Vintage Lace Collection Volume 1

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We often speak about Gladys Amedro here at Jamieson & Smith, the reason we do so is her patterns continue to be some of our best sellers since they were released over 20 years ago. Together with her we published many patterns in the best way there was at the time – in magazines! My Weekly, The Peoples Friend, Bella.. to name a few.

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A collection of Gladys’ patterns were sold in a book called Shetland Lace which was published by the Shetland Times for many years and went through a few reprints. The Shetland Times currently publishes a few lace books, The Unst Heritage Lace book and A Legacy of Shetland Lace so they have decided at present to not reprint Shetland Lace.

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As you may know we sell our kits with the patterns, and every day we have kits and yarn going out to knit one of Gladys designs. We have always had our patterns printed here in Shetland using the Shetland Times because we feel its important to support our local businesses so we decided that together with them we would put together smaller selections of Gladys Lace patterns into Volumes, so we present The Gladys Amedro Vintage Lace Collection Volume 1!

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This first Volume contains the patterns for The Gibbie Shawl, Lace Christening Robe, Fine Lace Stole and Scarf and My Weekly Baby Knits Shawl.

We have reproduced the patterns as they were in the Magazines so they are written out line by line, rather than charted. All the patterns are written for either 1ply Cobweb or 2ply Lace but they would work equally well with Shetland Supreme 1ply or 2ply Lace, in the introduction we give yardage to help with substituting.

You can buy a copy on our website here!

 

Cunningsburgh Show 2015

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On Wednesday Me (Ella) and Oliver headed down to Cunningsburgh in the South End of Shetland for the annual Show, Oliver was Judging the Wool, and I was judging the Colourbox Competition we hold each year with some of the shows.

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When we arrived we had a peerie look around and then headed into the tent where the Wool Judging was to take place and Oliver begin judging the wool people had entered into the show.

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Beginning in the late 1980’s they developed a Judging sheet for the wool, there are 5 or 6 categories which Oliver Judges each fleece against and gives them a mark out of a set amount. This is beneficial as it gives the entrants some explanation as to where they placed and how it can be improved for another year.

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As well as the trophy fleece seen above, Oliver also judges a few other categories such a most commercially saleable fleece, which may be different to the best fleece!

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While Oliver was doing the most of his judging (I took these photos at the beginning and end of his part) I headed over to the shed where the knitwear and crafts were

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For the best few years we have done a competition with the rural shows where we chose a group of 8 shades of 2ply Jumper Weight to be used in Fair Isle knitting, the entrants then must knit an item using at least 5 of these shades. It has its own category and that’s what I was there to Judge!

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The entries as ever were extremely strong and it’s always great to see how people have put the colours together, some colour selections are more popular than other years but as always we like it to be a challenge!

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Unfortunately due to poor weather the Voe Show was cancelled this year, very kindly the Cunningsburgh Show committee decided along with the Voe Committee to show the Voe entries also so I Judged that too, there are always some extremely beautiful pieces of knitting in the Voe Show so I am really happy they were able to be in the Cunningsburgh Show!

12 13knit2Of course alongside the Colourbox Challange there is a huge amount of knitwear entered into the show14knitFrom Lace to Fair Isle there was a huge range of items to be seen

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The fineness and skill in knitting Shetland Lace never ceases to amaze me and I was happy to see a few of our patterns knitted up, I spotted a Sheelagh and a Gibbie Shawl.

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Understandably the knitwear was very busy with people coming to see how they and their friends had fared as well as just coming to see the skills on show.

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Of course as it was a rural show there were lots of animals there too, obviously we spent a fair amount of time looking at all the sheep!

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22amooritBut as well as the sheep there were dogs, cattle, horses, ponies and poultry to name a few!

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25hensIt was a very busy but great morning, as judges we were also treated to a lovely dinner at the hall! Of course I always have my eye out for nice knitwear..

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I hope you enjoyed this peek into the Cunningsburgh Show! Til next time, Happy Knitting!

