Outi Kits

Hello and happy Monday! here at J&S we love to support local designers and we’ve just got in a delivery of some new to us patterns from Outi Kater, Outi is originally from Finland but has lived in Shetland for over 10 years, she takes her inspirations from her Nordic upbringing but is also inspired by Shetland and we think her patterns make a perfect blend of those two inspirations. I don’t know about where you are in the world but in Shetland things are still a bit chilly so these patterns are calling out to me!

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Arhippa Mittens
Finnish Midwinter Ski Hat
Finnish Midwinter Ski Hat
Thrift Hat
Thrift Hat
Sandsound Sweater
Sandsound Sweater
Thrift Gloves
Thrift Gloves
Xylitol Mittens
Xylitol Mittens
Finnish Midwinter Mittens
Finnish Midwinter Mittens

Outi is extremely good at putting complex colour combinations together but her graphic 2 colour designs are equally as successful as you can see from the pictures above. We have received 7 new patterns printed by Outi, and if you order a kit it will include a copy of the printed pattern and all the yarn to knit your chosen design. You can see more of Outi’s designs on her Ravelry page and you can see all her designs which we offer as a kit here which includes her two kits we already sold.

Happy Knitting!

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.

Wool Week Wednesday and Thursday

big1So we began Wednesday with another class on Fair Isle by Hazel Tindall, again it went down a treat!

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PicMonkey Collage big2In the afternoon we had the first of our lace classes with Elizabeth Johnson of Shetland Handspun, as usual once things got going this was one of the quietest classes.. lots of concentrating going on!

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We stayed open after five last night to host the Shetland launch of Gudrun Johnstons newest book, The Shetland Trader Book 2!

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Gudruns new book has 10 patterns, a number using J&S yarns, 3 of which you see here! We sold out of the book after a couple of hours and it was great to see how many people came to support Gudrun

PicMonkey Collage

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Today we began the day with something a bit different for us, a fleece preparation class with Deborah Gray.

big1This involved Deborah showing the group how to prepare raw fleece for spinning, really interesting!

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And this afternoon another class from Mary Henderson, this time of steeking! aka cutting your knitting! (not as scary as it sounds!!)

big1Mary had the group knit a ‘Mug Hug’ mug warmer, a nice small project perfect for steeking!

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PicMonkey Collage big3

Another great few days, I headed to the Museum tonight to listen to Hazel Tindall and Stella Ruhe’s talk on Knitting in the 1960s and Dutch Ganseys, really interesting! Ill be back on Saturday with a round up of the last few days of Shetland Wool Week at J&S.

Happy Knitting!

 

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!
book
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.
baling_fleeces
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.
biscuit_tin_knitted
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.
blocking
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?
FC24
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.
121
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.
JandSWOOL
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.
Voe_Show
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.
Voe_Jacqueline_Irvine_Colou
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?
kep
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.
future_wool
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!

Sandra’s 2013 Collection for J&S

They’re finally here! After many months of designing, knitting, writing, editing, test knitting, checking, checking and checking again then printing, our shiny new patterns have arrived back to J&S and are available on our online shop as kits.

Sandra's 2013 CollectionSandra constantly has new knitting ideas popping into her head that she tries out on new designs in all different shapes and sizes such as her last patterns the Sheep Cushion, Monster Mitts and Monster Muff. The following four new designs reflect a broad range of her designs; featuring Fair Isle, lace and cable knitting techniques and various weights of yarn.

Noughts & Crosses Cushion

Sandras Noughts and Crosses Cushion uses the worsted spun Cushion Yarn used in the Shetland Flag Cushion, this unique cabled design which is inspired by the OXO Fair Isle patterns has holes in the cablesfor you to pull through Shetland Comb Tops which gives the cushion texture and a bit extra squash. You could use any colour of Comb Tops to co-ordinate with any colour scheme or leave the holes empty on one side for a more subtle effect. There are lots of possibilities!

You can find the Noughts & Crosses Cushion here.

Noughts & Crosses Cushion

Noughts & Crosses Cushion blue/white

Noughts & Crosses Cushion detail

Lace Ella

The Lace Ella can be made using two of our newest yarns, Shetland Heritage and Shetland Supreme Lace Weight, this warm but surprisingly lightweight jumper features lots of different lace patterns on the front and back, with a beautiful lace patterned V on the back, and the sleeves have a classic lace motif all over.

Sandra was inspired by a popular lace pattern from the 1970s and 80s in Shetland in which a signature lace V on the back was knitted by a particular knitter and any cardigan or jumper was known to be knitted by this one knitter, this is Sandra’s interpretation of this classic style.

 You can find the Lace Ella here.

Lace Ella Heritage

Lace Ella Supreme

Lace Ella detail

Aran Star 

The Aran Star Jumper has a retro feel, Sandra was inspired by Vintage patterns to create a modern version of the jumpers you used to see all the time in Shetland. It is quite a simple design but with the bold Norwegian star its very effective, using the Shetland Aran it makes a very warm and cozy jumper for this time of year. The simple Fair Isle motif and thicker wool makes this pattern a good choice for beginners.

You can find the Aran Star here.

