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Friday, May 14, 2010

Vintage Shetland

I recently returned to Shetland to visit the Shetland Museum Archive, where I am working on a very special project in collaboration with the Museum. The Museum houses an incredible collection of hand knitted garments, many from the 1920s-1940s. All of this knitwear has been made by people (usually women) living and working on the Islands.

Shetland Museum

The Shetland Museum

Much of this knitwear has been kept either by family or descendants of recipients and at some point the decision has been made to donate the garment to the Museum collection. As you can imagine many of the pieces have deteriorated considerably over time and as none of these pieces of knitting have written patterns the garment itself is the only record of the effort, the design, the history.

Only a small selection of the knitwear is on display at the Museum itself, the remainder is housed in an archive building elsewhere on the main island. This is where I spent several days examining, photographing, measuring and transcribing stitch by stitch a selection of these garments.

Here I am in the process of transcribing a jumper from the 1940s.

Paterson jumper 1

Paterson jumper 2

From this information I will choose about 18 to 20 of the garments which I will then write multi sized patterns for. The task of knitting the garments to match the originals as closely as possible will then begin. Once all this has been done and the patterns have been tested and checked and the stories behind the jumpers written and the photographs taken and the artwork, layout and printing done, Vintage Shetland will be published!

This is obviously a long project and the work has only just begun but I will be sharing progress as I proceed.

We managed to have a little time off while we were there and attended a 'Hamefaring' - My good friend Connie of Jamieson & Smith had married in New Zealand earlier this year and the hamefaring was held for those of us who couldn't make the trip. Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of the evening but I learnt both a waltz and a reel. The next morning Gavin and I went for a walk around the headland.

Here I am in my Beret for Country Walks from A Stitch in Time.

Beret for Country Walks

I have another trip this weekend, this time to Devon, and then I'll be back to prepare for the publication of Vintage Gifts to Knit - Yaaay!

for now
Ruby xxx


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the insight in to the early stages of this process. The amount of work that goes in to transcribing those patterns is phenomenal!

Gudrun Johnston said...

So glad to hear you'll be sharing the progress of this exciting project!

Linda said...

What a wonderful opportunity Ruby, and so much work involved. I bet you were so excited about it!

the_lazymilliner said...

Can't wait to see full-fledged photos of old sweaters and new patterns.

Anita said...

Oh, I so wish I had your job! How fascinating to get up close with those knits.

Unraveling Sophia said...

Oh how wonderful! I can't wait to hear more about this project!!

ShoeboxSally said...

I was fascinated by your trip to the Shetlands and the museum - what a brilliant archive of knitted garments.
It sounds like a very BIG project - do you need any help with the knitting?
I visited the Shetlands years ago, stopping in the Orkneys to trace ancestors (I come from NZ). Then I flew to the Shetlands because that was the gateway to flights to Fair Isle (having made a few fairisle jumpers I was obsessed)- but the day I was to go there the weather was bad so the flight was cancelled!!! I'd still like to go back sometime - now I know to take extra time to see the museum too.

Anonymous said...

I just love the pullover you are examining...I'd like to knit one like that straight away and I can't wait for your book with the Shetland patterns!