I am still here..I dont know about you but this past nearly two years have sucked alot of my creativity from me. I have hardly knit anything for months, the urge has gone. It will come back, I hope.

I thought the older i got the more sure of myself I would become – more assertive, know what I deserve and be brave enough to ask for it but instead im quiet, unsure of my voice and unconfident in it. That has made blogging difficult, I second guess myself and my voice.

I used to share lots more of my vintage collection, happy to give inspiration but over the years people take advantage of that. I see things where people have just copied it but not given me any credit. I dont own the rights to these things, but I do to the photos.. I chose to not copy my vintage knitwear and make money off it, why is it ok for others to do it just because they found a picture of it?

Sometimes when you post a picture on instagram people just comment ‘pattern?’ this annoys me so much. Shetland and its knitting was once seen as an untapped market – people came here, took inspiration, copied patterns and made it into things to sell. This still happens, some occasions annoy me more than others. Earlier this year someone took one of my patterns, changed the motifs and released it as a free pattern.. I couldnt beleive it. This makes me not want to share things, design things.

It makes me tired.

I have always been a worrier, when i was a child I would lie in bed and worry about anything and everything, one of my favourites was ‘the universe’ I’d imagine me lying in my bed and zoom out further and further until I was in the night sky surrounded by stars and just worry about the fact I existed… lol.

When you have spent your life worrying about bad things happening then a pandemic hits its almost validation – for me its the middle ground we are in at the moment thats hard, things are normal but not. You can go places but cant, people come to Shetland, but should they?

One postive thing is today my pattern in the new Shetland Wool Week Annual was revealed, its a tank top and the first all over Fair Isle garment I’ve designed. It was made in January/February so it feels like a very long time ago, however I did take lots of pics so if you are interested I could do a post about that?

You can pre-order the annual here

I’m sorry to come back and be so doom and gloom but that is where I am at the moment, I hope to lighten up and now i’ve done a post I hope it will be easier to write again soon.

Ella xx

57 thoughts on “musings

  1. Ella, I have to stop over and tell you that you were one of the first bloggers/vloggers that I encountered when i started knitting a decade ago and I’ve always found your work inspiring. I hear you about the doom and gloom and I’m so sorry that your beautiful work and efforts to share traditions have been stolen. That’s just awful. Sending good thoughts and hopeful vibes your way. The new vest is stunning and I hope you receive many compliments on it! :) Melissa

  2. I’ve missed your posts. I understand your despair but please, there is hope. There must be hope. Your sweater vest is gorgeous and of course, the views of Shetland are like another world.

  3. I hope so too! Yes, please, a post about designing the top. Love the combination of traditional-type design and modern shape. Congratulations. Almost time to be pulling out my Hap Cowl for the fall. Thinking about a Vatsland jumper. Ella, I hope we can support you from afar.

  4. Ella — I feel you on the doom and gloom. It is difficult to feel confident and self-assured when it feels and for all intents and purposes looks like the entire world is in flux mostly in a bad way. Please don’t feel the need to self-edit on your own blog, unless you wish to. It’s ok to be less-than-rosy because life is often less-than-rosy. Life frankly sucks right now. Pretending it doesn’t isn’t helping. I’m confident one day it will suck less. It just takes time. And it feels bad.

    I’m also sorry to hear that people have stolen what you have graciously shared. I’m especially sorry to hear it because I really enjoyed the pictures you’ve shared. I suppose there is always going to be a dickhead or thirty out there in the world ruining it for everyone, and taking advantage of earnest and loving sharing of your culture. I hope one day there is a safe place where you can share again. Your blog has been one of my favourites over the years because you don’t curate every little thing to the point where it feels like a lifestyle advert (cough, many other blogs, cough), but you are so attentive to details and obviously put in a great deal of care into your posts. This blog is great because it really feels like a little window into you. :)

    Anyway, thanks for screaming into the internet void. I’d been wondering about you idly. I hope things get easier. I’m a worrier too. I hope something eases your worry very soon, and I hope at some point you feel more driven to write a little more and share some photos again when you feel comfortable and able. I’ll look forward to it!

