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Burra Bears, Shetland Isles (Credit: Airborne Lens)
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The Spirit of Shetland Knitwear

For generations, knitwear and textiles have formed a large part of the traditional identity and modern spirit of the Shetland Isles.

Inspired by the land, culture and heritage of the Isles, Shetland knitwear is renowned worldwide for its high quality and distinctive look. Truly an icon of Scottish arts and culture, each stage of the knitwear design process, from the chosen pattern to materials and production, has been perfected across the Isles by generations of artisans, all highly-skilled in their craft.

Inspired by the audio story ‘Shetland Knitwear: A Cultural Icon', explore the spirit of Shetland knitwear from croft to craft with this self-guided itinerary. Listen here:

Shetland Museum & Archives, Shetland Isles
Image provided by VisitScotland/Kenny Lam

SHETLAND MUSEUM & ARCHIVES

Begin your journey in Lerwick with a visit to the Shetland Museum & Archives. Take your time to learn Shetland’s story and discover the fascinating history and community heritage of the Shetland Isles. From its early beginnings to modern trade and industry, each gallery provides a remarkable insight into the history of community life on Shetland. The museum’s textile collection received Scottish National Significance status in 2013 and has a dedicated Textiles gallery, which allows visitors to follow all stages of the production process and historic trends.

SHETLAND TEXTILE MUSEUM

Located a stone’s throw away from Lerwick in the 18th century Böd of Gremista, the Shetland Textile Museum is a community-run museum solely dedicated to Shetland knitwear and textiles. The museum features an array of wonderful displays of knitwear from the 18th century to the present gathered over 28 years. Today, the collection amounts to over 700 pieces! The museum is a must-see for the celebration of the people, history and techniques behind Shetland knitwear, with events and demonstrations by private appointment and offered last year as part of Shetland Wool Week 2022.

Shetland Textile Museum, Shetland Isles
Image provided by VisitScotland/Paul Tomkins

Da Street, Lerwick, Shetland Isles
Image provided by Airborne Lens

DA STREET, LERWICK

Continue your journey by taking a wander around Da Street. Also known as Commercial Street, Da Street is at the heart of historic Lerwick and, as the home of the Market Cross, is host to a large spectrum of events including Shetland Pride and Up Helly Aa. As in the name, the street is a hub of commercial activity. Relax and take your time to explore this iconic street with a chance to purchase some authentic Shetland knitwear items from an array of local artisans.

NESTING

Ten miles north of Lerwick lies the beautiful parish of Nesting. Surrounded by voes and headlands, the lands of Nesting encompass the stunning spectrum of colours of Shetland that are an endless source of inspiration for textiles and knitwear. On your journey around the parish, which includes the island of Whalsay and the Out Skerries, admire and be inspired by the colours and beauty of the natural landscape.

Whalsay, Shetland Isles
Image provided by Airborne Lens

Tangwick Haa Museum, Shetland Isles
Image provided by VisitScotland/Paul Tomkins

TANGWICK HAA MUSEUM

Welcome to Northmavine, a peninsula at the northernmost reaches of Mainland Shetland. The superb Tangwick Haa Museum, located at the heart of Eshaness, tells the story of the Northmavine through the ages with both permanent and changing exhibitions. Don’t miss the incredible Shetland settle covered with a traditional Taatit rug, dyed with moss and lichens, on your visit to the Laird’s Room.

UNST HERITAGE CENTRE

Finish your journey at the Unst Heritage Centre. Here, explore the unique heritage of the island, carefully curated displays which celebrate the rich community histories and traditional industries of Unst. Of particular interest, the centre hosts a fine array of Shetland knitwear, including varying styles of Fair Isle ware, as well as beautifully hand-spun and highly intricate Unst lace.

Unst Heritage Centre, Shetland Isles
Image provided by VisitScotland/Paul Tomkins

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