Yarn Series – Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight

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Hello! we are back with another post in the yarn series, this time it is the turn of Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight – a totally undyed and natural 4ply Weight Yarn. This yarn is perhaps best known in recent years for its use in the designs by Kate Davies, however we have been singing the praises of this natural woollen spun yarn for many years.

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Supreme Jumper Weight comes in a range of 9 completely undyed shades, ranging from Natural White (Shade 2001) to Yuglet (Shade 2009) The other shades are either as they are on the sheep or carefully blended from the natural wool to create a well-rounded palette.

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Historically Coloured Shetland Wool was used by knitters in Fair Isle patterning and Lace knitting like Haps before the dyed wool was available. As time went on however the Coloured wool lost its value and it became almost worthless because white fleece was easy to dye and much more uniform in texture. Up until around 1997 almost all Shetland Yarns in ‘natural’ shades were dyed to create these tones, the reason being the dye house could make it a set shade each time. This differs from our supreme range in that each batch, for example Shetland Black (shade 2005) will not be the same each time as all sheep are not the same shade. So if you plan to use this yarn its best to get all the yarn at one time, it may be quite different in the next lot!

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Another reason most of the mills have to dye or ‘add a touch of dye’ is that we at Jamieson & Smith buy roughly 80% of the entire Shetland wool clip , the majority of which is white with only a limited amount of natural coloured which we use for these our 9 shades. We need a substantial amount of natural coloured fleece in order to produce all the shades in the palette. This means we have to do a lot of hand sorting to separate the various fibre qualities and of course shades which can be found in one fleece. For more information about the Natural Wool and the Sorting process see our earlier posts here and here.

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In 1997 we began a journey to further and strengthen the value of the coloured fleece. This came about as a joint venture between Jamieson & Smith and Yarns International, a now sadly closed down business in Maryland in the USA. Betty Lindsay, a partner in the company visited J&S and was saddened when we told her that the coloured wool had little to no value. Betty vowed to do something and true to her word we set up the totally dye free range which was named Shetland 2000. She employed Ron Schweitzer to design a range of patterns using the yarns, you can see some of his designs on his Ravelry designer page here. Since then lots of desingers have found how well all the natural colours blend together, you can subtely blend them or do some quite striking patterns.

Peat Hill Waistcoat, Adult Lynsey and Karelides Cardigan, some of our current kits made using Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight

Peat Hill Waistcoat, Adult Lynsey and Karelides Cardigan, some of our current kits made using Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight

At the beginning of the post I mentioned Kate’s Sheep designs, the Sheepheid and Rams and Yowes blanket. Both these patterns are extremely popular and use all 9 shades to maximum effect, they both feature motifs of Sheep and Rams which is obviously reflected in the yarns.

IMG_5938You can order kits for these patterns here on our online shop

PicMonkey Collage IMG_5726Hopefully this post has helped you understand the work that goes into the Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight range. There a a number of crofters and farmers in Shetland who are very comitted to the coloured Shetland Sheep and we couldnt do this range without them! The coloured Shetland Wool would have been at a time one of the only ways to get different shades into your knitting, now we are extremly lucky to have so much different colours that we can use. Sometimes you cant go wrong using what nature provides us.

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til next time, Happy Knitting!

PS. we are now on instagram! search thewoolbrokers to follow us.

 

 

Shetland College Project 2015

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As you know we have for the past few years done a few projects with the students at the Shetland College, (see here and here) We recently set the Second Year students on the Contemporary Textiles course a brief to create a contemporary piece of knitwear using our worsted spun range of Yarns – The 1 and 2ply Shetland Supreme, Shetland Heritage, Shetland Aran and Shetland Chunky. A few weeks ago me (Ella) and Oliver headed out to the college to see the final pieces.

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Megan Smith drew inspiration from Fair Isle and Nordic knitwear to inform her lace and striped cardigan. She incorporated pointed lace making techniques and we thought her use and combination of different weights and styles of yarns together was very successful and we loved her inspiration from blue china and combining all the things connected with Shetland in blue and white.

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Sophie Manson started out by looking at traditional cables on both V-bed and domestic knitting machines; which led to her knitting a contemporary boxy jumper. Inspired by chunky, modern fashion, she started to look at ways to create 3-D textures using partial knitting.

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Her finished garment combined techniques used by both types of flat bed hand machines and we felt Sophie’s grey jumper was a brilliant use of three dimensional techniques combined with a finer yarn. The way she combined the yarns (Shetland Heritage and Supreme Lace) and her professional finish on her garment meant she created a very successful wearable jumper.

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Rebecca Scanlon used the brand new Aran weight yarn together with the Shetland Chunky to create a retro inspired round skirt. Her piece incorporated layering and ruffles, and utilised chunky domestic knitting machines.

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we were impressed by Rebecca’s bravery to use the chunkier yarns in a skirt and we thought her use of colour and problem solving with the fit made a very successful garment, as you can see from her samples she did a lot of work on making the fit and shape how she wanted.

