Do other knitters ever find themselves questioning what they are knitting? maybe I should get a life but when I keep getting inspired by a certain style I start to wonder why..

newest ebay acquisition
newest ebay acquisition

I am obsessed with Icelandic jumpers I find myself googleing them, ebaying them, pinning them on pinterest, buying the wool, casting them on... Its becoming a problem. Well, not really, but over the past couple of weeks I have done a lot of plain knitting (for the lopapeysas of course) and this leads to my mind wandering and I started thinking about why I am so inspired by them, I don’t just like Icelandic knitting I feel an affinity to it but how is that? I don’t know anyone from Iceland, nor have I ever been there but the more I look at pictures and read about it the stronger I feel, not just for the knitting but Iceland and for Scandinavia.. is it because at one time we were part of it? We are so close to it, or maybe after Up Helly Aa my Viking blood is flowing too strong?

Scandinavia Map circa 1800
Scandinavia Map circa 1800
sign outside the old Spar shop in Lerwick
sign outside the old Spar shop in Lerwick

I began to wonder if it had anything to do with the referendum that we are dealing with in Scotland at the moment. Its like I am being forced to make a decision over something I never thought would happen. To be honest its freaking me out! big time, every night the news is plastered with scare tactics from both sides as to why we should vote no or why we should vote yes.  It might sound strange but sometimes I struggle to feel involved, up here its hard (for me) to feel a connection to Scotland, let alone England sometimes. I never left Shetland to go to University and I have never been away from here for any length of time in my 23 years.. maybe that’s a bad thing, maybe not. But my interests have always kept me here. Where better to be a knitter than Shetland? But this has made me not a very wise of the world person. When people hear me speak do I sound Scottish? not to me.

my Iðunn currently on the needles
my Iðunn currently on the needles

I’m probably over thinking all of it but come September I’m going to be truly fed up of hearing about it and probably still wont know what to vote.. the more I force myself to read about it the more stressed I feel. Hence my affinity to Scandinavia.. i think ill run away and live on a farm somewhere in Iceland.

But then id miss Shetland too much. ill just stick to the knitting…


25 thoughts on “influences

  1. Well you should at least most definitely visit Iceland… does bear many similarities to Shetland I think (and big differences too)…’s a really really awesome place…..I can’t wait to go back……

  2. Politics are maddening, no matter where you live. The politicians start here talking about issues way before election time. Don’t let it weigh on you–just do what you think is best after evaluating all that is said and definitely visit Iceland for an upclose look at the beautiful Lopapeysas!!

  3. I agree with Elaine, Maddening!!! And as much as I hate to hear it all I feel a need to keep informed………. stick to yer knittin :) Your colour choice is great on your Iounn. AND I just got the Shetland Textiles book and appreciate your chapter! Very nice. thank you

  4. Hello sweet girl,
    I know how amazing Nordic and Icelandic knitting is. Once you learn how to knit stranded patterns one has an appreciation for the women and men who created all these wonderful patterns using the wool they had available. As far as channeling your Nordic roots,yes there is a definite draw to Norway and Iceland. Our ancestors genes come to surface quite often. The close ties to Norway that Shetland has from centuries ago should count more than its close proximity to Scotland! Look to name places,words,history,festivals. Is there really any question about where the bond should be? :.)) I think not.
    Shetlanders are Shetlanders. They’ve never been Scots! Be yourself and proud of it! Continue your beautiful knitting! And a trip to Norway and Iceland should be on your list!!! :.))

  5. Hi Ella

    As a very recent reader of your blog – its interesting to read this post right now.

    I’ve been thinking alot myself about this connection to region and culture, albeit from a completely different geographical region. Here by the beach in Clovelly (Sydney, Australia) it is indeed a million miles away from Shetland, Scotland. But I do so feel such an affinity for both the knitting culture, heritage and environment you live in. Oh how I dream of a real winter and all its associations (much to the disbelief of many here).

