Fine Lace and other precious Shetland Textiles.
This was going to be a great day, I was going to the Bod in the morning and the afternoon was the rescheduled visit to the Ollaberry Happening so a whole day of seeing the results of real expertise in knitting.
This was the first time that Shetland Textile Museum had put on a ‘behind the scenes’ tour and handling of their exhibits. I was very excited to look more closely at the exhibits on show and to be able to see those not normally available.But, even before you enter the Bod now there is a knitters treat, the wonderful lace knitted ‘fencing’ by Anne Eunson. This was completed using ‘curtain pole’ knitting needles in twine.
This session at the Bod did not disappoint at all, it was a wonderful experience with a very interested and appreciative audience. The staff had arranged for each of the exhibits to have their acquisition paper.
A small section of one of the forms.
Knowing the story made it all even more interesting. We were supplied with white cotton gloves and after a short introductory talk were able to explore the items that particularly appealed to us. I initially concentrated on the lace and then moved onto the fair isle and then weaving. I was pleased that I had judged things well and we were given a time to return to an upstairs room where we had coffee and scones. It was a session that suited my interests well and I would do it again given a chance as there is always more to see the more you look.
There was an added bonus for me. I asked about ends for double pointed needles and was shown this:
This was beautiful and made from light maple wood by Britta’s husband.
They were just what I was looking for, so a swift purchase was made and this added some funds to the Textile Museum too. I understand they have been a popular item during the summer. When I examined them they were similar to some vintage ones I had inherited from Michael’s mother but hers were made from metal.
We had booked lunch at Hay’s Dock so M met me and we got there without delay so that we could drive up to Ollaberry as soon as possible.
The journey to Ollaberry goes through some lovely scenery. Even though this is my third trip there and always different items to see, wool related items to buy and of course the ‘tea’ to enjoy as well as catch up with local ladies that I chat to each wool week. This year there was a stunning knitted dress by Betsy Williamson. Betsy played down the obvious high skill level involved in making this, when I chatted to her. The attention to detail was superb and it is a marvellous example of truly understanding knit, fabric and drape. It was great to chat to her (and I believe it was her sister) at some length and even more special to be given a section of the fine yarn she was spinning. I thought I could spin fine yarn but this looked beyond the thinness of my yarn. (1) It feels very special to have this piece of yarn.
Mine is on the left and Betsy’s on the right. But Betsy produced this yarn whilst talking to onlookers, very different from being on one’s own and concentrating fully.
A photo of Betsy spinning her fine yarn ....this was not taken by me but placed on the Shetland Wool Week fb page.
Lovely to see this from an eleven year old.... I see the surname is ‘Williamson’! (2)
The day was not over yet, it was back to Lerwick and time for a quick snack. Tonight I was going to the Anderson High School to join their knitting group. We sat in the library which was a lovely space. Some brave youngsters turned up and it transpired were in Anne Eunson’s Peerie Knitting group. They were virtually all using a knitting belt and very determined with their knitting. Some have their work on display in a cabinet in the Museum Foyer at Hay’s Dock. Just seeing the Peerie Knitters was worth turning out for on a chilly night, besides the other chat and knitting.
Another textile filled day today, tomorrow would be more leisurely - I hoped.
1. The finest yarn I have achieved and measured gives 29.57 m to the g and I have measured the diameter of this as well as I can with a micrometer scale on a microscope, it is 0.05mm. I have yet to measure Betsy’s with the same slide. Jamieson and Smith Supreme 1 ply is 16 metres per g. The winning yarn for the Longest Thread competition in Tasmania in 2017 for plyed yarn was 96.67 m per g and the UK entry was 74.40 m per g. For this competition there are lots of categories. The nearest is 2 ply yarn made on a spinning wheel. The finished thread must weigh at least 10 g.
I clearly have some way to go with my fine spinning!
2. I am very sensitive about the work a knitter/ weaver etc puts into their made item. Often these are on show but not for sale. I would not like anyone to be taken advantage of. You may wonder why I have not included photos of everything I saw. I hope this explains it.