Shetland knitting inspiration

A final wool-week round up . . .


Shetland rams at Lunna


prize-winning Shetland fleeces

Traditional tam in natural Shetland sheep-shades from the Shetland Museum collection.


Weaving sample book from the museum collection.

Fairisle swatches from the museum collection – some worked as individual swatches, most simply cut from old garments to preserve the pattern.


Swatches of more recent ilk! Gudrun (wearing Norie and Aestlight Shawl ) and Mary Jane lay out the source material from Mary Jane’s invaluable new book 200 Fairisle Motifs. Order your copy today!

I found it quite overwhelming looking at Mary Jane’s beautiful swatches – I could have gazed at their infinite variety for hours – but I was repeatedly drawn to those at the centre of this photo.

Here is Sarah examining the gorgeous garments from Gudrun’s collection, while wearing a natty cardigan of her own. . .

. . .in fact, Sarah is always clad in interesting knitwear. He she is once again trying (and failing) to avoid the camera wearing a cardigan knitted by Sandra Manson (whose Viking Tunic you’ll find in the Knit Real Shetland collection), and a tam made by her friend Ottilie.

This is a Sanquhar glove, knitted in laceweight alpaca on teeny-tiny needles by Masami Yokoyama.

Masami (the elegant figure in the foreground of this photo, with Sue and Megan behind her) is a superlative knitter, and a great Fairisle designer too – you’ll find the pattern for her Osaka tea-cosy in the Knit Real Shetland collection).


And to close – perhaps the most inspiring hand-knitted piece I saw in a week full of knitting inspiration. This is a prize-winning lace dress, owned by Cathie Leask and knitted by her aunt over fifty years ago. The tale of this beautiful garment was part of Cathie’s entry in the Shetland Stories Competition. I felt very privileged to be able to see this dress, while reading Cathie’s memories about it.

44 responses

  1. Beautiful knitting in the pictures and I like the backgrounds as well; lots of yarn and magnificent views over the Shetland isles.
    Love the ram!

    I am more and more drawn to the natural shades of Shetland wool, partly because of your posts .

  2. Amazing post! Especially love the picture of all the swatches with the huge cubbies of yarn in the background, serious knitting porn:0)

    Love Sarah’s fairisle sweater and tam, patterns?

    Thanks for giving us a peek into your knitting adventure.

  3. More beautiful knitting! So stunning. I like the look of the anchor pattern that is peeking at the corner of your picture of the swatches from the museum.

  4. Thank you so much for your reports from Wool Week. The photos are wonderful–both indoors and out, of people and swatches–I’ve enjoyed them all. And of course I immediately ordered the book.

  5. Really lovely work all around. Thank you, Kate, for sharing it with us. I feel almost as though I had been there myself. Stranded knitting has, in the past, given me fits. But I think with the stash of Shetland yarn I’ve acquired I have no choice but to give into my true desire to work towards becoming a full-fledged colorwork knitter – especially with so much excellent inspiration here on your blog.

    – Rodger

  6. Inspiring indeed! The patterning on the naturally-colored tam is superb – I’m wondering whether I could reverse-engineer it from the screen photo. But what to praise, where all is wonderful: the Sanquhar gloves, the swatches, Sarah’s red tam, the sheep, the landscape . . . I need to cultivate my travel budget, pronto.

  7. I love Sarah’s Tam Lovely. The rest is to die for I would to experience it one day… So breathtaking. Thanks for sharing

  8. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your pictures and experiences of Shetland Wool Week. I love Shetland and would love to have been able to be there to soak up all the wooly events. It’s great to get a flavour of what is happening.

  9. Thank you for all your reports on wool week, they have been inspiring of awe and envy! Such beautiful work, such wonderful landscapes, such amazing knitters (especially as I have just had my arse kicked by a pair of fairisle socks). Can I be a Shetland knitter when I grow up?

  10. This was more than I can stand with all the lovely yarn on the shelf and swatches – this is knitting !!! Thank you for letting us in your world.

  11. I find myself super attracted to the natural tones now… so strange. I see them everywhere. I can’t tell if it’s because it’s in trend, or if it’s because I am just liking them more. Your Sheep Heid comes in a timely manner which makes me think that it’s beyond my own eyes. Natural tones.. lots of them !!!!! I have been very into earth-toned colors my whole life, but now I believe it’s time to order those Nine Shades from Jamieson & Smith and go for it !

  12. What a series of inspiring posts – and the colours in this one – mmmmmmm. I must go back to Shetland next year, I must go back to Shetland next year, I must…

    There’s a Welsh word, ‘hiraeth’, which is almost impossible to translate – longing, nostalgia perhaps for a specific place. Someone once translated the Gaelic equivalent for me as ‘the shape of the mountains is forever etched in my heart’. If you can have an attack of hiraeth for somewhere outside Wales (and you evidently can), then these posts have given me one. Sigh… Braewick Cafe, Hay’s Dock, the Crofthouse Museum, the colours…

  13. Wow! I have never been to an event like this. So many beautiful inspiration! I like Sarah’s cardi with chevron pattern a lot.

  14. Hi! Just want to say I’m so very glad I found your blog! So much inspiration, such lovely designs – wow! I’ll be back soon.
    Have a nice day / Marie

  15. What a beautiful place to see, the fairisle is lovely. I have knitted one fairisle vest, with some of those patterns in it, it was called Ovaltine, it is probably the best thing I have ever knitted, took ages, but so timeless.
    Love the blog Kate.

  16. I expect it gets a bit old having readers ask “OMG ARE YOU OK” every time you go offline for a bit. Still, I hope all is well, and that you are offline for reasons that are at least fun ENOUGH!

  17. Kate
    I hope things are alright with you, it has been a while since you posted and I am concerned.

    Hoping you are well just busy.

    donna

  18. Hi Kate
    I just opened the comments on this post (wonderful as ever) to ask the same as Donna above. Hope you are ok.
    Hugs Sue

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