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Published: 24 August 2013

By Andy Ross

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When is a tour not a tour?

Balls of wool Balls of woolWhen does a textile tour turn out not to be a tour but a gathering of companions on a journey of discovery?

This week, we have been running our August textile tour. Four days of exploring all over Shetland, from the far south to the far north, into the west and along the east. We have seen Laurence Odie Knitwear Laurence Odie Knitwearfactories and shops, met weavers and knitters, talked to spinners and dyers, and picnic-ed in village halls and on sandy beaches. We have seen museums and wool buyers, bought fabrics and sweaters, gazed at volcanoes and drifted through fog. We have eaten in hotels and fish and chip shops, seen places far off the beaten track and found the final resting place of centuries-old man. Looking across the sea Looking across the seaWe have gaped at amazing rocks and gasped at fine lacework, laughed at our own foibles, and talked and sung and learned about each other. We have sat in silence and watched rain... and sun... and blue sky, knitted on the way to another stop for cake and coffee, clambered on Viking boats and chatted onboard ferries.

I don't know the answer to the question I posed at the beginning although there is still tomorrow for our last day. But boy! It ain't 'alf fun figuring it out!