Saturday, May 25, 2019

I’m sorry about last night’s silence. I was quite stunningly tired, and went to bed at 7.

James and Cathy are here. We had a nice lunch here in DP with their son Alistair, and also Helen and her husband David. Alistair and his parents have gone off to Falkirk to be introduced to his kitten. Tomorrow we will have lunch at Helen’s house, which means climbing her fearful stairs again.

But back to Shetland. The next day was an early start, and off to Unst. That was my one serious disappointment of the tour – it was a damp and misty day, and we didn’t get to see Muckle Flugga. I would have liked to try to discern it, even through the mist. At least I’ve seen it once in my life.

The Unst Heritage Centre was wonderful, and again we had a wonderful guide who told us about her own knitting history. Back to Lerwick in time for a lace-knitting workshop with Elizabeth Johnston. I was pleased to find that I can still do it. The result is in the foreground of the picture above. I don’t see any point in finishing it.

We had learned earlier in the day that mains electricity only came to Unst in the late 50’s – after I was married. I voiced my theory that perhaps fine lace knitting was reserved for the months of light, with spinning done in the winter. I thought maybe skilled fingers could manage that in the dark. No, said Elizabeth. Lace knitting can be done by firelight – the knitting is between you and the fire, and the light shines through.

I also mentioned my ambition to knit Sharon Miller’s Spring Shawl as a final bridal shawl for granddaughters. I still have three unmarried granddaughters. Elizabeth said that if I attempted it, there should be no other knitting while it was in progress. Knitting with a heavier yarns throws one’s tension off. That, alas, is advice I can’t take.

The other thing I learned is that Shetland lace knitters don’t use markers to separate pattern repeats.

I have cast on the Spring Shawl since my return, with the yarn bought at Jamieson & Smith, clearly visible above. It starts with a cast-on of five stitches, and progresses rapidly at first. I’ve done 40 rows, without neglecting the Calcutta Cup scarf. The shawl begins with an easy mesh pattern, lace on every other row.  (I have never mastered the terminology of “knitted lace” and “lace knitting”, and don’t intend to try.) More on this subject soon.


  1. Personally, I find knitting items with different sized needles helps my knitting since it keeps my hands more flexible and they don't get as tired. I'm loving hearing about your trip since my DH is sending me to a few days at Shetland Wool Week this fall

  2. I've loved reading your account of your trip, Jean. When we went to Unst, we decided to walk out to the headland to see Muckle Flugga. It was a wet day and the murk got thicker. We did see puffins, however. Then we walked back across the moor, drenched to the skin.
    It does not surprise me that lace knitters did not use markers. I'm often puzzled to see pieces of knitting in progress with markers used even for really obvious panels of cable patterns.

  3. I think I am going to have to give lace knitting a try - your blog is so inspiring. I haven't done anything more than a simple square with the occasional 'yrn over k2tog'. The 'I don't see any point in finishing it' knitting looks so pretty.

  4. Anonymous1:06 PM

    Maybe someone can carry you up those stairs, Jean? It seems like a lot to have to dread visiting your daughter. Chloe

  5. Your account of your trip is wonderful. I am glad you enjoyed it and I am already planning mine.

  6. Syd T.2:20 PM

    So enjoying your notes about your trip, and the lovelies in you picture! Oh those stairs,I know your fear. Please make sure you have someone at you side when using them. Can make all the difference to have that loving guidance.

  7. Anonymous2:52 PM

    Thanks for posting about your trip - it really sounds excellent.
    Glad to hear you are starting the Spring Shawl. It will be so beautiful. (I really depend on markers ...)

    Lisa RR

  8. I just read an article about why stairs leave one out of breath even if you are really fit. Can’t tell you now, of course! I often use markers to remind me to switch pattern repeat as otherwise I get on autopilot and that isn’t always reliable!

  9. Interesting article as to why stairs are hard. I work in an office by a steep hill and parking is on top of the hill. I hate walking up the hill at the END of my work day ugh. But at least it’s not steps. See the article as to why. Still not fun. I find that if I treat the climb as an incline in running and monitor my breath then I can do it fairly easily. Of course I am also carrying my shoulder bag and my bag with my lunch and laptop so that extra weight is not helping,

    So good to read of the trip. Would love to take a similar trip too bad it’s so expensive from the US.

    Good for you to start the spring shawl. Your family will treasure it along with your others.

    Any chance of the link to the trip with the photos?