New Year – New You?

01janEvery year in January people set resolutions. They plan to eat better, exercise more, get fitter or thinner or stronger.

By February, most people have lost momentum on their resolutions. There are many reasons why this may be the case and many blogs on how to set resolutions and stick to them.

This post is a little different – we are here to ask you to NOT set grand resolutions or plan to completely change your habits. Instead we are going to set out the case for doing something so simple absolutely everyone can do it.

Commit to having a walk.

That’s it.

Physical activity

Physical activity is essential for good health. We are designed to move, yet society has evolved so that overtime we spend a large portion of our days being sedentary. If you are reading this blog, chances are you are either working or studying at university or thinking about doing so in the future. Academic work often involves long periods of sitting – in lecture theatres, in seminars, in libraries or at desks (though this will vary by discipline). Simply by breaking up your day, standing up and moving around a little, and adding in a short walk, you can make a difference to your health.

Being more active can significantly reduce the chance (by up to 60%) of having to live with heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. It promotes mental health and wellbeing, improves mood and sleep quality and reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue. An active break from work or study can help you feel more alert and improve concentration.

Walk1Why walking?

Walking is something almost everyone can do. You don’t need to go to a special location or buy special equipment or the latest running shoes. Evidence shows that walking can provide as many health benefits as running the same distance.

It doesn’t have to be a long walk – research shows that a 15-minute walk immediately after eating was more effective at reducing diabetes risk than a single 45-minute daily walk.

Walking is something that can be done alone or with friends or family. It can be done as a walk for pleasure or as active commuting. It can reduce social isolation, improve health and combat climate change.

This simplicity makes it easy to incorporate into your existing daily routine. And, no matter how much you want to change that routine, it’s in existence because it fits your life and your daily tasks currently. It is far easier to make changes by adding something small and gradually increasing it, than it is to completely overhaul a routine.

The plan

TrainersStep 1 – Think about what you currently do, your daily routines and decide where you can add in some walking.

Step 2 – Set goals that make sense for you, and that you are confident (rating at least 9 on a 10-point scale) you can achieve most days.

Step 3 – Identify some cues to trigger walking towards your goals.

Step 4 – Some people find it motivating to keep a record of when they have met their goals. But most importantly, enjoy your walk(s).

If you are doing this consistently (at least 70-80% of the time) you can repeat this process as many times as you like to add in another walk, or a longer walk, or some other form of exercise.

That’s it.

It may not seem like much, but by taking this simple step, you are well on your way to reaping the benefits of moving more and sitting less.

 

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Ronie Walters, PhD researcher, health literacy and behaviour change in cardiovascular patients

Trish Gorely, Professor, physical activity for health (pictured)

Department of Nursing and Midwifery

University of the Highlands and Islands

 

Images from unsplash.com

 

 

 

A 20 20 music vision | A look head to the exciting music coming from the Highlands and Islands

Fresh from the sounds and cheers for all the winners at this year’s Trad Music Awards, we begin to turn our attention to who is next, and what to watch out for in 2020.

So, who are the acts and artists to check out?    

Recognising musical taste is so varied and individual and rather than limiting our predictions to one single musician, we have enlisted the help of music influencers, experts and artists to reveal their new artists we should discover and to chat about future trends.

BBC Introducing

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Calum Jones

Whilst studying on the BA (Hons) applied music, Calum Jones has been working hard developing a professional performing and recording career.  He was featured on BBC Introducing November 2019 and has this year achieved 300 global radio plays and 40K streams on Spotify played on 73 different countries.  He has been working with Alex Davies who has produced for bands including Scouting for Girls, Sigrid etc.  Calum was a finalist at the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Award Up and Coming artist category with Calum Jones and the Trad ProjectHis festival performances this year included Eden Festival, Belladrum and the Gathering.

Calum is set to have a new single out every month next year (2020) from 10 January until September, when he will release his album.  Mike Curtis (producer for Suzi Quatro’s latest album) will be co-producing along with Calum.

First solo album

At the moment Liam Ross is an unsigned solo artist.  His first album is eagerly anticipated next year.  Having had an early listen, it is packed full of original material.

