Thursday, 19 May 2016

From Arraiolos to Evora to Castelo de Vide to Guarda to Covilha

It's Friday morning and I'm writing from Guarda in the northern interior of Portugal where the landscape is much more rugged than the rolling planes that we drove through from Lisbon to Evora in the South. Here is a picture from our hotel window in Guarda, which, despite the pastoral scene in front of us, is built in the middle of a relatively large city on the side of a mountain. There's a horse grazing by one of the roads at the bottom of the picture who seems to be perfectly happy to coexist with the traffic going by.

On Tuesday morning we left Lisbon for Arraiolos (the final s is pronounced like the s in pleasure,)
 What a delightful town, with a stunning museum to the local and revived craft of rug stitching. It is essentially a variation of cross stitch on burlap of traditional oriental patterns. This is mine although it can hardly be considered a rug by virtue of it's 8x11" size.
 On our way to Evora, we stopped for a "health break" beside a park of cork trees, one of the symbols of Portugal. This is a picture of a branch that has not been harvested. Up to 75% of the bark is harvested every 9 years from the main part of the tree.




Evora is stunning city, a UNESCO Heritage site for it's walled fortifications and the Roman ruins of the Temple to Diana. We also visited the church of St Francis which took 103 years to build in the 13th Century and featured a richly painted wooden statue of Mary when she was pregnant with Jesus. (I do hope I have my facts right - after a couple of days of nonstop touring, details do become a bit fuzzy).

On Wednesday, we made our way north to Castelo de Vide. What a treat to walk through the centuries of living history. A large Jewish community with the first Synagogue in Portugal was an important feature of the tour, leaving very distinctive remnants of their passing through although most were forced to convert to Christianity, taking on family names from Nature which are still present to this day..

 Castelo de Vide is the town where we were most able to meet and observe people as they have lived for many generations. These folks are passing the time in front of the house at the foot of the ramparts of the castle.






 How fun! As we got off the bus in Castelo de Vide we found this tree which had been yarn bombed by meters of fashion scarf knitted of what is often called "ladder" yarn for it's construction of squares held together by 2 threads on either side.
 Thursday brought us to Covilha, in the mountainous wool region.
Here is our guide from the University's museum of wool production. What a stunning blend of ancient tradition and new ideas.
 THEN came the roller coaster part of our journey as we crossed over the mountains via switchback roads that led us through the national park area, well above the tree line to a landscape that featured boulders the size of a small house strewn across the territory by glaciers. For those who have read Yann Martel's latest book, The High Mountains of Portugal, THIS is the geography where part 3 takes place.

Our final visit was to the world class Burel factory where traditional wool spinning, weaving, dyeing and fulling meet new, fashion forward designers for creations that can be found everywhere from the walls of the new Microsoft offices to classic throw blankets on the lounge chairs of discerning customers. Here we have wooden footstools covered to look like a mama sheep and her baby lamb.


That's all for now, I'll be back next week to finish up.
Anne

Monday, 16 May 2016

Lisbon Days 1-2,


Greetings from Lisbon, Portugal on this 4th KnitTraders European Fibre and Knitting tour and I'm here to share  some of what we have been up to. We arrived on Sunday morning at 6:40am local time, but 1:40am our time - to be greeted by the longest Customs line up I have ever seen in my life. Likely well over 1 000 people waiting to go through security, slowed down immeasurably due to a job action by the customs officers union. Never mind. We were soon on the road, with a day of discovering Lisbon ahead of us. Above is a detail picture of an exquisite button from a 16th Century man's waistcoat backed by the richest silk embroidery on the fabric surrounding the button hole. At Lisbon's Costume Museum, housed in a country home including  the acres of surrounding gardens in the centre of the city were such a treat. These country homes became principal residences of the wealthy families after the earthquake of 1755 destroyed and seriously damaged the central city homes of these families. 
Making our way to the hotel we saw these stunning walkways. Lisbon boasts some of the most beautiful sidewalks in the world. Basalt (black stone) and sandstone are everywhere in stunning designs throughout the squares all over the city. 

