woollen and worsted

You may notice when looking at our website we have quite a variety of different yarns in much the same weights but available in Worsted and Woollen spun variations. I thought today we’d go through and look at the differences of both and why you may choose one over the other depending on your project.

l-2ply Lace r-Shetland Supreme 2ply Lace

l-2ply Lace r-Shetland Supreme 2ply Lace

In relation to the fibre preparation before spinning – Woollen spun fibre is carded and this means the fibres are still overlapping having been carded back and forth over each other, this creates a very airy fibre which when spun is warm and springy.

Worsted spun however is combed so all the fibres are lying relatively parallel to each other which creates a smoother and stronger yarn, the combing process also removes many of the shorter fibres, one aspect which can be found itchy by the wearer.

our new Shetland Heritage Naturals are Worsted Spun

our new Shetland Heritage Naturals are Worsted Spun

I’ve made this very rudimentary illustration to show what I mean when these two methods are used in a finished yarn: (ignore the similarity to a hairy leg!)

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The image above also illustrates what it is people sometimes find itchy about wool, those fibres poking out are what irritates the skin and this is why worsted spun can be less itchy than woollen, although worsted spun can still have a visible ‘halo’ the location of the fibres are not actually poking out in the same way as woollen spun.

The reason we have similar weights available in both woollen and worsted is because both approach have pro’s and con’s and depending on your intended final finish it is always good to have a choice!

Woollen Spun Worsted Spun Equivalent
1ply Cobweb 1ply Shetland Supreme
2ply Lace 2ply Shetland Supreme
Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight Shetland Heritage Naturals (slightly thinner)
2ply Jumper Weight Shetland Heritage (slightly thinner)
Shetland Aran (discontinued) Shetland Aran Worsted

In relation to the thinner 1ply yarns Woollen Spun has a crisper feel, whereas the Worsted Spun has more drape and softness. In this photo below you can see the 1ply Supreme (worsted) on the left has more of a halo whereas the 1ply Cobweb (woollen) on the right has better stitch definition – it almost feels like cotton although it is 100% wool. For projects using 1ply you need to think what the finished item will be used for – a baby’s christening shawl which wont be used often may benefit from being knitted in the crisper 1ply Cobweb but a stole that will be worn close to the skin and often may be better in Shetland Supreme.1plyThe loftiness in the fibre of Woollen Spun yarn means air is trapped within the yarn making it warm to wear, it also is known all over the world for its use in Fair Isle knitting because of the way the fibres interact with each other. In the below image you can see the effect of the two different spinning processes in Fair Isle, worsted spun on the left and woollen on the right. Both successful and traditional in there own right, its only down to your preference. You can see the Shetland Heritage garment has a sheen and flatness whereas the Supreme Jumper Weight garment has a slightly fuzzy look due to the fibre preparation we mentioned earlier.jwAt the top of this post you can see an image of 2ply Lace and Shetland Supreme 2ply Lace next to each other, the loftiness of the Woollen Spun 2ply is evident to see in the thickness of the yarn and the smoothness of the 2ply Supreme Worsted spun is also clear to see. In finished garments these two aspects can still be seen, In the 2ply Lace the crispness works extremely well in traditional Lace patterns and similarly the drape of the Shetland Supreme 2ply also works well in Shetland Lace patterning.2ply laceDue to the fibres being combed and all the fibres aligning Worsted Spun yarns are very strong and quite hard to break, Woollen spun has the short and long fibres jumbled together so it is easier to pull apart, this is another thing to think about for your finished garment – Shetland Lace can need quite aggressive blocking so it may be worth looking into the Worsted Spun ranges if this is something that concerns you.

I hope this quick look into our worsted and woollen spun yarns has been informative and it might make a bit more sense why we have similar weights in both Woollen and Worsted spun!

Happy Knitting!

New Yarn Launch – Shetland Heritage Naturals

A few of you may have heard whisperings over the last few months about something exciting on the way from Jamieson & Smith.

We are so happy to finally let you all in on the secret and launch our Shetland Heritage Naturals…

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These undyed shades are an extension to our Shetland Heritage range which is an incredibly smooth and strong worsted spun 100% Real Shetland yarn!

