I’m a self-funded, ordinary woman with 2 cats that no one else wanted. I do have two degrees and I have also travelled, worked and lived in China, and in between all of this, I have worked many office / project manager jobs in Contemporary Arts including BALTIC Centre For Contemporary Art, Site Gallery, London Contemporary Dance School and SEAD in Salzburg. I also did ironing in the evenings after work to make ends meet whilst doing the Masters in Knitting at NTU in 2016 -2018. I got the MA, which I am proud of but I’m mostly proud of my journey.
In 2015, I found Shetland through Shetland Wool Week where I attended workshops on the art of Fair Isle and lace knitting. Since 2015, I repeatedly returned to the islands, building on my knowledge and experiences of the beauty of Shetland and its rich cultural heritage in knitting and the social history of the knitters and landscapes. I spent one month in Scalloway at the Booth on an Artist Residency and was granted a Making Ways Arts Council R&D grant to record the oral histories of the lace knitters of Unst. I made friends and gained a tentative foothold on the rocks of island life until finally, on September 10th 2020, I moved, lock, stock, barrel and two cats from Sheffield to Shetland. This was a courageous move to do alone to take a leap of faith – to live life fully. I had a quote that I carried with me from Judi Dench, where she said, “I thought, how many new lives can we have? Then I thought, as many as we like. The difference between what we want and what we fear is the width of an eyelash.”. I felt the ‘distance’ between what we want and fear was more appropriate…
This blog captures some of the beauty that I found in Shetland, research on the house that I lived in, and Susan Halcrow, a single woman who lived in the house 140 years before me. I loved the house that I bought (Smola) and the open skies and the ever present sea view, but after one year of living in an isolated location, I decided that I missed my son and daughter too much and made plans to sell the beautiful house in Shetland and move back to Sheffield so that I could be part of their lives again. This was not an easy decision nor an easy move. On 23rd September 2021, I boarded the Northlink ferry with my two cats for the long journey to return south.
I will continue to teach colour blending within Fair Isle knitting and will now find a way to work in Sheffield and the Peak District to bring groups of like minded knitters together. My one year in Shetland will stay with me forever. I followed my dream. I was brave. I lived life fully and I learned a lot. Shetland and Smola are a huge part of my life. They are embedded within my bones, part of my own history. Memory is in the hands. I knit, I make, I write and share these experiences here in this blog.
If you’d like to follow this journey with this blog, please sign up in the box below for updates – and my knitting patterns are linked below.
When I moved to the croft house in Levenwick, I began to research the Halcrow family that lived here from the mid 1800’s. I became particularly interested in researching a woman called Susan (Cissie) b1876 – d1960 who lived there for 83 years – and after her parents and brother died, from 1916, she lived in the croft house alone.
Susan was the last of three generations of the Halcrow family to live in the house and she lived through some of the most changeable recorded times in Shetland history.
I researched a story of Susan, this house and Shetland, juxtaposed with my own lived experiences in the same house. I began to write a story of two women living in the same house over a century apart. From that story, I knitted a pattern for Susan. The body of the jumper is inspired by the colours of the Shetland seas and I wanted the yoke to be jewel-like.
Here is the pattern link, below.
ONLINE COLOUR BLENDING KNITTING WORKSHOPS
In January 2021, I started online Colour Blending knitting workshops. I am now developing a follow on series of knitting workshops to develop skills called ReGroup.. If you are interested in the workshops, please do not leave a comment on this page as it is not possible to respond – Please complete the online form on the Online knitting/design workshops, where I can see your email address to respond, many thanks. Tracey
If you would like to read my outcome from my residency at The Booth in Scalloway, please see link below