Aran Star

Aran Star

Aran Star detail

Hairst Cardigan 

Fair Isle Yoke cardigans are a classic in Shetlands knitwear history, and now we have a J&S version, Sandra used a beautiful palette of subtle but bright shades of Jumper Weight, we called it Hairst which means Autumn in Shetland Dialect, the classic Norwegian star and tree motif has always been passed down from family to family and with the resurgance of the popularity of Fair Isle Yokes Sandra finally wrote down her technique to pass on to you. The pattern is written with both working flat and in the round as options so you can make the Cardigan in your favourite way.

You can find the Hairst Cardigan here.

Hairst Cardigan

Hairst Cardigan

Hairst Cardigan detail

As an extra little gift all orders up until and including Friday 20th December for these new kits come with a free J&S Big Project Bag to keep your knitting tucked up in.

Happy knitting!

New Patterns for the Shetland Lambing Season 2013

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.

Lambingall

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.

Monster Muff

Monster Muff1

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. 

You can find the Monster Muff here and can choose any shade you want to make it in here.

Monster Muff2

Monster Mitts

Monster Mitts2

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.

You can find the Monster Mitts here and can choose any shade you want to make it in here.

Monster Mitts1

Sheep Cushion

Sheep Cushion1

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…

You can find the Sheep Cushion here and can choose any shades you want to make it in here.

Sheep Cushion2

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.

Sheep Cushion3

New patterns in J&S yarn

It has been a crazy couple of weeks at J&S getting some exciting new projects up and running or to the final stages. More about that later. But now we finally have time to share a couple of new designs that are out there that use our yarns with you.

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Firstly is the Alcott slipover that is highlighted on the front page of The Knitter magazine, where it is featured, as a ‘Fair Isle tank top in candy colours’. It is designed by Mary Henderson who is a designer and knitter from Somerset.  Mary has a great skill in combining colours in Fair Isle designs. She will be here for Shetland Wool Week giving a class in our shop on using the steeking method, in which participants will be able to  knit, finish and take away their very own mug hug in an afternoon. You can find out more about Wool Week classes and events here

TKN56_tank_8812
Photo: Jesse Wild

The following is from the lady herself on the inspiration for the Alcott and looking forward to her Wool Week class:

Inspiration comes from many places and happens in unexpected ways. Since the age of 8 I have been in love with Fair Isle knitting – I saw a photograph of a jumper in the Lady’s Home Journal (US publication) and wanted to learn how to knit it. It was the start of a lifelong journey. I have been knitting and learning ever since. In 2009 I realised a lifetime dream and travelled to Shetland for the In the Loop conference and finally visited Jamieson and Smith Woolbrokers (having ordered from them many times over the years). I was able to see all the colours and play around with colour combinations: traditional ones plus some unlikely ones. It is great to see how colours work together: how the colours ‘in between’ change and enhance the main colours and how a single, strong contrast in the horizon line can pull a colourway together and make it sing. Luckily the staff are very tolerant! I put together various colourways and organised for it to be posted home to Somerset.
Roll on 18 months. I was very fortunate to be part of the commissioning process for The Knitter – one of the possible samples was entitled Fruit Salad. I worked on a traditional OXO pattern with the colourway based on cross sections of citrus fruit – oranges, strawberries, blueberries – it was based on a colourway I had played with on the counter of the Woolbrokers. I wanted a bright colourway- it is a summer take on the traditional blue, red, yellow, white colourway – pinks and orange with red, shades of blue (towards the green side) with natural white as the background to lift the other colours. I wanted the colours in the 1×1 rib to shimmer as well as mirror the colour sequence in the main body.
A word about steeking: after decades of knitting Fair Isle designs – it was time to give steeking a go. It was a revelation! Placing the steeks at armholes and the neck made keeping track of decrease sequences really easy. As a knitting teacher I want to spread the word that it is a useful technique, easy to do with the right materials – Jumper Weight wool is perfect. I will be teaching how to steek during Wool Week in October – participants will be making a Mug Hug in a traditional OXO pattern. It should be great fun.

You can order the Alcott kit in a variety of sizes from our website here. This will come with all the yarn required to knit the kit in your specified size but please note that we cannot supply the pattern. You can find that in Issue 56 of The Knitter magazine or purchase it from Ravelry here or The Making Spot here.

TKN56_tank_8807
Photo: Jesse Wild

The second of these two new designs done with our yarns is the Damaress jumper by Liz Lovick. This beautiful contemporary garment is done in a classic design which lends itself well as an ‘everyday favourite’ jumper or one for showing off at a special occasions. 

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Photo: Liz Lovick

Liz is a knitter and designer who lives in North Ronaldsay in Orkney and has been a friend of J&S for many years. She has done a number of patterns for us in the past, some of which are being made ready to print to be released soon. Quoting from the Yarn Review in the feature on the Damaress jumper in Yarnwise, Issue 59, she states that “J&S’s 2ply jumper weight has been the best yarn for Fair Isle work for generations! The shades blend well with each other, and the yarn is ‘sticky’ enough to make steeking easy”, which is a great compliment for us!

You can order the Damaress kit from our online shop here. This will come with all the yarn required to knit the kit to the size you select but please note that we cannot supply the pattern. You can find that in Issue 59 of Yarnwise magazine or purchase it from Ravelry here.

YW138 Damaress
Photo: Liz Lovick