Fire Festival KAL inspiration

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Sometimes choosing colours for a Knit-a-Long can be quite daunting, but after quite a number of years of choosing shades for the Colourbox Challenges with the Country Shows in Shetland and a couple for our online KAL’s we are always pleased and surprised with the colour and pattern combinations people come up with. The Fire Festival KAL, inspired by Shetland’s Up Helly Aa festivals has been running for a little while now and more projects are beginning to emerge so I thought it was time to take a look at some of the knitting..

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clockwise from top right: one, two, three
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clockwise from top left: one, two, three, four

I always find it very inspiring to see how people have put colours together, and how to colours change when put next to others – it’s my favourite part of the KAL! it runs until the 20th of March so there is still plenty of time to get involved and knit yourself (or someone else a firey inspired garment or accessory) We have already had the first of Shetlands Up Helly Aa’s for 2017 with the Scalloway Fire Festival on the 13th of January, you can see some great pictures here. Lerwick Up Helly Aa is on Tuesday 31st of January and it is a public Holiday in the town on the day after (some of us need time to recover..) so we will be closed Wednesday 1st of February opening as normal on Thursday. If you would like to watch any of the live broadcast of Lerwick UHA on Tuesday you can do so here.

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I hope this has inspired you if you were thinking to join the KAL, you can find the shades here on the website, there has been some confusion about adding in other colours but to be entered in the KAL you can only use the 8 shades chosen and you must use at least 5 of them. Your project must also include some Fair Isle/stranded colourwork, don’t forget to share your projects in our Ravelry group and on Instagram with #firefestivalkal

Happy Knitting!

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J&S Staff Profile: Jan Robertson

Second post in a series about the people behind Jamieson & Smith.

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photo courtesy Felicity Ford

Jan works in the wool store all year round. Between July to October she grades wool which comes in from over 600 local crofters and farmers. It’s a busy time and there’s never a dull moment! Over the winter Jan continues to sort fleeces as well as carry out any maintenance that needs to be done around the buildings.

It’s great to have Jan as such an integral part of the J&S team as she’s also a crofter and a beautiful knitter! When Ella and Sandra aren’t around in the shop for colour advice for a customer I have often asked for Jan’s help.

What’s the best thing about working at J&S?

“Meeting all the people who come through the big green doors who have as great a passion as I do for the Shetland breed and about what we are doing here at Jamieson & Smith. I also love telling the J&S story.”

Do you have a favourite place in Shetland?

“Shetland as a whole, all of Shetland! I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful place. It never ceases to amaze me, even through the wind and the rain. In the summer it’s mesmerising.”

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Watsness with Foula in distance. Photo courtesy Oliver Henry
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Smiths Knowe, Walls. Photo courtesy Oliver Henry

How do you like to spend your time when you’re not working at J&S?

“At home with the animals in Walls – ‘Waas’ in dialect; knitting (there are always at least two things on the wires at any one time!) whether it’s lace or colourwork. I also like to be out and about when I can find the time away from croft work but I do love lambing time (March to May) and clipping (July to August).”

 

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Jan, her niece, Keiva and Dad, Alistair with their fleckit Shetland sheep

What’s your favourite J&S yarn?

Natural Heritage at the moment but all the yarns are amazing to work with.”

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Shetland Heritage Naturals

New Year, New Skills!

Hello everybody! We hope you’ve had a lovely festive season and are feeling refreshed and ready for 2017, the New Year is a great time to plan for those skills you want to improve in the next 12 months – although sometimes it’s hard to know where to start!

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One skill close to our hearts at J&S is Fair Isle knitting and its what many people use our yarns for (especially 2ply Jumper Weight!) but we know it can be quite daunting to some people, luckily there are lots of different ways you can get help with the trickier aspects!

One way is to watch someone doing and explaining these things! Hazel Tindalls DVD ‘The Fine Art of Fair Isle Knitting‘ is an excellent resource for those of us who learn by watching – I am definitely one of those people!

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The DVD takes you through all aspects of traditional Shetland knitting and demystifies things like knitting belts, jumper boards, long DPN’s and steeks to name a few.

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It’s one of those things you will refer back to often and although the DVD is about knitting a garment (in this case a cardigan) the skills you learn can be carried over into all your knitting. You can view the trailer and buy the download if a DVD isn’t for you here

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Another great way to gain confidence in your skills is to use a kit, by following a pattern in the colours provided all stress is taken away, I know choosing colours can be quite scary! And sometimes a smaller item like a hat, socks or hot water bottle cover can seem a lot more manageable than a Jumper!

