Saturday, 24 January 2015

Shetland Knitting, A Way Of Life - 60 North Magazine

I received the latest copy of 60 North magazine yesterday afternoon and I must say I feel very proud -  my photo is featured on the front cover. 

 
In an article in the magazine I speak about how important knitting is for my personal and Shetland's heritage.  Knitting has been a huge part of my life, as I grew up I was constantly surrounded by women knitting and finishing garments to sell and for clothing for the family.  However, it is only now that most of them are no longer with us, I realise that the skill and knowledge they had was truly invaluable.  I regret not paying more attention to what they are doing.  We are at a crucial stage in Shetland where the number of hand knitters is in decline, particularly those that knit for money.  Unfortunately knitting is no longer taught here in schools so it is up to us as individuals to pass on these hugely valuable skills before it is lost.
 
 
There are several other textile related articles in the magazine, Rosalyn Chapman looks at the Truck and Barter system, where knitters exchanged their work at the local shop for goods rather than cash.  Interestingly, I mention in my article that I remember my Grandmother telling us how she used to go to the "street" on Saturday with gloves and come back with the Sunday roast.  I assume she got cash which she then spent at the butchers but you never know, she was the kind of person who could and would barter for anything!
 
 
There are two very interesting personal accounts of last years wool week by visitors to the islands Diana Lukas-Nulle from Hamburg and Anna Bednarikova from Czechoslovakia :


 
 
Alistair Hamilton looks at "Everest" Jumpers as worn by Sir Edmund Hillary:
 
 
Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary Diary gives us a taste of the Shetland food trail:
 
 
 
This is just a small sample of what the magazine has to offer, there are many more articles including a lovely looking recipe for pan-fried hake on spiced coconut and chilli puy lentils with pickled carrots, mussel pakora, raita and coriander oil by Akshay Borges from the Scalloway Hotel.  That one is definitely on my "to do list".
 
 
 
If you are in Shetland you can purchase the magazine from The Shetland Museum shop, the Tourist Office at the Market Cross, and Scoop.  You can order a copy online from the Promote Shetland website, or even better why not buy a year's subscription.  At only £15 for four copies a year it really is a bargain.
 
I personally think it is a very good magazine (think the Shetland version of the Simple Things), there are always lots of interesting articles, and it is beautifully laid out.  It is an ideal read for both tourists and locals alike. 
 
In fact - I took a copy on holiday to Tenerife last year and reading it made me a bit home sick!!
 
 
 
 
 


Monday, 12 January 2015

Aestlight Shawls

Before going away for a holiday in October I was looking for a knitting project I could take with me that would be transportable, and wouldn't need a large amount of yarn. I chose Gudrun Johnston's Aestlight shawl, and I am glad I did, I only knitted for a short while each day but it knitted up very quick and the pattern was very easy to follow and there were no difficult techniques.

 
 As I didn't leave myself much time to plan this project before I went away I grabbed a purple heather coloured yarn from my stash (Shetland jumper weight but as it is old I don't you where it came from or what colour it is.)  
 
 
 
I also didn't have 4.0 mm needles so took 3.75 needles. I was very happy with the result, it made a very warm and cosy scarf.
 
 
I made a second one just before Christmas, as a gift again in Shetland jumper yarn from my stash but in a darker shade of blue.  Since I had left it to the last minute I wasn't sure if I would finish it on time, but it is a quick knit, I managed to cast it off a couple of days before Christmas. Because of the construction there is minimal finishing (that always takes me a bit of time and the bit I like the least). The central part is knitted first in garter stitch, with a YO at the beginning of each row creating a triangle that seems to appear before your eyes.


  
The loops at each edge of the triangle are picked up and the birds eye lace section, which is a traditional Shetland lace pattern, is made in one piece.  Then the edging is knitted and joined to the live stitches of the shawl as it is made.  In the case of the blue shawl, by the time I got to the edging I realised that I wasn't going to have enough yarn.  Because I had used the recommended needle size this time (4.0mm) the shawl used more yarn and turned out a bit larger (I forgot to measure it before I gave it away). I decided to do a picot cast off, and I am very pleased with this result.
 
