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.

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!

North Atlantic Native Sheep and Wool Conference

Hello everyone! So while we were getting over Shetland Wool Week Oliver and his wife Catherine headed off to the Isle of Man to attend the Native Sheep and Wool Conference which was held there from the 12th-15th of October. The aim of the conference is to promote the fleece of the Native Viking breeds, and the event features a series of lectures, farm visits, croft workshops and fairs. Oliver was there to give a talk about Shetland Sheep, its wool and their uses (something he knows a little bit about..!) – this year was celebrating the Isle of Man Loghtan Sheep of course!

Loghtan Sheep share some of the characteristics of Shetland Sheep – which you can certainly see from the pictures! Both are thought to be of Scandinaivian origin, perhaps brought over by Vikings who settled in Shetland and also the Isle of Man. The Loghtan Sheep are mostly the same colour – the call it ‘Mouse Brown’ and it is very similar to our Moorit shade.  The ewes are mostly two horned and rams four horned, four horned sheep used to be quite common in Shetland up until about 60 years ago although they were mostly white.

You can see from these pictures of a Loghton fleece it is similar to Moorit, in colour it is a bit lighter and the staple is mostly quite short and blunt however throughout the fleece one can find guard hair staple similar to ours.

There was also a fashion show which took place at the University College of Isle of Man, it included student work and delegates designs, you can see our Fair Isle V-Neck Jumper in the picture above. J&S had 3 designs included and all were very well received!

Heres Oliver at the delegates Craft Fair which was a chance for each area to show and discuss their regions products.

Elizabeth from the Guild who presented Oliver with a lovely Loghton fleece and farmer Peter at Church Farm Cregneash, a small Manx Crofting community which was beautifully preserved.

There they saw a Manx Cat, famous for there lack of tails which is a genetic mutation within the breed.

Oliver and Catherine did get a bit caught out and delayed with Storm Opheilia but they have made it back safe and sound to Shetland. It was an excellent event held in beautiful surrounding and Oliver enjoyed meeting and sharing ideas with delegates from around the northern hemisphere and it was an ideal location and audience to share our products.

Oliver would like to thank the organisers and people of the Isle of Man for their Kindness and warm hospitality, it was much appreciated!

Shetland Wool Week 2017 at J&S

Hello everyone! thank you for your response to our last post, we are so pleased with how many of you are picking up the book, the digital PDF version is now online too.

Today i’m back with some photos from Shetland Wool Week, every year that it gets bigger I get less photos but I still got a good selection from what was happening in the shop.. We had classes every weekday alongside some free drop in events and it worked really well. We always have an excellent response to Hazels Fair Isle class..

Fair Isle with Hazel Tindall
knitting, cutting and steek relief!

And Felicity Ford was back again with her inspirational Mitts-a-long, this year everyone left with a full 8 balls of Jumper weight to finish their project started in the class inspired by a group of photos and a colour palette picked by Felix

Mittsalong Class with Felicity Ford (and a fetching neepheid!)
more nice knitwear in Felix’s’ class – a Cruden and Laebrack

We tried to fight the losing battle of keeping shelves filled up (if anyone can do it, its Sandra!) And we had more classes like Drop Spindling..

Drop Spindling with Deborah Gray

And a great evening event which was a trunk show for Jen and Jim Arnal Cullifords new book – A Year of Techniques which features a couple of projects in J&S yarns. It was great to see them again and celebrate the new book!

A Year of Techniques Trunk Show

We loved this hat which features the motif’s from the Baable Hat, Crofthoose and Bousta Beanie!

Felicity and Sandra say cheers to J&S!

We also had a launch event for our new book, and had all the designs on display. It was so good to finally have all the projects out and the book available. yippee!

Friday Morning was a bit quieter which was good as we had a lace class with Elizabeth Johnston, something which needs a bit of concentration I reckon!

Shetland Lace with Elizabeth Johnston
Felicity’s amazing wedding bunting!

Oliver’s last tour of Wool Week

But Friday afternoon was so busy! We had Oliver’s last tour of the week and a trunk show for Felicity’s next book, and everyone seemed to come for a look.. I don’t know how I had time to get the above pictures!

The Hub

After work on Friday I crawled to the museum to visit the Hub and admire the knitwear on display and the merchandise, I love the sweatshirts! (I bought one, of course!)

On Saturday Me, Kharis and Sandra were at the shop but i nipped over to Gremista farm where we were holding an event together with Eric at the farm and Vispring. Unfortuantely the Flock Book event fell outside Wool Week so we decided to have an event with sheep, food and farmers which went down really well and we are already thinking about how to make next year better!

Aah, all in all another successful Wool Week. There is such an amazing range of events on all week and this is just a small slice of what happened at J&S, happy knitting!

Jamieson & Smith: A Shetland Story

Hello everyone, we have survived another Shetland Wool Week! I will be doing a post later in the week about what we got up to (spoiler alert: we sold a lot of wool) but for now I have something exciting to share – our newest book, Jamieson and Smith: A Shetland Story is available now!! Its been quite the labour of love and we are all very proud of it.

