Cunningsburgh Show 2015

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On Wednesday Me (Ella) and Oliver headed down to Cunningsburgh in the South End of Shetland for the annual Show, Oliver was Judging the Wool, and I was judging the Colourbox Competition we hold each year with some of the shows.

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When we arrived we had a peerie look around and then headed into the tent where the Wool Judging was to take place and Oliver begin judging the wool people had entered into the show.

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Beginning in the late 1980’s they developed a Judging sheet for the wool, there are 5 or 6 categories which Oliver Judges each fleece against and gives them a mark out of a set amount. This is beneficial as it gives the entrants some explanation as to where they placed and how it can be improved for another year.

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As well as the trophy fleece seen above, Oliver also judges a few other categories such a most commercially saleable fleece, which may be different to the best fleece!

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While Oliver was doing the most of his judging (I took these photos at the beginning and end of his part) I headed over to the shed where the knitwear and crafts were

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For the best few years we have done a competition with the rural shows where we chose a group of 8 shades of 2ply Jumper Weight to be used in Fair Isle knitting, the entrants then must knit an item using at least 5 of these shades. It has its own category and that’s what I was there to Judge!

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The entries as ever were extremely strong and it’s always great to see how people have put the colours together, some colour selections are more popular than other years but as always we like it to be a challenge!

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Unfortunately due to poor weather the Voe Show was cancelled this year, very kindly the Cunningsburgh Show committee decided along with the Voe Committee to show the Voe entries also so I Judged that too, there are always some extremely beautiful pieces of knitting in the Voe Show so I am really happy they were able to be in the Cunningsburgh Show!

12 13knit2Of course alongside the Colourbox Challange there is a huge amount of knitwear entered into the show14knitFrom Lace to Fair Isle there was a huge range of items to be seen

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The fineness and skill in knitting Shetland Lace never ceases to amaze me and I was happy to see a few of our patterns knitted up, I spotted a Sheelagh and a Gibbie Shawl.

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Understandably the knitwear was very busy with people coming to see how they and their friends had fared as well as just coming to see the skills on show.

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Of course as it was a rural show there were lots of animals there too, obviously we spent a fair amount of time looking at all the sheep!

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22amooritBut as well as the sheep there were dogs, cattle, horses, ponies and poultry to name a few!

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25hensIt was a very busy but great morning, as judges we were also treated to a lovely dinner at the hall! Of course I always have my eye out for nice knitwear..

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I hope you enjoyed this peek into the Cunningsburgh Show! Til next time, Happy Knitting!

PS. remember there is still time to vote for Jamieson & Smith in the Best Brand for British Yarn category in the British Knitting Awards, if you like what we do at J&S you can vote for us here

KNITSONIK – BLOG TOUR PART 2!

As you may know, Felicity Ford has recently published a book ‘The Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook‘ We took part in the original blog tour which was part of the kickstarter campaign to raise the funds for the book. The full amount for the project had already been raised by the time we did our original post so we knew this book was going to be a roaring success!! We were lucky that the first copies of the book arrived in Shetland when Felicity was here for Shetland Wool Week so we got one of the first peeks.  I sent Felicity a few more questions to see how she was feeling now the book has come out!

the_cover-950x4251: How did you find the process of writing the book and are you pleased with how it has come out? I think it is beautiful!

I really enjoyed writing the book; I was lucky to have a talented team who shared my vision and gave tons of love to its production. Additionally, I was able to share milestones with the project backers through the Kickstarter site. Working on the book felt like going an adventure with loads of friends and I think it is richer for having had encouragement, input, energy and skills from many KNITSONIK comrades.
The little sections describing each inspiration source were the parts I most enjoyed writing because I discovered so much about my local area while researching them. The Berkshire Records Office and the Local Studies section of the central library in Reading were really helpful, providing me with access to building plans and street directories. Seeing and touching these old documents from Reading’s past made me feel more connected to the history here.

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As you will have seen, one section in the book celebrates my iconic Huntley & Palmers biscuit tin. I discovered through old census data that a William Chas Wellstead once lived at our address and that this individual had formerly worked as a tin-factory labourer. This information made my treasured little tin feel even more significant and personal. At the Berkshire Records Office I was enchanted to see the old building plans for the now demolished Huntley, Boorne & Stevens biscuit tin factory: this was where William once worked and where my tin was made.

