Posted by: Elizabeth Lovick | August 24, 2014

Granville Swanney

It is with heavy heart I have to tell you that Granville passed away at home on Thursday, after a short illness. Not only is his passing a personal loss for many of us on the island and beyond, Granville was the last person making Orkney wheels in the County.

Granville at his home on Flotta, Orkney

Granville at his home on Flotta, Orkney

I first became aware of Granville’s spinning wheels back in 2003 when I was living on Flotta the first time. I saw a wheel in a friend’s house and asked who made it. I was told Granville, and I knew straight away I wanted one of his wheels! When I have saved up the money, I went to get it, only to find that he had two different styles of wheel. I spent ages deciding before choosing the sloping bed one. A few years later I bought one of his upright wheels.

My upright Orkney wheel made by Granville

My upright Orkney wheel made by Granville

Granville was born in Stromness and from a child, he loved to watch his grannie spin. He was fascinated both by the wheel, and by the way his grannie’s hands worked with the wheel to make a shock of fleece into a smooth thread. Unlike many boys of his era, he never minded having to stay in and card the fleece as he watched the wheel turn.

An upright in progress

An upright in progress

It wasn’t until many years later that he made his first wheel. He had been working with wood since he was a boy, but it was when his wife, Jean, became the teacher on the island of North Ronaldsay that he saw a working wheel again. He borrowed one, and made a half size copy “to get the process right”. From then on, he made many wheels, some of which have travelled the world.

A rare sight!  Two sloping bed wheels together - mine and Jane Cooper's

A rare sight! Two sloping bed wheels together – mine and Jane Cooper’s

Granville had two main designs. The upright wheel was based on that wheel from North Ronaldsay, and the sloping bed one was based on his grannie’s. He changed the design of that one “making the bed shorter and altering the angle to make the lines better”.

My first Granville wheel - chosen for its elegant lines.

My first Granville wheel – chosen for its elegant lines.

Despite making wheels, and liking to watch people spin on his wheels, Granville never learnt to spin himself. He didn’t realise that Orkney wheels were different from most wheels, as he had only come across Orkney wheels.

Jane trying her wheel in Granville's house.  Jean's wheel is in the background

Jane trying her wheel in Granville’s house. Jean’s wheel is in the background

Granville was a modest, unassuming man, who like to produce a perfect finished product. Recently he had completed beautiful display cabinets for Flotta’s new Heritage Centre, and had refurbished an old Orkney wheel for the same centre which will be used for demonstrations. In time my two wheels will go to the same centre, so that others will be able to see how he made them.

Old Orkney wheel, originally from Birsay, which was refurbished by Granville

Old Orkney wheel, originally from Birsay, which was refurbished by Granville

Granville’s funeral is at 12.30 on Tuesday, 26th August, here on Flotta. If anyone wants to come I can meet them off the 11.20 boat from Houton.

Granville in his workshop

Granville in his workshop

Posted by: Elizabeth Lovick | August 16, 2014

Dog Blog

I think it is time for some dog photos! I almost always have a camera in my pocket, but sometimes wielding a camera and two leads can be tricky.

The dogs are both good at communicating their wish for a walk. Isla favours the ‘door’ approach….

Dog Blog 1 002

…. while Meg sits in front of me and stares.

Dog Blog 1 001

This one also needs to go in, as it looks as if she was giving me a hint!

Dog Blog 1 003

There is only one place I can let the dogs off the leads – the emergency airstrip. This is completely enclosed, with areas of moorland each side of the tarmac, so they can play as they like and come back when they are ready.

Meg is usually the first back. She is 11, and is definitely a senior dog.

Dog Blog 1 004

Isla runs more and explores more. The typical view of her is this:

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But if you wait you get this:

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The heather is out at present, giving a purple tint to the grasslands.

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The daily walk is to the shore, where at present the thistles are out.

Dog Blog 1 008

Even when they are not expecting a walk, the dogs love to sit at the gate, looking through the struts to see what might be happening in the outside world.

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Once we get down to the shore, Meg is fond of paddling:

Dog Blog 1 010

The nights are drawing in, and so the evening walk is getting darker. We tend to go about 9.30, and I felt it was time the hi-viz coats came out. The first time they went on the dogs were not keen…

Dog Blog 1 011

… but the soon forgot them and were dashing about as usual, looking for rabbits. These blurs are Isla.

Dog Blog 1 012

Dog Blog 1 013

When we got to the shore, I took a pic with the flash, which shows what those coats look like in car headlights. (The leads also have reflective bits in them.)

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Then home to bed for some….

