Thursday, August 03, 2017


Whoa, guys!  This summer is just flying by.  But before it's gone, I wanted to share some of my travels with you.  I was so incredibly excited to go all the way out to the Shetland Islands this June, on one of Gudrun Johsnton and MaryJane Mucklestone's wonderful Shetland Adventures.

The chance to go to the islands with Gudrun and Mary Jane would have been a bucket list item in the first place, but the chance to be there with a group of fellow industry people was seriously a once in a lifetime trip.

My travel buddy from beginning to end was fellow designer and one of my best friends, Amy Christoffers.  She's up in Vermont and I'm down in Boston, so we booked our tix online via phone call ("Three seats left on this one. OK, when I say go, click on it!") and met up at Logan Airport the day of our flight, only to find out that our tickets had been changed from Edinburgh to Glasgow.

So we rolled with that and ended up seeing an extra city on both the front and back ends.

Here's Amy on the ferry:


We arrived in Edinburgh with a day and a night to play and explore, and took full advantage.


Then we met up with everyone for a train ride to Aberdeen, where we boarded a giant Viking-themed overnight ferry to the most remote and beautiful inn I'll probably ever have the chance to stay at, Burrastow House:


That's the view from the short hike out the front door.   You wind along the water and hop that stone fence, and then shimmy past a little stream at the beach edge if it's high tide, trying to keep your feet dry.  Once you crest the hill, it's just sheep and grass and cliffs and water to explore.  This is pretty much what we did every night (photo taken after 10pm,  and yes, it's still light out!).  We only got lost once, when we cut inland - otherwise, following the water was a great way to get back.


See all the white bits on the ground?  Those are either bog cotton or little fluffs of wool that naturally snag or fall off the sheep.  See the bigger white bits in the distance?  Sheep.


They roam every grassy inch of the islands. Seriously. They Are Everywhere.


We roamed the islands in 3 little red cars.  I feel like we were everywhere too.


Some of us got souvenirs in Lerwick - at the Jameison's shop on the main street.


But shopping was not the main goal.

We visited Oliver Henry, the famous wool man of Jameison and Smith, toured the Jameison's factory, went to Uradale Farm and ate homemade blueberry cake, studied Hazel Tindall's beautiful fair isle designs, Anne Eunson's lace, and Ella Gordon's vintage sweater collection.  We sailed on a boat, and hoisted sails while dressed in giant orange outfits. We got lost a few times on the road, spent time in the Unst Lace Museum, the Shetland Textile museum, and got a peek into the textile archives in the larger Shetland Island museum in Lerwick.  We sampled local beers and whisky, and ate gorgeous 3 course meals every night.  We hiked to cliffs and puffins and hidden beaches, and collected tufts of wool in our pockets for Bristol to spin into yarn.  We looked for Orcas and never found them, even though the Facebook Orca page said they were nearby.  Some of us found and visited the town of Twat, because that's funny and we are never too old for funny.

Those photos are all on my Instagram feed, @theacolman - as there are WAY too many to put here.

When we weren't out doing All Those Things, we were here.  Around this table knitting and talking, maybe braiding some hair or having a drink, and just spending time together.  And it was really fantastic.



When it was over, we all boarded the ferry again for one more overnight adventure on the Viking boat, and some of us parted ways in Aberdeen.  The rest of us boarded the train to Edinburgh for another few days.  Amy and I spent those in a charming airbnb next to the Castle. We had a great dinner in Ysolda's hood with the remaining travelers and did a bit more exploring.

I took photos of an upcoming sweater design Amy has in a future Knitty (am I allowed to say that?) the next morning. She had been working on it for most the trip, blocked it in our little kitchen, and we decided to wander the stone alleys around the castle with coffees and the camera the morning before we left.  Pretty perfect.

Lastly, we spent one day in our surprise destination of Glasgow, sampling beers and narrowly missing Amy's life goal of going to the Remy Mackintosh house, which was closed on Mondays.  Who even  knew it was a Monday?  We did see the outside, and walked up to the door of the attached museum, but not the same. Instead, beers.  Then it was time to head home.

So many thank yous to Gudrun and Mary Jane for organizing this trip and taking us.  It was an incredible experience, and if any of you get the chance to head out there, bring your cozy clothes, some sturdy hiking shoes, your knitting needles, and a camera.  You'll love it.  

Maybe you'll even catch the orcas.


2 comments:

Kimberly Winter said...

I loved all of what you said! As for the orcas, you'll have to come and visit me in OR and we can go to Seattle and travel the San Juan's! You'll see plenty of orcas there!

JD Doyle said...

I'm always eyeing these Grand Shetland Adventure trips with jealousy. They look so amazing! (My husband and I honeymooned in Scotland almost 5 years ago and fell completely in love; I'm dying to go back.) Looks like you all had a really lovely time.