Thursday, March 22, 2012

My idea of a great vacation includes ferry rides, somewhere north of the 50th parallel, ocean views and a bit of Nordic influence. So, a few years after I started raising Shetland sheep, I convinced my dear husband to make a detour to the Shetland islands on the way to England one year (his favorite vacation spot).  I absolutely loved Shetland!  Rolling green hills, shear cliffs overlooking the ocean, lots of textiles, history and sheep...and did I mention wind, always wind...

Broch at Old Scatness
Shetland is a place that is steeped in ancient history that goes back long before the Vikings left their mark on the islands.  No vacation for me is complete without visiting some of the historic landmarks of an area.  Shortly before we left we made a visit to Old Scatness on the south end of Mainland near the airport.  The site was discovered during the construction of the airport access road.  After several summers of excavation, an Iron Age broch was revealed.  The site currently has living history staff that help interpret this era.

At the time we visited in 2005, there was a women spinning in the visitor center.  A warp weighted loom was leaning against the wall in another room.  The fabric being woven on this loom was the finest cloth I'd ever seen woven on one of these primitive looms.  Mostly you see heavier coverlets (a form of blanket) being woven on them in Scandinavia.  Her fabric was a light woolen cloth that would be made into the clothing for the interpretive staff at the museum.  It was really remarkable fabric!!!  

Elizabeth spinning with a drop spindle next to the warp weighted loom at Old Scatness

The woman introduced herself as Elizabeth Johnston.  We discovered that we were both members of the international textile group, The Norwegian Textile Guild, a small group that was founded by Lila Nelson while she was the textile curator at the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa.  I never imagined that I would meet her again.  Life is funny that way...

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