On to these sidewalks and through every street in the vicinity of our hotel poured tens of thousands of local fans  on this Sunday night as local football (soccer) favourites, BENFICA, won their division championship to move on to the finals...(go Raptors, too). The police lined up their motorcycles in front of our hotel, and security/paddywagons were everywhere.  3 layers of security checks per entrance to the stadium kept things relatively safe, but fireworks going off randomly well into the night did create an uneasy feeling. All very exciting.

First thing Monday morning we had a most scrumptious time learning to create traditional Portuguese pastries. We were greeted at 10am with a choice of beverages including wine - all very continental. And the pastries were delicious and deceptively simple to make. Diane and Karen, from Ottawa were rearing to get down to the business of baking.
And here is a sample of one of the recipes, a traditional custard tart that is representative of Portugal all over the world.

The afternoon was spent discovering a local knitting shop at the top of a delightfully darkened stairway. RETROSARIA, owned by Rosa Pomar who we were to meet with later in the afternoon, and staffed by wonderful Philippe, was a real treat. Yarns from all over the world including several lines designed by Rosa herself, using locally sourced fibres were available and bought up by all who made it to the top of the stairs
After an afternoon of shopping and hill/mountain climbing to the Castle Sao George, we returned to the hotel for a workshop in the Portuguese style of knitting. Rosa Pomar is the Doyenne of knitting in Portugal, having written the definitive book on traditional techniques and the history of the craft. She is also a great teacher; and along with her friend and helper, Zelia,  we all learned the technique of creating tension in the yarn by hooking it through a "knitting pin" attached to the left shoulder, as Ginger is doing above, or by wrapping it around the neck as Rhonda, one of our KnitTraiders  blog contributors and teachers, is doing below. It was a thrill made even more special by the appearance of Rosa's precious 3 month old, Augusto - and husband, Ricardo too of course.

Dinners each night of the trip are provided by the hotels where we are staying, and long  evening chats over a glass of wine, with some knitting in hand are just the ticket for the end a busy and exquisite day.

Check back later in the week (probably Thursday) to see what we've been up to as we pass through the regions of Evora and Guarda.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Just a few more sleeps to Portugal

It's here! The trip that we've been planning since January 2015 has finally arrived. 33 knitters (and 4 hubbies/partners) are setting off on Saturday, the 14th from Pearson airport to arrive in Lisbon on Sunday 6:35am!

As well as Kingston, participants are coming from Alberta, New Brunswick, Pennsylvania,Toronto and Ottawa areas to join in the fun. Follow us here on this blog until May 23rd when we head back to Canada. I'll be posting every few days about what we've seen (and eaten, and experienced) as we make our way through Portugal from Lisbon to Evora, to Garda, to Porto.

And don't forget about our 2017 tour to the northern part of Ireland, tentatively scheduled for September. We've just finalized the itinerary and are awaiting confirmation and pricing. You too can join us for one of these delightful experiences with other crafters and friends. To get on the email list to receive further information about Ireland 2017, contact Pam Franklin at Marlin Travel.

Anne

Monday, 1 February 2016

Rhichard Devrieze - Indie dyer, coming to KnitTraders


Mark your calendars everyone - Saturday March 5th from 1-4pm, 
is very proud to welcome Rhichard Devrieze, the creative mind behind these beautiful yarns. 

Fibre artist and master dyer, Rhichard Devrieze began his career about twenty-five years ago, when he first became interested in hand-spinning yarn and importing and selling fleeces of foreign breeds of sheep.  When he and his partner purchased a flock of merino sheep, Rhichard took up hand-weaving and got into the production of one-of-a-kind coats, jackets, vests, scarves, mitts, and twice-woven rugs, including the hand-dyeing of some of the yarns used in these creations.  That lead to his association with Koigu, quickly becoming their principal dyer.
In 2011, Rhichard and his partner started their own company so that Rhichard could pursue his passion for creating new colourways using carefully selected yarns produced by the best mills, working with designers keen to use his products, and engaging with knitters directly through social media sites and visits to stores carrying his yarns.  