Saudade and Fishermans Kep
Saudade and Fishermans Kep
Toatie Hottie and Yuglet Socks
Toatie Hottie and Yuglet Socks
First Footing and Antarctica
First Footing and Antarctica

For those of you that want a bit of a colour challenge our Fire Festival KAL is a great way to play with a group of colours already chosen for you, there are lots of projects appearing in our ravelry group so there’s a place to support, advise each other and chat about how you’re putting the shades together! The knit a long runs until March so there’s still plenty of time to join in.

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I hope this has given you some ideas about Fair Isle you’d like to try, especially now that Christmas and gift knitting is by with – some selfish knitting may be in order!

Speak soon 🙂

Christmas Closing Dates

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Hello everyone! we hope you are getting ready for lots of knitting over Christmas and New Year, we will close this Friday 23rd December at 1pm and will reopen Wednesday 4th January 2017 at 9am.

During this time no orders will be dispatched or emails checked. We will get back to you as soon as we can when we reopen, if you have any questions or queries feel free to post in our Ravelry group which will be checked periodically over the festive period. We have made a big effort to blog more this year so we really hope you have enjoyed seeing that, If you fancy having a look at some of this years posts there’s the Winter Woollies KAL, Berry Farm Visit, Lambing Time, Shetland Heritage Naturals, Wool Week, Voe Show, Cunningsburgh Show, Walls Show, Ollies Visit to Papa and The Harrogate Show to name a few!!

We hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, we’d like to thank you all for supporting Jamieson & Smith over 2016 and we are looking forward to more exciting things in 2017 🙂

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Fire Festival KAL 2016-2017

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Hello! Many of you have asked if we would be doing another Knit A Long this winter and the answer is yes!

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This year we have decided to take inspiration from something unique to Shetland and that is Up Helly Aa, there are a number of these fire-festivals all over Shetland from the Scalloway one in the second week of January up to the Delting Up Helly Aa in March.

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Without going into too much detail Up Helly Aa is held all over Shetland throughout the beginning of the year and they all feature a Guizer Jarl (chief Viking) and their Jarls Squad, a number of Squads dressed up, a torchlight procession and the burning of a Galley. It is something which cheers up and brightens many Shetlanders during the darkest time of the year here and I have always found the colours inspiring!

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So you can see from the shades chosen we have mainly been inspired by Fire! we have chosen a number of fiery shades (91, FC38, 125 and 9113) but also some darker shades to represent the dark winter skies (36, 81, 54) we have thrown in the bright blue shade 132 as when I was looking through photos for inspirations I kept seeing a brighter blue either in the sky or shadows like the photo above.

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Although we have taken our inspirations from the Vikings this Knit A Long is totally open to your interpretation of the colours, all you have to do is knit something (garment, accessory, whatever you feel!) using at least 5 of the 8 shades and it must feature some Fair Isle knitting (two colours in a row)

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Fire Festival Knit A Long Shades: 132, 54, 9113, 81, 36, 125, FC38 and 91

You can put together your own patterns or use a pattern that’s already out and work with putting the colours into it, we know there is still a lot of Christmas knitting going on so to coincide with the last Up Helly Aa we will have the Knit A Long running From now until 20th March 2017

I have put together a mood board of pictures on Pinterest so feel free to have a look and enjoy the Knit A Long, you can see the colours here on the online shop. If you take part and would like to Share pictures please post in our Ravelry Group and tag your pictures on instagram with #firefestivalkal

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J&S Weekend in Harrogate

Sandra and I arrived back home to Shetland on Monday afternoon after a great four days at the Knitting & Stitching Show in Harrogate. You can read my round up of our first two days here. The weekend was just as successful so again I’d like to share a bit about the people we met over Saturday and Sunday.

Just across from us was 3 Bags Wool, based in Aberlour, who had a stunning display of thrum hanks which are a by-product from Scottish weaving mills. They can be used in lots of ways including sewing and knitting. The colour combinations were so nice!

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Also available on the stand were giant wooden knitting needles which, as well as being perfect for the thrums, were great for knitting with our combed tops (knitted sample courtesy of 3 Bags Wool – thank you!)

We had a number of customers buying tops for this purpose and also for arm-knitting – we were told that about 2kg of tops was enough for a blanket. We’d love to see some examples so if anyone would like to share and tag us on Twitter or Facebook that would be great!

