J&S Staff Profile: Jan Robertson

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

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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.”

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Watsness with Foula in distance. Photo courtesy Oliver Henry
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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).”

 

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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.”

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Shetland Heritage Naturals

New Year, New Skills!

Hello everybody! We hope you’ve had a lovely festive season and are feeling refreshed and ready for 2017, the New Year is a great time to plan for those skills you want to improve in the next 12 months – although sometimes it’s hard to know where to start!

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One skill close to our hearts at J&S is Fair Isle knitting and its what many people use our yarns for (especially 2ply Jumper Weight!) but we know it can be quite daunting to some people, luckily there are lots of different ways you can get help with the trickier aspects!

One way is to watch someone doing and explaining these things! Hazel Tindalls DVD ‘The Fine Art of Fair Isle Knitting‘ is an excellent resource for those of us who learn by watching – I am definitely one of those people!

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The DVD takes you through all aspects of traditional Shetland knitting and demystifies things like knitting belts, jumper boards, long DPN’s and steeks to name a few.

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It’s one of those things you will refer back to often and although the DVD is about knitting a garment (in this case a cardigan) the skills you learn can be carried over into all your knitting. You can view the trailer and buy the download if a DVD isn’t for you here

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Another great way to gain confidence in your skills is to use a kit, by following a pattern in the colours provided all stress is taken away, I know choosing colours can be quite scary! And sometimes a smaller item like a hat, socks or hot water bottle cover can seem a lot more manageable than a Jumper!

Saudade and Fishermans Kep
Saudade and Fishermans Kep
Toatie Hottie and Yuglet Socks
Toatie Hottie and Yuglet Socks
First Footing and Antarctica
First Footing and Antarctica

For those of you that want a bit of a colour challenge our Fire Festival KAL is a great way to play with a group of colours already chosen for you, there are lots of projects appearing in our ravelry group so there’s a place to support, advise each other and chat about how you’re putting the shades together! The knit a long runs until March so there’s still plenty of time to join in.

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I hope this has given you some ideas about Fair Isle you’d like to try, especially now that Christmas and gift knitting is by with – some selfish knitting may be in order!

Speak soon 🙂

A Shetlanders Fair Isle Graph Book

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You have probably seen this book if like us you love anything related to Fair Isle, Knitting and Shetland! Published by The Shetland Times and compiled by the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers A Shetlanders Fair Isle Graph Book in Colour is a bright and inspiring book – perfect for this dark and dreary time of year. It was released just in time for Wool Week this year and since then it has been selling like hot cakes, everytime I went to do a blog it would be sold out!

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As things calm down though its a lovely book to look through. It is filled with hand coloured motif’s for Fair Isle knitting, the originals of the notebooks belonged to Bill Henry who ran the Hosiery side of Anderson & Co in the mid 20th century. They were most likely used by knitters to put together pattern to put on items to sell.

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The idea of the notebooks themselves is not unusual, Shetland knitters have many self drafted pattern books but what makes this one unusual is the coloured aspect, it is very common to see the black and white dotted kind you see in many Fair Isle books like Traditional Fair Isle Knitting by Sheila McGregor, Alice Starmores Book of Fair Isle Knitting and Fair Isle Knitting Patterns by Mary MacGregor. Those kind of graph books are invaluable also because they help you to put together patterns without being distracted by the colours but this book is a feast for the eyes if you like Fair Isle and Stranded knitting.

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It’s very tempting to gather up colours and try to match them up…

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2ply Jumper Weight l-r: 77, 1403, 66, 1, fc15 and 34
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greens: 34 and FC11, blue: FC15 and FC47, cream: 1 and 202, yellow: 66 and 121, reds: 1403 and FC55, black: 77 and 81.

The yarn on the right-hand side is the same kind of shades as the ones on the left for the pattern in the previous picture but it would give you a more subtle version of the pattern. That’s another fun part of putting colours together, you can adapt it until it is more your kind of shades.

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Shetland Heritage Naturals l-r: white, fawn, light grey, moorit and black
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2ply Jumper Weight l-r: 1403, 23, 21, FC15 and 202

We have the book in stock just now and it costs £20.00. It would make a great present for anyone interested in Shetland Knitting, the historical aspect is just as interesting as the colour inspirations!

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Last Few Days of Wool Week 2016

I hope you liked our post last week about the classes at J&S during Wool Week, again I’m sorry it was so brief, I still can’t get over how busy it was! We were still working on Saturday but I nipped out quickly to visit the Makers Market at Islesburgh – which was pinned! Its a great chance for local makers and small yarn producers to show what they make to a very appreciative public.

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My (Ella’s) Dad Smirk was there with Cartoons
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Foula Wool
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Students from the Textiles Course at the Shetland College
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Kathy Coull was there with Fair Isle Yarn
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The always bright and cheerful Neilanell knitwear
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busy busy!

I came back from the Makers Market and me and Sandra headed up for a quick look at the Marts, every year the Flock Book have the sale of Pure Shetland Sheep and Lambs, its always good to see the Sheep (reminds you what Wool Week is all about!) Scott who works in the Woolstore had been there all morning as Oliver and Jan were judging the wool on the hoof so the next photos are all taken by him

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Vispring always provides the sponsorship for the Fine Wool and I was asked to present it to the winners:

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Me with the White Lamb and Coloured Lamb winners
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l-r: Lamb White winner and Overall Champion, Coloured Lamb winner, Adult White winner and Coloured Adult Winner.

On Sunday after a bit of a lie in I headed out to Tingwall for the Sunday Teas held by the Guild, its one of my favourite bits of Wool Week..

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As well as the lovely food there are brilliant displays of the Work of the Guild which is always so inspiring!

