Friday, September 2, 2011

The Gunnister Man

Sometime in the late 17th or early 18th century, a traveller died near Gunnister in the Shetland Islands, Scotland. In 1951 his body and all his possessions were discovered preserved in a peat bog there and among these articles were several finely knitted items including gloves and a drawstring purse. These are the earliest examples of knitting from Shetland and are made from homespun wool in natural colours with a red wool dyed from a plant material used for the pattern. All the articles are now preserved in the Shetland Museum. Scroll down to see a photo of the original purse here:

I recently found my version of the Gunnister Man's purse that I made some time ago so here are some photos to show you. The wool is my own homespun in natural colours and the red earth colour was dyed using eucalyptus leaves. The purse was found with several coins but I made some tokens and beads from Fimo instead. As a link from Scotland to Australia (my Scottish ancestors arrived here in 1853) I decided to add some emu feathers and a kookaburra feather. I also spun some of my hair with the merino fleece from my family's sheep as a personal touch.


Lynne said...

That's lovely, Marion. Thanks, too, for the interesting snippet of knitting history; I have heard it before but had forgotten all about it.

I love the way green eucalyptus leaves make red dye!

Maria said...

I love the historical connection with knitting. You have created a lovely bag and it is very similiar to the original. Did not know that eucalyptus would dye red - something new for me to learn :-)