Shetland Knitting with Alison Crowther-Smith

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Traditional Fair Isle – Modern Design: Your Shetland Knitting Adventure

Visit Shetland with Alison Crowther-Smith and experience the magic and history of the Island, whilst learning to knit traditional Fair Isle.

You will have the opportunity to learn how Alison and her teaching partner, Kathryn Morgan, teach and knit Fair Isle through daily workshop sessions which will focus on:

  • Two new Fairisle accessories designed by Alison especially for this ECT tour: a throw/lap-blanket and a neck cowl
  • How to read and knit the charts
  • Learn how to knit Fairisle with one or two-handed colour stranding
  • Perfect, even and flat stranding or floats; catching yarns to carry over longer stitch sequences
  • How to maintain even tension
  • How to fearlessly secure and then steek (cut) your work (optional, this will be taught for the throw design. The cowl will not be steeked)
  • How to neatly and safely complete the steeked knitting for a perfect finish
  • How to finish the item – the after-knitting process

As well as knitting you'll have the chance to explore the Island's historic textile past, with access to places such as the Shetland Museum and Archives, and Shetland Textile Museum. Step into the past to experience Shetland's beauty and mystery at pre-historic site Jarlshof, and see how inhabitants lived in the Croft Houses in days gone by.

When you sign up for this tour, Alison will up-date you regularly with a special Shetland Tour Newsletter, giving you news on the designs as they emerge from the Design Room. You will also be kept fully up-to-date on what to bring with you in order to get the most from your Shetland Adventure.

If you have any knitting content related enquiries, you can contact Alison now:

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Alison is a very experienced knitting designer and teacher. Having worked for Rowan Yarns as a Design Consultant, she has been teaching knitting workshops for 13 years. Her 4 books have been enjoyed by knitters from all over the UK and beyond and have focussed on her main interest: unique hand knitted accessories.

Fairisle is Alison’s favourite sort of knitting. Usually, she knits this in the round and the designs for Shetland will be knitted in the round too. Her approach is traditional – perfect, flat and even Fairisle stranding and tension, with only ever 2 colours in a row or round. But the designs are modern and innovative.

The tour will also include Alison’s approach to Fairisle design. This is not traditional though she does sometimes use traditional motifs. And Alison and Kathryn will be happy to help you to introduce your own design ideas into Fairisle projects.

Alison says: ‘I have always wanted to lead a Fairisle adventure – and what better place than Shetland?  I think the location will inspire us all and I can promise that you will have great fun with us, as well as learning all about my new designs, my design approach and how to perfect your own Fairisle.’

Day 1 - Friday 17th July 2018

Arrive into Sumburgh Airport 

Transfer to to your hotel and check in.

Welcome talk and drinks with Alison and Kathryn

3 course group dinner in the hotel

After-dinner "Ice-Breaker" Knitting Quiz hosted by Alison

Day 2 - Saturday 28th July 2018

Talk on the History of Knitting by Alison at the hotel

Visit the Shetland Textile Museum, opening specially for our group

Lunch in Lerwick (not included)

Return to hotel

Knitting workshop

3 course dinner in the hotel

Day 3 - Sunday 29th July 2018

Visit the Shetland Croft House Museum

Visit Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement

Lunch at the Sumburgh Hotel

Return to hotel

Knitting workshop

3 course dinner in the hotel

Day 4 - Monday 30th July 2018

Visit Jamieson and Smith Wool Brokers for a guided tour

Visit Jamieson's Knitwear for shopping

Lunch at Shetland Museum & Archives

Visit Shetland Museum and Archives for a guided tour of the textile collection

Return to hotel

Knitting workshop

3 course dinner in the hotel

Day 5 - Tuesday 31st July 2018

Conclusion workshop in the hotel

Depending on flight times - Free time in Lerwick

Depart to Sumburgh airport

Tour ends

Shetland’s only real town, Lerwick was founded as an unofficial marketplace to service 17th century Dutch herring fleets. Today, having survived two fires (one in the 17th century set by the residents of Scalloway, then the capital of Shetland, who disapproved of the immoral and drunken activities of Lerwick’s fishermen and sailors; and another lit by the French fleet in 1702), the town is a bustling and cosmopolitan seaport and the old waterfront is thronged with pleasure boats, visiting yachts, historic craft and working fishing boats.

Lerwick Images


Lerwick is the perfect place to while away an hour or two. Walk down the waterfront with its traditional 18th century sandstone buildings, follow the shoreline along the narrow main street and then turn up into the charming lanes, designed to provide shelter from the prevailing south westerly gales. Pick up some hand spun knitwear at Spider’s Web, stop for a locally sourced lunch at Hay’s Dock overlooking the harbour, then browse for books about the islands in the Shetland Times Bookshop.