  5. Dear Ella, thank you for your posts and photos. The tank top is lovely and probably why I may buy the annual. So far I’ve only done hats, gloves and mitts. A jumper would be a step too far, but I think sleeveless is within my range. xxx

  6. Thanks to COVID-19 we will all be down in the dumps for quite a while. No traveling to Shetland breaks my heart. I hear you, Ella, and we are not the exceptions. It will take a while to get back to our places in mental normalcy. You are okay. I don’t blame you for the irritations you have about the photos. You have the right!

  7. Hi I just wanted to say I love your patterns, they are recognisably yours, always stylish and such beautiful colour combinations. Looking forward to seeing more in the future. Thanks

  8. Don’t be so hard on yourself, Ella. You are not alone in your lack of enthusiasm. I
    have discussed this very unusual effect of lockdown with many people. It is very common.
    I felt drained of creativity but was then somewhat forced into activity by the arrival of a new baby in the family. A visit was planned to meet the new little one and having just been released from restrictions there was no time to knit a pair of booties leave alone anything that took more than a day.
    Salvation came in the form of a jelly roll, backing and a metre of material. Hey Presto a baby strip quilt was also born in an afternoon. Not knitting, I grant you, but it got the juices flowing again. I’ve now got 4 knitting projects and 4 quilting projects on the go! (ALL simple so I’m not feeling overwhelmed)
    So it does return. Just find the right button to push and you’ll be off the starting blocks again.
    I saw your vest in the post about SWW and without telling a lie, I promise, it instantly inspired me to buy the book and get to work on it. I will but when I’ve done the 8 already started projects.
    I hope this message is too late already to encourage you to pick up your needles again. The world wouldn’t be the same without your amazing contributions to the knitting community.
    Don’t worry about those who steal your work. Imitation, as they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. Infuriating, I know. Had you thought about copywriting your designs and colourways? You then have the right to tell people to keep their hands off your work.
    Good luck and kindest regards.

  9. Dear Ella, I have thought about you during these last couple of years and can share that I too am disheartened by ignorance, disrespect, dishonesty, and lack of values. Self service has become the way. I thought about you because I have a Shetland or Fair Isle vest that was handed down to me that I have figured out the pattern but am inexperienced to translate it to a tam and glove set. I often wondered whether you do commissions? I am reluctant to let just anyone do it as I treasure the uniqueness of the pattern and colouring and for the very reasons you cite I could not trust people to do this. There is no copyright on these. I see it so much in the needlework industry (cross stitch) where the purchase of an antique sampler is translated into a cash cow for the buyer. That doesn’t seem to be the case in the quilting world. Anyhow, I’ll watch for your blog any time and look forward to it. Thank you.

  10. Dear Ella, So many of us are still shaking our heads wondering how its possible we are in this world wide mess! For me personally, it seems harder right now then it did 6-12 months ago. It feels like some of us have followed the rules and made the necessary sacrifices for the greater good, and more then a few selfish people have made this pandemic linger on and on and on…We feel the same worry you talked about and maybe we’ll all feel a bit better sticking together, sharing our concerns and wrapping ourselves up in a little knitting talk to sooth our souls. I want to thank you for all that you have shared with us and I hope you feel like you can and want to keep posting. Lastly, I’m so happy Wool Week is virtual for those of us who probably will never have the chance to travel to your beautiful island. Your vest is stunning!

  11. Dear Ella,

    Thank you sharing being you, yourself. I have loved knitting and wearing two of your Ola Yolks. Just yesterday I ordered the Shetland Wool Week Annual..

    Your beautiful design I will knit. If it is alright to share the shades and amounts of wool I will order now in anticipation and if not then happily wait.

    I live in a wee place in New Zealand under the mountains in St Arnaud in the South Island.

