Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Pink Lace Cardigan

In 2016 I took a course at Metropolitan Machine Knitting, Cheshire (now sadly closed due to ill health). This course was with a superb visiting Designer from Perth, Australia called Tony Bennett who runs Domani Knits (1).

As the week progressed we were encouraged to take one of his Designs and work it our way, aiming to complete the garment during the week. I chose to make a cardigan with a lace front and some lace at the base of the sleeves. To me, Tony is into detail, his garments have great finesse.

I loved how professional looking this cardigan turned out to be and I have received many lovely comments about it and have shown people how to do some of the details.

However, the cardigan has always bothered me on the shoulders. The cardigan needs a layer under it, eg a fine jersey top. The jersey top was visible where the back met the front at the inner shoulder. I have worn it with a fine polo neck and that didn’t feel quite right to me either - polo knit and lace over it was not my best look. 

I have spent some time thinking what I could do to improve it. 

This is the before look: 

What could I put in the gap? I needed a little triangle. So I mulled this over and decided to knit just that a little triangle. But wouldn’t it be better if it was one of the lace triangles, like at the bottom of the sleeve.

Knitting this was tricky, working out the stitch width, making sure the tension was right and manipulating the stitches when there were so few.

This is the result. 

I am more than pleased with it and now the cardigan has a new lease of life, just ready for the spring weather. 

(Apologies  for the change of colour, the first picture is the best representation!) 

  1. Tony’s web site is https://dormani-yarns.com

Monday, 16 March 2020

Thinking about colour: Fair Isle Cardigans

I had these two cardigans sitting like this the other day and thought it was worth sharing the photo. 

What was most noticeable was the difference the colours made to the overall patterns. I love them both and wear them frequently. I originally knitted the black and white one (2)  as a trial for the naturally dyed one. It was a trial in terms of getting the size correct and the pattern placement, however how the colours work with one another ensures the natural dyed one is very different from the black and white one. Initially I  decided on which colours to aim for in the dyeing  with Ground Elder. Then I spent many days knitting samples and playing with colour combinations, hanging them up and looking at them close too and at a distance  until I felt I had the combination that I loved! Somehow I know when the colours work for me. (By days I don’t mean whole days, I like to mull it over, do something else, come back to it, sleep on it etc. This is not something I can do in a hurry.) 

Recently, I saw mention of an iPad app ‘The interaction of colour’ by Josef Albers. The cardigans are a good example of the effect of ‘interaction of colour’ (3). I am enjoying this app greatly and his take on colour does not begin with a colour wheel or discussions on complementary colours, triads of colours  etc. He starts with working with colour and aims to help users develop an eye for colour. There is a lot in the app, I haven’t got to the end of it so I have yet to find out if he mentions the effect of a person’s colouring on the colours worn. But then that would make a good app on its’s own. I have seen several attempts at this but nothing I would want to recommend. 

  1. I have previously written about the design and knitting of the Ground Elder cardigan beginning on 4 April 2018 
  2. I call it my ‘black and white cardigan’ however the black is in fact ‘deep charcoal’ and the white is a ‘natural’  white, both from Jamieson and Smith . This combination gives a less harsh look for my light colouring. 
  3. As I write this, the app is for iPad (not sure if there is an Android version), there is a free lite version, but the paid version is £13.99. It includes, text, plates, videos and has interactive activities to get you involved with understanding and working with colour. 

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Scandinavian Slippers

This book (1) caught my eye in the library and I thought I would have my first attempt at twined knitting. 

Rather than just jump in I thought I would knit the sample pair as suggested but do them in ‘my colours’ rather than the different ones recommended. (The different colours are so you can see the different stages, which was a great idea.) 

I used my own Norfolk Horn hand spun yarn from a local farm which measured 11 wpi. I teamed this with some Hebridean  Double Knit (14wpi) yarn which I bought from Denise Bridges (2) when we were last in South Uist. I used this Hebridean yarn double and the pair of slippers took the whole of a 50g ball.

I used my knitting belt and 3 dpns size 3.5mm. The cast on was a 2 strand circular cast on, something I had not done before. 

I found twined knitting slow, you need to keep stopping to untwist the yarns but the effect is great. The fabric this combination of yarns gave was super firm and just what is needed for slippers. 

The construction was interesting, you knit a sealed envelope that looks like this.

