In October, during Shetland Wool Week, I entered a competition called "Real Shetland Stories". The idea was to write a short piece of 300 words or less which would tell how wool has been a part of your life.
Having a father and a grandfather who were both talented weavers I decided I would have a go at the competition.
Here is my short piece of writing, followed by a photo of both my father and grandfather.
Wool has been part of the fabric of my family for generations. My grandfather worked a hand loom to weave pure Shetland wool rugs. This creative gene was obviously passed to my father, Adam Johnson from Levenwick, who himself was a very talented weaver of Shetland wool rugs. He worked exclusively in the natural, un-dyed colours of Shetland fleece and his designs were his own and instantly recognizable.
He weaved in Levenwick first of all, then was asked to go into Fair Isle where he also taught machine knitting. My father being a patient, softly spoken man as well as a gifted one was an ideal tutor of these Shetland traditions and he did much to educate people and pass these traditions on.
For a time he taught in Scotland, where he met my mother, and was asked to go to America to teach, but I think my mother decreed this was just ‘one pond too many’!!
She had agreed to move to Shetland and that was far enough!
In 1963 my parents moved to Sandness and my father took a job at Aurora Knitwear in Walls, owned by Lizzie Sutherland. There he dressed jumpers, a job he also enjoyed. Often he took jumpers home to dress. The crew necks had to have a thread run through them to keep the necks in the correct shape while the jumper was being dressed. That was my job! I still remember the cotton spools being kept in an old National Dried Milk container and I got tuppence a neck!! This still makes me smile to this day! I’m very proud of the inheritance left by my father and grandfather and would thread those necks for nothing if I could spend just a moment with both these talented, generous men.
My father weaving at the loom.
My grandfather weaving at the loom. Sadly I never met him.
I was delighted when I received a letter telling me I was one of 40 runners-up who would have their 'story' published in a book in 2012. The book will be an evocative record of life in Shetland in relation to wool and textiles and will be published by Shetland Heritage Publications.
I am very excited about that because it will mean that the talents of my father and grandfather will be recorded in print for generations to come. What better prize could I have?
But that was not all!!
I also received a pure Shetland wool travel rug in natural colours exactly like the one pictured below.
This rug is very special to me for 2 reasons.
1. I won it for writing about the weaving talents of my father and grandfather.
2. It is made in natural colours which my father used exclusively in his designs.
And now as I embark on my own personal journey with pure natural coloured Shetland wool I somehow feel very close to my father who is sadly no longer with us. But he is always with me in my creativity!
I do hope you have enjoyed reading this post and seeing the old photos of two very gifted men.
Feel free to comment or ask questions if you wish to. Or you can email me by clicking on the icon at top right.
Bye for now. Back soon!
Welcome to my woolly little blog!!
Welcome to my woolly little blog!!
You are welcome to browse, comment, ask questions,
seek advice on a knitting issue and find out more about Shetland and it's world renowned wool.
Plus, some snippets and snaps from my everyday life.
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