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.

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