Huntley_Boorne_Stevens-1-3Art_Deco-1Another snippet of local history celebrated in the book is an old pink Art Deco building on the Basingstoke Road. I was unable to discover when it was decorated in its distinctive shades. However in the Kelly’s Street Directory of 1949 the building was registered to Tokalon Ltd. (a cosmetics company) and when I found old Tokalon face powders on eBay the shades of pink were uncannily similar to the stucco facade.

TOKALON-1I don’t know if that was when it was painted but it’s a lovely coincidence!
These discoveries added extra context to my knitting and made me feel more connected to my town through stitches and patterns. Everyone who was involved in the project shared my joy in the lovely links between my knitting and my town and I feel that you can really see that in the final product.
I’m thrilled you think the book is beautiful. I am incredibly pleased with how it looks and want to credit the super talents of Fergus and Nic here because their photos and design are what really make the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook. Going on photo-shoots with Fergus was super fun as he really got the essence of the book and wanted to use the photos to show connections between my town and my knitting. The day when we went out together to photograph my bricks-inspired-swatch against the Reading brickwork was an especially happy one; I actually cried for joy when I saw his photos!

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It was also thrilling to pass Ferg’s wonderful photos over to Nic and see what she would do with them. I especially like the spread for the page opening the chapter about knitting places because the way Nic arranged Ferg’s photos is superb. She said “I wanted to put you in the middle, in your car, with all your favourite places around you” which is such a nice way to think about that chapter and something I could never have come up with by myself.
These are just two examples of how my amazing comrades have enriched this book with their talents and undoubtedly the best thing about writing the book was working with wonderful people.

2: What are your dreams for people who are using the book? We have had lots of Shetlanders asking about it!
My dreams are that people using the book will feel empowered to design stranded colourwork from things they love! I want to show that creativity is not mysterious, and that it involves practical steps which can be practised by anyone who wants to play.

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I hope the book will inspire knitters to start on hugely personal projects that feel rich and personal and significant… one of the reasons for spending all that time researching the history of old biscuit tins and factories is to show that these little things we notice each day really matter and are worthy of knitterly celebration.
I hope that reading the book will also inject a bit of fun and mischief into everyday life. The other day I saw a lovely message from Sarah who used to work for your company. She remarked on how the book had made her see some chimney pots in J&S yarn shades. That’s what it’s all about; finding inspiration and magic everywhere and cultivating creativity in unlikely places.

3: What are your best tips for people interested in colourwork but a bit scared to take the first step (apart from purchasing your book of course!) do you have any fail safe things to get colour and motifs inspirations from?

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My top tip is to edit your inspiration source down to a manageable size. If you start with the idea “I want to knit a swatch based on my favourite beach” then you may be overwhelmed! But if you can make this idea a bit smaller – “I want to knit a swatch based on this bit of sand, maybe using this individual shell and these pebbles for pattern ideas” then it has already become more manageable. Creativity is really just about solving problems – the first problem to solve is usually that the initial idea is vague, so defining the brief more clearly is the first step. I think a lot of people are tempted to start with nature subjects – a tree or a landscape for instance – and though these are beautiful and picturesque subjects they can also be quite complex. A single tree contains so many different shades and lines and colours that it can be hard to know where to begin. I address this in the book in my chapter on plants, and there are definitely ways to make it easier to knit from the natural world but if this seems complicated then you can’t go wrong with pleasing food packaging! A tin, a cereal box, even the washing up liquid bottle can all be superb starting points for stranded colourwork. These generally contain just a handful of colours which are easy to identify and it can be fun to hunt about in an initially simple-looking object for hidden patterns and shapes. I was delighted that in Shetland during Wool Week several comrades brought Tunnocks chocolate wrappers to my workshops as their inspiration source – these are ideal as they have really strong graphic lines and superb, bold colours.

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My favourite swatch in the book is the one based on my little handheld recorder. The object is so simple – just a little black plastic device with a digital screen and some buttons – that I really had to look hard to find details. Once I started, I had millions of ideas and it was a fun project.

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So my best tips are to start with a small idea or to start with a big idea and then make it smaller!

4: How do you think writing this book has changed how you will approach colourwork in the future?

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The main changes are that I have fallen in love with swatching (which I used to really dislike) and I feel more confident that you really can use anything as a starting point for designing stranded colourwork. When I started trying to design my own colourwork projects I didn’t know what I was doing; there were so many variables and I kept making ugly things or getting confused about the numbers or messing up the colours. As I solved each problem I got a bit more secure in my own creative process and my swatches got longer and longer as the ideas started really flowing.

