Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Shetland Wool Week: Day 18: Fine Lace and other precious Shetland Textiles

Day 18 Wednesday 25 Sept 
Fine Lace and other precious Shetland Textiles.

This was going to be a great day, I was going to the Bod in the morning and the afternoon was the rescheduled visit to the Ollaberry Happening so a whole day of seeing the results of real expertise in knitting. 
This was the first time that Shetland Textile Museum had put on a ‘behind the scenes’ tour and handling of their exhibits. I was very excited to look more closely at the exhibits on show and to be able to see those not normally available.But, even before you enter the Bod now there is a knitters treat, the wonderful lace knitted ‘fencing’ by Anne Eunson. This was completed using ‘curtain pole’ knitting needles in twine. 


This session at the Bod did not disappoint at all, it was a wonderful experience with a very interested and appreciative audience. The staff had arranged for each of the exhibits to have their acquisition paper. 


A small section of one of the forms. 
Knowing the story made it all even more interesting. We were supplied with white cotton gloves and after a short introductory talk were able to explore the items that particularly appealed to us. I initially concentrated on the  lace and then moved onto the fair isle and then weaving. I was pleased that I had judged things well and we were given a time to return to an upstairs room where we had coffee and scones. It was a session that suited my interests well and I would do it again given a chance as there is always more to see the more you look.

There was an added bonus for me. I asked about ends for double pointed needles and was shown this: 



This was  beautiful and made from light maple wood  by Britta’s husband. 
They were just what I was looking for, so a swift purchase was made and this added some funds to the Textile Museum too.  I understand they have been a popular item during the summer. When I examined them they were similar to some vintage ones I had inherited from Michael’s mother but hers were made from metal. 

We had booked lunch at Hay’s Dock so M met me and we got there without delay  so that we could drive up to Ollaberry as soon as possible.
The journey to Ollaberry goes through some lovely scenery. Even though this is my third trip there and always different items to see, wool related items to buy and of course the ‘tea’ to enjoy as well as catch up with local ladies that I chat to each wool week. This year there was a stunning knitted dress by Betsy Williamson. Betsy played down the obvious high skill level involved in making this, when I chatted to her. The attention to detail was superb  and it is a marvellous example of truly understanding knit, fabric and drape. It was great to chat to her (and I believe it was her sister) at some length and even more special to be given a section of the fine yarn she was spinning. I thought I could spin fine yarn but this looked beyond the thinness of my yarn. (1) It feels very special to have this piece of yarn. 



Mine is on the left and Betsy’s on the right. But Betsy produced this yarn whilst talking to onlookers, very different from being on one’s own and concentrating fully. 

A photo of Betsy spinning her fine yarn ....this was not taken by me but placed on the Shetland Wool Week fb page. 


Lovely to see this from an eleven year old.... I see the surname is ‘Williamson’! (2) 


The day was not over yet, it was back to Lerwick and time for a quick snack. Tonight I was going to the Anderson High School to join their knitting group. We sat in the library  which was a lovely space. Some brave youngsters turned up and it transpired were in Anne Eunson’s Peerie Knitting group. They were virtually all using a knitting belt and very determined with their knitting. Some have their work on display in a cabinet in the Museum Foyer  at Hay’s Dock. Just seeing the Peerie Knitters was worth turning out for on a chilly night, besides the other chat and knitting. 


Another textile filled day today, tomorrow would be more leisurely - I hoped. 


1. The finest yarn I have achieved and measured gives 29.57 m to the g and I have measured the diameter of this as well as I can with a micrometer scale on a microscope, it is 0.05mm. I have yet to measure Betsy’s with the same slide. Jamieson and Smith Supreme 1 ply is 16 metres per g. The winning yarn for the Longest Thread competition in Tasmania in 2017  for plyed  yarn was 96.67 m per g and the UK entry  was 74.40 m per g. For this competition there are lots of categories. The nearest is 2 ply yarn made on a spinning wheel. The finished thread must weigh at least 10 g. 
I clearly have some way to go with my fine spinning! 