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Liam Ross Credit: Liam Ross facebook

 

He recently graduated from the University of the Highlands and Islands BA (hons) applied music degree and the MA in music and the environment. His reputation as a dynamic and versatile performer continues to grow. This first release has a wonderful specific connection to place and a unique sound created through Liam’s hard work in developing his fingerpicking style.

 

Crowd pleasing

Lewis McLaughlin and Friends enthralled the audience at Celtic Connections on Campus in 2019 with their assured performance of songs and tunes, clearly working from the tradition but adding their own contemporary edge.

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Lewis McLaughlin and FriendsCredit: http://www.lewismclaughlinmusic.com

I also had the pleasure of playing with Lewis again with his friends at a session at Perthshire Amber and was encouraged by their enthusiasm to embrace session culture. Lewis is a talented multi-instrumentalist and very amiable guy who is no doubt someone to watch out for. Lewis McLaughlin is a former student at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

International touch 

Battle of the Folk Bands 2018 winners Eabhal have quickly gathered the reputation as a high energy act equally at both festivals and theatres.

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Eabhal Credit: http://www.eabhal.com

This emerging Scottish band has released their debut album and has been touring in the UK, USA and China. Selected to represent the British Council and PRS Music Foundation in China they have quickly developed their distinctive sound since their graduation from their applied music degree

 

Radio 1 play

Keir Gibson from Fort William is a young artist that’s really starting to attract interest from the industry.

His artistic growth has been great to watch and he’s really developing his craft, emerging as a strong, coherent and genuinely individualistic voice.

Keir Gibson credit FB page
Keir Gibson Credit: Keir Gibson facebook

 

He has a great team working with him to create the right infrastructure to progress to the next level and I’m excited to see what milestones he goes on to achieve in 2020. Above his musical talent, his work ethic is excellent.  For me he looks set to make a real impact next year.

 

  • Alex Smith, project manager for XpoNorth which returns on Wednesday 24 and Thursday 25 June 2020

Grand grads

We have had so many fantastic bands and songwriters come through our courses over the years, the breadth of musical talent we see on our campuses is exceptional.

Fourth Daughter is the name given to the creative output of BA (Hons) popular music graduate, Emily Atkinson, whose single ‘Time to Spare’ came out earlier this year and has been all over BBC Music Introducing since.

Emily’s work combines brilliant songwriting, exceptional vocal delivery and highly polished synth-driven pop production. Her music is getting attention as far afield as Japan, where her tracks are being used on hit TV shows. Nearer to home, Scotland on Sunday hailed Fourth Daughter as “an accomplished slice of electropop”.

Domiciles are a very different affair, showcasing some fantastic anti-pop that has echoes of Scottish post-rock legends, Mogwai. Their record, ‘This is Not a Zen Garden’, came out in August and was produced by the university’s sound engineering lecturer, Magnus Collie. The band, which features former popular music and sound engineering students, Jamie Wilde, Nick Young, Rory Cowieson and Sean Harkins, recently signed a deal with LNFG Records and have been championed by the likes of BBC 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq and The Skinny. Louder than War also named their first LP one of the top 50 albums of 2019.

Sounds from the University of the Highlands and Islands

The university’s music scene is varied and is thriving across the Highland and Islands and beyond, with the artists highlighted here only the tip of the iceberg.

Thinking about a future in the music industry?

The University of the Highlands and Islands can help you find a path that’s perfect for you. Visit us at www.thinkuhi.com to apply for courses starting in January or September 2020.

#thinkuhi #studymusic

 

 

International Mountain Day – World records and biosphere reserves

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Professor Martin Price

Today is International Mountain Day. It’s a day to celebrate what is special about mountain people and the places they live in – and which millions of us visit.

It is a special day for me, as my professional life has focused particularly on mountain areas and, in 2002, the International Year of Mountains, I was involved in drafting the resolution in the UN General Assembly which led to the declaration of International Mountain Day every 11th of December since then.

This year, I had the honour of being asked to advise Guinness World Records about some of the superlatives of mountain areas – such as the highest mountain (which depends on where you measure from), the longest mountain range (which depends on whether you only look on land or under the sea) and the fastest rising mountain (Nanga Parbat in Pakistan). You can find the answers in the new book, ready in time for Christmas, or look online. The Centre for Mountain Studies is now recognised as a partner of Guinness World Records!

