Knitting enthusiast Suzanne Hanifl traveled to Scotland and the Shetland Islands earlier this fall on the very first knitting adventure organized by Irish Knitting Tours. It was part humanitarian effort and part sightseeing tour. The North Oaks resident, who with husband Paul helped build Hanifl Performing Arts Center in White Bear Lake, visited a woolen mill, watched a kilt-making demo and toured a sheep farm.

She also presented a group called MRI Maakers a check for $673 from her Facebook knitting group, the Morehouse Merino Flock. The name comes from an upstate New York merino sheep farm.

“Maakers means knitters or doers,” Hanifl said. “They say 'maaking and yaaking' like our 'knitting and chatting.'”

The group of knitters raised funds to help purchase an MRI machine for a hospital in Lerwick, Shetlands, off the coast of Scotland. Otherwise, patients have to take a 12-hour ferry ride to the mainland for an MRI — or go by plane. “It's an arduous trip and dependent on the weather,” Hanifl said.

Fortunately, the day she rode the overnight ferry from Aberdeen, Scotland, to Lerwick, the North Sea was unexpectedly sunny and calm. Her seasick pills were not needed.

On the return trip to Scotland, the tour group spent a morning at the Perth Festival of Yarn, what you might call a knitter's nirvana.

Hanifl has been with the Morehead flock on Facebook practically since its beginning in 2017. The group participated in a “knit-along” using a Fair Isle style pattern named Harriet's Hat. Harriet lives on the Shetland Islands and, by coincidence, the Morehouse Flock did a knit-along of her hat pattern in July. Hanifl learned of the Morehead merino sheep farm in 2008 while looking for yarn made in the USA. There are currently 1,696 members of the flock.

Twenty-four women made the tour, a trip Hanifl recommends for “adventurous knitters,” whether novice or expert.


Debra Neutkens

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