In the Kickstarter video I said “I want to make this book for us” and in finding ways to clarify my process for other knitters, it inevitably became clearer to me. I had to put structure and language around what I do when I am designing stranded colourwork and that helped me to organise my thoughts. The result is that now I feel quite at home in the KNITSONIK system and know exactly where to start if I have an inspiration for stranded colourwork. I really hope the book makes others feel the same.

5: I really hope you liked working with our 2-ply Jumper Weight, I’m going to be horrible and make you choose your absolute favourite shade! If you can’t choose one, I at least want your top five!

Your 2-ply Jumper Weight is amazing and it was a pure delight to work with it for many reasons. Its provenance can be traced back to crofts on Shetland; its hand is soft and bloomy; and the range of shades is magnificent. After working on this book I almost know the shade card numbers by heart… there is no way I can choose one all time favourite shade, but my top five would be 9097, FC11, 202,1208 and 125.

90979097 is a calm red; it is the exact colour of the distant poppies that bloom on the horizon when driving my favourite road and it has a magical relationship with FC12 if you want to transition between red and green.

FC11FC11 is the most beautiful verdant green. It energises all plant-based design themes with its vivid hues; it is the colour of fresh leaves that have the sunlight passing through them.

202I think I used 202 more than any other shade in the book; it is an incredibly useful neutral shade and appears in many palettes with its translucent cool creaminess. It tempers brightness in surrounding shades and is really useful for describing such textures as faded pages or old paint; spots on a beach where the sunlight is hitting the sand; faded road markings and clouds. It is versatile and understated and I feel a must-have shade for every knitter trying to turn everyday inspirations into stranded colourwork!

12801280 is perfect for transitioning magically between purple and green shades as I discovered while I was knitting sloes. The bloom on a sloe is a beauteous and elusive thing but this shade I think goes some way towards capturing it.

125Finally I love 125 because it is almost the exact same colour as Reading Red. That is the colour that Reading clay fired to in the Victorian brickworks once plentiful in this town and there is nothing like it. You can see that the later bricks were not made of Reading clay because they are not the same vivid shade as your wonderful 125.

Thanks Felicity and Congratulations!

Wool Week Monday and Tuesday

So we began Wool Week at J&S with a class from our Wool Week patron Hazel Tindall, Hazel designed a bookmark which involved a bit of Fair Isle and steeking! the perfect small project which everyone made great progress on in the 3 hour class

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We even had some finished ones by the end!

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In the afternoon we carried on with the Fair Isle with a class on Colour knitting by English designer Mary Henderson, Mary has designed lots of things using our wool and her use of colour is fantastic!

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Of course the shop was busy all day with lots of wool being bought so I only took photos when I got a chance!

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Today we had another two classes with the US based dreamteam Mary Jane and Gudrun who are both here with a tour group. First off Mary Jane took a class on Fair Isle socks

big1of course she brought her suitcase of Fair Isle swatches and soon everyone was knitting away!

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In the afternoon we had a bit of Lace with Gudrun Johnston, Gudrun who was born in Shetland has a great pattern for a Shetland Hap, she had the knitters make a mini Hap which was a great way to try out all the elements of the shawl

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From the initial triangle, old shell pattern and the edging, in the mini-hap the students were able to try out all the things you need to know for a full size Hap!

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Today the shop was very busy with knitters buying basketfuls of wool, Me and Sandra were serving all day!

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and lots of decisions to be made!

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Ill be back with more pictures from Wednesday and Thursday on Thursday night!

Happy Knitting! xx

Knitsonik Blog Tour: Q&A with Felicity Ford

Our friend Felicity Ford has been on a mission to raise funds for her brilliant book: The Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook, which you can read more about here. If you have been following her journey you will know she had already reached the initial £9,000 needed and above (at the last check, she had reached over £11,000). Since her first visit to Shetland Felicity has had a great relationship with us at Jamieson & Smith and we are proud to be on her blog tour for this book which will using our wool.

