Gudrun Johnston was born in Shetland in the 1970s when her mother was running the successful knitwear design company, The Shetland Trader. Some 30 years later, and now living in the US, Gudrun has followed in her mother’s footsteps by reviving The Shetland Trader name, and has made a name for herself in the knitwear design industry. Gudrun has been appointed patron of the 2017 Shetland Wool Week.
Donna Smith is a textile designer and maker living in Shetland. Following her degree in Marine Biology, she decided to set up her own business, which was sparked by an interest in making felt from fleeces from her family’s flock of sheep. Donna uses a variety of textiles and techniques and is currently focusing on her interest in knitting patterns and teaching knitting.
Hazel has been knitting for over 50 years and since 2008 has held the illustrious title of ‘World’s Fastest Knitter’ having developed a fast and efficient technique. She is also a talented designer and has written many knitting patterns.
Hazel’s love of knitting Fair Isle is evident throughout her work and the endless variety of colours and patterns is a constant source of inspiration.
Terri is a Shetland born and based knitter and designer who has grown up surrounded by inspiration. Watching her grandmother grow a knitwear business sparked an interest for Terri at a young age. She is now working on her own skills and designs as well as starting her own business. Using mostly Fair Isle in her designs Terri has a keen interest in colour and enjoys taking inspiration from everything around her.
Karin’s work is rooted in the Swedish old knitting traditions. She teaches handknitting and machine knitting through her business, Uppstickaren. She is happy to be a part of the long chain of knowledge-bearers to ensure that Swedish knitting traditions and techniques survive into the future, whilst also developing them so that they form a natural part in a modern lifestyle. Karin is the author of the book Sticka efter Svenska mönster/ Traditional Swedish Patterns for Knitting.
Nancy is the Queen Mother of Brioche. For over 30 years, Nancy has studied the nuances of this European stitch, developing new and exciting stitches and techniques for achieving beautiful results. She is the author of ‘Knitting Brioche’, ‘Knitting Fresh Brioche’, ‘Leafy Brioche’ and is working on her current passion of developing tuck stitches. Nancy lives in Amsterdam, yet still finds the time to travel the world giving lessons and spreading the Brioche love around.
Julia Billings taught herself to knit thirteen years ago in an attempt to keep warm while working outdoors in horticulture – and soon found most of her spare time being spent knitting! Travel and time with inspired teachers further fuelled a love of traditional techniques and it is the reworking and combining of these with simple, clean design and materials that most inspire her. Julia firmly believes that the transfer of skills and knowledge is essential to the ongoing development and elevation of the craft and, since moving to Scotland with her husband in 2015, is enjoying sharing her take on knitting and natural dyeing with a whole new community. She knits by hand and machine, makes knitting pouches from repurposed tweed and dyes natural fine-gauge yarns.
Elizabeth is a spinner and knitter who gained much of her craft as a child, observing and learning from family and friends in Shetland. Her love of fibre became a profession. Her business, Shetland Handspun, now offers handspun yarns, handspun and handknitted garments, and tuition in spinning and knitting. Elizabeth has demonstrated, lectured, and taught workshops in spinning, lace knitting, and Fair Isle knitting in Shetland and throughout the U.K., Europe, and the U.S.
Niela Kalra is a Shetland-based knitwear and textile based designer, working under her own label Nielanell. She is particularly known for her use of colour and texture, and an innovative approach to textile construction. Niela is passionate about sharing her skills, and is an experienced tutor in the arts of dyeing, spinning and design.
Joanna’s interest in textiles began when her grandmother introduced her to Fair Isle knitting as a child. She was soon designing her own colourways and patterns which led her on to studying textiles at Shetland College. Soon after, she began her design company Joanna Hunter Knitwear, and now supplies to trade all over the world, with retail outlets in the UK, Scandinavia and Japan.
