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Discover the breathtaking Shetland Islands, whose past is interwoven with a rich history of wool, textiles and inimitable Fair Isle technique. On this 6-day holiday draw knitting inspiration from the coastlines and powerful landscapes, whose diverse colour pallet provides the perfect backdrop to your creative pastime. Learn how the world-famous Shetland wool is farmed, woven into yarn and then transformed by the locals into beautiful hand-crafted items. In the company of like-minded knitters, who share your passion for knitting, enjoy four half-day workshops. Under the professional guidance of the 'World's Fastest Knitter' Hazel Tindall, and the ever-talented Kathleen Anderson, you'll learn traditional Shetland Fair Isle and lace knitting techniques.
Hazel Tindall was born and raised in Shetland, surrounded by knitters who depended on the craft to earn an income. Speed & efficiency were the key – something Hazel picked up from an early age and has carried through her career. In 2004, Hazel was recognised as the World’s Fastest Knitter, knitting an impressive 255 stitches in 3 minutes! Throughout her career, Hazel has designed countless patterns, contributed to various publications, recorded two instructional knitting DVD’s and knitted thousands of fair isle inspired knitting pieces. Her main ambition is to help fellow knitters produce high quality knits as efficiently as possible – a nostalgic goal inspired by her childhood.
Janette Budge was born in Shetland and has lived in Shetland all her life. She began my working life in IT with the local council and after 10 years retrained as a Clinical Aromatherapist. Like many she was taught to knit at a young age, around 6 years old. She's knitted for the most part of her life as a hobby but not always fair isle.
She is keen to share the Shetland knitting heritage to the younger generation and beyond as the skills and techniques aren’t being passed down within households as they once were. For this reason she always incorporates Shetland knitting techniques in my workshops.
Her involvement with Shetland Wool Week, Shetland PeerieMakkers and the Shetland Guild of Spinners Knitters Weavers and Dyers has also fuelled her desire to return to my her first love, fair isle especially yokes. She grew up surrounded by them at home as her mum was a piece worker for a local broker. Knitting fair isle yokes onto machine made bodies in the 1970’s as many women did around that time.
She's always been drawn to colour and loves playing with colours in her fair isle patterns. She gets her inspiration from everywhere, from nature through the landscape at particular times of year, from an occasion such as a wedding or significant birthday or from a person through their personality and character.
Coming from a family whose women are talented knitters, Kathleen began knitting at a young age. Her speciality lies in knitting fine lace shawls, the first of which she knitted some forty years ago. She has won many prizes exhibiting at the Annual Royal Highland Show, including the prestigious Championship Award for the best craft item in show, which she has won five times! Her shawls have sold all over the world, including a commissioned shawl for the arrival of Prince William and Kate's first born Prince George, and a commissioned stole for the widow of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.
To use our NEW itinerary, simply click a day below and a detailed overview will appear.
Meet your Arena Travel Tour Manager at Edinburgh Airport for the flight to Sumburgh. We will be met by our coach and driver and transfer to The Lerwick Hotel for a 5-night stay.
This morning’s excursion will take us to Jamieson & Smith Wool Brokers and Shetland Textile Museum.
Jamieson & Smith have been around since the 1930s, when it was founded by the Smith family of Berry Farm in Scalloway, on the east coast of Shetland. In the 60s, they re-located to their current premises overlooking the harbour in Lerwick. In 2004 the Smith family retired, and Jamieson & Smith joined with Curtis Wool Direct in Yorkshire. However, Jamieson & Smith continues to be staffed by Shetlanders and remains a standalone company. The profits received from the sale of Real Shetland Wool and Real Shetland Wool products come back into the Shetland economy and are passed along to the wool producer. All their products carry the 3 Sheep Logo, which signals that the product is manufactured from 100% Real Shetland Wool from sheep that are born and bred on the islands.
Shetland Textile Museum is a community museum dedicated to the island’s textile heritage, particularly knitting. The collection comprises over 700 items including Fair Isle and lace knitting, knitwear, Taatit rugs, tools, tweed, and items by contemporary Shetland makers.
This afternoon we will return to our hotel for the first of our Fair Isle workshops with local expert Hazel Tindall. Hazel has been knitting for over 50 years and is passionate about continuing the long tradition of knitting on the Shetland Islands. After this evening’s dinner Hazel will share her insights on ‘Knitting in Shetland in the 1960’s’, which is based on her mother’s diary entries.
This morning we continue our specially designed project under the guidance of Hazel in the second of her Fair Isle workshops.
Our excursion this afternoon will take us to Jamieson’s of Shetland and Shetland Museum & Archive. Jamieson’s is a family-owned business, which has specialised in wool from the native Shetland sheep for 5 generations. Shetland Museum and Archives is a 5-star VisitScotland rated Visitor Attraction, which welcomes an average of 86,000 visitors per year. In 2007, the extensive and rich collections of both Shetland Museum and Shetland Archives were brought together in one building for the first time to tell the fascinating story of Shetland’s heritage and culture and provide an unforgettable visitor experience. Our ‘Textile Treasures’ guided tour focuses on the museum’s fantastic Fair Isle and Lace collections.
In today’s workshop with Kathleen Anderson, we will focus on Shetland Lace. Kathleen is from a family of experienced shawl knitters and her specially designed project will teach us about shawl construction – lace edges, picking up, knitting on, finishing, and grafting.
This afternoon’s excursion takes us to Shetland Designer to see the knitwear designs of Wilma Malcolmson, one of Shetland's most influential and innovative designers. Much of her collection is inspired by old family patterns handed down through the generations. We will continue to the small community of Hoswick with its popular Visitor Centre and Nielanell Shetland Knitwear. Contemporary in design and colour, Nielanell Shetland knitwear is individually made and hand-finished by local craftspeople. Their designer Niela Nell Kalra also produces collections of unique handspun yarn.
This morning we join Kathleen for our final lace knitting workshop before today’s visit to The Silly Sheep Fibre Company, a small family croft. Here we will enjoy a light lunch and learn what farming and crofting life in Shetland is really like. Becky and her family have approximately 75 sheep, mainly Shetland, who provide them with beautiful fleeces. They use their own fleeces and some from other local crofts to produce batches of white and natural coloured yarn, as well as fibres for spinning, weaving, and felting. All the dyeing is done in-house in small batches.
After breakfast we transfer to Sumburgh Airport for our return flight to Edinburgh. Time permitting, on route we can visit Sumburgh Head RSPB Reserve to see if we can catch a glimpse of the puffins.
Tour Notes: You will need to have a reasonable level of fitness to get the most out of this holiday. On excursion days you will need to walk a short distance from the hotel to the coach and you should be able to board the coach unaided. On arrival at the excursion destination, you should be able to alight the coach unaided and there may be a walk between the coach drop off point and the excursion venue. By their nature, walking tours, museum visits etc involve being on your feet for a significant amount of time. Whilst our excursions are taken at a leisurely pace, for the enjoyment of everyone in the group you should be able to keep up with your fellow travellers.
Specially designed for knitters, this Stitchtopia knitting holiday is the ideal opportunity to meet like-minded knitters and indulge in your favourite hobby. Our talented knitting expert will be on hand throughout the holiday and host inspirational workshops with a beautifully designed project to get those needles clicking!
Nestled on the shoreline, the comfortable Lerwick Hotel enjoys a fabulous location with stunning views of Brewick Bay and the island of Bressay. During your stay there’s every chance of seeing seals basking on the rocks just a stone’s throw from the hotel. The hotel is just a 10-minute walk Lerwick’s bustling town centre and harbour
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