Saturday/Sunday 1

Saturday The plan today was to fit the window in our bedroom but the weather forecast was a little off-putting, being for showers and wind from the NW. We opted instead to “potter” around the camper van, checking things and putting it into order. As with most little projects, this one grew and became ever …


Friday 1

The back door is off and the frame  is coming out, though only slowly. Far too slowly, in fact and we may have to find a tarp to close the gap tonight.

I am busying myself with stocking the van and making lists of things we may wish to buy.Thevan2


One of the first things that we need is a sparker for lighting the stove. When we finished our walk yesterday and went back to the van for a brew we found that the stove does not have an auto ignition. We had our picnic at home.

The van at Lopness

The van at Lopness

We did at least have a good walk in the sunshine and the dogs had a great time. Nell travelled on the fixed bed, staying put for the whole journey in both directions. I think she liked both the comfort and the fact that she could see so much through the windows. I had Suzie at my feet, keeping her on a leash to ensure she didn’t get mixed up with the driver’s feet.

Mr L is clearly still a little nervous with the handling and the size on our narrow roads, but a couple more outings should soon sort that out.

The van needs some attention to its electrics and we need to brush up our German reading skills in order to absorb details from the manual but overall I think we got good value. It’s dry and cosy and does not smell, which is probably more than we might have expected at the price. I am far happier with my co-pilot seat than I was at first, though I doubt I’ll enjoy the position on a long flight.

There were some fabulous clouds about


Nell did her thing

Nell did her thing

And Suzie did hers, and Mr L did his by poking his nose into things,

And Suzie did hers, and Mr L did his by poking his nose into things,

which perturbed the Fulmar hiding inside that brick pier, so

which perturbed the Fulmar hiding inside that brick pier, so

we moved off and left her to it

we moved off and left her to it

I added to  my collection of lost footwear

I added to my collection of lost footwear

and found the largest Mermaid's Purse that I have ever seen

and found the largest Mermaid’s Purse that I have ever seen


Wednesday/Thursday 1

Mr L set off bright and early, in good time for the morning boat to Kirkwall. As the car is running one one spring, he thought it best to drive slowly and carefully, so allowed extra time to get to Loth. The car went in to the garage and we have yet to hear how …


Monday 1

First day of the holiday and I woke reasonably early but Mr L was already up and at ‘em. He informed me that the payment for the van had cleared, the insurance had been sourced and paid for and ferry tickets booked for bringing the van home. All this and he had already put the rubbish out!


We have just bought a campervan! We didn’t expect to. You know how it is, you see these things on eBay and bid, never expecting to actually win – especially when the bid is well under value. This time we got lucky. It has kind of messed up all of our plans for the holiday, …


Stuffing mushrooms and other considerations

For much of my life I have maintained that life is far too short to knit doilies. Now that I have knit two of them, I confess myself an addict. I have reached the stage where I believe that I would happily knit nothing other than cotton lace.

Having made my plan for continuing the reduction of the UFO plan whilst making headway on next year’s Show entries – and as a result of this process, targeted a shawl as the number one priority… my eye keeps wandering over to my unfinished Hannelore and my heart reaches out to  it. Hannelore is what I want to be knitting… or maybe not…

On Monday night I spent a considerable time trying to get to grips with Crochet cotton sizings, and brands and qualities and I actually purchased three different lots. Patterns were consulted and plans that have nothing to do with logic, need or reality inserted themselves into my head. I was actually seeking a small doily that would make a second entry beside my Hannelore come next year. Only I began looking at tablecloths!

I did  manage to pull myself back from the edge but I have ended up lining up a 57cm diameter doily of considerable intricacy and i know… I just know that when the cotton arrives, I shall want to cast on within minutes of tearing the package open! So, really, should I not prioritise Hannelore and have her finished before the new one is started? Go on, say “yes” – you know I want you to :-)

At spinning yesterday one of the ladies enquired “whatever do you do with all those doilies when you have knit them?” Well… um… nothing. Mind you, I have only made 2 so far. I don’t know anyone who would appreciate a gift of one – they’re not really right for the 21st Century home, are they? I just use them as photo props, I’m afraid.

The Cockleshell Matinee jacket is going to live at The Croft. Perhaps the doilies could go there too. Also yesterday: the Capucine hat, the Red Emperor Scarf and the Rainstorm Shawl all went to new homes. The ladies would not permit me to give away the Rainstorm and insisted on all paying into a raffle, which was won by EC. I immediately countered by giving her the raffle money for the Ladies Lifeboat Fund. Sometimes it is difficult to persuade people that the pleasure for me is in the making of these things and not in having the finished object. I mostly knit for the actual Process or, more often the Challenge and rarely because I want something to wear. I have more hats, shawls and  scarves than I could ever possibly use. It’s a delight to me to see another person enjoying the fruit of my labour.

Would anybody like a cotton lace tablecloth? I’d be happy to make it for you :-)

Moving on

I said yesterday that I would be back at the Show next year, entering my knitting. Today I am wondering if I have not finally put to rest my demons. With taking First in every class that I entered, have I not finally proved to myself that Mother Was Wrong. You see, a part of me thinks that is possibly a large factor in the reasons that I enter,  for affirmation. Positive Strokes.  I’ll never have my mother’s approval in anything but I can look for others to contradict her.

