Making Futures 2021

Resilience Through Leadership and Organisational Form

The seventh edition of our Making Futures biennial international research conference will be held on 16th September 2021.

Dr Carol Christiansen

Curator and Community Museums Officer at Shetland Museum and Archives|

Re-visioning: Shetland Textile Making in the Post Oil-Boom Era

In the last few decades, there has been a gradual shift in textile making in Shetland, as children of the oil boom generation of the 1970s balance the work ethos of the oil era with opportunities for professional development centred on home and croft. In doing so, a different model of professional maker than that of their parents and grandparents seems to be emerging. Textile makers tend to manage their own businesses as designers, makers, production managers, promoters and exporters of their products, but often from their home.

Hand-making as a mark of indigenous design, technique and quality remains an important factor in all types of production. So too is the reliance on using wool from the Shetland breed for weaving and knitting, as well as a growing trend in creating own-brand yarns from local flocks. These changes have been supported and strengthened by the ability to market designs and products online, an increase in textile tourism, and the success of Shetland Wool Week. Intergenerational teaching and learning through Shetland Peerie Makkers have meant a new generation of young people are introduced not only to the Shetland way of knitting and design but to this new style of business practice.


Carol Christiansen has been Curator and Community Museums Officer at Shetland Museum and Archives since 2006. She received her doctorate in Archaeology with a specialism in textiles from the University of Manchester in 2003. Her research on Shetlandic, Scottish, and Nordic archaeological and historical textiles has been published widely. She is the author of Taatit Rugs: the Pile Bedcovers of Shetland (2015) and the forthcoming Shetland Fine Lace Knitting: patterns from the Museum’s collection.