Eventually, after some time, I designed a lace curtain that was entirely inspired and touched by Shetland. Couched within the design are memories from all of my previous visits. I was hoping to capture the essence of the landscape, language, tradition, and the people that I have met.
It’s not just a lace curtain.
This week, the curtain is on tour visiting old derelict croft houses. There was always one particular croft house in my mind. Last August, whilst walking across Bressay to catch the rubber dingy to Noss, I came across a derelict croft house with its roof only recently removed and the slate tiles scattered across the ground. Inside the traces of the people’s lives were visible across the walls in layers of flaking previously-lovingly designed patterns in paint. I fell in love with the place and imagined how the woman of the house had looked out of the small square windows waiting for family to come home.
RETURN / TIMING
About a month ago, I contacted Shetland Amenity Trust to see if they knew who had lived in the small 2 roomed croft house, they forwarded my email on to Bressay Heritage Trust and last week a lady emailed me to say that she was born in the croft house and it had been in her mother’s family for over 100 years. I was so moved by this email that I quite tearful and had a vision of what it would be like to meet this lady and listen to her stories. We arranged to meet today and in celebration of the house and lives lived there and the walls and paint marks and all the things that had inspired me, I made a laser cut in the one of my lace designs to hang on the croft house wall and leave behind.
Now, there’s one flaw with visualising what might happen when you’re wearing rose tinted glasses. It’s mostly a one-sided, personal made-up fairy story where you don’t quite figure the other person or their thoughts and wants into the equation. The croft has been ravaged by the last winter and the walls have no trace now of the beautiful floral border design. It seemed smaller than I remembered and had been gated off.
I did briefly hang the laser cut on the inside wall on an old nail painted green then I gave it to the lady who had been born in the croft house and we looked at her photographs. she didn’t want to go inside. I am completely grateful to her for taking the time to meet me. It was really kind of her – she is warm, honest and open – characteristics I find in Shetlanders all over the islands.
It was not the right time or place to hang my curtain in this croft but I have hung it in other croft houses.
The Shetland lace curtain is one of three pieces that were made a few weeks ago leaving enough time to darn into any of the ‘natural’ breakages before bringing it to Lerwick. ‘Natural breakages’ meaning the errors that may or may not occur when knitting lace on a power knit machine. Right from the beginning, I have embraced these ‘natural’ errors in the knit by using the holes to darn into. The darning keeps the piece alive and adds another layer – another story. Each of the 3 curtains that were knitted on that day came out with the same errors – largish gaping holes down the left side. I designed the lace in CAD and they were knitted on the Shima at Uni and darned with a connection to the memory of an interior wall in a derelict croft house in Bressay that we didn’t return to.
I was hoping to capture the energy and the strength of Shetland in one image.
I have made a start.