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.
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.
Hello everyone, happy Friday! I’m back with the final installment of our trips to the Shows – this time the Walls Show – there are others which we wont make it to but these are the three which have the Colourbox in it so we always go! Last Saturday was not too bad a day weatherwise, there were a couple of showers while we were there (you can see some offending clouds above!) so me and Sandra had a fine drive out to Waas.
Me and Sandra judged the Colourbox and the most of the knitwear at the show, this is only the second year we have done the Colourbox at Waas so it is still small but growing so we were pleased to see the entries, there was a good amount of entries in the other knitting so we had our work cut out for us.
There were lots of amazing Fair Isle and Lace to be seen..
Again once we had done our judging thing we went for a look around at all the animals and other entries..
This was a very friendly kitten in the pets section..i think Sandra would have taken it home if she could!
And then we also made friends with the Goats (there is another version of this photo in the Shetland Times today – just know I set it up and the photographer swooped in!!)
I really enjoying going to the different shows and seeing whats similar but also different about them all. We were quite lucky with the weather this year but for our judging we are always inside so its fine for us! I hope you’ve enjoyed the photos from the shows, we have already chosen the colours for next years Colourbox and people have been buying them already so it bodes well for next years entries. Happy Knitting!
PS>> Have you started your Bousta Beanie yet? We are 5 days in our KAL and lots are on the needles on Ravelry already!
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!
hello everyone, happy Monday! We have had a busy time of Shows this past week or so, I thought I’d begin with the first one we went to last Saturday which was Voe! it dawned a bit damp but we are pretty used to that around here..
The main reason I (Ella) headed us was to judge the Colourbox Competition we now host every year with the Voe, Cunningsburgh and Waas Agricultural Shows. Each year we choose a selection of 8 colours which must be used to make something using at least 5 of the 8 colours. This this then broken down into categories within that. Voe has the most entries and they have lots of categories for the Colourbox, this years shades were selected from the Heritage yarn so it was really interesting to see what people made with the more traditional colours.
You have to choose an overall trophy for the Colourbox and the cardigan below was the winner, it was beautifully made and I thought the colours were expertly put together..
The Voe Show has lots of other lovely knitwear on display, from Lace to Fair Isle with everything in between. I always love to see all the skills we have in Shetland and its so inspiring to see it all together.
After I had done my judging I went around and looked at everything else, they’re is so much to see from animals to flowers and you can spend hours wandering around.. quite happily I add!
I hope you enjoyed this peerie peek into this years Voe Show, I’ll be back in a couple of days with the round up from the Cunningsburgh Show, happy knitting!
Hello everybody, sorry it has been quite quiet on the blog this summer, we have been so busy which of course is a great problem to have. We are now in the heart of the Shetland Wool season and thanks to a pretty good summer so far the clipping has been happening in earnest so the woolstore is filling up as fast as they can empty it! Even with roadworks happening outside our door (we can still be reached from the bottom of North Road) we are averaging 2-3 tonnes through the doors everyday.
I took the chance on Saturday after the woolstore ones had gone home to take a few photos of the organised chaos, I find the Woolstore extremly photogenic and the sheer volume of wool in there never ceases to amaze me. We have shipped two loads so far and they are well into load 3 so you can see we are bursting (at the seams you can see above!)
These pictures sum up just a fraction of the wool we see from over 80% of Shetlands Crofters and Farmers in a year, but I hope you’ve enjoyed this peerie peek. One more thing thats happened this summer is Oliver has reach 50 years at J&S! I posted a few photos through the years on Instagram which you can see here but I took this one last week which just about sums it up…
Hello everyone! So this past Saturday we hosted something a bit different at J&S, a Wool Awareness event. This was for our crofters and wool producers and focused on the ways to present the wool so as to get the best price. Jan, Oliver and Derek were all on hand to advise and talk through with the visitors about what was on show.
The woolstore was laid out brilliantly with examples of all the different grades we take in as well as what we don’t want and how it can lower the price the crofter receives, this was great I thought (as a non-crofter!) because it was well described as to why this lowers the value and I could see what was wrong with it compared to the other examples.
We also had fancys!
And fleece-rolling demonstrations!
We had as well a display of all the yarns and products we make so you could also see the finished product – a number of the visitors came into the shop afterwards and all the feedback I had was really good, so I hope those that came enjoyed it.
Its extremely important to us to support the crofters as much as we can, after all we wouldn’t get very far without them! I made a quick video on Saturday too which you can see below, Happy Knitting!
Hello! We have something exciting to share today, a couple of weeks ago me (Ella) and Oliver filmed a few interviews for the Fruity Knitting podcast on youtube. It came out yesterday so you can watch it now!
For more information you can read over on the Fruity Knitting blog. Thank you to Andrea and Andrew for asking us to take part!