A few weeks ago we had a special visit from a group that is very important to the future of Shetland Knitwear: some of Shetland’s next generation of knitters. They came from the island of Whalsay to the east of Shetland’s mainland to spend a few hours knitting in the shop with a little guidance and amazement from Sandra and Ella.
Whalsay is the quintessential ‘Shetland’ community with a strong fishing industry, traditional crofting and an abundance of knitting talent. It is therefore not surprising that a knitting group was set up in the school there, allowing school age bairns the chance to learn how to knit. From what we saw they have been doing really well and will hopefully progress even after they leave school.
Groups such as this are vital as knitting amongst young people in Shetland is far less common than it once was. Not too long ago every child in Shetland was taught to knit at primary school, but this was scrapped by the Shetland Islands Council in a round of funding cuts. This was a very unpopular move as knitwear is part of Shetland’s culture and identity and has contributed towards its economy for centuries. Hopefully Whalsay’s knitting group will inspire more around the islands and keep this tradition alive.
They knit with the colours we selected for a competition at the Voe & District Agricultural Show in Shetland and can enter their finished pieces to that if they wish. They will be back at J&S knitting during Shetland Wool week; the programme for which is very close to being finalised so more information will become available soon. If you happen to be around you could see for yourselves how great they are. The future of Shetland Knitwear is in safe hands!
Sandra has arrived back to J&S safe and sound after her busy little trip to Wool House over the past weekend. Not only did she get to look around the fantastic woolly exhibition but she was also a star attraction herself, giving Masterclasses on Fair Isle and Shetland Lace knitting which proved to be extremely popular with even more participants than we were expecting!
Sandra had made up a little exercise for each class that the participating knitters could try out, some attempting Fair Isle and Shetland Lace for the first time. She was really impressed by how quickly everyone got into it and really enjoyed both classes. Judging by the comments we have had back the participants very much enjoyed it as well. Some have sent photos of their finished articles which we love! It is great to hear that everyone enjoyed their day out.
Imke Himstedt’s knitted pouch from the Fair Isle Masterclass
Joanne Clements’ knitted pouch from the Fair Isle Masterclass
Another little treat for those who attended the classes was a sneak preview of some new patterns designed by Sandra that we are working on. They seemed to go down really well, particularly a lovely yoke cardigan in sage green, so we can’t wait to get them out to you soon.
Tom of Holland, who many of you may know, also popped along to the class to meet up with Sandra. Tom is a self-taught knitter who prefers to use wool – particularly from British breeds – in his projects and specialises in the mending of garments and promoting this as a more sensible alternative for our throw-away society. We are excited that Tom will be working with us on a few things in the near future as we have shared opinions, many of which are integral to J&S and Shetland knitwear as a whole. You can read more about Tom on his blog here.
Wool House is billed by the Campaign for Wool as ‘the world’s biggest ever celebration of Wool’ where ‘all aspects of our favourite natural fibre will be explored’ and judging by the following images Sandra took as she looked around the exhibition in Somerset House it is quite spectacular. There really is a huge range of applications for this beautiful fibre and we at J&S are lucky to work with the softest and bounciest one of the lot: Real Shetland Wool!
The Campaign for Wool’s Wool House runs until 24th March so you still have a chance to pop along and experience it for yourself if you can. Read more about it here.