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.


My (Ella’s) Dad Smirk was there with Cartoons


Foula Wool


Students from the Textiles Course at the Shetland College


Kathy Coull was there with Fair Isle Yarn


The always bright and cheerful Neilanell knitwear


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








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


Me with the White Lamb and Coloured Lamb winners


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..




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


Sue Arthurs Handspun Handknitted Jumper


Kathleen Andersons Lovely Lace


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!






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


fair isle knitting with Hazel


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!


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


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.


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.


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




Heritage Natural Cones

Hello, thank you all for the kind comments on the last blog!

We have been so pleased with how well the new Natural Heritage yarn has been going and now you can get it on cone!! We get the cones for machine knitting but you can hand knit with them of course, the Heritage yarn is slightly waxed on the cone so it goes easier through a knitting machine. So we would always suggest washing your finished item and even your swatch if you are using coned yarn to get the accurate measure of your gauge.


We have a lot of 500g cones is all the shades and a number of 1kg cones in most shades so if you are planning a project using a lot of one of the shades it works out to be a great deal!


The 500g cones are £27.00 which is equivalent to about 20 balls and 1kg are £54.00 which is like 50 balls.  You can see them on the website here.

Happy Knitting!

PS. you can now pre-order a copy of the 2016 Shetland Wool Week Annual! see here if you would like one.

Shetland Heritage Naturals – a closer look

hello! Today I thought we take a closer look at the new addition to our Heritage Range – Shetland Heritage Naturals! Its only been available for a few weeks but its been flying off the shelves..


When we got our sample cones I (Ella) rushed some home to do some swatches on my machine to see how the yarn would knit up, its spun to the same thickness as our Shetland Heritage but the natural yarns always behave a little bit differently than the dyed ones and I wasn’t disappointed! The yarn smells lovely and sheepy in the ball so the yarn feels a bit thinner until its washed, it fluff’s up and fills the gaps between the stitches beautifully.


The heritage range has a beautiful soft handle thanks to being worsted spun, (see more info here) I knitted it on my machine at tension 9 for a quite drapey fabric but you can knit it with lots of needles sizes to get a different finish. Heritage yarn bridges the gap perfectly between 2ply Lace and 2ply Jumper weight and most resembles the traditional Hap weight yarn we used to produce, its a versatile yarn as it works for lace knitting but also is perfect for colourwork. You can see more about the story of the Shetland Heritage yarn from our yarn series post last year.

Here is a side to side with the yarn and swatch of each of the six shades:






Light Grey (a first in our undyed worsted ranges)







The Shetland Heritage Naturals are available here and cost £3.20 per 25g ball, we will shortly be getting in some cones so keep an eye on the website for that, we are so pleased with our newest yarn and hope you are too! The coloured Shetland Wool was at one time such a unwanted fibre (people used to dump it rather than sell it as it was worth so little) that we are so proud to give it value and we now have a 1ply/2ply lace weight worsted spun, light 4ply worsted spun and a woollen spun 4ply yarn all using this precious fibre. By using it in yarns and products it makes it worthwhile for crofters and farmers to keep coloured Sheep and that’s always a good thing!


woollen and worsted

You may notice when looking at our website we have quite a variety of different yarns in much the same weights but available in Worsted and Woollen spun variations. I thought today we’d go through and look at the differences of both and why you may choose one over the other depending on your project.

l-2ply Lace r-Shetland Supreme 2ply Lace

l-2ply Lace r-Shetland Supreme 2ply Lace

In relation to the fibre preparation before spinning – Woollen spun fibre is carded and this means the fibres are still overlapping having been carded back and forth over each other, this creates a very airy fibre which when spun is warm and springy.

Worsted spun however is combed so all the fibres are lying relatively parallel to each other which creates a smoother and stronger yarn, the combing process also removes many of the shorter fibres, one aspect which can be found itchy by the wearer.

our new Shetland Heritage Naturals are Worsted Spun

our new Shetland Heritage Naturals are Worsted Spun

I’ve made this very rudimentary illustration to show what I mean when these two methods are used in a finished yarn: (ignore the similarity to a hairy leg!)


The image above also illustrates what it is people sometimes find itchy about wool, those fibres poking out are what irritates the skin and this is why worsted spun can be less itchy than woollen, although worsted spun can still have a visible ‘halo’ the location of the fibres are not actually poking out in the same way as woollen spun.

The reason we have similar weights available in both woollen and worsted is because both approach have pro’s and con’s and depending on your intended final finish it is always good to have a choice!

