Cunningsburgh (Shetland) show, part 3 – other fibery things

I didn’t see everything at the Cunningsburgh show, even though I think I was there for nine hours. No, it’s nowhere near as big as the major festivals in the U.S., but there was an abundance of things of extreme interest and quality. I only saw the horses and ponies from a distance, and didn’t even realize there were classes for dogs until I got home and looked at the catalog of entries more closely.

So. A few snapshots of some fibery things. It was a treat to be able to wander through the entries and admire them. When I'm teaching at a festival, I rarely have time to look at the displays of skeins and finished objects, and whenever I am (reluctantly) judging a competition, I end up feeling like I've made my commentaries in that process. I judge reluctantly because I don't like the competitive element. I judge once in a while, however, because having public presentations of craft may encourage more people to try their hands, or inspire further explorations.

Many inspiring items were put on display at Cunningsburgh. Some of them won prizes. Some things that I loved did not take home ribbons. And so it goes.

This jumper (pullover sweater) was crocheted by Jane Outram. Terrific crochet.


Very gifted in multiple techniques and color use, she also made these bands with card- (or tablet-) weaving:


She used woolen-spun jumperweight (fingering) yarns from Jamieson & Smith (not the same as Jamieson’s). Card-weaving really stresses the warp threads—and produces incredibly strong bands, partly because the component strands need to be very sturdy and partly because of the structure itself. I asked Jane if she’d uptwisted the yarns (to increase their strength) and she said she hadn’t. That’s quite a testament to the integrity of those yarns. Not many woolen-spun yarns would stand up to card-weaving.

Jamieson & Smith also makes worsted-spun jumperweight yarns, although in a very limited range of eleven colors. (And they’re about to introduce worsted-spun aran-weights, one of which I’m sampling right now. The worsted spinning not only strengthens the yarn but brings out the wool’s natural luster. I can’t break this stuff with my hands, although it’s still lightweight.)

I found the color use and design of the bands absolutely enchanting.

But moving along. . . .

Nearby was this piece, which I initially thought was needlepointed (in petit point: the stitches were tiny). But no, those stitches were square and it was cross-stitched: densely, to create a solid image that nonetheless didn’t distort the foundation fabric. TINY, TINY stitches!


It was made by Louise Jamieson. It was one of those works of art that looks great from a distance and also reveals even more when closely observed. The background was worked in a lighter weight of thread so the figure was in slight relief—effective, but you really wouldn’t consciously perceive the shift unless you were peering at the work quite intently.

Several people who noticed the image as I was standing nearby spontaneously and easily identified the person shown.


The costume is one from the Up Helly Aa winter fire festival. There are fiber stories involved in the squads’ costumes, too, but that’s for another day.

Back to the Cunningsburgh show, and a few of the remarkable items I saw, this time in the building that contained the baked goods and most of the knitting and spinning.

One interesting category was the “Colourbox Competition,” for Fair Isle items made from at least four shades of eight specified colors.


Knitted cardigans (by Barbara Isbister, Barbara Johnson, and, again, Barbara Isbister):


Jumpers (pullovers, left edge and center by Barbara Isbister; I managed to miss the identifying number for the one on the right edge):


Gloves (these were handspun, by Anna Simpson):


A gorgeous lace shawl (by Yvonne Robertson):


And another inventive scarf (by Mavis Ross):


Handspun skeins (by Elizabeth Johnston, Mavis Ross, Julia Downing, Anna Simpson, and Alexis Keith):


And, in another area, some fleeces. . . .


(AQR Cross, managed by Hamish Hunter)


(Jane Outram . . . see the crocheted jumper and the card woven bands above)

And I can’t resist including this final photo from the sheep area, where a group of gentlemen were having a discussion.



7 thoughts on “Cunningsburgh (Shetland) show, part 3 – other fibery things”

  1. Whew! I’ve just caught up with all the blog posts: can’t imagine the sensory overload you’re going through but wish I could be experiencing it too. 😉

    I guess a vicarious thrill at your adventure is better than none at all?

  2. No wonder you weren’t able to see everything at Cunningsburgh. What an incredible wealth of fiber art talent there is in those tiny islands. I am in awe at the petit point Viking. The crochet natural-colored jumper almost makes me want to crochet (hmm, should graph out a similar pattern for knitting – but I would not want to infringe on the crocheter’s copyright).

    Thank you so much for posting all of this. Armchair travel is better than not at all.

  3. Helene, artists have always been inspired by each other’s work. Imagine what a poor world we would live in if that weren’t the case. A knitted jumper like the crocheted one would inevitably be quite different in the end result (especially if you were working from an image as small as this!).

    Okay, back to writing another post for me. . . .

  4. Thank you for including the names of the craftspeople with their work. So often, names become separated from textile works. These are great works. You mentioned that US shows can be much larger. Which ones would be the largest and would they also include sheep judging?

  5. Yes, I think it’s important to include craftspeople’s names where they are available. Identification was not on the pieces as they were displayed for judging, but I had the show catalog and could easily cross-reference from the entry numbers to find the names.

    Two large shows in the U.S. are the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival (often referred to as Rhinebeck, where there is definitely sheep judging. There are many others that combine fiber activities with animal judging, but those two are very big!

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