A group of Shetland ponies have inspired a Germany tour company to set up knitting tours of the Northern Isles.
The Scotsman reports that after watching VisitScotland promotions featuring the animals wearing Fair Isle jumpers, Catharina Ehlers, owner of the tour company Nordica Reisen, was encouraged to offer trips to the region.
Launching next autumn, the Shetland tours will take ten days and include visits to wool traders, traditional weavers, fashion designers and current factories and textile-producing centres.
Visitors will also get the chance to visit museums housing some of the oldest surviving knitware equipment, as well as getting a chance to join in with knitting workshops and stay in remote Fair Isle, where they can hear first-hand about the production of the famous jumpers.
Ms Ehlers explained that when they set up the company last year they had chosen to specialise in tours of Iceland, Ireland, Scotland and the Faroe Islands.
She said: “We already do self-drive trips around Scotland and have developed tailor-made itineraries for people who have an interest in hiking or folk music, for example. However, we have been keen to run more themed tours and guided tours.
“I saw the VisitScotland promotion with the little ponies earlier this year and thought it would be a unique and interesting place to run a tour to. Also, many of our clients are looking for something a bit special when they go on holiday, not the usual touristy things.”
She noticed the growing popularity of knitting both in Germany and the rest of the world too and came to the conclusion that these trips could soon become a real hit.
The tours will be deliberately starting in October, just after the Shetland Wool Week, meaning craft fans can go there before the beginning of the trip.
Commenting on the trip, Andy Ross, creative director of the Centre for Creative Industries for Shetland said: "It's absolutely fantastic to hear about this new tour from Germany, which will hopefully be great business for both countries. It is a huge opportunity for Shetland."