Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Shetland Wool Week 2016

Shetland Wool Week is one of the highlights of my year. The planning and preparation seems to go on for ages, then the week (well, nine days really) passes in a flash.
I had set myself a busy schedule, teaching six classes in five days, so I flew up to Shetland a couple of days before the official start of Wool Week, to meet my new housemates
with Nancy and Gabriella - all wearing Crofthoose hats of course!
and get myself organised. This included rushing round all of Lerwick's charity shops buying up hardback books for my Woolly Words book origami class, as well as collecting and checking the three parcels of materials and equipment I had posted up in advance.
It also gave me a chance to catch up with Shetland friends, some of whom were kind enough to take me (and my housemates) to the wonderful exhibition of haps in Ollaberry hall. Here are just a few of the 80+ haps that were on show.

many of the haps were labelled with details - some with photos - of the babies or brides they were knitted for

I love these homely natural-coloured haps showing signs of keeping their owners cosily happed-up for years

This unusual circular shawl has sparked a lot of discussion on Ravelry

This stunning shawl was labelled 'most outstanding exhibit'

Among the haps and shawls was a knitters order book from 1928 - just look at the prices
The exhibition of haps was accompanied by a Sunday Tea - itself an exhibition of home baking - which we thoroughly enjoyed 
Stuffed full of sandwiches and fancies, we were then taken on a surprise trip to Eashaness. Nancy was particularly delighted as she is a keen photographer (and I'm sure her pictures are much better than mine). I had never managed to get to this corner of Shetland on any of my previous trips, so I am very grateful to Jan and Yvonne for taking us.

 We got back to Lerwick in time to head to the Opening Ceremony, passing Clickimin Broch as the sun was setting
 The Opening Ceremony was packed, and everyone seemed to enjoy the mix of talks, fashion show, Q and A, music and a taste of Shetland delicacies.
My first class was on Monday morning - Introduction to Magic Loop Knitting. You can see the concentration as people got to grips with a new technique.

 I had a free afternoon, and enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather on a walk.......
King Harald Street dahlias
 ....... to the supermarket!!
In the evening I had a full house at my Woolly Words book origami class, so all those hardback books from the charity shops were put to good use as different wool-related words were folded into their pages
designed for Wool Week - wirsit is the Shetland word for yarn
It was a pleasure to have Shetlanders in most of my classes this year, and particularly in the Woolly Words class they livened up the discussion and taught us soothmoothers many Shetland words and phrases.
Tuesday morning found me teaching Drop Spindle Spinning in Jamieson & Smith's famous shop. The shop was busy all morning, especially when Gudrun ans Mary-Jane brought their tour group in, but my learners managed to concentrate and produce some yarn.
Marena with her first ever handspun yarn

On Tuesday evening I went to a talk with the intriguing title 'Did Shetlanders Knit their own Furniture?' by Ian Tait from the Shetland Museum and Archives. The talk was fascinating (the answer is no, they didn't!), looking at the wide range of crafts needed for survival when the islanders had to be more or less self sufficient, and the disproportionate amount of attention given to textiles in a range of different archives and sources. The discussions after the talk were lively and interesting and I could happily have stayed much longer.
Wednesday was a packed day. In the morning I taught my 'Blending the Colours of Shetland' class.
I took the photos we used for inspiration last year, the one on the left above is Melby beach on the West Mainland, the one on the right is an upturned boat used as the roof of a small shed, on Kettlaness (Burra).  Each learner got a pack of fibre in bright primary colours plus natural black and white, and one of the two photos.
Using handcarders they blended shades that they could see in the photo.

