The lovely Finley is very proud of his Fair Isle pattern tummy – very fitting for a bear made from pure Shetland wool!
As you may know traditional Fair Isle knitting originated on the remote Island of Fair Isle, a tiny island in the ocean midway between Orkney and the Shetland Islands to the north of Scotland. The traditional knitwear of Fair Isle and it’s intricate skill have been practised continuously on this small Island for generations. The traditional method of hand knitting Fair Isle “in the round” using double pointed needles – known locally as “wires” – along with a special padded knitting belt, continues to this day.
Traditionally, brightly coloured garments were knitted using hand spun yarns dyed using a variety of native plants. The Island women also made use of the wide range of natural wool colours which occur amongst the fine fleeced Shetland sheep, ranging from Shetland black, shaela (dark grey), sholmit (pale grey), moorit (brown), mooskit (dark fawn), eesit (pale fawn) to unbleached white. A small amount of hand spinning and natural dyeing continues on the Island to this day.
Although nowadays, most Islanders continue to shear their Fair Isle sheep with hand shears – the majority of the fleeces are sent to the spinning mill on the Shetland mainland, where they are now commercially spun and dyed. The full range of natural and traditionally coloured commercial yarns are then used by the current knitters on Fair Isle along with a selection of contemporary colours.
For Finley, I have hand knitted him from pure Shetland wool, using only the natural colours of the sheep, and I have given him hand made glass eyes and the cutest expression! He is a one-of-a-kind bear.