2. I am very sensitive about the work a knitter/ weaver etc puts into their made item. Often these are on show but not for sale. I would not like anyone to be taken advantage of. You may wonder why I have not included photos of everything I saw. I hope this explains it. 

Friday, 16 November 2018

Shetland Wool Week: Day 17: Weaving and Spinning

Day 17 Tuesday 24 Sept 

I was very keen to get going this morning as I had spotted a slot when I could add to my warp weighted loom weaving. But first of all we were off to Mackenzie’s for a second breakfast. We instantly recognised the lady from Iowa who came in. We sat next to her at the lecture the previous night. She keeps Shetland sheep and does some natural dyeing.  It is great to chat to so many lovely people from around the world who are so interested in wool. Then It was on to Hoswick. Hadewych was running a class in the room but fortunately was happy for Susan and I to weave. It was sheer chance that Susan and I turned up at the same time, but we soon got into the rhythm of moving the heddle bar that we established yesterday. We made progress and I set up a simple ‘temple substitute’ to help keep the cloth of a consistent width.  



All too soon it was time to head North as I had a workshop with Elizabeth Johnston on Spinning for Lace- Carding vs Combing. Although Elizabeth initially taught  me to spin with a drop spindle nearly 20 years ago, this was the first wheel class  I had attended with her. It was an excellent class beginning with Elizabeth talking us through selecting and sorting a fleece, then us combing and carding the fleece and spinning to produce both woollen  and worsted yarn suitable for lace. There  was some history included too. I am quite an experienced spinner and mainly concentrate on fine lace spinning but I had lots of ‘ah ha’ moments as I realised how I could make further improvements and variations to my spinning. Another excellent class. (If you look at this short video from Promote Shetland on Wool Week 18 you will see me with Sarah during this class briefly towards the beginning,  I am wearing the meadowsweet jumper.) 

As often happens we called at the Museum, I love how the back of each loo door has a poem. This seemed apt for someone with increasingly elderly eyes: 



But the day was not over. I had plans to go to Isleburgh in the evening as it was the opportunity to knit and spin with the group that meets there regularly on a Tuesday.  In all my visits to wool week I had not managed to get to this. I had suggested that I take my Joy spinning wheel  so that  Averil would be able to try it out. 

I had carded some fleece to use with the wheel and had the rolags in a bag on top of my other stuff so they didn’t get squashed. It was a very windy evening and as we walked up the slope to enter the building, there was an almighty gust that got into the bag and 5 rolags took to the air and were then raining down on us. Fortunately Leslie and Janet from ‘across the pond’ who we meet and chat to each year were very quick thinking. They were walking towards us with friends and managed to catch 4 of them by hand and foot. It was just so funny, the 5th could not be located and I just wonder where it ended up. It was a lovely evening, very well organised and clearly the group were expecting lots of people. We sat in facing rows so we could all fit in and  went at different times for the super  ‘tea’ that was put on. Averil got on well with spinning and plying, Sarah (a friend from Staffordshire who runs ‘didyoumakeityourself.com’) and I chatted and I did more carding. I hope to be able to fit in this lovely social wool related event again. This  was my 4th evening event in a row and I was planning another on Wednesday. 

The wind was very strong all  evening and by the time we left it was a gale. It was another night where we adjusted the direction of the van (this only happens in severe wind). In weather terms this was turning out to be a wool week like no other. The wind was very noisy but not unsurprisingly I went to sleep without much trouble! 


Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Shetland Wool Week: Day 16: Glass and Knitting

Monday 23 Sept  Glass and Knitting 
Initially the plan for today was to have a restful day taking in looking round the Museum at the special exhibitions and then to attend Elizabeth’s evening talk in the Shetland Museum’s lecture theatre. 

