Concerned with preserving Shetland’s famous textile heritage, BAKKA is a small Fair Isle knitwear business producing contemporary sustainable Fair Isle textiles. Designer Mary Macgregor combines traditional Shetland knitwear heritage and modern functionality, using only the oldest patterns, colours and methods as her sources of inspiration, and ensuring that the Fair Isle tradition survives and thrives in the 21st century.
The Object: A reversible Fair Isle scarf, maker code TJ1, knitted in five heritage colours, first created in 2019
168.5 x 28 cm. 100% superfine merino yarn. £360
The inspiration for this scarf came from a pullover and a cardigan in the archives of the Shetland Museum, with varying motifs all over the garments. Through subtle alterations in the use of colour, designer Mary Macgregor has made these traditional patterns completely contemporary. Very high quality merino creates an “easy to wear, easy after-care” product and a reversible Fair Isle technique gives a positive/negative colour inversion effect and perfect selvedges. Designed at BAKKA’s Shetland workshop, the scarf is first knitted at a mill in Hawick; the ends are linked; the selvedges carefully finished by hand; then hand-washed with care in soft Shetland water; dried naturally; steam pressed; and the label sewn on. All processes except the knitting and linking are done by Mary, and the linking and finishing are done at the BAKKA workshop. The 100% superfine merino is sourced from Zegna Baruffa Lane Borgosesia, a specialist yarn producer in Biella, Italy, which dyes the colours specially to replicate as closely as possible the old natural colours.
Mary Macgregor on BAKKA’s Signature Style
‘My work is derived from the textile heritage of Shetland, and this design epitomises traditional Fair Isle knitting. It is what people expect to see in a Fair Isle garment; traditional patterns and the natural colours of old, before chemical dyes existed. The reversible contrasting nature of my work is well illustrated; one side being more heavily Shetland black and rust, the other more flax and natural white. It is contemporary wearable art. As such, the TJ1 scarf is easily recognisable as “by BAKKA”. It is my flagship product and has sold more than all the other heritage colour scarves put together.’
Looking at the images of BAKKA’s knitwear I can feel the weight and warmth of the Fair Isle tradition. The patterns are meticulously researched from historical knitting and used to produce contemporary fabrics that I want to hold, wear and use. Freddie Robins (maker)