The Vintage Shetland Project 

I have taken to reading my knitting books, and not just looking at the patterns.  Last year, for my birthday we went to Michigan and stayed at the beach.  On the beach I met a young girl who was Lithuanian.  My conversation with her got my husband and I to talking about Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.  At lunch the next day we were sitting talking about the different root languages of each culture and history, when a family sitting next to us asked if were talking about Estonia.  We said yes, and they said that they were Estonian.  In fact, the woman’s father taught Estonian history and culture at Indiana University.  We proceeded to discuss Estonia and their history with them, and she asked how I knew so much about the history of Estonia.  And I said it was through my knitting books!

A recent book purchase is The Vintage Shetland Project.

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I absolutely loved this book, I cannot say enough good things about it.  Here is the description from the publishers:

The Vintage Shetland Project, is the culmination of eight years of hard work and personal determination. Inspired by the patterns and colours of Shetland knitting, the fashion historian, author, designer and publisher Susan Crawford began a journey into the rich heritage of Shetland knitwear, and in particular the pieces held in the Shetland Museum archive. With the help of Dr Carol Christiansen, the museum’s curator, Susan undertook the task of carefully selecting the most stunning and original designs from the 1920s to the 1950s, transcribed them stitch by stitch, and has here recreated them for the modern knitter, in stunning detail and a range of sizes for women and men.

In combination with the collection of 27 comprehensive patterns for garments and accessories are carefully researched essays exploring the stories behind each piece and honouring their creators – some famous, some forgotten. Photographed by Susan on the island of Vaila, situated off the west coast of Shetland, this book also celebrates the untameable beauty of Shetland itself. Compiled with Susan’s trademark attention to detail, this book is a fabulous treasury of Shetland knitting design and a valuable insight into its textile traditions. It offers you the chance to delve into a fascinating era for knitwear design and to bring it to life in stitch-perfect vintage style.

The meticulously written patterns showcase Susan’s new yarn range, Fenella, created specifically to enable you, the knitter, to perfectly recreate these unique museum pieces. Made using 100% British wool, grown, spun and dyed in Britain, in a range of 26 colours carefully chosen to emulate the shades found in the original vintage pieces.

The Vintage Shetland Project is a celebration of stunning design, beautiful knitting and the people of Shetland themselves, during a time of local change, international conflict and revolution in the knitting industry.

The essays in the book were fascinating, the history of the men and women who promoted knitting in the Shetland Islands, and the stories of knitwear.  I am in awe of the research and dedication that went in to writing this book.  It read like the great series of short stories that it is.  All manners of knitting are covered, from how a pattern gets it’s name, a knitting suffragette, the rise and fall of popular designs, a female knitting shop keeper, the influence of rayon, a sweater that goes and returns from WWII POW camp, and more.

Then, after one is sad that the narrative of knitting in Shetland is over, come the patterns influenced by the history and stories told.

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Susan has also put together kits for each of the patterns, and choosing is proving difficult.  Each kit comes with Fenella yarn that is British wool and British spun.

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Here is  a great review of the yarn, which I have yet to see in person.

This definitely goes down as one of my favorite knitting books.  Buy it before it is out of print!  I got mine at School house Press.

Now to choose my kit to order…