Sunday, October 21, 2012

Shetland - day 3 - Monday October 8

Our third day in Shetland, and a very special one. Not only my wee boy Samuel celebrated his birthday - he turned 6 - but Monique as well. So while I phoned home early in the morning to sing Happy Birthday to my son, Monique had her own choir on the phone ;)
After a quick breakfast, we set out for Lerwick, and on the way there we decided to go for a walk along the beach first, before venturing into town.
Wearing my Shetland hat, which became a very welcome, warm and trusty companion

The cemetery at the Knab
We drove around Breiwick Bay and parked our car at the Knab, a natural promontory facing Bressay, where there are several relics from WWII and also a huge cemetery, with some amazing and beautiful headstones. Almost a view to die for...

The view from the cemetary
Although the weather was lovely when we arrived, quickly the wind picked up and it started raining. We ran back to the car and drove back into town. Time for some birthday cake!
The Museum was an obvious choice, as DutchJan had told us that chef Mike always made the loveliest food. Unfortunately, Mike wasn't in, but his wife Lorna was. What a lovely woman!

Inserts in the tables. A different craft in every table. How cute!
The museum was beautiful. Filled to the brim with items that really emcompass the rich history and heritage of Shetland. Amazing! We mostly focused on one corner of the museum, which had all the lace and fair isle knitting.

Delicate lace
Drawers filled with even more treasures! I am so going to knit a hap shawl myself!
Colour samples for Shetland yarn
Who wouldn't want beautiful gloves like these!

Before I went into town and Monique had to go to her first workshop, we chatted to some of the ladies working in the museum shop. And of course, the talk quickly turned to lace.

Monique admiring hand-knitted lace
It's such a shame I left my notebook behind in Sandwick... I'm so bad at remembering names... This lady was also very impressed by Monique's shawl (see later on in the week) and we spent quite a while looking at and talking about patterns - until Monique really had to dash off...

I walked to Jamieson & Smith first, where a wool grading and sorting demonstration was going to take place. the big man of J&S, Oliver, has been working for the company for over 45 years, and there's nothign he doesn't know about wool. It's great listening to his stories, even though we couldn't always understand his Shetland brogue ;)

Oliver grading the fleeces
After the demonstration, I took the opportunity to go back into town, visit a few exhibitions and do some shopping! First, I had to buy a gift for Monique, and as it was at the top of her list, this is what she got from us. A knitting belt, used by almost every Shetland knitter you see on the island, and handy for both lace and fair isle knitting. I bet Monique will give an update on how useful she finds it soon!

The knitting belt
My stash
My stash from the Monday: three balls of Heritage Yarn (the yellow and burgundy), a bag with Shetland combed top and two balls of Heather yarn.
I thoroughly enjoyed walking about in Lerwick...

The view out to Bressay from Fort Charlotte, built to scare off the Dutch. It obviously did not work ;)
And back inland... you can just about see the communications tower at the southern tip of Bressay, south of Lerwick
The beautiful shop display at Ninian
A beautiful woven coat-skirt combo from organic Shetland woven tweed.
This lovely old lady, she must have been over 80, was really working the loom. I watched her work and chatted with her until closing time at the Bod of Gremista. What a joy!
A prize-winning lace knit dress, with beads. Beautiful! Again at the Bod of Gremista.
After a quick dinner, it was back to town for the trunk show by Kate Davies.

Some of the garments designed by Kate Davies
Kate and Cathy admire Monique's 'Across the beach'
On the way home, we decided to quickly pop in at the TextIsles Pop-Up Shop, just across the bay from our chalet in Scalloway. A very talented bunch of girls, working in all different textile media, showcasing their work and pouring lovely tea - with cakes and macarons. Yum!

Another great loom on display, an automatic, 28/32 shaft. Wow. 
I have a feeling there will be some knit cushions entering our house too...
After coming home, we compared stories, watched each other's photos, and then just collapsed into bed. What an exciting day!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Shetland - Days 1 and 2

And then, before you know it, the alarm goes off... It was a very short night, as this mommy had decided that - the evening before a 2.30AM start - she had to try and fix the washing machine that just broke down, fix a puncture is Batmans back tyre, create 24 treats to hand out on his birthday on Monday and pack a bag. All at the same time.
Not a clever idea.
Especially when at 3AM, when the last items went into the bag and it needed zipped up, the zipper breaks.

