Thursday, May 23, 2019

OK, Day Two

No bus, that day. We walked to the Shetland Museum and had a most interesting time. Their textile collection, of course, is incomparable. The woman who talked to us was a recently-retired employee – absolutely brilliant. She showed us her own knitting, and how she had modified and extended traditional forms.

I think that is the single most significant idea I took on board last week: that Shetland knitters don’t just do the same-old-things over and over. It’s all there in Susan Crawford’s book, but I hadn’t fully grasped it.

We saw a Fair Isle jumper which incorporated a swastika as a peerie pattern. I later found two more examples in a publication – “book” is too grand a word, “leaflet” too demeaning  -- about the Whalsay Fair Isle exhibition in 2017. Wikipedia says that it used to be a “symbol of auspiciousness and good luck” in the Western world. The Wikipedia entry is worth reading. My father’s mother – Grandmother Smits – had a little silver spoon with lucky symbols on the handle – a four-leafed clover, a rabbit’s foot, a swastika. As a child, during the war, I found it fascinating. I wonder what happened to it.

But how did the symbol get to Shetland?

After the museum, we went back to headquarters for a workshop with Donna Smith. We knit a mug cosy. You can see mine in the picture above – it’s the one with the sheep. It’s Donna’s design, of course, and the glory of it is that the sheep aren’t all the same. Like many of you, I am sure, my life is strewn with unfinished workshop projects – but I am determined to finish this one.

The alternative pattern was a Shetland star. That would have involved the considerable advantage of Donna’s advice on the selection of colours. But I had fallen for those sheep.


Some of you have suggested the Feliway diffuser to make the cats happier. I used it when Paradox was first introduced. I don’t know whether it helped or not. It’s worth trying again. I think things were slightly better today, although it’s hard to say. Archie came, and we did some gardening on the front step. We kept Paradox enclosed behind the inner door, and let Perdita join us. I think she enjoyed it. They’re still not eating much.


  1. Your trip sounds wonderful. Such a learning experience. The cats sound as tho they're being possessive of you, because they both are so happy to see you back home. my cats act like that when I go away for a while. Eventually they get back to normal. Take care!

  2. That mug-cover is seriously wantable. Is there a pattern anywhere?
    We used have feliway thingies, both the plugable innaable and also the spray, when we were having a problem with a marauder cat coming in through the cat flap and eating all the cat food. It was a bold-as-brass siamese and our cats are only timid moggies. It certainly helped out cats become calmer and less twitchy/hissy (and getting a marauder-proof catflap also helped.)
    I'm glad you had such a good time. We are going on a French River Cruise; part of me is massively looking forward to it, and part of me is mithering about the logistics and the walking tours... it will be FAB, I tell myself...
    Finally, the bookclub is reading Beryl Bainbridge 'The Dressmaker'. I'm not enjoying it. Have you (or anyine else out there) read it. Should I persevere? I'm alternating with with re-reading D L Sayers 'Unnatural Death'.

  3. Jean, Rudyard Kipling used to put the swastika in the frontispiece of his books, he learned it in India, so perhaps it came to Shetland from soldiers or Shetlanders who lived and worked in India during the Raj.

  4. The mug cozy is available on Ravelry. I watched the movie of The Dressmaker, and I found it rather strange.

  5. I am greatly enjoying your trip, particularly as you are recreating it for us day by day. I too am taken by the mug cozy with sheep.
    Re: The Dressmaker- I saw the movie and thoroughly enjoyed it. There were some good laughs and some parts that just tore at my heart. Unfortunately, a movie review means nothing when a book can be so different from the director's interpretation of the text.

  6. Anonymous1:39 PM

    Might a can of tuna divided between the two of them mollify them both? It sounds as if you have had a wonder filled trip - love the pic of your travel stash and of hearing day by day of your escapades. So glad you have returned...

  7. =Tamar5:54 PM

    With some kinds of work, it's hard to avoid an accidental swastika. The Brigit's Cross can come out that way.
    It also shows up in Native American work. I have a little silver pin that I think may be Navajo souvenir work; it has the shape with an arrow in each arm. I got it at a yard sale in the 1960s.

  8. have ordered and downloaded the mug cozy, just what i need to get my knitting mojo back. i love stranded knitting but the thought of a sweater is intimidating. i loved KDD teapot. and may do another one as my first one was too small. life is fraught with uncertainty (building i rent in is being sold and other things). so this will be a soothing quicker knit. and then there is socks.

    so great reading about your days on the trip. so glad of you that you did it.. sometimes our fear is greater than the reality (A big one for me).

    what website is it that commenters are saying there are photos of the group? would love to see it. thanks


  10. Well. For some reason I see no pictures, but I'm imagining it! As far as the swastika, it was an ancient Hindu symbol of good luck, and unity, as the four arms symbolized "togetherness." It's unfortunate that such a beautiful symbol is corrupted now, beyond repair, I think. I'm enjoying your tale, and I wish I had advice on the cats. I have none; I'm a dog person.