US visitor Bruce looks forward to trip and explains a passion for lace knitting

Bruce Gilardi

American man Bruce Gilardi, who was born in California and now lives in New York, is excited about coming to Hamefarin – a number of his family members are coming as well. He is looking forward to exploring the North Isles, find­ing out more about his family tree and possibly picking up some knitting tips as well.

My grandparents were John Arthur and Gertrude Garrioch (Inkster) Jamieson. He was born in Garder­house (1883) and went to Scotland to become a teacher; she was born in Ingaville, Scalloway (1892), and went to Aberdeen to become a nurse. They emigrated to the Dutch East Indies from Shetland in the early 1920s, where he was a rubber planter with Harrison & Crossfield. They had five daughters there, and came back to the UK in the early 1930s. My mother, Jacqueline, taught in Shetland for several years before setting off to work her way around the world. While staying with her mother’s second cousin, Eva Garriock (Inkster) Georgeson, in Vancouver, she worked as a teacher and was set up on a blind date with her future husband. Her sisters settled in different parts of the Commonwealth: England, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand, while she and my father raised my four siblings and me in Southern California.

Most of us have managed to visit Shetland because our aunt, Bess Jamieson, though working and living in Edinburgh, has a house in Walls (Pointataing; where she has lived full time since the 1980s). The wonderful stories and old photographs were an irresistible pull. My only visit was back in 1979 when I was a teenager, though I’ve wanted to come back for years but never found the time.

After university, I served in the US Navy for seven years as an officer, buying nuclear reactor components for submarines. After graduate school (MBA), I worked as a banker in Zürich (since our father was born there, my siblings and I automatically got Swiss passports) for five years before coming back to New York to start my own investment management company ( After doing that for 10 years, I have come up with the idea for a high- end chocolate company and grand café in New York City, for which I’ve been raising funds (

My decision to come to Hame­farin is rather amusing: my younger brother and I learned to knit when I was about six and we had our tonsils removed – our mother didn’t want us watching TV in the hospital. I never really knitted anything, but a few years ago a friend gave me Stitch and Bitch – mostly as a joke – after hearing me say I could knit; and I got hooked.

My mother visited last fall and saw Sarah Don’s The Art of Shetland Lace on my bookshelf, which I had bought out of curiosity. I had heard about “cobweb” lace so fine a large shawl could be pulled through a ring, but had only ever seen examples at the museum in Shetland, and knew very little about it.

As I was putting the book back on the shelf, I wondered whether I could manage. I hap­pened to have some fine yarn, and cast on; challenging but very amusing. A little more research, and Sharon Miller’s Heirloom Knitting was on its way along with some gossamer wool. Slowly making my way through a christening shawl for a friend, I started emailing my aunt in Walls with questions, which got me thinking I should visit Shetland again. When I told my mother, she said she was going for Hamefarin and it would be a great time to visit – and two of my other siblings were also thinking about it … Now four of the five of us are coming, and we couldn’t be more excited (our other brother was there recently with his family). We’re so looking forward to visiting with our aunt, taking in the spectacular scenery, hearing the family stories again – while visiting the places where they occurred. This time I’ll get to Unst and Yell, and having a car, will be able to explore much more of the islands.

In the meantime, we’ve dis­covered land and are using their data to augment the hand written trees that have been in the family, and have been using to organise our tree.

As told to Rosalind Griffiths


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