Whalsay woman unveils lace creels

A Whalsay woman has created creels out of fine lace after being inspired by her seafaring ancestors.

Angela Irvine has knitted two lace creels, completing her second just ahead of the new year.

“My late bridder and uncle were lobster fishermen, so there was always creels being made in the shed,” she recalled.

“My midder and grandmidder were both talented Fair Isle and lace knitters, these Shetland traditions all inspire my art pieces.

“The sewing on of the net creel cover was just sitting there waiting for Shetland fine lace panels as far as I was concerned.”

Angela Irvine sewing her second creel along the loop edge. 
Angela Irvine sewing her second creel along the loop edge. 

She started making the first creel during the coronavirus pandemic with the help of creel maker Michael Watt.

“I got Michael Watt fea Girlsta to make me a lightweight aluminium framed een which I sprayed in mat black.

“I had to figure oot the stretch lace size fea other panels I had made on furniture pieces I had done before.

“Somehow each section just fitted like a glove when I sewed them in damp to fit.”

She continued: “I left the eye until last as that was mare oh a conundrum.

“I decided to do him in a contrasting Shetland black so it would stand out in the sculpture and be more 3D.”

Her decision to make the eye a contrasting colour was inspired by tactics actually used by those who make creels.

“Creel makers also make the eye a contrasting shade to attract prey, some sew in a piece oh bright orange oilskin at the bottom of the eye opening to attract their catch.

“I figured him out off a lace hat crown which was the same diameter as the eye, I measured the area around the entrance and it too fitted to the last stitch, I was just delighted we the eye in particular.”

The lace pattern used on the creel also had a sea theme and the creel was eventually completed in a matter of months.

After heading to the beach to take pictures of her lace creel the white lace turned gold, followed by pink as the colours of the sunset changed throughout the evening.

Angela Irvine's first lace creel turning gold during a Whalsay sunset. 
Angela Irvine’s first lace creel turning gold during a Whalsay sunset. 

She has since gone on to create a white double eyed creel which was a “peerie bit easier” as she has the experience of already making a lace creel.

However, to make it harder on herself, she decided to knit a loop edge to the lace panels.

“I really love this finish, it’s more intricate and delicate up to the edges of the creel.” 

Mrs Irvine added that she hopes her latest creation will be part of her “body of work” which will enable her to have an exhibition of her own one day.

This comes after Mrs Irvine recently celebrated the Norwind being displayed in the foyer of the Shetland museum.

Read the full story in this week’s Shetland Times. 


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