However, travelling on the way up I noticed that Cheryl of Glansin Glass was going to do a couple of workshops in turning Fair Isle designs into glass coasters on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning in Lerwick. This was too good to miss and so I booked up for the Monday afternoon class and was really looking forward to it. 

We stopped off at the wonderful Mackenzie’s Farm shop for the first bacon bap of the stay. After that we drove to the museum and first of all I looked at the main exhibition space for the textile items. However many times I look at this there is still something that takes my eye. This time I was particularly taken by how the brims were executed on the the hats designed by Theodora Coutts. 



We enjoyed a coffee and scone in Hay’s  Dock Restaurant  and had hoped to eat dinner there in the evening. However we were told that unlike previous years the restaurant would only be open for dinner at the end of the week. This seemed rather odd as it was usually nicely full with Wool Week lectures on throughout the week. (1) 

I then looked at the Spinning a Yarn: Simone Landwehr-Traxler exhibits in the Museum Foyer Corridor  which were produced in response  to a visit to Shetland in 2016 to study Fair Isle patterns. It was very difficult to get any good photos, the one below shows the transparency of the piece but the circle is showing fair isle patterning. The pieces were very large and I would have liked to have found out more background to them. 



Unfortunately phase 2 of the Nottingham-Shetland  Knitted Lace Research Project was not yet available for exhibition. This was disappointing as we had seen Phase 1 during a previous wool week but hopefully it will be on show in 2019. 

It was time for lunch and then I needed to find the Lerwick Boat Club as this is where the glass workshop was taking place. After asking a couple of local people I spotted Cheryl’s face at the door to the venue. The workshop room was a great space with wonderful views over the sound to Bressay. 

Cheryl was well prepared and described our options. She had brought several Fair Isle patterns with her and also some blank squared paper for us to use in our designs. I had begun to map out some of the patterns of my ground elder cardigan as I was hoping to make a ‘blues’ based version for a small wall plaque.

Making my  Fair Isle glass panel 


 It was great fun and demanded one’s full attention. I had time to do a small square one too with a favourite Shetland tree design, I did this in greens, but with some red added for contrast. 
Cheryl was going to take these back to Unst to be placed in the kiln after we had chosen a white or clear backing and added the hanging wires if we wished. They would be brought back down to be picked up from a shop in Lerwick  later in the week. 
This was something completely different but very enjoyable and I would do the class again. 
Completed glass panels


There was now a swift turn round as we were booked into The String for dinner and would then return to the Museum so that both of us could attend Elizabeth’s talk ‘Shetland and Fair Isle Patterns, Differences and Connections’. 
Michael wore his new fair isle jumper for today. As previously he received compliments and has been photographed in it. I plan to do a post just about this later, it involved my first use of a jumper board. 



As one would expect the lecture theatre was full and to me this was one of the best Patron’s lectures. We heard about Elizabeth’s Shetland knitting life but also about her spinning, dyeing and weaving. This included some of her past research, her analysis and about some of her current interests. To me it was a ‘full’ talk and was very thought provoking. 

Another brilliant day. 



(1) Hay’s Dock Restaurant ceased trading at the beginning of November 2018. This is a great pity as it it was a wonderful venue and we have enjoyed many meals there. A number of new restaurants have opened in the town and this is thought to have affected their trade. Sad News.  