PS. remember there is still time to vote for Jamieson & Smith in the Best Brand for British Yarn category in the British Knitting Awards, if you like what we do at J&S you can vote for us here

Yarn Series – Shetland Heritage

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Following on a few years after the successful launch of our Shetland Supreme Lace Yarns as featured in the last post, which was a joint collaboration between Jamieson & Smith, The Shetland Museum and Archives, The Shetland Amenity Trust and our parent company Curtis Wool Direct we developed the yarn we are talking about today, the Shetland Heritage Range. We were approached by Carol Christensen, Textile Curator of the Shetland Museum in 2010, to create a ‘wirsit’ worsted yarn reminiscent of some of the yarn used in their historic knitwear collection, of which some pieces date back to 1870. We were invited by Carol to view some of their collection held in the museum store at the North Staney Hill. On show was a mixture of distinct Fair Isle  ‘keps’ caps, scarves, all-overs and slipovers all laid out on tissue paper.

a piece from the museum collection.

a piece from the museum collection.

Our first impression was the distinct rich colours and how the Fair Isle patterns stood out and were crisp and well defined. Many of the articles were very old, Carol explained the yarn was hand-spun, the wool was combed and not carded, and the dyes were natural dyes. There was little or no wear visible in these garments, testifying that worsted yarn has different wearing properties than woollen spun yarns, a stronger smoother yarn, which retains its elasticity despite being washed and rewashed. We were allowed to handle these precious articles and were immediately impressed by the smooth soft handle.

a piece of Fair Isle knitting in our Heritage Yarn

a piece of Fair Isle knitting in our Heritage Yarn

Carol asked if it would be possible for us to produce a similar ‘wirsit’ worsted yarn as used in the construction of their garments. Carol said could we judge the thickness of the yarn by sight and handling the garments, a big ask to get the finished article correct. Having only worked with a woollen spun yarn and also in the days of the Gala cut, a woollen spun count system that was used by our old spinners Hunters of Brora. We settled on a 2/22.5 cut, which was a 2ply woollen spun yarn used by Hunters of Brora. This yarn would be slightly thinner than our present woollen spun yarn 2/8 nm. We passed on the images and information to Martin Curtis at Curtis Wool Direct, who put the process into action, firstly preparing the superfine Real Shetland wool, which they buy from us. Then combing and dyeing and finally having the yarns spun by one of the few remaining worsted spinners left in the U.K.

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The resulting yarn has a beautiful soft handle, much softer than traditional Shetland or Shetland type woolly yarns. It is perfect for traditional Fair Isle but becuase the yarn is slightly lighter than Jumper Weight this also means it works well for lace. Initially we launched 6 traditionally inspired shades: Indigo, Madder, Fluggy White, Peat, Auld Gold and Berry Wine. We then added Coll Black, Snaa White, Mussel Blue, Moss Green and Silver Grey to round out the palette in 2013, the non marled and matte colours give the yarn a lovely sheen when knitted which looks very traditional.

detail from the Fair Isle V-Necked Jumper kit, available here

detail from the Fair Isle V-Necked Jumper kit, available here

The yarn was described by Carol as perfect, yet again we proved that partnering with local bodys like the Shetland Museum and Archives and the Amenity Trust helps us in recreating our living past in Shetland. The finish of the yarn makes it a diverse fibre and the Coll Black colour way was used by the 2014 Jarl Squad of which Oliver our manager was a member. we have the suit on permanent display in the shop so you can see the heritage yarn used in the Kirtle, the tunic worn underneath the breastplate. You can see from our post about that day here it was a horrible rainy day but according to Oliver they didn’t feel cold!

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There is no doubting the luxury of our Heritage yarn, however most people encountering it today as well as being impressed they have not seen this type of yarn made from Real Shetland Wool, this in itself makes our job of marketing the yarn all the more difficult as it was lost in the age of time and only now has been resurrected, you can buy the Heritage yarn here.