Dog Blog 1 015

Posted by: Elizabeth Lovick | August 7, 2014

Another WW1 Era Knit

Here is a sneaky peek at another couple of patterns which will be in the Centenary Stitches book.

I found the ‘cape’ in one of the Bear brand books from 1918. It was knitted in ‘rabbit wool’, now known as angora. So I had a friend knit it up in Rowan Angora Haze.

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Aileen knitted the cape and the hat, and sent them to me to sew up and finish. When I took the cape out of the envelope it looked a mess – I wish I had taken a photo of it! But as soon as I added the fringe and the crochet buttons, the piece was transformed. The cape weighs nothing, and is surprisingly warm on the shoulders.

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The band of the hat is knitted first, then the stitches for the crown are picked up along one edge. The clever bit is the way the seam is gathered and folded as the buttons are added.

The hat can be worn with the buttons to the side….

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… or to the back….

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…. or to the front.

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There has been some bad publicity about angora yarns, but reputable yarn companies like Rowan know their fibres and do not use fibre from suspect sources. It is well known in the luxury fibre world that unhappy animals produce bad quality fibre, and such fibre will only find its way into cheap yarns. But if you don’t want to use angora, then the patterns will work with other 4 ply/fingering yarns.

Posted by: Elizabeth Lovick | July 27, 2014

A Preview of Something I have been Working on…!

As you probably know, I have been working on the costuming of the film Tell Them of Us. We have been translating old patterns from the era to knit for the cast.

In addition, Pauline Loven, the person in charge of the project, asked me to design couple of patterns to be given away at the exhibition and on line.

Pauline and I wanted the patterns to be typical of the period, but also something which would be worn today, and we decided on a matching hat and scarf, and a shawl.  More about the shawl at a later date, but here is the hat and scarf!

Hat and Scarf 2

For the hat and scarf, I took the idea from one pattern and the stitch pattern from elsewhere. I wanted a pattern which was double sided (for the scarf) and this one is both typical of the period and has an interesting ‘wrong’ side.

Hat and Scarf 1

This is sized from toddler to large adult, so there should be a size for everyone!

Hat and Scarf 2

Note that these pix are just working ones!! Pauline and John Bennett will be taking proper ones for the patterns.  And these are the child sized items on my toddler, Wren.

The patterns will be available, free, on-line after the première of the film the second weekend of November.

Hat and Scarf 4

Posted by: Elizabeth Lovick | July 19, 2014

Two New Patterns

These last few weeks I have hardly picked up a ball of yarn. But I have got two magazines patterns ready and on Ravelry.

The first is the Cockleshell Wrap. This was originally in Knit last spring.

Cockleshell wrap 001

The wrap is made of two pieces which are sewn together in an L shape. The wrap can be used like this or the ends can be seamed to form a cowl.

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Cockleshell wrap 002

The L can be worn in various ways, with the point at the front or the back.

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I used J&S 2 ply lace weight, but it could also be knitted in other lace weight yarns.

To buy the Cockleshell Wrap pattern click the button:

The second pattern was in Knit Now about a year ago. This is the Ferns and Flowers Cape.

P1010112 xm

For this, I took stitch patterns from both the Shetland and Estonian traditions.

Fern and Flowers Cape 2

The cape is knitted from the neck down. The body of the piece is quite short, but the lace edging is wide, consisting of several insertions separated by steeks with Fern Lace at the bottom.

P1010112 xm

This is also a lace weight pattern, this time knit up in Debbie Bliss Rialto.

P1010116 sm

To buy the Ferns and Flowers Cape pattern click the button:

Both patterns are sized for child (teen, adult, plus) and have charts and row-by-row instructions.

Posted by: Elizabeth Lovick | July 3, 2014

A Year of Bliss!

I cannot believe I have had my Bliss spinning wheel for more than a year. It only seems like yesterday that the box arrived and we put it together. It spun well straight away, and had been spinning well every since.

This is my first spin on it. (Purists will see that I am spinning the Northern Isles way, with my front hand on top of the thread.)

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Over the past year a good number of folk have spun on it, including a local friend who went on to buy one for herself.

002 Julie and Bliss

Back in the autumn, we had a Bliss day in the village in Wiltshire where my parents live. This was one of the first multi-Bliss wheel meets in the UK!

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So what have I spun on my Bliss? The simple answer is LOTS! It is the one wheel I keep in the house, as it is so easy to spin on quickly without spending ages setting it up.

The first set of yarns I spun was for a lengthways scarf. For this I spun fine singles and a variety of thinner singles, and then plied them in various ways.

004

Some singles were slubby and some smooth, and there are caged yarns, core spun, and Navajo pied yarns.

005

Then I spun up some chunky yarn for a pair of mittens…

006 yarn and wpi gauge

… and some aran weight for a ‘snuggle’.

