Sunday, 11 February 2018

Shetland Wool Week: Day 19: Tingwall Teas: Sun 1 Oct

The Sunday at the end of Wool Week is always a special day as it is the exhibition of amazing work from Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers - this is accompanied by spinning and knitting demonstrations  and of course the Sunday Tea. If you ever get a chance to experience a Shetland Sunday Tea, don’t hesitate. It is also a chance to thank my tutors and to say goodbyes until another year. I have to say I think this year was the best Wool Week I had experienced, but perhaps I always feel like that at the end of the week. 
We had not got to Fjara before so decided to go there for morning coffee, it is sort of opposite Tesco but overlooking the sea. It was very busy, but we really appreciated the lovely sea views and will return when it is quieter. Our favourite coffee spot remains as Hay’s Dock. 
There are still plenty of ‘wool’ things to do in Shetland:

After coffee we drove on to Tingwall and parked by the hall and got ourselves cheese and biscuit, we would have a second lunch with cake when the exhibition and teas opened at 2.30. It was interesting to ponder just how busy the hall might get, there were more visitors to Shetland Wool Week than in previous years but how many would still be around on this Sunday afternoon? I wondered how my home guilds in East Anglia would manage if not only 300 visitors turned up to see an exhibition but if they also expected an extensive tea as well. The ladies - and their helpers- of Shetland Guild of SKW and D do a phenomenal job. Just before the door opened 2 full  mini buses turned up so it looked like it would be busy. 
We joined the queue and got seats, M collected some food for himself and I left him as I was keen to see the exhibition of work and talk to members of the Guild, eating would wait. I so enjoy looking at the work of other spinners, knitters and weavers and where possible I like to talk to the makers. I talked to Kathleen Anderson who with her sister had been my tutor on Friday and I am in awe of her amazing lace knitting. I was not surprised by the number of accumulated rosettes from shows, including best overall exhibit at the Royal Highland Show, where the standard of entry is extremely high. 

I noticed a Sumburgh Bonnet ( similar to ones I had seen in the Museum) and sought out Ina  Irvine who was demonstrating spinning. This year the spinners were in a separate room..... I arranged to buy a hand spun, knitted hat from Ina and made an arrangement to get a pattern after Wool Week. I understand there is going to be a pattern in the Guild book (which will be published in the Spring). This will be a great book of Shetland Knitting by Shetland Knitters.(1) I have their lace book and it is exceptional. I am sure their skills have been passed down in the genes. Just talking to a Shetland Knitter and watching them knit one can learn so much, even if you have been knitting for many many years like me.
By the time I got back to the table where M was sitting, he had been joined by other friends and it was good to see that Elizabeth Johnston  and Anne Eunson had got up after the ‘Sharing Sherry, Cheese and Shortbread Sunday morning playtime’ they had been helping to host in Hoswick. This provided me with the opportunity to tap into Elizabeth’s drop spinning expertise and ask advice on using the medieval spindle I had brought up from home. Elizabeth suggested using it as a supported spindle would work well and would also be better for my wrist than using it as a twist with the fingers type. (I had already noticed my wrist complaining with my continued practice with this method). I decided I would talk to the spindle maker about the possibility of a support dish. 
Anne got asking about my machine knitting, and Val my machine knitting  friend was there too. It was really great to swap ideas, and discuss items and techniques without the ‘dismissive attitude’ of some hand knitters who assume machine knitting  involves no skill or thought.  (Of course they could not be further from reality in thinking this). 
We chatted and chatted and did not notice that it had long gone 17.00 and we were virtually the only table still there. 
Another great day and so wonderful to talk to Shetland Knitters about spinning, hand knitting and machine knitting. Tomorrow I would be stocking up on yarn and we would be catching the evening ferry back to Aberdeen. 

(1) The book is Fair Isle Designs from Shetland Knitters volume 1 - predicted publication date March 2018 

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