Friday, May 22, 2020

A Fair Isle Friday Round Up

It's the start of a bank holiday weekend, which never meant much to me in the past because bank holidays are not a feature of life in retail, and doesn't mean much now because of whatever stage of lockdown this is. I think it might mean something to my neighbour because he's hammering something with gusto and thanks to the interesting examples of flanking transmission throughout our building it sounds and feels like he's hammering next to me, not 5 rooms and a whole lot of walls back.

Less noisy bank holiday inspiration has been all over Instagram today as knitting projects have been popping up all over my feed (I've seen some beauties), and there's been some other good knitting based news over the last couple of days too.

Knitting has really helped me sit out this lockdown home alone. It keeps me busy, makes me feel like I've done something productive, and occupies enough of my mind to stop me brooding. It's also been something I've managed to concentrate on when nothing else would hold my attention for very long at all. Thank god for hobbies.

My knitting interests are almost exclusively based around Fair Isle and Shetland lace knitting. I love doing the colour work, and am fascinated by the lace. I can't say that any of this comes particularly naturally to me, I'm a clumsy, slow, knitter -  but I think that only improves the satisfaction when I crack something, and I really value the link to Shetland that using local wool and exploring local knitting traditions gives me.

The first bit of good news is that although Shetland Wool Week has been cancelled, the annual will still be produced. The annuals have been an excellent mix of patterns and essays. They tend to include something for everyone from relative beginners to really competent knitters and are an excellent introduction to a range of designers working in Shetland or closely connected to it. Their website is here and is well worth a look. It's also really worth signing up to the newsletter - it isn't junk mail, and the one I got yesterday had recipes, interviews, some lovely images, and links to other things worth exploring (as well as the good news about the annual).

The Promote Shetland site is more general - and worth following on Instagram, there's also a draw to win £100 worth of Uradale organic yarn that's open to the 1st of June and has to be worth a punt.

Misa Hay who is easily one of the most energetic and creative people I've ever met has announced that she's launching a journal which is more good news for me. It will feature patterns, recipes, walks, stories, and more. It's something I'm really looking forward to seeing. You can follow her on Instagram at Shetland Wool Adventures and My Shetland Garden which I'd recommend just for the pictures, never mind all the other inspiration.

On the subject of Newsletters I'd also recommend Gudrun Johnston's Shetland Trader (her Insta is here). She's brilliant, and I particularly like the way she references her Shetland heritage in a contemporary way. Her mother was a really distinctive designer working in Shetland in the 70s and Gudrun's next book (sadly delayed) is going to have updated versions of some of her mothers designs. This again is really exciting stuff - so much so that I'm even including a picture of myself aged about 3 in a Shetland Trader dress.

Hazell Tindell, who is the world's fastest knitter, is also worth following on Instagram (this list could go on and on), she's really good at showing the process she uses to design things, and talks about the occasional mistakes and miss steps she makes along the way which I find really interesting.

Finally for this round up, I've pre ordered Mati Ventrillon's 'Knitting From Fair Isle' due out in September. This would originally have coincided with wool week and I'm hoping publication doesn't get pushed back. Ventrillon's colour and pattern combinations were copied by Chanel a few years ago (who quickly apologised and credited her). Again her work is both traditional and contemporary as well as distinctive so this book should be a treat. Details here.


  1. Thank you for all the links, I shall enjoy following those. I have been reading blogs, but have felt unable to comment for such a long time. I have also had trouble knitting, reading and eating. I have managed to watch a few programmes of the Hay Festival but so far they have been uninspired and uninspiring. I wonder if it is to do with the uncertainty of the current situation?
    I wish you well and hope that things can soon get back to normal.

  2. I think it's everything to do with the current situation. I've had trouble reading and watching things, so have skipped the Hay opportunity altogether. I'm finding reading easier again now, but it's all been so odd and new and finding a way through it is a step by step affair. I'm also really pleased to know you're still here, and finding a way through too, do take care of yourself!