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School's no place for a Shetland sweater

The standards debate has not paid proper attention to knitting. And Bill Smith should know. As Shetland's chairman of education since the mid-seventies, he knows his ganseys.

Cuts being considered by Shetland include a threat to instruction in the traditional island skills of handknitting. Dropping school lessons and laying off 14 instructors would save Pounds 63,000. Smith has no regrets: "Handknitting is simply something we don't need to do."

If it was of commercial importance, he told fellow councillors, the council's development department should pick up the tab, and if it was of aesthetic importance, a body like the Shetland Arts Trust should be responsible.

Clearly needled, he denied having a phobia but Shetland knitting was not what it had been. Today it was "all sorts of logos and fancy stuff". So back to the basics? It will take a month to find out since the councillors won't drop a stitch until their next meeting.

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