Stitches are then picked up either side of a waste yarn, which is then removed. Short row knitting gives a triangular insert either side and then a cuff is knitted which could be as long as you wanted. I made mine following the instructions, as this is a trial knit and topped the cuff with Estonian Braid following instructions from my workshop with Hadewych van der Werf in Shetland Wool Week, last year (3)


Completed slippers, showing sole and top side and you can see the twined knitting inside.(4)

I was very pleased with the result and the slippers fit well. I will use them as an alternative pair of ‘handbag’ slippers, ie the ones I take with me when visiting friends. 

I am looking forward to knitting another pair inspired by the book, which I have now bought for Kindle at a reasonable price. 

  1. The book is Knitting Scandinavian Slippers and Socks. The explanations are very thorough. I really like Laura Farson’s  style. 
  2. Denise runs the Hebridean Woolshed (www.hebrideanwoolshed.scot). There is a campsite next door which includes a great cafe. A wonderful  part of the world. 
  3. ‘Knitting across Borders’ workshop described on blog post of 23 Jan 2020
  4. The pattern gave a ribbed sole but I did it differently ! 

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Shetland Wool Week 19: 20 The journey to home

Wed-Fri Oct 9-11: Day 24-26 

We had a good crossing and were into breakfast early so were able to get a table next to a window and so could watch the journey into the dock. It is a large boat (by my standards) and the skill of the crew in manoeuvring the boat into just the right place always amazes me. 

The good news was that we did not have to start off the morning by going to Aberdeen Hospital, the swelling and redness around the wound on M’s foot had subsided but care would still be needed! 

We knew we would be delayed in moving the van as we were tightly packed into the side surrounded by large trailers. In fact it only took 20 minutes to get us a safe path out onto land. 

Our first stop was going to be Glendoik Garden Centre, situated just east of Perth where we would take our second breakfast today. We always stop here and I have  recommended this place to several who I know will be travelling past. However, it was a disappointing stop food wise. It was 9.02 when we got there, they had just opened so we had made good time. We brushed off the frustration of M choosing a teacake and then having to take off the clingfilm/cellophane to have it toasted. To my mind unneeded waste but perhaps it was a health and safety issue. I choose a bacon bap but this had to be sent back twice as the bacon was cold. The staff reaction made me feel the issue was my fault! I felt that, possibly with success had come a downgrading of the importance of the customer experience. We will stop here again and hope it was ‘just one of those days’ ! 

We noticed how the plants had changed since we were here on the way to Shetland, it was looking very autumnal from our table. 

I thought this was a great Christmas decoration 


I drove onto Cairn Lodge, now part of the Westmorland group where the whole experience was great. The food was excellent, the ambience was good as it has been refurbished as part of the take over. The staff were friendly and looked as though they were enjoying the job and steps were being made to reduce waste. We had a good rest and had lunch here. (1) 

Unfortunately the weather turned poor with very heavy rain and driving became more difficult as more traffic built up as we got further south. We decided to stop at Annan Water where the motorhome specific parking had plenty of space. (This is not always the case during the summer). We both slept and made our own tea. On looking  at the map,  we were able to drive on non motorway roads to Hoddom Castle our stop for the night. We got there about 16.00 and we were looking forward to a good rest. The journey tomorrow would be 50 miles shorter.

On Tuesday or first stop was at Rheged, just off the junction of the M6 and A66, another great place for a good bacon bap and early coffee. Usually we would drive into Barnard Castle to the Bowes Museum for coffee. Parking is good and the cafe has great views, and a nice ‘arty’ shop. However, we were disappointed with this on the way up and when we noticed Thorpe Farm Shop on the East lane of the A66 we decided we would try that. This looked a relatively new venture and was very clean. After having a pot of tea we decided to stop for lunch. It was good and this is now duly added to the map.(3) 

It was a busy and uneventful run down the A1 to Clumber Park where we would stay the night. (4) We noticed how warm it seemed for October, the van thermometer was showing 20C in the living section. 

Time for some knitting of the fair isle gloves. 

Friday was our third and final day of travel down to East Anglia and we were hoping to be in by lunchtime. We stopped at North Grantham services which provided all we needed but which was not an uplifting experience. We drove on and were home for lunchtime, even though it was Friday. We had time to make a quick lunch, unpack the van and drive to the surgery where we would make the last of the scheduled flu jab clinics! 

It was the end of a wonderful trip. Already in my headmI was working out what my Shetland Wool  Week 2020 new knitted garment would be. Each year we say the experience can’t get any better, but it does. We were so lucky to be able to make this trip, we had wonderful scenery, good weather and  good birds. The wool week classes, lectures, exhibitions etc will be remembered for ever, and I have enough textile creative ideas to get me through another year. But what makes it so special are the people, the Shetland folk and the wool week friends we meet, and new friends that we make each year. You know who you are and thank for very much. 

