Cunningsburgh Show 2018

Hello everyone, we had a lovely day at the Cunningsburgh Show on Wednesday so I thought I’d share some pictures. Derek and Oliver were down to judge the raw Wool and I came to judge the Colourbox Competition:

You will know by now that every year we choose 8 colours of Jumper Weight which is then used by knitters to create Fair Isle garments and accessories – this year there was also a miscellaneous category which included the blanket you can see in second photo.  There were lots of entries again and as always it was extremely hard to judge. The garments were also a very high standard and its amazing how different each one can look using the same colours!

As I was waiting for Amanda and Janet (seen judging the gloves) to finish their bit so we could decide on the trophy winners I took some pictures of the other knitwear. There is always some lovely stuff entered and the lace in particular was very beautiful. At the Cunningsburgh Show you can enter no matter where in Shetland you live so there is always a wide range of entries.

So once we had done our bit I went for a wander around and saw all the other things on show, as has been the case the last couple of years it was a lovely day so it was great to go around and see all the animals and other entries:

So tomorrow me (Ella) and Sandra will be heading to Waas for our final Show visit of the season – phewf! there are still a couple more but these (at the moment) are the only ones with the Colourbox Competition. We hope you enjoy seeing the pictures!

Happy Knitting!

Voe Show 2018

Hello everyone, this past Saturday saw our annual visit to the Voe Show – the first agricultural show of the year in Shetland. I (Ella) headed up to judge the Colourbox Competition. Every year we choose a selection of 8 shades of Jumper Weight which are used by people in a category on its own in the knitwear section of the show. The entrants must use at least 5 of the 8 colours – this year the shades were: 3, 53, 66, 72, 87, 366, fc37 and FC56.

The allover on the left was the Trophy winner for this year.

It is always very difficult to choose the winners as the standard is extremely high but I was really pleased with the entries. This is the Show where I have the most time so I helped the other ladies with laying out the rest of the knitwear and as a judge I got to help with choosing the trophy winners. There is everything from lace, handspun and machine knitting to yokes, all overs and hats.

This 1ply Shawl by Kathleen Anderson won lots of prizes – very well deserved! It was beautiful.

I then spent the rest of my time at the show looking at all the other entries. At Voe there are Cows, Sheep, Horses, Chickens, Ducks, Goats, Dogs… the list goes on.

The sheep are probably my favourite as the amount and variety of breeds is always so interesting but I also like to have a look at the flowers and vegetables too…

I didnt get any photos of the baking or other handicrafts but I can assure you it all looked great too! The rain came on just as I was leaving but I had a great day at the Voe Show, this week sees Cunningsburgh on Wednesday and Waas on Saturday so we will be back with more photos from those shows too, happy knitting!

Brora Black Cobweb Shawl

hello everyone, a quick post today about a new version we have of one of our classic patterns, the Brora Black Cobweb Shawl is another one of Gladys Amedro many Shetland 1ply Shawls which Jamieson & Smith released in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. This pattern was released in 1991 and like all of Gladys patterns was written rather than charted – but recently we had a customer, Heather, who had re charted the pattern for herself and allowed us to use her charts for a charted version of the pattern.

It features lots of tree motif’s – you see a lot of trees in Shetland knitting considering we don’t have very many..! They are often seen in Fair Isle in yokes as you can decrease incredibly successfully around them as you can see here in the Hairst Yoke:

For the type of shawls that this one is the tree motif is quite apt as it is often known as the Tree of Life. There are a number of similar motif’s in Heirloom Knitting by Sharon Miller and they are described as such, a 1ply shawl is also used as a christening shawl and they were/are given to a new baby as a present or to be wrapped around them at their Christening.

This shawl is quite unusual as it was knit in Black, most are made in white but this was also seen to be able to be used as an evening shawl. Regarding the construction you first knit the border to create the scallops then pick up the stitches and work each triangle 4 times at the same time gradually decreasing as you get towards the centre. This means at the end there is no sewing to be done except your ends!

If you would like to knit your own Brora Black we have added the charted pattern kit to the online shop – you can choose to knit it in Cobweb 1 ply available in White and Black or Shetland Supreme 1 ply Available in 5 natural shades and Optic White (Optic is currently out of stock but we are hoping to have it mid August) if you want to know more about the merits of choosing a woollen spun yarn versus a worsted have a look at this post.

1ply supreme optic, white, fawn and moorit
1ply grey, 1ply shetland black, cobweb white and cobweb black

We are planning to work our way through many of our written patterns and translate them to also be available as a charted one too, so we hope you like it!

