Shetland lace shawl

For centuries Shetland women sold their knitted goods to supplement a living gained from fishing and the croft.  However, as knitting machines began to produce cheaper goods, hand knitting could no longer compete.  During the 1830s Shetland women took advantage of the European popularity of lace and began to knit the fine wool of the little native sheep into shawls.   The wool was taken from the softest part of the fleece by rooing (plucking) rather than clipping.  The fibres were straightened with a small comb and spun into 2-ply yarn.  In the hands of a gifted spinner 6000 yards, enough for a shawl, could be spun from 2 ounces of wool.   The knitters took pleasure in inventing complex patterns, and popular motifs included waves, fir trees and fiddles.  They were not accustomed to using instructions and worked out the pattern by eye.
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Dumfries & Galloway Council
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