Sunday, 12 January 2020

Shetland Wool Week 19: 13 Ollaberry plus

Tues Oct 1: Day 16 

This was a day without any classes.  I had planned to go to Isleburgh Knitters and Spinners again this year in the evening, but realised that if I did I would be so knocked up I wouldn’t cope with my classes on Wednesday and Thursday. 

We started off in Mackenzies as we usually do in wool week for our second breakfast. Then it was a quick trip along to Isleburgh. I had arranged with Bunchy that I would pick up my Natural Dye Colours from Shetland book before her class. I knew how frantic preparing for the class might be so I had the money ready in a sealed envelope and all I had to do was swap it for the book. I had followed  the progress of the book on IG and I believe I was the first person to put my name down when Bunchy said she was producing this book. (1) I had seen the book in Unst as Helen got her copy when she was on Mainland and brought it along to our dye workshop  on the Wednesday evening. Taking as little time as possible I got my hands on the book. 

We then parked the van at the museum and went in for a coffee. 

Entrance Hall Of the Museum

This was my opportunity to have a closer look at the items belonging to the patterns in the SWW annual and also to look round the knitwear section of the Museum. It doesn’t matter how many times I look round I always ‘see’ more things. I was particularly interested in grafting in shawls this year. 

So first of all the Hub where the Annual Knitwear display was - it was good to see how Elizabeth (Johnston) had mitred the corners on her shawl pattern in the annual. 

What a mitre! 

The museum hosts other exhibitions of interest during wool week. One such was from Deborah Gray:  ‘Of the land: Icelandic Wool’ from her time as an artist in residence there. The frames are bound with hand spun wool, naturally dyed. During her time there she explored the differences between the two different wool fibres in the fleece  and the effect of natural dyeing on these. 

While looking around the knitting section my eye caught a glimpse of a name I was familiar with from a fb lace knitting group. I duly messaged the owner, in Thailand,  who was really pleased that I had noticed this. He had answered the call some time ago to take part in the Nottingham-Shetland Lace Research Project and had sent in his samples in 2018. He did not know they  were exhibited in Shetland Museum and was very pleased to be able to see photos I sent him. Another example of the wonders of fb! (2)

Then I had to return to look at the exquisite examples of the ‘so fine’ lace and tell myself to be patient. I am spinning fine, I just need to do metres and metres more and then design my own shawls just like these truly amazing women did. 

We left at lunch  time and were going to drive up to Ollaberry. The day was warm and bright, what a super journey we were in for. 

 Hays Dock by the Museum, it was October! 

Ollaberry is special, it is associated in my mind with much marvellous lace, the ability to talk to lace knitters with real expertise and great food. We decided that we would have our plate of food when we got there and call it lunch! 

We were too polite to be the first for the spread, but were encouraged by the ladies serving that this would be good. As we sat down they told us they were expecting a coach tour, this was  one  of the tours put on for wool week and it must have been full considering the number who came in for lunch. As always it was a wonderful spread and after the coach had left more food was added and one would not have known 50 or so people had just been in for lunch. 

We had come to Ollaberry this day in particular as I was going to meet Gordon (Fleece loved products) and his wife Gill. I had been in touch with him before we left home and I was hoping I could buy  one his fine lace bobbins and the brake system that he had customised for my wheel. Kate had told me how great they were and so I was very excited by this prospect. We met and I used the said system on my wheel and was delighted with it. It was great to be involved with these expert fine spinners such as Betsy Williamson who the bobbin, named the Ollaberry bobbin, had been expertly designed for. This was one of the major highlights of my week. I decided to have enough bobbins to spin and ply the yarn this way and also purchased an Ollaberry Lace Weight Gauge (and one for another Shetland Spinner and knitter) who had seen Gordon on Saturday and not acquired one. As a bonus I was able to try Gill’s Ashford electric spinner. I didn’t expect to like it, but I absolutely loved it. DH came back from his bird watching walk as I was using it and I believe I heard him say I ought to have one for Christmas! It was a delight to meet this couple and to feel that spinning as finely as I do in not ‘freakish’. (3) It was lovely to be made so welcome by the local ladies spinning at Ollaberry and to be able to talk to them again this year. 

Fine lace gauge and a bobbin

On show close to where we were sitting was displayed the most gorgeous and perfect shawl. This  had been knitted by a young knitter and won lots of prizes. Her name was Lauren Anderson and I heard from one of the ladies (her grandmother) that she had ‘knitting genes’ from both of her parents.(4)

Lauren’s Shawl

What an afternoon this had been, on top of a wonderful morning. It only needed to be finished off by stopping off at Frankie’s Fish and Chip shop in Brae for a very tasty dinner. 

People coming to wool week get upset when they can’t get the classes they feel they ‘need’ when booking. I hope this day will go some way to showing that there is so much wonderful stuff to see and marvellous ‘wool’ people to meet and talk to, that having a day with no classes is nothing to worry about. There is so much to see and do. Everything I did today was free, except for the purchases I made and yet it will be one of my best days in Shetland. Keep your mind and eyes open, talk to people and you will learn so much! 

  1. Again a very good example of social media, Bunchy posts as Spindrift Crafts both on iG and fb and it has been good to follow this publishing journey with her.
  2. Carol  Christiansen mentioned this project on her talk on Thursday. I will be writing more about it then. 
  3. Gordon has amazing skills. An engineer by training he is making a number of laser cut birch products of quality for knitters, spinners, weavers and crochet lovers. It is the ‘cleverness’ of the design which is particularly striking eg on the Ollaberry Gauge just 20 winds of the yarn can give you the wpi down to 200. A very useful tool when actually spinning. If you search for ‘fleece loved products’ you will find Jelly Bean yarns on Etsy and Beaker Button (also both on fb) as some of the stockists or contact directly at 
  4. This is the second shawl of Lauren’s. She was just 16 when she knitted the first shawl and won the children’s section and the judges were so impressed that the shawl was put in the adult section where she won that prize too. She was just 20 when she knitted the shawl in the picture and it won all the prizes possible at the Voe Show. This shawl is just perfect. Lauren was interviewed for the  Fruity Knitting podcast no 87 and  she can be found on iG as laurenclaireart

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