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From The Croft to The Palace


FROM THE CROFT TO THE PALACE is the Shetland Textile Museum's 2013 Exhibition which opened this week at the Bod of Gremista.

Textile enthusiast Michelle Fogg, much encouraged and assisted by Cushla Bretton, the beating heart of the Museum and Dr Carol Christiansen, the Museum Mentor, researched the link between Shetland knitters and Royalty. The Exhibition takes place at the birthplace of Arthur Anderson, the champion of Shetland knitwear, founder of P&O, a Liberal politician, and a great philanthropist. Arthur Anderson famously presented Queen Victoria with a covetable pair of Shetland lace stockings and commissions for other garments followed. A Victorian aftersales service was provided by a young woman from Scalloway, who knitted a replica shawl for the Queen after the original one had been worn out. The Royal patronage resulted in sales opportunities for Shetland knitters and women being able to bring income to their families. Less well known facts are that King George III wore Shetland stockings and that parcels of lace items went from Shetland to the Royal Court of Denmark. The enduring fashion for Fair Isle garments was helped by the Prince of Wales in the 1920s, just as the Campaign for Wool is nowadays supported by the current Prince of Wales.

Both vintage and new Fair Isle garments are displayed together to emphasise the overwhelming colour and pattern. A scarf worn by Provost James Smith is shown next to his correspondence with the Prince of Wales about jumpers. There are men's longjohns and women's petticoats, there are socks (faithful replicas) sold to Dutch fishermen in Shetland ports. There are rare lace pieces of astounding quality and provenance, presented in thoughtfully designed cases with drawers full of surprises.

The new cases themselves are beautifully constructed by Cecil Tait, who has recently become a member of the Guild of Master Craftsmen. Visitors will also enjoy the improved lighting in the Bod.

The Shetland Textile Museum wish to perpetuate the appreciation of past makers" skill, but the Trustees are equally eager to showcase and encourage work of contemporary textile students. The Bod Design Room is housing the Exhibition by students of the National Certificate in Art and Design and the BA (hons) in Contemporary Textiles of the Creative Industries Department of the Shetland College and University of Highlands and Islands.

The Little Museum, as it is known, is also proud to tempt visitors with gifts from its colourful and growing selection in the Shop downstairs. All merchandise has been carefully chosen and represents the commercial creativity of Shetland artisans today. The makers themselves can often be seen demonstrating their craft at this hub of traditional and contemporary textiles: at the loom, at the spinning wheels, and on the wires. They are always keen to hear visitors" own stories about Shetland wool.

Opening hours are Tuesday to Saturday 12 – 4 pm. A modest seasonal admission charge of £2 is made but it entitles visitors to as many visits as they wish.

Posted in: Heritage, News

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