There is quite a large segment of travel and storytelling in Episode 126 because we’ve recently returned from our trip to Prince Edward Island in Canada. The Episode is truly an Atlantic Canadian program with our special feature on Prince Edward Island, including three mini interviews (two woolen mills and an alpaca farmer). We also go to the Anne of Green Gables museum and show you spectacular scenery from around the island. Then for the main interview, we feature the best-selling coauthors of the Saltwater Knitting Series, Christine Legrow and Shirley Scott.
Saltwater Knitting Series
We have a fun feature interview with the best-selling coauthors of the Saltwater knitting series, Christine Legrow and Shirley Scott. Christine and Shirley are both life-long knitters. Over the last 16 years, they have been unearthing, preserving, and recreating traditional knitting patterns and techniques that Newfoundland knitters have long practiced. There are now four books in the award-winning series, and the books are not just about knitting. They also tell a lot about the life and culture of Newfoundland.
The interview starts with Christine and Shirley telling us a bit about the culture and history of Newfoundland and why they have made it the centre of their work. They then go on to show us what makes Newfoundland knitting so distinctive, in particular with the accessories like the mittens and hats.
So far, four books have been published and each book has a different Newfoundland cultural theme. The first book in the series, Saltwater Mittens won the Best Atlantic Published Book Award in 2019 and the whole Saltwater Knitting Series won the 2021 Atlantic Canada Craft Award for Excellence in Product Design.
You’ll find Christine and Shirley to be terrific fun and real salt of the earth kind of ladies. The interview will give you a taste of the Newfoundland island culture.
Finding Christine & Shirley
Saltwater Knitting – Knitalong
After seeing the interview with Christine and Shirley, I think many of you will be tempted to knit up some Newfoundland trigger mitts. We are coming into winter now, so why not start another knitalong (KAL). We’ll call the KAL Saltwater Knitting with the hashtag #saltwaterknittingKAL You can entre the KAL with any design from the Saltwater Series. We’ll hold the KAL in the Fruity Knitting Ravelry group and the Patron Community Forum.
Patron Discount – Saltwater Series
And I’m very happy to say that the publishing house Boulderbooks is offering Fruity Knitting Patrons a 10% discount off all four Saltwater books. This includes Saltwater Mittens, Saltwater Classics, Saltwater Gifts and Saltwater socks. Thank you very much to Christine and Shirley, and Boulder Books. The full details for the discount can be found here.
Prince Edward Island Feature
It was heartbreaking for all concerned that the PEI Fibre Festival needed to be canceled. We were on the island before the Festival was canceled and hurricane Fiona arrived. So we decided to stay anyway and showcase PEI and what it has to offer fibre lovers and crafters. With some organizational help, we created a new set of interviews and content to film for you.
Prince Edward Island is named after Prince Edward who was the Duke of Kent and Strathearn during the 18th and early 19th century and he was also the father of Queen Victoria. He really tried to unite the French and British population by promoting a mutual Canadian identity. Prince Edward Island is a bit of a handful to say so the locals mostly refer to their home as PEI.
Prince Edward Island is Canada’s smallest province, but it has the highest concentration of lighthouses in North America! That’s because it has a deeply indented coastline. Altogether there are 63 lighthouses dotted along its shores.
Typically, lighthouses were built out of stone but PEI lacks this resource, so most of the lighthouses are built from timber. They’re very charming small square, tapered towers and we came across many of them as we drove around the island.
One evening, we drove to PEI’s very first lighthouse built in 1845 at Point Prim. It’s one of the few round lighthouses in Canada built out of Brick but covered in wooden shingles on the outside. It’s been in service since 1845 and was automated in 1969. It was a beautiful, calm evening, and we were the only ones there, apart from a curious black fox that came up to us, hoping to find some food.
We spent the evening here and watched the sun set over a metallic blue ocean.
Anne Of Green Gables Museum
Anne of Green Gables was written by Lucy Maud Montgomery in 1908, and readers from all over the world have fallen in love with the stories about Anne and her adventures on Prince Edward Island. We are both fans of this series and we knew many fellow ‘kindred spirits’ would also enjoy visiting the museum and birthplace of Lucy Maud Montgomery.
We were surprised to learn that Montgomery was also a good crafter. Between the age of 12 and 16 she worked on what she called her crazy quilt. It’s made up of left-over scraps of silks, velvets and satins. It took a lot of work, but by the time she finished it, crazy quilts were no longer in fashion so, it ended up in her trunk and was left there until she rediscovered it years later.
Montgomery wrote this in her journal: To my present taste the quilt is inexpressibly hideous. I find it hard to believe it possible that I could ever have thought it beautiful. But I did think it; and I expended more “gray matter” devising ingenious and complicated “stitches” than I ever put into anything else.
Here in the living room there’s the book-case that inspired Anne of Green Gables’ imaginary friend “Katie Maurice”. Montgomery wrote this about it :
Anne’s Katie Maurice was mine. In our sitting rooms there had always stood a big book-case used as a china cabinet. In each door was a large oval glass, dimly reflecting the room. When I was very small each of my reflections in these glass doors were “real folk” to my imagination. The one in the left-hand door was Katie Maurice … a little girl like myself, and I loved her dearly. I would stand before that door and prattle to Katie for hours, giving and receiving confidences.
MacAusland’s Woollen Mill
Macausland’s Woolen Mill is a sixth generation family business and one of PEI’s oldest businesses. Monica MacAusland is now in charge and she gave us a tour of the mill and showed us how they produce their 100% pure virgin wool blankets and yarns.
What makes the mill particularly charming is the old machinery that it still uses today. Entering the mill feels like you’ve been transported into a Dickins novel. The machinery was once powered by a water wheel and you can still see the old shaft and pulli system installed in the ceiling, although they are now powered by electricity.
