Sunday, September 15, 2013

We had a grand time, on a beautiful warm sunny day. We covered about 10 kilometres along the shore. I’m glad to know I can still do it. But I’m still feeling it this morning, and am resolved not to attempt anything remotely so ambitious on Shetland.

Upper left you can see the towers of the Cockenzie Power Station, the landmark we steered by.

Today's weather is much worse, but well short of the promised storm.

Progress with Shetland: we have but to apply at the reception desk of the Shetland Museum in Lerwick, I am told, to be taken on a “Textile Treasures” tour of the museum by one of their volunteers – who will be a knitter!

And the Shetland Textile Museum at the Bod of Gremista (mentioned yesterday) (a) has a temporary exhibition at the moment of knitwear made for royalty, including much lace and (b) is closed Sunday and Monday. That is a must-see for me, so it’ll have to be seen on Saturday.

The Great Exhibition of 1851 is said to have effectively introduced Shetland lace to the rest of Britain. Queen Victoria was presented with a shawl or two at some point. There was an exhibition of her clothes at Kensington Palace some years ago. I wrote to the curator asking if any shawls were to be included, and heard, eventually, that they had none.

The Princess shawl itself is Sharon Miller’s simplification (!) of one presented to the then Princess of Wales in 1863. A duplicate was made which is here in Edinburgh, in the Museum of Scotland. I am also interested – although royalty isn’t involved in this one – in Ford Maddox Brown’s picture “Work”. It was started in 1852 (just after the Great Exhibition) and eventually finished in ’63. It includes the figure of a fashionable woman in a Shetland shawl.

A very specific shawl – you could pretty well knit it from the painting. Is the woman just there to represent idleness and fashion, or did the artist think of the 100’s of hours of work which went into the making of the shawl?

And then of course – back to the Bod of Gremista – there should be Prince of Wales Fair Isle golfing sweaters.

So Sunday for Unst? I have heard from a woman there, formerly Britain’s most northerly headmistress (Unst Primary School), who is happy to meet us and show us the collection even on Sunday. Kate Davies describes her as a “good egg”. I’ll be back in touch when we’ve worked out ferry times – there are fewer on Sunday.

Goodness this is exciting. So must a pious Muslim feel when he books his ticket for Mecca.

I was too tired for much, last night. I wound the first skein for Milano – merino with a touch of cashmere; very soft. And did a few more BSJ rows. I should finish the knitting today, unless the Curse of Sunday intervenes.


  1. Hope you have a wonderful time - and bring back some photographs for the rest of us! Have you seen the Williamson shawl/stole on Ravelry? It is a project by the same group which did the Queen Susan.

  2. I hope you enjoy your trip and the anticipation. As you said, it is rather like a pilgrimage. When I went I thought I would devote all my time to knitting and wool, but the flora, fauna, and viking culture broadened my whole idea of the islands.
    Ron in Mexico

  3. Love the picture of you walking! Yes, definitely headed to Mecca. I wonder if poor Kath has any idea of what it will be like to be in Shetland with the two of us. :-)