The Shetland Heritage Naturals are a lovely variation to our woollen spun 2ply Jumper Weight for use in Fair Isle or other colourwork. Due to the worsted spinning process they are slightly lighter in weight meaning they are also suitable for lace knitting.

Similar to our Supreme Lace yarns the Heritage Naturals show off beautifully the natural tones of our islands’ native sheep.

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Technical info:

25g, 110m/120yds, 2.8nm worsted

Tension: 30 sts and 32 rows = 10cm/4in over Fair Isle pattern using 3mm needles

You can read more about our original Shetland Heritage range here and about the idea behind developing the Heritage yarn here.

You can see it on our online shop here!

The Book of Haps

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Hooray! The Book of Haps has arrived! Our good friend Kate Davies has done it again and her latest book has just landed at J&S, ever since we heard about this book we have been so excited to see it and the patterns don’t disappoint!

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clockwise from top left: Hapisk by Helene Magnusson, Moder Dy by Kate Davies, Harewood by Bristol Ivy, Happenstance by Romi Hill

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Clockwise from top left: Theme and Variation by Veera Valimaki, Montbretia by Carol Feller and Hexa Hap by Tom van Deijnen,

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Clockwise from left: Nut-Hap by Jen Arnall-Culliford, Uncia by Lucy Hague and Shore Hap by Martina Behm,

As always the essays are well researched and full of wonderful photos, Kate goes into depth about all aspects of a Hap, what it means, what it represents and its historical importance to places like Shetland. We are so happy that three of the beautiful designs have been made in our yarns..

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Lang Ayre by Gudrun Johnston, knit in 2ply Jumper Weight

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Hamegaet Wrap by Hazel Tindall knit in Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight

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Houlland by Donna Smith knit in Shetland Supreme 2ply Lace

We love how all the patterns are so different but all encompass the elements of a Hap updated with design features like lace, intarsia, steeks.. and many more. Each design has something new and different to learn which is well explained. Kate has worked closely with Technical Editor Jen Arnall Culliford and all the patterns are detailed and clear with lots of extra tips..

You can order your copy here and see more information about each pattern here. There are lots of fun ways to get involved with this new book: Jen Arnall Culliford is hosting a Knit-a-Long in her Ravelry group for the book which you can see here and Louise Scollay of Knit British is also hosting one which you can see here.

Hap-py Knitting!

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Kate and her wonderful Moder Dy design, one knit in Buachaille and one in 2ply Jumper Weight.

Rugs and Placenames

We recently received a new batch of Rugs developed by the Real Shetland Company made from our lovely Shetland Heritage Yarns, we at Jamieson & Smith were tasked with naming the beautiful range of blankets and we decided to go with placenames in Shetland ending in Wick – this can be translated from Old Norse as Vik which means Bay.

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The varying place names we have here in Shetland are what they are because of our Norse heritage. Norwegian settlers arrived here around 800 AD and brought with them many words to describe the landscape, the language spoken by them was Old Norse, from which Norwegian, Faroese and Icelandic languages are all derived. Of course, Scottish and English speaking settlers who came after them meant place names changed and developed but anything ending in Wick means a bay is sure to be nearby.

1654 Map of Orkney and Shetland

1654 Map of Orkney and Shetland

Shetland is surrounded by Coastline, some of it high and rocky but a lot of it low and easily accessible to boats, hence why we became such an important part of the Northern Sea. Unpredictable weather and rough seas teamed with our unique location of 60 degrees north means we are a common stop off point.

A while ago me (Ella) and Derek had to go out on a little excursion and decided to take some of the blankets with us to photograph alongside the signs for their namesakes.

One of the Blankets – Westerwick is the birthplace of one of Shetland’s most well known poets – T. A Robertson. I thought I’d share this poem, its called Voar Wadder and is about Springtime in Shetland, although we are coming into Summer now I thought it was still appropriate! – If you would like to hear the poem being read you can listen to it here

Da ask is tick at da back o Vaila,
   As da cowld, sweet braeth o da Sooth wind blaas,
Whaar da rigs is lyin, gold an shaila,
   An da paet-reek driftin by ower Waas;
Whin da green paeck comes, an you hear da kilya
   Among da fleein cloods o maas.

