Episode 48 – Susan Crawford – Vintage Shetland

Susan Crawford - Vintage Shetland - Episode 48

In Fruity Knitting Episode 48 we are thrilled to have Susan Crawford as our guest, and particularly to hear about her brand new book, The Vintage Shetland Project. We joined Susan at her farm in Cumbria to talk about techniques and designs but also the human stories behind these vintage Shetland garments. This is a fascinating project backed by Susan’s expertise and total dedication. We travel to St Louis, Missouri to meet Karen as our guest in Knitters of the World. Andrea shows us a cute edging technique, and we see some progress on our projects. We’d love to have your company!

Susan Crawford - Vintage Shetland - Episode 48
Susan Crawford – Vintage Shetland – Episode 48

Susan Crawford – The Vintage Shetland Project

We take a lot of care and pride in every interview and episode that we bring you but in this episode we are particularly excited to share with you an interview about a very special project. We talk to Susan Crawford about her latest book Vintage Shetland.

The Vintage Shetland Project, by Susan Crawford
The Vintage Shetland Project, by Susan Crawford

This book is so much more than a collection of knitting patterns; it’s a collector’s item. It is full of the stories behind some very remarkable garments that show the ingenious and creative knitting skills of the Shetland knitters from the 1920s to the 1950s. Susan talks about her unique experience of studying and replicating some of these early garments.

There are some very moving stories of the people who knitted and wore the original garments and the result is a book which greatly enriches our knowledge and experience of the craft and art of knitting. Bravo Susan!

Susan mentions that the idea for the project came from Dr Carol Christiansen, curator of the textiles collection at the Shetland Museum and Archives. You can see our interview with Carol in Episode 39.

Patron Discount – Vintage Shetland Yarn Kits

Susan Crawford is offering Fruity Knitting Patrons a discount on all Yarn Kits for Vintage Shetland designs. Full details are available on the Fruity Knitting Patreon page.

Patron discount on all Vintage Shetland yarn kits
Patron discount on all Vintage Shetland yarn kits

Finding Susan Crawford and The Vintage Shetland Project

Footage Credit – The Vintage Shetland Project Film

The interview with Susan Crawford includes footage from The Vintage Shetland Project Film. The film was produced, directed and filmed by Susan’s daughter Charlie Moon.


We are holding a Kal to celebrate the launch of The Vintage Shetland Project book. Any designs from the book are acceptable, including alterations, so you can add or remove sleeves, or convert between a cardigan and a sweater. You can introduce yourself on the Ravelry thread, let us know what you are planning to knit, and then get back with your progress. We’re looking forward to seeing what you choose!

Jeannie, by Susan Crawford
Jeannie, by Susan Crawford

Karen Clerke – Knitters of the World

Karen and her daughter are a mighty team on the sock-knitting front, with a portfolio including intarsia, cables, colorwork and lace socks. Karen’s colorwork garments are beautiful. The image below shows Meg Swansen’s Giant Latvian Mitten Cardigan.

" and we've been knitting socks ever since."
“and we’ve been knitting socks ever since.”

Salmon Coming Home by Janine Bajus

Both Andrea and I are taken by the Salmon Coming Home vest, by Janine Bajus, which Karen test-knitted so beautifully. Janine is a designer, writer, teacher, tour guide… You can find all her stuff at feralknitter.com. (Think that over for a while…)

Karen Clerke wearing Salmon Coming Home by Janine Bajus
Karen Clerke wearing Salmon Coming Home by Janine Bajus

In one of her blog posts, Janine mentions that she is knitting up a few vests to replace her current fleece vests. She points out that these fleece garments are plastic, and gradually unload particles of plastic into the environment, including the waste water when they are washed. “Clothes that rot” is Janine’s expression – we say YES!

