Socking the Laird, and other knitting tales


I have been doing some vague research into my family history for a little art project I am working on and I found this fabulous photo In the Shetland Museum Archives of some folks in the Shetland Islands who may or may not be relatives of mine. They are Robertsons to be sure and while they look like a little… hmmm… how can I put it… characterful?… it is possible that I can even see some vague family resemblences… prominant ears, the worried brow on the gentleman second from the right and so on. But you know, I didn’t realise I came from such tough looking stock. I do know that my relatives had to leave Shetland (and hence eventually travel to Australia) because, as my dad puts it, one of them “socked the Laird, and if you sock the laird, you don’t hang around.” Socking the Laird involves putting rocks in a sock and knocking the lord of the land over the head. Tough folk.
I think my mob left the Shetland Islands at least a decade before this photo was taken so perhaps they are more like distant cousins.

The other thing I am interested in about my Shetland Island heritage is knitting. Doing a quick search for knitting in the archives brings up 148 items. One of my favourites is this group knitting shot:

An early Stitch ‘n’ Bitch. I am particularly keen on the outfit of the woman middle right – cute! But what is that large rocky structure in the background? A roof? A cairn?

And knitting was something you obviously did in all sorts of places at all sorts of times.

And another example:

while on the way to tend to the potatoes, you stop for a bit of a natter with a friend who is burning kelp and, as you lean on your shovel, right there is the opportunity to keep knitting that sock (woman at back on right). Look at that beautiful sock blowing in the wind.

And now is obviously the time to get Amelia and Lily involved in some of their cultural heritage:

(And that seems to be the second jumper she knitted!)

I could keep going… such great photos.

WordPress 2.5’s new photo uploading feature clearly makes it far too easy to add a lot of photos.