It’s that time of year again

The wool season 2013 has finally kicked off after a pretty poor start to the year weather-wise. Stuart is back through in the wool store most of the time helping Derek and Oliver and even Ella has been having a go at hand-grading the wool and baling it up. Load 1 of 12 will be leaving us very shortly to head off to the scourers and then the fun begins as most of Shetland’s wool pours into us from all over the islands.

The Wool Store - ready and waiting for this years influx of wool
The Wool Store, waiting for the influx of this years wool clip
The Middle Store
The Middle – or Coloured Wool – Store

We handle roughly 80% of Shetland’s clip which is about 250 tonnes of new wool. After the wool is dropped off by one of our 700-800 suppliers and weighed in, each fleece has to be hand-graded and sorted into its various colours and one of 5 grades; from Superfine to Rough. This can include dividing up a single fleece into various grades, as Shetland wool can contain fine fibre for spinning lace and thicker fibre suitable for carpet all in one fleece. It is then all baled up and each bale labelled clearly, with the crofters who own the wool noted down, so that it can be traced from the scourers right back to the croft on which it was grown. All in all it is hard work but very worthwhile watching all the wool passing through, especially when you go next door to the shop and see all the beautiful products it is transformed in to. 

IMGP4944
A fleece can provide wool suitable for fine lace to carpeting

Shetland wool, like Shetland’s climate, landscape and wildlife, is varied, untamed and often seems to have a life of its own; but once it has passed through the laborious process of hand-sorting at J&S, its rebellious and challenging nature that comes from its original, unprocessed form gives Shetland wool products the unique and beautiful handle and bounce; the natural, undyed colouring; and the  distinctive ‘Shetland halo’ that it has become world famous for.

If you’re ever in Shetland make sure to pop in to the J&S wool store and shop for a look, where you can see the various grades of wool, how it is handled and the beautiful products Shetland wool creates.

9 thoughts on “It’s that time of year again

  1. woolfarmgal June 28, 2013 / 12:29 pm

    Thank you for sharing how the process works for sorting all the wonderful Shetland fleeces. It is your products that inspired me to decide to raise the Shetland breed of sheep on my Virginia farm. I go through a mini version of your sorting, working with a tiny cottage size mill in Central Virginia creating yarn to roving to felt that we use in creating our farm products we sell in our test farm store and fiber festivals. It is a real joy working with these amazing sheep and learning all their qualities as I use their fleeces create everything from from the yarn and roving to hats and sweaters to embroidered felt purses. I couldn’t ask to a better way of life.

  2. woolfarmgal June 28, 2013 / 12:35 pm

    Sorry, looking over my post, I was.a.victim of the auto spelling correct.I meant to say “etsy” farm store, not test farm store.

  3. woolfarmgal June 28, 2013 / 1:36 pm

    Reblogged this on woolfarmgal and commented:
    This is how the big boys do it. I process the Shetland Wool grown on Sweet Tree Hill Farm at Central Virginia Fiber Mill and work with Mary, the owner, in the sorting and decision making as we develop the yarn, roving and felt that will become our farm products.

  4. suth2 June 29, 2013 / 5:13 am

    I am hoping to visit Shetland next year so I will be sure to stop by the wool store and shop.

  5. carolscreativeworkshops.net July 1, 2013 / 5:57 pm

    Yes, I shopped at J&S a couple of weeks ago with my knitting group from London, and visited the spinning mill at Sandness and Hazel Tindall in AIth. Could have bought a lot more if we’d had space in our suitcases. Also collected lots of shed fleece from Shetland sheep on St Ninian’s Isle with the aim of spinning it into yarns to use for texture among other yarns in knitting or feltmaking. Loved your colours. Will come again during Wool Week. See my blog about our Shetland Visit.
    http://carolscreativeworkshops.net/news-events/

  6. curtthesheep July 2, 2013 / 12:12 pm

    Yes, the new season is upon us and we have our first 2013/14 British wool auction sale tomorrow. It is an exciting time of the year; new wool fresh from the farms, new products being made from it and new ideas to work on. It is hard work for all, from the shearing right through to the end product but it is worth it when you see what the fleeces have been transformed into.
    I will be in Shetland next week. Business is doing well but we have to plan for the future and can never relax. We are working on new IT systems as well and that will hopefully make it easier to contact and place orders with J and S.
    We are proud of the way handle and process our wool. Our scouring plant, Haworth Scouring Co, is the most environmentally friendly one of its kind on the planet. We endeavour to improve what we do and the way we do it and the world has to catch up. Irresponsible disposal of effluent from scouring wool, dyeing it and the like has to be stopped. Our original free range animal, the sheep, deserves its fabulous fleece to be processed in the correct way and by using the correct detergents; unfortunately some companies do not do so; please ask your suppliers how their wool is processed – there should be no secrets, we don`t have any!

  7. curtthesheep July 20, 2013 / 12:56 pm

    You can buy Real Shetland wool fleeces direct from Jamieson and Smith in Lerwick or you can ask Adam Curtis at The Real Shetland Company for some – the fleeces travel down to Bradford for scouring and sometimes combing into tops and Adam is happy to help out specialist customers who just want a small amount of greasy, scoured or combed tops. Try http://www.realshetland.com . Always happy to organise a small group tour of the scouring and combing plants if we have sufficient notice.

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