Shetland Textiles: 800 BC to the Present is currently being printed and bound ready for the official launch on 07 October.
My very lovely publishers have made it available for pre-order (in hardback or paperback) at Shetland Museum and Archives online shop. *And* there's a special 10% discount until the end of Shetland Wool Week (13 October) - a lovely idea from Jimmy and Emma at Shetland Amenity Trust and Shetland Heritage Publications to celebrate the third year of the isles' annual woolly celebrations.
The focus of this book is on the people, the materials, the tools and the techniques that have shaped Shetland's textile history and culture over the past 3000 years. The result is 208 pages of original research from 9 individual expert authors and historians, together with a look inside the lives of the people involved in textiles (past and present) including crofters and sheep breeders, makers and artists, in their own words, through oral histories, stories and memories.
This has been the most amazing thing I've ever done. One year of my life spent learning from people about the long and varied history of textiles in Shetland. What I've discovered has provoked just about every reaction possible. There have been raised eyebrows and a lot of laughing (I've thoroughly enjoyed the company of my authors and contributors over the past year). Other times I've just sat open mouthed in awe - I once listened to the same oral history 11 times in a row. Some of the content is so powerful that I found big fat tears rolling down my cheeks (and I don't really cry).
Here's a peep at some of the chapters, to give you an idea:
Shetland Sheep and Wool by Carol Christiansen
Early Textiles by Elizabeth Johnston
Wadmal by Brian Smith
Stockings and Mittens, 1580-1851 by Brian Smith
The Gunnister Man by Carol Christiansen
The Truck System by Brian Smith
Spinning and Dyeing by Elizabeth Johnston
Taatit Rugs by Carol Christiansen
Fair Isle Knitting by Sarah Laurenson (aka. moi)
Shetland Lace by Roslyn Chapman
Shetland Tweed in the Twentieth Century by Sarah Dearlove
Gender, Work and Textiles in the Shetland Household by Lynn Abrams
Textiles in Shetland Today by Sarah Laurenson (me again).
Together, we've uncovered things that were previously unknown, explored things we know very little about and looked differently at some of the things we are (or at least, we thought we were) already familiar with.
I am ridiculously pleased. And I can promise you that it's beautiful with roughly half of the pages dedicated to archive images from Shetland Museum and Archives and gorgeous photos of textiles (both artefacts and new work) by Dave Donaldson. Land and seascapes by Didier Piquer separate each chapter.
Expect more sneaky-peeks and previews over the coming days.
PS. The book is being printed in Glasgow on FSC certified paper (of course), with art direction by NYC-based, award-winning, super-genius Laura Palumbo! Get it now, here.