Authentic or not? 'Shetland' Knitting Patterns 1840-1880

Friday, September 23rd 2016 - Sunday, October 9th 2016

This exhibition was first developed for display earlier in 2016. It has been recreated for display during Shetland Wool Week.

Knitting pattern books were first published in Britain in the 1840s. The patterns appealed to middle class ladies with leisure time, for whom knitting was a growing hobby. At the same time, Shetland lace dress accessories were becoming fashionable. English and Scottish authors included instructions for ‘Shetland’ patterns, but how authentically Shetland were they? The books contain few images so patterns must be knit to understand their design.

This exhibition includes samples made by knitters across the world, following our appeal for help from knitters at the University of Glasgow. Patterns with reference to ‘Shetland’ published between 1840 and 1880 were selected. Some of the patterns are similar to designs commonly used in lace knitting in Shetland.

The exhibition was accompanied by a Study Day looking at authenticity in culturally based knitting.

Full details of the research and exhibition panels can be found in our research projects pages - click here for Authenticity in 'Shetland' Lace Knitting.