks a bit more is my sister-in-law. I have just sewn on some buttons down the side to add a little bit of a special feature. I actually recycled some buttons I got on a couple of clothes price labels from ‘white stuff’.

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The other socks that I’ve been working on are a wee bit different- I’ve just found out they were knitted by my maternal grandmother for my grandfather at least 55 years ago! I really don’t know how they came to be in my house but I started wearing them last time I was home and they became quite holey! Last night, I decided it was time to do something I hadn’t done in perhaps 30 years- darning! I remembered I used to used a darning loom thing, but having moved house 18months ago had no idea where it was. After a little bit of searching and rummaging through a few sewing repair type boxes I unearthed not one but 2 of the darning looms. I was back in darning business!

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Today I asked my mother about the darning loom as I remember it being in her house when I was a small child and I reckoned 5shillings in those days was quite expensive. She was pretty sure that it had only belonged to her and not my grandmother, but couldn’t remember how she got it etc.
So now the socks are darned I will carry on wearing them around the house for a long time to come.
I wonder if my newly knitted socks will still be worn in 55 years time by someone not born yet!