As I was away with work the whole of last week I'm getting to this post a little later than planned. (be prepared for a lot of photos! so much great work to take photos of and this is only a tiny selection!)
Two weekends ago was our local craft fair, it's always held around the middle of November each year. It's organised by Shetland Arts & Crafts and is the main selling event for many makers in the isles.
I've been slowly working on new woven designs as well as learning how to better finish my fabrics, put in concealed zips and just generally feeling a bit more confident with my work. The thought of putting my work on display for the first time was pretty nerve wracking! I felt sick the whole week of preparing but knew it would be fine and I'd feel much better for having passed this milestone. As you can see from the photo below I hadn't thought about the back of my stand but nevermind, it's a learning experience and next time I'll get something fixed up.
There were so many other amazing makers at the craft fair, each year it gets bigger and bigger. I've chosen a few of my favourites to share with you here:
Elaine Ann's fine-guage knitted pieces have a print-like effect which is beautifully subtle when used with soft colours and more striking in darker tones. So nice!
Lyndsay Cheyne of Mell-Moorie creates beautiful jewellery, I love the colours on these earrings and the darker rings in the background! Her work is inspired by traditional crafts, local heritage and fragmented local history.
Ninian is a very well established shop in Lerwick which sells amazing stuff! I worked there for a bit so I know about all the kinds of tempting knitwear, interiors and gift items available... when stock arrived it was so exciting opening the boxes to discover new treasure! It started with Joanna Hunter Knitwear and over time she added products made by other Shetland and UK designers too which complemented her pieces. Joanna has developed quite a range of knitted products inspired by traditional Shetland patterns but with her own distinctive style. It's a lovely welcoming shop so if you're visiting Shetland it's a definite must-see!
Alicja Tyburska is a handweaver from Poland who is studying in Shetland. She has also worked with Vaila Fine Art in producing items using traditional hand manipulated weaving techniques. The scarf below is handwoven using handspun organic Shetland wool of which some is undyed and some plant-dyed. I'm thankful for the horrible haily morning when Alicja missed the bus and stopped in along Jamieson & Smith to buy some wool! The weather wasn't letting up so I gave her a lift to the college which gave me a chance to hear about her work.
Mati Ventrillon lives in Fair Isle and travels up for the Craft Fair every year. She's constantly inspired by traditional Fair Isle pattern, the history and way of life on the island. As well as ready-made items Mati also offers a bespoke knitwear design service. She's very approachable and enthusiastic about her passion for design and has given me some great advice for my own products - thanks Mati :)
I have a bit of a soft spot for ceramics as I almost went in this direction before deciding on weaving. I was immediately drawn to Sharon McGeady's pieces, the beautiful glazes and surfaces I just had to touch! Sharon was lovely, so friendly and even said I was welcome to visit her studio up in North Roe.
Joan Fraser is the designer behind the Fraser knitwear brand. Joan describes her pieces as 'new classics in Fair Isle' which I have to agree is a perfect explanation of her style. The Lambswool and Cashmere scarves are knitted on a fine-guage machine to give a very polished look. Using combinations of the small motifs of traditional Fair Isle in new ways, limited colour palettes and sometimes as an all-over pattern works really well. I love the 'inspiration' section on the website and particularly the part about the 'migration of patterns from non-knitted sources'
Next up is Pink Fish. Shona creates small items such as brooches by hand with each one being unique. Inspiration comes from everything around her in the landscape and culture of Shetland, you'll see what I mean if you follow her on Instagram! Shona is brilliant and all the pieces she makes will be painstakingly perfect because she's just like that ha ha! She loves old stuff, as I do, so I really appreciate her aesthetic.
Andrea and Julie are sisters each with their own design business. They work in different ways, with different media but their designs complement each other well. Andrea makes fun, colourful knitted children's accessories and pieces for the home like the Russian dolls peeking out behind one of Julie's clocks. Digital and screen printed fabrics are used to create many of Julie's products, she also transfers her Toile De Jouy inspired scenes onto items such as the clock and mugs you can see here.
Every Shetlander will recognise the works of this local artist! Smirk aka Stephen Gordon is an artist/cartoonist who uses local dialect, comical phrases and wonderful watercolour characters in his unique framed pictures and accessories. He also has an uncanny ability to sense the presence of cake in a particular wool shop in the old North Road...
Ok, one more maker I'd like to mention is Roisin of R.A.M Knitwear Design. Roisin has a bold style and a great sense of colour! As well as creating her own designs she's the Textile Technician at Shetland College UHI. She can also offer custom knit and crochet designs, and freelance services for all aspects of knitwear finishing, Shima Seiki SDS One program design and development. She has skills!
There were way more makers I could have mentioned! Two amazing weavers, of whose work I didn't get photos, are Emma Blain of Ammos Designs, and Morwenna Garrick . Both Emma and Morwenna have been so supportive and really encouraged me in my work, it's meant a lot to me. Also, all those involved in the Shetland Arts & Crafts Association and everyone on the stands around me were brilliant, it was such a great experience - thank you!!
If you're visiting Shetland at other times of year there is a Craft Trail with selected makers having their workspaces open to the public.