The book contains the history of the company by Oliver which goes from its beginnings at Berry Farm to where we are today – no mean feat, but we have done it in the most concise way we could and it contains lots of photographs from over the years which haven’t been seen before. It gives you a great insight into what we do here and where we come from, the green doors have been a fixture of North Road for decades so it was only right they graced the cover.

And alongside the history we have a range of patterns beautifully photographed by Liam Henderson and modelled by May Graham and Tim Matthews..

Olivers Hat by Sandra Manson knit in Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight
Tussacks Shawl by Gudrun Johnston knit in Shetland Heritage
Noostigarth Cowl by Kharis Leggate knit in Shetland Chunky
Uyea Legwarmers by Ella Gordon knit in Shetland Aran Worsted
Vatn jumper by Mary Henderson knit in Shetland Aran Worsted
Houss Socks by Lesley Smith knit in Shetland Heritage
Glebe Jumper by Sandra Manson knit in Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight
Vaara Vest by Mary Jane Mucklestone knit in Shetland Heritage
Hevdadale Tam and Scarf by Mary Handerson knit in Shetland Heritage
The Silwick Vest by Sandra Manson knit in 2ply Jumper Weight

There is more information about yarn quantities etc on the Ravelry pages for the patterns, see here and if you would like a copy of the new book you can purchase it here. In time there will be a PDF version but for the moment it is only available in paperback, we hope you love it as much as we do! Happy knitting x

Shetland Wool Week at J&S 2017

Yippee! Shetland Wool Week 2017 has begun! We have been a bit quiet here over the last peerie while but we have been busy getting organised for this week. The shop has been so busy and we are so excited to see everyone! We have classes on at J&S this week but we also have a few free events which we have just finalised this past couple of weeks so if you are in Shetland this week please come along..

A Year of Techniques Trunk Show

The first event is with our friends Jen and Jim Arnall Culliford and it is a trunk show of their Year of Techniques book, this book has just been released in paperback and features 12 projects all using different techniques to improve your knitting. There are a number of the designs which are worked in J&S yarns and Jen and Jim will be in the shop with all the samples and ready and willing to chat about the book. We will have copies for sale and the event is:

Tuesday 26th September: 6pm – 8pm

J&S Trunk Show

You may have seen this week on Instagram and Ravelry that we have been sharing pictures from our newest book. Jamieson & Smith: A Shetland Story gives you the history of J&S and a collection of hand knitting patterns by a group of some of our favourite designers(and a couple of J&S staff members!). We will be hosting an event in the shop where you can see all the items from the book and plan which to knit first.. This event is on:

Thursday 28th September

PS.. on the online shop there is a page for the book and as soon as it is available you can purchase it from there!

Felicity Ford Trunk Show

Another event is with Felicity Ford who has just announced her next book and to celebrate is also hosting a trunk show at J&S with samples from her new book The Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Playbook. Felix’s first book is one of our favourites and we cannot wait to see the new work all knit using 2ply Jumper Weight. This event is:

Friday 29th September 2.30pm-4.30pm

Wool and Grading Demonstration 

Not forgetting one of our busiest events – Olivers sorting and grading demonstrations have become a must-see event at wool week and this free drop-in event takes place on:

Monday 25th, Wednesday 27th and Friday 29th Septmeber at 2pm

Phewf! Its set to be a busy old week so I don’t think I will get blogged every day but we will be back after Wool Week with a roundup of Shetland Wool Week. If you are here for it we hope you enjoy it, happy knitting!

PS. we will be trying our best to keep up with online orders and emails but there may be a delay in us responding and getting out parcels, please accept our apologies! xx

Cunningsburgh Show 2017

Following on from Voe, last Wednesday was a bit brighter and Oliver and Me (Ella) headed down to Cunningsburgh for the Show, I was judging the Colourbox again alongside some other knitwear and Oliver was Judging the Wool.

I was put to work and worked my way through the Colourbox and other categories, there were some beautiful items in the Colourbox as always and the rest of the knitwear was of an extremely high quality too. The tropy winner for the Colourbox was the vest in the first picture, I loved the way the colours were put together and it was beatifully knitted. You can see above they also had a Bousta Beanie section!

The Wool is usually in another shed/tent but this year it was in the same shed as me so I was able to keep and eye on Oliver and his judging and after he was finished we started to make our way around all the other bits of the show.

There was a bit of a surprise arrival as you can see in the photo below!

This sheep obviously was trying to get on Oliver’s good side…

and this duck was interested in making friends too!

We had a great time as we always do at the Cunningsburgh show, the Colourbox is growing every year and I love to see all the animals. Cunningsburgh Show allows entries from the whole of Shetland whereas the others are all more area specific so there is always lots to see, it had 2841 entries in total this year!

Ill be back at the end of the week with our last show trip – to Waas, Happy Knitting!