Sunday, 11 November 2018

Shetland Wool Week 2018: Day 15: The warp weighted loom

Day 15 Sunday 22 Sept

I had been looking forward to this workshop for months. It was my first choice when I got the brochure in May and when I was booked on one of the 6 places I was over the moon. Now the day had finally arrived. The workshop was with Elizabeth Johnston and taking place at Hoswick. 3 of the participants were from abroad and 3 more local ....one from Shetland, one from Kent and myself. I had been to The Warp  Weighted Loom talk that Elizabeth gave last year with Hildur and Marta and read quite a bit of the book and so was keen to now have a go. (1) 
Michael was going on Chris Dyer’s Tour of his Croft on Bressay so he dropped me early and then drove up to ferry. 
We had a chat from Elizabeth to start and were able to examine her lovely fabrics woven on these looms...4 shaft equivalent is possible! 
There were 3 different looms to the same plan and we were to work two to a loom. 
After the chat we began making an individual warp to work on. This, of itself was interesting, as the Vikings as you might imagine used the loom itself as a warping frame. (I have a Kromski rigid Heddle and one of the things I really like about that is that the back flips over to provide a warping frame when needed). The other real plus for me was that a cross was essential.(2) We also learnt that a tablet woven band provided a good start. I couldn’t ‘see’ the advantage of this initially but the ‘cleverness’ of it became evident later. I have done one workshop on tablet weaving and decided it was not for me. Perhaps I needed to change my mind about this. 

Elizabeth had worked out a good ‘warps per inch’ for us, something realistic in width to allow some weaving on the day but wide enough to get a good sample. We used some of her hand spun yarn.  Calculating the length involved more maths and finally each of us used our loom in turn made a warp, secured the cross and hung the warp on the loom. It was all very exciting and ‘clever’ how it worked. Next we selected stones to tie onto the warp and chained the threads to keep them in place. It was all looking good. 

My stones



Making and attaching the heddles came next and despite one to one tuition, diagrams and  demonstration we all admitted later that this was ‘challenging’ but so important to the functioning of the loom. 

2 warps on the loom


Fortunately during all this we had tea and coffee and cakes whenever we ‘made time’ and a superb lunch which was included. 
Time was ticking on and I was wondering if I would weave anything by the end of the class. Next we were taught how to wind the weft for efficient and easy use and so weaving happened. It was a moment of great joy having spent a day of full concentration to get  this far.  The looms were being left set up and we could go in and weave in our  free time(?!) during the week. 
I chose to weave using my naturally dyed quince yarn which I had dyed to form an edging for the little shawl  that Elizabeth had designed for the Wool  Week annual 2017 and which I knitted and loved.  It seemed appropriate. 
Beginning weaving



As I wove during the week other challenges arose,  the edges started pulling in. However, we had been shown  how to solve this simply with three modern use of a temple. 
It was a wonderful workshop to start the week with and provided far more than I hoped for... and I had hoped for a lot. 

I am going to pursue Warp Weighted Loom Weaving. The first thing is to read the book again, now I have had this practical experience it means so much more. ‘Wow’ is the word to describe the day. 

I am aware that several friends want to know how to do this too. I am also aware of the words of a Professor of Education..... ‘ never try and teach anything until you know 10 times more than you will teach’. This is very wise advice which I aim to follow. (3) I have managed plain weave, the thoughts of 3 and 4 shaft are for the future. 

Another realisation came to all the workshop participants - the Viking women were very intelligent indeed. (4)  

Michael had had a great trip to Bressay too and got some stunning photos. (I kept forgetting to take photos). His report of his trip: 
We had first met Chris Dyer when we called in at Old Scatness to see the Broch and Iron Age Village on our first trip to Shetland this year in June and I was keen to see his croft. (One of his other jobs is to be an archeologist and look after the site there at times)  A party of about 12 of us picked up the minibus at the Bressay terminal for the ferry and drove down to the croft.    We arrived and after an introduction by Chris went to see his sheep, the stars of the show.  They came rushing over at the sight and sound of food being rattled in a bucket.  Feeding them was what they wanted though several were very interested in anything you might have in your pocket.  Chris and his wife breed Shetland sheep specifically for the colour of the fleece so he can sell many of them locally to spinners.  We also met his pigs, turkeys and had a tour of his polytunnel to warm us up and let us hear about the dry stone walls he is building to shelter some of his crops.  All in all it was a very interesting and informative trip and one can't but envy him for the wonderful place in which he lives with the view over to Lerwick.
Some of Chris’ sheep


