Monday, October 6, 2014

Textile collection, Shetland Museum

One of our tour activities was visiting the Shetland museum with its textile curator, Dr. Carol Christiansen. Her interpretation of the textile collection really brought to life all the beautiful specimens on display. I took a million mediocre "interior light" photos, but hopefully they still give you a sense of just how beautiful and wide-ranging their textile collection is.

Here Dr. Christiansen is telling us about Gunnister Man, a mystery man who lived 300 years ago. His remains were found preserved in peat in 1951. The museum has recreated the clothing and other possessions found with the body. It was fascinating to hear about the theories of who this person was based on the clothing he wore. There is an interesting article on the Shetland Times website if you want to learn more about what may have happened to him.

A fisherman's kep (cap)

Exquisite Shetland lace

The museum has several pull-out drawers and panels that protect more delicate pieces from light. The lace piece seen here was truly breath-taking.

Here Dr. Christiansen is pointing out pieces that mostly feature muted, "natural" colours. They were some of my favourite pieces in the collection.

This text panel features a funny photo of staff working for a wool-garment manufacturer, modelling a comical array of garments (most likely for promotional purposes). Note the floor-to-ceiling stacks of hap shawls in the background!

I like the shaggy top of this hat. The yarns were dyed with natural materials.

A fancy hap

As a special treat, we also got to "visit" with pieces that are not currently displayed, and even got to handle them (after washing our hands of course!). It was lovely to be able to inspect these beautiful items up-close. My favourite part was studying the insides of garments. So neat to see the different finishing techniques!

A rustic, workaday hap

A fair-isle jumper featuring a mix of Shetland and rayon yarn

A Shetland lace cardi "modernized" with a zipper



The narrow strips were probably pattern samplers

A visit to this museum is a must when in Shetland! Not only for fibre enthusiasts, but for anyone interested in Shetland's history and culture. Speaking as someone who works for a museum and visits lots of them, I can say that the collections and interpretation are of extremely high quality! Thank you Gudrun and Mary-Jane for giving us such an opportunity to explore the Shetland Museum's treasures!




Great post. Thanks!



Very interesting post. What a wonderful museum. You are so fortunate to be able to handle some of the exhibits. It is hardest of all to photograph exhibits in glass cases (IMHO) but I think your pics are very clear!

Margie Oomen


love all of this. I am going to send a suggestion to the textile museum in toronto that they do a fair isle exhibit one day. I love how they tie off the ends and then leave them to felt instead of tediously sewing them in.



A knitter & fiber lover delight !
What a great post, thanks for sharing these photos with us !



Ohhhhh awwwwe. Such beautiful pieces. Thank you for all the beautiful pictures and descriptions. I would love to go there in person one day!

Lori ann


i LOVE the photos you took, and your informative notes. such a wonderful post nicole, i really loved seeing the shetland museum through your eyes. did you have a favorite collection? xox



What lovely photos, thank you so much for sharing them here - a great virtual tour!



How wonderful-someday I'd love to get there! But, until then I'll just look at this post. xo


I like the white cardi with a zipper. It's so light and warm, I'm sure. It can be worn even on holidays, and the jumper (a mix of Shetland and rayon yarn) is just an appropriate thing to wear for everyday, though it can be for the holiday as well. Very beautiful things! Thanks for posting!


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Thank you for sharing them! I hope you will continue to have similar posts to share with everyone.
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