A Working Holiday in Shetland

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Last week, Neil and I headed up to Shetland, travelling by Northlink Ferries from Aberdeen to Lerwick for a week’s working holiday. The overnight 12-hour crossing was rough as predicted though enjoyable as the cabin was comfortable, the staff were really friendly and helpful, and there was an onboard cinema! We were the only two people in there and they served Orkney Ice Cream. It was a fantastic start to our trip!

YDRBE8090Arriving on the Wednesday, the first stop was the Shetland Museum & Archives in Lerwick on the water front. The striking museum houses a permanent collection covering the local geology, the archeology, fishing industry and textile history. There’s also an amazing cafe, Hays Dock. The wool exhibits were fascinating, including an old knitting machine from the 1950s, woven textiles and fair isle garments from the 1920s. Both lunch at the Peerie Shop Cafe and then dinner at Fjara were excellent.

The following day, I drove out to Sandness in the west of mainland Shetland, to visit the Jamieson’s of Shetland mill and to collect an order of Spindrift to make my Heritage Orchard project bags. Louise kindly gave me a tour round the mill, explaining each of the various steps in producing their yarns, woven fabrics, and machine knit garments. They certainly have an interesting way to pack their dyeing vat!

As the weather was so good, I walked out to the restored Huxter watermills in the afternoon. These Norse or horizontal mills were once common in Shetland, and were used to grind oats or barley from the surrounding fields. Each mill was owned by a group or a single family. The simple design allowed a number of mills to be built along a single stretch of stream. It was such a treat to visit under windless, blues skies.

The scenery on the drive to and from Lerwick was stunning. Luckily, I came across a couple of friendly Shetland ponies who were quite happy to be photographed as they enjoyed the rare January sunshine! And, a very late lunch stop at the Bonhoga Gallery was excellent.

SLC_0176On Friday, I decided to head north to the island of Unst. This involved an early start and firstly a 40 minute drive northwards from Lerwick to Tolt, then taking a 25 minute ferry to Ulsta on the island of Yell. A 20 minute drive in convoy across Yell followed, to reach the ferry terminal of Gutcher.  After a short wait, the last 10 minute ferry took me to Belmont on the isle of Unst as the sun was rising.

Unst was fascinating even in January or maybe especially in January as I felt as though I was the only tourist visiting.  I first drove to the far north of the island, to visit the Norwich beach ophiolite.  The main photo below shows the continental zone on the left, the shear zone in the middle, and the oceanic zone on the right. The smaller photos show a selection of the exposed rocks, e.g. serpentinite, phyllite, and talc steatite.

The main reason for travelling to Britain’s most northerly inhabited island was to visit the Unst Heritage Centre and their lace collection. Sharon, one of the Centre’s volunteers, very kindly opened up the building to let me see their wonderful collection. What a treat! As visitors are requested not to photograph the exhibits, here are some photos of my purchases, the building and my travel info!

Before heading back to Lerwick, I just had time to visit Britain’s most northerly church, the most northerly post office and that famous bus stop near Baltasound which was still decked out in its Christmas finery.

After a quick turnaround when I got back to Lerwick on Friday evening, we headed west for the Scalloway Fire Festival. The event though smaller than Up Helly Aa in Lerwick was an incredible spectacle and everyone participating or watching was very friendly and welcoming. It was also amazing being able to walk at the back of the procession and then watch the viking ship be set alight and launched into the harbour. The bar at the Scalloway Hotel beckoned afterwards!

The weather started to deteriorate over the weekend. I did however manage a quick trip to the southern tip of Shetland to see the Sumburgh Lighthouse, driving over Sumburgh’s Airport runway to get there!

The rest of the weekend and Monday was taken up with shopping in Lerwick for knitwear, wool, chocolate and Shetland Reel gin; visiting the Up Helly Aa exhibition at the Shetland Museum with a friend, James; and also a fantastic dinner at the Scalloway Hotel. By 5pm on Monday, it was time to board the ferry to head home. Despite the very rough crossing on the way back, Neil and I managed to visit the cinema again, this time for two films. With Orkney Ice Cream of course!

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Boggs Community Hall Spring Market – Saturday 7th May 2016

  

I’m delighted to announce that I will be attending the Boggs Community Hall Spring Market on Saturday 7th May between 12pm and 4pm.  I shall be selling my Woolly Originals craft bags and taking orders for bespoke items.

