Summer in Shetland

We love Shetland.  It’s where one half of my family lives and where we wish we could live for at least one half of the time.  Someday we are going to live there; we have made that promise to ourselves. We spent nearly 2 weeks there in July with my Mum – it was a small invasion, and it was a wonderful time of catching up and renewing links with everyone we love.  As always, inspiration and interesting things are to be found around every corner – except this year we were plagued by foggy weather conditions which meant that we couldn’t really just enjoy the best of the dramatic coastline we knew was just out there – out of sight.

One important visit was to Jamieson’s mill at Sandness to show them the Shade Card Blankets that Mum and I crocheted.  It was lovely to meet the Jamieson family and to see around the mill.  It was interesting to see all the processes the fleece goes through from clip to ball – all under one roof and, uniquely, all within the Shetland Isles.  Not only do they produce fantastic yarn, they also weave 100% Shetland wool tweed fabric.  I have come home with some to make a jacket - once I have dusted down my sewing skills.

We visited the Shetland Museum again on a day when the BBC were filming for the next series of ‘Shetland’ and we saw Simon King and his family when we were eating lunch in the restaurant there.  Shetland has always been a cosmopolitan place that continues to develop and the size of the islands belies the influence that they exert.

The Shetland Textile Museum is definitely worth a visit for anyone interested in yarn and knitting.  Although small, it is packed with samples of Shetland knitting and is a great source of inspiration for any knitter keen to face a challenge. There are superb examples of original Fair Isle and lace patterns and garments on display. Don’t miss an examination of the fantastic tapestry chair seat!
On one of the best – warmest and clearest sunny days – we drove and sailed to the island of Yell, and spent some time on one of Shetland’s many beaches. I had forgotten just how wonderful they are – white, white sand, clear water and amazing blueness to the sea and sky – not just on Yell but also on the mainland at Grutness, Quendale and Levenwick. Enjoy!

We were told a visit to Yell would not be complete without calling in to make a purchase at the Aywick shop. It is said that there is almost nothing which cannot be found there or obtained for you.  It is truly a unique shopping experience – many shops in the mainland UK would be put to shame!  I’d also recommend a visit to the Shetland Gallery to see the original work of some talented artists and to be inspired by the creative gifts being used to record the landscape, the light and the changing seasons.
My aunt took me to visit two special craftswomen - Elizabeth of Shetland Handspun who spins, dyes and knits the most wonderful natural yarns and Doreen of the Shetland Collection who designs and knits original Fair Isle and lace garments and accessories. She was responsible for the Fair Isle clad Shetland ponies from the Visit Scotland promotions.  Such creativity and talent was really inspiring and encouraging to me.

Yes, we love Shetland, in fog or sunshine, and look forward to getting back again sometime soon.