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!

 

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!

Knitted Wedding Dress

I’m taking a break from the Yarn series today to show you something very special which was made using one of our yarns: the 2ply Lace mentioned in a previous post in the Yarn Series. Shetland designer Sheila Fowlie is an extremely talented knitter who is well-known in Shetland for her bespoke hand knitted Shawls and Scarfs, she often gets commissions for projects and recently she was asked to knit a wedding dress for the wedding of a local couple Rebecca and John!

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photo courtesy of Sheila Fowlie.

Of course we were very excited when Sheila told us about the project, and now the happy day has been we are pleased to share some photos from which Sheila has sent us. I asked Sheila some questions about knitting the dress:

  •  Were you surprised to be asked to make a knitted wedding dress?

I was, very surprised, wasn’t even sure if I could do it, but couldn’t find anybody else willing to take it on so decided to give it a go myself!

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photo courtesy of Sheila Fowlie.

  •  How many hours do you think it took you from start to finish?

No idea, I gave up after 100 hours and I hadn’t even finished the bottom frill!

  •  Was it important to you to use Shetland Wool in the design?

It was very important to use Shetland Wool, as I believe it’s a superior product and is what I use in all my knitwear, unless specifically asked for something else.

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photo courtesy of Sheila Fowlie.

  •  How did you go about putting together the design and was it quite complicated to do?

All I had at the start was a picture of the sort of dress the bride would like, so we began by taking some measurements and I started with the frill at the bottom after experimenting with different sized needles to get the correct tension. We had decided on three different lace patterns for the dress, one for the bottom frill – ‘willow leaf’ pattern; one for the middle bit – ‘print o’ the wave’; one for the body – ‘bird’s eye’ pattern.

I made the bottom in five panels, then sewed them together. The next bit was more complicated as I had to split the back, so that buttons could be added and therefore had to transpose the ‘print o’ the wave’ pattern to make it match on both sides of the opening. That took a few false starts and many, many swearwords before I got it right! I then grafted the middle bit to the bottom frill. From the middle and up was also quite complicated, as I had to insert darts below the bust into the ‘bird’s eye’ pattern in the front. The back had to be split to incorporate the opening and then made in two bits to join at the shoulders. I then had to attach a matching lace edge to each side from the shoulder to the waist. By the time I started the top bit I had the ‘underdress’ to copy for size, so that made it a bit easier!
(Washing the finished dress was a bit of a challenge, but that’s another story!)

I also made a 1-ply shawl to match the dress, which the bride used as her veil and a pair of matching lace ‘dags’.

Sheila the designer and Rebecca the bride.

Sheila the designer and Rebecca the bride. photo courtesy of Sheila Fowlie.

  •  Were you pleased with the finished dress and did you enjoy the wedding?!

I was really pleased with the finished result and thought the bride looked stunning. I really enjoyed seeing her wearing it at the wedding and received lots of compliments, which was nice!

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photo courtesy of Sheila Fowlie.

Rebecca and John actually live next door to us here at J&S so we were lucky enough to see Rebecca as she left on the wedding day. We are very proud to have played a tiny part in such a special garment and well done to Sheila, and of course congratulations to the happy couple!

til next time, happy knitting!

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!

Shetland Lace in Natural Shetland Wool Shades.

Are you a fan of Shetland Lace? This traditional Shetland art-form which developed out of necessity to help Shetlanders make ends meet from what they had around them has grown to become, with Fair Isle, synonymous with Shetland Knitwear Worldwide; a true home-grown institution. Now more people than ever are discovering this art for themselves, creating beautiful scarves, shawls and christening gowns to pass down to future generations as has been done in Shetland for centuries. This was why we created our new Shetland Lace Collection in 2012.

This new collection has given knitters 9 new designs to try out using our Shetland Supreme Lace Weight yarns. These yarns were developed with the Shetland Amenity Trust as part of the Shetland Fine Lace project to revive a Shetland lace yarn reminiscent of the handspun yarns that would have been used to produce Shetland Fine Lace in the past. These designs have been hugely popular with knitting kits for them being posted out from us here in Lerwick all over the world.

So to add a little bit more variation to this collection, plus a few other lace knits that use our Shetland Supreme Lace, we have added options to the online shop for you to buy these kits in the various beautiful shades of Shetland wool: natural white, fawn, moorit, grey and Shetland black. This will mean you can create something which is even more unique and individual to you.

You can find these on our online shop using the following links, and if you do decide to opt for a shade other than that of the original, please make sure your desired shade is selected before confirming your order. Thank you.

Great Grand Aunt Leezie’s Scarf by Mary Kay

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Loren by Gudrun Johnston

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Quarry Scarf by Ina Irvine

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Anderlea Scarf by Ina Irvine

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Dunella Scarf by Kathleen Anderson

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Shetland Bound Stole by Monique Boonstra

Shetland Bound

Early Spring Blossom Scarf by Nancy Bush

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St. Ninian’s Scarf by Mary Kay

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Kergord Scarf by Mary Kay

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Madeira Lace Shawl by Joyce Ward

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Eva Shawl by Gema Ord

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Plus here are two others from the Shetland Lace Collection 2012 that we haven’t added shade options to due to their use of multiple shades:

Shetland Crescent by Kieran Foley

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Tether by Ysolda Teague

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A Legacy of Shetland Lace

A Legacy of Shetland Lace is a new book released by the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers.

A collection of 21 stunning projects designed by members of the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers. The book contains everything from scarves and stoles, to wraps and lace tops.

As well as the patterns the book has wonderful pictures and explanations of abbreviations, Shetland words to do with knitting, grafting and finishing. Each pattern is supported by a biography of the designer which charts their story with lace and knitting. There are patterns in this book from some of the best lace knitters in Shetland. Hazel Tindall, Mary Kay, Ina Irvine and Kathleen Anderson to name but a few..

The Legacy of Shetland Lace is a modern and contemporary book that encapsulates our lace knitting history in a group of well designed patterns.

photo courtesy of the Shetland Museum and Archives

Shetland ladies were (and still are) renowned world- wide for their superb knitting skills and their ability to produce designs from their environment and surroundings. Not only did they carry out most of the croft work they also were accomplished hand spinners and would spin a gossamer fine lace yarn which would be knitted into shawls or scarves. These works of art would be sold to the local merchant or knitwear shop and provide much needed income.

All the patterns in the book can be knitted with our Shetland Supreme 1 and 2 ply worsted yarns which come in a range of five natural colours, any patterns calling for 2ply can also use our 2ply Lace Weight Yarn which comes in twenty five shades. There is a lovely pattern by Hazel Tindall which calls for Chunky Shetland wool, in which our Shetland Aran BSS16 would be a perfect match!

We at J & S are proud to say that we have reproduced such a fine yarn as used to produce these unique garments all these years ago. In conjunction with our local museum we attempted to revive the art of Lace knitting which was becoming a thing of the past. Part of our inspiration was taken from reading in the local archives that Queen Victoria had stockings made in Shetland from Shetland wool. The yarn used was a combed worsted yarn and not a carded woollen spun yarn, the worsted spinning produces a smoother finer stronger thread which captures the unique characteristics of Shetland wool, especially the soft handle required to wear next to the skin.

We congratulate the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters,Weavers and Dyers on their superb publication A Legacy of Shetland Lace. Their efforts and skill carries on the distinct culture and heritage of some of the finest knitters in the world.

The book is available here for £23.99