We will not talk about the 15 minute flight from Kirkwall to Lerwick which ended up taking 8 hours, many of them in Edinburgh. Suffice it to say that Flybe stinks. All that meant that we missed our first day in Shetland. Fortunately there weren’t too many things on that day and we were able to reprogramme most of them.
We were up and running fairly early on Tuesday and were in J&S pretty soon after it opened at 9. The layout of the shop has been changed round and it looks even better! There is now room for one of the beds now being made by Vi-Spring using Shetland wool, and more room for sitting round the table for workshops etc and just sitting and drinking coffee. The shelving round the walls is still there with all the colours visible for easy choosing and Sandra has plenty of space to pack her parcels!
As Anna and Jane are both spinners, fleece was of the utmost importance, so we were soon in the sorting sheds with Oliver! There is not much room in there at present as there is so much new wool coming in every day that Oliver and Derrick are almost buried!
Oliver is passionate about fleece and just so knowledgeable. He gave us a fascinating talk about what to look for in a fleece along with snippets of history and stray facts about sheep and fleece.
After time in both the white and coloured fleece areas, we went down to the area where the very best fleeces are put ready for hand spinners. Here are bins of super fine fleece of all different colours:
Once Anna and Jane had chosen their fleeces we went down into Lerwick itself and I introduced them to the Peerie Shop and cafe. Both bought lovely Victoria Gibson jackets! Then it was on to see the Shetland organic group’s display for wool week in Vaila Fine Art. They had fleeces, roving and yarn as well as finished items, including cloth woven by Ardalanish Weavers in Mull.
In the afternoon we went to the museum for their wool weeks tours of the textile exhibits. Little had changed since I was last there, but a couple of the drawers under the display cases had been changed to include this child’s cardi:
After the tour, a couple of the museum’s employees were then demonstrating spinning and knitting. Linda and Cathy both had fascinating tales to tell, and Anna and Jane were able to try knitting with a belt for the first time:
In the evening we were back at the museum for another wool week event – a series of talks about Shetland textiles. Students from Shetland College’s textile course gave short presentations on their interests, followed by Elizabeth Johnson talking about Shetland textiles from the stone age to the present. It was an interesting evening covering a wide range of woolly topics!
As we came out of the museum in the afternoon, the sun was getting low and shining on the boats moored in Hay’s Dock, outside the building: