Well, I had a fantastic time in Shetland. As I was on my own, I stayed in Lerwick. I really enjoyed meeting up with Shetland friends old and new, and pottering about toon.





But I was there to work — I have a couple of writing commissions in the pipeline, one of which involves producing a short history of Fair Isle knitting for a new (and very exciting) book about Shetland textiles. So I examined a lot of Fair Isle pieces, and I thought a lot about them.


I saw some truly incredible textiles . . .


. . . so many of which defied any idea of the ‘traditional’ in Fair Isle knitting.


(This striking allover features 4 shades of Shetland wool and 3 shades of artificial silk)

(Fair Isle motifs, but not Fair Isle knitting)

(Fair Isle or . . .Tartan?)

So much to think about.


29 thoughts on “thinking time

  1. I shall be in Lerwick in July this year – coming in from Paris, going to Paris from Melbourne, Australia. I couldn’t be more excited! Definitely going to the museum. If anyone thinks of anything else I shouldn’t miss, please let me know. I will only be in Lerwick for two and a half days. Sooo looking forward to it.


  2. such wonderful designs – makes me want to run straight back to my needles. Your passion for the history of your textiles is so inspiring Kate. I’ve just spent the evening researching the Roslyn Woollen Mill in Dunedin, New Zealand – I have one of their woollen “health” blankets – this is something I would never have thought to do, until I discovered you :-) Thank you! And so looking forward to reading your future work into Fair Isle


  3. Hi Kate , just to let you know that I “look” at many blogs, but yours is the only one that I always enjoy to read, since I discovered your blog two years ago. You take us with you on your trips and make us dream of beautiful landscapes and knitting.
    with love…. from France


  4. I’m struck by the similarity of the stone buildings to the ones in my own neighbourhood, which was settled by Scottish immigrants in the late 18th/earlly 19th century. Also struck by the bright colours of the shetland knitting.


  5. Your work travel is things dreams are made of !!! Whoa… check out those old patterns. Well, you mention ‘tartan’, and I think it’s uncanny, as I’m personally working on a tartan-inspired piece !!!! Gorgeous photos… as usual. I’ll follow you anywhere :)


  6. Lovely post! Just got hold of a copy of Michael Pearson’s book from the eighties. Fascinating! Want to visit Shetland VERY BADLY! Keep us posted on the new book.


  7. Gorgeous post! I have to confess, my favorite photo was of the inside (aka wrong side, but it’s not wrong at all) of the fair isle jumper. The more I knit, the more fascinating I find the hidden sides of fair isle work, where I can see the lovely little details and finishing that are just as important as the actual knitting.


  8. How lovely!
    By the way Kate, I was watching episode 4 of the current series of Call The Midwife and one of the nurse characters had a lovely jumper on that reminded me of your puffin design!!!! Of course yours has the lovely beak shape within the pattern, but it was amazing to see!


    1. Ooh, I noticed that jumper too and thoughts it looked very Puffin-esque. I also saw a trailer for the upcoming series Shetland – is that the one which may feature some of your designs?


  9. Very excited to hear these whispers of a coming book on the history of Shetland textiles. I’m beginning work on my dissertation, examining knitterly histories in the context of intellectual labor, and there are fewer solid histories and collections than I’d have thought. Yay! Do good work, and thanks, Kate.


  10. How wonderful……….and when I looked at that building all I could see was the house where Ann Cleeves detective lived :) Thank you again for feeding our senses!


  11. Beautiful photos – and what inspiration! The view of water beyond stone building (fifth photo down) and the allover-pattern knit fabric especially call to me.


  12. The fourth photo from the bottom…is that the knitting that inspired the endpapers of Life in Shetland by Ursula Venables? It looks the same and she did mention the endpapers were knitting inspired. Just lovely in person.

    Thanks so much for the lovely photos. And knitting designs. I really enjoy your blog.


  13. I’m not a qualified fair isle knitter but it looks gorgeous!!! Already ‘homesick’ for Shetland, eventhough it’s only been 4 months since I’ve been there and more than 20 months till I set foot on it again..
    Looking forward to new designs!


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