Monday, July 30, 2012


A gorgeous thistle
Stopped at Red Skye Restaurant, a lovely cafe a few miles past the Skye Bridge on the Isle of Skye.

The table was adorned with a two flowers in a vase.

Reminded me of
Wolle's Color Changing Cotton.

Oh, and the food was excellent!

Beauty and no beasts,

Reah Janise
Shawlette I knit from Wolle's Color Changing cotton

Saturday, July 28, 2012

MADE IN SCOTLAND (and over the Atlantic)

First of the pair completed in Inverness.
Second one completed over the Atlantic on the return flight.
Click here for pattern.
Close up of the pattern stitch. Click here for pattern.
I wouldn't be much of a knitter if I didn't take a project along with me whenever I travel. Socks are the easiest to travel with because the project doesn't take up too much space. My only problem is that I inevitably drop a needle on the airplane floor or between the seat cushions or in some other weird area. My beleaguered husband then frets while I try and retrieve the needle or cable hook or whatever little piece of equipment for which I am on the hunt.

After dropping needles twice on the recent trip to Scotland and (oh no!) breaking one of the wooden double pointed needles (the first ever!) (yeah for that extra needle), I have decided that the next pair of socks will be made with two circular needles. Then hopefully the worst I can do is drop a cable hook or a stitch.

Meanwhile, I started and finished a pair of socks for my dear husband on the Great Scottish Yarn Expedition of 2012. Even better, I've posted the pattern should you want to knit a pair for yourself or some other lovely person.

I'm now finishing the sweater I'd started before this trip. One last sleeve to go!

Happy knitting-ing!

Reah Janise

Saturday, July 21, 2012


The Expedition turned up some lovely yarns, as featured on previous pages, but now it's time to get a better look at these lovelies. 
The Expedition's Treasures
Scappo Aran, Shetland Wool from KI Yarn Boutique, Edinburgh
Multi-color hand-dyed Orkney wool from K1 Yarn Boutique, Edinburgh 
Natural color (yum!) North Ronaldsay wool, Kirkwall
Shilasdair natural dye, Skye Shilasdair Yarn Shop, Waternish, Isle of Skye
Shilasdair natural dye, Skye Shilasdair Yarn Shop, Waternish, Isle of Skye
A lovely, lovely place.

Time to create!

Reah Janise


Sunday, July 15, 2012


Entrance to the Skye Shilasdair Shop
If you ever find yourself in the highlands of Scotland, do try and take time to visit The Skye Shilasdair Shop, the last shop on my "yarn tour." It takes a little effort to get to, but it will be so very well worth the drive. This shop is nestled in the scenic croft lands of Waternish peninsula on the Isle of Skye, surrounded by breathtaking views of the Hebrides, rolling green hills, and the sparkling blue waters of the Little Minch and Loch Dunvergan.

After miles of one-lane roads (with pullovers to let oncoming traffic pass), we turned onto an even more one-lane road with sheep pastures on either side, left onto a gravel drive where two women stepped aside to let us through, and into the parking lot. As I got out of the car I met a woman who was carrying large cones of recently--and beautifully--dyed yarn. While we didn't know it then, this was the woman who owned the croft. She takes the fleece through the entire process of combing, drawing out the yarn, spinning it, and finally dyeing.

The Skye Shilasdair Shop entrance
Shilasdair is the Gaelic name for the Flag Iris, an ancient dye plant. The specialty of this croft and the yarns sold here is that it is the only place in all of the United Kingdom using the ancient process of dyeing yarn--and it is totally organic. The dyes come from moss, lichen, and flowers, some of which are grown in the crofter's garden, others which are collected from the area.
When you walk into the shop, you are met with an array of vibrant colors emanating from the various yarns and originally designed and hand-knit sweaters. They also have gloves, scarves, and knitting kits.

Me with an armful of yarn
There are half a dozen homes in the area, mostly crofters, and you hear only the waves, wind, and birds. It felt like a place of respite and peace, and I wanted to move in and start knitting. 

I was a bit surprised by the number of people coming through the shop during the time I was visiting. Perhaps some, like me, were drawn to check out this unique shop, despite the remote location.

They sell camel (incredibly soft), blends (cashmere, angora, and lambs wool), silk blends, cotton, and, 100 percent Scottish wool. I selected two colors of the Scottish wool for sweater making. 

Quite satisfied, we headed back to Portree. I left the driving to my dear husband Hadan, who has gotten the hang of driving from the right side of the car on the left side of the highway, ... and one-lane roads!


Reah Janise
The crofter's home and garden

Thursday, July 12, 2012


We've just checked into our hotel in Portree on the Island of Skye ... and the sun is shining and there's barely a cloud in the sky! Beautiful country around here. Skye boasts of mountains, formed from volcanoes. People vacation here to hike, bike, sail, and simply bask in the beauty and quiet. We'll soon be joining in doing our own walking.

The finished sock

Close up
Meanwhile, just to keep this blog on topic, last night I finished the first of two of a pair of socks for Hadan. Socks are an easy knitting project to take while traveling. And this time, I've actually written down the pattern, which I'll post when we return.