I thought since Felicity will be doing a lot of knitting with our yarns I would ask her some questions about what she likes about Jamieson & Smith. Congratulations Felicity, we cant wait to see the finished book!
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1. How did you come to find out about J&S and our yarns?
I’d read about your yarn on different knitting blogs, but it was when we started WOVEMBER  that I really understood how brilliant Jamieson & Smith is.
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WOVEMBER is a campaign website run by myself, Kate Davies and Tom van Deijnen (aka Tom of Holland), established in 2011. The key points of our mission are that we love real wool, and admire the amazing skills involved in taking fleece from sheep and turning it into finished textiles. We think the term “wool” is special, and should be reserved for articles of clothing which contain a high percentage of fibres derived from actual sheep.
During the month of November, we write about and research the work involved in growing, shearing, sorting, scouring, spinning, knitting, and weaving with WOOL! We share our findings to raise awareness of what makes this fibre special, and to discourage companies who are not producing woollen goods from misleadingly describing their polyester and acrylic goods as being “wool” or “woolly”. We are interested in celebrating connections between the landscapes where wool grows and finished articles of clothing; in traceable and sustainable textile production methods; and in promoting the traditional skills associated with woollen textile manufacture.
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In our first year of the campaign, Kate told me there was no better person to interview for WOVEMBER than Oliver Henry, Managing Director of Jamieson & Smith, and wool grader and sorter for over 45 years, and she was right.  Kate’s interview with Oliver blew my mind, and opened my eyes to everything that makes Jamieson & Smith special:
Sorting is both challenging and rewarding. Sometimes a coloured fleece will take the breath from you when you least expect it to, like when you come across a rare marking or a beautiful crimp. But the best bit of my job is seeing the fruits of our efforts come back into the wool store transformed into everything from yarn to scarves to carpets to beds…
 
I think that telling the story of our wool – and the heritage and culture, people and communities behind it – is one of the most important bits of my job. It’s important for the future of the industry in Shetland, and for a new generation of budding crofters and farmers, to tell people why Shetland wool is so special (and has been for centuries) and what an honour it is to be involved with one of the finest natural fibres in the world.
 
– Oliver Henry, WOVEMBER 2011
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As well as agreeing completely with Oliver’s sentiments, in the photos sent with the interview, I was thrilled to see that you keep raw fleece and finished hand-knits in different parts of one building. To me, that speaks of a fantastically direct relationship between land and wool. Many farmers I’ve interviewed in other parts of the UK say that they have no idea what becomes of their wool after it is sheared and sent off. But crofters in Shetland can leave their fleeces in the wool room, and then go right into Jamieson & Smith to see the sturdy carpeting and exquisite hand-knitted shawls and tams that are ultimately produced from the wool they have grown.
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To me – and I imagine to many of the other knitters who visit during Shetland Wool Week – this is inspiring because it speaks of a direct relationship between Shetland’s woollen textiles, crofting traditions, and distinctive, working landscape. This is special because it’s been sadly lost in so many other places.
I have been obsessed for years with the history of the wool industry along the Southeast coast which I remember from my childhood holidays. When I was researching a piece for Twist Collective about finding traces of shepherding in the landscape, I discovered there had once been a wool staplers of great renown in Chichester. It was called “The Woolstaplers” and was run by Ebenezer Prior & Sons. Old photos in local libraries showed men at work there, forearms deep in great skeps filled with fleece. However these days, The Woolstaplers is remembered only in the name of the tarmac carpark which now covers the land where it once stood.
I was very sad when I turned the corner on my map of Chichester to find no other remainder of this once great woolly epicentre of the South, but consoled to later learn that the great art of sorting and grading fleeces is being kept alive by The Shetland Woolbrokers.
 