This post has been rather heavy on Camping Sites and possible stops for refreshments. I make no apology for this. If I have helped one fellow traveller it will  have been worth it. 

A couple of photos that I could not fit in to other posts: 

Aithsvoe : the view from the campsite when we were staying on Mainland

One of the beautiful jumpers in Tulloch’s window Lerwick

and the finished Hoosiefield gloves which I loved the design of, loved knitting, love wearing and love the compliments I get when  wearing them! 


  1. There is also a farm shop, although not as big as the original one at the M6 Westmorland Services. 
  2. This is a large and very spacious campsite surrounded by woods near Ecclefechan in Dumfries and Galloway. There are permanent ‘mobile homes’ as well as stops for those of us travelling. We have always found the team are extremely well organised with the facilities spotlessly clean. We do not mind travelling a few miles from the motorway to stay here. There is a bar/cafe which serves meals but do check if this is operating. It was open travelling up but closed on this journey. 
  3. Besides using the sat nav we travel with a Philips Navigator Britain 1 1/2 miles to 1 inch road atlas, finding the scale excellent if roads get closed on us, wherever we are. However, we need to update this as it does not have the new circular Norwich road on it! 
  4. Another site we like, spacious and preferably parking where the back door of the van opens  straight into Sherwood Forest. The downside (or upside) is the lack of both mobile phone and WiFi.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Shetland Wool Week 19: 19 Last two days in Shetland

Mon and Tues Oct 7-8: Day 22 and 23 

We like to stay a couple of days after wool week to have a bit of a rest and also do some shopping. There are too many other things to do during wool week without worrying about getting wool. I also like to get into the Museum  and if possible the archives. There are some interesting wool related books on the shelves in there. We did not expect to be the only ‘wool weekers’ on the ferry either, and already know of two friends we will meet up with in the lounge. 

Even though it was bright and sunny we noticed that the wind was getting up by the time we arrived back at the campsite on Sunday evening and for the first time this week we parked the van facing  into the wind and gave a thought to those on the boat, wondering how choppy it would be. 

When we woke in the morning it was quite mild again but I could hear the wind, so guessed it wasn’t the best journey back to Aberdeen. For us, it was a superb sunrise. We are very lucky, we enjoy the sunrise here but also at home in Norfolk we see great sunrises and sunsets from our house and having lived in built up areas it is never something we take for granted.

During coffee the wind got stronger and the rain was heavy, so we lingered checking up on the outside world which we were soon to re-enter. We found out that whilst we were away it had been very wet at home, the local town had been flooded. It seemed strange that as we left we wondered how the garden would manage - it was hot and very dry when we left for Shetland! The garden at home needed the rain but we expected to see our ground elder crop, which we try and keep down, waist high! 

We called at Tesco for enough provisions to get us home later in the week and then decided to have lunch in Mareel, they do a very nice hot bacon and cheese croissant! 

I popped over to the Museum to buy more cards to send home to our young grandsons and was surprised it was closed. At least I could programme going back to look at knitwear etc for tomorrow. 

We had never been to Skeld campsite and friends tell us how nice it is so we decided to drive there and have a look. However we  got as far as the turn off to Tingwall and the weather was ‘not good’ in Shetland terms, at home it would have been called ‘evil’ so we opted out and went back to the campsite. 

This was great,  I could have an afternoon and evening making progress on Hazel’s gloves (Hoosiefield) from the annual. I had brought wool with me and I juggled with the colours and came up with a plan. Perhaps I could get them finished before I got home. I was pleased they had Fair Isle fingers, these would be double thickness. It brought back bad memories, I used to have chilblains on my fingers as I had a very long journey to school, involving a bike, walk, train and walk for 7 long years. Pity I didn’t have gloves with double thickness fingers then. 

The beginning of the back of the hand pattern


And my colour selection and working notes 


Another night not to be on the boat I suspect. (We heard later that it was very rough last night!)

Tuesday was our last day and we were keen to make the most of it and not just drift around waiting for the evening ferry. Several of our wool week friends would be on the boat too and it would be a happy time tinged with sadness knowing we would have to rely on social media for keeping in touch until next year. 

It was a relief that there was no noticeable wind as we got up, so fingers crossed for a calm crossing tonight. 

