Thursday, 10 October 2013

Shetland Wool Week 3

Now this is where I'm going to say to anyone thinking of coming to Shetland Wool Week in future years - yes come, but do make the difficult choices regarding booking classes and events and don't try to go to EVERYTHING!

Yes, I'm having a fantastic time and my head is brimming with new creative ideas and inspirations, but I'm going to have to sleep solidly for a week when I get back home - except I'll be up to my knees in cleaning out hen houses etc ;-)

For those who know about my growing livestock interests on the farm, yes, daily updates from Assistant Shepherd are that all are doing well, including the Boreray Boys, and the chicks seem to have finally got the hang of going up the ramp to roost safely tucked up under their broody mum.  But he is leaving the mucking out to me when I get back and just adding clean straw when needed.

Now, back to things that don't require old clothes and wellingtons.

I started off Wednesday with Creative Art Yarns Spinning with Deborah Grey (ASF Shetland)
I had my trusty, well-travelled Sidekick with me, but couldn't resist the opportunity to try one of the Hamish Polson wheels.  I felt enormously grateful to the Shetland Spinners who had lent their precious wheels for people in the class to use.

 Then I went on to do some colour blending to make beautiful and interesting colours for the singles for my art yarns - I totally love playing with colour.  My family used to despair of my exclamations of delight when out together if I saw some particularly enticing combination of colours in the landscape and environment around us.  It could be anything from a traditionally beautiful view to peeling paint on a door or oil in a muddy puddle - the offspring had a particularly trying upbringing as they attempted to distance themselves from me in public.  I'm sure it built up their character ;-)

So, this was my colour blending - and I'm very pleased with the results.  I believe colour-blending is one of the things that will be appearing in Deborah's new book, not yet released.
Then onto the serious stuff - and I actually managed to produce a tail-spun yarn and a loopy one.  Great fun and new things I can experiment doing at home.

 The evening was the lectures at Shetland Museum with Di Gilpin and Felicity Ford.  Not only was this a wonderful opportunity to meet so many of the people who were attending Wool Week, but both lectures totally entranced me.  So much so that I had a total fail on the photography - well I got the one photo below which is of Felicity (on the left) performing the song she'd written as her response to the effect Shetland had had on her.  You can just make out some of Di's exquisite and exciting designs, and of course there is a Shetland Sheep featuring prominently.

It takes a lot of concentration to take photographs at this sort of event so that you're not distracting other people at all, and I was so absorbed in what both Di and Felicity had to say that it just wasn't happening.
You can however see more photos from the event on the Shetland Wool Week fb page.

What Di had to say about her life and work was very personal and I felt privileged to have heard it.  If you're not familiar with Di's work, then I urge you to look at her website and her blog.  It would be hard to listen to Di speak and not be itching to pick up needles and just knit something totally creative.  I knew that Di used some Scottish wool in her garments but I'd previously failed to realise how great her passion is for Scottish wool and promoting more processing of the local wool in Scotland.  Most of her garments are made with Scottish or British wool and she is a wonderful international advocate for the special qualities of Scottish wool.

Felicity continued to inspire me and move me emotionally through her talk as she described the effect that working in Shetland and with Shetland archive recordings had had on her.  This isn't going to be Felicity's last trip to Shetland I don't think!

If you're not familiar with Felicity's work, then this page has all the links you'll need.  Felicity is also one of the people behind Wovember

One thing that came out of both talks for me was how powerful the sense of place was for the creativity of both Di and Felicity, and how in Shetland the hardships imposed by the environment have shaped the people.  And of course, how intrinsic the Shetland sheep and their very special wool is to the Shetland of the past and the Shetland of the future.

Di told us about how wool processing/spinning operations in Scotland are taking on new young workers and expanding, which is such an exciting thing to be happening.  Shetland Wool Week itself, as it attracts more and more people from the area and as far afield as Australia and everywhere in between, reflects the growing interest and appreciation of Shetland sheep and their wool.  This is, of course, very exciting for me.

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