Thursday, 12 February 2015

Thursday October 9th The Book Launch at Unst Heritage Centre

There was going to be a book launch at the Unst Heritage Centre at 12.30. So we had a fairly leisurely start. Victoria was going to open a pop up tea room in the Community Hall opposite and we hoped to have lunch there if M could check there was something I could eat and then we were booked on the ferry back to mainland.  We were booked for dinner at Hay's Dock  Restaurant and then I had a lecture in the Museum and then back down to Levenwick for sleeping for the evening. So the day was going to be busy after this leisurely start.
The museum wasn't opening until 11.00 or so but there were rumours that several were travelling up from mainland for the launch of the book - we had a sneak preview the day before as we were on the course but I was waiting for the launch to get a copy. There were special little packs with sample yarn in for the first 30 on the day and I fancied having one of these as a special memento of the occasion. This I achieved so it is very special to me.
So as the Museum opened I went in and enjoyed looking at the knitwear collection again and M chatted to Victoria about lunch and enjoyed a coffee and after the 'Unst ladies' had got their special collection of knitwear out I sat and chatted to them.
This was nice as I had spun and knitted with some of them on a previous visit and it was also a chance to talk to Hazel about yesterday and show her some of my fine spinning as well as admire some more of her amazing shawls, scarves and knitwear in general.  It turned out that Hazel had documented and devised the patterns from the original lace for the booklet of patterns and put together the Burrafirth Scarf pattern for the launch. Awesome in the true meaning of the word. By the time of the launch there was quite a crowd at the Centre. A truly wonderful sight. Rhoda explained how the book came about and introduced the 3 knitters from the late 1800's featured briefly in the booklet and how the current knitters had double checked the patterns drawn up by Hazel. These wonderful ladies give freely of their time and considerable expertise to help keep the Unst Heritage Centre open and pass on the tradition of this fine Unst lace.  
(* the booklet & pattern mentioned as well as many others are available for sale from Unst Heritage Centre)
It was a lovely event and I was so pleased to be able to be part of it.

Then it was off to Victoria's pop up tea rooms for a delightful lunch - lentil and vegetable soup which was super with vintage crockery etc. so then goodbye to Unst for another year, but we had managed two visits this year so were feeling spoilt.

We had booked dinner at Hay's Dock Restaurant and this was rather special too, the menu was printed on special wool week paper with a watermark of fair isle,  What was (is!) super about Hay's Dock Restaurant was that me being wheat, dairy and gluten free did not phase them at all - I felt a normal human! So I ate my meal fairly swiftly to get to the lecture for 7.00 and Michael's aim was to go slowly and sit and put in as much time as possible as I did not finish until 9.30.
After an introduction by Carol Christiansen, Curator of the Shetland Museum the evening was shared between Stella Ruhe giving a wonderful detailed research talk about Gansey knitting in the Netherlands and Hazel Tindall, Shetland Wool Week Patron similarly talking about knitting in the 1960s. Hazel provided a detailed insight into knitting of her own mother. It was a fascinating evening. As I sat and enjoyed these speakers in a full lecture theatre I realised I had a lady from New Zealand on one side of me and a lady from Israel on the other. It is this international flavour that adds to wool week to make it so special.

We each added a tag to the map to show where we came from. This photo gives some indication but the tags are not showing up too well! South Africa has a tag for example!

As I met up with Michael and we drove down to Levenwick and bed, I reflected on yet another brilliant day and how fortunate I was to be able to be part of Shetland Wool Week. But it wasn't over yet, I had event planned up to and including Sunday and we weren't leaving until the ferry on Monday evening.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Wednesday October 8 th Lace Knitting Workshop Unst

I was so lucky to be on this workshop as there were only 4 places available. This was the first workshop we booked up for wool week and arranged the rest of my wool week experience around it! So the 4 of us were Dorothy ( from Alaska I think), Marie ( from Yorkshire), who is big into Ravelry , Netta ( from Israel who I had met at the hub and lent my spinning wheel to o she could learn spinning ) and myself. Hazel was to be our Tutor we were using one of the amazing display rooms in the Heritage Museum at Unst - but it was a bit chilly. This was improved when Rhoda turned up with the key to the room with extra heating. There was another larger class taking place doing a cockleshell scarf but this class was starting later than ours – not such a complicated day!
It was a very intense day and quite hard for me - usually I need a day to recover from such a bad migraine so I was a bit slow to get going - but I kept plodding on and was not going to be defeated! Hazel began by showing us a selection of her amazing scarves, all neatly rolled to preserve them. Different sections of the scarves were discussed with pointers to designs. This led to how to read charts, planning designs, sample knitting, grafting and dressing the scarf. Then it was our turn to do it! Much concentration and with grateful thanks to Hazel we all went home delighted that we had learnt so much in the day. This post cannot convey the pleasure I personally had on that day, we had a choice of yarn, design and all the help we could possibly have wanted from one of the very best designers and knitters of Unst lace there is.
My lace edging from the day

