Royal commission for Fraser Knitwear

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Shetland wool travel rug

This was an interesting job for several reasons – and a very special one! I’ve worked with Joan Fraser of Fraser Knitwear on numerous occasions but she got in touch recently to capture some images of a piece I hadn’t seen before. When I received a call from Shetland Islands Council the following week asking me to photograph a ‘VIP’, the story of the image above began to fall into place.

On Friday 30th July 2021, HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay visited Shetland, and part of his schedule was the official opening of the Lerwick Fishmarket. Joan Fraser received a commission from Lerwick Port Authority for a Shetland wool travel rug to be presented to His Royal Highness during the opening. The commissioned rug was a one-off piece featuring wide Fair Isle pattern panels at the centre and ends, complemented by a wave pattern; the soft blended greys chosen to compliment the Balmoral tartan.

The design for this blanket, made of pure Shetland wool spun by Jamieson’s of Shetland, is inspired by the kep that was once worn by Shetland haaf (deep sea) fishermen and as such, the location for this shoot was, of course, the harbour. It was very satisfying to match the grey sea tones to the rug’s wave pattern, and we used the flash of red provided by one of many local fishing boats in the background, to complement the red in this special item.

The travel rug, knitted at the Shetland College Textile Facilitation Unit was accompanied by a booklet providing information about the history of the keps, and their design and use, with the photograph above featuring in the publication, with historical information provided by Dr Carol Christiansen from Shetland Museum and Archives, formatted and printed by Art Machine.

A truly local, Shetland effort went in to making this piece and its associated information – thanks to Joan for including me in this special story, and let’s hope the item is treasured in its new home! I was lucky enough to photograph the prince in two other locations that day, and will share some more images from the day on my blog soon.

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