Shetland Tweed Research
The project so far...
Conversations were to blame. Many of them over a long period of months and years with many people. Those, and the exploration of the Adies of Voe collection in the Shetland Museum Archive Store. On a first visit to the Store, which is just outside Lerwick, the curator, Carol, opened box after box of cloths, some rolled, some flat, some long, some small, some mere scraps. Along with the boxes of fabrics were some of the patterns that held the secrets to make these fabrics - patterns, colours and counts. It was an amazing sight and presented a whirlwind of possibilities.
Years have passed since that first visit, and there have been subsequent returns to that collection. Then a few years ago during the busy tourist season in the islands, another collection was mentioned in passing, and when we tracked this down a huge resource of cloths and patterns was revealed.
Something clearly had to be done. Here were two collections which showed the breadth of weaving across Shetland in the Twentieth Century and most of it had not been seen for decades.
The Heritage Lottery Fund seemed to be an ideal partner for a project to help us to learn about the industry and to pass on the information to the public. A bid for a project to look at what was still out in the islands in terms of artefacts and to speak to people who had been involved with the industry was successful and the project started in the late summer of 2016.
In August of that year Hannah Eynon and Alicja Tyburska from Ireland and Poland respectively were appointed to undertake research and interviews working alongside Kirsty Brabin and Andy Ross from GlobalYell.
Now the first part of the project is completed and the information we have found, along with interviews, pictures, patterns and colourways can be seen on Facebook. We are still looking and finding new things, and there is still a lot to learn about Shetland and its fascinating tweed industry which is once again on the up in the islands.