2. What is it you like best about the wool?
 
The KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook has been in the pipeline for a long time. I’ve been fascinated with Huntley & Palmers (the biscuit factory that thrived in Reading through 1800s – 1900s) and the brickwork of this town for a few year. In 2011 Kate hunted down an amazing vintage Huntley & Palmers biscuit barrel on eBay for me, and sent me a package of Jamieson & Smith in appropriate shades, so I could start trying out my idea to knit the bricks and biscuit tins of Reading.
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At first your yarn seemed so special that I was afraid to knit with it in case I made a horrible mess of your lovely wool…
…but I have since discovered that my worries were completely unfounded, for your yarn is both forgiving and strong, and the shades are so nice that you can always get something great out of them with a little patience, trial and error.
Oliver talks of two distinctive breeds once running together in Shetland – one rough and sturdy, with a “skadder” (mane) on its back and neck, and one “kindly-woolled” breed. When I interviewed him for my soundmap of Shetland wool sounds [http://aporee.org/maps/work/projects.php?project=shetlandwool] he talked about these two breeds running together on the fence-less Shetland landscape, and eventually cross-breeding to produce what we now think of as Shetland sheep. I may be fanciful or romantic, but I feel that I can perceive both the rough sheep and the soft one in your wool, and this is what I love best about it.
The very slight roughness in the 2-ply gives it enough grip that I have become fearless to the point of irresponsibility about my steeking. I can cut willy-nilly with no thought of negative consequences, for I know that the yarn will hold! You have to really pester your 2-ply jumper weight to make it unravel sideways, and unless you have plans to really harass it, a knotted steek is perfectly secure. For me, there’s character and sass in that grippy quality; it gives me faith that my knitting won’t pill and that there will be structure and integrity to the fabric I produce with my needles. I like to imagine the rough, wild Shetland sheep with its skadder is running around somewhere in my knitting, and that brings to mind my memories of the cliffs, the brisk North sea, and the peat hills that I have so enjoyed exploring in my short time in Shetland.
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As for the kindly components of your wool, they are what give my blocked knitting its lovely fuzzy halo, light hand, and infinite wearability. The airy fibres, woollen-spun and soft, block down into a light, even surface. I love that I can knit baby things or scarves or other items which require softness with your wool, but that – because of the tiny bit of rough they contain – that these soft and lovely things still have character and personality. I also love that the wool is directly traceable to the Shetland landscape, and that I understand the journey it has made from sheep to shelf.
3. What are some of your tips for Fair Isle knitting and blocking your samples?
 