    I do have Scottish and English roots, back many, many generations, which have no obvious cultural link in any way outside of myself. And yet I am so drawn to the region – I have never been but would so love to go. Thus, I oft wonder if it is this some deep yearning that goes back to my ancestors, or dare I say a past life connection. Perhaps one must go to work this out.


  6. I’m knitting a Fairisle pattern at the moment and am loving the rhythmn of it. Your sweaters are beautiful. Politics are difficult. in England ,we too are worried about the vote. I’ve got Scottish friends who are living here but not allowed to vote. Doesn’t seem right to me but what do I know. Be proud of your heritage and keep knitting.

    1. Thank You Jacqui, i hope i didnt come across as against the rest of the Uk, im interested in how you feel as someone from England? Thank you for your kind comment xx

  7. I feel you. It’s often hard to deal with the fact that politics reduce complex problems and frame questions in a way that just doesn’t make sense to you, but which you are expected to answer nonetheless.
    You should definitely go visit Iceland, not as a means to escape, but maybe more as a way of recapturing meaning?

  8. I would like to think you would consider not just Scandanavia but relise that Shetland has many cutural strands including nordic, there have been waves of immigration,ship wrecked mariners Jacobites fleeing persecution, lowland Scots(providing many dialect words), Fishermen from the north east of Scotland, Shetland was and still is a melting plot. Lets bring down borders! Up-Helly- Aa has only had the norse theme for a hundred years today its for the tourist,Please dont run away to Iceland stay here and keep on knitting

    Remember my dear the adoption of the norse theme for Up-Helly-A’ isone for the tourists

  9. My best friends and neighbors are from Iceland. They go back every summer as they have family there. From all the pictures, and talking to them about Iceland it is a very interesting place. The land itself is wonderful to look at.
    Politics is nutty where ever you go. It’s as if all the people who constantly come up with bad ideas are all politicians. Knitting is my refuge. I knit through news shows. It keeps my blood pressure down.

  10. Hey Ella, that knitting looks lovely. I got obsessed with icelandic Einband (lace weight) and bought some huge amount direct from Iceland – sucked in by a good deal. A lovely leaf green, needs a lot of washing to get soft though, still have a bit left – hmmm, must make some mittens.

    I used to worry about my obsessions (I once had to take a day off work and drive 200 miles to buy felting wool). But they are usually very generative of new work (sorry, art-speak but concise) so I now give into them pretty quick, plus, at least then you usually get over them more quickly. I think it’s sometimes a long time before you know what it was that was the root of the obsession, but your state of mind while in the obsession is very different, there’s a real focus to it, and I think it contributes something to the making process beyond the thing that you actually make. So maybe think of it as brain-training…

  11. My husband suggests Shetland can ask to join Norway instead :-) You’re almost as close toNorway as Scotland. (or far from, as you see it).

  12. I’m Aberdonian and I feel as removed from the debate as you do. Everything is so biased towards the central belt that I feel that whether we are governed from Westminster or Hollyrood I’d still feel remote from it all.
    I’ve only recently started learning Fair Isle techniques and experimenting with knitting in multicolour. My leanings have been more towards cable work like the ganseys my Granny used to knit.

    1. Jennifer, that’s really interesting! Thank you for your comment. It does feel like that doesn’t it? Good luck with your knitting, it’s funny how you get inspired by things your family made. Xx

  13. Hi Ella, one thing I can assure you about is that you do not sound like a mainland Scot. Last june I came into J&S and you were there and we chatted a little. you , and all the other northern Isles people have your own voices and speech patterns and for me, from SW England you are a lot easier to understand. I feel very disconnected from our Govnt too.
    Your knitting is lovely i like your colour choices and you have inspired me to look at icelandic knits too. i made a lopi sweater about 20 years ago and i have startedwearing it again.
    Northern norway is brilliant fot wool and knitting, I loved it.

  14. Hi.

    I really like the old map of Scandinavia that you posted above.
    Are you the owner of the photo? I work with marketing and I would love to use the map in a brochure. Would that be OK for you?
    Please reply to me via email.

    Thank you in advance :)

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