The weather has not been good all summer up here. And today is no exception. Let us just say it rained. All night, all day, all night…. That did not dampen spirits, however, as a damp crowd boarded the coach for a long day going up to Unst. Getting to Unst is straightforward, but it does involve quite a bit of driving and two ferries. The first, from the Shetland Mainland to Yell, takes about 25 minutes, and folk were able to get out and go up to see where we were going. Once on Yell, we went up the west side (passed where Hamish Polson, who made my wheel, lives) to Sellafirth, to see Andy Ross. Andy has a weaving ‘shed’, where he has all the looms that came from the Anne Sutton Foundation when that charity was wound up. There various students and community groups work, producing a variety of experimental and commercial pieces. One piece, the Whirlpool, was particularly impressive to the non-weaver – quadruple weave – where four different pieces are woven together, connecting at times and separate at times. The centre has all four woven together, and the ‘arms’ then come out and round each other. It has been on display elsewhere, and they are now waiting to hang it in the building. Lunch was at the Wind Dog café, a place which is part café, part library, part children’s play room! The food was (as usual) excellent, and many folk came away with the T-shirt! The next ferry, from Yell to Unst, is smaller than the first, the journey is shorter, and you stay in the bus. The rain was less heavy now, but the low cloud made for a very atmospheric journey. Once on Unst we stopped for our group photo! There is a boat by the pier which has been made into a xylophone – great fun to play, and surprisingly tuneful! Then it was on to the focal point of the day – the Unst Heritage Centre. This holds a collection of knitting made on Unst. There is a lot of lace, but also a good deal of Fair Isle stuff too. Many photos were taken of the public display.
The current lace knitters of Unst were very kindly there to talk to us, and they also got out pieces not usually on display. Some of these were dated from 1881, known exactly because they were found with the letter they had originally been sent with, written to the owner of a shop selling knitwear. It was so very kind of them to do this especially for us, and we made the most of the opportunity.
After lace, chocolate! Unst has its own chocolate factory, and we were booked in for a snack which included hot chocolate to drink, chocolate-dipped shortbread and chocolates. There were many happy faces! The place is run by Cassie and Aaron Foord, and Cassie happened to ask if any of us had heard of Ravelry. She was surprised by the response!! Names were exchanged and we will meet on line!
It was now time to start south again, and our first stop was at the UK’s most northerly bus shelter. This is no ordinary bus shelter – it even has its own web site and is twinned with a bus shelter in Canada – but is was good to get a photo of it with a bus…
Then the long journey back to the Mainland, and over to the north west of Mainland, to North Mavine. The weather was still not good, with very low cloud, and so folk were not able to see the wild views over the moors, but we did stop to look at the bit of bog where Gunnister Man was found, the man in the bog with the oldest piece of Shetland lace knitting we have today. Then on to Braewick for yet another taste of excellent Shetland food….