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Yarn Series – Shetland Supreme Lace Weight

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Of all the Shetland wool products produced over our long history, this yarn marks the beginning of a new era of yarn development in which we aim to recreate a very important part of our Islands culture and heritage. True yarn for knitting Shetland lace which has played such an important part in Shetland’s knitwear and textile industry.

women carding and spinning, Shetland. Photo courtesy Shetland Museum and Archives

women carding and spinning, Shetland. Photo courtesy Shetland Museum and Archives

In 2007 we were approached by the General Manager of the Shetland Amenity Trust, a public body and amongst their responsibilities is to preserve our heritage, culture, and environment. Jimmy Moncrieff, the general manager of the Trust wanted to try and further and develop the one of Shetland most well known crafts – Shetland Lace Knitting. He approached us to see if we could help in developing the main ingredient – the lace ‘wirsit’ (yarn) used by our predecessors. This product aims to replicate the traditional worsted effect of hand spun Shetland Yarn on a more commercial scale.

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In order to replicate this intricate yarn, we started by grading and sorting the finest fleece as we have always done – by hand, making sure there was no guard hair in the blend. We has to ensure the fleece had all the characteristics required: a superb handle (softness), strength, fibre fineness and uniformity of quality. The next task was to source a worsted spinner, who were very scarce in present times. When we settled on a spinner in West Yorkshire the next task was to produce a similar yarn to the original hand spun. With the help of local experienced knitters Mary Kay and Mary Eunson of Lerwick alongside one of Myrna Stahmanns groups at a knitting retreat in the USA settled at 16s worsted count for the single 1ply and 2/16s for the 2 ply.

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Worsted spun yarns differ from Woollen spun (1ply Cobweb and 2ply Lace are Woollen spun) in that the fibres are combed rather than carded. This process aligns the fibres but also removes short and coarse hairs as well as any vegetable matter left in the fibres. This process creates a yarn which is extremely strong but also soft as the fibres are quite aligned and not sticking out (these tiny fibres are what makes wool ‘itch’) What makes this yarn so perfect for lace is that the worsted spinning process makes a yarn which has very good drape.

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The 1ply Shetland Supreme is available in 6 shades, Optic White, Natural White, Fawn, Moorit, Grey and Black. The Optic White is a lovely bright white which makes it perfect for traditional lace items like veils, shawls and scaves.

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The 2ply Supreme is currently only available in the 5 natural Shades, as we explained in our last post this helps strengthen and further the Coloured Shetland clip, by offering the natural colours in more than one weight of yarn this means it can be used in lots of different ways and the strength of the yarn means it can be knitted on a knitting machine at different gauges and be used in weaving.

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You might wonder why we keep the 1ply Cobweb as well as the Shetland Supreme but we feel they both have something to offer depending on what you are looking for from your 1ply lace yarn. For more information about the cobweb see here. The Woollen Spun nature of the Cobweb makes for a crisper, more cotton like feel whereas the Supreme has more of a halo and drape. It is confusing we know, but we are always able to help you make a decision.

We are very proud of the Shetland Supreme Lace Yarns and we hope you like them too, you can see them on our online shop here

Til next time, happy knitting!

Yarn Series – Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight

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Hello! we are back with another post in the yarn series, this time it is the turn of Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight – a totally undyed and natural 4ply Weight Yarn. This yarn is perhaps best known in recent years for its use in the designs by Kate Davies, however we have been singing the praises of this natural woollen spun yarn for many years.

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Supreme Jumper Weight comes in a range of 9 completely undyed shades, ranging from Natural White (Shade 2001) to Yuglet (Shade 2009) The other shades are either as they are on the sheep or carefully blended from the natural wool to create a well-rounded palette.

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Historically Coloured Shetland Wool was used by knitters in Fair Isle patterning and Lace knitting like Haps before the dyed wool was available. As time went on however the Coloured wool lost its value and it became almost worthless because white fleece was easy to dye and much more uniform in texture. Up until around 1997 almost all Shetland Yarns in ‘natural’ shades were dyed to create these tones, the reason being the dye house could make it a set shade each time. This differs from our supreme range in that each batch, for example Shetland Black (shade 2005) will not be the same each time as all sheep are not the same shade. So if you plan to use this yarn its best to get all the yarn at one time, it may be quite different in the next lot!

