The last two days have been busy with two cruise ships coming to the island and visiting the Unst Heritage Centre.
When visitors come and I chat to them, I never know what their interests will be.
This time, one group was interested in some of the displays about finishing and dressing; stretching knitted garments into shape.
Large boards for dressing shawls would be put outside to dry, especially since the houses were small and room was limited.
One old lady told me of a incident when a shawl was put out to dry and then “da grice gaed trow da middle an dat wis a winter’s wark geen”
(The pig went through the middle of the shawl, and that was a whole winter’s worth of knitting gone!)
Wood shaped for stretching socks, gloves, jumpers etc was used for the various garments. Since wood was a scarce commodity in Unst, any source of wood would be gratefully recycled into the shapes needed.
I still have a jumper board and use it to keep our woolen jumpers in good shape.
I am currently knitting hats, so I need a plate of the correct diameter for stretching those!
Some visitors were interested in the knitting belt that we still use here in Shetland. It fits around the waist and helps the knitter steady their knitting and keep the tension even.
I have always wondered how widespread the use of the knitting belt was. I would be interested to know if anyone has researched this subject.