But I almost didn't keep the sock. On the bus ride back from the Orkney Islands on Tuesday, I pulled out my knitting. The woman across the aisle from me oohed over the stitch. When I told her it was socks, she volunteered that she was a size 7 and quite rightly pointed out that it would be quicker to finish for her than for my husband who obviously took a larger size. I promised if I finished by the time we got to Inverness I'd give it to her. Alas for her, the trip wasn't long enough.

OK, time to check out the city and hiking trail.

Reah Janise

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


At Inverness Castle overlooking the River Ness
(yep, it's lovely)
Picking up some undyed (isn't this a gorgeous brown!)
 North Ronaldsay yarn in Kirkwall, 12 Victoria Street.
Here we are in Inverness, a lovely city in the highlands of Scotland. The River Ness is just a couple of blocks away, as is the city center. The city is very civilized with two close pedestrian walkways across the river along with two bridges for cars (and people).

We spent Monday exploring and doing a lot of walking. The temp never got beyond 56 degrees Fahrenheit and it was windy. Had I had the right set of needles, I might have knit myself a hat!

Unfortunately knitting does not seem to be much of a creative outlet here. I had read some blogs before we left and one woman had said her mother was trying to revive knitting in the area. Her store was short lived and the one we found was a bit of a disappointment.

However, yesterday we toured the Orkney Islands and I found a luscious brown wool, undyed. It all came from the same sheep. This flock lives on North Ronaldsay, the northernmost of the Orkneys, and they graze on seaweed. I'm thinking something along the lines of a jacket. Yummy.

This afternoon we'll start looking for Nessie. (here girl!)


Reah Janise

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Outside of K1 Yatrns in Edinburgh 
Getting ready to purchase
Greetings from Scotland!

My husband, Hadan, and I have escaped the 100 degree temps in Washington, DC in exchange for 57 degrees and rain. ... And that's OK with us.

I've been anticipating this vacation (celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary) and the opportunity to check out some Scottish yarn. (Even though my stash is groaning under its own weight.) Bu how can a knitter travel to Scotland and not buy yarn?

We only had one full day scheduled in Edinburgh -- and there's so much to see and do. We'd checked out places ahead of time and I found a yarn shop that was in the area, just off the Royal Mile in the City Centre.

K1 Yarns Knitting Boutique is located at 89 West Bow, a street about two blocks long. It's not the easiest street to find, so if you are ever in the area just be persistent because it's worth it. K1 stocks some lovely Scottish yarns.

The staff person was kntting socks (yeah!) and was very helpful and sweet. Unfortunately I forgot to get her name.

Anyway, since we are going to two other cities in Scotland, I had to discipline my fingers and only purchased two kinds of yarn, a royal blue for a sweater, and a multi for a shawl. The multi comes from the Orkney Islands and is a special hand-dye.

Despite the rain, drizzle, wind, and cool weather, it was a great day.


Reah Janise

Thursday, July 5, 2012


In an earlier blog, I talked about my introduction to knitting socks (so cool!). There was so much to share that I had to stop and save the rest for another time.

Red Lace socks for women
So today I’ll talk about needles and the importance of the first row.

I used my grandmother’s metal double-pointed knitting needles at first, perhaps getting some knitting effluvia from them while sending her happy thanks. But I found them a bit slippery. I knit loose. My grandmother was a very tight knitter. I remember watching her force her needles into stitches. That’s not me. So, the metal needles sometimes led to “Gah! My stitches fell off!” and the painstaking effort of getting them back on. (Sadly, reading glasses have become a must when knitting socks, especially with dark yarns.)

I’d been ordering quite a bit of yarn from websites, and came across Knit Picks, which has all sorts of cool accessories along with yarns. I ordered the 6" Harmony Wood Double Pointed Knitting Needle Set. The wooden needles were lovely. Best of all, they kept my stitches on, unless, of course I pulled the wrong needle when finishing a row. Yikes! Argh!
Selection of socks knit for my husband
(some have stretchers in to see the
pattern better)

When, much to my delight, my sister started knitting socks, I ordered a set for her, which she also enjoys.

A slight challenge I encountered on entering the world of sock knitting was that they were often a bit tight to get on, which could lead to tearing—or a frustrated recipient deciding not to wear the socks. (Heaven forbid!) This was due mainly to the first row cast on. My solution has been to knit the first 5 rows on slightly larger needles and then switch to my usual size for the rest of the sock. Since then, no problems getting them on feet … and no tearing!

My sister found another way to alleviate the too-tight first row using a different cast on, which provides for a more elastic first row. It’s called Old Norwegian cast-on. It’s a little tricky at first, but it results in a lovely cast-on row. Illustrations and instructions can be found at Knitting Daily. You can also watch a YouTube.
The only problem I have found with knitting socks is that once I give someone a pair, they love them so much they become regulars on my Christmas gift list. But I so-o-o love to knit them! (So, not really a problem!)

Happy socking,

Reah Janise