Episode 39 – Shetland Wool Week

Shetland Wool Week 2017 - Fruity Knitting Podcast Episode 39

Shetland Wool Week was a wonderful experience and we have brought home lots of material for the Fruity Knitting Podcast. Hazel Tindall, native Shetlander twice recognized as the fastest knitter in the world, joins us for our first interview in Episode 39. Hazel tells us about her childhood, with memories of knitting to earn money for the family. Dr Carol Christiansen is curator of the textiles collection at the Shetland Museum and Archives, and takes us through a selection of museum garments in our second interview. We get a glimpse of the Opening Ceremony, with a fashion parade, Shetland poet Jacqui Clark and Shetland band Vair, a visit to Burrastow House with Gudrun Johnston and Mary Jane Mucklestone, a tour of Jamieson’s of Shetland, and lots more. Join us on our trip to Shetland Wool Week 2017.

Shetland Wool Week 2017 - Fruity Knitting Podcast Episode 39
Shetland Wool Week 2017 – Fruity Knitting Podcast Episode 39

Shetland Wool Week 2017

Shetland is a mecca for fiber artists because of it’s rich heritage in wool, spinning, knitting and weaving. It’s a small community with a very high percentage of fiber experts and artists living in the population. Therefore during the Shetland Wool Week there was something of great interest happening on many of the little islands. Apart from the usual classes that most yarn festivals offer, there were also lots of exhibitions, open studios where you can walk in and watch demonstrations, free talks and tours and general knitting events.  The feeling of the festival was very much about learning, experiencing and sharing with other knitters and less about selling and buying yarn.

The Shetland Wool Week attracted a concentration of very accomplished and serious knitters and spinners. There was plenty of opportunity through the organised open events and the local guild events to be able to sit next to these experts, ask your questions and get their guidance on your projects. You could really break new boundaries with your craft just by hanging out and making new friends.

Hazel Tindall – Interview

Shetland's Hazel Tindall
Shetland’s Hazel Tindall

Hazel grew up in an extended family surrounded by her sisters, mother, aunts and grandmother all knitting to supplement the family income.

Shetland Knitters. They held the balls of wool with their little finger.
Shetland Knitters. They held the balls of wool with their little finger.

Already at the age of 12, Hazel was designing her own Fair Isle yolk patterns which she hand knitted into machine knitted bodies of jumpers to sell. Hazel tells a good story and the interview has a very easy, pleasurable flow as she shares her early memories.

Stranded yoke samples from Hazel and her mother
Stranded yoke samples from Hazel and her mother

Together with Elizabeth Johnston (lace expert) hazel has recently filmed a download / DVD called ’50 Tips from Shetland Knitters’. It is a wonderful source of efficient Shetland knitting techniques from which all levels of knitters will benefit. The DVD can be purchased from  Jamieson’s of ShetlandJamieson & SmithShetland Museum and Archives

50 Tips from Shetland Knitters, by Hazel Tindall and Elizabeth Johnston
50 Tips from Shetland Knitters, by Hazel Tindall and Elizabeth Johnston

Finding Hazel Tindall

Dr. Carol Christiansen- Curator of the Textiles Collection, Shetland Museum and Archives

Dr. Carol Christiansen  is the curator of the very fine textile collection at the Shetland Museum and Archives in Lerwick, Shetland. This collection is mainly 19th and 20th century handmade cloth, both knitted and woven. Apart from her duties as curator, Carol researches Shetland textiles, published articles and books and occasionally does analysis on archaeological textile finds.

Example of early Fair Isle knitting showing the typical colours and patterning.

Carol put together, especially for the podcast, a small collection of some of the knitted garments she finds most interesting. There is a rather glamorous Fair Isle man’s vest from around the 1920s, a stunning Shetland lace shawl, remnants from an early Fair Isle hand dyed jumper and an incredibly engineered, fine wool undergarment for a fisherman showing that Patagonia were not the first to design high tech garments for adventurers and extreme weather conditions.

The Gunnister Man

Carol also worked on reconstructing the woollen garments found in the Gunnister Man’s burial. The original garments (dating back to the 1700s) were very well preserved because of the acid in the peat. Wool likes acid.

Finding Carol Christiansen and the Shetland Museum and Archives


Jamieson’s of Shetland

Elaine Jamieson very kindly allowed us to go ‘back stage’ at their mill and see where and how their lovely Spindrift and tweed twill materials are made. Brian the head weaver helped me pick out two gorgeous fabrics to make into skirts.