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Nicole Taylor created a cape using float jacquard techniques. Using a combination of jumper and lace weight yarns knitted together, using contemporary colours and textures, she was able to produce a very modern piece.

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We thought Nicole’s poncho was a very well designed and extremely well made garment. We loved how she also combined yarns together and thought through her design at every level which resulted in us picking her garment as the best use of Jamieson & Smith yarns.

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We love visiting the college and seeing what the students have made with our yarns, we think this project was very successful and we felt all the finished items were extremely wearable. We often get asked if the students would make patterns from the projects with us but that’s not really how we organise the projects with them,One day one of the students may publish their patterns themselves! I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at a different way of working with Jamieson & Smith yarns.

Happy Knitting!

British Knitting Awards 2015!

Happy Friday! We have some exciting news today, we have again been nominated for Best British Brand in the British Knitting Awards! You might remember last year we were nominated and we came third so we are very happy to have been nominated again.

last years award sits proudly on our counter!

last years award sits proudly on our counter!

If you would like to vote for us, please click here or the vote for us button below. Everything we do here at Jamieson & Smith is to further and strengthen the Shetland Wool Clip meaning we have the lovely Shetland Wool for generations to come. Hopefully this comes across in some of the recent blogs (see here here here), and also the yarn series we are currently doing going through all our yarn weights.(see here here here) speaking of which we will get back too in the next couple of weeks. Summer is quite busy in the shop which is a good thing! but it means less time for blogging.

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So please give us a vote if you appreciate what we do here, and til next time Happy Knitting!

Knitted Wedding Dress

I’m taking a break from the Yarn series today to show you something very special which was made using one of our yarns: the 2ply Lace mentioned in a previous post in the Yarn Series. Shetland designer Sheila Fowlie is an extremely talented knitter who is well-known in Shetland for her bespoke hand knitted Shawls and Scarfs, she often gets commissions for projects and recently she was asked to knit a wedding dress for the wedding of a local couple Rebecca and John!

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photo courtesy of Sheila Fowlie.

Of course we were very excited when Sheila told us about the project, and now the happy day has been we are pleased to share some photos from which Sheila has sent us. I asked Sheila some questions about knitting the dress:

  •  Were you surprised to be asked to make a knitted wedding dress?

I was, very surprised, wasn’t even sure if I could do it, but couldn’t find anybody else willing to take it on so decided to give it a go myself!

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photo courtesy of Sheila Fowlie.

  •  How many hours do you think it took you from start to finish?

No idea, I gave up after 100 hours and I hadn’t even finished the bottom frill!

  •  Was it important to you to use Shetland Wool in the design?

It was very important to use Shetland Wool, as I believe it’s a superior product and is what I use in all my knitwear, unless specifically asked for something else.

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photo courtesy of Sheila Fowlie.

  •  How did you go about putting together the design and was it quite complicated to do?

All I had at the start was a picture of the sort of dress the bride would like, so we began by taking some measurements and I started with the frill at the bottom after experimenting with different sized needles to get the correct tension. We had decided on three different lace patterns for the dress, one for the bottom frill – ‘willow leaf’ pattern; one for the middle bit – ‘print o’ the wave’; one for the body – ‘bird’s eye’ pattern.

I made the bottom in five panels, then sewed them together. The next bit was more complicated as I had to split the back, so that buttons could be added and therefore had to transpose the ‘print o’ the wave’ pattern to make it match on both sides of the opening. That took a few false starts and many, many swearwords before I got it right! I then grafted the middle bit to the bottom frill. From the middle and up was also quite complicated, as I had to insert darts below the bust into the ‘bird’s eye’ pattern in the front. The back had to be split to incorporate the opening and then made in two bits to join at the shoulders. I then had to attach a matching lace edge to each side from the shoulder to the waist. By the time I started the top bit I had the ‘underdress’ to copy for size, so that made it a bit easier!
(Washing the finished dress was a bit of a challenge, but that’s another story!)

I also made a 1-ply shawl to match the dress, which the bride used as her veil and a pair of matching lace ‘dags’.

Sheila the designer and Rebecca the bride.

Sheila the designer and Rebecca the bride. photo courtesy of Sheila Fowlie.

  •  Were you pleased with the finished dress and did you enjoy the wedding?!

I was really pleased with the finished result and thought the bride looked stunning. I really enjoyed seeing her wearing it at the wedding and received lots of compliments, which was nice!

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photo courtesy of Sheila Fowlie.

Rebecca and John actually live next door to us here at J&S so we were lucky enough to see Rebecca as she left on the wedding day. We are very proud to have played a tiny part in such a special garment and well done to Sheila, and of course congratulations to the happy couple!

til next time, happy knitting!

