What an amazing week I had in Shetland! It was a complete privilege to see and talk to so many amazing knitters, who generously shared their work and thoughts with me.
Mary Kay, at the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers, shows us an incredibly fine lace shawl, knitted in Unst around 1930.
Joan Roberston with a pattern and what was knit from it.
Wilma Pottinger’s innovative use of cables.
Ella Gordon with an intriguing piece from her collection, whose pattern and provenance has an interesting story to tell.
Ella again! Hap-py on a fancy hap, like so many Shetland babies.
Sue Arthur’s completely beautiful hap knitted in yarn she spun from her own sheep. Sue used Zena Thomson’s pattern from the guild’s important and timely book, A Legacy of Shetland Lace, adding a few cats paws to the centre “riggies.”
Lovely Ina Irvine – world-class fine lace knitting with hand-spun yarn from a very special fleece.
Anne Eunson (right) with her grand-niece Lauren Anderson. Together with Anne’s sister (lace-knitting legend Kathleen Anderson), they keep fine knitting in the family!
I learned so much from knowledgeable Elizabeth Johnston, whose work is full of thought and meaning.
I have come away with some fantastic material, intriguing leads, new stories, and beautiful images which will all shape the first part of our new Haps book.
So thankyou to Carol Christiansen at the Shetland Museum, the staff at Shetland archives, Cushla Bretton at the Textile Museum, everyone at the Guild and Burra knitting night, and a huge thanks especially to Ella Gordon, Donna Smith and Hazel Tindall, for all your help last week.
As well as being busy with my own research, I found myself repeatedly reflecting and musing on other people’s work as well. I suppose I think of Shetland as an inherently creative place: a place where knitterly skill truly lives and thrives, and whose history (and future) should be explored and celebrated in many different contexts. It is one of the world’s few great knitting destinations: the value of Shetland’s textile heritage, and the unique nature of the talent it has fostered really speaks for itself. Except sometimes it doesn’t. On a few different occasions last week, I had separate conversations with wonderful women, all of whom have innovative and individual ideas for projects and books that the world needs to engage with – to read, enjoy, and knit from — books that should be published. These women are the face, and the future of creative Shetland. To them I say: please pursue these projects, please make these books, please publish.
YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.