Story

Mati Ventrillon

‘Journeys, like artists, are born and not made.’

Lawrence Durrell, Bitter Lemons of Cyprus

Story

Woollie Horse

‘Wooden stretcher ‘Woollie Horse' with brass pins, Tulloch of Shetland, Scotland, ca. 1920-1939.’

V&A South Kensington, online catalogue description

Story

Fair Isle

‘Tradition is like a river that flows towards new ground.’

Wu Guanzong

Mati Ventrillon
Night time at Mati's Studio, 2012
Night time at Mati's Studio, 2012

September 2011: the Fair Isle Crafts Co-operative was dissolved after 30 years' trading, but Mati Ventrillon’s passion for knitting and her determination drove her to launch the Fair Isle Knitwear website and apply for the 2012 Crafted UK business mentoring programme in an attempt to fulfil her dreams of a ‘made in Fair Isle label’.

'What vision George Waterston had in declaring our knitwear a luxury product and promoting it in London. And what inspired thinking gifted a Fair Isle jumper to the future King George VI as 1920s golfing wear. I feel my efforts seem insignificant beside these.'

From this came Mati's appearance on a 'fashion flag' above Oxford Street, as part of the Great campaign celebrating The Queen’s Jubilee and the London Olympics.

Great Campaign, Oxford Street Fashion Flags, London – 2012
Great Campaign, Oxford Street Fashion Flags, London – 2012

Mati’s ‘Woollie Horse’ was also used as prop for the Great campaign photography. Wood and brass Woollie Horse jumper boards, now iconic and coveted by collectors such as the Victoria & Albert Museum, were first made by Tulloch of Shetland in the 1920s to dry Fair Isle knitwear without stretching.

Fate meant that Mati’s ‘Woollie’ belonged to her husband decades before they met; he was the globetrotting child of diplomatic-service parents and the Woollie Horse saw the world with him.

As he and Mati’s shared journey continued, ‘Woollie’s’ use as a prop for the Great campaign photography symbolised the completion of an inevitable circle and suggested the possibility of transforming genuine made-in-Fair-Isle knitwear into the Mati Ventrillon brand.

'As a Fair Isle crofter, albeit in the twenty-first century, I continue, in my own way, hundreds of years of Fair Isle tradition.'

Inspired by tradition and crafted for life: the Mati Ventrillon brand aligns authentic Fair Isle knitwear traditions with Mati’s life journey and gives the brand its unique identity.