Putting Shetland Lace Knitting patterns back into the landscape that generated them. The name of the project comes from the scraps of oo (or fleece) from sheep’s necks and backs that would snag on dykes and fences. In the past, these were gathered and spun to make beautiful lace garments.
This project is tribute to the Shetland knitters of the past who in their struggle for survival designed beautiful, delicate lace knit patterns. These women also worked the croft land as their menfolk were often absent either at sea, at war, at the haaf fishing or were no longer alive. The patterns chosen for the fence have names linked to crofting like 'peerie flea', 'acre', 'cats eye'. The patterns used in the window of the derelict croft house were those associated with the domestic environment 'braand iron', 'tree of life' and 'candlelight'. The fence inserts are hand knitted in aluminium wire and the window piece is knitted in fine silver.
While I was installing the pieces I was wondering about the lives of the folk that used to live in the house. A search of the 1901 census found that, at that time, the house was occupied by a woman and her 4 unmarried daughters, all in their 30's. Their father, grandfather and uncle had been lost from a fishing boat before the youngest was even born. Their occupations were given as ‘knitters’.
These photos serve as the only record of this project as just after installation a gale came up and the wind blew as it only can in Shetland and tore the wire from the fence and the window. They serve as a visual celebration of the ingenuity that comes from survival. The photos were taken in November 2011 by Mark Sinclair of Phatsheep Photography. This project was supported by The Arts Fund through Shetland Arts.
Each photo is available as a mounted print. Dimensions:- outside edge of mount: 39cm by 30.5cm (£30) or as a Framed photo.