Over the other side of the hall was Woolaballoo. Lovely people and lovely yarns! I really liked these handmade yarn bowls and I always love a good Herdy mug 🙂 You can find Woolaballoo in Langley Park, Durham.

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One of the really fun things about being at the Knitting & Stitching Show was meeting so many amazing people, chatting with them, hearing all their stories about making with wool and seeing their wonderful knitwear! This is Brian and Margaret who I had to grab for a photo with their super pattern and colour combinations. We chatted quite a bit with Margaret, she was brilliant! The grey/orange Fair Isle jumper she’s wearing is an old Jaeger design.

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Of course there were some beautiful yarns (other than our inimitable J&S Shetland!) which were very tempting … and yes I did buy some…

A stand overflowing with the most amazing array of colour was The Knitting Goddess. Here is just a small selection of her hand-dyed yarns. A couple of gradient mini-skein bundles came home with me. So excited to get knitting with them over the winter!

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Now, I’ve been looking for the perfect pattern since last winter to replace a very old cabled jumper of mine but nothing I came across was quite right. Until… Purl Alpaca Designs ‘Mayan Jumper’ found me! Bear in mind that this was Sunday, the last day of the show, and I was VERY tired when taking photos so unfortunately forgot to take one of my perfect jumper but you can see it here.

I did buy the pattern and yarn which made me happy, yay!

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Finally, we get to the Latvian mittens! They’re knit on tiny needles, around 1.5mm. Hobby Wool have a wonderful selection of patterned kits to choose from, not just mittens but socks too. They were traditionally given as special gifts and the symbols mostly derive from deities and gods. They had a beautiful book too – Mittens of Latvia which was incredibly inspiring, I can’t wait to have a proper look through my copy!

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Ok, I’ll finish there, possibly rather abruptly I know. Apologies if my writing is not the best in this post, I’m really in need of a proper sleep! We’ve had a super time and would like to thank everyone at the show – visitors, fellow exhibitors, the fudge guy (can’t remember the name of his stand, sorry) and the sweetie man aka Henleys, all the porters, oh yeah the lady who came around with the tea trolley and brilliant cakes on the day we were setting up! She had perfect timing! Aaah, everybody, thanks!

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The Knitting & Stitching Show – Harrogate

We’re halfway into the Harrogate Knitting & Stitching Show so I thought this would be a good time to share with you how it’s going.

As you may know, this is the first show we’ve attended for quite a few years. We weren’t sure exactly how it would go or what people would be looking for so we took a mixture of kits with samples, combed tops, jumper boards, glove boards… a lot of different items!

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It’s been great so far, many beautiful stands and we’ve met some wonderful people. Here are a few visitors who stopped by to see us and a small selection of exhibitors we love (more in next post!).

Knitwear designer and tutor, Graeme Knowles-Miller, brought along some of his designs made using our 2ply Jumper Weight. It was so lovely chatting with him! You can see beautiful images of his work on his website.

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While Helen (AntyHelenInspires on Ravelry) was looking at yarn I couldn’t help but notice a wonderfully coloured something peeping out of her bag… she was happy to show us her handspun(!) Stephen West Mistery Building Blocks Shawl.

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Amazing colours!

Another customer had a beautiful shawl she’d knitted several years ago using our 1ply Cobweb Yarn. Wow!

Catherine (africandaffodil on Ravelry) was wearing a really lovely crescent-shaped shawl which I just had to ask about as I loved the colours! It turned out to be her own design – The Sheperdess. I didn’t get a photo at the time but here’s one of Catherine’s own images.

 

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The Sheperdess – image Copyright Catherine Holmes

 

Next up are two of my favourite exhibitors. Both will be at Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2017 so keep a look out for them.

Beyond Measure is Grace Whowell who has the most beautiful collection of textile-making accessories and notions. Love!

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The last wonderful person I’ll mention today is Sue Stratford of The Knitting Hut. She’s an author of some seriously cute knitting books! At the show she also had knitting kits for different birds, my favourites were the Chunky Blackbird and Chunky Robin!

I’ve still not made it all the way around the whole show, a lot more to see. I’d like to get some photos of a couple of stands I’ve already seen so I’ll tell you about them in the next post.

If you’re yet to make it along to the show at the Harrogate International Centre it’s on today and tomorrow from 10am until 5pm. We have some limited edition coloured combed tops as well as all our natural shades, lots of kits which could be perfect Christmas presents, we have special prices on our Knit Real Shetland and Gladys Amedro Vintage Lace books, and also free postage on any orders placed at the show.

For those of you who can’t make the show I’ll be writing up another post after Sunday x