We tidied up and left fairly early and made for Mackenzies for the last bacon bap of the holiday. After this we did a mini tour of Cunningsburgh to search out a ‘new’ birdwatching sites M had been told about. By this time it was dull and wet and no sign of the  red backed shrike. 

Next stop was the Museum to pick up cards for the grandsons. Lunch was available but it was soup, panini or sandwiches and none of these appealed to me that day. Mareel, a short stroll away, was offering Beetroot and Brie tart which was delicious.

I wanted more time in the Museum. I had been in touch during the week with Michael H who had some knitted lace samples on show knitted in 2018 as part of an earlier lace project and I though I could get better images for him. This I did and then decided I hadn’t really looked at the Fair Isle knitting this year so very much enjoyed doing this. 

I love this hat, particularly the shape. It uses natural dyed wool for the colours and dates to c.1870 

I still hadn’t bought the wool I needed from Jamieson’s so it was back to the Quay to park.

As I got there I realised I had not taken a photo of their special wool week window, which is always a joy to see. I hadn’t realised that I had a mention in the window! 

Part of the display

The cone of grey wool that I had ordered nearly 2 weeks ago was not there and I was reassured it would follow me home.(1)

The wool I needed and the overshot weaving that it will form part of, I am thinking will be another simple bag or handbag if I have enough of the 4 yarns involved to make sufficient fabric. I just love this pattern and have made x samples before I got the colour combination to my liking. 

I popped into the first charity shop I came too, just to browse and what a bonus day it was, I found a vintage pattern for a knitted suit, now I need to translate it from hand knitting to machine knitting. 

The afternoon was getting on and we decided to stop in the Bod car park and make tea and cake and make sure everything was put away and we had our bags packed ready for the night  on the ferry. 

Part of the Bod sign

Unusually we were one the first vehicles onto the ferry, squeezed in between 2 large lorries, and by 17.45 I was in the lounge. It was drizzly but calm. 

We decided to eat straight away and were joined by Eve and Angela and then Kate. Eve had carried her nano electric spinner with her so I could see how tiny it was and how it would fit into a bag. I was trying to decide whether to buy a slightly larger, and to me more robust Ashford, or this tiny one. Eve also came up with a suggestion of where I could get 2.75mm dpns, which I had failed to track down anywhere. (2) 

We had a long journey the next day so were in the cabin at 22.00. However, M showed me the top of his foot that had been rubbing on his boots, his whole foot was very swollen and red! Another medical emergency on the ferry. All we could do was go to sleep and hope having the leg up would help, but I went to sleep thinking we would need to visit the hospital in Aberdeen first thing in the morning  as it looked infected to me. 

  1. The card from the postman which greeted me on arriving home said my neighbour had the wool. He had been looking after it since yesterday so the wool beat me home! 
  2. I ordered these as soon as we were back from  https://www.guernseywool.co.uk I am very pleased I now have a set that are longer than my 23cm sock knitting ones, although I have mastered these and shorter ones with my knitting belt. I am still to order an electric spinner. 


Thursday, 30 January 2020

Shetland Wool Week 19: 18 Brae Teas

Sunday Oct 6: Day 21 

The second Sunday of Wool Week is one of my favourite days. It is so nice to see and talk to members of Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers  with their exhibition at Brae in what is called a Sunday tea in Shetland. 

Visitors are able to look at some of the wonderful knitwear the Guild members have made during the year and usually there is an opportunity to buy some items directly from the  makers. If this wasn’t enough some of the members would be spinning and knitting and of course there were the teas! On top of this , was the opportunity to talk to some of the members who over the years I feel I have got know as we have discussed either their knitting or my natural dyeing or knitting.  Then of course there was the chance to say good bye to fellow wool week attendees. 

But last year and this the Galley shed and the youth centre were open too. There were other craftspeople with quite a wide variety of crafts at a Makers’ Market in the Youth Centre. One lady was selling yarn and I took the opportunity to buy some Green Shetland yarn.  Whatever shade of green I have it seems never to be the shade I need! Bunchy, alias Spindrift Crafts, had a stall too so it was a great opportunity to talk to her about Natural Dyeing, to tell her how much I was enjoying her book and how good it is to see her iG posts about dyeing through  the year. (1)

The Galley shed besides having an Up-Helly-Aa exhibition also had a scissor sharpener, but unfortunately I had not brought the scissors  that could have benefitted with me! 