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Another reason most of the mills have to dye or ‘add a touch of dye’ is that we at Jamieson & Smith buy roughly 80% of the entire Shetland wool clip , the majority of which is white with only a limited amount of natural coloured which we use for these our 9 shades. We need a substantial amount of natural coloured fleece in order to produce all the shades in the palette. This means we have to do a lot of hand sorting to separate the various fibre qualities and of course shades which can be found in one fleece. For more information about the Natural Wool and the Sorting process see our earlier posts here and here.

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In 1997 we began a journey to further and strengthen the value of the coloured fleece. This came about as a joint venture between Jamieson & Smith and Yarns International, a now sadly closed down business in Maryland in the USA. Betty Lindsay, a partner in the company visited J&S and was saddened when we told her that the coloured wool had little to no value. Betty vowed to do something and true to her word we set up the totally dye free range which was named Shetland 2000. She employed Ron Schweitzer to design a range of patterns using the yarns, you can see some of his designs on his Ravelry designer page here. Since then lots of desingers have found how well all the natural colours blend together, you can subtely blend them or do some quite striking patterns.

Peat Hill Waistcoat, Adult Lynsey and Karelides Cardigan, some of our current kits made using Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight

Peat Hill Waistcoat, Adult Lynsey and Karelides Cardigan, some of our current kits made using Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight

At the beginning of the post I mentioned Kate’s Sheep designs, the Sheepheid and Rams and Yowes blanket. Both these patterns are extremely popular and use all 9 shades to maximum effect, they both feature motifs of Sheep and Rams which is obviously reflected in the yarns.

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PicMonkey Collage IMG_5726Hopefully this post has helped you understand the work that goes into the Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight range. There a a number of crofters and farmers in Shetland who are very comitted to the coloured Shetland Sheep and we couldnt do this range without them! The coloured Shetland Wool would have been at a time one of the only ways to get different shades into your knitting, now we are extremly lucky to have so much different colours that we can use. Sometimes you cant go wrong using what nature provides us.

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til next time, Happy Knitting!

PS. we are now on instagram! search thewoolbrokers to follow us.

 

 

Yarn Series – 1ply Cobweb and 2ply Lace

Hello everyone and happy Friday to you all, in this post I’m going to share some information on our 1ply Cobweb and 2ply lace woollen spun yarns. As well as Fair Isle knitting Shetland is also famed for its Lace knitting. This is often attributed to Unst, one of the many islands in Shetland but it was popular all over Shetland and there are still many talented lace knitters.

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Our 1ply Cobweb yarn remains one of our best sellers as it is the main yarn bought for knitting 1ply Heriloom and Christening Shawls. As thin as thread this yarn is blended with some lambswool to enable it to be spun so fine, and this results in very fine crisp stitches in lace knitting. We have it in the 4 shades seen above, white is the biggest seller as it creates timeless traditional items like this shawl designed by Gladys Amedro:

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It was in 1977 Jamieson & Smith first asked Gladys Amedro to help provide them with fine lace patterns. Gladys had moved to Yell and in Burravoe she became close friends with with the late Nellie Tulloch, a native Shetlander whose knowledge of Shetland knitting was bred in her bones and she taught the skills to Gladys. Her first design using 1ply Cobweb was published in the Women’s Realm in 1978, many other designs followed including a Christening Robe and Shawl commissioned by Womens Own in 1988 to celebrate the birth of Princess Beatrice, the designs (still available from us as kits here and here) incorporated the Rose of York and an Anchor, to represent the babys Mother and Father. The result of this design led to Jamieson & Smith placiong such a large yarn order for Cobweb that it was queried in case an extra digit had been added..

the next stage thicker is the 2ply Lace Yarn:

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Currently available in over 20 shades our 2ply Lace yarn can also be used in any pattern calling for 3ply Yarn, making it a perfect yarn for Vintage patterns. Like the cobweb it is also blended with Lambswool to give it some added strength. Having the yarn slightly thicker than the 1ply means it gives a bit of substance to lace patterns but also means it will keep you warm in a scarf or stole.

