In the next of our Meet the Maker features, looking at contemporary Shetland craft makers showcased in our current ShetlandMade exhibition, we talk to Joan Fraser, of Fraser Knitwear, about her work.

What is your background?

I grew up in Shetland - in Walls, Sandwick then Gulberwick - and went to the Anderson High School. I studied fine art at Gray's School of Art, then Research in Education at Aberdeen University, and worked in e-learning design before returning to Shetland and setting up my small textile design business in 2012.

Who or what do you draw inspiration from?

Fair Isle pattern, its infinite variety and the way it grows and develops with each generation - always it is absorbing new influences yet retains a distinctive character. I like to explore the routes patterns have taken to become part of the store, and also to think about how current work in Shetland is contributing to it.

Do you have a favourite piece to make?

I enjoy the transformation in the Shetland wool after washing my shawls. They are lightweight, knitted in 1-ply but double-sided, and I like the slight meshing that happens during the washing and drying process, the way the fine fibres clasp, trapping air inside. Particularly I like the Yell Sound Blue colour - this Jamiesons of Shetland blend of blues, greens and yellows seems to capture light itself.

In my work I enjoy using a combination of my own and traditional motifs; I like to use a limited palette to emphasise the formality of the patterns.

What are your most popular pieces?

My Shetland Voyage wrap in Shetland wool has a deep border inspired by an old fisherman's kep pattern, with my wave pattern in the centre panel, and this has been selling well both in Shetland and around the world.

Art aside, what do you like to do in your spare time?

My original specialism was in printmaking so I like to work on monoprints and collagraphs when I can, and go about with ink-ingrained fingernails half the time. I like growing herbs and vegetables and finding various ways to cook with them. I'm growing French sorrel this year, for a soorik sauce; also trying Good King Henry, a perennial wild spinach-like plant. Also walking, exploring Shetland, its geology and plant life, and writing prose and poetry.

If you could own another artist’s work, who would you choose? Why?

I have a beautiful painting by Kristi Tait, it is called September Sky and it gives me great joy. I find myself looking at it in random moments, enjoying the power of the saturated colour, immersed in the composition, my mind 'de-clunked' for a little while at least.

Related Posts

VACMA Spotlight – Julie Willmore
September 20th 2023, by Tessa Huntley
Find out morearrow-right
Bonhoga to Close Temporarily for Refurbishment
September 12th 2023, by Tara Thomson
Find out morearrow-right
Second Summer Showcase of 2023 Opens at Bonhoga
June 21st 2023, by Tara Thomson
Find out morearrow-right