Tuesday, May 29, 2012

And We're Off!

Open at Last!

The Guanella Family - Ready to Roll

Memorial Day weekend is the start of the summer tourist season for Georgetown and this weekend with the re-opening of Guanella Pass, after years of restoration, paving, and mud and rock mitigation, we were off to a great start.  Thursday evening the festivities began with a presentation at The Devil's Gate History Club with locals, including the Guanella sisters, sharing Memories of Guanella Pass.  Friday saw the official opening of the Pass from Georgetown to Grant,  with speeches, general congratulations all around, and a giant ribbon cutting, followed by a trip over the Pass.  Vintage cars, sport cars, Mini-Coopers, four wheelers, and even a burro were ready to give the new road a try!

                                                                                                        The Guanella family had great cause to celebrate last October when they went to Italy for the canonization of their relative Blessed Luigi Guanella as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church!

Looks like car trouble!

Finally, on Saturday this lone burro was replaced by 41 others as they gathered for the annual Burro Race - an eight mile stretch through mountain roads!

Keeping the peace in G'town!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Belgian Chocolate? I'd Rather Have Their Lace!

A canal in Brugge
    Our last stop on this wonderful vacation was in Brugge, Belgium before our flight home from Brussels. We had access to the internet, so my husband found me a yarn shop in the picturesque old city.
Scharlaeken Handwerk


Inside Scharlaeken Handwerk

Clock Tower, Brugge
Brugge" Centrum"
   Unlike my favorite yarn shop in Ireland, (Vivi Trading Co.) which had been open for less than a week, Scharlaeken Handwerk has been in business at the same location and owned by the same family since 1798 (in 1798, our U. S. Constitution has only been in effect for 10 years!).  The gentleman I met, Mr. J. Vandenweghe was a gracious and knowledgeable shop owner.  I appreciated his honest answer when I asked for locally produced yarn, that though some of his selection may have had its start in Belgium, the processing of the raw material most likely took place in many locales out of the country.  We had an interesting chat amidst the yarn, embroidery fabric, floss, and lace-making supplies.  Though lace-making is one demanding and precise form of handwork I have no intention of pursuing, I did purchase a small collection of the lace-making bobbins he had available.
Lace Bobbins
A Lace Maker in Brugge

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Irish Stash

     I was having technical difficulties yesterday trying to transfer this picture from one device I don't truly understand to another that I understand less well.  But somehow, in the great ethernet and despite my meddling, it finally arrived where I hoped it would.  So, this stash plus the two skeins from Cornwall constitute my yarn purchases in the British Isles.  It's not a great quantity, but enough for me to fondly remember the search and the lovely people I met along the way.
     Next up ~ the last stop on my quest for locally produced yarn - Brugge, Belgium.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Looking for Yarn - Part Four: Ireland

Is this what they mean by "dyed in the wool?"
     After docking in Southampton, England, we made our way to Gatwick and a return to Ireland for a ten day road trip.  The countryside was beyond beautiful and it seemed that every bend in the road was a breath-taking vista.  The hunt for local yarn continued and we were surprised not to find a yarn shop in every town and village as we saw sheep everywhere.  In the small village of Leenane, Co. Galway, we found a gift shop that carried a selection of Aran yarn from the Donegal Studios, so I purchased  a skein of "soft" Aran in a speckled red and a skein of rich blue with a hint of purple.  Then, we found Leenane's answer to our one stop shopping in the United States ~ Hamilton's Bar, Foodstore, and Petrol, so we dropped in to meet the owner, Tony Hamilton and enjoy a bit of his wares.

Hamilton Brother and Sister
     As we continued our Irish road trip, we made a stop in Westport, Co. Mayo where I found a basic skein of black Aran yarn from Co. Kerry at another gift shop.  But I kept wondering, where are the yarn shops?  In the village of Kinsale, Co. Cork, I found my answer. 

     A skein of boucle mohair in the window of a gift shop caught my eye.  It was from the Cushendale Woollen Mills of Co. Kilkenny, a family run business with a history going back to 1204.  Unfortunately, we were on the other side of Ireland or we would have visited there.  (Good reason for a return trip!)  The gift shop only had four skeins of yarn, but the young clerk directed me across the street to a yarn shop that had opened just that week!  The proprietor was a delightful young woman from New Zealand who told me one of her reasons for opening the shop was because they were so few and far between and she loved to knit.  She explained that despite the numerous herds of sheep we were seeing, most of them did not produce wool suitable for  knitting yarn, but rather for carpet manufacturing and that other than the mills in Co. Donegal, little knitting yarn was produced in Ireland.  After selecting a basic Aran yarn in the natural color, we were off again with my small stash of Irish knitting wool.
Vivi Trading Co. Kinsale, Co. Cork

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Looking for Yarn - Part Three: France

Port of Honfleur ~ Normandy France

Bell Tower of Church of Saint Catherine

On the streets of Honfleur (maybe she was looking for yarn, too!)
Our stop in France took us to two places, Honfleur and Rouen, both located in Normandy.  Honfleur is a picturesque port village first mentioned in history in 1027.  Samuel de Champlain set forth on his famous expedition of 1608, which resulted in the founding of Quebec, from Honfleur.  Artists, such as Claude Monet, found much beauty here to express in their paintings.  I, too, found beauty, but no yarn shops!