Once the Guild Teas were open we decided  we would have an early tea as we had just had a snack lunch. The Guild work so hard for this afternoon, the kitchen had many members adding more food, washing up etc and the tea and coffee ladies who fill the cups at the table were offering drinks to visitors throughout the afternoon. It is a tremendous task they take on. I am a member of a Guild in East Anglia and I can’t think we would believe we could manage anything on this scale. Shetland Guild need recognition nationally for what they do on this day in my opinion. Of course many of them have already had a busy week running classes and the like. As last year the Northmavine Fiddle and Accordion club provided traditional music on the stage. This is very  good too , with the bonus of seeing more Traditional Shetland Knitwear being worn. It was also entirely appropriate that there was an appeal for donations for the Peerie Makkers crowdfunding appeal, as this is a voluntary run scheme (2) so that more of the target age group can be involved and more of  Shetland can have a local group. The highlight of the day for me is twofold - seeing Shetland lace and Fair Isle  Knitting by Shetland designers and knitters and seeing the prizes they have won for these and being able to talk to them about what I feel is amazing knitwear. 

Part of Hazel’s display                                               Always something to learn from


For me personally it was a very enjoyable afternoon and it was an extra pleasure to meet again ladies from Unst who had organised a ‘day out’ to come to the Tea. 

We decided we would repeat our post Brae Teas experience with a trip to Eshaness. Last year it was really wild, but this year it was calmer and the sun was still out (just) and the views were stunning. It was good to be here again. 

As we drove back the sun was setting and around every corner there seemed another spectacular view. We had in mind to stop at Frankie’s for a Fish and Chip supper and so didn’t want to get too late. I just took photos with my iPad but made a note to myself that if the weather is like this next year I must make time to get the proper camera out with the tripod and filters for some truly spectacular shots. 

sunset over Frankie’s

So back to the campsite and the end of wool week organised activities, but we had another couple of days to begin to unwind and do last minute essential Shetland shopping. 

  1. I understand from someone who went to Bunchy’s workshop “ about Natural Dye plants and make a ‘colours of Shetland’ sample cushion” that it was very good too. 
  2. You can find out more about they young Shetland Knitters on the fb page ShetlandPeerieMakkers

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Shetland Wool Week 19: 17 Maker’s Market, Bod and Dinner

Sat Oct 5: Day 20 

The last Saturday of Wool week is always good, the Maker’s Market ensures this. The market is now held at the new (Anderson) High School and there is ample parking, and only a short walk from the Sports Centre should the parking ever get full. It starts at 11.00 and gives stall holders ample time to set up. I was hoping that I could catch up on some friends that I had missed or seen earlier in our stay. This happened so that was great and I met and chatted to Amanda from Whalsay with whom I had a great knitting class some years also. I also saw Minnie from Unst who was at the indigo class so it was good to hear her thoughts on how it had gone. I hadn’t seen Roisin all week so good to have a very quick chat, as she was looking after her stall. (1)

M went upstairs to the cafe, where the drinks and cake are superb and my plan was to meet him asap so I could have coffee before I ran out of steam. As usual with chatting it took longer than I thought but I had completed a quick look at the stalls and targeted a couple of things to buy after coffee. 

What is striking is the quality of the items on sale. I go to lots of ‘craft’ fairs at home and just wish I could transport many of the sellers to this one. Then they could see how it can be done and how people would be queueing for their items. It is not about price at all for me. It is about finesse and detail and seeing and then owning, a truly beautiful item. Shetland people know how to use the best quality raw materials with amazing workmanship! 

One of my purchases, I just love the detail. 

Jumperboard necklace made by Pinkfish (2) 

Eventually I got upstairs to find Michael with Sally, who we first met in Shetland some years ago. I had taken a ‘made by me’ bundle of sticks for her to use as a ‘knitting belt’ and failed to meet her earlier in the week as I had to opt out of a couple of evening functions. It was great to catch up with her and her friend. I hadn’t seen Sarah (3) either all week although we were meeting up for dinner later in the day. She was full of her wonderful time on the trip to Foula. (4)

She got Michael to take this photo of us with Hazel. I don’t like photos of myself but do quite like this one! 

Photo of sarah, Hazel, me 

Before I left I wanted to see the Shetland Peerie Makkers, the youngsters learning knitting. This is an initiative set up out of wool week initially I believe, where volunteers  teach groups of the young knitters in the processes of Shetland Knitting, ‘helping to preserve Shetland’s knitting culture’. This is a great initiative and it is lovely to see most of them using knitting belts and working from their own drafted motif designs, ie learning the designing as they learn to knit. Materials and equipment are provided for the knitters. The initiative started in 2015 and it is great to see how it has grown and the progress of the knitters. It is a very good project to donate to, imo. With all this happening we were at the Makers Market for longer than intended but it didn’t matter as were were getting a light lunch in the van. I had devoted the afternoon to The Bod as I hadn’t had a serious look round  during the week. 