The Hall is a vital resource in Pencaitland, used by the local Boggs Holdings community. It needs refurbishing and the committee decided to hold a spring market to raise funds.  

So, if you’re in the area or fancy a trip out to a beautiful part of East Lothian, come along! There will be a variety of stalls selling produce ranging from sour dough breads, organic fruit & veg to plants, homeware and artwork.  There will also be a cafe serving food and drinks.

See you there!

 

 

 

Neon Project Bags

Having bought a second-hand copy of “The Harmony Guide to Machine Knitting Stitches”,  I was intrigued by one of it’s star-shaped patterns.  Unfortunately, the pattern was laid out for a 50-row punchcard.  So, using my knitter’s graph paper from Rowan Morrison Books, I adapted the pattern for my 60-row punchcards.

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After I had knitted up some sample swatches using the new punchcard, I designed a new fabric bag, one large enough to take a medium-sized knitting or crochet project.  I decided to complement this with a long tool case that could take DPNs.  Once these were fine-tuned, I decided to make a collection of neon coloured bags, with a grey contrast colour.  Trips to the Knit Rennie woollen mill in Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire and to the fabric mill,  Scottish Linen in Fife were then needed to stock up on the right colours and fabrics.

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Once I had machine knitted the fabric, I  cut out and sewed the medium-sized project bags and long tool or pencil cases using complimentary lining fabrics.  These are now for sale in my Woolly Originals E-Shop. Next up, my Granite Star designs!

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Summer Landscape Bags

In November, I visited the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and their amazing exhibition of Modern Scottish Women.  I loved one of the paintings in particular which was by the artist, Joan Eardley.  Luckily, in the Gallery bookshop, they had a biography of her life and paintings (Pearson, 2007).  Joan Eardley (1921-1963) was born in England, and trained as an artist in London and at the Glasgow School of Art.  Her work encompassed both urban and rural Scotland.  Her incredible paintings inspired me to think about a new design for my knitted bags.  I started first with my colourwork book, then progressed to my knitting graph paper.

I started machine knitting the background fabric, incorporating more than six colours into the design using 2/11 supersoft lambswool from Knit Rennie in Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire.  After, the fabric had been washed, blocked and dried, I crocheted woollen chains into the face of the fabric, to represent the foliage in the summer landscape picture, whilst recycled buttons became flower heads and the pale morning sun.

The bags were sewn with a complimentary back in a simple repeat pattern, and then lined with beautiful linen fabric purchased from Scottish Linen in Fife.

Reference:

Pearson, F (2007) Joan Eardley, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh

Knitting Socks

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During the wonderful Indieburgh Yarn Crawl in Edinburgh this June, I attended a class to learn to knit using Magic Loop.  The class, taught by the talented Clare Devine, was so fantastic that I soon picked up the technique.

The next step was to knit a sock! Using Clare’s beautifully illustrated pattern book, “Sock Anatomy”, I started my first proper sock.  The Flexor pattern was quick and very easy to follow: a pair of hiking socks flew off my needles followed by a nearly completed “Mind The Gap” pair.

Having thought that I would never be a sock knitter, I’m now a bit of an addict and my yarn stash seems to have expanded surreptitiously with a variety of sock yarns awaiting their turn!

Clare’s Website – Yarn and Pointy Sticks
Mind The Gap sock yarn Website – Trailing Clouds

E-Shop

At last I have got my E-Shop up and running!  I can now sell my unique project bags online. The small versions of these bags are currently available on the shop but I’ll be adding other products over the next few weeks.  A link to my shop can be found in the Menu bar at the top of the page, on the sidebar (if viewing on a desktop computer), or at the foot of the page (if viewing on a mobile device) in “Links”.

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Navia Jumper

I have finished my Navia jumper!  The beautiful Faroese wool that can be purchased from The Island Wool Company is wonderful: soft, warm and easy to knit. I used a pattern by Malan Steinholm published in Navia Book No. 17.  The sleeves needed adapting slightly to shorten them, and the length of the body also required altering. I made a few modifications to the zigzag pattern too, to ensure it “matched up” on the sleeves.  I just need to wait for the weather to cool to wear, which probably won’t be long, knowing our Scottish summers!