I was born and brought up in Shetland where I currently live and work. When I finished school, I went to Aberdeen University on the mainland of Scotland to studying marine biology and after I graduated, I came back home and built a house on the family croft on the island of Burra. I worked for a few years in fisheries research and teaching but I had always yearned to do something creative so in 2000 I enrolled in a NC course in Art and Design at the Shetland College in Lerwick.
At the end of that year I set up my business but ironically decided to stay clear of knitting. Other people were setting up their business selling knitted items and I wanted to do something different and knitting seemed too traditional and maybe even too obvious! At that time, I never even considered that designing knitting patterns could even be an option. I had become interested in felting as a way of using the fleeces from our family’s flock of sheep and went on to develop and produce a range of hand felted products and accessories that I sold to shops and online.
I learned to knit at a young age but set it aside for several years until I picked it up again around 9 years ago after my son was born. I grew up being surrounded by knitters; both my Grandmothers and Aunts all knitted garments and sold them to make a bit of extra money, and my Mum designed and knitted and sewed much of her own wardrobe. I now wish I had paid more attention to what they were doing! I feel very fortunate to have grown up in Shetland with its rich textile heritage and as many patterns weren’t written down I feel it’s very important to help to retain these skills and techniques.
In 2015 I was invited to be the patron of Shetland Wool Week in 2015, a fantastic event held in Shetland each year in autumn to celebrate Shetland wool and the crafts associated with it. I designed the Baa-ble hat to help promote the event and I never imagined how many people would go onto knit it! That was my first ever written knitting pattern which sparked off my journey into knitwear design and pattern writing.
In 2017 I launched my own range of yarn, Langsoond, which is spun for me by the Natural Fibre Company. The wool comes from Shetland sheep from several of my neighbours and friends and includes the fleeces from my family’s flock. Building on the desire to use what I can from the land I live on, I began my journey into natural dyeing over two years ago and enjoy experimenting with dyeing with plants I find locally as well as extracts and other natural materials.
If I am not knitting or dyeing you will find me trying, often unsuccessfully, to grow things in my hilltop garden, in the kitchen or walking around Shetland’s extensive coastline.