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Beinn Eighe – Iain Turnbull Photography

Closer to home, there is a meeting at Inverness College UHI today to explore the partnership between the University of the Highlands and Islands and the Wester Ross Biosphere. This is one of 701 biosphere reserves in 124 countries designated by UNESCO – over half are in mountain areas.  Biosphere reserves are designated because the people who live in them want to have international recognition for their special places, with a strong identity, and to work together to find ways to move towards sustainable development at the regional scale.

 

 

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Ann Hoffman

Each biosphere reserve should have a partnership with its local university, providing opportunities for university staff and students to undertake research which is relevant for the people living in the reserve and the environment they live in. The University of the Highlands and Islands is already doing a range of research and is involved in various projects in Wester Ross Biosphere:

Today, we hope to identify more opportunities that will contribute to the implementation of the Wester Ross Biosphere’s five-year strategic plan and its aim of bringing people together to work towards the sustainable development of this special area – for today’s and future generations.

Professor Martin Price, Director of the Centre for Mountain Studies at Perth College UHI and Chairholder, UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Mountain Development

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Ben More Coigach – Ann Hoffman

Andrew the Apostle

Andrew the Apostle, the Patron Saint of Scotland

Ahead of St. Andrews Day on 30 November, Professor Donna Heddle, Director of the University of the Highlands and Islands Institute for Northern Studies gives us the lowdown on Scotland’s patron saint.

Who was he?

The name Andrew is Greek meaning “manly” and was popular across the Near East. The New Testament (Luke 6: 14) tells us that Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter.  He was born in the village of Bethsaida and, along with his brother, was a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee, giving rise to the tradition that Jesus called them as disciples by saying that he would make them “fishers of men” (Matt 4:18-22 and Mark 1:16-20).

Andrew, the first called, was clearly an elder stateman among the apostles – he appears on many important occasions such as the Last Supper. For example and very fittingly, it is Andrew who tells Jesus about the boy with the loaves and fishes (John 6:8), and when Philip wanted to tell Jesus about certain Greeks searching for Him (John 12:20-22)., he consulted Andrew first.

St. Andrew’s cross

Andrew is believed to have been martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras in Achaea, on the northern coast of the Peloponnese. Andrew is depicted as bound, not nailed, to the same kind of cross on which Jesus was crucified in early texts, such as the Acts of Andrew known to Gregory of Tours. The prevailing tradition today is that he was crucified, by his own request as not worthy of the same fate as Jesus, on an X-shaped cross, or “saltire” (crux decussata).

Where is he buried?

Andrew’s remains were kept in the first instance at the Basilica of St Andrew in Patras, Greece. Most of his remains were removed from Patras to Constantinople in circa 357 at the instigation of the Roman emperor Constantius II and placed in the Church of the Holy Apostles. From there, relics of Andrew travelled the world and you can find them now in the Duomo di Sant’Andrea, Amalfi, Italy; St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland; and the Church of St Andrew and St Albert, Warsaw, Poland. There are also numerous smaller reliquaries throughout the world.

Andrew in Scotland

Traditional sources tell us that a monk in Patras, St Regulus or Rule, had a dream in which he was told to take the relics of Andrew to the ends of the earth. St. Regulus set sail, taking with him a kneecap, an upper arm bone, three fingers and a tooth. He sailed west as far as he could and was shipwrecked on the coast of Fife where St Andrews was founded. In reality, it is likely that they came to Britain in 597 as part of the Augustine Mission, and then in 732 to Fife, by Bishop Acca of Hexham. The great church of St Andrews was erected on a site previously dedicated to St Regulus so that may be where the connection comes from.