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Perfect for making a lighter weight hap, or a heavier weight shawl 2ply Lace is the medium ground between 1ply and our 2ply Jumper Weight. The different shades we offer and carefully shaded meaning they are just right for blending in Cockleshell or New Shell lace scarves or even this: The Circular Shaded Shawl

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We’ll be back next week with another look at one of our ranges, until then have a good weekend!

(just a note Monday is a bank Holiday in the UK so any orders posted wont be sent til Tuesday)

Ella x

some knitting books at christmas time..

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Im so sorry for the bit gaps in posting but I thought I’d begin with our lovely Christmas tree! We have recovered from the brilliant Shetland Wool Week and since then things have been very busy at Jamieson & Smith, of course our usual day to day is busy as we have lots of customers coming into the shop.. Wool is readily bought all year round in Shetland but in the Autumn and Winter even more so! Of course things are busy on the online shop as we gear up to Christmas time! Knitters can be quite tricky to buy for (speaking from experience) but one thing that cant be beat is a good book. Tying in nicely to this is the fact that over the past couple of months some great knitting books have come out written by some of our lovely knitterly friends, all using J&S yarns !

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YOKES by Kate Davies

I thought I’d begin with the most recent, so recent in fact we haven’t got our copies in stock yet but soon we will and until then you can buy the book from Kate’s online shop here. This book follows the story and cultural variations in the classic Yoke patterning in knitwear and is followed by 11 beautiful patterns, a number of which are made from J&S – including the yoke on the cover!

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This book is a MUST for anyone interested in stranded knitting, although Yokes also includes patterns using beading and cabling. Kate’s knowledge on knitting shines through and makes this the perfect gift.

IMG_4146The Shetland Trader: Book Two by Gudrun Johnston

Next up is the newest publication from American based, Shetland born designer Gudrun Johnston. This book was launched in Shetland at Shetland Wool Week, and we sold out in one night! So luckily we have the books back in stock again.

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I (Ella) may be biased as I am one of the models in the book but the landscape and imagery is all very inspiring, and there are 9 patterns to choose from. From hats,scarves to sweaters and cardigans, there is something for everyone. Available from us here 

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Unst Heritage Lace by the Unst Heritage Centre

This is a smaller book, but would make a great stocking filler for the Lace knitter! Unst is famous for its fine lace knitting techniques and this year the Unst Heritage Centre have launched this book with some patterns and history about its strong heritage.

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This book makes a great edition to the shelves of anyone interested in Shetland Lace knitting. The fact its written and put together by the Unst Heritage Centre makes it all the more interesting. Available from us here

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The Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook by Felicity Ford

You will have seen some of our posts following the progress and completion of Felicity’s brilliant book on designing your own colourwork on the blog (see here and here) but this book makes a brilliant gift for someone who is experienced in stranded knitting but ready to take it to the next level!

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Felicity guides you through all the stages of designing your own colour work motifs,charts and projects. We have copies for sale in the shop but if your not in Shetland you can buy the book from Felicity here

I thought i’d finish this post with a couple of lovely Japanese books we have received recently. We send a huge amount of yarn to Japan and their books are truly some of the most beautiful around.

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Shetland Lace by Toshiyuki Shimada

Toshi is an amazing Japanese knitwear designer, we have worked with him for years and this new book on Shetland Lace is absolutely beautiful. The patterns, photography and layout is so inspiring

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the sense of style and remaking of traditional motifs in a contemporary way (like the cockleshell seen above in a hooded wrap) makes this a great gift for anyone interested in Shetland lace. The book is in Japanese and all the patterns are charted but I have found this great helpful sheet for knitting Japanese patterns. You can buy this book here

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Mariko’s Knitting Tour by Mariko Mikuni

We met Mariko early this year when she visited us for this book, we recently received it and it is a lovely little book, full of pictures from Mariko’s tour of the UK.

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Again this book is all in Japanese but the layout and pictures makes it an inspiring read. She visited Shetland, Fair Isle, Edinburgh and Mainland Scotland (She included a visit to Kate Davies too) and many more

IMG_4142The book contains a number of patterns also, and it can be purchased here

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Wouldn’t it be lovely to find all these books under your tree this Christmas?

Happy Knitting!