    Yes please to sharing more pic. Your post makes me realise how much we take for granted but please know so appreciated. Knitting is a wonderful joy not just the activity or the wearing but the reading and looking and a connection. I was going to say an invisible connection but thats not so because when I wear my Ola Yolks even strangers comment and ask and I have met some lovely folk through that even momentarily.

    with Love Stephanie

    1. Hi Stephanie, I can give you the shades but not quantities yet – I knit it in one size then it has been technically edited for me into multiple sizes. It’s FC41, FC39, 1280, 1281 and FC38 xx

  12. Hello from a brand new follower! I’ve read your blog from start to finish over the bank holiday weekend and noticed that your last post was a while ago but I enjoyed it so much I subscribed in the hope of more posts in the future. And my wish was granted, thank you! I’ve so loved following your journey to becoming an established designer, and your passion and respect for Shetland and its knitting, and heritage in general, shines through in your posts.

    I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling with things right now, and sincerely hope you can recapture the enjoyment you previously had. I’d like to think that the rotten eggs are far outweighed by a knitting community that respects the work of others.

    But please do keep posting. I loved the new design as soon as I saw it in the SWW annual previews a few days ago, and that’s what led me to your blog. I’d really like to read more about it. The colours are stunning and would fit my wardrobe perfectly. I definitely see one in my knitting future!

    Your blog has also spurred me on to make an effort to find working space for the knitting machine that’s living under my bed. Kate Davies’s Yokes books was my first pattern book purchase but I’d somehow completely missed that Cockatoo Brae includes hybrid hand & machine knitting directions. It’s such an effective way to get to the fun part of the garment quickly, and the reason I bought my machine in the first place. Thank you for reintroducing that idea to me!

  13. That is interesting that people say, “Pattern?” I do wish I felt more inspired to make my own, just for the joy of creating. I’m not a young knitter. I love the joy that comes from knitting with rustic wool and I am glad that we can find it❤️ I was a worry wart child, too. I did a lot of praying.
    This too shall pass. Thank you for posting, Ella.

  14. I don’t know whether any affirmations from me will help — but, I understand how difficult this year has been. And, I am sorry that you are suffering. I do admire your strength in sharing your thoughts. I wish I could help you with the theft of your copyrighted pattern — it was a violation of UK and international copyright. But, I know that doesn’t give comfort. I have adored the Fair Isles and Shetland knitting tradition since I knit my first yoked sweater 45 years ago. I admire — so much — your beautiful designs, including that lovely vest. Friends of mine who are photographers put their name on the photograph with the copyright date. I don’t know that it stops people from infringing their work — I have loved your blog for years. <3

  15. Thank you for posting, Ella. I have missed reading your blog over the pandemic time, but I completely understand the place you have been emotionally. I am so sorry to read about the appropriations of your pictures and patterns. While some patterns are traditional, the colors and combinations are yours. Please keep sharing your thoughts, both the gloom and doom and the others. And when you are ready, I hope you have more wonderful patterns for readers and others.
    I love your vest/tank. I bought the Shetland Wool Week annual right after I saw it! So like others here!

  16. Hello again Ella,

    My apologies for asking I have just seen your gorgeous design on Ravelry so will wait for my Annual to arrive. Stephanie :)


  17. I love the simpler, looser shape of this vest, and the beautiful, slightly understated colourwork. Which no doubt comes from a lot of work and time. Sometimes it feels like it’s the same with words, so those measured quiet thoughts are good to hear amidst the current onslaught of opinion.
    Those of us in cities have, in some ways, envied those in quieter areas, without completely realising the worries with healthcare provision or the increased responsibility of not introducing this virus by one’s own actions.
    It has been a strange time, here’s hoping for better times ahead.

  18. Dear Ella, I’m sorry to hear you are feeling so bad. I was thinking if you recently and hoping to see your blog soon. When there are bad things in your life that you can’t fix, put more good things in.
    I can’t afford the Shetland Annual, with postage it will cost about $60.00. But, I will buy one of your patterns. Please take good care of yourself, and do something nice for yourself every day. Love Karen, (in Sydney).

