A Contemporary Shetland Tweed….

Two out of three of my finished samples for ASF Shetland have now been taken off the loom and have been washed and pressed. It’s a great feeling to see a finish piece of fabric! The last sample is about half way through but I ran out of one of the weft yarn colour and when I went to the Woolbrokers to get some more…they didn’t have any either!

Here are a few pictures I have taken of the two finished three meter lengths which are going to be used for interior accessories.

As part of the Stay and Make post me and the Weaver in Residence – Kirsty Leadbetter – were invited to speak at the Shetland Textile Museum a couple of weeks ago to share our experiences of our time at the Ann Sutton Foundation this summer.
Andy gave us some guidelines to follow so I have included these to give you an insight into the fabric.

DSCF3986Where has your inspiration come from?

As part of the application process we were asked to think about a fabric which would be related to Shetland using local materials which the center could continue to promote for sale. This is what first sparked off an idea in my head about Shetland Tweed.
I thought it would be really interesting to create a woven fabric which would be recognised as ‘Shetland’ aswell as there being a knitted fabric – Fair Isle.

I did some research into woven fabrics in Shetland and found out there was an extensive range of old samples available for me to look at, at the Museum and Archives store. I spoke to a Lecturer at Heriot Watt, Sarah Dearlove, who is actually doing a practise based PhD in Textile design and part of her research is focussed on the Shetland Tweed industry during the 1950’s. She suggested that I look into arranging an appointment at the archive store to look at the old samples, and I am so glad I did.
I seemed to have stumbled upon quite a large area of almost forgotten Shetland heritage which before March this year I was basically unaware of, which I am quite ashamed to admit!

DSCF3988How did you come up with the designs for the final samples?

With my interest in Shetland Tweed being kept in mind, I spoke to Andy about a contemporary version. I noted the structures, colours and patterns which were used in the samples I looked at, at the Archives.
I kept these in mind but tried to introduce contemporary hints into the fabric while I was sampling. After my first lot of sampling, we stopped and spoke about the most successful samples.
keeping parts which were successful and then combining them with other idea’s I have come up with these final samples.

The first two final samples are the same warp pattern, but are different in colour and blog size. The first having a subtle rust colour weft and shorter flatter blocks compared to the second final sample having a grey and purple mix weft, with square blocks.

DSCF3990DSCF4082Where has your colour choice come from?

My colour choice is a tricky one to try to explain.
The colours are related to the everyday things that are a part of my life in Lerwick. Me and Andy had a discussion one day about my colour choice, and he said to me that “I couldn’t possibly just see blues and greys when I looked outside!”.
I laughed because of course I dont – but this sparked an interest of how people local to Shetland might see our Island.
I thought about what Andy had said for a lot of time, and I managed to come up with an answer to his question, which I finally gave him while doing the presentation.

I said “Im looking at the everyday things I pass like the steps and the buildings in the Lerwick Lanes on the way to the street.
The natural versus the industrial which surrounds us in Lerwick and the sea and sky which encircles our island. It is the feeling which the climate creates rather than the exact colour representation that I am interested in”.


Luckily, I have picked up the colour I need to finish my final length from Jamieson and Smith so weaving can once again commence!
If you are interested in any of these pieces contact Andy Ross at the Center for Creative Industries – Global Yell in Sellafirth, Yell. Or if you are passing the center they will now be located there forever, so go in for a look!


6 thoughts on “A Contemporary Shetland Tweed….

    1. Thank you for your comment and kind words about the fabric! Its nice to hear what others think especially since I have been looking at it most of the summer.
      To me it is the colours which make the fabric related to Shetland.

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