The problem with spending time in Shetland is that now I have to go cold sheep for a while. More than a while.
But how can I, when they’re this gorgeous? Even though it’s all their fault?
(Nothing to do with me and my maggot-like willpower when confronted with wool, of course, stupid hand injuries or no stupid hand injuries.)
I knew it was going to be good as soon as we arrived. I bought the Shetland Times, and the photo right on the front page involved knitting… a 70th wedding anniversary, and the celebration cake had figures of the couple moulded in icing. He was playing a fiddle (but of course) and wearing a multicoloured sweater; she was knitting a Fair Isle using a knitting belt and had a basket of wool by her side. I don’t think I’ve seen a knitting belt represented in icing before. And then there’s the Shetland Times Bookshop in Lerwick – perfectly normal, very good bookshop; large knitting section, lots of unusual titles, not cluttered up with other crafts. Oh deary me (All-New Homespun Handknits called to me, especially the wisteria shawl and the spider hat).
Our first stop for – ahem – just standing and looking at wool (yeah, right) was, of course, Jamieson and Smith in Lerwick.
I know this is silly, but I was a little bit disappointed. That’s nothing to do with J&S, but I’d built it up in my imagination into Knitting Paradise Times Three, and with knobs on too. Nothing, nothing could have lived up to my expectations. For me, the best part wasn’t the dyed wool but the naturals – look at that roving. Mm mmm. They also had a good selection of books and patterns, and I did buy something. Of course I did.
One Shetland knitter we met described the situation with J&S and Jamiesons of Sandness as being a bit like Rangers and Celtic (though happily without the parcel bombs), in that you were almost born into a semi-tribal allegiance. She was a J&S woman, but admitted that she did think Jamiesons had the edge in terms of colour range and quality. Now I’ve been to both, I think I agree, though I’m sure this theory needs a lot more sampling…
We’d been into the Jamiesons of Sandness shop in Lerwick, drawn in by the invisible tractor beam of a wonderful window display of subtly coloured skeins, but decided to hold off actually buying wool until we’d been to the Mill itself. So on a wet, howling-gale of a day, bad even for Shetland, we set off. And boy, was it worth it. When we finally drew up at the Mill, we could see the shop, but it was in gloom and darkness. However there were people in an office, and they spotted us struggling out of the car (not difficult – unlike getting out of the car – as the wind was strong enough to take the doors away to Papa Stour). We were made instantly welcome and as soon as I had time to take in what was confronting me, a wall of wonderful wool, I lost it. This was my Knitting Paradise Times Three with Multicoloured Knobs On.
Here’s a taster:
I took about five hundred photographs but screwed up the process in most of them. Sigh. But before you think ‘how sad’ to be so over-excited, bear in mind that it’s probably universal for – er – addicts: I have a friend who surprisingly got footie tickets for a big match and took lots of beautifully focused photographs of the bald-headed bloke just in front of him.
If blues are not your thing, how about pinks?
Oh yeah – not one was overly girly, either.
Terracottas? There was a choice of teracottas.
I was a bit like one of the children in T’was the Night Before Christmas – ‘The children were nestled all snug in their beds, / while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads’ – only I wasn’t in bed and they were visions of Fair Isles. I love Fair Isles. Though I did want to knit a Fair Isle cardi, I did want to work a pattern out myself (I have boobs, and they’re not really catered for in many; I need shaping). I have started work, but not quite got there, so I bought a shade card. But I did have other projects in mind as well…
I knew, in theory, what I wanted to make with the Spindrift (a hap shawl) but I just couldn’t choose. In the end I settled for buying five colours for a bag in Fair Isle, and some other things – well, there was this bargain bin. And it would have been rude not to look in it. It should all be in tomorrow’s post; I’m afraid it was impossible to fit everything in my bag. And I did manage to resist the rugs. Not sure how.
What would you have chosen? (And this is only part of the shade card.)
Now I’m willing my ******** triggering, locking, frozen, hurting thumbs to improve and having arguments about waiting lists with the hospital. Maybe hypnosis or acupuncture would help, or just unfeasibly large quantities of painkillers. Or gin. Or maybe I will be good. I think I know the answer to that one (see tags below).