  19. Gawd, it’s all been pretty shit really hasn’t it? I knit a couple of big Alice Starmore projects last year, but I’ve barely knit a stitch for 8 months. I saw your vest on IG today and it’s the first time I’ve felt the thrill of something beautiful and perfectly right and the desire to pick up my needles since Christmas. Of course I’d like to see more of it. Yes please. If you can face it.

  20. Ella, You are one of the very few knitters I follow. I enjoy seeing your photographs and your beautiful designs. I can’t believe that people have done those things with your creative offerings! Oh wait – yes I can. I’ve had others blatantly poach my ideas or my writing, etc; one person even quoted a private email I responded to to be helpful, in a blog post, without asking if I minded. Conclusion: many people are out only for themselves and do not reflect on their impact on others before acting. It’s depressing.

    As for the pandemic, I completely understand. I was just reflecting the other day myself, looking at some old things I had made, about what I used to be able to accomplish. These days I feel completely flat from a creative perspective.

    Wishing you well. (And thank you for sharing your amazing photos today.) Maybe you just need to spend some time reflecting and a unique way that you can share your creativity (or hoard it for yourself – I wouldn’t blame you!) will come to you, that will spare you the horrible intrusions you have experienced.

  21. Ella, Please know that you are not alone. There are so many of us who have “stalled out”. There are so many scary, negative things happening that it can be difficult to see the good things. Here’s a huge virtual hug. Deb

    Sent from my iPhone


  22. Good to see you’re back! Brings a smile. Can totally relate, only no one has stolen a design or photo. I send you sunshine and flowers and smiles from the forest 🌞💐😊 Hope out helps a tad. )))hugs(((

  23. Dear Ella,
    I feel you! The last 2 years have been hard!
    But take heart… some of us have missed your posts and so appreciate the effort it takes and the gorgeous content
    I have no answers about the design appropriation issue
    It’s hard when the rights are for the pic not the design
    Wish I could help there
    But just know that you are doing a wonderful thing sharing your thoughts, creativity and images of Shetland ( a place I miss sooooooo much)
    You got this!

  24. Hello Ella ….I have been worried about you…as I read your post I see myself and understand how you feel…I worked as a nurse in Psychiatry for 34 years and I have depression, worse with the covid isolation..they say doctor heal thyself, lol, lol if only it was that easy Covid and isolation has made the bad worse, the scary , beyond frightening…I am a planner I think because I am a worrier..planning helps me feel like I have control Gees some things in life can’t be planned..people’s rude and inappropriate action , make it hard to believe in the goodness in people My sons tell me I should stop putting my expectations on people..some people are bad , ignorant and just plain rude and I have to stay away from them and be me…it’s hard though when they are in your face My girlfriend just gave me a book written by a fellow who has struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide..some of it hits home because it’s written by a guy who has been there it’s called The Comfort Book, by…Matt Haig

    I have my bad days and some better one or two…’s good that you are venting I am better at helping others I think than helping myself. Lol, lol…..try helping some one Who am I …I have been reading because I am having knitting and spinning too Try not to be so hard on many of us are where you are …try the book

    Gees write and vent whenever you want too..I am 75 today…life is always a challenge Warm hugs from pat in Mississauga ontario

    Sent from my iPad


  25. Hi Ella, You’re an amazing woman and it’s certainly ok to be realistic about this situation we find ourselves in! Just writing this out enables others to see they’re not alone and in a way reassure them. Have you seen John Mackesy’s work? The boy, the horse and the mole are journeying through difficulties ~ quite encouraging. You are inspiring!

  26. I’m laughing now after seeing your reply to Stephanie with the list of colours used in the new design. I bought 4 of the 5 just last month, and I’m pretty sure I have the 5th in my stash already. I can’t wait now!

  27. Thanks for your post! I am sure it was hard to write, but will likely help others too.
    The past 18 months have been quite incredibly difficult in so many ways. Some we knew all along, but some are only apparent later.
    Please hang in there – you do have supporters and fans all over the world. I enjoyed reading the comments here.

