Sunday, May 26, 2019

But Shandy, could you see Muckle Flugga through the mist and rain?

On the last full day of the Wool Adventure, we started off with another workshop with Donna Smith, this time to learn the construction of a simple hap. I finished the knitting of it – it’s in the upper right-hand corner of the suitcase above.

It started with a lace edging which we had prepared as homework. Stitches were picked up from the flat edge; four trapezoidal borders knit separately; then a central garter stitch square. We kept being told all week how economical Shetland knitters are – purling and sewing avoided at all costs. But this construction means that all four corners must be sewn. The task can be reduced by knitting two borders at once, and then the other two – leaving only two open corners. That’s the way Madeline Weston does it in “The Traditional Sweater Book” – the first hap I ever knit. Is the book called something else in the US?

If I ever knit another hap again, I’ll knit all four borders at once, with a wrap-and-turn at the end. Whether or not they approve in Lerwick.

After lunch we were bussed down to the southernmost point of mainland Shetland for some fresh air and scenery, then to Neilanell’s studio. She is an eccentric former barrister (and I’m pretty sure she used that word, although the appropriate term in Scotland is “advocate”) who now designs extravagant and unusual knitwear which is produced for her in a small manufactory nearby.

Then on to a class on Fair Isle colours with Terri Malcolmson. There had been advance homework for that one, too – ten rounds of ribbing in a harmless colour which would blend with anything else we chose. I did mine in grey; it’s in the upper left-hand corner of the suitcase. But I decided to abandon it altogether. I started again in the class, and did ten rounds of corrugated ribbing. That’s the sample just below the grey one, in the picture above.

One thing I have certainly learned from the Adventure is to bring very short circular needles, if I am ever involved in such a situation again. I don’t like them; they hurt my wrists. But dp’s around a small circumference are intolerable.

It was here that I succumbed to my most foolish and extravagant purchase. I love it:

It’s not even a kit, just a selection of harmonious yarns. I can’t imagine what I’ll do with it.  It’s in the picture at the top, under everything else.


Things are somewhat better. They’re no longer shouting obscenities at each other. But they’re still not eating properly, and Perdita is still skulking in corners.


  1. Anonymous12:49 AM

    I agree with the 'love it' and feel that it is neither foolish nor extravagant. When you have contemplated it for a sufficient time I am sure that you will transform it into a wearable work of art. In the meantime it can, to quote Marie Kondo "Bring you joy."

    Then, as you have generously shared the photo with us all, we too can contemplate... You didn't mention how much yarn there is, surely there is enough for a sweater or cardigan or maybe a really colourful hap... or anything else you may wish to create.

    just enjoy
    helen (anon)

  2. I suspect each of your cats are very jealous of time you spend with the other one. You've been away & upset the pecking order somewhat so it's going to take time for them to get back to normal. Like kids, you have to pet each of them every time you pet one of them.
    Glad to see you enjoyed your Shetland trip even if it tired you out. And the best of all - you brought back yarn to knit a memory.

  3. My husband tells me that we did actually see the rocks and lighthouse of Muckle Flugga through the murk, but it left no lasting impression on me.

    Why not knit yourself a Fair Isle vest, using the lovely colours you selected?

    1. I was there several times and feel the same: no lasting impression really. There are many other Shetland places that I carry with me, but that's not one of them. Also, the walk across the moor to the northerly cliffs is not without hazard, as Bonxies are wont to attack people walking near their nests/young.

    2. Anonymous12:09 PM

      So interesting. Wonder if this latest wave of knitting popularity has changed the Shetland lifestyle what with more income, etc. Perhaps she used the word barrister because all the foreigners don't know the term advocate. Love that you decided to be the boss of your own borders. Hope the two P's get over themselves soon! Chloe

  4. Being from NY and also a birder, I just had to look up the definition of bonxie. They are a large seabird also known as skua and I sure would not want to be attacked by one!

  5. My phone has forgotten how to post comments, despite my logging in several times! I'm very much enjoying your day by day recounting of your trip. Anna in Toronto

  6. AT the very least you can admire the yarn, and quietly approve of the choices you made!