27 June 2014

Shetland Textile Museum

Shetland Textile Museum Shetland Textile Museum Shetland Textile Museum is housed in the Böd of Gremista, on the outskirts of Lerwick. This museum opens over the summer months and attracts visitors from all over the world, as well as Shetlanders.

Each year the display in the museum has a different theme and this year it is the knitting being worn and produced at the start of the oil era in Shetland. Included is a skirt I knitted for myself in the late 1970s, partly hand knitted and partly machine knitted. I wore it a lot, until the day it was machine washed and no longer fit me. At least, for once, I had the wit to keep it and donated it some years ago to the Textile Museum. I had not seen it for some years, and don't seem to have any photos of me wearing it. It is good to see it again.

For the first weeks one room was used to display work by five students who have just completed year 3 of their BA (Hons) Contemporary Textiles at Shetland College. This was a stunning display, and the perfect complement to the display of work by all the textile students which was at Shetland College at the same time. This room is now filled with knitted lace and includes a piece by my aunt, Annie Sandison, whose only income until she reached her 50s was knitting. 

In one of the rooms downstairs is an old loom which was saved when weaving ceased at T M Adie & Sons of Voe. For many years Bess Jamieson wove on this loom which she kept in her shed. It was moved to the Shetland Textile Museum a few years ago. 

I volunteer to demonstrate knitting most Saturdays and it is always interesting to meet the visitors, some of whom are very interested and have lots of questions. Of particular interest is my use of straight double pointed knitting needles and knitting belt. Knitters are really keen to learn about the benefits, and are often keen to try themselves - the Textile Museum has a small sales area and this year they soon sold out of knitting belts and had to order more.

Mostly the visitors come in ones and twos but occasionally there are bigger groups. Often the Saturday afternoon visitors are at the end of their holiday so it is interesting to hear whether they have enjoyed their time her, and it's not unusual to find that I know the owners of their holiday home. So far everyone has thoroughly enjoyed all that Shetland has to offer and many are returning visitors, or have booked for future visits. Two weeks - and many people come for a much shorter stay - is not long enough to see everything. Shetlanders often bring their guests to the museum and it is chance to share knitting memories too.

Shetland Textile Museum continues to add to its collection of knitting and other textiles, either through donations or purchases.

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About Shetland

Shetland

Shetland is the most northerly group of Scottish islands. Apart from mainland Scotland, the other near neighbours are Norway to the east and the Faroe Islands to the north west.