  28. Sorry that you’ve been having difficulties. Love your blog and your work. Hope you’ll get your mojo back soon.

  29. Dearest Ella, your post resonants with me: years of knitting and wanting to share knowledge to give the knitting knowledge to other hands ….and yet it turns out differently. People contact me wanting to ‘commission’ me to knit a pattern thinking because I love knitting I will do it for little or nothing, wanting a pattern so it can make them money by selling online. My worst moment was teaching a Fair Isle Knitting workshop at my local yarn shop and the participants wanting to know the quick way, the easy way to do stranded colourwork and not very happy when I said it takes practice and perserverance. I gave them lots of charts, yarn samples, garments to look at….the feedback? They demanded their money back from the shop owner and threatened her with negative reviews of the shop online because I gave such a rubbish workshop (unkind, unhelpful were the terms used). I gave back my fee for the day. I have decided not to teach locally after 16 years of encouraging and teaching local workshops. I thought the internet would encourage human connection and endeavour now I am not so sure. Ella, you have a unique voice and some of us love hearing it and seeing what you see but respect that sometimes you feel the need to be quiet. I am looking forward to your design in the Annual and looking at the preview I think I will knit it and wear it with pride. After all it has my favourite motif (flowers) and my favourite colour (BLUES!!) Thank you so much for such a heartfelt post – I am holding you in the Light (Quaker saying meaning I am thinking of you in a positive and affirmative way) Maryxx

  30. With covid we are all turned into worriers. I agree that we should think about the impact of travelling anywhere. I have also been annoyed about the copying of traditional fair isle since the copy of the scarf from the museum by the international clothing company, and the insult of having it produced in eastern Europe so they could make big bucks. I see they have done it again! Being inspired by such a beautiful tradition is not the same as using it to make money. I am also appalled by the theft of your work but not surprised the same has happened to us, as independent craftspeople we are unable to protect our production from this kind of theft as it would be so costly. Your vest is stunning, the colours are beautiful, I hope the feedback you get gives you the lift to start again as your work is amazing.

    1. Maureen, I wonder if it changes your mind if I tell you Me and Sandra physically put together the yarn order for Toast – it’s a huge wholesale order which in turn pays mine and others wages and means we continue to have a Wool industry in Shetland. Do I wish all ‘Fair Isle’ produced by these companies was in Shetland.. of course but that’s not feasible – it’s business. I appreciate your comments about my work.

  31. Hi Ella. Its been a difficult 18 months, hasn’t it? So sorry to hear just how difficult it has been for you. I, personally, would be very sad to think that you were going to stop writing knitting patterns. Your patterns are the most clearly written and easy to follow I have ever come across. And they’re beautiful. Please dont give up on doing what you do so well. I’ve pre-ordered the SWW annual, only because I saw the tank top you have designed. Please know how much you are appreciated. Try not to focus solely on the rip-off merchants. Think also of those of us who buy and love knitting your original patterns. Stay well and happy. Fiona

  32. Love the tank top pattern, especially the way you’ve adapted it to look so up to the minute. I love the Shetland Wool Week annual, but have been humming and aahing about whether I could afford it this year, surely I’ve got enough knitting patterns …etc etc? Anyway, you’ve decided me. I will order it. Try not to be disheartened. There are lots of us knitters for whom the community of locally-specific designers, dyers, yarn sellers are a really fundamental part of our enjoyment of the craft.

  33. Hi Ella, I always look forward to your posts (even if they are months apart) because they’re so genuine and natural. It feels like your communication is real and not uber-curated, and on your own blog you should feel free to express whatever you want. It’s a very weird time worldwide including Australia where I am, and so much is uncertain.

    I hope your inspiration will return soon, if only from seeing other people knit your lovely designs. Your taking inspiration from traditional designs and your colour choices make them exceptional. Sharing your interest and knowledge of the traditions of Shetland knitting is a gift to all of us. A post on the new vest would be fantastic if you feel you’d like to do that.

