Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Shetland will be in my heart forever

Here's my final Shetland post, and it's a long one! There would be so much more for me to say, but I fear I would still be posting about this trip several months from now, especially given how slow I can be to blog sometimes. As hard as it is to leave this beautiful place, I do have other things I want to show you. So, here are the final trip highlights.

On a glorious day we traveled by ferry to Unst, Britain's northernmost inhabited isle.

View of Unst from the ferry

The most picturesque day in Unst

There we visited the Unst Heritage Centre, which houses a stunning Shetland lace collection (sadly, photos were not allowed). We also drove up to the Hermaness National Nature Reserve. Overlooking Muckle Flugga, Britain's most northerly point, the reserve is a sanctuary for thousands of seabirds.

After about an hour's hike through beautiful grassy moorland, we were treated the most stunning views of the ocean. The breathtaking cliffs are home an array of nesting seabirds including fulmars, gulls, shags, gannets, puffins and kittiwakes. Other notable inhabitants are enumerable sheep braving the perilous drops.

An unusually tame Bonxie

Hiking in full-on Fair-Isle regalia. Such fun to wear so many woolens in summer!

Surefooted sheep!


Very noisy and smelly gannet colony

Perfect weather for a picnic!

Now to the best part of the trip. Getting to know the lovely women who signed up for this trip of a lifetime was the highlight of my Shetland adventure.  

Me, Kathy and Lori

Susan, Claire, Anne, Kathryn and Alice

Me and Kathryn

Kathy, Claire, Pat and Lori

Kathy and Claire

Pat and I

Mary-Jane and lovely expert knitter (sorry I don't know her name) at the Shetland Textile Museum

We just had SO much fun together! Chatting and laughing while we criss-crossed the islands in our mini-bus, sharing all those incredible meals at Burrastow, learning together from some of Shetland's most talented craftspeople, hanging out late at night with our knitting and our life stories, marveling together at our immense luck to be in such a beautiful place, with such wonderful company... It was overwhelming and life-changing.  I will never forget the wonderful time we had together!

Me, Kathryn, Gudrun, Lori and Claire. We're showing off our Bressays. Photo courtesy of Alice Stern.

Paula, Linnea, Susan, myself, Liz getting a master class from Hazel Tindal. Photo courtesy of Alice Stern.

The lucky trip people, on our way to one of the happiest places on Earth! Photo courtesy of Lori Graham

Cheers Shetland, it was unforgettable. I cannot wait to go back!

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!