Shetland Wool Week 2016 : knitting and fishing in Whalsay

Kerstin and I booked a guided trip to Whalsay, an island on the east coast of Shetland. The knitters there had arranged a wonderful day for people who attended Wool Week. They took us sightseeing on the island, and it was beautiful, and the weather was fine. There were sheep everywhere, on the slopes, in the gardens.

This photo is from Simbister Public Hall where we were served tea, coffee, cakes, sandwiches, and delicious fish and chips. I love the decorations in the ceiling! Ready for Christmas, but very nice the year round.

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The incredibly kind ladies took us in small groups in their own cars to see designers and crafters. I went to Ina Irvine, spinner and knitter, and Angela Irvine, artist, knitter, photographer.

Let’s start with this handspun and hand knit Shetland shawl by Ina Irvine. She has the most fabulous handspun and knitted items in her small studio, but the shawl just made us stand there in silence first, then trying to say something that wouldn’t be flat.

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Ina also makes miniatures for sale:

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This is one of her wheels, a wee Shetland wheel. She has several wheels, both old and new.

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She has a fine collection of miniature wheels. A few of them here (I have a similar reddish one):

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Angela Irvine’s studio was a total contrast. She gets her inspiration partly from traditional Shetland knits, as in this luxurious hat:

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Her dresses – imagine them in a night club, or at a posh party:

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This cupboard is amazing!

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There was much more to see in both studios, but now I want to go fishing. This is the vessel, or part of it because my camera couldn’t get the whole picture of it:

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Those who wanted where invited to take a tour in one of the trawlers in the harbour. I wanted to! So I missed the textile exhibition, but as you can see in another post I saw quite a lot of textile in Shetland Museum.

Now ladies and gentlemen, have a look at this ship: not one little piece of dust to be seen anywhere!

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If you’d like to have a fishing vessel like that you’d have to dig out some 25 million pounds from your wallet… Fishing is the main source of income in Whalsay. It’s a hazardous business still today. You can only imagine what it was like in earlier times, and what it was like for the women who waited at home while the men where at sea. They took care of all that had to be done in the house and on the grounds, and they knitted. That probably kept their mind away from what was happening out at sea at least for a while.

So what are they knitting now? Traditional, traditional with a twist, new garments. And they have a gang of girls learning to knit.

One of the ladies said it’s good that knitting isn’t taught at school anymore, because that gives the skilled knitters a chance to teach children that really wants to learn and not just play around. That was comforting to hear! As you may have noticed, there is great concern in Shetland about the future of Shetland knitting. I didn’t take photos of the children, but they were there, and they knitted, and they seemed to have great fun.

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A good day in Whalsay! If any of you who arranged this happens to see my post, thank you so much!

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3 comments

  1. Susan

    Well, worth the trip, almost, to get to go on a Spotless fishing vessel! What a joy that vessel is. And that Black shawl, yes, that would take your breath away. Now, that wedding gown………..

  2. Marilyn F.

    Amazing handknit lace. Nice to see it in traditional shawls, gowns, and as accents in the framed chest panels, etc. It certainly gives us all something to aspire to. And the inside of that ship – WOW – whoever cleans it – I wonder if they hire out? LOL.

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