It was great to see James (5) as I got there and we had a long talk mainly about dyeing, both natural  and acid, to which others in the lower room joined in. Eventually I moved away to look at the two rooms upstairs and found yet more demonstrators to talk to as well. As always there was wonderful lace knitting and fair isle knitting and plenty I had not seen before. 

I was very taken by a display related to Bess Jamieson, in particular her baskets made by weaving pine needles.(6) 

Pine needle baskets

I also noticed a display relating to the Back to Back Challenge. This one looked more official than others I have seen as it seems to be international! 

You will be able to spot some names you know:

Can you identify the people from 1977, at least one should be possible. 

Another great visit. The Bod will be closing it’s doors now and reopen in the spring. If you haven’t ever been to the Bod, do try and add it to your ‘must visit’ list.

We just had time to go back to base, have a short rest and then meet up for dinner with Sarah and friends in the String. 

Helen Robertson and her Mum would be there and Sarah brought with her Laura, a tattooist and bird watcher, from USA, who just happened to be another avid knitter. It was a fun evening, I think the waitress was persuaded to take this photo. 

Another wonderful day, including the weather,  with tomorrow being the last official day of wool week. 

  1. Roisin runs R.A.M knitwear, she is the on the staff of Shetland College  and last year I was lucky enough to visit her Machine Knitwear  studio in Bressay one evening. You can see some of her work on her Fb page ‘R.A.M Knitwear’. 
  2. ‘Pink Fish’ is the trading name of Shona Anderson. I had met Shona on Friday whilst she was working in Ninian, with Joanne Hunter. I have since been told that Shona is the daughter of Kathleen Anderson. 
  3. Sarah and I go back a few years, having met at a Maker’s Market I organised for A Community Group (Alsager Music and Arts) when we lived in Cheshire. We next met in Shetland - the power of wool week! She is a very skilled worker in many textile areas and beyond. She is on iG as ‘didyoumakeityourself’. The photos with Sarah on were taken on her phone by M and a waitress.
  4. This year the weather was kind to flights during wool week. The trip to Fair Isle went ahead and the new trip to Foula, was able to go ahead too. It was a chance to find out about Foula and Foula Wool in particular.
  5. James and I had both done the Warp Weighed Loom workshop in 2018. James lives and works in Shetland and is also a dyer and spinner. We always have lots to talk about when we meet. 
  6. Bess Jamieson was born in Sumatra where her father worked on a Rubber Plantation, she returned to Shetland in 1930. She was a much travelled lady during her life but retired to Walls. 

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Shetland Wool Week 19: 16 Mood Boards and Machine Knitting

Friday Oct 4:Day 19 

Today I was taking my last class of wool week and like yesterday’s class it was one I had been hoping to take for some years. The American lady I chatted to from the table next to ours last night in The string had taken the class Thursday afternoon. She was very complimentary about it and if anything, over breakfast, I was looking forward to it even more. 

We were up and about early as M was going to drop me in the middle of Lerwick at 9.00 and then drive back and park at Tesco. He could pick up bits and pieces we needed and walk back to the Health Centre to have another INR  test. 

I took the opportunity to walk up the town (North) and spent some time looking in Tullock’s window. This was like looking in a Museum as on display were a selection of jumpers that had been knitted around the 1920s and 1930s and had been lent by Elizabeth Angus.They were very interesting as many were knitted in fine rayon, many had fantastic finishing details and many had won knitwear prizes and they were in great condition. (1)

The window, apologies for the reflection! 

One of the prize certificates. 

It is so lovely to see shop keepers getting into the spirit of wool week and pulling out all the stops. Again looking at these was free and something any visitor to wool week could do. 

My class was in Ninian in Joanna’s  upstairs workshop. This is quite small  and 4 of us sat round a table with Joanna standing. It was very much a workroom and it felt good being in there.(2) She is very enthusiastic about what she does and still had bags of energy left on Friday. 

What was great was that she had the whole set of Jamieson’s yarns for us to select from. These were in the Spindrift range- that is a lot of yarns and they weren’t just samples they had started as whole balls of yarn. (This is important, I have the shade card but having more of the sample colour makes such a difference.) Joanne wanted us to work outside our comfort range of colours- I found this the most difficult part of the class. 

