Which craft workshops in the Shetland Islands offer lessons in traditional knitting?

11 June 2024

Knitting is more than just a pastime. It's an art form, a time-honored tradition, and a way of life for many. And nowhere is this more evident than in the Shetland Islands. Located in the far north of Scotland, these islands are renowned worldwide for their wool, yarn, and knitting classes. But, with so many workshops to choose from, it can be challenging to determine which ones offer the best knitting courses. Thus, we'll explore some of the top knitting workshops in the Shetland Islands that offer lessons in traditional Shetland lace knitting.

Shetland Museum and Archives Knitting Classes

The Shetland Museum and Archives is not only a treasure trove of local history but also a hub for knitting enthusiasts. They offer a variety of knitting classes geared towards both beginners and intermediate knitters.

These classes revolve around the intricacies of Shetland lace knitting, a timeless tradition on the islands. Participants will learn to knit using traditional Shetland wool, creating intricate lace patterns unique to the region. The classes are typically held in the museum's beautiful and inspirational Textile Towerhouse, which houses an extensive collection of knitted items.

Aside from knitting, participants can take a trip into the past and explore the various exhibits in the museum. The experience would be incomplete without a visit to the museum's gift shop, where you'll find a variety of Shetland wool and yarn, as well as knitted items that will serve as a source of inspiration for your future knitting projects.

Shetland Wool Week

Shetland Wool Week is an annual event that celebrates the rich wool and knitting heritage of the Shetland Islands. During this week-long fair, several classes, workshops, and demonstrations centering around Shetland wool and knitting are conducted.

You'll have the opportunity to learn from experienced knitters and designers during this week. The classes cover various topics, including learning to knit with Shetland wool, understanding Shetland lace patterns, and getting hands-on experience in creating traditional Shetland garments. It's a week of knitting immersion you won't want to miss.

Additionally, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy during Shetland Wool Week. You can take a trip to a local wool mill, visit the Shetland Textile Museum, or even join in the fun and excitement of a yarn crawl.

Jamieson and Smith

Jamieson and Smith is a popular stop for knitting enthusiasts visiting the Shetland Islands. Known for their high-quality Shetland wool, they also offer knitting classes and workshops throughout the year.

These classes focus on teaching students the techniques needed to knit with their unique wool. You'll learn how to handle the yarn, understand the various knitting patterns, and even create your own Shetland-inspired piece. The seasoned knitters at Jamieson and Smith are always on hand to provide guidance and share their knowledge, making each class a rewarding experience.

Moreover, a visit to Jamieson and Smith is incomplete without a tour of their wool store, where you can find a wide range of Shetland wool in various shades and textures, perfect for your next knitting project.

Shetland Lace Knitting Retreat

The Shetland Lace Knitting Retreat is a multi-day event that combines knitting classes with the beauty and tranquility of the Shetland Islands. During the retreat, you'll be immersed in Shetland lace knitting, learning the techniques, patterns, and history of this traditional craft.

Each day of the retreat is filled with knitting, with time set aside for exploring the beautiful Shetland scenery. The retreat includes a visit to a local wool mill, a trip to the Shetland Textile Museum, and even a traditional Shetland dinner. It's a unique opportunity to combine your love of knitting with the chance to explore the Shetland Islands.

All in all, the Shetland Islands offer an array of wonderful knitting workshops for all levels. Whether you're a novice or an experienced knitter, there's something to learn at every workshop. So, don't hesitate to take the trip and immerse yourself in the world of Shetland knitting, you won't regret it.

Fair Isle Knitting Workshops at The Shetland College UHI

The Shetland College UHI, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, offers workshops in the highly sought after technique of Fair Isle knitting. This traditional Shetland Islands knitting style is known for its intricate stranded colourwork. Taking part in these workshops will not only enhance your knitting skills but also give you an insight into the historical and cultural significance of this craft.

The Fair Isle knitting workshops cater to both beginners and experienced knitters. Participants get a chance to learn and practice the traditional two-handed technique of Fair Isle knitting. In addition, the workshops also delve into the understanding of different colour combinations and pattern construction, which form an integral part of the Fair Isle knitting design process.

Supervised by skilled tutors like Donna Smith, a renowned Fair Isle knitter, these workshops are structured to be interactive and hands-on. Besides, the participants get an opportunity to interact with local knitters and gain insights into their creative process.

The Shetland College UHI is conveniently located in Lerwick, the main port of the Shetland Islands, and can be easily reached by the NorthLink ferry. The college also houses a small museum that showcases traditional Shetland crafts, including some exquisite specimens of Fair Isle knitted garments.

Shetland Jewellery's Knitting and Design Workshops

Shetland Jewellery, a leading designer and manufacturer of handcrafted jewellery in the Shetland Islands, offers exciting workshops where participants can explore the relationship between traditional Shetland knitting patterns and jewellery design.

In these workshops, you will be introduced to the concept of transforming traditional Shetland lace patterns into silver wire knitting. This innovative idea not only revives and preserves the traditional Shetland crafts but also paves the way for new creative possibilities.

The workshops at Shetland Jewellery are led by skilled craftsmen who guide the participants through the entire process; from knitting with silver wire to creating a finished piece of jewellery. It's a unique opportunity to learn a different form of craft that blends traditional knitting techniques with contemporary jewellery making.

Additionally, during these workshops, you get a chance to visit the Shetland Jewellery's workshop and observe the design and manufacturing process of their jewellery. Located in the picturesque location of Ninian Isle, Shetland Jewellery also offers a stunning view of the surrounding landscapes.


From traditional Shetland lace knitting and Fair Isle knitting to creative wool adventures like silver wire knitting, the Shetland Islands are a paradise for knitting enthusiasts. Taking part in these workshops provides an enriching experience of learning and practicing the centuries-old knitting techniques under the guidance of experienced tutors.

If you are looking to improve your knitting skills, understand the intricacies of Shetland wool, or simply wish to experience the joy of knitting in the serene and inspiring surroundings of the Shetland Islands, these workshops offer it all. And while you are there, don't forget to visit the Shetland Museum and Archives, the Shetland Textile Museum, and take a stroll in the wool stores of Jamieson and Smith.

Whether you are a novice knitter looking to learn, an experienced knitter seeking new challenges, or a traveller intrigued by the rich knitting heritage of the Shetland Islands, the knitting workshops in the Shetland Islands are sure to leave you inspired and enriched. So pack your knitting needles, set sail onboard the NorthLink ferry, and embark on an unforgettable Shetland knitting journey.

Copyright 2024. All Right Reserved