Wovember 2012

It is already half way through Wovember 2012 and we have realised that all has gone quiet on the J&S blog front recently. So to contribute our little bit to this magnificent month we thought we would give you a little sneaky peek behind the scenes here to show you where all your wonderful wool comes from.

We start off in the wool-store, which could be described as the hub of Shetland’s wool industry with more than 700 local crofters delivering their wool – ranging from bundles of a few kilos to trucks full with a few tonnes in some cases – through our big green doors.

We then sort through the bags, fleece by fleece, to separate them into the different grades and natural colours with the finest being used to make fine lace and the toughest for durable wool carpets. The wool is then squashed into bales by our trusty old baler ready to be shipped and scoured, carded, combed, spun and dyed into the cushion filling, combed tops and lace and yarn that we send off to you. Some of it comes back to us transformed into beautiful rugs, carpets, duvets and even the life-changing Vi-Spring beds.

We sent off our last load of wool for 2012 yesterday which has left room in the main store to clear out the coloured wool-store and sort each coloured fleece into the different grades, ready to be sent away in the final load of this year’s wool season – usually in April – and processed into all of our natural, undyed products. This  final 12th shipment will bring this year’s total to over 240 tonnes of wool: a total which is usually greeted with a look of amazement from anyone who hears it.

When the products finally arrive back here after their long transformation they take pride of place in our shop that is joined onto the wool stores where they first became part of J&S as raw wool. The shop was expanded in 2010 to make it three times its original size and give all of our treasured woolly products room to show off. It is now much-loved by knitters who can rummage around, comparing and contrasting colours to create their very own Shetland Wool knitwear.

The shop also doubles up as the mail-room where we make up, package and send out orders from all over the world. This makes it a very busy place every morning until our postie comes just after 12 to take away the parcels. However, we love making up the little woolly bundles so thank you to each and every one of you who has ordered from us and helped support Shetland’s wool industry.

I just thought I’d end with an image of what makes this all possible. The humble Shetland Sheep with its world-beating wool in its wild, exposed habitat that makes it all so magical.

wool everywhere

The wool store here at Jamieson and Smith is filling up. Everyday pick-ups and trailers are parking up outside and off-loading the raw wool that turns into our lovely 100% Shetland Wool yarn.

Today the sun is shining here in Lerwick and I went out and took some photos of the store.


Hopefully we’ll be able to use the door again soon..

Sheep Carousel by Kate Davies

We’ve been impatiently waiting for our postie to bring us a whole load of Sheep Carousel patterns. Well now they’re here! This is the latest in a series of sheepy designs by Kate Davies. Kate is dedicated to the British wool industry and her designs celebrate and support native breeds. That’s why we love her Shetland sheep collection – Sheep Heid, Rams & Yowes and now the Sheep Carousel. We especially love this new one because every time we see it we think of plinky plonky fairground music. There’s no way this tea cosy won’t make you smile (especially in the middle of this rather grey summer).

The Cunningsburgh Show

A mammoth photo post of the Cunningsburgh Show this Wednesday. 

1.Entrance to the Wool tent  2, 3, 4.Oliver’s fleece judging skills put to the test again 5, 6, 7. Some prize winning Shetland Sheep 8. Charlie Simpson and a herring feast 9. Cool footgear and a woolly dog 10, 11. More beautiful Shetland Sheep posing for the camera 12. Tractor love 13, 14. Elizabeth Johnson of Shetland Handspun’s beautiful things 15 and 16. Yummy wool in the sun (which decided to make an appearance after weeks of grey, woop woop). 



Shetland Sheep spend their days ambling around the coastline eating heather and seaweed. This diet, along with the weather conditions, is what gives the wool it’s lustre, fineness and bounce.  We’ve said this all before but we thought it was about time we paid homage to the humble seaweed (not so much the weather, that can wait for some other time… or maybe never).

Zero Waste

Reading about the Zero-Waste course at Parson’s School of Fashion reminded me of just how great hand-knitting is, particularly in terms of how little waste it produces. This is before you even start to consider the sustainable qualities of real wool as a fibre. 
Then I had this mini brainwave, where I was reminded of just how amazing Shetland Wool really is. I mean, we all know that it’s lovely, but when you’re working with something every day, or knitting with it all the time, you forget  – I guess this applies to a lot of lovely things that get lost in the sea of everydayness! Most Shetland Sheep have a completely natural diet, and their wool is processed in the only plant in the world to be recognised for it’s grounbreaking environmental and ecological standards.
So, this post is a reminder to myself not to forget (does that even make sense?) how great Shetland Sheep and their wool is. And maybe even a reminder not to forget other nice things too.
Now if only we could hand-knit denim jeans, the world would be an even better place!
Zero Waste Garment / course description:
“This course presents a new way of exploiting and building upon the students’ existing design and technical skills with focus on sustainability in fashion design. It introduces the students to designing a garment without creating fabric waste in the process. In designing and producing a zero-waste garment, the students will develop a deeper understanding of the relationships between cloth, fashion design, patternmaking and draping, and in a broader sense, the connections between material, design process and final product. On completion the students will be able to utilize patternmaking and draping as tools for innovative, sustainable fashion design. In this course sustainability provides a tool for the students to examine their design practices in a critical light.”

PS. We love Ecco-Eco, where I found out about Zero-Waste.