In May of 2014 Denise and I took a trip to the Shetland Islands of Scotland. Denise, as she is wont to do, saw potential for patterns everywhere. In the year and a half that followed she designed five patterns that were inspired by Shetland. I returned to Shetland in the fall of 2015 to photograph these new designs and to spend time with life-long Shetlanders, take photographs, and hear their stories.
Ultima Thule – Patterns Inspired by the Shetland Islands is the result of our work. Each pattern has its own chapter which is introduced by a photograph from the Shetland Museum’s archives. I’ve written brief essays and taken photographs of Shetland life around the themes that Denise worked with for her patterns. For example, the Shetland term for a backyard garden is Kailyard (or “Kale Yard”). I tell of my encounter with Barbara Fraser, a lifelong Shetlander who grows kale that is the talk of the island. Denise’s spectacular Kailyard Pi Shawl follows, featuring rock wall, bumblebee, wandering vine, and leaf motifs.Denise’s other patterns include the airy Sky and Sea Shawl featuring traditional Shetland stitches, the elegant Voe Cowl, the hearty Lerwick Harbour Hap Shawl, and the spectacular Kishie Shawl. I introduce a traditional boat builder, visit a daily fish auction during a record year, and encounter a wonderful kayak guide who shares Shetland history and tales of flora and fauna while he keeps kayakers right side up off the rocky Shetland coast. And Barbara Fraser teaches me how to dig peat.
The lovely Ella Gordon and Amy Gair served as our models on Shetland, and I could not have done my work there without the assistance and advice of our shawl wrangler Donna Smith. Denise was supported by a strong Ultima Thule test knit team that included Maria Hart, Laurie Remenyi, and Jessica Jones.
Ultima Thule – Patterns Inspired by the Shetland Islands is now available on our website. All purchases of the print version will receive a code for a Ravelry download as well.
The ebook-only option is available through Ravelry, and is a good option for people outside the United States.