Autumn Days
Sunset on the last night in Shetland, seen from Papil, Burra

Sunset on the last night in Shetland, seen from Papil, Burra

I am back from Shetland after a magical time.

Shetland is my favourite place. I have found friends there and am always blown away by the warm welcome that visitors receive… especially at the Sunday Teas which, during Wool Week, are organised by the Shetland Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers (and Knitters).

I love the Sunday Teas in Shetland, at which folk gather in a village hall to enjoy home-baked goods! The cakes are amazing, the teapots are huge and never empty, and people bring flowers from their own gardens to decorate the tables

I love the Sunday Teas in Shetland, at which folk gather in a village hall to enjoy home-baked goods! The cakes are amazing, the teapots are huge and never empty, and people bring flowers from their own gardens to decorate the tables

Shetland really is the spiritual home of wool and knitting; you could never run out of ideas with all the incredible Fair Isle and lace, and with all the amazing colours that shimmer in the sky and in the landscape.

Banna Minn beach, Burra

Banna Minn beach, Burra

Cliffs on the headland further down from Banna Minn beach

Cliffs on the headland further down from Banna Minn beach

Knitting created by comrades who attended the KNITSONIK workshop held at Jamieson & Smith on Friday during Wool Week; the knitting is all based on photos of rocks and jellyfish taken at Nesbister, Whiteness, in 2013

Knitting created by comrades who attended the KNITSONIK workshop held at Jamieson & Smith on Friday during Wool Week; the knitting is all based on photos of rocks and jellyfish taken at Nesbister, Whiteness, in 2013

Ella Gordon in a beautiful Fair Isle yoke sweater - Ella and Kate's talk about vintage knitwear was a highlight of Shetland Wool Week this year

Ella Gordon in a beautiful Fair Isle yoke sweater – Ella and Kate’s talk about vintage knitwear was a highlight of Shetland Wool Week this year

Exhibition at the Shetland Textile Museum, 2014, curated by Ella Gordon

Exhibition at the Shetland Textile Museum, 2014, curated by Ella Gordon

The weather, the sea and the land dominate the experience of being in Shetland and there is great comfort in the velvet quiet of the nights and in being able to see all the stars.

Deborah Gray on Banna Minn beach

Deborah Gray on Banna Minn beach

And there is something just awesome about the constant presence of sheep.

sheep near Banna Minn beach, Papil, Burra

sheep near Banna Minn beach, Papil, Burra

Ram lambs at The Flock Book

Ram lambs at The Flock Book

I will write more about the wool and knitting side of things over on the knitsonik website soon. But today I am thinking about how to bring some of the Shetland magic back here to my life in Reading.

We don’t have room for sheep here, alas, but we do have a tiny gang of ducks.

The naughty ducks

The naughty ducks

When I am trying to get them into bed (“we want to play on our pond, we don’t care that it’s midnight!”) I shall think of Jan Robertson.

Jan Robertson - the future of Shetland wool and sheep is in safe hands

Jan Robertson – the future of Shetland wool and sheep is in safe hands

Jan is training with Oliver Henry at the Shetland Woolbrokers as a sorter and grader of Shetland Wool and her stories about the animals on her croft are amazing. I would like to look after my ducks with the same humour and empathy that Jan shows for all living things.

Duck eggs from our wee garden

Duck eggs

The landscape here is dominated not by hills and beaches but by bricks and roads which can provide their own inspiration…

rainbow spotted from the M4 motorway

rainbow spotted from the M4 motorway

Beautiful bricks of Reading

Beautiful bricks of Reading

I have ordered a knitting belt and some long double-pointed needles too, which will remind me of my knitting buddies in Shetland, as do these lovely flowers from my garden. Thank you to all my friends in Shetland for making me feel so welcome in your amazing isles; you are welcome any time at my house for Sunday Teas x

Nicotiana flowers

Nicotiana flowers

There are lots of ways to keep the magic of Shetland alive here in Reading.

Heart-shaped stone found on Banna Minn beach

Heart-shaped stone found on Banna Minn beach

This is a good thing because although Shetland is my favourite place, Mark is my favourite person… and home is – as they say – where the heart is.

Mark

Mark

As the autumn presses on I am reorganising my studio to make podcasting and sound-editing easier; I continue to manage the distribution and despatch of the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook; my commission for The Museum of Oxford is racing along; and the ducks need a person to guard against the foxes and to put them into their house at night. This Autumn I want to tuck the friendships, the knitting, the flowers, the animals, the sunsets, the landscapes and the love I found in Shetland round it all.

I will be back soon, Shetland!

I will be back soon, Shetland!

8 Responses to Autumn Days

  1. mark stanley says:

    Shetland 0
    Mark 1

    I won my girl back!

    Xxx

  2. What wonderful photos and such heart evocative words (I hope that makes sense), it sounds like you had an amazing time.
    I’m really just beginning my knitting journey and reading your blog is such a huge inspiration for me (especially on days when my cat has “assisted” with what’s on my needles when I’ve gone to put the kettle on)
    And Marks comment made me laughx

  3. Marilyn - Russian River, CA says:

    Oh, I have just done a quick view of your lovely pictures before breakfast, and will spend more time with them later. They are all just terrific, the landscapes, flowers, sheep, knitting . . . good food for thought!!! Thanks.

  4. lovely photos. I particularly like the swatches made in response to your pictures. I visited Shetland a couple of years ago with members of my knitting group and loved it too. Went for a bracing walk around St Ninian’s Isle, collecting lots of discarded wool, shells and bones, met Hazel Tindall, attended a night of fiddle playing and singing at the arts centre, loved the t stile museum, the main museum, went up to Yell and Unst to see the knitted bus stop and the lace heritage collection – could have stayed longer – it is quite other worldly. Forgot to mention the midnight walks in road daylight!

  5. Juliann says:

    I think we fall in love with a place because the people are so warm and inviting. They speak the same language we do. They love the same things we do. The energies are so high all around. I fell in love with Taos, New Mexico in the 1980’s and wish I could speak as eloquently as you do. There are so many folk in that part of New Mexico that love fibery things and have such a history that I connected with at the time. In Chimayo they have been weaving there since the 1500’s when the Spanish gave land grants. They have been raising Churro sheep since then also. Of course, Kit Carson and his band of loyal army followers tried to kill all of the churro sheep to keep the natives (mostly Navajo) under control. Fortunately they managed to survive. I know now that progress has taken over and things have changed with it. They had the 32nd Taol Wool Festival this year. I am at an age when it is more difficult to travel (mostly financial, but some physical). I still have friends there and I still stay in touch. I understand your love and heart is in Reading, but your soul spirals in Shetland.

  6. Noémie says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your adventures with us 🙂 It’s been lovely following Shetland Wool Week via your blog and also via the blogs of your comrades!

    I really enjoyed following you there, through the narration of Kate, Hazel, Jamieson & Smith blog, Ella Gordon, Helene Magnusson, Mary Jane Mucklestone, Donna Smith, etc… It’s funny you seem to be the common thread of Shetland Wool Week that pretty much everyone talks about in their retelling of the week 🙂

    Wether it’s about your workshop, the logo you designed, your stage presence, your music… everyone has something lovely to say about you being there! I noticed there is even a photo of you in the Annual! 🙂 Your workshop there looked brilliant!

    I hope I will get to come to Shetland Wool week one day, and I’m also hoping to come to one of your workshop!

    Thank you for being you and bringing such a refreshing and creative input in the knitting world!

    much love,

    Noémie.

  7. Susan says:

    As usual you capture all the most wonderful things re Shetland. Really appreciated it ALL.

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