No need for any alarm today, I was awake early as today was my first workshop of Wool Week in Whalsay. Having not had the best ferry experiences getting to see the Whalsay Fair Isle Exhibition last year I vowed that was to be my only visit to Whalsay.
However, never say never.
When I was making a mental list of what I would like to learn in Wool Week ‘knitting in the round using 3 rather than 4 needles’ was high on the list and that just happened to be In Whalsay. We drove to Laxo and there were one or two cars and several foot passengers who looked like workshop attendees. Amanda (Pottinger) who was running the workshop at the Heritage Centre was going to pick up anyone who needed it but we were taking the motor home over so Michael could explore the island. It was a bit choppy on the ferry but nothing compared to last year- however I did move to sit in the middle j(rather than the front) of the ferry.
Prior to the workshop we had been asked what colours we would like to work with and these yarns and the instructions were named and so we sat with our name. This was a lovely touch and ever thoughtful if anyone was not happy with their choice there was the opportunity to swap colours.
There were 11 of us taking the workshop; I was from Norfolk, a lady from the Isle of Man, another from Northern Ireland and the other eight from much further afield. I noted USA, Canada, Sweden, Australia, Brazil and Germany so a truly international group with a shared love of knitting. We got started right away completing ribbing for either a headband, tablet case or cushion cover. I opted for the tablet case and was in fact going to adapt the pattern to make a new cover for my Filofax. I left my woven Filofax cover on a shop counter whilst living in Cheshire, so a new cover would be really useful.
Not only were the tutors (Amanda and Janet) great at pre planning and teaching they were also great bakers. As soon as we started on our knitting, we were offered tea or real coffee and a cake stand with scones, butter, raspberry jam and clotted cream and drop scones appeared. Later on we were offered delicious chocolate squares with mint aero in them.
Two shots of the group, notice the mini kitchen with the goodies in the background.
The tutors constantly checked our progress, for many this was the first time they weee using a knitting belt and for all of us the first time knitting in the round with less than 4 needles. It was so good to watch Amanda and Janet (as experts)demonstrating knitting and they were tireless in their help and encouragement to enable us to do the same. They even arranged for a special delivery of knitting belts made in Whalsay to be brought to the Heritage Centre so workshop members who wanted them could buy one and take it away with them. I think everyone bought one. (I had my own bought in Shetland a few years ago now and well used since Hazel’s class last year, where I really learnt how to use it.)
All too soon it was 14.00 and the class was officially over. We finished off this great class with a group photo and we all began to notice the bigger waves in the sea - anticipating a fairly rough return back to mainland.
We were all on our way with our knitting at the end - notice the knitting pattern as dots as traditionally used and also the colourful knitting belts
I also took the opportunity to look at the exhibition, there had been some changes since last year. This cardigan took my eye and I have not cropped the photo so you can see some of the variety of Fair Isle Knitting on display.
After the workshop, Amanda offered to drive to Shoard, the popular ‘charity’ shop and we were keen to follow. It is a big and impressive shop. I bought a 40cm length set of 5 dpns, steel and probably size 16- very fine indeed and some more lopi Wool so I could continue making repairs to my slippers that I knitted and felted some years ago. I then limited myself to 2 buttons and Michael bought a book.
After what seemed like a very long drive we found the pop up cafe, lovely to see junior age children helping the community provide this during Wool Week. I did have a small piece of cake but was mindful that the ferry crossing might be choppy, we were going to Vidlin so that indicated it wasn’t going to be calm! However, we were told it was because of the ‘tides’... mmm I thought ‘I wonder’.
On the ferry we sat int he middle and I decided to spin, with my portable tiny drop spindle, some Norfolk Horn. I was spinning very fine - this distracted me and was also helpful in doing that for other members from the Fair Isle Class. The boat was choppy but nothing like a year ago.
I felt much better when I was off the boat and we went back to the campsite briefly to sort ourselves out, tonight’s treat would be fish and chips from the award winning Brae fish and chip shop, which we could just about see from our campsite. The fish and chips were amazing.
This had been a very good start indeed to Wool Week- in fact it was brilliant.