Today, a riddle…

I have three legs on which I stand

I have four maids at my command

I go much faster than a mill

And yet my feet are standing still.


What am I??

I heard that today from a Shetland wheel maker, Hamish Polson of Yell, when Katherine and I went to pick up some bobbins for her wheel, and to order mine!  The answer is, of course, a spinning wheel.  He heard the rhyme from an old man when he was a boy, and has remembered it ever since.

I was hoping Hamish would have a space in his schedule to make me a wheel, and he has.  It will be made in sycamore, a beautiful, almost white wood.  It will be a Shetland ‘spinney’ – ie an upright – and should be ready for the spring.  After I have helped him send wheels to Iceland and the States, the idea is that this one will be picked up from his home!

I had met Hamish before, and I had spoken to his wife, Ruby, on several occasions on the phone. But this was the first time she and I had actually met.  They live in a house on a steep slope, overlooking the sea, on the island of Yell (about a quarter the way up for those who know the island).

Yell view

Last night I had arranged with Ruby that we would see what the weather was like this morning and if it was NOT what was forecast, we would come.  Instead of the predicted rain and wind, it was dry – even sunny at times – but with dark clouds coming over at intervals.

I always love the journey up Mainland.  The bare hills sweep up on either side of the road, today red, peaty, rich.  Then the clouds come over, and it all changes to shades of lowering grey.  As you go north, the road is above the sea – inlets known as ‘voes’ in Shetland.

The road goes on until without warning, you come to the ferry – just an extension of the main road!!  Twenty-five minutes takes you across the Sound to Yell – and the road continues.

After our morning with the Polsons, we went on to the north of the island to a café called The Wind Dog.  Wonderful soup and tray bakes even at this time of year.  The café also houses the local library, and there are plenty of things for children to play with.

The Polsons
left to right: Ruby, Katherine, Hamish

And next time I will tell you what awaited us when we got back to Lerwick….!


8 thoughts on “Today, a riddle…

  1. I Love, Love, Love, Hamish’s sweater tucked into his pants . . . do you think it was handknit?? How cool is that that you get to spend time with the wheel maker — can’t wait until spring now! Lea-Ann from Indiana, USA

    1. That is a very ‘old Northern Isles’ thing! It does help keep all your clothes together and is therefore warmer than the ‘mordern’ look! No, the sweater wasn’t a hand knit on this occassion these were his ‘working’ clotes for out in his work shed.


  2. I loved reading this! I think it is great that Hamish is making the wheels. Loved the rhyme. Thanks for sharing. Be sure to put up a picture of your wheel when you get it.

  3. Janet, we had just spent over an hour in a small room heated by a wood stove only to come out to drizzle and a cold vicious wind and had to stand while Liz took pictures–yes, I was cold, but happy 🙂 !!

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