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Published: 03 January 2013

By Andy Ross

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Exploring Shetland textiles

Carding at the Unst Heritage Centre

Shetland is, of course, well-known for its textiles, mainly knitting but also weaving and other textile crafts. We decided, a few years ago, that a good way to learn more about the traditions of the islands was by running textile tours, and we are very pleased to be offering three dates in 2013 for our Textile Journeys.

The four days cover the length and breadth of Shetland, taking us into some of the places that make, show and sell textiles that are sold all over the world. We will visit factories and workshops, shops and museums across the islands. But our tours are special because we also spend time with the people who have an intimate knowledge of the traditional textiles of Shetland and who use that knowledge to continue to create beautiful pieces.

Weaving at Jamiesons in Sandness

On previous tours we have spent a morning with a lace spinner and knitter, and with a researcher into the history of lace knit. We have also had a few hours with a weaver, looking at old pattern books and seeing the tweeds that have come from the islands in the most prolific period of manufacture - the mid-twentieth century.

We use qualified guides on our tours for some of the days, and we keep the tour numbers small so that we can look after all our guests. Our accommodation is in good quality bed and breakfast and we have some of our meals on the road, surrounded by the spectacular scenery that Shetland is known for.

Oliver showing us the clip at the Wool Brokers

Our textile journeys are suitable for anyone who wants to know and understand more about the islands and the craft that comes from the people who make Shetland their home. For a full itinerary and dates for the year, have a look at our Textile Journeys brochure, and send us an email if you have any questions.