Barbara Baldwin from the Knitting and Crochet Guild recently joined Carol Meldrum on a knitting holiday to the Shetland Isles. Read all about her trip here:
I have recently returned from the Shetlands where I spent a fantastic few days with fellow knitters, learning and improving my knitting skills and enjoying the various attractions that Shetland has to offer.
The trip “ Spirit of the Shetlands” was organised by Arena holidays and it certainly lived up to its name. There were 11 of us with our own tour guide, Charlotte who looked after us magnificently and made sure that everyone mixed with everyone else and always sitting with different people at dinner. It helped too that none of us knew each other. Charlotte also made sure that we saw some of the land and learned the history of the places we visited so it was a well rounded trip.
Carol Meldrum was our tutor and we had a driver Wilson and our own minibus which just about managed to accommodate all the packages of wool and woollens which we bought. Although we did have to wear some of them on the journey home! These small planes don’t have the same luggage allowance, so if you ever go there don’t bring too much stuff out with you.
Carol was a lovely tutor, very kind, patient and knowledgeable. We covered Fair Isle (fingerless gloves and a bag) and lace (sampler) in 4 sessions. This gave enough time to actually master the techniques and achieve something. I can finally say that I can now knit Fair Isle without twisting all the yarns and it looks neat front and back. I think I am even feeling happier about lace.
The rest of the time was very well spent on fascinating visits, including the Shetland Textile Museum and Shetland Museum and Archives (pictured) as well as visits to wholesalers, weavers, designers and shops. In the museums we had talks from the curators and demonstrations of the loom, spinning and knitting wearing a knitting belt, which the locals still use.
One of my favourites was a visit to knitting factory where garments are knitted up on machines. We were shown the whole process, including the washing and then bringing up the pile with a machine full of teasels. I particularly liked the machines which sewed up and put the necks on. The factory employed about 16 local people and exported all over the world including to Italy and Japan. The finished jumpers were very attractive and well priced so of course I had to buy one.
The area all around Lerwick is just full of knitting businesses and small local museums showing not only textiles but local life. There are exhibits about rocks, minerals and maritime history including the part The Shetlands played in both World Wars. There are also several woolshops and a wonderful wholesaler Jamieson Smith where we heard and saw the fleece sorting process and then we were let loose in the shop! Bliss, we staggered out and some even had energy left to hit the woolshops in town to buy yet more.
The Lerwick Hotel was very comfortable ,we had a large room for our classes and there was plenty of space in the bar for us to sit in. There were also many , many malt whiskies to taste. The food in the hotel was superb, especially the appetizers and desserts, they looked beautiful too. We enjoyed three courses every night and did try and walk some of it off along the stupendous cliff paths outside the hotel. The views were something else and we all had them from our hotel rooms.
There were so many experiences to be had, it was a truly memorable trip which I could recommend to anyone who likes not only knitting but finding out more about craft and culture in beautiful surroundings. I really appreciated the opportunity of getting together with other knitters, seeing somewhere new and learning about its fascinating history as well as getting more proficient in knitting.
Interested in joining the Knitting and Crochet Guild? Click here to find out more
Interested in joining us on our next trip to the beautiful Shetland Isles? Our Spirit of the Shetland Isles holiday will run from the 28 May to 2 June 2015 and will be led by our new knitting expert, Nicki Trench! More details to follow soon!