 
 
 
This is definitely a pattern you should try if you would like to make a triangular scarf especially if you haven't done it before.  I think I might make myself another soon!
 



 
The projects can be seen on Ravelry here (purple one) and here (blue one).

Monday, 5 January 2015

Aald Claes and Gruel

A New Year is very often a time for reflection, new beginnings and new ideas.  We have had a lovely festive  period spending time with family and friends and it is alway a bit sad that it's over.  

On the other hand there is something good about getting back into a routine, making new plans and thinking about new projects.  It's time to pack away the decorations, eat normal food and get into a better sleeping pattern.  As someone said this morning it's back to aald claes and gruel (old clothes and porridge)!  I.e. time to get back to normal.

I don't tend to make New Year resolutions but this year I have been planning new things in terms of my work and I was inspired by my friend Emma Varnham to look back at all the things I have made this past year, not including things I have made for sale.  Emma is a crochet and knit designer and made a huge number of things last year: you can see them here.

It was quite interesting making a list of the things I have made, there were several things I had forgotten about and I actually was quite surprised of the number of things I had finished, there were more than I thought.


Top L to R:
Felt knitting needle case - made one for a friend's birthday and one for myself to help solve the problem of an ever increasing needle supply.
Alice Starmore's Fair Isle Beret - blogged about here and ravelled here
Stasis Jumper - started in 2013 but finished in 2014 so I have included it in the list.  Blogged about here and ravelled here
 
Middle: L to R
Black and White Tunic: Blogged about here
Mouse with Jeans and Fair Isle jumper: Blogged about here
Vintage Denim Coat: Blogged about here
Glove: OK, so there's only one so I need to do the other this year! 
 
Bottom: L to R
Polar Star Tam, pattern by Outi Kater:  Ravelled here.  I have just finished mittens to match - I will blog about these soon.
Cushions: Blogged about here
 
 
Top L to R:
Kid Alpaca Fair Isle Star hat:  Ravelled here
Ursula Cardigan: pattern by Kate Davies: Ravelled here
Knitted vegetables: Ravelled here
 
Middle L to R:
Freefield Jacket: Blogged about here and ravelled here 
Denim Dress: Pattern by Sonia Phillips but sides taken in and some length added, and Aestlight shawl, pattern by Gudrun Johnson: blog post to follow soon!
A Circle of Lambs Cardigan: Blogged about here and ravelled here
Linen Dress: Dress A from Stylish Dress Book in light grey linen
 
Bottom L to R:
Aestlight Shawl, pattern by Gudrun Johnson: this is the second of two I made and ran out of yarn for the edging so completed it with a picot bind off.  Blog post to follow soon!
Christmas Baa-bles: Made for Shetland Wool Week Christmas project.  I blogged about the small one here
 
My Not On The High Street Shop is currently closed, I have scheduled it to open in February, but will review it at the time.  Currently I don't have a dedicated work space, I was working in the kitchen but I packed it all up before Christmas.  I am hoping to have a work room in the house soon, we are waiting on getting stairs installed in our house, then we can use the upstairs of our house - I can't wait to get more room!
 
Also, I have taken on a few more hours a week working as a science technician supporting the Shetland high schools, which means anytime during the day I could have had to myself I go out to work.
 
Much of my new work plans and ideas will involve wool, more specifically Shetland yarn and I am not going to make a strict monthly year plan, and basically see what happens.  But that's the beauty of being self employed.
 
Now, where are those aald claes.......
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, 19 December 2014

Shetland Wool Week 2015

I am absolutely delighted to announce that I will be the patron of Shetland Wool Week 2015.  The festival will be in its 6th year in 2015, and will take place from Saturday 26th to Sunday 4th October.  You can read Shetland Wool Week's blog post here

Photo: Dave Wheeler


It is a festival that celebrates Shetland wool, it's sheep, and knitting traditions and it is a huge honour to be involved in such an important event.  During the week, there will be workshops on various wool related topics, designers will open their studios to the public for example and it is great chance to meet up with other like minded folk.

