Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Shetland Wool Week 19: 9, The Heritage Centre

Fri Sept  27 Day 12 


This day is always a bittersweet day for me. The ‘bitter’  bit being that this is our last full day in Unst for the year and the ‘sweet’ bit being it is the ‘Have a go day’ at the Heritage Centre. This is when at least one of the knitting and spinning group will be there with an additional display of items and encouraging visitors to have a go with a spinning wheel and with a knitting belt. 

We were up early, it was unnervingly calm and still, so unlike yesterday. We were at the Health Centre for 9.00 for the latest INR test for M. I opted to not go into the Health Centre. It was what I would call and an atmospheric day and I wanted to explore a bit with the camera. 



M was back quickly, the news being he needed to phone our home surgery to have his medication confirmed and to book another test when we were back on Shetland mainland next week! He got through to the surgery and we now need to phone later to get the dosage! He decided he would take the binoculars into the garden at the back of the Health  Centre and was delighted to see a Red-breasted Flycatcher. We drove to Baltasound and I decided to have a wool session whilst he walked to Haligarth Wood from there. We were booked into a window seat for 12.00 at Victoria’s Tea Room and were back there in good time. Although the table was reserved,with a big sign on it, it took some negotiating from the staff for the couple to move! 

Wool week attendees were obviously arriving on mainland and the adventurous had travelled up to Unst - the wool week hat is a wonderful introduction to a conversation. There was a group over from America and they were planning to go to the Heritage  Centre to take in the ‘Have a go session’ too. 

Once I got there, it was great to see a Hazel  Laurenson (1) was going to organise the session for the afternoon. She was happy that I had my wheel with me to spin as well and it was great to see Kate, from East Anglia, who was back with her wheel too. 

Hazel produced books, her file of recent lace knitting samples and other examples of what she (and possibly others) had been knitting recently. 

Before we started I took the opportunity to go into the room where the majority of the historical lace knitting is on display. I was particularly interested in the mitre of any shawls on display. It was the mitres that I was homing in on this year.(2) I showed my embarrassing little sample to Hazel and was keen to get her expertise on ‘mitres’, having tried different versions of the ‘knitting on’ type in my sample. It was a useful discussion, although in Unst the traditional shawls  they knitted avoided a mitre completely. I had avoided the mitre in my cobweb shawl mentioned in the previous post. 

It was a great afternoon, spinning and chatting. One of the American ladies, Inga, who actually lives in London, had a tiny nano wheel (3)  in her bag and it was great to see this in operation. What was even more surprising was that she had got some extra bits and refinements for the wheel from a spinning friend from back home  in Norfolk. Wool, spinning and knitting are international and it is joyous to have such friendships. 


A general view of the room where we did the dyeing a couple of days ago




The afternoon ended all too soon and 16.00 saw M there ready to pick me up and for us to return to base for our last night. 

We had treated ourselves to a Lasagne meal from the Final Checkout, made in Scalloway. It was excellent, full of meat and much better than ‘bought’ meals back home. 

There was good news to end the week, the Youth Hostel had won one of the Community Grants for £500 so could have new flooring in the conservatory and I hoped I played some small part in this happening.  New people had arrived at the Hostel for bird watching and it seems that the following week there were to be to even more arriving which is all good for keeping the hostel going. 

Fortunately there would be very little packing up, one of the big advantages of the camper van. We were booked on the 9.45 ferry in the morning. Kate, the friend from back home, was going via Ollaberry so we would catch up on things once we both arrived at the campsite (for the next week plus) on Saturday evening. I had plans for shopping in Lerwick on the way through. 


  1. Hazel Laurenson is, IMO, a real expert in Unst Lace. I was very fortunate to have an all day class with 3 others, with her in my first Shetland Wool Week in 2014. She has the ability, that I have yet to gain, of being able to look at a lace motif and translate it into knitting and to design an overall item with a very balanced set of motifs. She has translated patterns from the collection found in a case, in Unst, some years ago. Some of these are in the booklet ‘Recreating Vintage Shetland Lace’ and others are in separate patterns. These are available to buy from the Heritage Centre and contribute to funds to keep it going. 
  2. Previous posts in this Shetland Wool Week 19 series have included my attempts at getting a knit on mitre that I am happy with in a small sample hap. 
  3. This nano electric wheel is called ‘the electric wheel nano’ and is by Maurice Ribble. It was initially funded by a Kickstarter campaign and as I write this is between $80-$110. Postage and customs duty to the UK needs adding. There is a FB page devoted to this with over 4,000 members. 

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