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.
Hello everyone! Things are getting back to normal after another great Shetland Wool Week, we were extremely busy which meant we couldn’t do our usual blog update so I’m very sorry about that but I would highly recommend looking through the Shetland Wool Week 2018 hashtag on instagram – it gives you a great insight into what everyone was up to!
As our bags say – Wool Week never ends for us but we have just put some copies of this years Annual on to the online shop which contains lots of great patterns by visiting but mainly Shetland designers as well as interesting articles including one on the Herring industry which features some great pictures of where we are in the North Road including this one below on the right which shows our ‘Tin Kirk’ shop in the background.
There are lots of great patterns in the Annual and 5 use J&S 2ply Jumper Weight in them – You could make yourself a perfect winter wardrobe using just these 5 patterns!
We also have some 2017 Annuals so if you missed out last year I would snap it up, they are definitely collectors items and very worth having in your knitting library. Of course the Annuals also contain the official Wool Week pattern for that year – so last years has the Bousta Beanie and this year the Merrie Dancers Toorie. That leads us onto another fun Wool Week themed kit we put up just before Wool Week but didnt get a chance to post about: Patron Packs!
We asked all the patrons there have been for Shetland Wool Week so far to choose their favourite 8 shades of 2ply Jumper Weight. We’ve put them together for you and you can find them on the online shop here. Its a great way to build up your jumper weight stash with colours you maybe wouldnt have chosen!
If you came to Shetland Wool Week we would like to thank you for visiting and supporting this event, it is an extremly important week for us and we appreciate all of you that came to see us. If you didnt visit us thank you for being patient with us while we try to get back to normal!
Hello everyone, so bright and early on Saturday morning me and Sandra headed out to Waas to have a look at the Show and judge the Colourbox competition. This is only the 3rd year we have had the colourbox at the Walls Show so it is a bit smaller but still has beautiful entries:
Once we had done our bit we enjoyed wandering around looking at the animals and other entries. While we were driving out it was pretty rainy but luckily it was dry and sunny on the Westside (which is quite often the way!) so we had a great time.
Like all shows in Shetland the knitwear is to an extremly high standard, there was quite alot of lace but also Fair Isle. The judges had a tough job!
There are still a couple of shows still to be but thats the last with the Colourbox for this year, next years colours have been chosen so we are looking forward to 2019 already!
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!
Hello everyone, just a quick post today to show you the new colours we have just got in stock in The Croft wool, you may remember last year we launched the Shetland Tweed yarn which was a group of speckled shades produced in partnership with West Yorkshire Spinners:
The raw wool (of which we purchase over 80% of Shetlands Wool clip) is bought from us and WYS dyes and spins the wool into this yarn. The speckled shades have been very popular and they have just released these 12 new solid shades:
Alongside the yarns a pattern collection has also been released featuring 14 designs by Sarah Hatton. The patterns contain a nice mix of adult and childrens garments and accessories. To see the designs in the book click here. We have also got in stock more of the original Croft Book for the Speckled shades also designed by Sarah.
As you know we put together a lot of colour combinations in our day to day world here at J&S and we couldnt resist putting some together in the new colours:
The yarn is decribed as an Aran weight but we would use it more as a DK/Light Aran but of course swatch and ensure you like the guage you get, you can see all the Croft Wool on our website here.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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…