My top tip is to use Jamieson & Smith yarn! I’m serious about that. I’ve tried knitting stranded colourwork with a variety of yarns, and I have not enjoyed the results as much as with your wool. I think when you are getting the hang of stranded colourwork, it’s no bad thing to have a yarn that doesn’t slip around all over the place, and your 2-ply jumper weight holds nicely on my needles. I’ve also found that it can handle a fairly aggressive blocking process, and that this can correct a multitude of tension crimes, especially if you tend towards knitting rather loosely, which I do.
My next tip is to enjoy the process. Hazel Tindall says a nice thing about how there is a rhythm to Fair Isle knitting, and I agree with her. I don’t know what other knitters do, but I tend to glance at my chart and then go around the row chanting silently in my head something like “one red, white, white, white, two red, one white…” after a while that just turns into numbers… and after another while, it just turns into a kind of pattern, which patters along in the background of my thoughts, like a very pleasing musical phrase. So I would say that – when knitting stranded colourwork – find the rhythm, and the rest is easy.
I also would advocate the two-handed approach, simply because I personally find that extremely easy myself. Knitting two-handed, I know that the colour I’m holding in my left hand and picking up with my right always dominates. This allows me to decide which bits of the pattern I want to foreground, and which parts to leave in the background. I know other knitters who prefer to get a more even fabric, without a dominant colour, or who like to hold both yarns in the right hand or both in the left… in the end it’s about finding a way that works for you.
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For blocking, I simply soak my knitting in hot water with a tiny bit of soak solution in it, and wait until the water’s cold. Then I gently squeeze the knitting with both hands to get all the water out of it, and then I generally slap it against the edge of a table a couple of time, to get all the steeked ends lying flat. I have big foam boards which I then pin the swatch to. I pop this up on a radiator where the knitting dries, and then in the evenings, I knot up the ends and trim them to neaten them. I find this creates very pleasing swatches which can be examined and referred to for future knitting projects. They look lovely finished like this, and if you compare them to sketches or drawings, the materials involved are nowhere near as expensive as paint or charcoal, and you learn loads for the time you’ve spent trying things out.
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4. What are your top 10 colours?
I love 125, because it really is so reminiscent of the brickwork around here which I love so much, and 54 for the same reason. There is a type of brick in Reading called “Silver Facing” which I am reminded of when I look at 54. I have a fondness for the vivid and synthetic feeling of 79 – it’s very lurid and reminds me of Dorothy finding green things in the Nome King’s underground domain in “Return to Oz” – it is precisely the colour of The Emerald City as the 1950s movies depicted it.
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But who can argue with the far softer shade of FC24, and its resemblance of distant fields on the skyline?
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49 is such a lurid mauve, and so dominant and fresh in anything it touches that I have developed an epic respect for it. 1280 is the perfect colour for describing the blueish greenish violet on the bloom of soft fruits… I have recently been really enjoying the tempered yellow of 121; it’s a heathery blend of soft gold, mixed with salt and pepper shades, which make it play really nicely with grey.
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131 reminds me of the Crayola crayon I had as a child, called “periwinkle”. I was obsessed with that shade, and it is a very warm, soft blue, like the dot in the centre of forget-me-nots, or the dark shades striping the centre of the bluebell. It is beautiful.
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Many of the shades are lovely because of how they activate the things around them,  and the soft, translucent creaminess of 202 contrasted with the hard, uncompromising white of 1 is an interaction I enjoy greatly. I worked in a florist for a couple of years when I was 18, and I always loved making up all-white bouquets best of all, because I realised through making them how complicated and multi-shaded white is. It had always just been the colour of paper – the colour waiting to be drawn or painted on – but now I think of it as a very active force of colour in its own right, and I love playing with this in my stranded colourwork.
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5. What have been your favourite experiences of Shetland?
When I came in August to make recordings about Shetland wool and its history in the isles, my favourite experiences wer going to The Voe Show, and staying in the Nesbister Böd at Whiteness.
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The Voe Show celebrates the local talent and produce from the land itself. There were so many lovely things to see, from homemade cakes to preserves and jams, to flowers grown in people’s gardens, to the lovely Shetland sheep, and finally, to the heart-stoppingly-beautiful knitwear. There was an inspiring frisson of competition in the air and it was superb to see the proud rosettes perching like butterflies on the best knitting, and also the amazing children’s knitting, with encouraging WELL DONE badges pinned on it. The Colourbox challenge that you set each year at Jamieson & Smith really intrigued me – where 8 colours are chosen, and knitters pick shades from within the selection to produce a piece of colourwork! I photographed a few of the entries last year, because I was fascinated to see how different knitters had used the same shades to produce diverse results.
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It’s not expensive to have the Nesbister böd at Whiteness to yourself, and I really wanted to listen to the sound inside a traditional Fisherman’s böd without any distractions, so I paid the extra. It is a short walk from where you leave your car, and right out on the edge of a peninsula. There is no electricity inside, and the only running water is a tap on the outside of the building. A bag of peats inside is used in the stove inside, and as soon as you open the creaky wooden door, you can feel the thickness of the stone walls, and the sense of age and time and quiet. I heated up a flask of hot water and sat outside on the rocks holding it until the sun went down. I heard otters splashing, and sheep baa-ing their goodnights to one another on the beach. The water lapped at the building very gently, and the fire purred in the stove. I have hydrophones – microphones which you can put into the water – and I had one in the voe. It was so quiet that I could hear the little pincers of a crab as he scuttled about on the rocks at the bottom. That was the quietest place I was ever in, and in the morning when I got up, all the sheep were resting along the beach, right outside my door, and there were jellyfish dotted through the water like little purple jewels. It was magic.
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During Shetland Wool Week, I had lots more favourite experiences! I really enjoyed the time I spent with you and Sandra in the shop after Tom’s darning classes, laughing and playing with the wool! Staying with Tom in Nortower Lodges was beautiful, for it is a lovely spot, and the people who own it are lovely, and made us feel really welcome. I liked arriving home to lots of baas from their sheep one evening! Tom is a superbly calm and supportive comrade; he was very kind about my relentless accordion practice while writing and rehearsing the “Shetland Wool Week Song”.
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I also loved sitting in the Wool Week Hub in the Shetland Museum, talking to Museum staff about their own lives in knitting. So many women working in the museum are amazing knitters, and it was a very great pleasure to sit with them in the boathouse, looking through textiles from their own lives, and learning about the history of Shetland knitting from personal perspectives, as well as through examining the fantastic permanent displays. I especially loved the story of a pram blanket that was later turned into a scarf, and an old Tam, handed down through the generations in one Shetlander’s family. To me it seems special that everyone in the Museum wears sweaters designed by Wilma Malcolmson of Shetland Designer; that you can see the older Shetland textiles in the Museum cases together with these contemporary examples of a thriving Shetland wool industry. That kind of visible continuity in the wool industry is wonderful. As part of this continuity, you can see how historic textiles are influencing the production of new yarns – for instance your Heritage yarn. I love this photo of Tom, trying on one of the Fair Isle kit “keps” available in the Museum shop, using the Heritage yarns you have developed. I think it is a Fisherman’s kep, to be worn out on a Sixareen boat; behind Tom, you can just make out a model of a Sixareen, and an example of an original kep… where else in the world could you see the past and present lives of wool so simultaneously?
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I also love thinking about the future of Shetland wool and so it was great to see the rams at the Flock Book, and to watch the auction. It was beautiful to see so many fine examples of Shetland sheep in one place, certain in the knowledge that these animals and their genes will play a role in the future of Shetland wool.
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A huge congratulations to Felicity for reaching her target, her passion comes through in her writing and we think the book will become a classic!

