The Shetland Knitting belt is unique to our islands.
The belt, (in dialect “Maakin’” belt) is used to enable one-handed knitting, or to use three pins for “in the round” Fair Isle patterns.
The precursor of the belt was a bound bundle of quills, which was soon replaced by the leather, horse hair stuffed belt.
Traditionally, the only way for women in Shetland to earn cash was to sell knitwear. So they knitted the whole time. Whether doing croft work, carrying the peats home, or cooking; they knitted with one hand - the other free to do something else.
Although the economic pressure has lessened, the knitting belt is still used widely throughout Shetland, and its knitwear is still as famous throughout the world. Disabled people such as stroke victims also find the belts useful
To use, wear the belt as normal, leaving the pad slightly to one side – whichever side is easiest. Using a double-ended pin, insert one end into a hole in the pad, so it is gripped firmly. Pins are available here