Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Shetland Wool Week 2018: Days 1-6


The journey to Aberdeen
This is our fourth trip to Wool Week in Shetland out of a possible 9. We missed earlier ones for health reasons and then did not go the summer after we moved house in the winter of 2014. Each year of these four appeared at the time to be the best ever and this year certainly surpassed my high expectations. It has been a truly wonderful experience again. Here I will document some of what we did while in Shetland in the  following posts, concentrating on textile matters. 
(Previous  journals of our Wool Week trips can be found on posts from 8 Oct  16 - 3 Dec 16 and 21 Sept 17-11 Feb 18). 

We left home on Sun 9 Sept and decided to take several days over the journey. We had three special things to do that we hoped would help us enjoy our trip. 

As before we were taking our motorhome which is great as I know everything I need is with me. This does demand many lists prior to leaving and careful packing but it is so lovely to have with me some ongoing textile projects of which there will be more later. 

We left Norfolk when it was still summer weather and couldn’t really visualise wearing some of the clothes we packed, needless to say we did wear them! On the first day, which happened to be a Sunday,  we travelled as far as Knaesborough  and the only travel problem was the treat we had of driving through some of the new suburbs of Peterborough as the A1 was closed. However, this did not delay us much and I was quite impressed by the spaces provided  within the  housing developments in an attempt to improve  the environment. 

Some of the journey was spent making progress on my Mirrie Dancers hat. I did manage to post about designing and making these in the previous two posts (1)
 
The following day we drove up to Barnard Castle and very much enjoyed the wonderful Catwalking (2) exhibition at Bowes Museum where photos from Chris Moore’s life as a fashion photographer are arranged along with some of the actual garments by designers such as Dior, Chanel etc. 
A good leaflet accompanied the exhibition



Being able to see the actual garments was great but being able to get up close and see the detail of the finish was a real treat. I had previously enjoyed the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition here (post of 28 Sept 15) where I had been aware of the attention to detail in the finish. In this exhibition there were several different designers and all but one stood out in terms of finish. If you are able to get to the exhibition it is on until 6 Jan 2019 and well worth the visit. 

This dress had beading around the edge and the net (embroidered) overlay had a lining of a pale green to show up the embroidery. So much work had gone into this. I think it was by Chloe. (I thought I had taken good notes but they are never good enough!) 




If this wasn’t enough Michael noticed that there was a Jacquard Loom set up in a room downstairs at the Museum and it had obviously been used recently. It was such a treat to see this. 
The ‘card’ for the pattern of the loom. 




The following day we had decided to stop at New Lanark Woollen Mill which is a World Heritage Site and were lucky to be able to take a tour with a very knowledgable and enthusiastic guide. Arriving at the car park and looking down to the Mill  site very much reminded me of Quarry Bank Mill In Cheshire which is now owned by the National  Trust. 



This was interesting as the principles of Greg (who built Quarry Bank Mill) and Robert Owen who developed this mill were similar. Both buildings had started life as cotton mills but New Lanark now processes wool. It was lovely to hear and see so much about the social history of the process, again echoing much of Quarry Bank’s history.  Both owners believed  that treating workers fairly would get the best from them and both established a structured community basing  their industrial site on country village principles. I took a photo of the spinning which tries to show the twisting of the yarn onto the cones as the cones move into and away from the back beam. 


If I, personally, have a disappointment in New Lanark it is in lack of the story of the wool being used now and the small place this had in a large ‘gift’ shop. I guess I am spoilt being such a lover of Shetland Wool from Shetland and how this is valued and sought after and as a spinner myself I know the provenance of the wool I spin.

However, that apart Lanark Woollen Mill is worth more than one visit and we are hoping to put it on the itinerary for another trip north. We then planned to spend a couple of nights in Edinburgh as we wished to visit the Royal Yacht which is in Leith. However, I became ill and had to spend 36 hours in bed....my main focus being solely on being able to get the Aberdeen to Lerwick ferry on the Friday evening. However we had another stop at Perth arranged and on the way there veered off to go to the RSPB Loch Leven site. It had a nice cafe with simple but lovely food. While there we saw a Ferruginous Duck, a rare vagrant from Eastern Europe which  we managed pick out from the thousands of ducks present. 

We were booked on the Friday ferry to Lerwick and as I arrived in the lounge on the boat I spotted two Wool Week attendees from previous years. As we got talking and the knitting came out, another group made themselves known .....it really began to feel like Wool Week was about to happen. 



1. This year, I have tried to raise the profile of machine knitting when I have chatted to people during Wool Week. In fact some of us wondered if we could identify other machine knitters somehow. Many of us hand and machine knit, they are different skills and I personally do not believe one is  better than another. Both are equally skilled, machine knitting, in my opinion is not ‘cheating’ particularly if it is done on a domestic machine. 
2. ‘Catwalking Fashion through the lens of Chris Moore’ is the name of the Exhibition 


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