Andrew becomes our patron saint

Andrew became our patron saint, sources such as Bower’s Scotichronicon tell us, in 832 AD when Óengus II (Angus mac Fergus) led an army of Picts and Scots into battle against the Angles led by Æthelstan near modern-day Athelstaneford in East Lothian. Óengus was very much outnumbered and on the back foot so the night before the battle he prayed to St Andrew, who was a very senior figure in Christian belief. and swore that he would make Andrew the patron saint of Scotland if he won the battle next day. It was said that, on the morning of the battle, white clouds formed a St Andrew’s cross or Saltire in the sky and this sign emboldened the Scottish forces to victory and Óengus duly credited the victory and gave the role of patron saint to Andrew. Our flag, which may well be the oldest national flag in the world, represents the white saltire against the blue sky – and so should never be navy blue! Many flags throughout history contain the St Andrew’s cross  – the Confederate flag and that of Jamaica, for example.

Anything else to know?

Andrew is clearly a top class patron saint and in demand. He is the patron saint of several countries –  Barbados, Romania, Russia, Scotland and Ukraine –  and of several cities including many in Spain, Amalfi in Italy, Esgueira in Portugal, Luqa in Malta, Parañaque in the Philippines and of course Patras in Greece.

His brother Peter is considered the founder of the Church of Rome but Andrew is considered the founder of Church of Byzantium and is therefore the patron saint of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

And finally

If you would like to find out more about Scotland, why not join us on the brand new MLitt Scottish Heritage at the University of the Highlands and Islands, led by Donna, which you can study from anywhere in the world!

Donna’s research interests are Scottish and Northern Isles cultural history, renaissance language and literature, and cultural tourism.

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Where is the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest reverb held? Izumo, Ipswich, Istanbul or Invergordon?

Concealed in a disused oil depot at Invergordon, a town and port in Easter Ross, is the Inchindown oil tanks. Between 1938 and 1941 provision for the bomb proof storage of furnace fuel oil for British warships was made with the excavation from the solid rock of the nearby Kinrive hill to create the Inchindown admiralty underground oil storage depot – a series of six underground tanks and access tunnels. The site was closed in 2002, decommissioned thereafter, and is now in private ownership.

In 2014 the remarkable sonic properties of the tanks attracted interest from acoustic engineering professor Trevor Cox, who fired a blank pistol and measured the reverberation as 1 minute and 52 seconds (112 seconds).  Bettering the existing Guinness World Record previously held by the Hamilton Mausoleum by a gigantic 97 seconds for the longest reverberation in any man-made structure.

A reverberation is a familiar concept to those working with sound, not to be confused with the more commonly known concept of an echo.  A reverb is in fact the result of overlapping multiple echoes as sound waves bounce back off the surfaces met.

Programme leader, Simon Bradley describes his motivation to include a visit to this site in a recent student residency.

Inspiring sound exploration 

What really excites me about leading the MA Music and the Environment course is providing students with stimulating and thought-provoking environments as a central element of learning. The Highlands and Islands is rich in sources of inspiration that can be drawn upon from study of its environment, culture and historical context.

I was introduced to this unique local record holding site, Inchindown oil tanks, by a recent graduate of mine Liam Ross and was immediately intrigued. Liam is a local musician from Invergordon and had incorporated the sonic properties of the site in his final master project.

Our visit to the site had an immediately powerful impact on everyone involved; staff, students and our film-making tour guide. It was a perfect location to start this year’s academic journey and has furnished us with material for future projects, musical compositions and collaborations.

What follows is a collection of accounts from those that took part in the sonic material experiments and recordings.

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Picture 1 (L-R) Stephen Bull, Liam Ross, Martin Gilligan, Peter Noble, Anthony Cowie, Simon Bradley

Sound mining at the world’s longest reverb

Anthony Cowie, MA Music and the Environment student
Accessing the tanks is not for the claustrophobic or faint-of-hearted!  Entrance is only by arrangement as health and safety briefing is essential. Given the prior contents of the tanks, it is necessary to come prepared and we were each wearing protective disposable overalls and sturdy boots to deal with the residue from the remnants of oil.

To gain entry to the interior of one of the tanks we had quite a journey. We walked the 365m length of the access tunnel before being presented with the next stage. Even before being fully inside the tank, the tunnels that lead from outside down to the entrance pipe already make for a ‘sonic miasma’ seldom experienced in everyday life – the slightest noise or disturbance echoing incessantly as one moves through the dark.