PS.. we recently got some new peerie project bags you can see them here

Dark Fawn Shetland Heritage

Hello everyone, we have been having some lovely weather in Shetland the past couple of weeks. Not quite the heatwave which the rest of the UK has been having but we are used to that!

You will know that we are lucky to have a number of yarn ranges which use the Coloured Shetland Wool – from the Combed Tops to Shetland Supreme 1 and 2 ply Lace, Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight and our most recent yarn – Shetland Heritage Naturals which we launched in 2016.

The tricky part about working with Natural shades is that of course they are different every time depending on the amount and colours of a Shade we take in the Woolstore. I thought the below picture sums it up quite well – I found this fleece in the woolstore and you can see the 4 different colours which are all found in it!

l-r: light grey, grey, dark fawn and fawn

We try to keep the shades as similar as we can but Nature is as Nature does so they can be quite different so for a limited time we are welcoming Dark Fawn into the Heritage Naturals range – it bridges the gap between Fawn and Moorit so well we have decided to get it on ball as well as on cone. It also has a grey undertone so works well with the grey shades too – the coloured Shetland Wool is so precious we couldn’t let this colour go to waste!

You can see here it alongside Fawn and together with the other shades:

This means they are more blending possibilities within the Shetland Heritage Naturals range and we cant wait to see what people do with it! The possibilities for lace and fair isle are endless when you add it in with our Dyed Heritage range…

You can find it on our website here

Happy Knitting!

 

Shetland College Vision 18

On Saturday after closing the shop I headed to the Shetland College to see this years end of year show titled Vision 18. This was a display of all the Textile and Fine Art students work over this year and as always it was an inspiring visit! As well as the Degree courses they also offer Vocational Pathway courses to students at high school and Eric Gray classes to students with disabilities and life long conditions. This makes for a very wide ranging and varied display.

We are big supporters of the College, two of us who work at J&S (Ella and Kharis) both studied textiles there and we have projects with them most years, so I thought I’d share some pictures of the displays.

This years project we were involved in was with some of the fine art students to create an artwork which could be used to promote J&S, you might have seen our picture on Instagram of one of the students work – which was the portrait of Oliver you can see below

There were two students graduating from the Contemporary Textiles BA Hons Degree so their work was in a room on its own, Rhea Kay (the first two pictures) and Megan Smith’s (the last two pictures) work was very different but its was so interesting how they were both inspired by growing up in Shetland and how this has inspired their final collections.

I think you can agree the quality and quantity of talented people in Shetland is quite amazing considering our small population. If you want more information about studying at Shetland College see the website here and you can follow the Textile department on instagram here

Shetland and Shetland Type

Hello everyone, today we are going to touch on something which comes up every now and again – the issue and differences between Shetland and Shetland Type wool. Sometimes it can be quite confusing but this post is just to alert you to the fact some yarns you see called ‘Shetland’ may be that in name only.

According to the British Trading Standards, the current usage of the word Shetland in Wool is: ‘A yarn spun on the Woollen system of 100% Virgin Wool.. such yarn being capable of imparting to a fabric the qualities of crispness and/or smoothness and soft handling attributed to the products formerly made exclusively from the Shetland breed of Sheep’  This is interesting as it shows you that a yarn could be named ‘Shetland’ but not include much or any Shetland Wool, but by imitating the spinning style or feel of whats attributed to Shetland Wool you can give it that name regardless of where the wool comes from or the breed used. Another point in the trading standards information is this: ‘where the term is qualified by the adjectives ‘genuine’, ‘real’ or any similar description, or quantified by the terms ‘100%’ or ‘all’, this implies the wool actually originated in Shetland.’ You will see we always talk about our wool as Real Shetland Wool, or 100% Shetland Wool etc – this is us working on this basis – to show you the wool originated here in the Shetland Islands from Shetland Sheep!

We know for a fact that there are many more products out there called Shetland than there is wool available. We annually take in over 260,000 kilos of local wool from the Shetland Islands (which equals well over 80% of the Wool clip) and what doesn’t come back to us in yarn and finished product is sold on through our parent company Curtis Wool Direct for many other wool products. There are of course other Shetland Wool producers and ones on the mainland but you will find in their description of the yarns they will explain this – the ones which should ring alarms bells are those who have ‘Shetland’ in the name of the yarn range but no other mention of Shetland or Shetland Sheep in the description.

We have a very interesting piece of text in our archives which comes from Alistair MacDonald who was a long-term staff member at Hunters of Brora, where we used to have our yarns spun before they went out of business in the early 2000’s. The folder contains Alistair’s findings and remarks on lots of different aspects of the yarn and knitwear industry and he has some interesting comments on the Shetland/Shetland Type argument, some of which we noted in our book: ‘When I think of the Shetland yarn on offer I am reminded of the bizarre situation with Cheddar Cheese.. the name Cheddar now describes a type of cheese not a cheese from the Cheddar Valley. Just as cheddar is now ubiquitous to the super market so now Shetland is ubiquitous in the textile market place.’