However the day was not over. It was Sunday and the evening of the opening ceremony. We drove to the new High School car park where we made a light supper and then into the school. As retired teachers we were impressed by the design, a feeling of openness and space  but would have loved to have seen in the labs! 
We were a little concerned that there would not be much seating for the ceremony but there seemed ample and the speeches were reduced in length. Elizabeth (as the Patron) had a short and very memorable speech about the way  the weather inspires Shetland Textile Folk....and all who experience it I think!(5) Afterwards there was a drink and mingle session, where we met past wool week friends and then there was the group photo of the Mirrie Dancers hats done in hundreds of variations...quite a sight.  
This photo was taken by the Shetland  Wool Week team 
If you go just to the front of centre and then look right you can probably find me in a pink and black jacket and M in a red fair isle jumper.



1. See blog post of 16Jan 18 for a description of this. The book is: The Warp Weighted Loom by Hildur Hákonardóttir, Elizabeth Johnston and Mart Kløve Juuhl 

2. I am not a believer in any warping method that involves a single peg, as my scientific background tells me that is not going to help the tension of the warp. The warp threads made this way are not going to be all the same length and you have given yourself a disadvantage before you start. 

3. It always brings a smile to my face when I occasionally notice, for example, a non dyer  who from attending a single natural dyeing workshop is suddenly a natural dyer teaching workshops and selling dyed yarn. To me there is no surprise that in the past the apprenticeship for any of these disciplines was many years. (I could substitute other textile disciplines here eg spinning, weaving, sewing, etc. ) 

4. Making and using the heddles was just one such example. The knowledge and skill would have been passed on down the generations. To me there are parallels with attending classes on knitting with Shetland knitters, one is so fortunate to be able to benefit from the knitting expertise passed on through their families. 

5. If you would like to hear this then go to Fruity Knitting Podcast number 63 where you can hear (and see) this and much more about Wool Week. 

Monday, 5 November 2018

Shetland Wool Week 2018: Day 14: The start of wool week

Sat 21 Sept 

The severe wind had died down in the night and we had slept well.
The plan had been to get the 9.45 Ferry from Unst, go to Frankie's Fish and Chip shop in Brae for lunch, then on to Ollaberry for the opening day of their ‘
happening’. We would then have a light supper and on to Terri Laura’s Creative Crew fb Group who were going to meet up in Teamore. Finally we would go down to Cunningsburgh where we would spend the rest of the time in Shetland. 



However, we realised that this seemed a bit like a recipe for disaster as I had a full day workshop booked for the next day. So we rescheduled Ollaberry for later in the week and this would allow me to stop at the Hub and pick up this year’s annual.

It was still quite breezy but a lovely  bright day.


A view from the ferry from Unst to Yell, just after the first ‘sea wash’ of the van on the crossing

I was glad we had gone for a less eventful journey as I was feeling like I might get a bad migraine, so I tried my first line of defence which is eating more and have found that if that ‘more’ is cake it helps a lot so we made coffee at Gutcher. 

After arriving at Toft we took the west road with the good views of Sullum  Voe to Brae where the famous Frankie’s is.(1) As always the fish and chips did not disappoint and we wondered if we could fit in another visit later in the week when we were going on to Ollaberry. This journey takes me back to my science text book writing days in the early 1990’s. I always tried to site the science in context and decided the part of GCSE concerned with oil had to be linked to Shetland. I must have had Shetland knitting  ‘in my blood’ even then as I included  a full page about life in Shetland including an image of a spinner! 
Part of the page! 


The next stop was Hay’s Dock and the Hub. The Hub  was very busy and I wondered just how many people might be coming to Wool Week. It was  great to catch up with Avril,  who we had met on the ferry up from Aberdeen. She told me, with some excitement, she was now officially a ‘spinner’ having had classes during the proceeding  week. I collected the annual and it looks another superb publication. It is great to see the work of a young designer Alyssa Malcolmson on the cover.