At KnitTraders, we regularly carry Rhichard's Peppino, pictured above in the Stippled colours. 
 But for this special event, he will be bringing with him a selection of colourways in all 3 lines of the Yarns of Rhichard Devrieze. There will be mini-skeins for customers to knit up swatches, as well as  yarn that can be sold exclusively during this special event. In addition, we will get to see sample garments and projects from these magnificent yarns, and patterns will also be available.

 Link to Rhichard's website to see more of the 3 featured yarns:
 Peppino (superwashed merino yarn, fingering weight, in 225 yard skeins),sturdy enough for magnificent socks.
Phantom (superwashed, superfine merino yarn, fingering weight, in 225 yard skeins) for stunning shawls and scarves
Fynn (superwashed merino yarn, worsted weight, in 175 yard skeins) for everything that you can imagine in a medium weight yarn.

 Browse through the 3 magnificent dye styles available in each of these yarns:

Let your fingers and your digital device do the prep work to take part in this special event.
1. Check out and choose your favourite yarns and colourways from the website.
2. Email KnitTraders (shop@knittraders.com) to RSVP.
3. Give us some idea of what yarns and colourways you would like Rhichard to bring for us to sample. 
4. If you know what yarns you would like to purchase in advance, please email us your order and we'll be sure to have Rhichard put some aside to bring to you.

BRING YOUR NEEDLES AND YOUR SENSE OF FUN and join us for an afternoon of knitting, crochet and yarn tasting.    

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Further Results of the Working Bee - Jan 23rd, 2016

I continue to be amazed at the donations that we are receiving every day. About 10 days ago a lady brought in a large bag of knitted items that she said was “just from a group of knitters”. When we got to sort it on Saturday, we discovered over 100 pairs of mittens of all different children’s sizes plus a huge assortment of other knitted goods. Another women had purchased one of our Thrum Mitten Kits and kindly brought the completed mittens in last week for the donation basket. The batch of donations that we sorted on the weekend even included blankets received from a wonderful group of afghan crocheters in Sedona, Arizona, going to the extra effort and expense to ship them to us here in Canada. You are all wonderful.
When I was presenting our work to the meeting of Private Sponsor Refugee Groups a couple of weeks ago, I boldly (yet with fingers crossed) announced that we were aiming to receive 1 000 donations of handcrafted accessories and blankets to offer the Syrian refugees coming to Kingston. At the time it seemed hard to comprehend what 1000 donations could look like, and where would they all come from?
Well with a drum roll, I’m here to announce that as of Saturday’s count we have 601 articles donated and ready for distribution. And that does not yet include more that we know will be arriving from Lindsay ON later in the week, and another batch from NY, nor does it count the 30 or so blankets that we didn’t have time to finish processing on Saturday. All this to say that it’s a safe bet that we will be needing another sorting day in a couple of weeks and that we are very likely to reach our goal of 1 000 donations, and beyond.
Next Sorting Get Together is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 6th from 1-3pm but please remember to RSVP to avoid disappointment as we can only take so many willing hands.
 THANKS TO ALL WHO HAVE CONTRIBUTED.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Donations pouring in...Keep 'em coming

Just an update to let you know how things are going for the  Kingston Stitches for Syrians campaign.
We've had an unbelievable response from the local community, which was to be expected as the Kingston area crafters really do seem to step up to support any of the causes that we've shared with them in the past. But more suprisingly,  via internet connections, we will also be receiving donations from 4 American crafting groups and a group from Lindsay ON.

Last week we had a visit from Mandy Marciniak from the Kingston Heritage newspaper and she wrote an excellent article about the project. We're hoping that this spreads the word even more to help us meet our target of 1 000 hand knitted items that we can hand over to the folks at the Kingston Immigration Partnership who are coordinating donations.