The only way into the tanks is via a trolley, on which prospective visitors lie flat, with their arms extended above the head in order to minimise the body width as the trolley (with are you are lying flat on) is pushed  through an eighteen inch pipe which takes you through the wall of the tank.

It felt like we were being loaded and fired like human torpedoes through the wall. Once in the tank we were able to stand, and after my eyes became accustomed to the darkness, I could begin to get a sense of the vastness of the chamber of the tank.

Our filmmaking tour guide Simon, had brought along some blank rounds to fire in the tank, allowing us to experience the sound of the world record. It was still 112 seconds. The duration is unbelievable. We turned off our headtorches and extinguished the working lights and waited for the sound.

When the shot rang out, there was the initial fast attack of the noise, and roughly a third of a second later it could be heard rebounding off the far wall. There then followed a rolling wash of frequencies that seemed to fall overhead in wave after wave. Personally, I found the extent of what I was experiencing so intense that it elicited an equally physical experience. I could sense my balance shifting as I waited for the sound to die down and became unsteady on my feet. This was sound in its’ most transcendent form, and as we took a moment to gather our thoughts in the final silence the childlike glee in me shouted, ‘Again!’ I can’t wait to go back.”

Peter Noble, MA Music and the Environment lecturer
I am based at the Alness campus which is four miles from the Inchindown tunnel.  I am continually fascinated by the local landscape of where I live and work in the Highlands and Islands.  To experience the entombment within this environment even for a short time was a very inspiring experience.

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Picture 2 – collecting sonic samples

We recorded the sound experience.  I later simulated the reverb of the tunnel space and used this to develop a song with two musicians based in other areas. I am looking forward to cultivating a unique collaborative networked performance using the results.

Amazing grace

The group was accompanied by filmmaker Simon Riddell, who was moved to include a recording of the team singing in his new feature length documentary about this fascinating place.

Simon was taught to shoot film and embrace adventure by his father. He explains why he chose to include the Amazing Grace clip.

 As soon as I heard the guys perform in the tank, I thought that the audio would be a very fitting way to close the documentary. The atmospherics of the tanks sound great! This song was close to dad’s heart and mine also. He was a preacher and I have dedicated the film to him.

See for yourself

Hosted by FLOW Photofest and the University of the Highland and Islands, Simon’s film debuts at an event hosted by Inverness College UHI on Wednesday 6 November 2019, 7pm. This will be an excellent opportunity to talk to the authors in a special questions and answers session.

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Picture 3 – filmmaker Simon Riddell

Tickets are free.  Book here

There will be a second showing in Sligachan Hotel on the Isle of Skye on Thursday 7 November 2019, 6pm. Book here

 

 

 

Simon Bradley (@Uistsimon) is the programme leader of the MA Music and the Environment at the University of the Highlands and Islands. He is also a lecturer on the BA Applied Music course and is based at Lews Castle College UHI, Benbecula

To find out more about studying music at the University of the Highland and Islands visit the website. #thinkuhi

 

 

The elms are dead. Long live the elms!

Dr Euan Bowditch, a researcher at the Scottish School of Forestry at Inverness College UHI, considers the plight of the elm and highlights efforts to conserve, manage and restore populations of this iconic tree.

The elm. A tree synonymous with the Dutch elm disease and spoken about as if it has already faded into memory. Poor Dutch, forever tethered to one of the worse tree disease outbreaks in modern history and to this day remains a cautionary and sad tale for all that work with or appreciate trees.

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Elm branch streaked with fungus

As it happens, the Dutch are not the cause of elm disease – or even the origin – but were the first to identify the causal agent of Dutch elm disease in the 1920s, as several phytopathologists (those who study plant disease) pinpointed the fungus Graphium ulmi (Ophiostoma ulmi). A few miles further east of the Netherlands in the Himalayas, we find the origin of the disease, which travelled across the vast continental distances to Europe, all the while hybridising and adapting to new conditions and species.

