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"Helping to sustain Shetland's knitting cultureShetland's wonderful culture of hand-knitting needs nurturing if it is to remain vibrant for future generations. The Brough Lodge Trust has decided to contribute by taking action and this page explains what you can do to help.
ShetlandPeerieMakkers was set up with Brough Lodge Trust, which was originally established to restore the historic Brough Lodge on the island of Fetlar. The Trust’s longterm intention is to offer courses in Shetland’s heritage skills, including textiles. Trustees realised that the restoration was some years away and in the meantime, supporting the current knitting tradition should become a priority.
With the help of experienced volunteer knitters, we want to launch 5 pilot projects to teach hand knitting to Shetland youngsters.
The story so far…
Hand knitting was taught in Shetland’s primary schools but this ended in 2010. Some parents, grandparents and others could pass on their skills; but there is a risk that insufficient numbers of children will learn to knit, and the knowledge and techniques of Shetland knitting will be lost.
In August 2014, we held a public consultation to discuss how this support might be most effective. A "world café" meeting was held in Fetlar. It involved a number of people working in Shetland knitting. Everyone agreed that the need to support Shetland’s hand-knitting tradition is urgent.
A way forward…
A group of local experts was formed to steer the project and ShetlandPeerieMakkers is the result of more than a year’s work. We plan to offer free tuition in Shetland knitting to Shetland youngsters. ‘PeerieMakkers’ means ‘small knitters’ in Shetland dialect.
ShetlandPeerieMakkers is currently a one year pilot project, to provide free lessons to youngsters, initially in five communities. Skilled volunteers want to provide the tuition and that reflects another Shetland tradition: our communities have always shared skills, whether in inshore fishing, spinning or peat cutting. These voluntarily shared skills are evident in community marinas, sailing competitions, and at sociable events.
The five pilots will run for a year, and we’ll apply the lessons we learn to establish a sustainable model for tuition in the longer term.
Although all our expert volunteers’ time is offered freely, and yarns are sponsored, we’ll need funding for basic costs. Whilst we hope to receive donations of materials, and spaces to hold knitting groups, we’ll need to buy knitting belts and needles; and, for tutors, there will be travelling expenses within Shetland.
How you can help…
Because Shetland knitting means so much to people in Shetland and around the world, we believe that we should launch an appeal. We’ll be really grateful for any contribution you can make and, accordingly, we want to thank you with a gift.
In the long term, we hope that money to support hand-knitting – and other aspects of Shetland’s heritage, such as music – will come from commercial classes for adult participants and held in the restored Brough Lodge building; there’s more about our plans on our main website www.broughlodge.org
But we feel that the risk of losing hand-knitting is too great for us to delay the pilot projects. That’s why we’re pursuing them quite separately from the restoration, and we guarantee that all the money you donate will go directly into ShetlandPeerieMakkers."