    About the appropriation and copyright infringement, have you thought about putting a notice on the banner of the home page of your website to state your position on people using your images without permission and appropriating traditional designs? It may not stop them, but if they proceed they would do so with no doubt that they are infringing your personal copyright in your images and exploiting the historical and cultural traditions of Shetland. Let us know where you see designs showing up as it might help if others can call them out on it?

    Sending you lots of love. Take your time and I look forward to hearing from you again when you’re ready. Helen X

  34. You’ve had a lot of support in the comments already, so I’ll just add that I really feel the disillusionment you’re describing here. People have gotten so used to the Internet as a marketplace, rather than what it used to be, and folks feel entitled to all kinds of things. Your boundaries are your own and that’s so important.

  35. Hi Ella! Thanks for your honest post. I would like to encourage you to never change. Don’t feel pressure to produce if the energy isn’t feeling right “out there”. Your designs are a gift – put them out where and how it feels life giving to you. It’s an artist’s struggle really. Burin think the more in tune with that we are, the more authentic our creations will be. I’m going to get my SWW annual today so I can knit your beautiful pattern. Thank you for being honest and frustrated and worried and smart and talented ❤️

  36. Ella I will be knitting your fab tank top love it already as I have your other patterns take care

    Sent from my iPhone

  37. Your design is gorgeous; so glad you used blues! I bought the SWW Annual and subscribed just on the basis of your beautiful design. Thank you!

  38. Dear Ella,

    I have really missed your posts and am happy to see an entry and gorgeous photos. The past couple of years have indeed been hellish. It doesn’t surprise me that people steal your beautiful work, but it is still disheartening. I love your new vest and will have to make it. Persevere–it’s all we can do.

  39. Ella, I always look forward to your posts, whether about news of your designs or your vintage finds or just whatever is on your mind. I was once a shy young woman and now I’m an outspoken old lady – it happens! Your voice matters. Your fair isle vest is beautiful, keep up the good work.

  40. Dear Ella I echo Cristi’s post. I pre ordered the most recent SWW Annual having seen the picture of your gorgeous design.

    The world of Social Media can be a very unpleasant space and it is sad but some people behave poorly within that environment. I stopped logging into Facebook & Instagram as I found it severely impacted my mental health.

    Keep designing! You are a very talented person.

  41. Nil carborundum … people can be appalling. I absolutely LOVE your design. I am going to buy the book and make the vest. Your photographs are so so glorious and bring so much joy. Take care! Thank you for the inspiration – it will take me ages and many unpickings but I am so looking forward to making this. Thank you also for the beautiful pics

  42. Hi Ella,
    I was sorry to hear how you and your designs have been exploited. Remember true Fair isle knitting only comes from Fair isle and its people. I for one only want the real thing! You are an extraordinary talent, nothing changes that.
    I have signed up for the annual and for virtual wool week. What a treat!

    Keep on being you Ella, take your time, be kind to yourself, and remember inspiration is all around you.

    Sending you positive thoughts from New Zealand.

  43. These are difficult times for sure – as an older woman I’ve been secluded what seems like forever but this too shall pass. We won’t be absolutely normal but it will be better. I’m confident about the future and you should be too. As far as having your designs exploited in the way you have described is heartbreaking. There has always been people who do that in all of our endeavors – copying cross stitch patters, needlepoint patterns, etc, Even my silk painting and garments were copies without a thought. Hang in there. We all feel your angst and pain – you are not alone,

  44. Hello Ella

    I’m sorry to hear you’ve been miserable, These are tough times for us all but I know it’s harder for some. I hope that bravely sharing your feelings will help you; I’m sure it will.

    I love your new vest design; it’s truly beautiful and a very contemporary in its aesthetic. I’ve ordered the Shetland journal and I look forward to enjoying the work of all you talented designers.

    Best wishes

    Jennifer O’Brien

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