Shetland Handspun: Meet Elizabeth Johnston

When I visited Shetland several years ago (which you can read about here), I met one of its most famous handspinners: Elizabeth Johnston. Her deep textile knowledge comes from an unbroken lineage of Shetland makers. While it is perfect bliss to learn from Elizabeth in her native Shetland, there is good news—she is coming to Interweave Yarn Fest 2018!

Shetland handspun

Elizabeth and Debbie Squires discuss knitting motifs during a workshop in Pendleton, Indiana.

Elizabeth has been teaching, traveling, and sharing her approach to textile work for years. She leads workshops in natural dyeing, spinning, and knitting at the John C. Campbell Folk School and works her way across the United States teaching with fellow fiber artist Martha Owen.

At Interweave Yarn Fest 2018, Elizabeth will offer classes on knitting, finishing, and blocking Shetland-style; spinning yarn for Shetland handspun lace; and blending colors in Fair Isle knitting. She will also give the keynote address for the event on Friday evening, sharing stories of growing up as an artisan in one of the world’s most amazing fiber communities.

Shetland handspun

A swatch I knitted in a workshop with Elizabeth and Martha features Shetland motifs and my own handspun dyed with onionskins.

Several new projects have put Elizabeth Johnston in high demand as a speaker and instructor. 50 Tips from Shetland Knitters is a new video featuring Elizabeth and the fabulous Hazel Tindall that has been the talk of traditional knitting circles.

Last year, Elizabeth co-authored an important book: The Warp-Weighted Loom I Oppstadveven I Kljásteinavefstaður. This beautiful book has been years in the making and covers traditional weaving techniques from Shetland, Norway, and Iceland.

Shetland handspun

Elizabeth Johnston demonstrates with a knitting belt in her studio in Shetland.

I’ll be teaching, too: spinning, of course, plus a few other exciting subjects. Join us at Interweave Yarn Fest!

Featured Image: Elizabeth Johnston introduces spinners to the sheep near her home in Shetland. Photos by Kate Larson.

Explore Shetland Lace!


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