shetland lace


Excitement! Unable to wait for my copy to turn up in the post, I just popped up to John Lewis to pick up the new Rowan Magazine. Rowan (who will soon be bringing out a new laceweight yarn) wanted a substantial piece on the history of lace knitting and this is what I came up with. I have to say that, out of all the features I’ve researched and written for magazines over the past few years, I am most pleased with this one. Why so? Well, for a start, in contrast to many accounts of Shetland lace as ‘traditional’ knitting, I have what I think is an important argument to make about lace always being an innovatory textile produced in response to the demands of a commercial market and changing fashionable trends. Plus, researching this piece not only gave me an opportunity to celebrate the remarkable creative artistry of Shetlanders and Shetland, but meant that I actually got to go there. Through working on this piece, I met Sarah, Oliver and Sandra at Jamieson and Smith; Carol Christiansen at the Shetland Museum and Archives; the wonderful folk at the Unst Heritage Centre and superlative knitters like Ina Irvine and Mary Kay, who published the Shetland lace patterns that my grandma used to knit from Woman’s Weekly. I heart Shetland! I genuinely loved working on this feature, and in many ways, feel that it marks the beginning of an association that I know will be long-lasting. Perhaps I will see you up there during Shetland Wool Week.

In other exciting news, a pepper has appeared on the plant on the kitchen windowsill.


My First Pepper! Huzzah!

37 responses

  1. It’s always satisfying to come up with a new perpective on an old subject isn’t it … and I heart Shetland too, in fact we’re hoping to move there to join friends who already made the leap! Looking forward to reading your piece :)

  2. It looks a beautiful article. I am looking forward to seeing it in full. And – what a sweet little pepper. Congratulations on both, and on your lovely blog. x

  3. Rowan “Fine Lace” yarn – 80% baby suri alpaca, 20% fine morino wool
    400m per 50g ball – available in 8 shades
    Just got my Rowan 50, and my new Rowan shade cards – I’m very excited to see what they do with this yarn.

    Your article was, as usual, wonderful – you always make me think beyond the words. Great job!

  4. I’ll look for the new Rowan on my next trip to the LYS.

    If your peppers do well, I’ll send you some recipes. Are they hot peppers or bells?

  5. I loved your article on Shetland lace in the Rowan 50 – in fact, for me, it was the highlight of the entire magazine!

  6. I haven’t bought a Rowan Mag in several years and this one happened to catch my eye so I’ll be watching for it’s arrival in the US ~ I completely agree that lace is an innovative and ever changing medium that is constantly being reinterpreted by knitters of its time ~ looking forward to reading your article!

  7. I was in John Lewis today (Edinburgh) and briefly popped into the haberdashery department, but didn’t make it as far as the magazines.I wish I’d known, though pattern-wise I haven’t bought the Rowan magazine for about three years now. I haven’t seen anything in them for ages that I’d want to/could afford to knit. I have a lot of back issues though and love looking through them sometimes as they often did little projects and patterns, either sewing or knitting, that I thought added a great dimension to the magazine.

  8. So cool. I have a subscription and made sure that I renewed last month to qualify for the special subscribers copy of this issue. Something else to look forward to. Now if both postal systems would just get it here.

  9. My No 50 is hopefully winging it’s way across the world to Over Here. I will be looking forward to having a nice cup of tea and a biscuit whilst getting stuck into your article which looks just like my cup of tea!

  10. It is great to hear you sounding so excited and positive about this – it is shouting off the page! So much so that I have to go magazine shopping now…………….:-)

  11. Hi Kate, Ah, can’t wait to read it, and I know Lynn and Roslyn will be equally eager. Am in the US at the moment, but we must try to plan another get-together–will give you a buzz when I get back! All the best, Marina

  12. Congratulations!! Your articles are always so well written. I’ve become a recent convert to Rowan magazines and look forward to seeing it when it eventually arrives in New Zealand.

  13. Congratulations on the new article! And indeed on the pepper…strangely enough, my pepper plant and my jasmine are the only ones to have survived this summer on my bedroom floor (my landlord got funny about me putting things on the outside wondowsill, but that’s another story). Considering they;re both Mediterranean, I am very pleasantly surprised. No baby peppers yet, though this update of yours in encouraging.

  14. Saw and enjoyed your piece for Rowan – my mag turned up early for once – and was particularly interested in the new directions for Shetland lace knitting. On my recent visit (I heart Shetland too) I was blown away by the traditional knitting, but did want to see much more new work to carry things forwards and keep them living and changing. Good to know it’s happening!

    (Jealous of your pepper. Hrumpf.)

  15. I have the article and read it with pleasure. It was a wonderful article and I wondered if it was yours, because the style was so similar to your writing. Why do they not give you a credit on the writing, or do you do the research and someone else puts it together for the final piece. What fun you must have had going to all those places to do the research. I don’t count well enough to do lace – too many markers and I still lose my place!

  16. Bought Issue 50. Read the Shetland Lace piece by Ms. Davies, herself. Came away enlightened.
    Who ever said (yes, I have overheard) that Academics can’t speak to the common folk, was wrong when it comes to you, Kate.
    Thanks for a beautiful “read”.

  17. I just googled “Shetland Lace” and came across your blog. Congrats on publishing! Always an accomplishment. I’m new to lace but decided to dive right in. I started with the “Travelers shawl” mostly to learn how to read a chart. It was a lovely gift for my mom who drapes it on a chair and admires it but won’t wear it because it’s for “old ladies.” She’s almost 87. Then I knit myself an Estonian scarf. Nupps were a challenge at first, but I got the hang of it and more chart reading. This scarf is mine and no one will get it until I pass on.

    Now I’m working on a christening shawl in the Shetland style. It’s a pattern I bought on eBay that originally appeared in an issue of Woman’s Weekly. The date of the issue was carefully blacked out so I don’t know when. It’s called “Something to Treasure.” I’m working on the border and, so far, find it easier to manage than Estonian lace. However, the pattern came with no chart!! So I started charting it myself. I started with the border because it has 40 repeats. Then I was sent the Woman’s Weekly knitting editor’s working chart (she is just a lovely person). She did it by hand and what a piece of work it is!!! I’m going to attempt to recreate it with Visio. Wish me luck!!

    I would love to hear any tips you might have on knitting lace. Anything that will make it go faster would be great!! The objective here is to encourage my son and daughter-in-law to produce a grandchild. Hope it works.

    Is Rowan published digitally? I’d love to subscribe online to it. All these great European magazines are just much too expensive to subscribe to here in the States. Woman’s Weekly is £9.99 in the UK, but $143 here in the States. That about £86. Too much for my budget. Have to save money to buy yarn!

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