Poem introduction

This poem in Shetlandic celebrates all the skilled processes of making a knitted garment: from the dyeing of the raw wool, to spinning and winding; to the knitting – which we call makkin – and, importantly, to the finishing or the ‘dressing’ of the garment. It mentions several patterns all based on natural forms of land and sea and the seamless nature of a garment made in the traditional way. But it’s really a love poem even if full of the vocabulary of knitting!

Sang o da makker

No one will ever know
where the seams are
where you begin
where I end.

I tize oot dy reffels, redd an caird dee,
caa mi wheel an spin dee, set dy rowers mirlin
till dat unbrokken treed, dy voice, is slicht an strang.
I colour dee wi swatches o simmer banks,
match aa da shaeds ithin a lönabrak.
Du hadds me, mi hanks, dy airms wide.
I wind mi cloo, reel dee in; plain and purl dee,
slip mi loops up owre dee; mak dee inta
mi Cockle Shall, mi Crest o da Wave, inta
mi Rippled Diamonds, mi Dooble Scallops; inta
aa mi aedgins, basques an boarders, inta
da boady o mi makkin.
Naeboady ‘ll ivver ken
whaar da sems is;
whaar du begins,
whaar I end.

Hap me an tak me
caa mi wheel
turn mi heel
lay me up
pick me up
mak mi sweerie geng
graft me aff
an scoor me
dress me
wear me.


Tommy Smith Commission 2015,  © Christine De Luca 2015, used by permission of the author

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1a 14th way of looking at a blackbird

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2At Sixty

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4Baffled

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5Blur

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6Dat Trickster Sun

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7Discontinuity

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13Getting to know you

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17Kunyu Quantu - A Map of the Whole World

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18Light Show at the Botanics

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19Love in a caald climate

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21Meeting Vulcan

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22On the death of my mother at midsummer

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23Ritual Cleansing

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24Sang o da makker

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25Sang on laevin

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26Severed

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27Signs and wonders

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28Sisters

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29Snow Dance

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32Still being

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34The Boy in the man

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