Yes, it was a great start to the day, and if it had only been me going, I would have jut sat down on the floor and cried.

But, instead, I woke up long-suffering husband, made him climb into the cubby hole in the attic - still half asleep - and dig out another bag. After repacking, drinking a stiff espresso and a last kiss goodbye, I drove off to pick up Monique.
And after an exciting drive, we arrived at the car park, and saw the first planes landing in the distance...

Monique, looking forward to the flights, but anxious nonetheless...
We were dropped off at the terminal, checked in, had more coffee, enjoyed some people watching, and then it was time to board. The first plane trip ever for Monique, trip number (let me count - 30?) for me, and one that we won't forget in a hurry... The poor thing was so ill... Luckily, at Edinburgh airport the Boots had some amazing tablets and after swallowing a magic pill, Monique and I boarded plane number 2.

The FlyBe propellor plane to Shetland
This journey went a lot better (Hooray for Kwell!), although even I held on to the seat during landing... Quite an experience! ;)
At Sumburgh, we were driven to the car rental place, where our car for the week awaited. I forgot how small Ka's were! But all our luggage fit in (luckily there were only 2 of us!) and we drove off towards Scalloway, where we had rented a chalet.

Our car for the week
The chalet was small, but big enough for the two of us, although a kitchen with only a square yard of floor space to manoeuvre around in, is quite small even by Dutch standards! The view out of the window the next morning, however, was breathtaking...

The view from our chalet, with Scalloway Castle in the distance
It was like this for most of the week. We were so lucky with the weather!!!
Of course, we wanted to do some exploring before the Wool Week started properly on the Monday, so we consulted our map andecided to drive to Burra. Our first stop was Hamnavoe, to see the illustrious lace fence.

Foula in the distance


Almost everyone is still a fisherman here... 
Scallops everywhere! And then this is 'just' a shed...
It turned out to be harder than we expected. We really went round the entire village twice, and still couldn't find it! In the end, we asked a nice lady for directions, and it turned out that the lace fence was all the way at the beginning of town, just past where we stopped the first time. So back we went!

The lace fence, with onions hanging to dry. Go figure ;)
A better picture. It looked amazing! Definitely something to consider doing...

After counting repeats and taking pictures of the fence from all possible angles, we drove on to East Burra.

An old croft house/barn at East Burra, with the mountains of the Mainland behind.
After a look around, we drove back up and then back down to West Burra, past the Burra Bears workshop, to be greated by this:

You are joking, right?
But then this... Feast your eyes on the amazing beauty of this place...

This island is just me all over. Greens, blues... I just blended right in.

Apart from the hair, of course :D

More next time!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Back home!

We're back home safe and sound. Lots of experiences, lots of new people, lots of moments of surprise, tenderness and just heartfelt love, and so much FUN! It was amazing!
I have a whole list of people I want to thank for this great trip, first and foremost Monique, without whom I would never have gone to Shetland. I wonder what people were thinking, when they saw us pouring over beautiful lace shawls, trying to figure out the stitch combinations, using Dutch and English abbreviations in a strange mishmash of knitting lingo, taking photos from every possible angle and just ooh-ing and ah-ing at every corner.
I am still trying to come back to earth - I guess I'm still hovering somewhere over Fair Isle, lol - and blog posts are in the making. As the week to come will be extremely busy, I don't know exactly when the blogs will be ready, but they will be worth it!
A little taster...

Counting repeats in Hamnavoe
Following the sheep path at Burra
Some of the beautiful lace knitting in the Shetland Museum
Monique showing her 'Across the beach' to designer Kate Davies (right) and Cathy Scott from Stitch Mastery (middle)
The view out of the window at Voe
Garry at the dyeing pot at the Jamiesons of Shetland spinning mill
Muness Castle on Unst
At the Shetland Heritage Centre, Hazel pulls out more and more shawls to look at
The carding workshop with Drumcarding Divas Neilanell and Liz Lovick
The beach at St. Ninians
More to come!!!