My interest in Shetland textiles focuses on the sheep and their wool, in large part because that’s what I love. As I travel this particular road, I’m grateful for the gifted researchers and designers who pay attention to traditional and contemporary Shetland textiles. Among these people is Susan Crawford, whose previous four books have delved into knitting from the 1920s through the 1950s. For the past four years, Susan has traveled to Shetland twice a year (lucky!) to spend time selecting twenty-five tantalizing knitted pieces from the collection of the Shetland Museum and Archives, examining every stitch, and designing patterns that will allow contemporary knitters to be guided by the works' creators in making reproductions of the pieces or simply being inspired by them.
I’ve seen in person some of the works Susan has selected. I look forward to viewing them through her eyes as well, since she’s had the opportunity to study them in far more detail than I have.
This stunning vest, for example—when I discovered it in the museum on my second trip there, I didn’t want to quit looking at it:
It’s a long way to go to visit a garment, but the experience was memorable—and soon we’ll be able to get a close look without so much travel, because Susan’s Vintage Shetland Project is in the process of being funded through Pubslush. As I’m writing this, the project has gathered £19,998 with a goal of £12,000. I’m not surprised that it’s already exceeded its goal. Susan has a reputation for doing exquisite work. All of her previous books have been self-published, so we know how well she will pull this one off. We also only have to wait until November to see the book published.
You can hear Susan talk about the project on the Pubslush page, and get glimpses of a number of the garments that she has gotten to know so well. I’m including a few of my favorites here. I’m seriously wishing a trip to Shetland was in my schedule for this year (so many fine people; so many great ideas), but I’m still processing the piles of information I collected there last fall. . . .
It was hard for Susan to choose from the many garments in the museum, and it's hard for me to choose what to feature from the twenty-five she has selected. But here are a couple of them:
The breathtaking delicacy of that lace! Wouldn't it be lovely to wear?
There's a strong Scandinavian influence in Shetland, and it shows up in the knitting, with a shift in flavors.
And this cardigan ranks as a favorite for many reasons. Obviously both beautiful and well loved, it deserves to be reincarnated on 21st century needles and given more chances to bring joy into people's lives.
Go check out the Pubslush page, and also there’s a blog tour going on. Here’s what’s happened to date, if you want to see more pictures of cool stuff:
Julia Billings - tomorrow
(Cruise around these blogs: it took me a while to write this post because I kept finding interesting things to read.)
For those of us who like yarn for its own sake, Susan has been collaborating with some mills to develop yarns suited to knitting vintage-style pieces—exciting!
And, by the way, one reason that it’s been so quiet around here is that I’ve been learning WordPress and moving my blog and site to that platform. There are only so many hours in a day, and I’ll be glad to get back to writing instead of learning software. Nonetheless, it’s a good move and very soon you’ll be finding me at The Independent Stitch.
Happy reading, knitting, and spinning to you. . . .