The Final NIFA – Shetland 3

After so much rushing round, Friday was an easy day!  It wasn’t until 2 pm that we had anything timetabled, and that was a Fair Isle class at J&S taught by Elizabeth Johnson.  We arrived, chose our colours and began to settle down.  At that point a couple of blokes turned up wanting to learn to knit, so I took them to another table and we started casting on, aided at one point by Sarah.

Much later I found out that they were Guy and Hugh, and that Hugh was a PR man for Vi-Spring (who make the beds with Shetland wool) and Guy was a writer for Countryside magazine there to report on the wool week!  By that time both had got casting on and the knit stitch – they worked very hard and were excellent pupils…

Both could see that knitting could be very relaxing once your hands had learned the basics.  Hugh was saying that there was a shop near where he lives in London which had a knitting group and he though he might go along, and Guy bought wool for himself and his girl friend.  I gave them both Ravelry’s address!

Meanwhile, Anna and Jane were both working on their Fair Isle technique.  Anna took herself off to a quieter place so that she could concentrate better…

… while Jane stayed at the table.  Elizabeth had plenty of time to get to each member of the class to help them with whatever aspect of the techniques they wanted to concentrate on.

We treated ourselves to a Chinese carry-oot that evening (delicious) and then it was combing of fleece, practising the techniques Margaret had taught us on the fleece bought at J&S.  The initial idea was to try to get the volume of fibre down a bit, but as the fleeces were taken out of their bags they grew and grew as the air got into them…

Saturday morning we went down to the Bod of Grimista, the present home of the Shetland Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers.

The Bod has maritime connections, and the large anchors outside have been covered in knitting of the guerrilla type (NOT gorilla as one Shetland website had it!!).

As well as their usual displays…

… there was the college students’ exhibit, Lady Baa Baa, which we had heard about on Tuesday night.  The dress had a felted bodice, with a ‘net’ skirt through which strips of Fair Isle knitting had been woven along with strips of paper which had been written on.  On a table were the paper rolls and felt-tips and you were encouraged to add your own words to weave into the piece.


When we came back downstairs, the folk doing the demos had arrived and set up.  I was able to have a few words with old friends while Anna and Jane talked Fair Isle knitting and colours with others.

From there it was straight to the judging of the fleece on the hoof.  Oliver has told us that he would be handling about 400 rams over two hours at the Shetland Rural Centre, just down the road from where we are staying.  Work called me, but Anna and Jane went off, keen not to miss a minute!  While I slaved over a hot computer they bought fleece.  Jane came back with the Shaela fleece we had seen on Thursday night…..

… and Anna with the silver grey one that had come second in the Fine Fleece competition:

After a quick lunch it was off to J&S once more for a lace class with Elizabeth Johnson.

While we were there, Mary Jane Mucklestone came in.  She and I have met several times, always by accident, and it was nice to catch up!

We ate out at the Ghurkha’s Kitchen (definitely recommended!) and then came back to comb more fleece (Jane) and start the process of packing (Anna).  Getting air out of fleece is hard, physical work, and Anna was soon sweating!  But her huge black fleece got down to half a cushion size, so it was worth it!


5 thoughts on “The Final NIFA – Shetland 3

  1. Hi Liz,
    You look as if you had a fantastic time on Shetland, when you got there! I wish we could have stayed with you. I would have loved to have seen Anna and Jane’s packing when it came time to go home, a good job that it can all be squashed up small.
    Thank you so much for the time we spent with you, it was an unforgettable experience where I learnt so much.
    Best wishes,

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