Sunday, 9 August 2015

Shetland Wool Week Holiday July 2015

 ::This July I was fortunate enough to join a group of knitters on the Shetland Wool Week Holiday in Scotland:: Our holiday started with a visit to the Shetland Museum and archives in Lerwick::
::Dr Carol Christiansen gave us an exclusive tour of the famous Shetland textile collection::

::We learned about the textiles that the people of Shetland crafted to keep them warm in their often difficult climate::

::These, unique to Shetland, taatit rugs were woollen loops stitched into a woven ground::

::The rugs were constructed in two halves and the pattern often does not meet exactly::
::my, personal, theory for this was, that I imagined a family visit and the two women starting the pattern with each taking a half and working on it until the visit ended. Then working on it in their own homes and when they got back together found they didn't match exactly - that, as I say, is my own personal take on why they don't match, of course, no-one knows exactly why this is!::

::This box bed above would have had a taatit rug. It was used right side down for extra warmth from the air trapped in the wool fibres::

::A sweet little detail beside the box bed::And a heart shape decorative to use for opening the door of the box bed::

::Above the crofters would spin the wool and then a fabric would be woven and this would then be used to stitch the taatit rug::

 ::The rug above was created by Dr Christiansen using long locks of fibre in order to learn from the processes involved in re-creating a rug::
::There were lots of examples of Fair Isle knitted items and lace hidden away in drawers which you could pull out to examine (sorry I was so engrossed in looking I forgot to photograph the lace)::

::A fisherman's hat - you could be distinguished according to your Fair Isle::

::a Fair Isle worn in a prisoner of war camp::

::Fair Isle Golf socks::

::After a delicious lunch we were given a masterclass in Fair Isle by the world's fastest knitter, Hazel Tindall::
::Below are some of the wonderful examples she brought with her to inspire us and to teach us about colour combining::
::Hazel was a delight to learn from and her gentle wisdom and quiet assured manner will always stay with me::

::one of Hazel's hat examples, the colours really spoke to me as I thought the combination of purples and greys worked so well together::
::Here is the mug hap project worked in Fair Isle with steeked handle opening that Hazel Tindall and Donna Smith were giving their masterclasses in::
::Below we arrive for our masterclass with Donna Smith which was held in the beautiful Busta House Hotel in Brae::

::We were working on our Fair Isle mug haps (cosies) which we started in our Masterclass with Hazel Tindall on day one:: 

::Donna was going to help us learn how to improve our steeking (cutting into knitted fabric)::Donna showed us lots of examples of her knitted work and explained how they were constructed using different ways of steeking::

::Donna, like all the professional knitters we were introduced to, was very generous with her knowledge. Like Hazel, Donna had a calm assured way about her which made me feel totally relaxed and ready to learn::

::Working on my hap in the long room with some fortification - a delicious cream tea::

::(Below)Looking up I could see how everyone was totally absorbed by their 
work including Janet, from The Threshing Barn, who had brought her travelling spinning wheel with her and was busy core plying some beautiful yarn::

::I was delighted to have my picture taken with Donna who
is holding my headband which I made using her Babble Hat Design::

::Susan Crawford drops by and chats with the class members - she is the one with the beautiful long red hair::
::During the session we were joined by Susan Crawford who was in Shetland to see the location where photographs for her new book, Vintage Shetland Knitting, were going to be taken::

::One of the ladies in our group who already knew Susan had been delighted to be asked to join her on a visit to the castle, on another Island, where the shoot was planned::

::I can't wait to see the finished book, as her description and the photos Tracey took whilst she was there looked amazing::

::You can watch an interview Ysolda did with Susan here, it is a very interesting look at how the book came about and the work involved in producing it::Many of the garments she mentions we were able to look at at the museum in Lerwick::

::some of the finished mug haps with steeked handle openings, also showing how different
knitting styles and colour choices can make the same object look completely different::

::Also joining us that afternoon was Hazel Tindall::Here are the two Masterclass tutors who,
I hope, were pleased with the work of their students - well they have lovely smiles so I guess maybe they were::
::One of my favourite photos from the trip when it looked as if we were
members of the paparazzi lined up to take photos of our 'stars':: 

::Jeanne and Sandy from Jimmy Beans Wool with their mug haps::they are
joined by Susan Crawford, Donna Smith and Hazel Tindall::
::The next day we took a trip to the village of  Hoswick in Sandwick, where we were met by the larger-than-life character Neila Kalra in her shop nielanell designs::

::Here she holds us all entranced talking about her designs and her knitting philosophy::Neila started her career in law but soon realised her calling was in the design world and she studied for an is a link to an article in the Scotsman which explains her journey and philosophy::

::Neila's shop was a work of art in itself and most of us were tempted to buy some of her work::I bought a 'neck thingy' in her unique knitted material which gives an extremely elastic finish to the product::

::Whilst we were visiting a tombola, Sandy from Jimmy Beans Wool posed in her beautiful hand-knit beaded pi shawl::the pattern was so gorgeous I bought a copy for myself when I got home::

::Apologies for the silhouetted photo but as you can see we had a beautiful view from the floor to ceiling windows of our room at Sumburgh Lighthouse where we were given a lace Masterclass:

::I loved the happy and relaxed relationship our tutors, Anne Eunson and Elizabeth Johnson, had which made concentrating on our lace knitting so much more enjoyable::

::We were working on small lace panels which we could embellish with some colour work at the top and bottom::this beautiful piece was knitted by one of my fellow students::
::Anne Eunson as you may know was the lady who knitted a lace fence - see this link to a Kate Davies blog post about the fence::

::At our other lace Masterclass we were driven up to Unst where we worked in the Unst Heritage Centre::We were using a much finer lace wool::The pattern as you can see in the photo below uses symbols and letters to explain the lace::

::Lots of bargain knitwear at the Sandness Mill shop::

::We went to Sandness Mill, home to Jamieson's of Shetland yarn, where we were given a wonderful welcome and tour by Garry Jamieson::
::Below are a selection of photos from the tour::

::look at these beautiful wooden pins holding the wool sacks together::

::we also visited Jamieson & Smith in Lerwick::the shop was just beautiful as you can see below::it was very easy to get carried away thinking that it would be possible to knit an entire lace shawl and I might have bought a pattern and wool to have a go!::

::there was a sheep blanket by Kate Davis using the natural wool colours::I have the wool and pattern ready to have a go at this pattern::

::Below are pictures showing how we were given a tour of the wool broking process at Jamieson & Smith::the fleeces are graded according to how they can be used::there have been some wonderful advances in the wool trade which has meant that the wool can be used in many different products including carpets and bedding as well as the traditional jumpers and shawls::

::here is a lace shawl and a 'Viking' under dress::

::and, of course, in the shop is the most magnificent Up Helly Aa Viking costume which you can see and read more about here and here on their blog::
 ::on the last day I went to the Shetland Textile Museum which was just the most perfect end to this wonderful holiday::the museum is community organised and has some great local knitted items for sale::I did buy quite a lot here::I will have a separate blog post about the things I bought on this holiday::

::finally, here is the knitting I was able to do at the Masterclasses::
::my mug hap, I picked some very subtle colours which seemed to me to speak of the  summer landscape of Shetland::we used the Fair Isle technique together with steeking::

::My lace sample using a two ply lace and introducing colour at each end:: Next time I will show a picture of the lace when it is blocked:

::Our second, finer, lace sample was washed and blocked and mounted as a greetings card, although I will probably frame mine to have as a keepsake::we were shown how to use our 
knitting needles as a blocking wire so that we were able to have nice loops at the edges::

::We did so many things on this holiday but one of the non-knitting highlights was catching the Mousa ferry about ten thirty at night - remember it is still fairly light as there is the Simmer Dim during the summer months::

::Then we landed at the island of Mousa and walked up to the broch where we laid with our heads to the wall of the broch and the storm petrels began to return, having spent up to three days out at sea, to feed their young in the crevices in the walls of the broch::the sound of the birds feeding their young has been described as 'a fairy being sick'::it was just magical and a very special experience::

::Here is the ferry website where you can see some photos and learn more about this wonderful adventure::

::So that is my whistle stop tour of my Shetland Wool Week Holiday::We visited the north and south and the east and west of the island with our very knowledgeable guide and driver::we ate some delicious food::we met so many friendly and interesting people and our group got on extremely well::I was delighted to spend time in the company of fellow knitters and especially those with a love of Shetland and its beautiful wool::


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