 

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A mature skeletal elm which has succumbed to Dutch elm disease

Today, Dutch elm disease continues to travel, spreading into the heart of the Scottish Highlands and reaching more isolated populations nearly seventy years after the break out in the 1960s. In my experience, Dutch elm disease is often perceived as an absolute; an unrelenting disease that has vanquished the species and now remains dormant or waiting. The elm bark beetle (Scolytus scolytus), which carries the fungus, is dynamic and continues to hop across the landscape, driving deeper into remote areas of the Highlands. Equally, the elm tree is not a dormant or dead species, but alive; regenerating and even adapting in ways which are as of yet unknown.

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Wych elm leaf

Although wych elm (Ulmus glabra) is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List (the only tree species in Europe to be on the list), the species is widely spread, but in smaller numbers and fragmented. Healthy trees and populations persist and survive, maybe the focus on elm and Dutch elm disease has been overshadowed by the advent of such diseases as ash dieback, needle blight and sudden oak death (Phytopthora ramorum), which has devastated plantations of larch all over Scotland. Trees are under constant threat; not just to disease, but events of extreme weather such as storms and drought that will weaken the tree and, in conjunction with disease, are capable of knocking swathes of forests down like dominoes across landscapes on a continental scale.

 

Almost a century on from the identification of the disease, we are still learning, experimenting and looking for better ways forward to conserve, manage and restore elm populations. Yesterday, ‘The Last Ent of Affric’, a mature surviving elm tree in the famous Glen has been named Scotland’s Tree of the Year. Hidden away in a remote spot, it has avoided Dutch elm disease and is a sole survivor of the ancient woodland in which elm would have been a key species.

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Decorative milled elm with burr wood

So, revival is happening culturally perhaps; but what about ecologically, genetically and even economically? Elm is a beautiful decorative wood, with diverse uses; valued for its strength and water resistance, and once used for ship-building. Now, most elm is used for furniture, with burr wood especially prized.

 

Currently, the Wooded Landscapes Research Group at Inverness College UHI is undertaking work in partnership with the Woodland Trust to set-up pilot refuges for healthy elm populations and running a scoping study on DNA extraction techniques on healthy and Dutch elm disease infected elms, with the aim to identify resistant traits by comparing differentiation of DNA markers. Our hope is to gain some insights into potential resistance of elm and propose ways of restoring the lost populations, which would in turn restore rare native woodland habitats and the associated species.

Trees are so deeply embedded with our culture and folklore that we can take them for granted. According to Norse mythology, for example, Elba was the first woman created – from the wood of an elm tree – by the gods. Next time you are wondering around a wooded area, road verge, fields or any green area, try and spot an elm; the ancestors of the Ents will be watching.

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Dr Euan Bowditch

Forestry and social-ecology researcher

The Scottish School of Forestry

Inverness College UHI

Happy tenth birthday Shetland Wool Week

To mark Shetland Wool Week reaching its tenth birthday, and to celebrate the continued partnership of Shetland College UHI in this super event, we invited alumni and staff taking part to share some of their fun wool facts and favourite yarns.

Shetland College UHI is the most northern partner of the University of the Highlands and Islands and prides itself on being the UK’s most northern textile course.

Where better to start than with Faye Hackers, her energy and passion for the craft and the array of creative opportunities it provides is contagious. She is the programme leader at the university’s Contemporary Textiles degree and one of the committee members of this year’s internationally recognised wool week held annually on Shetland. The university’s courses equip students with the technical skills and the practical knowledge to produce innovative textiles, and the business skills to market them globally.

  • Faye Hackers

Wooly Info: Before working at the University, I was a knitwear designer predominantly based in Shanghai working for UK brands. You can still find my designs in a few UK high street stores today!

Some of my work (12 scarves) is currently on show at the Museum and Archives over Shetland wool week (see photo) and is up for Charity Auction, so please head along and bid to raise money for some great causes!

Fav Yarn: I can’t pick only one…Shetland’s Jamieson and Smith 2ply heritage undyed, all the beautiful natural colours of Shetland- cosy and weather resistant (a must in Shetland!). But, my overall favourite yarns to knit with are silks or merinos on a 8 or 10 gauge Vbed, the perfect quality of knit in my eye; great drape, not too fine, not too thick- perfect!

