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Alex Larkin, participant  on a Joyce James Tour to Scotland
describes the experience:

“I’ve just returned from a trip to Scotland with Joyce James on her Scottish Skeins & Skerries Tour, a trip which I would highly recommend for both knitters and non-knitters. We visited weaving and spinning mills, met with a knitting and spinning guild, saw lighthouses, a farm dating from 1880, circles of standing stones older than Stonehenge or the pyramids as well as various landscapes on both the mainland and isles of Scotland.  Though we did see some puffins and other birds at the Sumburgh Head Lighthouse (Shetlands), further birding was not possible (a trip to Fair Isle &/or a three-hour boat trip in the vicinity of Lerwick both of which are nice when the seas are calm) due to weather. The free time was used doing other things, such as visiting at Jamieson and Smith which produces excellent knitting yarns.

In Edinburgh, optional day trips were arranged, according to requests from the group, and the drivers did a splendid job of making sure we saw lots and were comfortable.  One day we visited a fishing village, St.Andrews, a private garden, and Stirling Castle; and the other we went to the Borders area south of Edinburgh, where we visited Locharron Mills (tartan weaving), ruins of two abbeys, and Traquair House.  A highlight for knitters was having a private lecture and demonstration from Alice Starmore when we were in Lewis & Harris.  I now feel very confident about steeking as a result of her talk.  It was very interesting seeing how she has used her new yarns for some of her older patterns.  In addition to using the patterns for sweaters, it was interesting to see “Henry VIII” knit as a cushion and a Fair Isle patterns used for needlepoint.

One of the most memorable aspects was the people we met, all of whom showed true hospitality and helpfulness wherever we were. The weaving and spinning guild in the Shetlands were waiting for us with excellent home-made baked goods. The mother of our local guide for Lewis & Harris prepared homemade soup as part of a lunch for us.  All local weavers and knitters were always happy to answer any question. On this trip, I took 36 rolls of photos, and came back with baskets, a sweater from the Shetland’s colorist, Wilma Malcolmson, and yarn from several sources which will keep me occupied until I go to Scotland again at which time I hope to have mastered the use of the knitting belt used in the Shetlands.

Food and accommodations were wonderful. Local transportation was always in buses which were roomy.  The group was small (18) which allowed plenty of room in some small exhibitions to see things. Free time allowed each participant to pursue different interests.”

– Alex Larkin

 

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