She began by talking about her background in designing going right through to making the finished machine knitted product. She talked about  where this had taken her geographically and also gave real gems of tips. Then it was our turn! We started with a blank sheet of A3 paper and guidance as well as one to one encouragement and motivation to stretch our capabilities. Then there was the selection of a working palette. 

The final treat was to see these mocked up into a working design, using DesignaKnit which I had heard of, it is used by some machine knitters. I thought (wrongly) that it was just about designing shapes but was more interested in it when I saw how it could put colours together and then switch individual colours at the press of a button (or two). Seeing our colour choices  added into a charted pattern was great. The class ran over. The cake and drink were superb and the time went too quickly. It was a great class to end the week on for me. 

I met M who was anxious as I was so late. (I need to eat regularly and often to avoid migraine) so we drove down to Mackenzies, our usual second breakfast venue. Although  it was busy we managed to find a space to eat, along with other woolly minded people. The bonus was M got chatting to a birdwatcher and got details of  another place or two to add to his list to visit. My plan had been to go down to Bigton for lunch but we felt it would be too much of a rush. Another item for next year’s list....assuming they will continue to be part of Wool Week in the future. 

After lunch we decided to shop at Wilma’s as we hadn’t seen her or Irene all week.(3) It was good to have a chance to have a proper chat and M found a couple of jumpers he really liked, this is one of them and Irene and I talked about some of Wilma’s new designs for this year based an Mike Finnie’s artwork.(4)

Wearing the new jumper 

I think the other jumper  is very clever, it is in finer wool and has stripes and both the body  and each sleeve are knit in the round. As a machine knitter is it good to see different designs from those in my usual repertoire. 

Another great day finished off by sharing notes with Kate, who had been on the Whitling a Shawl Pin workshop and visiting St Ninians - one of the very special places of Shetland. 

  1. They were all knitted by her mother or aunt. They best prize had been of £50.00 and had paid for a holiday in Edinburgh for their sisters and their mother in Edinburgh. 
  2. As Joanna could only have 4 at a time she ran this class 8 times during wool week. I was there on the Friday and she showed no sign of it being her 7th time that week! 
  3. Wilma Malcolmson is TerriLaura’s grandmother, we had seen them briefly at the Terri’s Creative Crew evening on Saturday. Wilma trades as Shetland Designer and M very much likes her jumpers. He likes to get a new one each year. 
  4. Mike’s artwork can be found at https://www.redhouss.co.uk/

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Shetland Wool Week 19: 15 Estonian Edgings plus and Fine Lace Knitting

Thurs Oct 3:Day 18 

I had hoped to do Hadewych’s ‘Crossing Borders’ class last year, but it wasn’t to be. I was very pleased to be doing it this year and it was to be another day spent in Hoswick. Again there were just 6 in the class, Maggie and I from England, an Israeli lady who I first met and chatted to in a previous year when we were in Unst, an American  lady and 2 ladies who were friends and part of a group of 4 from Australia. 

Hadewych (1) began by showing us some of her colourful and beautifully finished knitwear. It was obvious she was, like me, a perfectionist in terms of finishing her garments and I realised I was going to like this class even more than I had anticipated.

We had been asked to bring a 15cm square which we would work round during the class. I had knitted mine in the grey wool of my yoked jumper and taken my naturally dyed ground elder yarn with me to use. (2) Hadewych gave out a well illustrated and clear handbook for us to use at home but did not expect us to work through it in the class. 

We started off doing what was described as a relatively simple border which resulted in a textured bobble edge and this got us into finding the stitches required at a border. After some time spent on getting perfect facings and learning about zip insertion that stays flat we moved on to Borders in Estonian Knitting. Hadewych had initially learned  from Riina Tomberg and I quickly realised that this could turn into another obsession. 

I was so pleased to be introduced to these techniques and I could see how different combinations of stitches and colours could personalise any knitwear. I had plans in my head for my 2020 knitwear. We will see if I can add some of what I leaned in this great class. (3)

Michael arrived back during the afternoon. He had driven to Ollaberry (a round trip of 80 miles) to look for the Bee Eater he had heard about. He had had a great day, watching it for some time and taking photos. 

We had a fairly swift turn round as we were off to dinner at The String. This was just as good as we had anticipated and it was great to see and talk to other diners who virtually all seemed to be there for Wool Week.

