My time in Scotland will soon be coming to a close and as I reflect on all I’ve seen in the last two weeks, my mind boggles. I’ve referred to Shetland as knitter’s Mecca and maybe this sampling of images will give some evidence to that end.
I’ve gotten to see a lot of hand knitted lace here — both historic and contemporary. Some of the shawls I’ve seen are knitted from the finest threads you can possibly imagine. The craftsmanship is staggering.
The traditional scarves are knit tubularly and pressed flat, using lace-weight or jumper-weight yarns, and often sport a multi-colored fringe worked from leftover scraps. I’ve seen so many unexpected and wonderful color combinations — I particularly like this sweet scarf which is housed in the Shetland Museum.
One of the notable highlights of the trip has been the time I’ve gotten to spend with the amazing and hard-working people at Jamieson & Smith. Their passion for the preservation and promotion of Shetland wool has been inspiring, to say the least.
85% of all authentic Shetland wool passes through their humble doors and undergoes a rigorous hand-sorting and hand-grading process. The wool from a single fleece often needs be sorted into multiple grades — a labor intensive process that I’ve found fascinating.
Here we see piles of the natural colored wools waiting to be sorted. These fleeces come directly from local crofters (farmers) whose sheep roam all reaches of the island in flocks large and small. I was lucky enough to meet one crofter dropping off his most recent batch of fleece one morning that I was there.
I feel so fortunate to have been able to visit such a special place and look forward to the day I’ll be back here again.