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Fair Isle designer to offer ‘knitting holidays’ at bothy on the UK’s most remote island

Marie Bruhat. Credit Maëlys Gauthier
Marie Bruhat. Credit Maëlys Gauthier

A designer hopes her expanding Fair Isle knitting business can become a future visitor attraction.

Marie Bruhat, who moved from France four years ago, is now one of only four Fair Isle makers based on the island.

During lockdown she launched her online Lea x Sea knitwear collection, made from her house.

Now, with help of a £40,842 award from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), she plans to buy a bothy to create a permanent studio for the growing business.

Ms Bruhat will then offer knitting holidays to Fair Isle enthusiasts once Covid restrictions are lifted at the Pund Bothy Knitting workshop in her two-bedroom croft house.

The plan could increase tourism to Britain’s most remote inhabited island, which lies between Shetland and Orkney and has a population of 45.

Fair Isle cardigan by Marie. Ewan Nicholson.

A 2019 Shetland survey showed tourism generated £36 million, with 5% of visitors also visiting Fair Isle where 50% of households rely, at least partially, on tourism for their living.

Ms Bruhat promotes “slow fashion” with a focus on sustainability, using 100% wool spun in Shetland.

She said: “I’ll now have the workspace I need for my creations. I can produce and design in the bothy but I also have long term plans to expand in the future.”

Fiona Stirling, development manager with HIE, said: “The Pund Bothy Knitting workshop will enhance Fair Isle’s tourism offering and be an important part of re-building the island’s visitor economy.

“Online sales of Marie’s stunning knitwear will support the business outwith the visitor season, creating employment and ultimately helping sustain the island.”

In 2018 Ms Bruhat was one of four women making up almost half of Britain’s most remote inhabited island fire brigade on Fair Isle

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