The Shetland lambing season is in full swing at the moment so there are thousands of little lambs running around the somewhat chilly countryside just now. At home on my own croft we stared lambing 2 weeks ago tomorrow and almost all our breeding ewes have lambed already, so it has been a busy couple of weeks! To celebrate the coming of the next generation of wool providers, we at J&S are releasing 3 new woolly patterns dedicated to them.
All these patterns have been designed by Sandra Manson, our knitter-designer extraordinaire here at J&S. They are fun little knits perfect for this time of year as you grab any knitting time you can in between all the little jobs that spring brings. They all use loop stitch and garter stitch and are good projects for a beginner or should only take a few days for the more experienced knitter to make.
The Monster Muff came to Sandra around Halloween last year, inspired by the spooky holiday and a desire to create a nice little phone protector. Although it sounds scary it actually turned out quite cute with its pom-pom nose and button eyes. It was designed as a phone protector but can easily be adapted into a little bag, perfect for children, through simply adding on a strap made from leftover yarn. My mam tried this out for my niece; she loves it and has been taking it everywhere and putting all her things in it.
The Monster Mitts developed from the Monster Muff as we noticed how cosy this type of knitting is and how amazing looking a pair of gloves made in it would be! At first they just look like a rather woolly pair of gloves until you see the flap on the cuff which makes it look like a little monster has eaten your hand. They’re great fun and also a pleasure to knit.
The Sheep Cushion is personally one of my favourite patterns that we’ve ever released! It was the idea of Derek Goudie, one of the ‘wool men’ here at J&S and was developed into this unique cushion by Sandra. Its loop-stitch body emphasises the warm, woolly nature of our Shetland Aran yarn and the garter stitch head, body and legs gives it a beautiful finish. It is also stuffed with our wool cushion filling, a perfect – and eco-friendly – way to finish off this little Shetland Sheep.
We purposefully simply called the pattern ‘Sheep Cushion’ so that you can name your own one anything you wish. As with all our other patterns we would love to see pictures of them when you’ve finished, as well as hearing what you’ve named your own little sheep and where they are living now. My mam is currently working on one now in very special colours which I think we’re going to call Jeemie Smith. More to come soon…
For most crofters the Shetland lambing season begins a few months later than mainland Britain, at the end of April or start of May, when the weather has hopefully calmed down and is warm enough for the newborn lambs. This includes a mix of breeds including Suffolk, Cheviot, Texel and of course Shetland. Some yarns that claim to be Shetland wool are a mixture of breeds such as these, meaning you don’t get the quality of Real Shetland Wool yarns. Most of the wool from Shetland’s sheep comes in to us here at J&S where it is hand graded and sorted to make sure only the best Real Shetland Wool is made into our yarns, making sure they are soft, bouncy and beautiful to handle.