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Sue Arthurs Handspun Handknitted Jumper
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Kathleen Andersons Lovely Lace
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Hazel Tindall’s beautiful Fair Isle

I hope you’ve enjoyed this more relaxed look at the last few days of Wool Week, we are just about recovered, but already looking forward to next year.

Happy Knitting!

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Wool Week at J&S

Hello! I’m so sorry we haven’t been able to update you this week of all the happenings at J&S for Shetland Wool Week, I’m afraid it has just been so busy!!! A great problem to have of course, We have just about managed to get some snaps here and there during the week so this post is all about what we had going on in the shop

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fair isle knitting with Hazel
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lace with Elizabeth Johnston

On Monday we had a Fair Isle Class with Hazel Tindall in the Morning and Shetland Lace with Elizabeth in the Afternoon, we always have these classes and they are always some of the first to sell out, Hazel and Elizabeths years of experience make them excellent teachers!

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Drop Spindling with Deborah

On Tuesday Morning we had a Drop Spindle class with Deborah Gray, I always think this looks like a really fun class to do!

Tuesday night we had a trunk show for Monique Boonstra, Monique is a fabulous lace knitter and she had samples of her lovely patterns and knittingtuesmon

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Haps with Gudrun

Wednesday led to more lace knitting, Haps with Gudrun in the Morning and more lace with Elizabeth in the afternoon. Gudruns Hap class is always very popular and she has the students make a mini version of her Hansel hap, it’s very manageable for the length of time of the class and gives everyone a taste of all the elements of this traditional Shetland garment.

img_9798This is the only photo I got on Wednesday of Elizabeths second lace class but it looks like they are learning a lot! Elizabeth is always great to have at Wool Week and she teaches lots of classes in Hoswick also.

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Of course, we have spent the week spotting crofthoose hats too! It’s great to see all the different colours people have chosen.thurshaz

Thursday morning had Hazels second Fair Isle class, she had the ladies knit in the round and then steek! Everyone seemed to have a great time and I loved the samples at the end.

Friday morning we had no classes so we got caught up on our post and then in the afternoon Monique Boonstra was back with a class using 1ply Shetland Suprememonfri

Oliver has been doing his tour this week too, and yesterday was the last day of that, he has it down to a fine art and we always get lots of people coming for the tour.

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photo by Scott Goudie

Today is the Makers Market and Flock Book and tomorrow is the fabulous Sunday Teas hosted by the Guild so I’ll be back next week with a few photos from that. It’s been a great week and as always we are so proud to be involved in Shetland Wool Week!Save

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Shoormal Hap

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As soon as we saw the Shetland Heritage Naturals we all knew they would be perfect in a traditional Shetland Hap, Sandra quickly got to work and just in time for Wool Week the Shoormal Hap is the result!

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The Bestway K133 pattern booklet is full of inspiring Shetland patterns, (we have a photocopy of the pattern booklet for sale here) They are all written out longhand in very small writing but we were very inspired by the ‘Scalloped Shawl’ pattern, its a traditional Hap which you probably know has been everywhere lately. They have been made and worn in Shetland for centuries and we knew the nature of the Shetland Heritage Naturals would be ideal to recreate this pattern.

courtesy of the Shetland Museum and Archives.
courtesy of the Shetland Museum and Archives.

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We have used shades White, Fawn, Moorit and Shetland Black in the Shawl, Oliver has told us many times that the Heritage is very similar is weight to the old Hap weight of yarn, long since discontinued but the soft and strong properties of the Heritage yarn especially in the undyed colours harks back to this historical yarns. We have added charts for the border and edging sections of the pattern as well as keeping the written instructions so you can choose which to use.

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The construction of this Hap is that the centre is worked first followed by the four sides which are all worked individually and sewn onto the centre and each other, finally the edging is worked and sewn on. This makes it a great portable project as you are working each element separately before sewing it all together.

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The finished shawl is approximately 45 inches square making it very large, warm and cushy. It’s knit on relatively large needles for the yarn (4mm and 5mm) which creates a warm and lofty fabric, perfect for wrapping yourself up in, keeping on your couch or wrapping around a baby.

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If you would like to knit your own Shoormal Hap you can buy the kit here!

Happy Knitting!

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Shetland Wool Week Mitts-a-Long

Hello everybody, specifically those of you who can’t make it to Shetland Wool Week but would like to be involved…

The wonderful Felicity Ford AKA Knitsonik has been busy working away on an idea just for you:  Introducing the Knitsonik Mitts-a-Long for Shetland Wool Week! ‘Yay’ I hear you cry, well Yay indeed, read on for the details.

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The idea is to design your own stranded colourwork using ‘Fingerless Mitts’ as the base for your explorations. There are two kit options for you to choose from, each one has been carefully thought out by Felicity and includes the pattern along with the corresponding 8 balls of our lovely 2ply Jumper Weight (a 4ply weight yarn).

The first theme is the Crofthouse Museum, situated in Dunrossness in the South Mainland of Shetland. It is set up as it would have been in the 1870s so you can get a real feel of what it was like to live in a typical Shetland home at that time.

The second theme is taken from knitting sheaths in the Shetland Museum & Archives. These were in use before knitting belts and were made with feathers to grip and hold a needle in place while working.

The Knitsonik Mitts-A-Long 2016 coincides with Shetland Wool Week 2016 starting on the 24th September. It will continue until the 24th October with lots of places to share and discuss your progress online – you can find other participants by following the hashtag #knitsonikmittsalong on Instagram and Twitter, and on the Knitsonik Ravelry forum.

We have a limited amount of kits in stock so if you would like to knit your Shetland inspired mitts with wool all packed up by us in Shetland, this is your chance!