As up an doon da gaet A’m gyaain,
   Wi da owld byre-borrow back an fore,
I feel da Sooth wind saftly blaain,
   An da cock craas lood at da barn door.
Nae time laek da time wi da green paeck shaain
   An da smell o da eart ida first o da Voar!

The rugs can be purchased on our website here.  They are sized approximately 188cm (74 inches) long and 131cm (51.5 inches) wide which makes them perfect for a summer picnic. Of course while we were taking our pictures we had an interested audience..

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Happy Knitting!

Yokes

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a shetland knitter working on a V-bed machine, photo by Tom Kidd

Historically Shetlander’s have always had to have a few things on the go, originally we were crofters and fishermen and this meant there was always quiet times, be it bad weather, dark nights or rough seas you had to find something to do. In the height of Shetland knitwear fame many homes were equipped with large v-bed knitting machines like the one you see in the picture above for people to combine machine and hand knitting and to earn a bit of extra money. Prior to the Oil Boom of the late 1970s/early 1980’s many homes echoed to the sound of the knitting machine.

by the mid 1960’s, when the local press reported that knitting was beginning to become more profitable than crofting, many Shetland families were encouraged to purchase Passap or Knitmaster machines specifically to turn out sweater bodies, as well as yokes in their own home’

An excerpt from Kate Davies ‘Yokes’

Working in one of the many Knitwear factories. Photo: Unknown

Working in one of the many Knitwear factories. Photo: Unknown

With the introduction of oil and all its job opportunities and  wealth it was no surprise that locals packed away their knitting machines and took advantage of the Oil Boom and all its rewards. The skills of these cottage industries saw a deep decline, luckily there were still people in Shetland who had these skills and we are lucky to be able to work with some of them.

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We have designed a range of traditional Yoke cardigans using both our 2 ply Jumper Weight and Shetland Heritage yarns, we have partnered up with a selection of Shetland knitters to help us produce them – The body and sleeves are hand frame knitted for us by a maker in Whalsay, one of the outlying Islands and then we have a number of local knitters who put in the yokes and finish the garments in their own homes.

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The continuation of the Shetland Textile industry is always very important to us, that’s why we are ensuring to pay our knitters a good price for doing the work, we understand and appreciate the skills the knitters have and want to pay them rightly for these skills. We have the initial stock available on the website here but we will be adding to it as colours come back from the knitters.

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We are very excited about our new range of garments, and we hope you are too! If you don’t fancy buying a ready made yoke the pattern is taken from Sandras’ Hairst Yoke pattern which is available as a kit.

Happy Knitting!

lambing time

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One of the nicest things about this time of year in Shetland (apart from lighter nights!) is the sight of Lambs. Lambing starts end of April and goes on throughout May, and all the photos in this post have been taken in the last few weeks.

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The Shetland is the smallest of the British breeds and is believed to be of Scandinavian origin. It retains many of the characteristics of wild sheep such as natural hardiness, longevity and an ability to thrive on a low level of food intake from our heather clad hills and peat moors.

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Shetland Sheep are naturally good mothers, they require little assistance when giving birth and easily lamb by themselves. You can see from the photos that the mothers fairly keep an eye on you when your near their babies! Hill sheep in Shetland average 25 kilos and the new born lambs birth weight can is ususally 1 to 2 kilos and sizewise not much larger as a cat.

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Ewes that lamb on the hill usually give birth at dusk or dawn,  this is natural instinct to lamb in semi-darkness to avoid predators such as the Bonxie and Ravens. By lambing at night this timing gives the lambs a chance to get to their feet. Lambs become quite independent after a week or two and start to graze and chew the cud.

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At this time of year Shetland hills echo with the loud bleating of straying lambs followed by the answering call of its mother.

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If you would like to make your own Peerie Shetland Lamb you might like our newest kit! The Peerie Sheep, this was designed by Sandra Manson who works at J&S and was inspired by all the lambs in Shetland at spring time.

til next time, happy knitting!

Photos by Jan Robertson and Ella Gordon