Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Shetland Trip

I was once again invited to tutor a knitting workshop in Shetland with Arena Travel back in May. Ive been home a few weeks now, but keep thinking about what a fabulous time we had!

I adore Shetland and couldn't wait to get there this year, especially after the disappointment last year when the trip was abandoned due to bad weather. I went with a group of 14 knitters and our tour guide Caroline and we had good weather pretty much the whole time this year and only had a few drops of rain towards the end of our stay, the rest of the time it was dry, warm and bright.

We had a packed schedule and first on the agenda was a morning knitting workshop where I revealed the project for the week which was a fair isle and lace bag. The aim of the first workshop was to introduce participants to the 2 handed fair isle method.

In the afternoon we visited the Jamieson & Smith HQ in Lerwick where we were given a presentation by Director Oliver Henry. Oliver told us about how the fleeces are graded and how the yarn is produced. We were shown the lovely new yarn called 'Shetland Heritage' which we all fell in love with. Its really soft and comes in 11 traditional Shetland shades.

We spent rather a lot of time in the Jamieson & Smith shop where they had all their amazing yarns and patterns on display and for sale. Everyone had a lovely time looking at all the shades and we all did a little retail therapy!

We spent our second day at the Shetland Museum Archives where we were shown round the knitting and spinning areas with a guide. We were lucky enough to be given a spinning and knitting demo and a few of the group had a go at using the traditional knitting needles and knitting belt.

We spent some time in the afternoon at the Shetland Textile museum where we met the fastest knitter in the world Hazel Tindall and did a little more retail therapy. I bought this lovely fair isle chicken made by Polecraft

We had a full day workshop on Sunday - some of the group went on a boat trip for part of the day and they saw lots of wildlife and birds, including puffins and seals, although we could walk down and see the seals on the beach near the hotel any time we wanted. The scenery on Shetland is just beautiful and I'm not sure I've ever been to anywhere that the views have me quite so enthralled, watching the sun and shadows of the clouds on the sea and the land is mesmerising - and it doesn't really get very dark in the summer time so even at night there is a light on the horizon.

On our final day we had a lace workshop and we also made some dorset buttons which are always good fun to do. The image below shows the lace trim for the bag being blocked. I always soak my knitted pieces for a while before I put them together - soaking makes a massive difference to wool in particular and is in my view imperative to a good finish.

We spent our final afternoon visiting some local studios and touring the island a little. We had a lovely visit to Shetland Handspun where Elizabeth talked us through her spinning process and showed us her beautiful hand knits.

We also visited Neilanell's studio shop. I bought 2 pieces from her collection last time I visited Shetland and had promised myself not to buy anything new, but in the end I couldn't resist - Neilanell's designs are just so gorgeous, Im not sure that any of us left the store without a purchase!

As with all the Arena tours its always sad when it's time to go home, but we had an amazing trip and made some great friends. We also ate some wonderful food in the bistro at the hotel and I came home a good few pounds heavier, but my wallet was definitely lighter so at least there was balance!

If you fancy coming on an Arena tour, the next one I will be tutoring will be to Norway in March next year. You can find more information here