Last week I was lucky enough to visit the Shetland islands with some of my regular knitting group. We loved every minute and were very lucky with the weather – only one day of blustery rain and wind while we hung over the edge of a cliff watching mating Puffins! We really enjoyed the Shetland Textile Museum in its lovely old building (Bod of Gremista) full of Fair-isle and knitted lace, watched a very fast and efficient demonstration of fair-isle knitting with colours worked from both hands at once and discovered the stockings presented to Queen Victoria which ignited a renewed interest in Shetland knitwear. We visited the fastest knitter in the world Hazel Tindall with whom we talked for ages about developing the right rhythm to make this possible! Hazel’s workshops fill up the minute they are posted, so we’ll have to be super quick if we want some tuition. Maybe Wool Week 2014 if we’re fast enough!
On the most northerly isle,Unst, we saw more beautiful lace-knitted shawls and a bus stop full of wool-related artefacts, had lunch at the last pit-stop before the vast expanse of sea begins, & saw a large male otter swimming through the shallows & diving for fish. We had a beautiful day for our walk around St Ninian’s Isle and collected bags full of fleece shed by the roaming herds of sheep which we will later attempt to spin into a useable yarn. There are so many fabulous white, sandy beaches around the islands, but we found our feet almost froze after 2 minutes of paddling, so definitely no swimming took place! One of our favourite places was the Croft House Museum, housed in a Croft which was inhabited in it’s present state until the late 1960s.
Following a fabulous lunch of seafood chowder and locally baked bread at the Shetland Museum & Archive in Lerwick, where we enjoyed more vintage fair-isle knitwear and lovely textile-related table insets in the restaurant, we took in an evening of fiddle music & dancing at the Mareel arts centre before heading back off home to the Big Smoke. We will definitely visit the Shetlands again, most definitely during Wool Week which is a must for knitters & wool lovers everywhere.