Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Only Wool on a Sheep-Infested Island

OK my knitting friends, let me tell you this once and once only:  there is no wool to buy on Skye in March!
There are no cafes, no restaurants and no castles*.
There are sheep.  There is rain.  It is beautiful and romantic... but if you want tourism, you are too early.  Go away and come back in April, after Easter.  And don't leave it too late, as it all closes down again in September.
Loud enough for you?
Dunvegan?  Closed.  Shilasdair?  Closed.  Teos Handspun?  Closed.
This is a lesson I ought to have learned on previous "spring breaks", but when my dear FL asked me to book a holiday asap, while the going is relatively good, and asked for it to be on Skye, I didn't argue.  I love the West Coast.

The above, violently lemon skein of handspun goodness, is all I could find to spend my money on in an "art and craft" shop.  (Don't worry, I have a plan for it... and it doesn't involve Easter chicks, tempting though it may seem.)  There was Rico Creative Galaxy, Sirdar Click, and some pastel acrylic baby stuff, but a sock or sweater's worth of actual baa-ing wool?  Forget it.  I asked the shop owner and she was sorry, but she was definitely the only wool-seller in town.

Luckily I brought my own supplies...

Today I tried to learn to knit two socks on one circular needle, top down. 
With thanks to an amazing fast broadband connection (which I don't have at home), I watched several online video tutorials and after two hours of study and swearing, I managed to achieve the lower, correct version of the cast on. 

But as you can see, there is an ominous loop of loose yarn between the two sides of each sock.  The upper photo, which shows my first disastrous attempt, demonstrates the root of my problem.  That Addi Lace circular is too short and has a mind of its own. It pulls apart the two sides, however hard I try to resist.  Sproiiiiing!

I consulted the good women of the Yarn Yard group on Ravelry, where Natalie is learning 2AAT toe-up, and the verdict was clear:  wrong needles, Roo!  Sigh.  I'll try again another day.  Probably using a supersoft drapey Knitpro cable, like the one for my Kex Blanket.

 But my Betula sock is going really well - I love it!

And the Kex Blanket is getting exciting, as more colours make their appearance - yay!


OK, I exaggerated.  The castles are still there, you just can't get through the locked gates to look at them.
And The Caledonian Cafe is open for business as usual, just try not to time your arrival to coincide with the school lunch-hour or you will be queuing for your chips alongside the local yoofs... ask me how I know?!
It's just like home from home!


Valerie said...

No wool shops open No! I bought the most beautiful multi coloured wool on Skye and knitted a scarf while on tour of the Highlands and I am not much of a knitter.
I hope that Scotland is working it's restorative magic on you and FL, It's a special place.

Pam said...

I think there's something nice about being on 'the west' when everything's closed... as long as you remember to bring your own flask & chocolate biscuits!

I hope FL is improving - could yesterday's lack of energy be due to the infection & antibiotics? I do hope so.

I love seeing your Kex Blanket developing!

MrsAlex said...

I called Shilasdair when we were on Skye for Christmas years ago and they opened just for me. Of course, it would have been rude not to buy anything in the circumstances ...

Mary in TN said...

Roo, I always do two socks at a time on 1 circular needle and have found that cable flexibility and length are key to 2AAT. I don't usually cast both socks onto 1 needle at the start though. My method is to start each cuff on separate needles that are a size larger than what is called for to meet gauge. I work 3-4 rows of the cuff pattern, and then transfer one of the socks to the needle of the other sock (yeah, I just stuff it onto the needle) and knit the next row (both socks on one needle) onto a smaller sized needle and continue with the cuff pattern. This ensures the sock cuff is not too tight on my (somewhat heavy) calves. I change to a needle one to two sizes smaller than the cuff needle size to work the heel flap, heel, gusset decreases, foot and toe. This makes a nicely snug sock with sufficient padding for my feet. But recently, for my hubbies socks, I have been considering going slightly smaller on the heel/gusset/foot needles or using the same size needle but adding another strand of yarn only for the toes. Why? He is the only person I know who can make holes on both sides of the toe of the same sock after a single wearing! This has occurred on regular street shoes in addition to the work boots he uses at work and my knitted toes are always pretty snug when they are initially knit. Its either the knitting mystery of the decade, or he has kryptonite toenails- not sure which! LOL. Glad you found some yarn in Skye. The bright yellow color brings to mind summer flowers and lemons. Very nice to think of on a cold east TN mountain evening when snowflakes are furiously falling.

beate grigutsch said...

I am very curious what you would do in the yellow!
This island sounds wonderful for me. I love this wild solitude.
that FL could enjoy it so little I'm really sorry. you two are so brave!

Helen said...

We very nearly encountered the same thing, as we went to Skye in the last week of Sept last year, so only just "made it".

And several years ago discovered to our cost, that *nothing* is open in Oban in January!

Ah well. The scenery is still there! And at least you have something to knit! Hope you are enjoying it!

acharmofmagpies said...

That is very yellow! Can't wait to see what you make from it. And those socks - exquisite.