Traditional Shetland yarn being hand-woven
Traditional Shetland yarn being hand-woven

Knitting in Shetland

6 days From £1,345

22 September 2019

Even those who think they know all there is to know about the art of knitting can pick up a thing or two in the scenic Shetland Isles, and we’re not just talking about those pesky dropped stitches...

As anyone who’s been lucky enough to visit the Shetland Isles can surely attest, it can get a bit chilly. It should come as no surprise, then, that one of their most famous exports is as warming as the welcome we receive on landing there.

There are workshops aplenty, both starting off our mornings and rounding off our afternoons. These present the perfect opportunity to hone our skills — and perhaps even learn some new ones — under the watchful eye of experienced artisans who make a living selling their wares.

But knitting knowledge isn’t the only thing available for us to take home — a visit to the elegant Nielanell Design Studio is the perfect opportunity to pick up a stylish souvenir (whether you gift it or keep it for yourself is up to you, although we recommend the latter). Along with other wool- and textile-related visits, we also take the opportunity to sample some of the other delights these remote yet fascinating islands have to offer, such as the historic archaeological site at Jarlshof and the spectacular sea cliffs at Sumburgh Head.

We travel in comfort aboard the large, purpose-built overnight ferry that plies between Aberdeen and Lerwick, lending a scenic cruising dimension to this most relaxing yet instructive crafting holiday.

What's included?

  •  Accommodation
  •  Services of a professional tour manager
  •  Comfortable coach travel throughout
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary
  •  Ferry crossings
Call for availability £1,345
Includes deposit: £100 Single supplement: £295

Tour highlights:

  • Experience hands-on workshops with an expert tutor
  • Visit the Textile Gallery of the Shetland Museum and Archives
  • Explore Jarlshof and nearby Sumburgh Head
  • See the Nielanell Design Studio at Sandwick
  • Discover Scalloway and its ruined castle

Tour details

Dates September 22 2019 - September 27 2019
Duration 6 days
Cost £1,345
Single supplement: £295
Deposit: £100 , balance due by 30 June 2019
Activity Level Moderate
Tour code BWKIS19A

Departure Points

Location Depart Return
Glasgow 0945 1345
Edinburgh 1100 1230
Dunfermline 1130 1200
Kinross 1145 1100
Perth 1300 1030
Dundee 1330 1000
Aberdeen 1500 0830

Please note all timings are approximate and may be changed. They will be confirmed when the joining instructions are sent out, approximately ten days prior to departure.

Call for availability

22 September 2019: Itinerary

Departing by coach from our local pick-up points, we arrive in Aberdeen and board the Northlink Ferry for our overnight crossing to Shetland. From the time you step on board you’ll appreciate that these ships have all the attributes of a mini-cruise liner, including a restaurant where dinner is served in the evening. There is also a comfortable bar and lounge. Once we have finished getting to know each other as a group we are lulled to sleep in private en suite cabins by the motions of the North Sea.

Meals include: Dinner

In the morning we disembark at Lerwick, capital town of the Shetland Isles. From here we travel to the southern tip of Mainland Shetland, where we visit the outstanding Prehistoric and Norse Settlement of Jarlshof, with over three acres of remains, spanning 3000 years since the days of the Stone Age, including oval shaped bronze age houses, iron age broch and wheel houses, Viking long houses and medieval farmhouses. Nearby is the glorious Sumburgh Head, a windswept sanctuary, and migration route, for all manner of birds.

Returning to Lerwick where we have an opportunity for lunch (not included), in the afternoon we visit the award-winning Textile Gallery of the Shetland Museum and Archives for a guided tour to learn all about the knitwear that once supported the island’s economy.

Our next stop is the Shetland Textile Museum, where we find an inspiring collection of local pieces located within a restored 18th-century fishing station, or “böd”.

Following this we continue to our comfortable hotel.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Busta House Hotel, Shetland

After breakfast we are joined by our local tutor for the first of our interactive workshops to learn the basics of Shetland hand knitting.

After lunch in the hotel we depart for a visit to the Nielanell Design Studio at Sandwick, where we discover an inventive range of alternative knitwear, including hand-spun batts just waiting to be used.

We continue to Hoswick where we will call in at the Visitor Centre, housed in a former woollen mill. The Centre includes weaving machinery, local items and an interpretation of the Hoswick Whale case. We will also visit the Laurence Odie Knitwear outlet at Hoswick Woollen Mill.

Hotel: Busta House Hotel, Shetland

Following breakfast we depart on a tour of the western mainland of Shetland with visits to Walls, terminus for the ferry service to the island of Foula, and the headland at Sandness, overlooking the island of Papa Stour. Here at Sandness we hope to visit the family-run firm Jamieson’s of Shetland at their factory. We will learn about the various stages of wool production, from grading to spinning. There will also be a chance to purchase some 100% Shetland yarn for your own projects.

We return to the hotel for lunch before settling down for the afternoon at the second of our hands-on workshops: a great opportunity to ask your tutor any burning questions, and hone your techniques.

All meals included

Hotel: Busta House Hotel, Shetland

A leisurely breakfast sets us up nicely for the last full day of the trip, as we spend the rest of our morning engaged in a final knitting workshop with a local tutor. After lunch, we check out of the hotel and head for visit to Scalloway, the original capital of Shetland. The castle built by Earl Patrick Stewart (not a man you would want to have crossed) still dominates the skyline. More recently Scalloway was the secret base for the heroes of the Norwegian Resistance and the wartime exploits of the ‘Shetland Bus’ form a courageous memoir.

We continue to Lerwick, where the remainder of the afternoon is free, our last chance to pick up some Shetland yarn and souvenirs, or perhaps simply take in the sights of the town.

This evening we board our return ferry to Aberdeen, with dinner served in the ship’s own restaurant, a chance to reflect on the sights we have seen and the knitting skills we have learned.

All meals included

We dock at Aberdeen this morning, and after breakfast on board we join our coach and return to our original pick-up points.

Meals include: Breakfast

22 September 2019: Additional Info

22 September 2019: Accommodation

Overlooking the shore of Busta Voe, on mainland Shetland, Busta House is a lovely old building with en suite bedrooms, large garden and superb local food.

Between the village of Brae and the island of Muckle Roe, Busta House is close to the geographical centre of Shetland - a good base for exploring the islands.

Try the fresh local food on offer. There is a choice of wine and some 160 malt whiskies. Enjoy free Wi-Fi in all public areas and a few of the bedrooms. All other bedrooms have modem connections and there is a computer at reception for you to use if you need.

Built in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, there is no lift at Busta House, so expect steps.

22 September 2019: Enquiries

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