Shetland Lace

Learning about Shetland Lace knitting

I was at the Border Union Show this Summer with the Tweed Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers, and picked up a leaflet about Shetland Lace knitting workshops.  They were being run by Mavis Clark, who regularly exhibits at the the Border Union Show, with stunning Shetland Lace shawls on display. My friend Ruby and I decided to go along to a November workshop, held in Wooler, Northumberland.

Ruby and I are quite experienced lace knitters, but felt we could learn more about Shetland Lace. We were given a circular knitting needle and a ball of cobweb 1 ply Shetland wool, which were included in the extremely reasonable price of the workshop. Mavis started knitting Shetland lace about 20 years ago, as it was suggested to her to try it by someone at the Royal Edinburgh Repository, a place where women can earn money through selling their handicrafts. Mavis also visited the Shetland Museum at Lerwick, and has been fascinated by Shetland Lace ever since. I didn’t realise Shetland Lace patterns use different abbreviations for the stitches, e.g.

c (cast up) = yf – yarn forward, this becomes a yarn over as you knit the next stitch

s2kp = Sl2, k1, p2sso – slip 2, knit 1, pass two slip stitches over

T (take in) = k2tog – knit two together

PT = p2tog – purl two together

T3 = k3tog – knit three together

It was a bit tricky to start, but I soon got used to it.

She started us off knitting an edging, we then cast off and picked up stitches down the side, which looked like this:

Picked up stitches from lace edging

It is the finest weight of wool I’ve ever knitted with, but my experience with lace weight stood me in good stead. I then tried out Roundel Stitch (similar to Cat’s Paw Stitch), and then had a go at a more complicated stitch, Madeira Stitch, which had lace stitches on every row, as opposed to just on the right side rows. This is the result:

My lace sample

Close up - My lace sample