Helen Robertson is a textile and jewellery artist living and working in Shetland. She is inspired by Shetland and its rich textile heritage and employs these techniques in her work, celebrating and paying homage to the skilled knitters and designers of Shetland’s past. Creating connections is important to her; connections between current and past knitters are made possible by the wearing of her textile jewellery, connections between us and the natural world are celebrated within her crafted natural pieces. She is happiest creating new designs in wire or wool.
The Thingborg Artisans
The Thingborg Artisans were founded in 1991. They are located in the southern region of Iceland where they run a workshop and a store. The specialise in the Icelandic wool, spinning, hand- and machine knitting, play dyeing and, of course the “lopapeysa” knitting. Quality, sustainability and ethical production are all important factors in their work. Talks and demonstrations are regularly given at the Thingborg workshop.
Linda was born and brought up in Whalsay and has been knitting all her life. She tutors Fair Isle knitting at Shetland College through SIC adult learning. She joined the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers three years ago and is now the chairperson. She is currently working towards producing her own knitting patterns.
Ina learned to knit from her mother, who knitted to supplement the family income. Over the years she has completed many Fair Isle garments. She learnt to spin in the early ’80s and mostly spins fine lace. She is particularly known for her miniature shawls on a stretcher. She has taught spinning to groups and demonstrated to knitters many times. She has been a member of the Shetland Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers for many years.
Amy has been knitting in America forever, but her heart belongs in Shetland with its strong traditions of two-color and lace knitting. She is a knitting technician! She has been teaching alongside Meg Swansen for 25 years at Meg Swansen’s Knitting Camp, which was originally Elizabeth Zimmermann’s knitting camp. Amy and Meg co-authored a book called “Knitting with Two Colors” that is a small but mighty reference of techniques for stranded knitting including steeking, cast-ons, increasing and decreasing in patter, and much more.
Kathy Coull is a professional tourism operator and is currently the Vice Chair of the Shetland Tourism Association. She has an independent textile practice based in her croft in the island of Fair Isle. Having mastered and taught many traditional textile skills she then studied at Shetland College UHI and gained a 1st Class BA Hons in Contemporary Textiles in 2014. She researches and uses textile techniques in original, traditional and contemporary designs; has a range of Fair Isle Home-Grown Yarns from Fair Isle’s Shetland sheep, hosts workshops, gives talks and demonstrations, exhibits work and has written papers and articles.
Tori Seierstad is a Norwegian knitter living in Lillehammer, Norway. She loves wool and colours, and when her day job allows her, she designs colourwork mittens, hats and sweaters. With her knitting friends in the Mitten Guild she published the Norwegian book Eventyrvotter (Fairy Tale Mittens) in 2015. She has visited Shetland during Wool Week twice before and can’t wait to go back.
Anne Eunson is a knitwear maker/designer working in Shetland lace and fair isle, using both hand and machine knitting techniques. Anne graduated from UHI with a BA in Contemporary Textiles in 2014. Anne hails from a family of lace knitters, learning to knit at a very young age and is now one of the volunteers passing on these skills to the children involved in the “Peerie Makkers” Shetland knitting project.
Di studied history and politics at university and started work as a teacher. In 1983, she took a year-off to travel, and arrived on the Isle of Skye with little more than a rucksack containing a tent, wool and knitting needles. Walking the island she found an old croft house to rent and ended up staying for 18 years on the island. Inspired by the nature, landscape, sea and her travels in Spain and the Himalaya, she developed her knitting expertise, experimenting with different processes, styles and stitches. Her old Mission Hall studio became home to wools, handspans and yarns she commissioned and has made in the Hebrides. Di has created her original studio in an old Bothy at her home in Fife and now works designing and making yarns and patterns for a whole host of international brands including her own.
Rachel Hunter was born and brought up in Shetland and like most young girls in the mid to late ’70s learned to knit at primary school and it became a lifelong passion and hobby. As far back as Rachel can remember various fads, interests and hobbies have come and gone but knitting has always been a constant in her life. Rachel is a member of the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Weavers, Knitters and Dyers and enjoys knitting Shetland lace and Fair Isle. She also enjoys crochet, felting and knitting.