Querencia is a word to describe a place where one feels safe, a place from which one's strength of character is drawn, a place where one feels at home. Where is this place for you? Perhaps it's just being at home or maybe in the middle of the forest or toes dipped into the ocean. Maybe it's with a certain person or being in a religious structure. We all have that place that provides us with a sense of purpose, wholeness, and completeness.
For me, being in the forest is definitely "my place." If there's water around then it's an added bonus. But over the years, Scotland has become another querencia for me. Something about living on the southern coast of England for four years of my childhood and spending a holiday or two in Scotland became integrated or infused into who I am today. The sound of the rain hitting the roof and the bleating of sheep instantly transports me back to those days in the fondest of ways. And as much as I like snow, the rain plays an even stronger role in bringing me comfort.
As an adult, I've had the opportunity to travel to the UK several times with my most recent trip to the Highlands of Scotland and Shetland in the summer of 2016. (You'll even find a bit of Shetland infused into the border of the shawl with the old shale stitch pattern). And once again, I fell in love and began plotting my return trip immediately upon my return. This next trip will be a slow-one as I'm planning my own peace pilgrimage with miles of walking that allow me to connect with the people, the sheep, and the earth.
But today's tip isn't about my querencia or upcoming plans. I provide these details as a seque into what I want to share with you. I spend hours researching multiple facets of Scotland life, mostly fiber- and walking-related with a bit of history as well. My Instagram feed is predominantly UK-based individuals. So, how I truly came to know Julie Rutter of Black Isle Yarns is still a bit of a mystery to me but it was fortuitous, to say the least.
Knitting provides us with a powerful opportunity to connect with the earth through the fiber that we use. Also, our purchasing habits gives us another voice in standing up for what matters. Around the world, there are small-batch yarn producers that are securing fiber from flocks of sheep that may otherwise would go to waste... there are many more sheep in this world than there is the need or ability to turn the fiber each year into yarn (I know shocking isn't it). And part of the "ability" has to do with someone securing the fibers and then having the knowledge and skills to transform the fleece into yarn.
Julie from Black Isle Yarns is one example of someone that is doing just that. I love her sense of purpose and what probably drew me to her even more was her almost daily posts of her walks in Northern Scotland.
Julie and I began chatting several months ago about releasing some of her small batch yarns during Project Peace. At the time, it seemed too daunting to time her unknown final production date with Project Peace. Several weeks ago, she said, I've got the yarn. It's incredible and just about as special a yarn as you can imagine.
About this yarn...Zwartbles Bluefaced Leicester Blend (50:50%) - this yarn blend brings out the best attributes of the two wools, it has a crisp, plump definition and beautiful deep colour from the Zwartbles and soft, smooth handle from the BFL which also lends a slight sheen and lovely drape. It's a DK weight with 180m/100g (3 plies).
Julie writes this about the farm that produces this fleece... Our Zwartbles comes from "hedgefield Zwartbles" which is the show name for Jim and Linda's award winning flock. Their sheep are a very handsome bunch! The flock is based on the edge of the small town of Beauly - set at the head of the Beauly Firth (just a few miles inland from the Black Isle). Jim clips his best youngsters early ready for the coming show season which means we are able to benefit from their 'shearling' fleeces. The wool has a softer handle than that of mature Zwarbles and the fleece is a beautiful rich bitter chocolate brown with less of the bleaching that comes in with age.
About this yarn...Bluefaced Leicester Suri Alpaca Blend (70:30%) – this is a beautifully soft, silky and drapey yarn from a blend of 70% Bluefaced Leicester and 30% Suri Alpaca. The blend uses several undyed shades giving a heathery depth to the silver grey colour. This is a 4ply/Fingering 330m/100g (2 plies)
Julie writes this about the source of this fleece...Our BFL comes from ‘Eilean Dubh’ a small flock of pedigree Bluefaced Leicester sheep kept and shown by John and Sheena’s children (one of whom is a school-mate of my eldest). They are based near Culbokie on the north side of the Black Isle (Eilean Dubh being the Gaelic for Black Isle). Their beautiful flock of majestic-looking Bluefaced Leicesters produce typically fine, silky and lustrous fleeces. The Suri Alpaca used in this blend is sourced from a small flock in the north of England.
Both yarns have been beautifully spun by The Border Mill in the Scottish Borders.
Shop update today. Julie is having a shop update today at 7:30 PM UK time but the yarns are ready for previewing now. Either of these yarns would make the most special Project Peace shawl and Julie specifies on her website just how much of each yarn you'd need for Project Peace. Your purchase supports a small independent family-operated business with a sense of purpose. Yet another aspect of peace.
Day 5. Peace tip.
Where's your querencia? In times of chaos, overwhelm, and stress can you pause, breathe, close your eyes and transport yourself to this place to bring a sense of calm back to the present moment.
Peaceful knitting today....
PS - the origin of the word querencia is from the Spanish word querer, to desire. This word was been used by E. Hemingway to describe the bull's feeling of confidence in the ring; and so, some people don't like this word.
And I am grateful for all of you.