I follow in the footsteps of Hazel Tindall who was the patron in 2014 and who I am pictured below with (Hazel is an amazing knitter and a lovely person so they will be very hard footsteps to follow).

Photo: Selina-May Miller
 
Any of you that follow me on the blog or on other social media sites will notice that hand knitting has very much featured in my more recent work.  I am planning to blog more about woolly things throughout the year, mainly knitting and other things to do with Shetland wool (starting again in the New Year).  If you want to keep updated with posts you can click on the "follow by email" widget at the right hand side to get them sent to your inbox, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
 
You can find out more about Shetland Wool Week on their website here.
 
Its going to be a exciting year!


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Christmas Baa-ble

As the festive season seems to be rushing towards us at high speed, last week my thoughts turned to Christmas decorations, and in particular knitted baubles.  I ordered polystyrene balls last year and didn't have time to make any.  When I saw a post by Shetland Wool Week on Face Book asking folk to create a textile bauble for the Christmas tree in Lerwick,  this gave me the perfect excuse to pick up my needles and cast on.  It was very early one morning when I couldn't sleep for thinking about all the things I have to do. 

 Spent a couple of hours this morning knitting this bauble instead of doing the things I should have been doing. Shetland Wool Week
 
What better way to sort out your thoughts than to knit.
 
I based the pattern on one by General Hogbuffer, you can download it here for free.  My first thoughts was to create a bauble with a Shetland theme rather than the traditional red and white stars you would traditionally see, the most obvious thing was sheep! 
 
I used Shetland jumper weight yarn (fingering) I had in my stash so I don't know the colour details, I just chose ones that sat nicely next to each other.  I cast on eight stitches with the green for the bottom half of the bauble, then basically 8 stitches are increased evenly every second row until you get 64 stitches! 
That is followed by a straight section where you insert the pattern.  I have designed the sheep to be 8 stitches wide so this motif is repeated 8 times.
 
                13
                12
                11
                10
                9
                8
                7
                6
                5
                4
                3
                2
                1
8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1  
 
 
Finish the rest of the bauble in blue, following the pattern again at row 14, basically decreasing by 8 stitches every second row until you are left with 8 stitches! 
 
 
The only thing I did differently to the pattern was I knitted them all the way up on 5 size 2.5mm short double pointed needles, when it came to the part where you insert the ball, I couldn't get the opening to be wide enough without the stitches coming off the ends of the needles, so I transferred the stitches onto a small circular needle, placed the ball inside and then transferred the stitches back to the DPNs.
 
The pattern gives nice instructions for creating a hanging loop on top using I-cord.  I made 12 rows but you could repeat it as many times as you wanted to have any length of loop you wanted.
 
Here is a teapot version - not as successful I think, I made the motif 32 stitches so it only repeats once.  The spout and handle curve around the ball making it difficult to photograph - it actually looks better in real life as you move your head generally when looking at things!
 

Motifs of 16 stitches would look good, there would be 4 motifs placed around the bauble.
 
You can collect a polystyrene ball from the Shetland Wool Week offices at the museum in Lerwick, as the tree is very big, it needs big baubles, these are 20cm high!  Or, you can make any size of bauble you want. 
 
 
 
I plan to get some thicker yarn and large needles so it will knit up fairly quickly.  The baubles have to be sent to (or handed into the offices by Wednesday 26th November), they will be entered into a competition, the bauble will be photographed and placed on their Facebook page.  The bauble with the most likes will win a copy of  the book "Shetland Textiles: 800 BC to the Present'  
 
There's not much time left but it would be great to see you (or your bairns) being creative with wool, you can knit or crochet a cover, stick wool on, felt over them, really anything woolly.  I am going to try to get my 3 year old to stick on felt shapes, he will probably love that as he is very "handy" with a stick of Prit stick.  It would fantastic to see the tree in Lerwick covered with woolly decorations, so it would be great if you would give it a go!
 
  You can read more details on the Shetland Wool Week blog here.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
13
    
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
12
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
11
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
10
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
9
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
8
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
7
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
6
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
4
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
3
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1