so many shades - all inspired by the 'boat' picture

two different palettes, inspired by Melby beach
I have taught this class many times, often using local images, and am always amazed that two people sitting next to each other, and using the same image, can come up with very different shades, all clearly related to the image and all beautiful. I'd love to see what people go on to make with their blended fibres.
After a quick sandwich I taught a Drop Spindle Spinning for Beginners class, and was too busy to take any photos! As usual, some people produced more yarn than others but everyone left with some yarn they had spun, knowing how to go on spinning, and with a smile - which is the 'product' I'm most interested in.
In the evening, 'In search of lace, tweed and haps' was three talks, by Carol Christiansen, Andy Ross and Louise 'Knit British'. All were very interesting, the result of lots of research into their respective topics. Haps are particularly 'hot' at the moment after the publication of that book, and several haps knitted from patterns in The Book of Haps were in evidence. Here is my housemate Nancy in her Montbretia hap, which was greatly admired by all.
Thursday was my day off from teaching, so I headed off to one of my favourite non-woolly places in Shetland
Red Houss Shetland, on East Burra, the studio of Mike Finnie

with great views in all directions

- here are some clues to what I was doing there:

Setting some of my Willow Pattern beach pottery, which I have used as inspiration for stranded colourwork knitting, into silver to make a pendant took all day - in fact Mike had to finish it for me later - as there were so many visitors to his studio.
Thursday evening was Baltic Knitting Night with Outi Kater and Kristi Joeste. I have knitted some of Outi's designs but some of Kristi's Estonian mittens have over 200 stitches per row so... maybe not!
On Friday morning I taught my final class for this Wool Week, Knitting Socks Two-at-a-Time and Toe-up. Like the others, this class was full. Everyone made a good start on their socks, and went away knowing how to finish them. Hopefully by now (a month later) they are keeping some people's toes warm.
I was lucky enough to get a place in Donna Smith's Traditional Shetland Haps class on Friday afternoon - it was the one I most wanted to do but as most of my week was filled with teaching I didn't have much opportunity to attend other classes, so I was very glad it fitted in with my schedule. Donna showed us some lovely old haps knitted by her great aunt and others, and explained the different construction methods. We started to knit a mini hap, following all the steps used for a full size one. I finished mine a few days later as I wasn't fast enough to finish it in class.
The other class I went to was 'Wirds in Wirsit', making words out of wire covered in wirsit (yarn). We all chose Shetland words connected with wool - I chose makkin (knitting) and spent a satisfying couple of hours bending wire and wrapping it in yarn (100% Shetland wool of course!) while drinking tea in the Peerie Café

On Saturday I stayed away from the Flock Book - even though I enjoyed it so much last year. I'm still spinning and knitting the championship fleeces I bought there last year! I expect I'll go next year as it is a fascinating day (if you are interested in sheep!).
I had some errands to run, including delivering some spindles and carders to Jamieson & Smith. Somehow while I was there I accidentally bought a kilo of their new Heritage naturals yarn - how did that happen?!!
I found this poem in the public conveniences:
Bards in da Bog - what a brilliant idea! Great poem too!!!
 Mike and Gill Finnie came to lunch and brought my finished pendant, with which I am absolutely delighted.
Mike also delivered a picture I had bought from him, securely wrapped for travelling. It now graces my bedroom wall and makes me happy every time I look at it.
The Makers Market was doing brisk business when I got there, not least the splendid Teas, with another amazing selection of home baking. Having encouraged Nancy to buy one of Nielanell's creations, I contented myself with a new shawl pin.
After a stroll round Lerwick and a fabulous hot chocolate in the Peerie Café we had a spell in the Wool Week Hub with other knitters (all looking a bit weary after a packed week!), then a fish supper (which is mandatory at least once per visit to Shetland). Suitably restored we went to Mareel for the launch of Ann Cleeves' latest book in her Shetland detective series.
Sunday was my last day in Shetland but the morning was bright and calm and I had time for a walk to Hay's Dock and the museum.
I love the way the shape of the new building echoes the shape of the old one

Nil Desperandum

I've just had a pair of these glove boards made for me

Rather blurry - but this 1910 - 20 makkin belt is almost identical to mine, which I got second-hand

Too good a day to have to leave Shetland
I have already started planning for Shetland Wool Week 2017.....