Home-Grown Textiles 100 miles away from Fair Isle, but still in Shetland

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It’s quite a long way from Sumburgh to Unst. Few people outside of Shetland would realise that when the starting point is Fair Isle you cover over 100 miles, use three ferries (or one flight and two ferries) and it can take more than a day if not carefully planned, and the weather in the right airt to get from A to B. It is a unique experience to spend time at the Fair Isle Textile Workshop in Fair Isle, but to avoid the vagaries of the winter weather, a more accessible location was found.

The lovingly restored 18th century Belmont House in Unst proved the ideal base to offer Textile Workshops in late November last year. Kathy Coull from Fair Isle loaded up her blue Berlingo with all the necessary resources, put it on the Good Shepherd ferry, enlisted the expert help of textile friends Anne Eunson and Jessie McCaffrey and together they hosted a series of workshops over a long weekend entitled ‘Traditional Textile Skills and Their Contemporary Value’ which was quite a long title for a whole lot of textile exploration and loads of fun, good food and entertainment as well!

Hand-spinning, felting, weaving and knitting were all on the itinerary. Archive films, discussions, poetry and live music, starting notably with attending the new ground breaking opera ‘Hirda’ in Haroldswick Hall. The live music continued very ably back at Belmont by Anne and Lowrie with songs, guitar and a unique restored accordion.

Here are some examples of the textile creativity achieved over the weekend:

The participating group mainly from central Scotland, were joined by a well-known London journalist Lucy Kellaway, and her Life and Arts editor Lucy Tuck from the Financial Times.

Kathy said: "I know they appreciated the aspects of contemporary value in their textile adventure way beyond the economic context. They entered into the spirit so often generated by textile activity of camaraderie, creativity, inspiration and as well as being introduced to the Unst Heritage Centre, the Shetland Gallery and the Yell Weaving Centre during a full-on couple of days, I trust they still managed to have a relaxing time with us.’

They entered into the spirit so often generated by textile activity of camaraderie, creativity and inspiration.

The Fair Isle Textile Workshop and Friends will host their next textile adventure in Belmont House, focusing on hand-spinning and hand-knitting, lace and Fair Isle, between Friday 12th and Tuesday 16th February 2016.

For more details visit www.kathycoull.com or email kathy.coull@btinternet.com

Posted in: Creative Scene