Wednesday, 31 October 2018
Sunday, 28 October 2018
Saturday, 27 October 2018
Tuesday, so Victoria’s Tea Room would be open, so we would visit. We drove round to some different birdwatching places, where hopefully I would be able
to have some more lace knitting time and make real progress with the shawl.
We fitted one in before the coffee and delicious cake break at Victoria’s. I sat by Balatasound post office and spent time taking in the view, it was misty and quite atmospheric and for the record took another photo, to me the view is just as beautiful if it is misty or even wet.
I called at the Heritage Centre again and noticed a shawl, quite a large one for sale. It had been placed second in the Highland Show, so a very nice one. It was priced at £600. This made me think about pricing such exquisite pieces, to me it seemed not enough. How did I come to that decision- the Dunella shawl I am knitting, is not my design. I will not sell it but if I wanted to sell a shawl it would be my design, so add in the time of designing it and knitting a trial run. But let us do a calculation for the shawl I am doing. I complete 10 rows an hour, and that is without any time allowed for ‘taking out’ mistakes....so the shawl is 652 rows in total. If I divide that by I0 get 65. Now even at £10 an hour and I would say this is not beginner knitting, more like advanced but this makes £650. The shawl I saw is as an estimate at least double that size. So to say these fine lace shawls are priceless is to me nearer the mark.. Would it ‘make more’ presented as a fine art piece of textile art, probably but the challenge is to tap into the right market. But us ‘lace addicts’ do it mainly because fine lace knitting is what we do.
Friday, 19 October 2018
We love this beach and always try and go as soon as we can (and as often) when we are in Unst. Unfortunately we were not able to stop for coffee at Victoria’s Tea Rooms as it was Monday and they are quite correctly having a well deserved day off. So off to the beach it was, M went to look for birds and I pottered on the beach with my camera. Today I was intrigued by rock formations on the beach and the photos will inspired some textile pieces in time.
We met up and had lunch in the van, then M went back to checking for birds and I decided to focus on my lace knitting. Bliss to do this in such a special place. This lace knitting is the beautiful Dunella Shawl, by Kathleen Anderson. It is worked in Jamieson and Smith’s Supreme yarn.
I am taking a long time knitting it, it is the first serious piece that I have attempted after undergoing eye procedures on each eye. I wondered if I could knit such fine lace again, but fortunately I can if I have good light and ‘know when to stop’.
The light at Norwick could not have been better and I pondered on whether another of the reasons that lace was knit in Unst, some of it is SO fine, is that the light is so wonderful. (The first reason being the fineness of the local fibre.) I continued to ponder as I knitted. Knitting was also a large part of the Norfolk economy in the past (mentioned by Celia Fiennes in 1698), and we also have good light, in fact Norfolk is referred to as ‘Big Sky country’. The knitting was not fine by Unst terms but was mainly of socks for export and probably fine by local standards.
Once back at base, another textile treat was in store. A cyclist who knew I was ‘into’ knitting told me that there was a group of ladies chatting and knitting in the lounge. I remembered that the warden of the hostel had said a group met there on Monday evenings during the winter. Sure enough it was the group and some of them had only been knitting for a short time, but one would not have known. It was great to chat with them and share some knitting stories. As a bonus Cheryl from Glansin Glass (1) was there. She had used the group as guinea pigs for her Fair Isle Glass workshop and had brought their ‘makes’ to the group and these were really great. I was booked onto this workshop for the Monday afternoon of Wool Week and I was looking forward to it even more now. How great to have some of one of my Fair Isle Designs preserved in a glass wall
(1) Glansin Glass can be seen here’s: http://www.glansinglass.co.uk/
It is even better if you see it for real!
Monday, 15 October 2018
Wednesday, 10 October 2018
Arriving in Shetland Sat 15 Sept
The boat journey went well, although there was some swell during the latter part of the journey and for the first time ever the shower water completely flooded the whole shower room in the cabin. We had a nice breakfast and then collected the van and made for Tesco to fill up on provisions for the week ahead.
This is made easier by having ‘the list’ which is little modified from visit to visit. Next we parked on the quay and after visiting Tourist Information - just because we always do - and the Shetland Times bookshop just because there is always a Christmas Present to buy and give to DH to give back to me at Christmas. (This works well as I usually forget which books I am going to receive by then, as long as he remembers where he puts them!)
We were introduced to the Dowry when we were up in the summer and loved it and it was a real treat to get one of the prize seats at the window. We knew this was unlikely when wool Week was in full flow.
From a window seat in the Dowry
Normally at this point we would be ready to drive up to Unst, however we had some rather unusual things on our shopping list today. During the journey up I had arranged with one of the ladies from the Heritage Centre in Unst that I would do an interactive demonstration of madder dyeing as I do it, whilst we were staying. I had brought the madder with me, a thermometer and some mordanted wool just in case it might go ahead. I realised that I did not have my ‘dyeing clothes’ with me and so after visiting a couple of ‘charity shops’ I had a rather tasteful shirt that only needed the buttons moved to tighten up the cuffs. I had managed to buy soda and white vinegar in Tesco. I was now searching for copper sulphate... as I had failed to get this at a garden centre on the journey. They would normally have had some but the Christmas Decorations were destined for that space..... Well I failed to get the copper sulphate but I did manage iron sulphate from the pharmacist. The only uncertainty was the lactose coating and the still to be mastered method of crushing them. Fortunately I always carry a small balance accurate to 2 decimal places, useful for weighting rice but actually brought to measure the weight of my fine spun yarn.
We drove up to Toft and made lunch while waiting for the ferry. It was a glorious day and just two short journeys away from our favourite island, Unst. It felt as if we had not been home as it was only two and a bit months since we last waited so impatiently.
I had set myself a challenge, today was National Spin in Public Day and I decided I would try and spin on the three ferries I would be on. I spun early on the North Link Ferry, this is in the cabin before 5.45. I intended spinning in the lounge having breakfast but that didn’t happen.... too much eating to do.
spinning on the ferry to Shetland
We had an uneventful crossing to Yell, enjoyed the scenery on the drive through and then there was the short hop and we would be in Unst again. We were here for a full week in which we hoped to relax, walk, look for birds, take photos, knit a bit, eat a bit, enjoy the Heritage Centre lace again and meet with the lovely knitting and spinning ladies there.
I did manage to spin on all three ferries but did not leave the comfort of the Van on the two inter island ones so it is debatable as to whether this was in public but the thought was there. If you look very carefully you can see a slightly different background on each ferry. I am spinning Norfolk Horn very fine, I worked out that it is at least 19m per g, J and S Supreme is 15m per g.
spinning on Toft to Unst ferry
and Gutcher to Belmont
I fell into conversation with a couple of American ladies on the beach when we drinking tea, they were not going to be able to stay for Wool Week as they were off to the Hebrides. However, they had hand knitted their Mirrie Dancer hats and had naturally dyed the colours, so it was great to talk to them about natural dyeing.
We also had a redshank and heron on the beach which was going to be our view for the week.
So it felt we had finally arrived at the place we love.
Tomorrow was going to be a rest, admire the view and knit lace day.