Yarn Series – Shetland Chunky

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Todays post is about one of our smaller (but no less important!) ranges, the Shetland Chunky! In the past Jamieson & Smith mainly concentrated on the more traditional yarns such as Jumper Weight and Lace Weight which were most commonly used by Shetland’s hand knitter’s. However we did have a heavier chunkier woollen yarn which was a 3/11 cut Gala count, this yarn was called ‘Embo’ named after a village in Sutherland in the north of Scotland. This was a woollen spun yarn made from the lower grades of Shetland wool with a very robust handle and was made for coarser out door wear garments, Sadly this yarn died out with the closure of Hunters Mill in 2004. We were often asked by customers to provide a heavier weight yarn and in 2010 we developed this worsted Real Shetland Chunky Yarn. The yarn is similar in thickness to the Embo, however being worsted spun it is much kinder to the wearer in handle and has a beautiful softness.

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The worsted process means the fibres are combed and by doing this it acheives two things, the short fibres are removed and the remaining fibres are then left in a straight order for spinning. This increases the strength and also the softness of the yarns. In relation to the colours, we have a small but specialised range inspired by a selection of Shetland colours. We added the Charcoal shade a few years ago and it has been a good addition to the range. The colours available lend themselves well to Icelandic style garments, but Kate Davies also designed the lovely Port ‘O’ Leith Jumper and Cowl in this yarn.

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Although we call it a Chunky yarn, and compared to Jumper Weight it definitely is, you can achieve a wide range of effects using this yarn and different needle sizes: a 4mm needle will give you a dense fabric and the higher needle size you go the more loose and drapey the fabric will become. Although it is becoming a bit warmer in Shetland, some days you could definitly still wear something knit in this lovely yarn! Available in 100g balls (120m/131yards) one ball will give you a hat and a few balls will do for a cushy scarf.

We’ll be back next week with another range so until then have a good weekend and happy knitting!

Yarn Series – 1ply Cobweb and 2ply Lace

Hello everyone and happy Friday to you all, in this post I’m going to share some information on our 1ply Cobweb and 2ply lace woollen spun yarns. As well as Fair Isle knitting Shetland is also famed for its Lace knitting. This is often attributed to Unst, one of the many islands in Shetland but it was popular all over Shetland and there are still many talented lace knitters.

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Our 1ply Cobweb yarn remains one of our best sellers as it is the main yarn bought for knitting 1ply Heriloom and Christening Shawls. As thin as thread this yarn is blended with some lambswool to enable it to be spun so fine, and this results in very fine crisp stitches in lace knitting. We have it in the 4 shades seen above, white is the biggest seller as it creates timeless traditional items like this shawl designed by Gladys Amedro:

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It was in 1977 Jamieson & Smith first asked Gladys Amedro to help provide them with fine lace patterns. Gladys had moved to Yell and in Burravoe she became close friends with with the late Nellie Tulloch, a native Shetlander whose knowledge of Shetland knitting was bred in her bones and she taught the skills to Gladys. Her first design using 1ply Cobweb was published in the Women’s Realm in 1978, many other designs followed including a Christening Robe and Shawl commissioned by Womens Own in 1988 to celebrate the birth of Princess Beatrice, the designs (still available from us as kits here and here) incorporated the Rose of York and an Anchor, to represent the babys Mother and Father. The result of this design led to Jamieson & Smith placiong such a large yarn order for Cobweb that it was queried in case an extra digit had been added..

the next stage thicker is the 2ply Lace Yarn:

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Currently available in over 20 shades our 2ply Lace yarn can also be used in any pattern calling for 3ply Yarn, making it a perfect yarn for Vintage patterns. Like the cobweb it is also blended with Lambswool to give it some added strength. Having the yarn slightly thicker than the 1ply means it gives a bit of substance to lace patterns but also means it will keep you warm in a scarf or stole.

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Perfect for making a lighter weight hap, or a heavier weight shawl 2ply Lace is the medium ground between 1ply and our 2ply Jumper Weight. The different shades we offer and carefully shaded meaning they are just right for blending in Cockleshell or New Shell lace scarves or even this: The Circular Shaded Shawl

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We’ll be back next week with another look at one of our ranges, until then have a good weekend!

(just a note Monday is a bank Holiday in the UK so any orders posted wont be sent til Tuesday)

Ella x

baa-ble hat

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The 2015 Shetland Wool Week pattern is now available! The Baa-ble Hat designed by this years patron Donna Smith features a wide brim, lovely sheep motifs and a snowy sky, very appropriate to Shetland and most of the UK this week, I thought it was spring?? This hat is a great introduction to Fair Isle knitting and as its worked in Aran weight yarn it makes for a quick knit, great for keeping you warm in this chilly springtime!

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The Jamieson & Smith colourway uses our Shetland Worsted Aran in the shades Peat, Coll Black, Silver Grey and Snaa White, and you can now buy a kit via our online shop here. If you would like different shades for your baa-ble hat just order two of your main shade and one each of your contrast shades. You also use our now discontinued Shetland Aran which we still have a number of shades available. For that yarn you will only need one ball of the 4 shades.

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To get the pattern you will need to apply for it here on the Shetland Wool Week website and then you will be emailed a copy of the pattern.

Ill be back later this week to carry on out yarn series, til then Happy Knitting!