Seasons of the Shetland Crofter

Hello everyone, Happy Shetland Wool Week! just a quick post today revealing the cover and list of shortlisted entries featured in our Seasons of the Shetland Crofter book. You may remember earlier this year we asked for people to send us their pictures and stories representing the 4 seasons in the year in Shetland in Crofting and Farming. We are pleased to announce the winners as follows:

The overall winner and cover image – Dave Wheeler

1st place Spring – Brian Smith
1st place Summer – Sally Sanford
1st place Autumn – Laura Sinclair
1st place Winter – Heather Gray

Shortlisted Entrants (featured in the Seasons of the Shetland Crofter book):
Mary Brown
Anne Macdonald
Rachel Challoner
Lisa Johnson
Jane Gray
Alexis Simpson
John Hunter
Nia Hunter
Darren Leslie
Elaine Tait
Nancy Johnson
Andrew Nicolson
Gwen Williamson
Pam Williamson
Kaila Tarrant
Allan Fraser
Jacqueline Leask
Marty Davis
Ian Reid
Margaret Towriess
Anne Doull
Jac Bates

As a reminder the prizes were:

OVERALL WINNER:

(Defined by the best overall entry as selected by the judging panel)

Vispring Real Shetland bed set* (for Shetland residents only)
Two-night stay at Sumburgh Head Lighthouse courtesy of Shetland Amenity Trust (to be claimed within 1 year)
Copy of the Seasons of the Shetland Crofter book

1st Place per Category:
(Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter)
£100 in cash or J&S vouchers
Vispring branded J&S RSW throw
Copy of the Seasons of the Shetland Crofter book

Shortlist Entries per category:
Vispring branded J&S RSW throw
Copy of the Seasons of the Shetland Crofter book
Pair of J&S Real Shetland Wool socks

So if you are reading this and your name is there we will be in touch (or already have been!) and if you would like to purchase a copy of our book featuring images from this competition it is available now here in Shetland in the shop and we will have it available online next week, it is priced at £10.

Happy Knitting and remember to follow our social media this week (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as we’ll be trying to post as much as we can about Shetland Wool Week!

Unst Show 2019

Hello everyone, me (Ella) and Sandra headed up to Unst on Saturday for the Unst Show. This is a trip which involves getting two ferries so we were up early and make our way up there to judge the knitwear entries which for the first year also included a colourbox section! You will know if you regularly read our blogs or look at our facebook and Instagram that this year we have been to Voe, Cunningsburgh and Walls to judge the Colourbox. This is a selection of 8 shades of  2ply Jumper Weight which we chose – the entrants then have to use at least 5 of the 8 shades in their creations.

 

There was a great mix of garments and accessories and we were really pleased with the number of entries for the first Colourbox at Unst. We also judged the rest of the knitwear and as expected for Unst (known for its beautiful lace) there were some amazing entries – and quite a few Roadside Beanies!

Sadly it was a very wet day and although Sandra and I thought we were suitably attired it became apparent very quickly we were not! Luckily our judging was indoors but it meant we didn’t get to see all the animals, I had a quick look around the sheep though so thought you might like to see a few damp but happy enough sheep.

We also went to the Unst Heritage Centre which was across from the show field (to try and dry off) to look at the amazing lace on show and we really enjoyed that, it is well worth a visit.

It was a good trip and marked the end of our show season, the Yell show is on this weekend and that is the last. Summer certainly feels like it’s over now but that means one thing – soon its Shetland Wool Week!

Happy Knitting! 🙂

Voe Show 2019

Hello everyone! this past weekend saw the first of this summers agricultural shows here in Shetland and it was the Voe Show, I (Ella) headed up to judge the Colourbox Competition – this is something we do every year with some of the shows, we choose a selection of 8 shades of 2ply jumper weight and then people make things using at least 5 of the 8 shades. This years shades were: 5, FC44, 16, FC46, 32, 23, 91 and FC47

As always the standard was extremely high and it was very hard to judge, its amazing how much the way the colours look changes depending on how they have been put together. I took lots of pictures at the show so here are some of the Colourbox entries:

You have to choose a trophy winner from all the firsts and I chose this allover, I loved the corrugated rib collar and cuffs and thought the colour use and pattern were really excellent: The rest of the knitwear entries contained a huge variety of different styles from Fair Isle and Lace and everything in between – you always see amazing uses of colour, design and finishing. After I had finished in the hall with the knitwear I had a wander around the rest of the Show – the sun had come out and it was a lovely day. Apart from knitting, there is all the sheep, cows, horses and ponies, baking, plants, wool, hens, ducks etc etc.. there are also lots of places to get food, ice cream and stall selling things so it’s easy to spend a lot of time (and some money!) I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at some of the things to be seen at this year’s Voe Show, Sandra will be judging at Waas and Cunningsburgh in the next week so keep an eye on our Instagram for some pics from those shows, happy knitting!

Seasons of A Shetland Crofter

hello everyone, just a quick reminder today about our Seasons of A Shetland Crofter competition which closes in a few weeks. We’ve had some great entries so far but we are still looking for more – To remind you we are looking for seasonal stories and photos taken in Shetland which show you the nature and agricultural aspect of our culture that crofting and farming have given us over the years..

We are hosting the competition together with Vispring, Shetland Amenity Trust and Shetland Wool Week  and for some inspiration I thought I’d share some modern and historical photos we have shared on the blog before:

Sheep at the Voe Show
Wool just been clipped, Bressay
Berry Farm
Shetland Sheep and Lambs
Suprise Lamb at the Cunningsburgh Show
Clipping Sheep
Caaing Sheep
Rams at the Walls Show

You do not have to be a crofter to enter (I took quite a few of these and I’m just a toonie with a crofter grandad!) but if you have historical or current photos that you feel show the crofting or nature of Shetland we would love to see them, the prizes include a Real Shetland Wool Vispring Bed (!) and a two night stay at Sumburgh Lighthouse so its definitely worth entering.

The competition closes on the 21st of July and you can enter and find terms and conditions here. 

Waas Show 2018

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:

We’ve had a few questions about the Colourbox Shades so for a reminder the 2018 colours were: 3, 53, 66, 72, 87, 366, fc37 and fc56.

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!

Happy Knitting!

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!

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.