Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Shetland Wool Week 2

Monday evening was the opportunity to meet many of the people at Wool Week - and to buy the new book just published, Shetland Textiles 800BC to the Present edited by Sarah Laurenson. 

 There was also a very special cake to be cut - and eaten - and talks from some of the people behind Shetland Wool Week.

Tuesday was an early start for the From Sheep to Shop - Textiles Tour.  First stop was Burland Croft at Trondra, where we were met by Mary and Tommy Isbister.

We started in the barn where they had wonderful information boards about all the rare Shetland breed animals on their croft, including their Foula Shetland Sheep.

I also really enjoyed seeing the British wool garments that their daughter produces

and of course had a little feel of some of their Foula Shetland fleeces

Then it was time to meet the sheep - rounded up by their lovely sheepdogs - a mother and daughter pair working together.

As you can see the Foula Shetland sheep, believed by some to be a more primitive sheep, come in a vast array of colours.  The white sheep in with this flock are mainland Shetland sheep, and they were rather more amenable to being herded by the dogs than the fiesty Foulas.  I'd not expected to be able to see Foula sheep without braving the crossing to the island, so this was particularly exciting for me.

The Isbisters also have other rare breed Shetland animals, including the intriguing Shetland ducks.
After some extremely delicious home-made cake it was time to drive across another inter-island bridge to Easthouse on Burra

There we got to see the fascinating displays about local people, produced by Burra History Group, and see some wonderful Shetland knitting.  We also had a lunch consisting entirely of local produce, including bannocks - freshly made while we were there and a delicious mutton soup.

Then we had a lovely afternoon learning Shetland knitting skills - and more cake - and a chance to chat.  I shouldn't be amazed that our group included someone who had travelled all the way from Australia just for Shetland Wool Week.  Every year there are some Americans, Europeans and people from all around the world who come to Shetland just to enjoy everything that Wool Week has to offer.

We finished our time on Burra with a walk to the beach - deserted except for a few sheep in the fields beside the beach.

A wonderful day that gave me so much more than I'd expected.

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