My name is Mary Macgregor. I moved to Shetland in 2010 to start a small business in textiles. I create sustainable contemporary heritage Fair Isle textiles. I am the director of BAKKA Ltd.
My aim is to promote and help preserve Shetland's famous Fair Isle textile heritage by bringing it firmly into the 21st Century. All my designs are inspired from old garments in the collections of the Museums of Shetland and Edinburgh, and I have replicated the natural colours of the past. But I do not use the traditional Shetland wool, opting instead for the world leader in 100% superfine merino, a luxurious silky soft, warm and affordable yarn which is both sustainable and traceable.
My work is true contemporary craft: where traditional heritage meets modern functionality.
Many people around the world associate the old natural colours with "Fair Isle" knitwear; that is what they expect to see in a Fair Isle garment. The colours predate synthetic dyes: white and Shetland black (very dark brown) are natural colours of Shetland sheep, yellow was obtained from onion skins or some local plants, red from the madder plant, and slightly later, blue was imported indigo or woad. The photo shows skeins of Shetland wool, handspun and naturally dyed by Elizabeth Johnston (www.shetlandhandspun.com). The very oldest garments have no blue.
All the designing and finishing is done on my croft Bakka, Shetland. The stunning location of Bakka, with its remote peacefulness, is vital to my creativity. There are three branches to the business; the main collections which are produced in 100% superfine merino, hand-knitted hats and lace shawls in Shetland wool, and knitting patterns for traditional Fair Isle keps. The shop also sells my book 'Fair Isle Knitting Patterns: Reproducing the Known Work of Robert Williamson'.
The styles of the principal collections are knitted on an industrial machine and sent to Bakka to be finished. The hand-knits are all knitted locally in Shetland by highly skilled Shetland women.