While in Shetland, we stayed at a magical guesthouse called Burrastow. As part of our trip, we had several Shetland-based knitwear designers come to the house to show us their designs and talk with us about the various traditions of knitting that thrive on Shetland.
Ella Gordon is a young Shetland knitwear designer who is most well known for the Crofthouse Hat she designed for last year's free Shetland Wool Week pattern. She also just released a beautiful traditional Shetland yoke pattern that I would love to knit called Ola Yoke. In addition to designing beautiful fair isle patterns, Ella also works at Jamieson & Smith and wrote us an intro for our recent book Wool Journey: Shetland. Ella came to Burrastow one evening to share with us her massive collection of vintage Shetland knitwear! Ella brought 3 large ikea bags full of knitwear that she has been collecting for the last few years. She has pieces from the 1930's to fairly recent. She showed off each sweater and talked about what was unusual or unique about them. Some were handknit and some were machine knit. Most were colorwork, but some were lace. It was incredible. Ella sources most of her vintage sweaters from Shetland thrift stores and eBay. Ella also had samples of all of her own designs for us to check out.
Anne Eunson is a Shetland-based lace knitter. Anne Eunson grew up in Shetland and has been knitting her whole life. In high school, she took on the project of knitting her first hap shawl. She designed it herself and knit it from yarn she spun herself. It was so incredible! I'm blown away by the fineness of this lace, 2-ply yarn and the beauty of her lace knitting. She has since spun and knit several of these shawls - each of them taking months to years to complete. She showed them all off and we examined them closely and asked many questions about the construction. Anne was a delight to meet in person. Like a lot of Shetland knitters, Anne does not write down her patterns. Her shawls are done from memory and use traditional lace designs. She even has a knit fence at her home!
Hazel Tindall is a knitwear designer who specializes in fair isle colorwork. She knits exclusively on a knitting belt which she demonstrated for us. A knitting belt is a traditional method of knitting that a lot of Shetlanders use. One very long double-point needle is anchored securely in the belt, while another long dpn is used as the working needle. This method allows Shetlanders to knit colorwork in the round very quickly. Hazel is reported to be one of the fastest knitters in the world and I believe it after watching her.
It was such a treat and so inspirational to meet these women who grew up knitting on Shetland. Thank you, Ella, Anne, and Hazel for sharing your knits!