Marie Bruhat’s life changing adventure – how her encounter with Fair Isle led to a handcrafted knitwear business.
Photography: Daniel Craanen
Having briefly visited Fair Isle previously, its allure had always captivated me, but it was only a fleeting glimpse into its unique charm. So, when Marie Bruhat, a talented knitwear maker, extended an invitation to join her inaugural Fair Isle Knitting Holidays, I eagerly accepted. The prospect of spending a week immersed in the history and craft of Fair Isle knitting, while discovering the art of machine knitting in such a serene setting, was captivating.
Exploring the allure of Fair Isle Knitwear through the lens of Marie Bruhat’s knitting holidays
From the moment Marie welcomed us at the airstrip, taking us to her beautifully refurbished croft house, Taft, the experience felt like entering a different realm. The home, with its panoramic views of the ever-changing skies and the majestic lighthouse on the horizon, was a dream. But it wasn’t just the breathtaking scenery that made this experience so interesting and inspiring. Marie’s multifaceted life here – from her bespoke knitwear enterprise to her roles as a crofter and firefighter – served as an insight into a vibrant, tightly-knit community.
Marie moved to Fair Isle, inspired by its charm. She founded a bespoke handcrafted knitwear business, set up machine-knitting holidays, and recently became a crofter and a wonderful host for her visitors. At the heart of her varied life is the croft at Pund, where she tends to a flock of 45 sheep. This aspect of her life not only enriches her connection to the land but also appeals to her knitting holiday guests, who often relish the opportunity to engage hands-on with crofting and sheep farming.
How Marie landed up in Fair Isle and started her knitwear business
Marie’s journey began with a passion for textiles, nurtured from the age of 16, supported by her parents who encouraged her to pursue her creative aspirations. After specialising in knitwear, a chance encounter with Shetland wool in Paris led her to the remote beauty of Fair Isle, where she sought a more authentic and fulfilling lifestyle. After the initial visit, she eventually moved to Fair Isle in 2015 to work with Mati Ventrillon, a Fair Isle knitwear designer and artisan. Under Mati’s guidance, she mastered the art of Fair Isle knitting and garment creation, producing numerous high-quality hand crafted jumpers.
Embracing island life, Marie was struck by the community’s warmth and the stark contrast to her life in France. While she misses the convenience of dining out, the sense of belonging, pride of place, freedom, and safety in Fair Isle outweighs this. Her role as a firefighter adds another layer to her community involvement.
The challenges and triumphs of running a business in a remote paradise
Running a business in such a remote location comes with unique challenges, particularly dependency on weather and transport. However, Marie’s resourcefulness and the community’s support have been pivotal in her success (you can read more about how Marie started her knitting business here).
Marie’s story is a testament to her adaptability, creativity, and commitment to her community and craft. Her life in Fair Isle, though busy and demanding, is a wonderful blend of her passions, responsibilities, and the unique lifestyle that the island offers. Her dedication to her craft and the island’s traditions was apparent in every stitch and narrative, making this experience truly unforgettable.
Want to know more about Marie’s Fair Isle Knitwear Holidays?
If you are interested in learning to knit on a knitting machine, I thoroughly recommend Marie’s knitting holidays, a blend of education, island exploration, and personal connection, reflecting her deep love for Fair Isle’s culture and heritage. The holidays offer a comprehensive experience, from learning knitting techniques to engaging with the island’s lifestyle and community.
You can find Marie’s Storm Dennis Mitts Pattern, featured inside Volume 05. Of Shetland Wool Adventure.
There are 4 beautiful Fair Isle knitwear patterns waiting for you inside Vol. 05 of Shetland Wool Adventures. Not only that, there are many, many interesting features, stories, walks, recipes and stunning photography, all inspired by Shetland. Get your copy here!