I needed a fairly swift turn round as Michael and I had another event that day! At 7.30 there was a talk at Belmont House which we were looking forward to. Belmont House is a sumptuous place and if you ever get to Unst and want to stay somewhere super this would be it! As it turned out the talk was by Minnie Mouat with an addition by Rhona (both were at the Heritage Centre during the day and Minnie and I correspond! ) It was fascinating. Minnie talked about the History of sheep, wool and products in Unst and Rhona talked about her mother's collection of fair isle knitting and particular a Fair Isle cardigan that she has replicated. This is absolutely stunning and the actual fair isle section, which is rather usual is available on a card at the Heritage Centre.
This Wednesday goes down as one of the all time great days in my life!
A beautiful sunset to round off the day (about 4pm.)

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Tuesday October 7th Migraine in Shetland!

I guess it was inevitable that after such an action packed day yesterday I would wake with a very bad migraine. ( I was suffering from chronic migraine and just so pleased I had managed to get to Shetland). So decisions had to be taken and reluctantly we had to cancel our tour of the organic croft  Uradale while I took my medication and waited. We needed to travel up to Unst during the day ready for the highlight of my trip the Lace Knitting workshop on Wednesday. Michael drove us up , I can't remember much about the day other than it was less windy than yesterday. When we arrived at Gardiesfauld Youth Hostel the weather was good and I decided to take more seaweed photos and to try and clear my head by walking along the beach. We had company, Sally Anthill and Michael (from Brampton) were camping also. All attempts at getting rid of my migraine had failed - sleeping, eating, fresh air, lesser painkillers so I went to bed early with a triptan and fingers crossed for tomorrow. Unst is too nice a place to have a migraine!
Seaweed that will be inspiration for yarn or weaving - or both

Monday, 9 February 2015

Monday 6th October: A leisurely day?

The gap in posting has been much longer than I ever planned. We are now safely relocated to Norfolk. My textile resources are mainly still packed but secure in one of their two fantastic new workspaces. The real bugbear is that I have been struck by this pesky virus/ chest infection that had a go at me before we moved and has just come back for the third time - this time putting me in bed for a full week. So everything here is slow. Enough of that, I am now attempting to finish the Shetland Wool Week Journal!

I had planned for a leisurely day during the Monday of Wool Week (October 6th) as I had managed to fix up a late booking for a workshop for the evening. I started off by going into Joanna Hunter's shop (Ninian, 80 Commercial St) in Lerwick and into her back room and seeing where she designs her jumpers etc. She has a couple of electronic Brothers for doing samples etc and had a wonderful array of coloured cones. It was great to see some of her design boards and hear how her work is knitted at the college, being transferred on disc. Joanne highly recommended a visit to the college.
On next to the Hub, to be accosted by a lady (Lucy) saying "I met you a couple of years ago when my boat broke down in Unst and we knitted together " this just sums up Wool Week. Lucy was now back with a whole group from Kent.
I was keen to see Margaret Peterson. When I was last in Shetland, she had kindly given me a lesson to help improve my fine spinning. She was finishing a lesson at the Museum after lunch and I thought she would like to see how I had progressed. It was lovely to see her again - and yes she was very complimentary about my progress and was keen for her current class to see what they could aspire too.
Some of my fine Shetland spinning-
The yarn is about 1/6mm diameter - I cannot find my accurate micrometer scale to measure it at the moment - apologies in a box somewhere (it is finer than Gutermann Polyester sewing thread!)

In the afternoon I took the Textile Tour at the Shetland Museum led by the very talented Kathy. If you ever get a chance to visit the museum do try and take this tour - it is superb. Kathy brought some of her own exceptional knitting with her to supplement and explain finer points – this  was much appreciated by those of us on the tour.
During the tour the weather had 'come in' ! The ferry was leaving 2 hours early and there was a great swell in the harbour. No ferry was coming from Aberdeen so there were some disappointed Wool Weekers who could not arrive!
We drove back to our campsite at Levenwick, and then on to Hoswick  so I could go to my Understanding Shetland Lace Course with Elizabeth Johnson. This was going to be very special for me. It was Elizabeth that had first taught me to spin, with a drop spindle, in 2001 and really began my spinning, weaving and dyeing life! I have kept in touch with Elizabeth since but we hadn't managed to meet up so tonight was going to be special. It was a great course, a group of us concentrating on designing lace in Hoswick Visitor Centre while we could hear the weather outside! Long periods of silence as we were thinking so hard! The time went quickly.
This is a photo of Elizabeth and I after all these years!

The weather seemed to calm a bit but M was worried about the roads. We were not near the sea but had to drive along a high road with a cliff! We were told boulders were falling off it in the torrential rain and waterfalls that were resulting! The drive back was hairy but it all worked out. The heavy rain stopped about 1am Michael tells me! I seem to have packed a lot into me first day!