Then down to the  campsite where we would be based for 11 nights and a quick snack before going to find a parking spot near Teamore and to meet up with Terri Laura who I chatted to at her Gran’s in the summer. Also it would be good to meet others whom I only recognised names of and possibly their knitting! It was a lovely evening, a great start to Wool Week and a lovely idea of Terri’s. Also why can’t all bus station cafes be like this one, Teamore would certainly win on ambience and friendly staff if there was a competition. No other cafe at a bus station I know comes anywhere near this one. 



Thanks to Terri for taking this image, which gives you the idea of what it was like, I am in pink on the right.


Notes: 
1. Frankie’s win National awards for their fish and chips. There is a small sit in restaurant but they do a well insulated take away version too. Lots of choice. Deserves the praise.
You can phone up and order a time when you will collect your meal. 
2. Alyssa is one of the young talented designers in Shetland. She is now 17 and started going to the ‘Makkin’ an’ Yaakin’ group at the school in Lerwick. She is now studying mechanical engineering at college in Shetland. She has a Ravelry and Instagram presence if you wish to look up more of her designs. she is Wilma Malcolmson’s niece. 


Sunday, 4 November 2018

Shetland Wool Week 2018: Day 13: Unst Heritage Centre


Fri 21 Sept 
It  was a beautiful morning and so nice as it was out last full day in Unst, until we return! The heron was standing serenely on the point, it was cloud free and the sea was completely calm.... but I didn’t take a photo! 
We just had the morning because Friday afternoon’s are special when you are in Unst ‘in the season’ . The knitting and spinning ladies have a rota and there is always at least one person who will be knitting or spinning or  both and will let visitors try a knitting help or have a go at spinning, with brilliant guidance. I, unusually, would have my wheel with me so would go and sit and spin too.  Also there is an additional display of knitted items and some useful books on display 
So in the morning, i began by writing more notes to answer questions from last night’s dyeing and would leave these at the Heritage Centre to be copied. 
 Once out, we called at the post office to get a wide tube as I decided this would be a good thing to keep my lace knitting in where everything will be in one place. (1) I was keeping it in a pillowcase. So after Baltasound we moved up to Victoria’s and a group of ladies came in wearing their Mirrie Dancers Shetland Wool Week hats, so we had a chat about the coming week. 

Another view of Norwich beach, M with binoculars in hand

We went onto Norwick beach to have a great view for lunch and drove back so I could be at the Heritage Centre for 14.00 It was good to see Meryl  ‘on duty’ as she had been at the dyeing session the evening before and during the afternoon Minnie popped in which was nice as we didn’t have time for a chat last night. 
As I was in Unst I had had a number of questions from the ‘Fine Shetland Lace’ fb group and in discussion managed to get them answered by the people who would know about the history of lace knitting in Unst. 
Another lady, Dot, who I also met last night popped in too. So even more chatting about the natural dyeing. (2) I fixed up to pop and have a cup of tea with her on the way back as she lives along the bay where we stay. 
Early on in the session it was great to hear a familiar voice from home! This belonged  an excited lady as she had planned to trace  some of her ancestors whilst here and this included a special knitted item. She was so pleased to have arrived for her first Wool Week. She had driven straight up from mainland, having arrived on the ferry that morning. We expected to be seeing more of each other during the following week. 

It was lovely that it was such a busy afternoon, and I found myself demonstrating, including spinning fine  on a Joy fold up wheel which is rather different from the ones used in Unst. I found myself saying that I was not a resident, whilst secretly wishing I was! 

Some of my local Norfolk Horn fine spun lace, I need to take it off the card and measure the length so I can see how many metres there are per g. 

So after the session finished we called round to see Dot and her husband only to find they had built the zero carbon house that I had read about, so it was a rather special cup of tea and a chat. (3)
I gathered some Dock from behind the shore. I was interested to see how differently the madder was dyeing with Unst water and thought I would do another comparison dyeing  dock from Unst and dock from home and seeing what difference if any that will give me. (4) 
By early evening the beautiful morning looked like it was the lull before the storm, the wind changed direction and seemed to be opposite to what we had been having, so tonight we would sleep towards the sea, a first! 
What another great week in Unst this had been. 