Hats for children and adults seem to be the most popular donations but we still need a good number of all articles: mitts, scarves and neck warmers, socks and slippers, Izzy dolls, sweaters and blankets.

Last Saturday we had our first of 2 (or maybe 3) working Bees to label and package the knitted donations we've received. We had 4 super workers (I would never call them drones) who helped out with sorting and bagging. Thanks a million to Gail, Cheryl, Amelia and her Mom (sorry, didn’t get your name).
We processed and bagged a total of 242 donations  with another 22 blankets left to go with the next group.  In fact the system and the workers who made it happen were so efficient that we decided that it would best to move the next Working Bee until Sat. Jan. 23rd with another one in early Feb. if necessary.
If you wish to join us, please RSVP as more than 5 people working around the tables would be cumbersome. Keep those donations coming in.
We are hoping to have the bulk of the donations received by the end of January but will certainly continue to accept until the end of February (with an extra day this year too!)
We’ll be dropping off our first load on Wednesday, Jan. 13th when we  meet with the Kingston Immigration Partnership. We're hoping to have a more precise idea if anything else is required after that. We’ll keep you posted.


Thanks for all the support so far. 
Anne (for Jean and Sally, too) 

Friday, 27 November 2015

KINGSTON STITCHES FOR SYRIANS

 FLASH NEWS BULLETIN about upcoming events

For the next 3 Saturdays in January, KnitTraders will be hosting a good old fashioned Tea and Working Bee, on Jan. 9th, 16th and 23rd from 1-3pm
ALL ARE WELCOME to share a cuppa and goodies and get help finishing up your projects to be donated to Kingston Stitches for Syrians, or assist us in sorting, labeling and packaging the donations that we’ve already received.
RSVP to KnitTraders 613 384 3951 or shop @ knittraders dot com

 


This is Omar (6) and one of his little sisters, Noor (8 months) who are among the lucky family who are being sponsored by the Four Rivers Presbytery Chapter of Save A Family From Syria.

According to the report from CBC, the Kingston area is getting ready to receive 600 refugees from Syria within the next few months who will all need to be welcomed with warm clothes and well as warm intentions. Several crafting businesses and organizations in our general area are pleased to be participating in the KINGSTON STITCHES FOR SYRIANS campaign to collect hats, mitts, scarves and neck warmers, socks/slippers, toys and blankets to offer these newest members of our community.

We are calling all knitters, crocheters, weavers, and sewers who would like to contribute to this collection to read the following guidelines carefully to make the most efficient use of resources during this challenging yet extraordinarily valuable effort.

We ask that all donations be new and have some handmade touch to them.

Although Syrians practice a variety of religions, the dominant religion is Muslim/Islam so please avoid imagery on clothing.

Fiber requirements:
Hats, cowls & mittens: blends of wool and acrylic are best with more wool if possible.
Blankets: ideally machine washable yarns.
Toys & Slippers: machine washable yarns, please!

Please attach a completed donation tag noting the garment type, and age/size (adult, teen, child, infant). You may wish to attach a ball band from your yarn stating fibre content and washing instructions, or you can write these on the tag. Also include your first name only and a general message  of welcome if you wish.

Place your donation in a clear ziploc bag with the donation tag visible for easy sorting and distribution.

Drop your donation off at KnitTraders 725 Gardiners Rd. or at Minotaur Games and Gifts at 78 Princess. Other drop off points in the area are Rosa’s Cafe in Bath and at The Wool Shed, Topsy Farms on Amherst Island

Share pictures and comments about your donation at the 1000 Stitches for Syria Ravelry Group page (on the Kingston thread), or on our Ravelry Group page.

Please share this project with friends and neighbours of the crafting persuasion who would like to participate. Remember, no donation is too small or too big, whether it's a small beginners' scarf or a family sized afghan - we need them all.
For more information please email kingstonstitches2015@gmail.com