Shetland Wool Week Scarf Project

Hello everyone, happy Friday! Today we thought we’d share some images of a project we took part in during Shetland Wool Week which was coordinated by Faye Hackers of the Shetland College.

The project took inspiration from people known in the Shetland Textile industry who provided Faye with imagery and text about what they love about Shetland, this was then taken by Faye and designed into one-off scarfs which were auctioned off for charity during a silent auction at Wool Week.

Among the people asked were J&S’s own Oliver and Ella, former patrons Donna Smith, Elizabeth Johnston and Hazel Tindall. For more information see Fayes Instagram posts. We love how different each scarf was:

We were happy to donate all the yarn for the project meaning the scarves were knit in 2ply Jumper Weight or Shetland Heritage, in total the auction raised £1,776.00 of which 100% will be donated to charity as we provided the yarn for free. The charities chosen by the individuals were: Cancer Research UK, CLAN, Shetland MRI Scanner Appeal, Mind Your Head, GlobalYell, Lerwick Brass Band and Whalsay Heritage Centre.

All and all it was a great project!

Model and white photography: Faye Hackers

Museum Photos: John Hunter

Models: Akshay Borges and Alanah Young

Pattern PDF’s

Hello everyone, its the beginning of another busy summer here in Shetland. We have lots of tours during the summer and gearing up for another Wool Season but as always we are working behind the scenes on lots of things – for a while now we have wanted to make available our single patterns as PDF’s as well as in kits we sell. To begin with we have chosen to make the patterns available on Loveknitting. (also now available on Ravelry!) We decided to start with a selection of our Fair Isle patterns knit using 2ply Jumper Weight: The Roadside Allover, Antarctica Jumper, Antarctica Set and one of our most popular patterns the Hairst Yoke. These are all great examples of Shetland designs by a Shetland designer – Sandra Manson who you will have met if you’ve ever been in J&S is the designer of all 4 patterns and I think her expert colour sense can be seen in them all.

The Antarctica Set was released in 2012 and you may remember they were released after being made for Dr Alexander Kumar on his research trip to Antarctica, the set includes a Double layer hat, neckwarmer/cowl and mittens.

The Antarctica Jumper is knit using the same motifs and colours and is knit from the bottom up with steeks for the armholes and neckline, this is a traditional Shetland technique where extra stitches are cast on and then cut open later so you can continue knitting in the round.

The Roadside Allover features the same construction, it was knit for Oliver to wear at Edinburgh Yarn Festival as his Wool Week Patronage was announced in March. it features a softer but equally striking colour scheme.

The Hairst Yoke is our version of a traditional Shetland Fair Isle yoke, it is one of the most well-known Shetland styles and we released this pattern in 2013, it has been one of our best sellers ever since. A Fair Isle yoke is a great way to use up your odds and ends and if you use a cone for the main shade it can be a very economical project.

So you can find these patterns on our designer page on loveknitting here and on Ravelry. We will be adding more over the next while so let us know of any of our self published patterns you would like to see as an individual PDF. Happy knitting!

Roadside Beanie

Hello everyone, today is the first day of the Edinburgh Yarn Festival marketplace, Derek and Sandra are there (if you are going we can be found at stand K8) but Oliver is also down because he has been announced at this year’s Shetland Wool Week Patron!

We are very excited of course as Oliver was instrumental in organising the first Shetland Wool Week 10 years ago as J&S founded the event. It has gone from strength to strength every year so for the 10th anniversary, it’s great to see such an important figure in the Shetland Wool Industry as the patron.

Oliver’s design – the Roadside Beanie has been launched today and you can find kits here on the website and the pattern here on the Wool Week website. The design features common motifs for a Shetlander, sheep and fishing boats! To learn more about the Roadside Beanie have a read of the pattern.

We are extremely proud of Oliver and look forward to seeing all the Roadside Beanies this year. Happy Knitting!

Olivers trip to Visit the Shetland Sheep Society

Oliver and Catherine recently returned from a few days away visiting the Shetland Sheep Society, they invited Oliver down to give a talk on Sheep, wool and its uses and his work at Jamieson & Smith. The event took place in Nuneaton at one of the groups conferences.

In 1985 the Shetland Sheep Breeders group was formed to help breeders outside the Shetland Isles to maintain flocks conforming to the 1927 Shetland Breed Standard. The group then became responsible for registering Shetland sheep on the U.K. mainland, overseeing and maintaining the strict breed requirements by inspecting the animals. The group admits they are not totally dependent on breeding the sheep classing themselves as part time unlike in some cases in Shetland where sheep is the bread and butter of the sheep producer.

 Oliver was greatly surprised and delighted to see the high standard of Shetland sheep in person at the Ashby by owners Lynne and David White. It was obvious that a great deal of care and attention into the flock breeding and husbandry of the animals. There was a big focus on quality, fibre fineness, uniformity of staple length and handle ( softness). After his presentation and question and answers Oliver was asked to judge a small amount of fleece some members had there and as with the sheep very impressive the fibre fineness and handle was quite exceptional.

There is no doubt that this group containing approximately 500 members from the North of Scotland to Devon and Cornwall in the south of England play an important part in the Shetland breed of sheep. Not only does the group members travel to Shetland frequently and purchase high quality fine wool breeding stock, it is not unusual for  some Shetland sheep breeders to do likewise.

There are many reasons for this. One being the numbers of natural pure bred coloured sheep flocks are diminishing, also blood lines in Shetland are in some cases becoming to close thus the need for new stock.  There is also an exchange of Shetland sheep judges wherein mainland judges travel to Shetland and judge at local agricultural shows, in turn Shetland sheep breeders travel and judge on sheep at U.K. mainland shows. It is very clear there is a combined dedicated effort to preserve the Real Shetland sheep, and this connection has resulted in many close friendships over the years.

