One Weekend- Two Festivals!

Having lived in Saudi for 28 years and missed out on the opportunity to enjoy lots of events I feel we are well and truly making up for lost time! This weekend was certainly an example of this. Having read about the  Inverness Lochness International Knit Festival  way back in spring I made it a definite must do on the calendar. I decided to go for the day on Friday and also take in Ruth Black’s presentation – Pictish Designs in Feltmaking.


Nessie welcome at Eden Court.

It was so inspiring looking around the Crafting area and Marketplace.



2 of Di Gilpin‘s knits.


Danish designer Christel Seyfarth‘s beautiful, colourful wrap. Her knit fest in Denmark had been the inspiration for this one.


Newcomer to the scene and their first ever showing- North Child.


Meeting Philip Paris the author of the new novel ‘Casting Off’.

But one knitted item took me by surprise.


My paternal grandmother’s gansey, knitted for my uncle James.
Moray Firth Gansey Project had a stand and I was instantly drawn to this gansey. The label was tucked behind so it was only when I pulled it forward that I realised it was one of my grandmother’s!
So all in all I had a really good time.
Leaving Inverness behind it was an hour’s drive to Ullapool to go to the Loopallu Music Festival. We had heard a lot about it but hadn’t expected to get there this year until a week ago our usual B&B phoned to say they had a vacancy. Luckily, we were able to get Festival tickets so suddenly we were to be festival goers!!

The setting and the weather were terrific.


The campsite was mobbed!


An excellent 12 year old drummer standing in for the usual drummer who was ill. The group were Davy and the Hosebeast!

Other bands that were a bit more familiar to me were- The Stranglers, The Wonder Stuff, Hunter and the Bear, The Selecter, Rhythm’n’Reel and Manran. As well as playing in the main tent and the ceilidh tent/beer tent there were band in 6 of the pubs in the village. A really good mix of genres too- with the Ullapool Pipe Band kicking off the whole proceedings on Friday afternoon.


Blessed with a lovely evening.

However, I was still on the lookout for colourful knitwear!



The village of Ullapool.

I have visited Ullapool many times and it always seems to come up with one more reason to make it one of my favourite places. This weekend certainly confirmed it.

Knitted Jumper.

August was Archaeology month for me. I spent most of it digging- but that’s not what I wanted to share today!

However, it was at one of the digs that I met a Finnish student. One day she appeared wearing this stunning jumper.


When I asked her about it she told me someone had knitted it for her mother a long time ago. I’m assuming it’s an Icelandic Lopi style pattern. Lovely to see it is still being loved by the next generation.


I love the way the knitter has also added the colours used for the yoke as dots throughout the rest of the jumper. I have no idea if this was part of the pattern being followed or a creative innovation of their own. I remember these Icelandic jumpers being very popular in the 70’s and a few of my friends knitted them but never in such a colourful, individual way!

OMG it’s 2016!

And already it’s nearly a week old! It seems 2016 is going to pass by as quickly as 2015. A very good reason to enjoy every moment.

A week ago it was Hogmanay and we went to a town Ceilidh in the nearby Town Hall for the first time. We had a fabulous time. Before ‘the Bells’ i.e midnight, the ceilidh band, a group of 5 local lads who were home from University, but definitely knew what they were doing played two sets of Scottish Country Dance music. Right from the first dance the floor was full! And not just with us old ‘foggies’ who had been brought up with these dances but a really good mix of children and young adults who were definitely having fun.


It was a great start to the New Year and enlightening that although the old tradition of ‘First-footing’ is definitely a thing of the past, families are celebrating the coming of the New Year with an alternative Scottish tradition- a ceilidh.

Slainte Mhor!   Cheers!  Good Health for 2016. May it be a good year for us all.


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!


Coracles drying.




Music of all kinds -nautical, folk and pop.


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.


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!