Colours of Shetland

Oh wowzer… Shetland was completely inspirational. I’m still getting my thoughts together (and waiting for a delivery from Jamieson’s of Sandness), but the first thing which really hit me was the sheer depth and range of colour.

And that’s even when compared to Sutherland and north Wales, my yardsticks by which I judge everywhere else. I even felt I needed to change the header image (those particular Shetland sheep were on West Burra).

The island of Mousa (with its famous and exceptional broch) is in the background. Have a close look at the colour of the paintwork on Sand Lodge, too – pinky red.

The sea from St Ninian’s Isle. That turquoise. Amazing. And I’ve been walking around in a bracelet which was bought for me by my father years and years ago in Sutherland, never knowing it was based on the St Ninian’s treasure. I took it home! (Mind you, I brought it back, ho ho, not that much of a romantic.)

Let’s get more down to earth.

I do have a tendency to collect colours. Among my photographs are things like these mooring ropes, at Hay’s Dock by the Shetland Museum and Archives, and the fish box at the end of the world:

All sorts of stuff ends up on Shetland’s beaches, and I also have a photo of a bright orange rubber glove. I’ll spare you that one – though I wouldn’t mind betting it’ll turn up at some stage.

We were there at the right time for the flowers; they were just starting to get into their stride. The carpets of daisies were beautiful, and the pinks, vetches, squills and orchids – I’m reduced to wowzer again. The yellow flags weren’t quite out, but marsh marigolds were everywhere.

This boat is at Tangwick, near the Tangwick Haa museum. If you’re ever in Northmavine, it’s worth a visit.

We were there, of course, at just the right time of year – though I suspect every time of year is perfect for something. But we hit the simmer dim, the nights when the sun barely goes down. This shot was taken past 11 at night.

I want to knit a hap shawl using the colours of Shetland, rather than the traditional natural fleece colours (well, I want to do that too), but I’ve revised my choice of colours now I’ve been able to scan all the photographs I took.

It has to be based on blue, with some white for the sea, the sand on West Burra and the Shetland flag.

I’m hooked.


9 thoughts on “Colours of Shetland

  1. Annie

    Shetland is the most amazing place isn’t it … we are currently in north east Wales but we hope to move to Shetland as soon as all our kids have flown the nest and join friends who have already taken the plunge. Paradise for a knitter as well 🙂

    I’ve only just found your blog, but now I’m looking forward to seeing your Shetland colours shawl !

    1. kate Post author

      Hi and welcome — and the thought of moving north… sigh… that would be quite something! Paradise full stop, but then Snowdonia isn’t too bad, she added, coming back to earth…

      I got the Jamieson’s shade card out last night and started looking at it next to the images. Mind you, I think it would be best to check the colours in person and on location!

  2. Knitsister

    Your trip looks like a dream come true…yet again I have moved it to the top of my to go to list. Love the colours, no surprise as many have blue in it, thought of you knitting a Hap shawl in blues sounds delicious. Not sure I would want to move there though…I do love Wales too much and still want to be able to get to places with certain ease.
    Will I see you on Saturday?…Hope so x

  3. Harriet

    It looks magical. That night sky is stunning. Just proves the point that to find extreme beauty – and colour – you have to go far! The fishbox made me laugh, they really do get everywhere!

    1. kate Post author

      Indeed… Sigh. Oh – fish boxes and skips — though there’s some muttering about the latter. You get this fabulous landscape, like something elemental and Tolkenian (or maybe straight from Noggin the Nog), and there’s a huge skip full of earth, old doors and broken TVs. I must admit I don’t mind them that much – working landscape with real people in it, after all!

  4. Sandra Flood

    I lived in Shetland in the 1960s, in Scalloway. My ex was one of two veterinarians in the islands , the only way I got to see anything of him was to take the occasional ride with him when he was going to see animals at far-flung crofts. That way I got to see most of the islands and met a lot of interesting people. Our neighbours were knitters with a big old iron knitting machine in their room next to our bedroom in semi-detached houses! The thump thump of the knitting machine easily penetrated the walls. The women in the family did all the various stages in knitting Fair Isle jerseys – the body and sleeves knitted on the knitting machine, the Fair Isle pattern around the neck, and the blocking. It was before the oil boom and I suspect Shetland has changed a lot since then but it was good to read your posts on your visit. Interesting that you were there in Summer and the sea was so blue. My memory is of the sea becoming a marvellous range of blues and turquoises in the winter, when colour drained out of the land and the temperatures dropped somewhat. In the Summer the sea was more a range of greys, something to do with the plankton levels rising and falling I believe.

    1. kate Post author

      What a fantastic experience – a world that has largely vanished, I suspect; oil changed so much up in the far North, even on the mainland. But the astonishing colours won’t have changed, though they might have changed their seasons: how odd about the dull summer seas. I’d love to see the islands in winter (even if I don’t fancy the flight or – perish the thought – the ferry, aka 12 hours of hell). Thanks so much for such an interesting comment!


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