We then walked to the museum where I was going to Carol Christiansen’s talk on ‘Elegant and Handsome Specimens of Knitting: Shetland Lace Close-up’. 

I sat with Kate and we had a catch up on how we had spent the day.(4)

Carol’s talk was excellent. There is no other word for it. It was well illustrated and she spoke for an hour or so. There are about 400 pieces of lace in the Museum  Collection. Carol described the history of lace knitting in Shetland and  referred to 10 years of research. She discussed a couple of earlier pieces of work in the quest to try and define Shetland Lace Knitting and what sets it apart from other Lace Knitting. Most of the pieces in the Museum are knitted from hand spun yarn. Most of the pieces have little documentation. Her current research project was described and we heard how Ann  Eunson is examining and charting some of the motifs and Kathleen Anderson is knitting these as samples. The plan is that a book of these will be published. I took copious notes, as I do, 16 pages and so can do no more than outline  what I noted. (5). As a dedicated fine lace spinner and knitter I found this excellent and good value for my £6 ticket! 

What a wonderful day for both of us. 

  1. Hadewych had a career as a teacher in the Netherlands. As a school pupil she spent some time in Norway and got interested in two colour knitting. She has run many workshops in wool week and also Netherlands, Norway and the Faroe Islands. 
  2. In hindsight  this was not the best choice. I would have been better using strong clashing colours so I could see the separate stages of each process. 
  3. As I was doing the class it brought back memories of machine knitting classes I had done at Metropolitan Machine Knitting with Carol Hocknell based on the work of Audrey Palmer. I determined to get these samples out when I got home! 
  4. An early piece of lace in the collection has been on show in the museum and belongs to the family of Kate, dating from when a distant grandfather was Minister in North Mavine. It is thought the piece was knitted by the nurse to the baby. This is a very complex piece  with a hood and is being  studied by this research project. 
  5. Carol was interviewed for Fruity Knitting podcast 89 where she talks and shows some of the samples of knitting done in the quest to chart these motifs. She has also written a blog post about this latest project on the Museum website here. https://www.shetlandmuseumandarchives.org.uk/blog/the-fine-detail-of-fine-knitted-lace

Monday, 13 January 2020

Shetland Wool Week 19: 14 Spinning for Fair Isle

Wed Oct 2:Day 17 

When I knit Fair isle I like to have naturally dyed the colours first, to me this helps make the garment special. Natural dyeing is a slow and very enjoyable part of the total project. If I am doing the dyeing I don’t usually spin the yarn - life is too short and there are so many other textile things I like doing.

I was looking forward to this class ‘Spinning for Fair Isle’ with Elizabeth Johnston as I would be taught how to get a coordinating range of colours by carding and spinning. Just like natural dyeing I could have my own unique  item - this is  a different way of ‘making the colours’. It was also rather special for me to have a class with Elizabeth as it was her who first taught me to spin on a drop spindle in 2000. Life changing at its best! 

It was a full day class at Hoswick, which is a lovely place to spend a day. There were just 6 of us  in the class and I believe I was the only British person there. However, I had already met Helen, from Sweden in Unst and I knew Suzanne from the USA from previous years at Wool Week. I had taken my Joy  wheel and also my own carders because I could! I was also able to spin with my wheel in Unst this year and of course I needed it for yesterday in Ollaberry. 

We started by preparing rolags in each of black and white and then from these a range of colours  in between. Elizabeth was keen to help those that she thought could make rolags more easily. I kept my head down and hoped my method met with approval as I had done carding, albeit for lace during a class, with Elizabeth last year. 

We had the chance to  repeat this with brown and white so we would have 2 naturally coloured ranges during the day. My carding certainly improved. I like to do things slowly but even my speed improved with all this carding. The aim was to get a range of rolags of different colour values. 

The afternoon was more experimental when we added colour into our initial mix of fleece and got great variations and I could see the endless possibilities of what we could achieve by these techniques. Careful notes were needed to know what I had done. 

Some of the class were spinning before lunch but I like to get everything prepared first! 

I was delighted with the results as I began to spin some of the rolags later in the day, but they were really too good  to spin! 

The day went so quickly but this is another wool related hole to fall down..... no spinner can ever be bored! 

I had been planning to go to the High School for the Knitting  night. I knew I had to give up on this idea in the interests of managing to get to my class, another full day, tomorrow. I guess the Knitting  evening will be on next year too. It is always nice to go and chat to friends who I only meet at wool week but if I got a migraine I wouldn’t be going anywhere tomorrow. 

So dinner and an early night for me!