Tobys Coat

Carrying on with the theme of natural colours from yesterdays post we have a new kit to show you today.

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (Tobys Coat)

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (Tobys Coat)

Last year Sandra knitted her peerie dog Toby a coat to keep him warm, She used the motif’s from the Rams and Yowes blanket. When Kate saw the coat on her one of her visits to Shetland last year, they chose to release it as a joint pattern between them, A Wolf in Sheeps Clothing is the result!

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Toby in his coat, photo by Kate Davies

A Wolf in Sheeps Clothing (Tobys coat) uses all nine shades of Shetland Supreme 2ply Jumper Weight and includes the essential pattern features of the Rams and Yowes by Kate Davies.

This coat is made from the tail upwards, casting on stitches for the belly and using contrast yarn to create and ‘afterthought’ front leg openings to be made later. The body is worked back and forth in stocking stitch. The neck is shaped by decreasing, and a ribbed edging is added all around the sides.

if your peerie dog could use a coat just like Tobys you can buy the kit here and if you already have the wool you can download the pattern from Kate here

woof woof!

Brand New Kits!

The hard work is done and the patterns are printed so we can finally reveal four new Fair Isle kits to add to the J&S collection. Two of these are in our 2ply Jumper Weight yarn which I’m sure most of you are familiar with. The other two are in our new Shetland Heritage yarns that are inspired by the original hand spun ‘wirsit’ that used to be commonplace in the Isles.

Three of these were designed by our very own Sandra Manson who is an expert at picking out colours and blending them together in beautiful patterns to create amazing garments.

The first of these is the Antarctica Hat, Mittens & Neckwarmer. Sandra initially designed, knitted and gifted these to Dr Alexander Kumar whose address throughout 2012 has been Concordia Station, Antarctica. Dr Kumar learned of the wonders of Shetland wool for keeping you warm when reading of Sir Earnest Shackleton’s trip to Antarctica over 100 years ago, when he was protected from the bitter cold with the aid of Fair Isle wool garments. We have had reports back that Sandra’s knitting has helped keep Dr Kumar comfortable, or as comfortable as you can be in as cold as -91°C!

You can learn more about Alexander’s trip here.

The second of Sandra’s designs is the Peerie Bairns Jumper. This is an extremely cute little thing inspired by traditional Fair Isle patterns handed down over generations. It is completely flexible, with options available in blue or purple and for ages 2, 4 and 6. Though the more adventurous among you could try knitting it in different colours if you prefer – just make a note of the different shades of 2 Ply Jumper Weight you want in the Delivery and Order Comments box at checkout. The Peerie Bairns Jumper will definitely keep your peerie bairn cosy whilst making them look oh-so-cute.

The third of Sandra’s designs – and her first in our new Shetland Heritage yarns – is the Annie Jumper named after our Ella’s neice. The Heritage yarn just oozes authenticity when it comes to Fair Isle knitting and Sandra’s use of patterns brings it all together into a lovely little gansey. This yarn is also perfect for knitting for children as it is worsted spun, making it bouncy and soft to touch. The Annie jumper would also be suitable for boys or girls and is available in options for ages 2, 4, 6 and 9. My mam is currently knitting one for my nephew and I cannot wait for him to try it on!

The final one of our new kits for now is the Fair Isle V-necked Jumper. The pattern for which is based on a garment in the Shetland Museum’s Textile Archive which was one of the inspirations for the new Shetland Heritage range. The yarn for these original pieces was commercially spun but hand-dyed and it looks almost as good as new and very much like the new range. This shows just how well Shetland wool can last if cared for. One of the striking features of the garments in the Shetland Museum’s Textile Archive is how they have been patched over time to match the original colours and pattern, giving them a real sense of history and emphasising their beautiful hand-made quality. This jumper truly is an heirloom piece of real Fair Isle knitting and we are very excited to finally be able to offer it to you.

Detail from the original museum piece. Image courtesy of Jen Arnall-Culliford

The kits are all available now and can be found here! (or directly by clicking on each kit’s name above)