Finding Karen Clerke

Tutorial – Ruffled Edges

Ruffled Edges. Cheap frills. Frills and spills. The frill of the chase...
Ruffled Edges. Cheap frills. Frills and spills. The frill of the chase…

Andrea demonstrated the technique to create a ruffled edge by greatly increasing or decreasing the number of stitches, depending on whether you’re knitting towards the edge or away from it. For the sleeves of her Tegna top, she cast on four times the number of stitches normally required for the start of the sleeve, and then halved the number of stitches after the first row and then again after the second row. Andrea used needles a few sizes down, although you might want to experiment with that.

Might make a nice edge for a shawl. “Cast on 1040 stitches….”

The Vest – Under Construction

After swatching for the last Episode, I have now started the real work on my vest. After talking about her own design, Andrea stumbled upon Whelk by Rowan designer Martin Storey. After some deliberation, Andrea has decided to stick to her own ideas rather than following Martin’s pattern. I just do what I’m told, and I’m sure it will all be fine. This will be the first vest in my wardrobe and it will be a valuable addition.

The Vest
The Vest. (I’m already visualizing myself wearing it.)

The yarn is Donna Smith’s Langsoond yarn, spun from her own Shetland sheep. We visited Donna whilst we were in Shetland, and this connection will make the finished garment all the more special.

We were wearing

  • Mary Tudor, by Alice Starmore
  • The green jacket that Andrea is wearing during the interview with Susan Crawford is by the Norwegian designer Sidsel Høivik. You can find an interview with Sidsel Høivik in Episode 30. You can hear about the construction of the jacket in Episodes 39 and 40, and probably a few more…
  • Firebirds, by Jade Starmore. You can hear a little more about that in Episode 12.

Music Credits

9 thoughts on “Episode 48 – Susan Crawford – Vintage Shetland”

  1. Just thought I would tell you that the music for your theme tune was chosen by last week’s guest Dame Minouche Shafik on Desert Island Discs BBC Radio 4. It was good to hear a longer section of it. You may like to listen to the programme.

  2. I was told about your podcast by a knitting friend. I am so thankful to have learned about it! I watched all the past episodes and enjoy every minute. I also am a pianist, vocalist, and musician as were my parents and siblings. I no longer perform publicly but had many years of enjoyment directing choirs, accompanying, and singing solos. When 11 years old, my teacher’s wife taught 3 of us how to knit. How thankful I am to her. That was 49 years ago and I have been actively knitting ever since! I love every segment of Fruity Knitty and look forward with anticipation to each new episode. Thank you for all your effort and time in producing this quality podcast!

  3. I’ve been watching the podcast almost from the beginning and love watching each episode. I live in the US, in Maine, on the coast where the hiking and out-of-doors is always where I want to be! I’m thankful for the warm things I’ve spun and knitted or woven.
    I particularly enjoyed Susan Crawford, her “reading” of the vintage sweaters and how she melds her insights into history. Her project for the Knocker Jotter was wonderful and terrifically moving. I too have been through breast cancer and like Susan thought that concrete resources were lacking when I had questions. So heartwarming, her journey.

    1. Hi Linda. Thanks for being such a faithful viewer! Maine sounds wonderful, and we have just met Sarah from Fibertrek – who you will have seen as a Knitter of the World, and from your part of the world. And, as it happens, we also met Susan today – all at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. Lovely to hear from you, and keep enjoying the beautiful Maine outdoors. A + A.

  4. I just found out about your podcast through a fellow spinner, and I couldn’t be happier. I can only imagine the amount of work and effort that goes to producing it. Thank you! Also, you were wearing one of the most exquisite pieces of knitting I have ever seen during your interview with Susan Crawford, and i was wondering what pattern you used if any. Again, thank you so much for all that you do for the knitting community world-wide.

    1. Hi Sophie. I’ve added it to the program notes now, under “We were wearing”. Thanks for watching and for your lovely comments.

  5. Thank you so much for the interview with Susan Crawford, I was so touched and moved by her work and her story and her ability and fearlessness in sharing such personal intimate things about her experience. And all the women who took part in her book, such amazing women. Knitting brings more than just what we can create, it brings community and sharing to another level.

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