Our aim with this post is to highlight that ‘Shetland Type’ yarns are appropriating the reputation that Shetland Wool has earned over hundreds of years through our climate, culture, history and sheep. We are rightly extremely proud of our wool and if this is something which is important to you also, we urge you to ask questions about the origins of the Shetland Wool you are buying.

Happy knitting!

All photos on this post have been taken by us either in the Woolstore at J&S or at local Agricultural Shows and the top image was taken at one of our crofters farms in Bressay.

The Vintage Shetland Project

Hello everyone, today I thought I’d share some pictures and information about the above book ‘The Vintage Shetland Project’ by Susan Crawford which recently came out and uses J&S yarns for a number of the patterns. The book has been many years in the making:

‘The Vintage Shetland Project, is the culmination of eight years of hard work and personal determination. Inspired by the patterns and colours of Shetland knitting, the fashion historian, author, designer and publisher Susan Crawford began a journey into the rich heritage of Shetland knitwear, and in particular the pieces held in the Shetland Museum archive. With the help of Dr Carol Christiansen, the museum’s curator, Susan undertook the task of carefully selecting the most stunning and original designs from the 1920s to the 1950s, transcribed them stitch by stitch, and has here recreated them for the modern knitter, in stunning detail and a range of sizes for women and men. In combination with the collection of 27 comprehensive patterns for garments and accessories are carefully researched essays exploring the stories behind each piece and honouring their creators – some famous, some forgotten. Photographed by Susan on the island of Vaila, situated off the west coast of Shetland, this book also celebrates the untameable beauty of Shetland itself. Compiled with Susan’s trademark attention to detail, this book is a fabulous treasury of Shetland knitting design and a valuable insight into its textile traditions. It offers you the chance to delve into a fascinating era for knitwear design and to bring it to life in stitch-perfect vintage style.’

Sandra and Me (Ella) can remember helping Susan to match up colours at Wool Week in 2013 and its so exciting to see the final book, it is almost half and half history and essays to patterns. The essays focus on many different aspects of Shetland textiles but also focus on specific story’s, people and pieces of knitwear, it’s the kind of book you can dip in and out of but still feel you’ve learnt something! The patterns of course take up a large proportion of the book and focus on unusual or special items which the originals are housed in collections at the Shetland Museum and the Shetland Textile Museum.

left: Highland knit in Shetland Supreme 2ply Lace
right: Margaret knit in 2ply Jumper Weight
photos: Susan Crawford
Munro knit in 2ply Jumper Weight
Photos: Susan Crawford
Petrie knit in 2ply Jumper Weight
Photos: Susan Crawford
Ralph knit in 2ply Jumper Weight and Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight
Photos: Susan Crawford

Unfortunately in the time between the samples and the book being published one of the shades in the Ralph Jumper has been discontinued and finished, the shade is 61 but you could use shade 78 instead.

Suffragette and Twageos knit in 2ply Jumper Weight
Photos: Susan Crawford
Yule knit in Shetland Heritage
Photos: Susan Crawford
left: Vaila knit in Shetland Heritage and Shetland Supreme 2ply Lace right: Peerie Clews knit in 2ply Jumper Weight
Photos: Susan Crawford

And when the Vaila was knit we didn’t have Shetland Heritage in Natural shades so it uses Supreme 2ply Lace Held doubled in Moorit but you can use Shetland Heritage Naturals in Moorit instead.

Harriet knit in 2ply Jumper Weight Photos: Susan Crawford

We are so pleased that so many of the patterns can be knit using our yarns, we have been a yarn producer since the 1960’s and a Wool Broker since the 1930’s so some of the original items may have come from wool handled by J&S which is pretty cool!

There is a good range of patterns in the book including both Fair Isle and Lace and garments and accessories so there is something for everyone interested in Shetland Textiles. Of course the creators of the original garments never made them to be multi sized so the amount of work which has gone into sizing and grading the patterns is amazing.

Unfortunately due to the weight of the book we are not able to sell it on the online shop (its above our contract weight for a single parcel) but you can buy it in the UK from both Ysolda and Susan herself, we have it in the shop so if you are in Shetland or will be visiting you can pick up a copy in Lerwick.

To see more of the patterns in the book and more information visit Susans website, Congratulations Susan on the publication of the Vintage Shetland Project!

Happy Knitting 🙂