  • Roisin Alexandra McAtamney
    Textile Technician at the textile facilitation unit, Shetland College UHI and owner of R.A.M Knitwear. Teaching a workshop at Shetland Wool Week 2019

Wooly Info: You can turn almost any fibre into a yarn, then garment. During my studies on the Design for Textiles BA Hons at Heriot Watt university, our knitwear technician showed us a lovely knitted pullover. His wife had saved the fur from grooming their Alsatian to make it! Needless to say, it was kept wrapped up tight as the smell was rather pungent!  

Fav yarn or textile: Did you know that there is a woman in Sardinia who dives underwater to collect fibers from an endangered clam and spins it into a yarn known as byssus, or sea silk, it’s one of the rarest and most coveted materials in the world! The secrets of this technique have been in her family for 24 generations and she is the last with this knowledge!

  •         Helen Whitham
    Textile Technician at the textile facilitation unit, Shetland College UHI. Teaching the ‘machine knit a cushion Cover’ class at Shetland Wool Week 2019.

Wooly Info: Born and bred in Shetland I have had a keen interest in knitting my whole life. I first learned to knit at primary school, studied textile design and specialised in knitting at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design at the University of Dundee. I moved home to work for a local knitwear designer before taking up a job at Shetland College UHI where I now work as a technician and programmer on Shima Seiki knitting machines.

Fav yarn or textile: I love experimenting with hand tooled techniques on V-Bed and Domestic knitting machines, especially creating my own hand tooled lace patterns. I also enjoy playing with colour; the huge number of shades of yarn that Jamieson’s of Shetland spin allow countless options for combining and blending colours.

  •          Dr Simon Clarke
    Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, Head of Creative and Cultural Industries Shetland College UHI

Wooly Info: In 1921 well preserved remains of a young woman were found from the Danish Bronze Age at Egtved, in South Jutland. The body and grave goods lay in an oak log coffin in waterlogged conditions that had allowed woven woollen textiles to survive. Danish society was scandalised by the outfit which included a string miniskirt and a theory that she was a southern European courtesan was quickly popularised without any real evidential basis. However, in 2015 isotope analysis of the woman’s bones and hair and of the wool in her textiles suggest that she was indeed an immigrant, probably from the Black Forest region of Germany. The honour of Danish womanhood preserved!

Egtved Girl’s grave, Denmark, 1370 BC.
Credit: The National Museum of Denmark

  • Niela Nell Kalra
    University of the Highlands and Islands 2007 graduate, Contemporary Art and Textiles Degree Distinction and self employed knitwear designer.

Wooly Info: Despite having a successful little knitwear business, Nielanell, I can hardly even knit! My favourite textile activity is spinning and dyeing wool.

Image credit: Byre Cape by Nielanell, photographer Austin Taylor Photography

Fav yarn or textile: Nothing in the world compares to a beautiful fine Shetland fleece to prepare and spin.

  •  Elaine Nicolson
    University of the Highlands and Islands 2017 graduate, BA Contemporary Textiles. Self employed knit wear designer.

Wooly Info: This is one of my favourite textiles which was part of my degree work. This design was inspired from a hand knit heritage piece. It was knitted on a 12 gauge machine in white merino wool and silk in the colours of beach pebbles.

Fav yarn or textile: Wool, blended with silk for a great fibre combination.

  • Edina Szeles
    Lecturer of Contemporary Textiles, Art and Woven Structures at Shetland College UHI, Programme Leader of the portfolio course. In her third year of teaching a weaving workshop during Shetland Wool Week

Wooly Info: My first wool experience was at 16. I had to weave a rug in the art high school I studied in Budapest, Hungary. My first wool experience on Shetland was in 2012, using Jamieson & Smith heritage yarns to create woven fabrics for the GlobalYell weave studio. I worked in the textile industry for over 10 years, designing both for printed and woven textiles before moving into teaching art in 2006. I also maintain an independent art practice creating contemporary art and design pieces.

Fav yarn or textile: Love all!  I enjoy finding different ways to use them, primarily for weaving but also for hand-dying, spinning, knitting, felting and embroidery. In recent years I have been working mainly with wool – what else if you live in Shetland!  

Share your favourites.  Leave a comment!

Watch out next for… Loch Ness Knit, 17- 20 October