Brian is the head weaver at Jamieson's of Shetland
Brian is the head weaver at Jamieson’s of Shetland

Finding Jamieson’s of Shetland

Sidsel Høivik – Mother Åse’s Jacket

Andrea’s new project is named after Sidsel’s mother who passed away while Sidsel was working on the design. It comes in a kit, including the ribbon which is sewn down the front and the colourful buttons.

Mother Ase's Jacket, by Sidsel Hoivik
Mother Ase’s Jacket, by Sidsel Hoivik

It’s a cardigan that is knitted in the round and steeked, with some really interesting design elements to it. Andrea describes these on the episode and also talks about the changes she plans to make to the pattern. If you would like to meet Sidsel and hear her talking about her designs, we interviewed her in Episode 30.

Mother Ase's Jacket, by Sidsel Hoivik
Mother Ase’s Jacket, by Sidsel Hoivik

Finding Sidsel Høivik

Fruity Knitting News

Fruity Steeked Kal

We are launching the Fruity Steeked Kal. The rules (very important) are 1) Has to be a garment project. 2) Has to be steeked. 3) Really should be significantly stranded knitting. Projects should have been started no earlier than October, and the Kal will run until January 2018, so you have plenty of time. The hashtag is #fruitysteekedkal, and we look forward to seeing your works in progress on Instagram. You can find the Ravelry chat thread here.

Fruity Knitting Live – Nancy Marchant (14 October) and Romi Hill (22 October)

If you are a Shetland Patron then you are invited to Fruity Knitting Live, our regular online events, which feature a guest from the podcast. Participants get the opportunity to ask questions and chat with the guest. The number of attendees is limited, so this is a great opportunity to talk to some of the biggest names in the knitting world. Both Shetland and Merino Patrons get to submit questions and topics for discussion, and get access to an audio recording shortly after the event. Patrons also have access to the recordings of earlier events.

The next Fruity Knitting Live events are:

  • Nancy Marchant, 14 October. Shetland and Merino Patrons submit questions and topics for Nancy Marchant here.
  • Romi Hill, 22 October. Shetland and Merino Patrons submit questions and topics for Romi Hill here.

Spread the word about the Fruity Knitting Podcast

We think there are many knitters who would enjoy the Fruity Knitting Podcast, but they have never heard about it. We would really appreciate it if you would mention the show to other knitters, whether in a chat with your knitting friends, or on social media. You can find us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, so please give us a mention, share our posts on Facebook and help us get the word out.

We were wearing



5 thoughts on “Episode 39 – Shetland Wool Week”

  1. Andrea and Andrew, Thank you so much for burning the midnight oil and preparing and posting the Shetland Wool Week podcast so quickly! You know MANY of us have been eagerly looking forward to this episode, and it did not disappoint. I for one can be a little more patient waiting for the next installment!
    I especially loved your tale of hedgehog and weasel!
    And of course Hazel Tindall is a national, or should I say international, treasure. I realize now that the yarn shop where I worked in the 60’s actually sold the Shetland-knitted yokes. Also loved seeing the pieces from the collection of the Shetland Museum and Archives.
    Thank you again!

  2. Susan Hardy-Bachan

    Thank you both for this episode. I am envious of you both sitting there with Hazel, I could watch her knitting for hours on end. Your both so lucky to be able to visit Shetland and I hope to get there one day.

  3. Do I see the skirt yardage you purchased on the table as a cloth in the Dr. Of Shetland Museum interview segment? ……. It looks so much like the skirt fabric you were showing as part of your purchases at Shetland week.

  4. Heather Russell-Loux

    Hello Andrea and Andrew what a wonderful episode I eagerly await the upcoming episodes with more of your Shetland adventure. Andrea would you please be able to share the colorways for the lovely purple Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift yarns you purchased on your trip? Thank you.

  5. Elizabeth Rutledge

    Thank you both so very much for this amazing episode ? Allowing us to travel with you to Shetland! My favourite part was the visit to Jamisons mill- the colours of the Spindrift were just fabulous- I so wanted to reach out and hold them! Three years ago we were in Scotland and I purchased some Spindrift in The Woolly Ewe in Pitenweem- it’s a beautiful heathery colour which I intend to make into a beanie. I also loved the tweed you purchased Andrea – looking forward to seeing your finished skirts- you might just encourage me to get my Bernina out again?Many thanks again from Elizabeth in Tasmania

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