We escaped the office last week to spend a little time in Lerwick to take in some of Shetland Wool Week. We were only there for a few days, so were unable to attend some of the key events such as the opening ceremony, or the legendary Sunday teas, but we squeezed plenty in while still having time to relax for the first time in months and knit (even me).
Throughout the week, we spent plenty of time in The Hub, set up in the Shetland Museum. It really was an oasis of calm with its soft chairs, subdued lighting and dampened acoustic. In my dreams, there would be a room like it at every Ikea in the world, somewhere to escape the overstimulation of the noise, crowds and harsh lighting that blight our every trip. The Hub was an ideal place to meet with people, both planned and accidental. For me, it was mostly a chance to put a face to a name, or Ravelry or Instagram account.
I made it to a couple of trunk shows at Jamieson & Smith. The first was ours and I am truly grateful to Ella, Kharis and Sandra for staying open late for us to show off our samples for A Year of Techniques. I reckon they must have been in the shop for the best part of 12 hours, constantly packing parcels to go off around the world. Powered by Lemsip (to minimise the effects of our inevitable travel colds), Jen and I got to meet knitters from all over the world and sign their books.
The second trunk show was for the J&S book A Shetland Story, which tells the story of the company from its earliest days to the present. The simple front cover is of the familiar wooden doors of the building on North Road. A Shetland Story also includes patterns to showcase the J&S yarn ranges by Sandra Manson, Kharis Leggate, Ella Gordon, Mary Henderson, Gudrun Johnston, Mary Jane Mucklestone and Lesley Smith. The crown of Olivers Hat, the vivid colours of the Hevdadale Scarf and Tam, and the eye-catching look of the Vaara vest were my particular highlights.
Both Jen and I had booked ourselves into a class each to try something new. I attended Donna Smith's class on design inspiration. I had gone into it with a view to learning how a designer thinks about what they do, so that I can edit more sympathetically to their approach. However, as a testament to Donna's calm teaching manner, I got completely sucked in and by the end of the 3 hours had an outline pattern and colour scheme for a cowl. It may yet see the light of day, as later in the week I did something I don't remember ever doing before and actually bought yarn for myself.
Jen attended Nancy Marchant's class on tuck stitches and it was a perfect match for her insatiable desire to know everything there is to know about knitting techniques. She told me that her mind had been blown open by possibilities when she came out. That's a good thing, I think, not least as she can be the one to knits swatches if ever we come to do brioche tutorials. The last time I tried, I worked for 4 hours to end up with a swatch of 6 rows with at least one mistake in each of the rows. I was so disgusted, I didn't pick up needles for 3 months afterwards.
What sets Wool Week apart from other gatherings of knitters I have been to is time. At a show, everyone is too busy to have much more than the most superficial of conversations. Last week, we were lucky to spend a decent chunk of time with a good number of designers and friends and to share and make plans for the next projects we'd like to work on together. Amongst these, I was fascinated by the Knitsonik Colourwork Playbook and felt privileged to have a look at Donna Smith's Langsoond yarn before it went on sale. Mostly, it was great to escape the confines of the office.
Our trip was all too short, but I'm sure we'll find ourselves heading north again in the future. Not least because I'm sure I deserve a Sunday tea.