Posted on September 22, 2015 at 2:20 pm

With the advent of Shetland Wool Week, I am reminded with the turning of the calendar page that more than enough time has passed for me to follow up on the first of my Shetland posts.

As beautiful as the landscape is (and it is very beautiful, even at the micro level of what is beneath your feet. Why the very sand


the turfIMG_0428

and the cobblestones hold a variety of colors and patterns to inspire a knitter for a good long while)


So as I was saying, as beautiful as the landscape is, we were there to indulge our interests in textiles and knitting, and to meet the people whose lives on Shetland inform and are informed by the local textile traditions. As you might imagine by now, it quickly became clear that on Shetland how connected the landscape and the wool arts are to each other.

First, we met a weaver.


This is Morwenna Garrick and she has a bright and cheerful little studio in Sandness just up the road from the Jamieson Wool Mill. Recently graduated from Textile program in Lerwick, she is already making throws and shawls that look like this:


We admired her studio and looked around (although with all of us in the room it was hard to move much) and I recognized much of how she works just by looking at her drafting space. That’s the Jamieson color card sitting upright there. Look at the range of colors!


Next we met Hazel Tindall, who may be the most famous Shetland knitter these days.  We gathered in the parlor at Burrastow House to hear her talk about her work. You can see in this picture below the suitcase Havel set up next to her chair and how full it was. Hazel pulled each piece out in turn, described how she had been inspired to design them,


and then laid them out on the table to make a beautiful collage of just one year’s work. As someone who people think of as a prolific knitter, I must tell you this woman puts me to shame. To watch her knit makes it clear how she is able to produce this enormous body of beautiful work: she knits like the wind. I mean, LOOK!


And as if all of this weren’t enough, she then invited us to take turns cutting into her knitting. Hazel had brought the vest she was knitting as her entry in the Jamieson & Smith competition at the upcoming Cunningsburgh Agricultural Show, and it was in need of steeking before the next step. So we each had a go


Me (obviously) with Sharon looking on (not nearly as concerned as she appears to be, right Sharon?), then Mary Jane took her snip:


It turned into quite a democratic process, each of us cutting through a couple of rows until it was all done:


The vest went on to win first prize, and you can read more about the competition’s rules on Ella Gordon’s blog here. Hazel’s entry is about halfway down the post, but just so we’re clear about such things: this is how the vest turned out. Lovely, yes?

The next day we went back to Sandness to visit the Jamieson Wool Mill for real.

(if you’re confused a little, let me sort this out for you: Jamieson’s and Jamieson & Smith areindeed different companies. They were connected a few generations ago, but currently what distinguishes them are a few points: Jamieson’s produces not only yarn, but also knitted goods which are mostly for export. They use wool from island sheep [which can include fleece from animals other than the native Shetland sheep] and they spin the yarn on site. Jamieson & Smith produces both yarn and household goods like mattresses and throws, which they derive from the various grades of fleece that comes exclusively from the native Shetland breed.)


I’ll show you a few of those pictures in my next post.