Finishing a knitted garment

The last two days have been busy with two cruise ships coming to the island and visiting the Unst Heritage Centre.

Cruise ship

Ocean Nova Cruise ship at the Baltasound Pier

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.

Nana's mum Betsy with shawl

Morag’s great-grandmother Betsy with shawl being stretched

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.

Adjustable jumper board

My adjustable jumper board – still in regular use!

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.

Knitting Belt

My knitting belt

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.


8 thoughts on “Finishing a knitted garment

    • Thank you for that , most interesting . The author seems to think that the knitting belt was unique to Shetland.

  1. Hi Morag,
    I am hoping to get some information from you regarding the Jumper Board.
    I am going to make one and yours looks like the best design I have seen so far.
    I have never seen a ‘real’ jumper board. Living in Australia suppliers probably think they are a waste of time, or do not know about them.
    Can I please be presumptuous and ask for a couple of dimension?
    Height from floor to top…
    Width from centre to the arm cuff (not shown in your photo)…
    A photo of the arm ends would be fantastic as well so I can see what adjustment it has.
    Thank you very much in advance and hope this is not too arduous.

    • Hi there Stefan. I hope you can see from the photo on the article that there are methods of adjustment on the board so that it can be used from a variety of sizes of garment.
      The overall sizes are 170cm along total length from sleeve end to sleeve end, and 82cm from top to bottom. The size across the body width adjusts with the setting so if you intend to make one just for your own size , you need to make that for your chest measurement. Hope that helps.

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