Shetland Winter Solstice

On 21st December 2020, I met a friend in a layby just south of Cunningsburgh, which is actually a remaining part of the old winding road that used to skirt the coast from Lerwick to Sumburgh. Now, there is one main road in Shetland – the A970 –  a perfectly smooth, well-kept, tarmacked road that rolls out for miles from the most southerly point of the island at Sumburgh to the most northerly point some 60 miles later at North Roe.   Some of the sections of the old road still remain – used as laybys or viewing points facing the sea. They jut out beside the main road and this is where we planned to meet at the southern end of Cunningsburgh to watch the sunrise for our 2020 Winter Solstice.  In Shetland, we have, at this time of year, just under 6 hours of daylight.

Two days in the week running up to 21st December had given us glorious sunrises from about 9:02am to 9:15am.  I knew this, because I had watched the golden round sun rise out of the sea in Levenwick.   On 21st, we were positioned ready, hoping for light.  The sun did rise at the same time as the previous day but it hid in the clouds. All we could do was drink hot tea, chat, eat cinnamon bagels and watch as the day just grew light.  It was a beautiful start to any day but it was, for me, completely special with good company and a good reason to meet. When we knew the sun was up, but that it wasn’t going to show, my friend went to her place of work in Lerwick and I went on to Cunningsburgh beach to look for sea glass.

At exactly 10:02am when the earth tilted 23.5 degrees away from our Sun and the Northern regions of Earth experience the shortest day of the year — our Shetland world became the Winter Solstice and at exactly 10am, the sun broke through the clouds to be the most magnificent, powerful star in the universe at that exact moment in time at exactly 60 degrees north. From the beach, I could not believe its brilliance. It was one of those moments when you just do a little squeal of excitement without knowing you were going to do so or that you could, in fact squeal.   Here is that moment of pure brilliance throwing light.

I have long wanted to use crochet in one of my small designs but didn’t know it on that beach until I went in to Lerwick, bought 3 colours from Jamieson’s that were of that Solstice moment. When I got home, I started to make little granny squares like the rising sun to join to make a pair of mitts.   I picked out the colours that most reminded me of the sunrise but the joy of this pattern is that it can be made using any 4 ply yarn that we tend to have in a box all jumbled together. About 5 years ago, I started making a blanket in tapestry yarns – it still grows and it is as heavy as a rug.

Taking inspiration from the landscape that now surrounds me has become one of my greatest joys whilst living here. Every day, I look for the sunrise and last night, 27th December, I stood out at midnight under a perfectly clear, calm night with an almost full moon surrounded by a huge perfect moon halo. The Cats came out with me, I messaged people about what I could see and tried to take photographs of the moon but they never come out from the phone camera.

Storms and sunrises and moons are a huge part of winter and I am settling.  

here are the Crochet and Knit Winter Solstice Mitts that I made – the Pattern is here https://www.ravelry.com/designers/tracey-doxey

https://www.ravelry.com/designers/tracey-doxey

Author: traceydoxeydesigns

Site specific Artist using own created textiles, laser cuts and hand block printed wallpaper to engage with narratives of landscapes, social history and place.

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