Visitors who receive a tour of the mill often ask to take one of these beautiful wooden antique reels (pictured above) as a keepsake. But they are still a necessary part of the manufacturing equipment, so it’s not allowed.
Not all of the mill’s equipment dates back to the 1920s and 30s. Monica recently installed a state-of-the-art weaving machine of which she is very proud.
Finding the MacAusland’s Woollen Mill
Green Gables Alpaca Farm
Janet Ogilvie owns an 11-acre alpaca breeding and fibre production farm and opens her farm to the public for tours. Unlike most fibre sheep breeds who typically produce a relatively consistent grade of fibre, alpacas don’t have breeds and fibre quality can vary tremendously from animal to animal. Fibre quality is determined by genetics and environment. Janet is committed to producing the highest quality fleeces and resulting yarns, so she has done extensive research on the subject.
Janet collects data from every animal yearly to compare animals of similar age groups or pedigrees and determine which ones will produce the superior fleeces. This information is used to make her breeding decisions, and as a result, she has produced some spectacularly fine fleeces.
Pictured below being bottle fed, is the gorgeous baby alpaca Cadeau which is French for ‘gift’. He was named this after his mother became unexpectantly pregnant with him. It wasn’t quite an immaculate conception, but rather the father was accidentally let in with the mother when she was thought to be past her breeding season.
Janet has gained a reputation for producing some of the region’s finest alpaca fleeces and yarns. Her rustic shop is located on her farm in a renovated milk house of a century-old dairy barn. There you will find her custom-milled alpaca yarn, some awesome Alpaca Socks, Alpaca Insoles, and many more unique alpaca products.
Finding Janet and her yarns
Fleece & Harmony Woollen Mill
Fleece and Harmony is a woollen mill and yarn store located in Belfast on Prince Edward Island. They have a cottage-size mini mill where they spin locally sourced wool and then hand dye the skeins using Greener Shades dyes. These dyes are environmentally friendly and heavy metal free.
Having the mill allows Kim, the owner (pictured below), to develop and design new yarns. During our presentation, Kim shows us the step-by-step process of how she has created her latest yarn Wildwind 2 ply.
Kim has access to the fleeces from a special flock of sheep on a local PEI farm called Wildwind Pastures. The sheep are a hardy cross of North Country Cheviot, Coopworth, and Rideau Arcott breeds and have been bred to thrive on pasture year-round. It’s the perfect fleece to make a yarn similar to the Northern European yarns used in traditional Scandinavian patterns. These traditional designs require a fine, hardy yarn that is left in the natural undyed shades of white, grey, and black.
During our interview Kim shows us the complete process that the fleece goes through from carding to spinning.
The final test of a good yarn is to see whether or not it is balanced. A balanced yarn will not twist on itself when the two ends are held up together. This is important to prevent the knitted fabric from twisting on the bias. As you can see below, Kim proudly holds up her perfectly balanced new yarn, the Wildwind 2 ply.
Patron Discount – Fleece & Harmony
Fleece & Harmony is offering Fruity Knitting Patrons a 15% discount off all Fleece & Harmony yarns as well as Rowan yarns from their online store. All their own yarns are made with wool and other natural fibres sourced on PEI and they are either hand-dyed or left in their natural shades. Their most popular yarns are the signature Aran, Selkirk Worsted and Point Prim sock yarn. Fleece and Harmony are also a Rowan flagship. For every Rowan yarn range that they stock (and they stock most of them), they will have the amount in jumper quantities and in every colour available. The full details of the discount can be found here.
PEI Musician – The Fiddling Fisherman
During our special feature on Prince Edward Island we had the permission to use the music of the celebrated local PEI musician J.J. Chaisson.
J.J. Chaisson is celebrated far and wide as a talented multi-instrumental musician. He has collaborated on award winning recordings, acted as front man for a Celtic rock band, and toured widely as a solo artist. It is not possible to put into words what this young man does with his fiddle and guitar. In the words of Cape Breton fiddling sensation Natalie MacMaster, who’s known J.J. since he was eight years old, “he’s the best musician, entertainer and friend P.E.I. has to offer.”
Finding the Fiddling Fisherman
The Wild apple – Kerstin Olsson (Bohus Stickning)
Even though I am wearing this beautiful jumper, it still comes in Under Construction and not Bring and Brag because it’s not quite finished. I still have the cuff of the 2nd sleeve to finish, but I couldn’t resist wearing it and showing it to you. I started knitting this Bohus Stickning design by Kerstin Olsson back in July of last year. Kerstin Olsson was one of the principal designers for Bohus Stickning during the 50s and 60s in Sweden. The design is called ‘The Wild apple’ and was one of her earlier ones. The yoke uses 14 colours, ten of which are different shades of green (my favourite colour).
The design is also called the ‘Master piece’ because it uses up to 4 colours in a row, whereas traditional Fair isle uses only two colours per row. I haven’t been fazed by that too much because there are only around 4-5 such rows, but most of the rows use 3 colours per row, so the knitting is slower than normal. There are also the typical Bohus Stickning purl stitches which you should be able to see quite clearly in the photo. The purl stitches bring a little bit of the colour in the row below, up into the new colour on the row above. This makes the colours bleed or melt into each other more. You can see this effect particularly well when you view the pattern from a distance.
What we are wearing
- J. S. Bach, The Well Tempered Klavier, Prelude No. 3 in C-sharp major, BWV 848, performed by Kimiko Ishizaka, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0
- J. S. Bach, The Well Tempered Klavier, Prelude No. 2 in C minor, BWV 847, performed by Kimiko Ishizaka, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0
- The Fiddling Fisherman, The Icing on the Cake, Chaisson A Dream, used with kind permission from J.J. Chaisson.