The Final NIFA – Flotta

I came home from GanseyFest on Monday with ‘extras’ – some of the folk for my final NIFA ever!  Anna K, Maddy and Byron had been at GanseyFest and flew up on the same plane.  Then in Kirkwall we met Simone, an Orkney friend who was cooking for us.  (I bribed her with use of the drum carder…!!)  The final member of the group, Anna S, came on Tuesday.

Maddy was wanting to perfect her knitting technique and to design and swatch for a gansey for Byron, while the others wanted to take their spinning further.  Byron was there to be measured (!) and was intending to walk.  However, the weather at the beginning of the week was foul and he ended up helping Simone in the kitchen (so allowing her even MORE time on the drum carder!!).

We arrived on the island in torrential rain and a certain amount of wind.  But that did not deter us!  It was not long before we were sorting out wheels for some and trying spindle spinning for others.  Anna had done a bit of spinning in the spring but not much.  So she and Maddy chose their colour of Shetland top and were soon producing good threads.  Simone, of course, started playing with the drum carder!

Tuesday morning saw Simone drum carding fleece, Anna getting started on the wheel and Maddy starting to design and chart the shoulder straps for the gansey.  Her ‘local’ gansey is the Appledore frock, and it is mainly plain with interesting shoulder straps.  Byron is a seaman and she wanted to reproduce his epaulettes in cables.  She had never crossed a stitch before, but soon got the hang of it!

In the afternoon Anna joined us and all but Maddy had a dyeing session.  For Anna S and Simone it was something they had done before but for Anna K it was new.  We dyed sock yarn, tops and various breeds of fleece for use later in the week.


That evening we had a session over in the Community Centre with various islanders.  The weather was still foul but there were a good number in the room, most making a stitch marker broach and other items using knitting-related charms.  Others got on with their other fibre work. All had a good laugh (we do a lot of that on Flotta)…  And I forgot to take my camera.

Wednesday was more work on the chosen projects.  As there were so many of us, and my house is so small, I had thought we would be based in the self catering house where everyone was staying, but somehow we ended up staying working in my house.  It was a tight fit, but we managed!

On Thursday the weather improved and after an intense morning’s work we went sight seeing in the afternoon.  First we went round West Hill to see the penguins and guns….

…. then on towards Stanger Hill to the Buchanan Battery.  I stopped the car there for us to have a look at a beautiful rainbow…

… and when we got back in the car refused to start.  Fortunately Anna K had her phone with her and we were able to phone the lovely Kenny Gee who very kindly sent his wife (the equally lovely demon cake maker Phyllis) to take the passengers back home while he turned up with his truck to have a look to see if there was an obvious fault…

… and as there was not, to give us a tow.  I have never towed before so the lovely Byron sat in the driving seat and did the difficult bit.  We all got back in the end, and the car behaved perfectly on Friday and today (although I was careful not to stop once started!)

Meanwhile, back at the house, the drum carder was in constant use.  Both Annas and Simone were using it to blend different fibres and colours to give interesting batts.  Sometimes these were smooth, and sometimes textured.

Maddy was working away at her gansey design, perfecting her should straps, working out the different tensions etc etc.  She also practised other techniques like picking up stitches.

Once that was finished, she did some more spindle spinning, and we finally persuaded her to try making her own batt.  And as they say, one is never enough..!!!

Now we are on North Ronaldsay – but that is a different story!


7 thoughts on “The Final NIFA – Flotta

  1. What an interesting week you are all having best of luck for the rest of the last NIFA trip.
    Patricia in New Zealand

  2. I always enjoy looking over your shoulder, as it were! So interesting! BTW, who was the maker of your drum carder?

  3. I was once in a car that mysteriously refused to start after I stopped it. After a wait of about an hour, it mysteriously started again. The cause was an alternator (if I recall correctly) that overheated and would only let the car start when it was cool. It was a simple and comparatively cheap repair.

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