The visit was not just confined to sheep and wool but also a visit to Ashby St Ledgers a very important part of English history the home of the Gunpowder plot of 1605 where Guy Fawkes and the co-conspirators would have hatched up their plans to blow up King James and his Parliament. The church dates back to the 1100 s and is still in use today.

Very grateful thanks from Oliver and his wife Catherine for the excellent and kind hospitality shown to them by the group, and a special thank you to David & Lyn of the Ashby Flock for letting me see and handle their outstanding Shetland Sheep. A never to be forgotten journey.

Eva Smith

We are saddened to announce that Jamieson & Smith former co-owner Eva Smith passed away this weekend, Eva and her brother the late Jim Smith took over the running of the family company in 1969 after the passing of the company’s founder, their father the late John ‘Sheepie’  Smith.

Brought up on Berry Farm Scalloway Eva had a great love and passion for all aspects of farm life both at Berry and their farm at Pitmeden, Dyce, and Aberdeenshire. Eva was well-known for her work with Aberdeen Angus cattle and her great love of Shetland Ponies. Berry stud book was renowned for its breeding of special miniature ponies,  Eva in particular was much sought after as a judge in this field and became the youngest judge of her era to judge the Royal Highland Show as seen in the photo above.

Combined with all her hard physical work on the land Eva was sent out by her father to purchase Shetland wool from Shetland crofters and farmers and take it back home to Berry Farm where it provided work for the farm labourer plus Jim & Eva in the winter months.

With the expansion of the wool handling business in 1952 and its move to Lerwick, Eva became more involved in the running of their company and along with their manager Gilbert Johnston was responsible in having the Shetland sorted wool they bought contract spun into knitting yarns at Hunters of Brora in the Scottish Highlands.

Eva was a keen and active knitter and like many Shetland ladies produced her own designs, her understanding helped greatly in the progress of the company moving forwards and establishing Jamieson & Smith as the leading suppliers of Real Shetland knitting yarns in its field built up on the Berry philosophy of trust, respect and humbleness.

At the age of 75 and Jim 81 they decided to retire from the textile trade and concentrate on running both their farms selling the company on to the main buyers of the Shetland wool clip: Curtis Wool Direct in 2005.

Eva was a very private person and resolute in achieving her aims in both her careers as a farmer and wool merchant and even up to her final days was giving out orders and advice as to how J&S should be run, still a passionate and caring person to the end.

We shall all miss her greatly.

Oliver Henry

Eva with her parents John and Florence
Eva and Prince Charles at the Millennium Show, Eva receiving the price for Supreme Champion.
Jim and Eva, photo by Elaine Tait
Eva and Major Walters from Hunters of Brora

Oliver’s Ewan Sweater

Hello everyone! Just a quick post today to show you the jumper Sandra has made for Oliver using our Croft – Shetland Tweed yarn which we launched last year together with West Yorkshire Spinners..

Sandra made Ollie the Ewan Sweater from the Croft – Shetland Tweed pattern book, it contains 14 designs by Sarah Hatton all to be made using the Croft Yarn. The Ewan Sweater is one of two patterns for Mens jumpers in the book and there is a nice selection of other jumpers and cardigans for Women as well as some accessories. Oliver decided on the Boddam colourway for his jumper and I think it looks great!

Sometimes with a very flecked or speckled yarn its hard to imagine how the wool will knit up but this shows how the speckles really work well with the texture and cables in the pattern. Sandra likes to knit in the round as much as she can but she chose to follow the pattern and knit Oliver’s jumper in pieces, the Croft yarn has a good drape and can grow a bit when its washed so a big project like this is best worked in pieces for stabilitly.

I think Oliver is pleased with his Jumper!

You can see the Croft Shetland Tweed yarn on our website here and the pattern book here, you can also see more of the patterns in the book here. I would suggest looking through the projects made with the yarn on Ravelry too, there are some great ones!

Happy Knitting!

J&S Staff Profile: Jan Robertson

Second post in a series about the people behind Jamieson & Smith.

jan-robertson
photo courtesy Felicity Ford

Jan works in the wool store all year round. Between July to October she grades wool which comes in from over 600 local crofters and farmers. It’s a busy time and there’s never a dull moment! Over the winter Jan continues to sort fleeces as well as carry out any maintenance that needs to be done around the buildings.

It’s great to have Jan as such an integral part of the J&S team as she’s also a crofter and a beautiful knitter! When Ella and Sandra aren’t around in the shop for colour advice for a customer I have often asked for Jan’s help.

What’s the best thing about working at J&S?

“Meeting all the people who come through the big green doors who have as great a passion as I do for the Shetland breed and about what we are doing here at Jamieson & Smith. I also love telling the J&S story.”

Do you have a favourite place in Shetland?

“Shetland as a whole, all of Shetland! I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful place. It never ceases to amaze me, even through the wind and the rain. In the summer it’s mesmerising.”

dsc00772
Watsness with Foula in distance. Photo courtesy Oliver Henry
dsc00609
Smiths Knowe, Walls. Photo courtesy Oliver Henry

How do you like to spend your time when you’re not working at J&S?

“At home with the animals in Walls – ‘Waas’ in dialect; knitting (there are always at least two things on the wires at any one time!) whether it’s lace or colourwork. I also like to be out and about when I can find the time away from croft work but I do love lambing time (March to May) and clipping (July to August).”

 

dsc00734
Jan, her niece, Keiva and Dad, Alistair with their fleckit Shetland sheep

What’s your favourite J&S yarn?

Natural Heritage at the moment but all the yarns are amazing to work with.”

IMG_8736.JPG
Shetland Heritage Naturals