007

During last year’s Tour de Fleece, I set myself the challenge of spinning 1 kg of aran weight Corriedale for a sweater for my son.

008 TdF 004

And here is the full kg:

009 P1160722

I then spent a bit of time working at the other end of the scale, spinning a fine lace weight yarn from small rolags:

010

011

012

I had some lovely rainbow gradient fibre from Hill Top Cloud, and I spun and Navajo plied that to make a hat:

013 merge_003

014 my yarnetc

I came across a pretty length of fibre which became this yarn:

015 freebie with wpi guide

And so I could go on! But I will finish with one more pic. This shows some of the two ply yarns I have spun with my Bliss over the year – from left to right – lace weight, 3 ply, 4 ply, aran, chunky, and as thick as the orifice will take!

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I still love my Bliss. I still rave about it. It is still my wheel of choice for the vast majority of the spinning I do. And I am very grateful to Woolmakers for giving me the opportunity to own such a super wheel!

(And apologies for the long silence.  First I was chasing deadlines, then more recently I have had to come south as my mother had an accident in the shower.  She is on the mend, but I am here for a bit!)

Posted by: Elizabeth Lovick | May 30, 2014

Scottie Dog Update

I can’t believe I have had the dogs for only three weeks – it seems as if they have been here for ever! They have had their challenging moments, but it is lovely to see them settling in so well and enjoying their new life.

All my neighbours are saying how much weight they have lost already.

Isla then (above) and now

Isla then (above) and now

Meg then (above) and now

Meg then (above) and now

Part of this is actual weight loss, but part is increasing muscle tone. Both dogs enjoy their walks, and simply going out twice a day is having an effect. We usually do one ‘road’ walk……

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…..and one which is more play.

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Most of the time Isla will be running…..

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… and Meg walking!

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Once we get home, both love to rest in the sun if there is any.

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Meg has definitely taken over Scottie’s bed. If Isla does invade, Meg glares at me to get her out!!

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Meg takes any chews or treats to her bed straight away….

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… but Isla walks around the house and garden to find just the right spot!

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As well as making friends with all the neighbours, Isla had made friends with a group of 10 young cows. The first time they met she wasn’t sure, and as the galloped over the field to the fence, she cowered behind me. Very soon, though, she was going over to investigate, and before too long she was touching noses with them through the fence!

12. when Isla met cows sm

Taking pix with two flexi leads isn’t easy, so I took the opportunity of Elly’s recent visit to take some portraits.

Isla:

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Meg:

15. no lead Meg in heather sm

And Elly in the middle with two dogs going in different directions!

13. Elly at full stretch

(If you look closely you can see the tips of two ears and a tail in the ditch!)

Posted by: Elizabeth Lovick | May 13, 2014

Meet Isla and Meg!

On Friday afternoon, we travelled south from Inverness down the A9, through rain to just south of Pitlochry. It was there that we met up with Isla Reid, the rehoming officer for STECS Scottie Rescue. And there that I first met Meg and Isla, the two girls who were to come home with me!

Isla R had sent me photos of the two of them, so I knew what to expect: two very overweight girls, one black and one dark grey brindle, who has recently been clipped. They were in the back of Isla’s Belingo, and weren’t sure whether they wanted to come out!

Isla lifted them down. They weren’t too sure what was happening, but they soon managed to knit their leads!!

Meg and Isla 001

Nick put them in the back of the Fiesta with Nigel while I completed the paperwork with Isla. Then it was back north to Inverness to stay one more night with my friend Ingrid.

Ingrid has a big, fenced garden where we were able to let the dogs off the lead to potter about. I sat and watched their behaviour.

Meg (the brindle) was noticeably more nervous. She didn’t want to come out of the house at first.

Meg and Isla 007

Isla (the black) bounded over the grass, exploring everywhere.

Meg and Isla 004

Then they both discovered the end of the chicken run!!

Meg and Isla 002

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They did not bark or try to get to the birds to chase them, but just stood watching them, fascinated. It did allow me to get good photos showing their present size!

Meg, aged 11

Meg, aged 11

Isla, aged 8

Isla, aged 8

The next morning we set off fairly early. Isla wasn’t sure she wanted to get in the car again, but once in she settled. The journey up was uneventful, and they were not bothered by either of the two ferry journeys.

Once we got home, they were interested in the house, both of them exploring the house and garden. Meg had slept on a bean bag at Ingrid’s, so I had gone to get something similar on my way home. When I saw this one, I HAD to have it!

I put that down, along with Scottie’s old bed and their blankets. Meg tried the new bed first….

