Thursday in Shetland

Having spent a couple of days together as a group, we now split into two parts for classes and a boat trip.  When we got down to it, exactly half the group were spinners, so that is how we split.

On Thursday, the knitting class was Shetland lace with Mary Kay.  The spinner’s group took the class in the morning and the non-spinners went on a boat trip, then in the afternoon the groups switched over.

Mary Kay has been knitting since she was a child, and spinning for almost as long.  She spent her working life teaching maths to teenagers, and has a wealth of stories…!  She brought along some of her work, and explained how the individual motifs are used to make up the bigger stitch patterns.  She also brought the patterns for a couple of scarves, one more complex than the other, for folk to try if they wanted.

Mary also brought along her wheel, and the spinners group were, of course, fascinated to see how she span.  They now also know where I got some of my techniques from!

After lunch the other group came up to J&S.  They had had a fantastic morning on the boat trip.  The boat is the Dunter III (dunter is the Shetland name for the Eider duck) and she takes trip round the island of Noss, famous for its colonies of breeding birds.  The men who run the trips are both knowledgeable about the wildlife, and very amusing.  Although most of the puffins were away back out to sea for the winter, there were a few about, so puffins WERE seen!  Plenty of other birds were seen, along with seals and other undersea creatures: at one point the boat stops and an underwater camera is put down.  (As I was at J&S all day I do not have pix – I went on the trip a bit ago, but my pix are on another computer.)

The afternoon session with Mary was as good as the morning!  A couple of people had never used fine yarn before, and were interested to try it.  They had problems at first, but after a bit they got used to the mechanics of coping with fine yarn and thickish needles!  We were a bit worries for the boat people, as the weather turned very misty and rainy and we were afraid they would not see much.  But they did!  They came back as enthused as the first group.

It was back to the shop in the evening for all of us, for a Shetland evening with storyteller Elma Johnson and her friends.  It was Veronica’s birthday, and the J&S staff had not gone home between work and the evening, but had spent the time decorating the shop with balloons and streamers, as well as pushing the furniture against the walls to get enough chairs in a circle for everyone to sit.

Elma brought a dancer, a guitar player and a couple of fiddlers – one of whom was this year’s Shetland Young Musician of the Year, and between her stories there was music.  The guitar player, Neil, is also a story teller, and while she told stories of the women, he told those of the men and the fishing.

Half way through the evening we had a break for supper.  June and Sandra had made soup and Elma had brought ressit mutton and bannocks.  The mutton is from sheep fed on the hill with access to seaweed (shades of North Ron!) and then partially dried before being soaked and cooked.  It was delicious!  Sandra and June had also brought gateau as birthday cake, so it was definitely a feast all round.

After more stories, the dancer took over and told us and showed us some of the traditional dances of Shetland.

Then it was the turn of six of us to get up and have a try.  They walked the different steps first, then did it for real with the musicians playing.  (I do have video, but I cannot edit it until I get home – watch this space!!)

At the end of the evening Elma shook hands with everyone before leaving.  We had all had a full day!


8 thoughts on “Thursday in Shetland

  1. I am enjoying all the posts about your knit camp. Wish I had the time and money to be able to come over to you for a few weeks. I cannot imagine how much I could learn.

  2. Liz, I love the shape of the white shawl. Would you, could you write a wee bit about the shape of it and the construction? Thank you also for the wonderful photos. Unfortunately these photos awaken the wanderlust in me without the financial means to do so. Renate

      1. Liz, sorry for not being clearer. I am wondering about the shawl the older lady is wearing in the very last photo of your post. It may not be white, but looks so on my screen. Thanks. Renate

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