Notes:
1 This does work but is not really  wide enough to remove the folded pillowcase from easily. I have since designed and made a project bag which I will describe later. 
2 Some years ago Dot had been involved in an interesting natural dyeing project based at Bristol University with David Hill, where very many metal compounds were investigated as mordants. 
3 The  website for the house is: www.zerocarbonhouseshetland.com 
4 This is still a project ‘in waiting’ 


Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Shetland Wool Week 2018: Day 12 : Natural Dyeing


Thurs 20 Sept
It was quite stormy first thing, but we had had a quiet night. There had been quite a bit of damage in mainland Scotland and other parts of the country as a result of the storm, or rather end of the hurricane that had affected the USA badly.  We knew some ‘wool weekers’ who were planning on coming up on the ferry last night  but couldn’t get from Edinburgh to Aberdeen. At first is was obstacles on the line, not leaves as often affects trains in Norfolk, but bigger items such as a shed! I felt that not being on the ferry last night was a blessing in disguise. 

We were planning to have a quiet day as I was going to the Heritage Centre in the evening to show the ladies how I dye with madder. This will be interesting as the water will be very different from Norfolk. I believe our Norfolk water is the hardest, or some of the hardest in the country and partially the reason Norwich became famous for dyeing Norwich Red for the wonderful woven shawls in the 1700 - 1800 period.  Also I would frequently  use madder to modify a colour already obtained from a plant. However, the demonstration/ workshop will show my general method for using a powdered dye and also for modifying the colours after dyeing. I only had modifiers that I could get on the journey up too as we didn’t finalise the details until I was on the travelling north.  The weather for the evening was not looking promising so I wondered whether anyone would turn out. 
We had a morning doing housekeeping including the laundry. We would be travelling down to Mainland first thing Saturday morning and once Wool Week had started we wouldn’t want to be bothered with any more domestic chores than necessary. 
However, the thoughts of coffee at Victoria’s managed to prevent the housekeeping taking too long and once there we decided that lunch there too would be a great idea. 
I was well prepared for the evening and had  handouts so we were keen to go back to Norwick, although it seemed a little too rough to drive further up to Skaw today. 

 Norwick  beach was a real delight again.  The storm had brought in more seaweed and turning this over were groups of birds along the shore. It was great to be in the van, it was rather breezy outside and watch them being quite systematic. We had great views of Turnstones, Sanderling and Ringed Plover with what appeared to be a Rock Pipit.  In the background were Fulmars finding their spot on the cliffs with ease and gulls accompanied by the wonderful precision fishing show the gannets provide. On top of this the colours in the seaweed were spectacular and would provide inspiration for fair isle designs throughout the year. 

Seaweed full of rich pickings for the birds 

 After an early dinner we packed the car and set off for the Heritage Centre fully expecting, from the weather, it to be a small select group. As we got close we could see lots of lights and the car park was getting parked up. I didn’t get a chance to count the ladies during the evening but I know it was more than 12. We had a good evening as I demonstrated the best method I have got so far to get a good red  when dyeing with madder. Once we had the base colour the ladies were able to  take a more active part as we used the additives and by the end of the evening we had 4 tones from the original dye bath which in itself gave a good red. 

Our madder dyeing, the front yarn is with added iron which gave the most difference as expected. 

As always, refreshments followed and from people’s faces, the questions and conversations a good time was had by all. It was good to talk to others who had also done some natural dyeing previously, by comparing experiences more is learnt.
Thoughts also turned to ‘if we can do this next year’ and what we might do.  

As we got back to base the reflections in the Sound from the moon were stunning. It was not really dark. 


Across  the bay at 21.30 

Another great day in this beautiful place.