woensdag 22 december 2010

Shetland....Fleece..Fair Isle..Lace...and a special lunch

As promised I should write a post about my knitting adventures which I had the last summer-holiday in Shetland. On one of the first days (maybe it was the first day)I walked into Tesco and suddenly out of the blue I got a Big Hug and a Hey Jan...and there was Connie promoting salmon at the entrance of the supermarket. Connie used to work at Jamieson & Smith (The wool-brokers) but changed job. She is a half-Kiwi and half-Shetland girl and is now living in Lerwick for the time being before going back to New Zealand with her husband (who comes from Shetland ofcourse!!) She immediately told me that Jared Flood (yes: THE Brooklyntweed!)was coming to Shetland with another bunch of knitters and the Parents of Ravelry: Jess and Casey. And the next question was: please do come on Thursday for lunch in the Shetland museum and you can meet up with them.
So I went there with my dear friend Birgit (who was my girlfriend long, long ago, but we are still very good friends) and we had lunch with Jared, Gudrun Johnston, Mary Jane Mucklestone (from whom I had bought a pattern and yarn at J&S the summer before to knit her Luke's Diced Vest: still not on the needles...), Ysolda Teague, a model who's name I forgot and Jess and Casey from Ravelry. Than there was Connie of-course and Auntie Grace who taught some knitting during lunch. All very pleasant, good food (Mike the chef in the restaurant is GREAT!!) and later we took pictures as a group. I had taken some pictures but none of them were so good as this one from Jess, so I hope she doesn't mind that I am using this one. They all had came up to Shetland for holiday, but also for photo-shoots by Jared for books from Ysolda and Gudrun. It was really nice to have met them and they all signed my diary.So a delightful lunch worth to remember.
Whenever you are on Shetland in the summer you can visit Country shows where a lot of items are displayed. We went to the one in Voe on a rainy day in a very muddy field and it was kind of scary to drive the car down the hill on the slippery ground. Guess they must have thaught: how can we tease that Dutchman! Let's see if he can drive and after a close look before going down which track too choose it all went fine..There are competitions for cake-making, knitwear, the best sheep etcetera... and of course : the best fleece from Shetland sheep can be found there. This one is the winner: a beautiful grey. They told me that this colour is hard to get in this quality. Most of the fleece (as been told)is bought by Jamieson & Smith in Lerwick and in summer all fleeces are coming in their shed. The amount of different natural shades is enormous.Browns, greys, whites and everything in between. Dark, almost black fleece is peeping out from the packaging.Baskets full of creamy fleece.. After selecting and taking out the best fleeces everything is send to Yorkshire to be spun in the gorgeous yarns J&S sells in their shop.
In the past, long before artificial dying was invented people used to knit with only the natural colours as can be seen in those socks and gloves which are on display in the Shetland museum. They were knitted by Shetland women and sold to the fisherman from Holland who came to fish on herring. There always has been a big connection between the Dutch and the inhabitants from Shetland.
Also knit in natural colours is the Shetland Hap: a scarf with a knitted square in the middle and a lace border round it. Usually knitted in the Old Shell pattern and an example can be seen here (nr 38) The Shetland Museum has an open digital archive (really wort to have a look around there) and if you look at the pile of Hap's behind these women you can see that is was really a big trade at that time.
On one of the last days I bought some beautiful and really soft hand-spun at the Textile museum in the Böd of Gremista. Probably not enough for a Hap, but maybe I try to mix it with some Icelandic natural dyed yarn I have in my stash. But is is really soft as butter...
The natural yarns are still used in knitted articles often seen nowadays. I noticed this beautiful cap worn at the Voe show. And later Tiny took a picture of me wearing a cap Simon King did wear in his Shetland Diaries serie and this one was waiting for him. Mind you: I did sleep in his bed cause we rented the cottage he also stayed in while filming and now I did wear the hat he would get..)
And so we come to Fair Isle knitting. The knitwear in the most amazing colour-combinations and only used 2 colours in 1 row. My dream is to go one day to Fair Isle and knit Fair Isle there outside with a view on Shetland (if it is a clear day you can see it) but nothing came of that this time. In the Museum there a lots of examples of beautiful coloured Fair Isle knitwear. Beautifully displayed in a context as can be seen with this sweater in traditional Fair Isle colours with a beautiful painting next to it.
I was lucky that I could join an International Knitters-group for a special lecture about Shetland knitting and I did see some items (hand knit ofcourse!!) who are not on display in the museum. There was this nice coloured scarf (you definitely could wear it now: so fashionable) These sweaters in unusual colour combinations but in the traditional patterns as the OXO and the Norwegian Star. Also on the table was this one: a Fair Isle knitted cardigan but not in traditional patterns and colours and it looks so modern to me. But there were also socks knitted in such a small gauge in the most stunning colours. How I would love to wear those.
But for me the most beautiful item was this view from a knitter on Fair isle. Knitted in a soft white yarn and shiny blue glass beads in traditional patterns. Probably from the 30's or 40's but I guess when I would see a woman wearing this now I would ask her if I could take a picture of her. This really looks so Now and Modern to me.
Fair Isle items can still be bought on Shetland. Usually knitted on a machine but often in special colour combinations. Jamiesons sells them but unfortunately my size wasn't there.Last year I got a beautiful one from Bram for my birthday and my colleague Tjabele (a really good photographer!!) in school once made this stunning photo. I picked it from my page on FB, so guess it is not a problem for him.. Otherwise I would have loved to have a slipover in this colour combinations. We were having lunch in the museum and friend Lorna is on the right.
But there was much more worth to see at that lecture: LACE in the most high quality I have ever seen. How about this one: A finely handspun woollen yarn and such a tiny stitches and stitch patterns. How many hours did it take to complete this one? Another lace border can be seen in the museum and there is a magnifying glass above it to see the stitches.I am not a lace knitter myself, no not really, but this Print and the Waves pattern is one I really would like to knit in the future. The origin of the Shetland lace can be found in the Unst heritage centre on the most northerly island named Unst. There, a lot of examples can be found and in all different stitch-variations as can be seen on this picture. I have many more pictures of traditional examples but I don't want this post to be a photo-album.
I am going to end this post with a rather different approach to lace knitting. On the first sunday of our stay we visited the Bonhoga Gallery to see the exhibition MirrieLace. Lace was knitted by experienced lace knitters and these tiny fragments were projected on the walls of the museum. Beautiful to see and to be in.

9 opmerkingen:

  1. Vol belangstelling en haast kwijlend heb ik deze post gelezen en zal het vast nog een aantal keren doen.
    Wat voel ik me een geluksvogel dat ik eind mei naar de Shetland Island ga. Kan ik het allemaal met eigen ogen zien.
    Zou mooi zijn dat ik dan opeens ook allemaal breiers tegen kom.

  2. Ohh, de sokken en het kant en en en........
    Prachtig, moet toch zeker ooit een keer naar de Shetlands voor een field trip!
    Vind het idee van het kant geprojecteerd op de muur geweldig!

  3. Erg leuk om over je schouder mee te kijken! Fijne Kerst!

  4. what a beautiful holiday! One of these days I too would like to go to Shetland. Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. Nou weet ik het zeker: ik moet echt een keer naar de Shetlands! Ook bijzonder om de brei-celebs te ontmoeten!

  6. What an INCREDIBLE post!! I'm so jealous that you got to experience all of that and meet these incredible players in the fiber world. You are one lucky soul, but you totally deserve it.

  7. unbelievable, thanks so much! I loooooved this description and really have to find out if I can go there one day - do they allow camper vans there??

  8. Geweldig, prachtige foto's! Marijgje

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