Letter: What on earth are they thinking of?

Might I suggest that if you were to ask soothmoothers what they knew about Shetland the response might well be: “Well, they are known for their music and knitting.” And now the SIC in its wisdom has seen fit to stop free music and knitting lessons in the schools.

What on earth are they thinking of? Have they no care to safeguard the transmitting of the culture to future generations?

On a recent visit I was talking to the owner of a Lerwick shop specialising in the sale of hand-knitted scarves, jumpers, etc and she told me sadly, that all her hand-knitters were in their 70s.

It would be tragic if these skills were to die out because the money the SIC could save by stopping free music and knitting lessons is peanuts compared to what would be lost, probably forever, from the culture of Shetland.

In the mid-1970s my husband’s third cousin, Barbara Garriock of Burravoe in Yell, knitted jumpers for my husband and me. Mine was mostly in shades of grey and white in the snowflake pattern; my husband’s had 12 rows of lozenges, where each row was different, in browns, both in the natural colours of the sheep, of course.

I always thought of them as works of art and we wore them with pride. We have now passed them on to our daughter and son-in-law. I have a one-ply scarf (this was bought) and both my children had Shetland baby shawls made by cousins and I had a hap made by an old lady.

How are these skills going to be transmitted? I have a photo of my jumper on my wall to celebrate the undeniable work of art it is. Think, members of the SIC, what you are doing when you stop free knitting lessons.

There must be less drastic ways of saving this money. I do hope that the SIC will think again.

Vivienne Rendall
Moor View,


Add Your Comment
  • Colin McGhee

    • May 14th, 2010 14:25

    Surely the answer to your question is in your letter? The shop owner told you that all the knitters are into their 70’s, meaning that generations of children that received knitting lessons (myself included) have no interest in knitting. It was once an essential skill but now with internet shopping and the availability of cheap clothing from the developing world it is now a skill that is no longer needed.

    The skill and interest has died out for years despite the council pumping in money to teach it in schools. As sad as it maybe it looks like something that the younger generations themselves have decided not to carry on – not the council.

  • Village Books

    • May 14th, 2010 15:27

    This is a tragedy, one worthy of the idiotic money saving measures practiced in education in my country! Please join together & find a way out of this!

    Karen Jelenfy
    Maine, USA

  • leslie sinclair

    • May 15th, 2010 12:58

    Yes they should preserve funding because if a skill such as fair isle knitting is lost it can be hard to bring back.

  • Andy

    • May 19th, 2010 10:53

    To us soothmoothers Shetland without knitting will be like Harris without Harris Tweed – except that Shetland has let one of its best assets die whilst at least in Harris there is still a jobs benefit from tweed. Be very sure thet you want to lose one of your precious icons before you consign it to history forever

  • Joyce

    • May 25th, 2010 23:48

    The SIC has decided to save money by not paying for knitting lessons in schools. But what is to stop local knitters who feel strongly about losing these traditions from offering their skills for free ? Many parents, grannies etc in other parts of the country volunteer to provide additional craft skills in schools. Those 70 year olds referred to in the letter were not taught by teachers paid by the Council. They were taught, in the main, by family and friends. There is nothing to prevent that from continuing if that is what people want to do !


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