I was invited to contribute because I have a book out this month from Avon/HarperCollins. No, it’s not a mystery, but it has mysterious elements in a story from the main character’s childhood, told by her mother, of a beautiful woman named Gillian who appears briefly in a small village in 1920s Shetland, causes a ruckus and disappears soon after. Did she really exist? Maybe, maybe not, but her influence is very real for a group of modern-day women in a knitting group in Comfort, North Carolina, called Purls Before Wine, who learn to knit lace the way it was done on the Shetland Islands back when Gillian supposedly lived.
Maybe you’ve heard of the traditional Shetland wedding shawl, so lacy and delicate it could be drawn through a wedding ring? The talent of these turn-of-the-century (you know, the real century, not this silly baby new one) women was astounding, especially given the difficult lives they led, two hundred miles from Norway and two hundred miles from the Scottish mainland, on treeless islands at the mercy of storms and the sea.
Now I love knitting, so I tried to knit a fairly simple lace scarf. I got about an inch into it before I realized I was not a patient enough person. And I don’t have a husband or son at sea every day risking his life fishing from a tiny sailboat, nor sheep and chickens and a vegetable garden to tend to, a peat fire to keep going, meat and fish to dry and store, baking and laundry and oh my goodness. Nor do I spin my own yarn from wool plucked by hand. Such tough lives and they created such astounding beauty out of their own traditions and imaginations.
Most of the book takes place in modern-day North Carolina, but the Shetland research really fascinated me. So when it came to sharing a recipe with you all, I thought why not a traditional Shetland recipe? Like krappin: fish heads stuffed with a mixture of fish liver and oatmeal!
Your mouth is watering, isn’t it. I know! Mine too! Fish liverilicious!
I hope you won’t be too disappointed, but in the end I decided on a scone recipe I tried recently which is easy and really good. It’s from Epicurious, so I need to honor their copyright policy and give a link rather than recopy the recipe, but I hope you will understand. The scones are really worth trying. Cranberry Tangerine Scones
Enjoy and thanks so much for having me!
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Thanks so much for joining us, Isabel.
This is such a treat for me because not only
am I a huge fan of your work, but I'm a
I just got my copy of Knit in Comfort and
was captivated by the very first page.