This 3* hotel (there aren’t any 4 or 5* hotels on the island) is conveniently located close to the main attractions of Lerwick. The comfortable, spacious bedrooms all have free Wi-Fi and the Waterfront Bar & Grill serves delicious lunches and evening meals.

Shetland Hotel


Founded by the Smith family in the 1930s, Jamieson & Smith Shetland Wool Brokers buy Shetland wool from over 700 of the region’s crofters and farmers and transform it into high-quality products including yarns, knitwear, blankets and carpets. 80% of the wool produced in Shetland is bought by the company, making it a vital part of the contemporary crofting industry. All of Jamieson & Smith's products carry the 3 Sheep Logo, which signals that the product is manufactured from 100% Real Shetland wool from sheep that are born and bred on the islands.

Jamieson & Smith image


Located in a little cluster of buildings that include wool sheds, a renovated church (now the yarn store) and a 1920s police station complete with two cells, Jamieson & Smith is dedicated to ensuring the future of Shetland wool. We have arranged a guided tour of this fascinating site overlooking Lerwick Harbour, so you can see how tradition and innovation are used together to create contemporary products. After the tour you will have the chance to visit the showroom where you can buy a range of authentic Shetland wool products.


This award winning Museum and Archives is a multifunctional visitor attraction set in the heart of Lerwick. Holding collections from both the Shetland Museum and the Shetland Archives, it tells the fascinating story of Shetland’s heritage and culture.

Museum & Archives


The textile collection will be of particular interest to guests on this tour. Deemed a Recognised Collection of National Significance in Scotland, it contains a fascinating Shetland Collection encompassing changes in style from the early 19th century through the 20th century, with a focus on the cottage industry of hand-making fabrics and garments. Look out for plain knitted stockings, caps, and haps (thick shawls), sample books spanning a century of tweed manufacture and the extraordinarily intricate fine lace shawls and stoles that made Shetland’s hand spinners and knitters so famous. There are lots of traditional textile tools on display too, including spinning wheels, hand-cards and woolcombs, knitting sheaths and belts, garments boards for finishing, and looms, many of which were hand-made in the islands. 

This community museum is dedicated to the Shetland’s textile heritage. Housed at the Böd of Gremista, a restored fishing station that was the birthplace of Arthur Anderson, a champion of Shetland textiles who gave Queen Victoria some Shetland fine lace stockings, the collection contains over 500 textile items, ranging from rare Taatit rugs to plain knitted underwear and fine lace.

Textile Museum


We have arranged special access to view this unique collection which will give a real insight into the important textile history of Shetland and the ancient breed of sheep it was founded on.

The Croft House Museum in Dunrossness is a mid-19th century Shetland croft, which was a family home until the late 1960s. Presented as it would have looked in the 1870s, it offers an authentic taste of croft life; smell the peat fire, discover the box beds at the ‘Ben end’ and see if you can set a traditional Shetland mouse trap. The knowledgeable custodians will tell you everything you need to know about how crofting families made a living from the land and sea.

Croft House


The Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse settlements in Shetland are one of the most important and inspirational archaeological sites in Scotland. Located at Sumburgh Head near the southern tip of mainland Shetland, this extraordinary site has a complex of ancient settlements which cover more than 4,000 years of human history. . The 3-acre site contains Neolithic houses, a Bronze Age village, an Iron Age settlement and broch (prehistoric circular stone tower), a Viking village, a medieval farm, and a 16th-century laird's hall.



From Edinburgh:

27/07/2018: 10:40 - 12:10 | Edinburgh - Sumburgh | LM0353 Logan Air

31/07/2018: Sumburgh - Edinburgh | 14:45 - 16:10 | LM0354 Logan Air


Logan Air

About Logan Air:

Logan Air is a Scottish regional airline serving 41 destinations across the UK, the Republic of Ireland and Norway.

Logan Air are the longest established airline in the UK and the largest to be owned and based in Scotland.

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2018 Price

Land-Only Price (without flights): £1399.00*

Tour with flights from Edinburgh: £1,595.00*

Single Supplement: £160.00


£300.00 per person


The tour price is costed per person, based on two sharing a double or twin room.

The prices is subject to change until a deposit payment has been made.


Tour Includes

  • Alison Crowther-Smith and Kathryn Morgan as hosts throughout
  • Talks, demonstrations and tutorials by Alison Crowther-Smith and Kathryn Morgan
  • Reserved workshop room for the duration of the tour
  • An after dinner 'ice-breaker' knitting quiz
  • Half board accommodation at the Shetland Hotel in Lerwick
  • Entrances to all sites and museums
  • Special access to the Shetland Textile Museum
  • Special tour of Jamieson & Smith Wool Brokers
  • Guided tour of the textile collection at the Shetland Museum & Archives
  • All breakfasts, lunches (except on day 2) and dinners
  • An ECT Tour Manager
  • Coach travel on the Island