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.

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