A Glimpse Inside The Vintage Shetland Project

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As many of you know, I’m currently working hard on bringing together my research, patterns, photography and history for The Vintage Shetland Project

This very special book is based on garments held in the collection at the Shetland Archives.  I’ve selected a number of items from the collection and have meticulously charted and recorded stitch counts and patterns, to enable me to recreate them and from this information create multi-sized knitting patterns.  My choice of pieces has not only been based on beauty, but also on the stories which they have each revealed. From the Suffragette Movement to WWII, prize winning knits to highly experimental work the book is proving to be incredibly rewarding and fascinating work. 

I’ve recently held a photoshoot for the book, on the island of Vaila which is off the West coast of Shetland and surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean.  It is a truly awe-inspiring and majestic location – but more of that later, first let me introduce you to some of the patterns that will be in the book and also give you a peek at some behind-the-scenes photos.

Here is my beautiful model, Ria, knocking at the door of Vaila Hall whilst wearing these beautiful pair of gloves featuring a Norwegian flower motif and knitted in organic Shetland wool produced from the sheep of Vaila.

Here I am hard at work, photographing Ria in the gardens of Vaila Hall. She is also wearing a stunning Aquascutum coat from the 1950s.
Here’s a detailed shot of the mittens. Typically of the late 1940s/early 50s these mittens have extra long cuffs to ensure the gap between coat and hand is protected. These mittens are knitted in Jamieson & Smith 2ply jumper weight wool.
 One of my absolute favourites is this amazing and highly unusual sleeveless pullover whose pattern and colours echo the rugged landscape and coast of Vaila. If you look to the horizon you can just see the island of Foula in the far distance.

The Vintage Shetland Project featuring 26 patterns, essays and histories is available for pre-order for only £25 (plus p&p). 

You can pre-order your copy here 

Please note that despatch will commence in early 2016.

The island of Vaila is a very special place, owned by Richard Rowland and his wife Dorota, accessible only by boat and home to Shetland sheep, ponies, seals and many, many sea birds.  Richard describes Vaila as a microcosm of all that is Shetland – incredible scenery, nature, space and peace.  I’m so very fortunate to be able to use the island as the backdrop for my book. When you arrive on Vaila you feel you have stepped into a fairy tale – after all how many places do you know that has a watchtower at the bottom of the garden!

And so, my thoughts are turning to the next photoshoot for the book.  I’m now on my way back up to Shetland and then to Vaila.  I’m excited to see how the landscape has changed since I was there a few weeks ago and also very excited to see the newly prepared pieces in this stunning location!  Look out for more behind the scenes photos and shots of beautiful Vaila on my Instagram feed in the next few days.
For now,
Susan xx

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