Mr L was so sweet last night when he told me that as he moved around the benches and saw each red card with my name on it, he was becoming very emotional. He says that he is very proud of me. Even I am beginning to believe that I can actually handle  a pair of needles and a skein of yarn quite well… but I still see my mother’s scowling face and hear her sharp tongue, feel the slap of her hand every time I did things “wrong”. She was firm in her belief that I was useless with my knitting and would never equal her skill and she entrenched it in my thinking too. Often-times I see nothing but the faults in my work and it dims the attraction of a piece when I know that errors exist.

Maybe now is my time to accept that I do have the hang of it and to retire gracefully (and gratefully!) and allow others to shine.

I feel similarly about the spinning – it’s somebody else’s turn to win. Happily, it’s something that Mother never tried so I don’t have to live up to any expectations there.  But isn’t it arrogant to say “I won’t enter, to give somebody else a chance at the prize.” Is that not making a wholly unwarranted assumption? It’s big-headed! Then there is the issue of keeping the class alive by ensuring sufficient entries. If I don’t put mine in, will the count be high enough – we don’t want to lose the Class.

I actually don’t enter my skeins in any expectation of winning, it has just turned out that way every year but one. I feel as though I should restrict the chances of it happening again… and I have said this in previous years. It is actually a very difficult decision to make. I know there are better spinners than me on this island and I have seen better skeins than mine on the bench… I just seem to have the luck of the Devil in that class!

When the call for suggestions for the Schedule goes out we (spinning group) plan to ask for a widening of the criteria and hope to see more entries next year. That should help to reduce my chances but perhaps I’ll only enter a single pair next time… just in case the Devil is with me again.

I think we should try to have the class moved from the Handicrafts section too and into the Knitting & Crochet section. I know it is clearly neither knitting nor crochet but the chances of being judged by somebody who understands yarn is, well, high! A yardstick could then be applied: how well does this yarn meet the criteria of a knitter/crocheter. We could call it Best Handspun Knitting Yarn, perhaps.

You know, I think that’s a good idea. I may have finally cracked the conundrum.

What shall I do next, then?

We were so lucky with the weather today. It stayed dry and comfortably warm. Even at the time for the final stock judging it did not rain – it is common to judge the Champion of the Yard in a teeming downpour, but not this year.

I thought it was a lovely Show. There were some changes/additions this year – some that make the Show more educational and informative and others that made it, well, more of a Show. Like the beer tent, which this year actually was under canvas and had a bar – an upgrade from the stock trailer of previous years.


What's a Country Show without a Beer Tent?

What’s a Country Show without a Beer Tent?


Some old favourites were back

The ferrets and...

The ferrets and…

...Flower, the skunk

…Flower, the skunk

There were the dog classes, in which my friend Tan rather excelled herself

Dog classes, including this "Best Groomed" class

Dog classes, including this “Best Groomed” class

Tan excelled

Tan excelled

and of course, there was stock-judging

I like this class for Ewoks best of all ;-)

I like this class for Ewoks best of all ;-)

Champion of the Yard was this Suffolk ewe

Champion of the Yard was this Suffolk ewe

and Fraser's horse took Reserve (is it a norse or maybe a phony? How can I tell?)

and Fraser’s horse took Reserve (is it a norse or maybe a phony? How can I tell?)

All in all a great day —  and only the one islander was abducted by aliens

Gone, but not forgotten

Gone, but not forgotten

Indoors the story was just as good and although the tables were not stuffed full as they have been in some previous years, they were not exactly sparsely populated as they have been in others either – most classes had a good showing. I just forgot to take photos.

The only indoor shot I did take was this one – remember when I said that it would take a very good wildlife photo to beat my Redpoll? well, it did!

Defeat at the hands of Rod the Ranger

Defeat at the hands of Rod the Ranger

Do click for bigness, it’s a remarkable closeup of one of our summer Swallows – taken by the island’s resident Ranger.

From the six photography classes, I had Best photo, two Firsts, two Seconds and  two Thirds. Unplaced in two classes. I’ve never had Best Photo before, so I am thrilled – though surprised at the shot that won it. I have updated the details on my photo blog.

In the Knitting section I unbelievably took First in every class that I had entered. I also took Best item in Knitting & Crochet and once again was very surprised by the item that won. So was everybody else at the Show. It was an odd judging decision by anyone’s standards.

My skeins took First and Second in their class. I have addressed the the details on the Knitting etc. over at Sanday Spinners.

Finally, but not least, I had a prize in the Baking section on my first attempt – gaining a First for my Granary Loaf. Dog. Two tails.

Quiet a haul and I think my best performance yet, with 15 places from 27 entries.

I was asked by one of the Stewards if I was going to be starting on next year’s entries and I told her that I already had! This only by virtue of the fact that the shawl that I am knitting didn’t make it in time for this year – but, yes, I’ll be back. It’s too much fun not to be.