Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Going South

Today’s plan was to go to Sumburgh Head, to look at the view and the birds and to stop off at Hoswick (near Sandwich) briefly to see Niela and then return via Loch Spiggie & St Ninian’s Isle. This is what we did! Wow – if you want to go to a textile shop that is truly original, inviting and inspirational then this is the one. You could just look for ages and think wow, wow and wow. I had met Niela at Wonderwool and we have a mutual friend, Jeanette Sendler ( in Perth and Newburgh ). It was great talking to Niela about her designer artwear , designer art yarn , dyeing, textile things that I am doing etc that time flew by and I had to remind Niela that I actually wanted to buy a ‘cardigan’ – this doesn’t do the garment justice! My only problem was which one to chose. The designs are great as are the fibres and construction and this will not be the only one I have from her collections I know. Mine is a crocodile – upside down in glorious shades of green. Do take a look at her site – . The rest of the day was superb but this was the highlight for me!

I hope this conveys the scrumptious texture of my ‘upside down’

Monday, 24 September 2012

Design Inspiration

We are staying in a beautiful spot, having sea on 3 sides is wonderful. We spent a day driving round Nesting – there is a lot to explore further if we have time. I did manage to do some of the alpaca scarf, it is getting much closer to the 10” from the tip that I am aiming for but each row is getting longer and much concentration is needed for the pattern. An unexpected highlight was spotting 8 Eider through the telescope before breakfast. On Monday we went on another exploratory drive in the morning and had our coffee stop in a wonderful isolated patch of moorland. My driving skills are improving; I had forgotten how hilly/mountainous parts of Mainland are. We are very excited as we have booked a midnight bird watching trip to Mousa.  We pottered on ‘our’ beach and I have loads of photos as inspiration for yarn and knitwear design. This is one of my favourites; a knitted top is in my mind’s eye.  
I seem to have an infinite number of favourites which is going to cause me have some tough (but pleasant) decisions to make later.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Gremista Bod & Shetland Textile Working Museum

Saturday was the day we said our farewells to Unst (until next year?) and moved to the Nesting area of mainland for a week.
It was a beautiful morning and during a morning in Lerwick I managed to visit the Shetland Times bookshop again buying ‘The Art of Fair Isle’ Ann Feitelson as essential reading matter for the week. *

After an early lunch I went to visit Gremista Bod in the north of Lerwick while Michael continued to stock us up on provisions for the week.
The Bod was built in 1780 and started life as a storage booth for dried fish and boat gear. The Bod building  itself is interesting as it was also  the home of Arthur Anderson the founder of P & O Ferries.

The Bod houses the exhibition of Shetland Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. On Wednesday and Saturday volunteer members were demonstrating and talking to visitors.

This jumper on on a stretcher frame outside the building signalled I was in the right place!

Downstairs was a marvellous display of a wide range of work (mainly for sale) from the Guild. Also downstairs was a donated floor loom that once had been used at Adies of Voe,  a Guild member was getting this going and we chatted. Accompanying this was a display of fine woven cloth from the loom.
One of the two upstairs rooms contained a display of organic wool, spun, knitted and woven by members of Shetland Croft Knits - this was very interesting.
The other room contained a small display of artefacts from Arthur Anderson and a display of fine knitted lace. fair isle items &  photos from the Shetland Museum collection as well as some associated accessories such as a quill knitting sheath.
I highly recommend a visit (or visits) to the Bod - even the postcards for sale were excellent.
It was excellent value my £2 ticket also giving me entry for the rest of the year.

Then it was onto our chalet for the week - on a working croft and this meant sheep - an 'old' type of Shetland and the owner is a member of Shetland Guild too!

* The author of the book seems to be based in USA, the book covers history, technique and colour (about half the book) as well as patterns. I particularly like the section on colour.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Another visit to Unst Heritage Centre

On Thursday I managed to find some quality time in the morning to do more than have a quick look at the great collection of spinning and knitting related items at the Heritage Centre, There are many examples of fine ( in both senses of the word) lace knitwear and when one thinks that in the winter there are precious few hours of natural light, the quality of the pieces is outstanding. Many of the patterns are very intricate indeed. Being a lace knitter I know how difficult it is to get an even tension, I would have loved to have talked to the knitters of these pieces to know how they managed it.
Besides the actual knitted pieces there is a reconstructed croft room giving a great feeling of actually being there and watching spinning taking place. Also well displayed and labelled are wheels and pieces of equipment used in spinning and lace shawl making. I guess most of this equipment has been made by other members of the family out of oddments of wood. Remember there are very few trees on Shetland so over time islanders have become very skilled at using what is at hand. I suspect some pieces were made from wood washed up on local beaches.

The museum does have a floor loom in the classroom but unfortunately there was no warp on this but I understood it was being used in 2011 by an American weaver who wove at weekends. It seems to me that weaving was a less popular activity than spinning and knitting. This doesn't surprise me at all given the time that fine spinning and lace knitting takes.

The picture (thanks to Unst Heritage Museum for allowing me to take this) is of fine spun lace wound ready for knitting. (I usually use a circular disc for winding my lace yarn on , but I am not sure why I use a circular disc rather than a square one!)

As a special treat for a Thursday I bought the book  ‘ Real Shetland Yarns - a collection  of woolly takes and memories' - this is a lovely book to dip into and I recommend it.
Later in the day I saw so much 'rooed' wool at Ludd's Church that I just had to bring some home - the plan is to spin it into a Ludd's Chuch bookmark during the winter.

The day ended with a great dinner at Northern Lights café/bistro. They did famously for me, great fresh local food prepared well. If you go to Unst please try and support them as they deserve to be successful and continue this venture.