Woollen Spun Worsted Spun Equivalent
1ply Cobweb 1ply Shetland Supreme
2ply Lace 2ply Shetland Supreme
Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight Shetland Heritage Naturals (slightly thinner)
2ply Jumper Weight Shetland Heritage (slightly thinner)
Shetland Aran (discontinued) Shetland Aran Worsted

In relation to the thinner 1ply yarns Woollen Spun has a crisper feel, whereas the Worsted Spun has more drape and softness. In this photo below you can see the 1ply Supreme (worsted) on the left has more of a halo whereas the 1ply Cobweb (woollen) on the right has better stitch definition – it almost feels like cotton although it is 100% wool. For projects using 1ply you need to think what the finished item will be used for – a baby’s christening shawl which wont be used often may benefit from being knitted in the crisper 1ply Cobweb but a stole that will be worn close to the skin and often may be better in Shetland Supreme.1plyThe loftiness in the fibre of Woollen Spun yarn means air is trapped within the yarn making it warm to wear, it also is known all over the world for its use in Fair Isle knitting because of the way the fibres interact with each other. In the below image you can see the effect of the two different spinning processes in Fair Isle, worsted spun on the left and woollen on the right. Both successful and traditional in there own right, its only down to your preference. You can see the Shetland Heritage garment has a sheen and flatness whereas the Supreme Jumper Weight garment has a slightly fuzzy look due to the fibre preparation we mentioned earlier.jwAt the top of this post you can see an image of 2ply Lace and Shetland Supreme 2ply Lace next to each other, the loftiness of the Woollen Spun 2ply is evident to see in the thickness of the yarn and the smoothness of the 2ply Supreme Worsted spun is also clear to see. In finished garments these two aspects can still be seen, In the 2ply Lace the crispness works extremely well in traditional Lace patterns and similarly the drape of the Shetland Supreme 2ply also works well in Shetland Lace patterning.2ply laceDue to the fibres being combed and all the fibres aligning Worsted Spun yarns are very strong and quite hard to break, Woollen spun has the short and long fibres jumbled together so it is easier to pull apart, this is another thing to think about for your finished garment – Shetland Lace can need quite aggressive blocking so it may be worth looking into the Worsted Spun ranges if this is something that concerns you.

I hope this quick look into our worsted and woollen spun yarns has been informative and it might make a bit more sense why we have similar weights in both Woollen and Worsted spun!

Happy Knitting!



a shetland knitter working on a V-bed machine, photo by Tom Kidd

Historically Shetlander’s have always had to have a few things on the go, originally we were crofters and fishermen and this meant there was always quiet times, be it bad weather, dark nights or rough seas you had to find something to do. In the height of Shetland knitwear fame many homes were equipped with large v-bed knitting machines like the one you see in the picture above for people to combine machine and hand knitting and to earn a bit of extra money. Prior to the Oil Boom of the late 1970s/early 1980’s many homes echoed to the sound of the knitting machine.

by the mid 1960’s, when the local press reported that knitting was beginning to become more profitable than crofting, many Shetland families were encouraged to purchase Passap or Knitmaster machines specifically to turn out sweater bodies, as well as yokes in their own home’

An excerpt from Kate Davies ‘Yokes’

Working in one of the many Knitwear factories. Photo: Unknown

Working in one of the many Knitwear factories. Photo: Unknown

With the introduction of oil and all its job opportunities and  wealth it was no surprise that locals packed away their knitting machines and took advantage of the Oil Boom and all its rewards. The skills of these cottage industries saw a deep decline, luckily there were still people in Shetland who had these skills and we are lucky to be able to work with some of them.


We have designed a range of traditional Yoke cardigans using both our 2 ply Jumper Weight and Shetland Heritage yarns, we have partnered up with a selection of Shetland knitters to help us produce them – The body and sleeves are hand frame knitted for us by a maker in Whalsay, one of the outlying Islands and then we have a number of local knitters who put in the yokes and finish the garments in their own homes.


The continuation of the Shetland Textile industry is always very important to us, that’s why we are ensuring to pay our knitters a good price for doing the work, we understand and appreciate the skills the knitters have and want to pay them rightly for these skills. We have the initial stock available on the website here but we will be adding to it as colours come back from the knitters.


We are very excited about our new range of garments, and we hope you are too! If you don’t fancy buying a ready made yoke the pattern is taken from Sandras’ Hairst Yoke pattern which is available as a kit.

Happy Knitting!

Crofthoose Hat Kits


So this years Shetland Wool Week pattern has now been out for a month or so, we were out of stock of one of the shades but its now back in (yippee!) so if you would like to knit the J&S colourway of the Crofthoose Hat you can order a kit from our website here


It uses 5 shades of Jumper Weight in the colours seen above, if you order a kit we will include a paper copy of the pattern but you can also download it via the Shetland Wool Week website here

If you would like to knit the hat but dont fancy these shades just leave us a note in the delivery comments box of the shades you would like and we will put them in for you, there are four different colourways in the pattern and lots of projects on Ravelry if you need inspiration!

if you do knit a Crofthoose Hat remember to tag your projects on instagram and ravelry with the #crofthoosehat

Happy Knitting!