Saturday, November 10, 2007

Want to live on Fair Isle?

Link to article

Remote island move tempts hundreds from US

Hundreds of Americans have inquired about starting a new life on Britain's most remote inhabited island... amid a frenzied interest in knitting.

A search has been launched for new residents to live on Fair Isle, 25 miles south-west of the Shetland mainland, but skills including construction skills or experience in knitting are required.

The National Trust for Scotland said today it had received more than 800 inquiries from people interested in the move.

Of those who have expressed an interest, around 95 per cent are from America, and many have knitting skills which the island is famous for.

In total, 80 firm applications have been received to live on the island, which has a population of just 70.

One of the three properties available has already been let to a marine engineer who was born on the island and who had hoped to return.

There are now two houses available, one four-bedroom and one five. No jobs are offered but there will be opportunities, particularly for those with construction skills or experience in knitting.

Angus Jack, NTS regional surveyor in Inverness who is handling the leasing, said: "There is no doubt that the Americans are attracted by the knitting.

"Many of the applicants from the States have families that they would bring with them. Many of their applications are very good, they have the skills we are looking for in knitting, construction, IT and engineering.

"There has been a major interest in knitting and the vast majority of Americans do have knitting skills. We have even had applications from men who are avid knitters.

"Some applicants have written books on knitting, one in particular wants to write a book specifically on Fair Isle knitting."

Mr Jack said the NTS and the islanders' housing forum will draw up a shortlist of around eight applicants by the beginning of next month. These people will be asked to produce detailed business plans and research how they would make a living on the island.

Of these. two or three will be asked to travel to the Fair Isle for a three-day visit, after which the forum will decide which candidates should make the move.

Fair Isle is well known as a knitting method and a pattern type. Real Fair Isle patterns are built up in horizontal bands, by knitting two coloured yarns in each row.