Meg and Isla 009

… but decided she preferred Scottie’s old bed! Typically, with a new bed and their two blankets to choose from, Isla chose the floor!!

Meg and Isla 008

Over the past few days, both dogs have been settling down. I have worked out that Meg isn’t just very stubborn and disobedient, but very deaf. She loves food, but doesn’t hear her dish being filled and doesn’t react unless she sees it. So I am keeping her on the lead all the time when out for walks.

Meg and Isla 013

Meg and Isla 014

Isla’s recall is pretty good most of the time, and after the first couple of walks I have let her go off the lead. If she fails to return to me when I call, she goes back on!

Meg and Isla 012

Meg and Isla 016

Both girls are loving the freedom of an open door, with access to the garden, and a slatted gate through which they can watch the world go by!

Meg and Isla 005

They have been introduced to many of the island’s residents, human and canine, and are learning what life is like on a small island. Both do have some issues, which we are addressing gradually. Both are on diets, and Isla is beginning to realise that barking is not acceptable! She is improving – to begin with she was barking at every car which went along the road.

But it is good to have furry beasts in the house again!

Posted by: Elizabeth Lovick | May 7, 2014

On the Road Again!

I am writing from Inverness. On Monday afternoon I got a call from Isla Reid, the East and North of Scotland re-homing officer for STECS Scottie Rescue to say that if I wanted them, she had a pair of Scottie girls I could have. Less than 24 hours later I left Flotta en route south!!

I was the first car on the ferry from Flotta to Mainland Orkney, so I was right up the front of the boat. Another car came on behind, then the artic tried to board. Huge crunching and scraping noises!

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Lorry stopped. Crew looked. Crew radioed up to the bridge. Lorry backed off. Boat turned round. Lorry backed up the pier. We backed down the car deck. Lorry backed onto the boat.

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And off we went!!

I left the car at Houton, and Nick picked me up, and took me to his house before going on. I had a chance to take some pix of his dogs – Bess is 10 and Wobble is 6 months. (She has grown a huge amount since I last saw her!)

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We spent the night at Steve’s place on South Ronaldsay, then this morning, Nick, Nigel and I set off for Inverness. This was taken from the car while waiting to start loading:

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The ferry goes past Stanger Head on Flotta, so I was able to take some pictures of where I often walk!

To Inverness 005

The weather was mainly lovely. The yellow gorse is out at present, making the hillsides very pretty. This was taken at Helmsdale, where we stopped to have something to eat.

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A little further on we stopped at the Clynelish Distillery to get a bottle of their cask strength whisky for Steve.

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Tomorrow we are just shopping etc. Then on Friday we go to collect my new Scotties. Much, MUCH more about them on Sunday once I get home. (We are travelling all day Saturday.)

So instead of Scotties, have a few more pix of Border Collies. Wobble was fascinated by my small camera – she is used to Nick’s big Nikon!!

To Inverness 008

Later, once they had settled down:

To Inverness 009

And later still, a portrait of Wobble:

To Inverness 010

Posted by: Elizabeth Lovick | April 21, 2014

Unravelling a Nineteenth Century Lace Pattern

In my internet travels for the Tell Them of Us film, I came across this shawl:

photo

The lace pattern is also in one of my old Weldon’s leaflets, and seems to be known as Rose Leaf Lace.

Here is the pattern as given:

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So now I have to chart it. When doing this I always start by charting exactly what the pattern says, even if I think there might be errors. The pattern starts with 20 sts, but the first row decreases this to 18, and stays at 18 until the 7th row.

So the first chart is:

bl 01

And knitted up is:

try 1

It is clear that the yarn overs make straight lines, so the next thing is to adjust the chart to allow for this:

bl 02

Which when tidied further becomes this:

bl 03

Here it is easier to see where the mistakes in the pattern are. The yo, k2togtbl, yo in the 7th row should be over the ones in the 5th row:

bl 04

Now it is possible to look at the odd purl bumps dotted about! Looking at the original knitted sample, the odd bumps on the left definitely need to go, and the sets of 3 on the right need looking at:

try 1 marked

So the second sample is:

try 2

Looking at this, the sets of 3 purl bumps on the right shouldn’t be there…..

try 2 marked

…..so the chart is now:

bl 05Getting there!! But the chart isn’t quite right. The 3 separate purl bumps on the left don’t do anything, so they need to go, and the ‘no stitch’ stitch needs to move to the other side of the line of yarn overs:

bl final

And the third sample, knitted from this chart gives:

try 3

Here the purl bumps left in the middle of the leaves do serve a purpose, making the central ‘veins’ more prominent.

try 3 marked

So now I have the modern translation, ready to be written up and knitted into a wrap for the film!

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