13 June 2014

The Day it Rained, Shetland

I can't have you all thinking that sun is the norm in Shetland. By day 4 normal weather resumed...... so what could we do but visit some museums. 

First stop was the museum in Scalloway, wholly run by the volunteers of the Shetland Bus Friendship Society. The museum tells the story of life in the small town of Scalloway with a focus on the Shetland Bus, the name given to operations carried out in World War 2 to support the Norwegian resistance and to provide opportunities for escape for members of the Resistance, Jewish escapees etc. For the first 2 years, from 1941 to 1943, the Shetland Bus was run by local young men using fishing boats, supplemented by sailors from the Norwegian navy but they soon became a target for German patrols. After several of the boats were destroyed and a number of lives lost, the Americans provided 3 fast submarine chasers, Vigra, Hessa and Hirta, to take over from the fishing boats. No further lives, or boats were lost.

This is the memorial to the Shetland Bus in Scalloway.

After the Scalloway Museum we headed back to Lerwick to go to the Shetland Museum and Archives which was built in 2007 on Hays Dock over-looking the sea. 

The museum tells the story of Shetland through archaeology, farming, fishing, village life, industry and of course knitting. Needless to say my visit focused on the textiles and the knitting which is displayed in cases, drawers and pull out units where the beautiful Fair Isle knits can be viewed from both sides. 

Shetland is famous for knitting, it enabled women to earn money for their families, including fine lace shawls (the finest of which are supposed to be able to pass through a wedding ring) and Fair Isle which uses colour to inspire beautiful patterns. It was originally developed when Islanders discovered that fine yarns stranded together made warm, durable yet light-weight textiles. 

Kate Davies has a great post about Fair Isle and Shetland textiles you can find here.  Of course, she also has some fabulous knitting patterns and uses Shetland wool in them.Her book Colours of Shetland is a beautiful book, even if you don't look at the knitting patterns. 

A little Shetland cottage knitted in Fair Isle, part of the Cosy Croft project that the museum undertook in 1994. Not sure that they ever made the life size croft cover, but these cute mock ups are on display in the museum.

Glove stretchers - once the knitting has been done, the Shetlanders used a variety of wooden shapes to stretch the finished products into shape. It was not an uncommon site to see a Shetland jumper stretched over a frame, drying outside a house. 

We ate lunch at the museum, in the Hays Dock Restaurant which overlooks the harbour and serves pretty tasty food. I had to have the fish and chips of course!

The house we rented was in the centre of Lerwick, only 3 minutes walk from one of the most dangerous shops in Shetland - Jamieson's of Shetland's wool shop.

Hmm..here's some of the yarn I bought in Shetland...the colours just drew me in. There are 2 main companies in Shetland making yarn, Jamieson's of Shetland and Jamieson & Smith. I think I prefer Jamiesons Spindrift, if only for the greater variety of colours. 

Who wouldn't love colours with names such as Moorgrass, Parma, Mantilla, Rye, Sherbert, Surf, Splash, Leprechaun and Rosewood...


Bethany said...

You have a ton of yarn now!!! I don't blame you one bit-- the colors are gorgeous. I think the knitters of Fair Isle patterns are just brilliant. The more Iearn about the UK, the more I believe that they have some of the highest achievements in art, craft and design in history. And I want to go there!!!

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