Flower stand ~ Rouen, France
Cathedral of Rouen ~  Normandy, France

16th Century Stained Glass ~ Church of St. Joan of Arc, Rouen

From Honfleur, we ventured to the city of Rouen, site of the amazing Gothic Cathedral of Rouen and the spot where St. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake.  On that spot today stands a church built in 1979 and dedicated to St. Joan of Arc. It features 16th century stained glass windows which were rescued from the church of St. Vincent, destroyed by bombing during World War II.  The colors and artistry of these windows takes one's breath away.  I didn't find any yarn shops, but did find a few minutes for peaceful reflection and prayer.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Looking for Yarn - Part Two: Royal Yarn

Cornwall Countryside
Palm Trees in Cornwall

   Our next port-of-call was Falmouth, England where we picked up an excursion to Cornwall, enjoying the beautiful countryside along the way.  Because of the influence of the Gulf Stream, the climate of Cornwall (located at approximately the same latitude as Calgary, British Columbia) is not what you may expect, but warm days and mild nights allow palm trees and tropical plants to flourish.  And, of course, sheep!

Village of Polperro Shops
Bay at Polperro

Wool from Cornwall - Duchy Wool on right
   In the small village of Polperro, noted throughout  its history as a smugglers' haven, I found a yarn shop called The Coombes.  When I asked the proprietor about locally produced yarn, he showed me some DK weight yarn produced from sheep being raised within three or four miles of the shop.  Apparently, beyond this distance he did not consider it truly local, but he also showed me some lovely yarn from the Duchy of Cornwall.  The Duchy of Cornwall is one of two royal duchies in England (the other is the Duchy of Lancaster) and is the estate of the Duke of Cornwall, more commonly known as Prince Charles.  With a couple of beautiful skeins in my bag, I was on my way.  Next port: Le Havre, France.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spring Classes

These are classes I am offering this spring and I am trying something new. Since my classes are generally small, I am not going to set dates.  If you are interested, come by and we can set a date that works for you and me.
Beginning Quilting - Table Topper
    This spring I will again offer a class in beginning quilting using pre-cuts.  You will learn piecing, quilt construction (including a short-cut or two), machine quilting, and binding. Class size ~ 2 .
Cost - $50.00 includes  4 hours of class time, Charm pack of your choice, pattern.
Vintage Print Quilt Wallhanging
    Make a wallhanging that incorporates vintage prints as part of the piecing.  Come by the shop to see the prints to choose from. Class size - 2
Cost - $20.00 for the class, plus materials.
Quilted Bag
     Make a simple quilted bag in a variety of sizes to choose from using pre-cuts and yardage. Class size - 2
Cost - $20.00 plus supplies

Knots with Sticks
    Learn to knit - learn how to cast on, knit, purl, and bind off.  You will begin work on a scarf as your first project.  
Cost - $15.00 plus supplies, or bring your own yarn and needles. 
Knitted Hat       
    Do you already know how to knit, but every relative now has a scarf and you are ready to move on to the next step?  Learn how to make a hat, using either circular or straight needles.  
Cost - $15.00 plus supplies (or bring your own).
Knitting Cables
    Learn how to knit cables to add interest and design to your hats and scarves. This class is for knitters who already have a working knowledge of the two basic stitches and know how to cast on and bind off.
Cost - $15.00 plus supplies or bring your own.
Knitting Lace
    Knitting lace is simply a matter of counting, increasing, and decreasing, but looks like so much more!  Learn to knit lace and create a neck-warmer in the process.
Cost - $15.00 plus supplies or bring your own.
Knitting from a Chart
    Interested in knitting from a chart, but just a little timid?  Come by and learn how to read a chart for a simple lace pattern and knit a hat using that pattern.  Pre-requisites: basic knitting skills (knit, purl, cast-on)
Cost - $15.00 plus supplies or bring your own.
Come by The Quilted Purl to see the class samples and to register.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Looking for Yarn in All the Wrong Places

My husband, his sister, her husband, and I just returned from a terrific trip to Europe.  We started with a 14 day cruise across the Atlantic with ports-of-call in the Azores, Scotland, Ireland, England, and France.  Then we returned to Ireland for a 10 day road trip, then on to Belgium, and flying home from Brussels.  Since my sister-in-law is also a quilter, knitter, and former teacher, we were never short of topics of conversation and were both eager to see the yarn and fabric shops of the places we visited. My hope was to purchase locally produced yarn wherever we could.  Sheep greatly outnumbered the population in most of the areas we visited, so I was expecting to see yarn shops everywhere!  Not so!

At our first port-of-call, Porta Delgada in the Azores, we finally located one shop that sold yarn but it was all acrylic from Portugal, so we both passed.  Though we saw sheep throughout the Scottish Highlands, there was no yarn to be had in the small village we visited.  Guess we would have to have gone to Edinburgh for that.  Next trip!

The next port-of-call was right up our alley.  Avoca,  a small village in County Wicklow, Ireland is home to the Avoca Mill, a wonderful place to visit.  Some of the most beautiful woven Irish wool is produced here and visitors are able to watch the process.  The weather was fairly crisp, so buying a lovely scarf seemed like a practical idea.  Enjoy the pictures!  More tomorrow or the next day on our search for locally produced yarn.