Ollies Visit to Papa

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Oliver recently spent the day clipping sheep on Papa, an island off the west side of Scalloway. Papa Isle is owned by the Smith family, the founders of Jamieson & Smith, he headed there with my (Ella’s) Uncle James who runs Berry Farm and a group of willing clippers and packers!

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arriving on Papa

Papa Isle is one of the now many uninhabited islands in Shetland. Shetland is made up of over 100 small islands but only 16 are now lived on. Nearby to Papa there are a number of similar isles – Hildasay, Oxna, Linga, Havra and Langa were all at one time inhabited like Papa but as times changed and Island life became harder people gradually moved to the more easily assessable islands, part of Oliver’s family came from Hildasay.

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Preparing the cro

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Gathering the Sheep

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James looks on while the sheep are rounded up

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Brian watches as the Sheep enter the pen

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Oliver hand shearing the old way!

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Shearing by power – the modern way!

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Papa is now the home of approximately 90 sheep who are quite happy living on the natural grazing and feeding on seaweed. They are handled only twice a year for shearing and later in the year for taking home the lambs so with the exception of necessary drenching are virtually organic and quite self-sufficient! They are able to survive and reserve energy and fat for the harsher winters, Hill Sheep have very good wool, the environment and grazing usually leads to a very fine quality of wool.

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All clipped and back to the hills!

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Lots of Oo ready to head to the J&S Woolstore

There are still many examples of Papa being inhabited, the two below pictures show the plaque erected by the Slater Family and the remains of the Slater family Croft house which was attached to the school.

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The next two pictures show the Papa Kirk, you can see Oxna Isle in the background with the house used for Lambing. Papa in Old Norse means the Island of the Priests and people came from all the surrounding Islands for the Sunday service. It was still active in the early 1930s and an elderly neighbour of Oliver’s said he would row over from Burra for the service. The image with the stone before it shows the rock on which the late Robert Fullerton told Oliver a Bible would be laid onto, the people in Oxna would look for this through a spyglass and if it was there they would climb the hill behind their house and wave a bed sheet which would have been seen on the Islands of Hildasay, Linga and Langa. The congregation would then row or sail over for the service. If the Bible wasn’t there it meant the weather was too poor for the minister to make it to the kirk from Scalloway.

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kirk

The ‘Crying Knowe’ can be seen in the picture below, this was a small hill used by the residents of Papa to shout across the sound to the people on Oxna

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You can still see remnants of the Papa Peat banks like in the picture below, many people still use Peat to heat and warm their houses in Shetland today but it was a complete necessity for people in isolated Islands like Papa. You can see a bit more information about Peats in Shetland here.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick look into a bit of Shetland History, you can see on the Map I’ve included above from 1806 nearly all the Islands in Shetland are named, probably because people lived on most of them! Papa is located directly across from Foula on the mid/bottom left hand side.

Happy Knitting!

 

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Waas Show

Hello! last Saturday dawned a bit damper as me (Ella) and Sandra headed out to Waas for the Walls Show.

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Spirits were not dampended however and we soon got to work (after a cup of tea and a bacon roll!) judging the colourbox. This is our first year having the colourbox at Walls so there wasn’t too many entries but next year I’m sure there will be more!

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As with all shows in Shetland there were plenty of animals to be seen..

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and lovely knitwear..

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We weren’t able to stay until everything was fully set up but I’m glad we got a few pictures! Thankfully it dried up and the rest of the day was much better than the morning.  We were amazed on the way back to town how lovely the heather is at the moment in Shetland..

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You can see why we have so many heathery shades in our Jumper Weight range (FC55, FC56. FC14, 87, 133 to name a few!) FC11 and FC12 are good matches for the grass too!

There are a few more shows still to come (Yell and Unst) but we probably won’t make it to those so I hope you’ve enjoyed our trip around the mainland Shetland Shows!

Happy Knitting🙂 xx

Heritage Hap Kits

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You’ll remember a few months ago I did a post about a pattern we had in the People’s Friend Magazine, we couldn’t believe the amount of orders we had for the yarn so we are very happy to say we now have the pattern available to buy as a kit!

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The pattern was developed by Sandra from a vintage pattern, and she decided to use our Shetland Heritage range as it so closely resembles the old Hap weight of Yarn.

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The pattern makes a brilliant first Hap, you begin with the centre panel then pick up  each four sides individually and knit them. The edging is then knit and either sewed on or you can knit it on as you go. The slightly thicker (than traditional 1ply) yarn and bigger needles (it’s knit on 5mm) makes a quick but warm and drapey hap.

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If you order the kit you will receive Snaa White heritage but feel free to choose any of the shades from the Dyed Heritage and our new Natural Heritage range, just leave a note in the delivery comments box!

Happy Knitting!

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Voe Show 2016

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On Saturday I (Ella) had the task of heading up to the Voe Show to Judge the Colourbox Competition. We have mentioned it many times before but in case you’re not sure what it is – every year we choose a selection of 8 shades of yarn and people have to use at least 5 of the shades in a Fair Isle garment or accessory. They then enter it into the Voe, Cunningsburgh or for the first time this year the Walls show. There are a number of these shows which go on all over Shetland in the Summer, filled with livestock, animals, vegetables, flowers, baking and our favourite of course – knitting!!

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This years shades were 2ply Jumper Weight – 71, 118, 80, fc39, 82, fc22. 9097 and 9144 and as always I was amazed at the finished items! I wish I had got more pictures but I was busy judging and when I came back later the knitwear was full of folk so I couldn’t get near!

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Voe always has an excellent amount of entries in the Colourbox and this year was no exception even though I would say the colour’s were a bit trickier than years before – but it is meant to be a challenge and to push people out of their comfort zones.

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Apart from the colourbox, there were some amazing examples in the other knitting categories, everything is covered from 1ply lace to yokes and cardigans, mittens, gloves, scarves, machine knit and hand knit. Basically, every kind of Shetland knitting you can imagine!

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Oliver was judging the fleece so I had a quick look in the tent to see what he had thought of the entries.

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I thought I’d leave off with some more pictures from around the show, if you ever get the chance to come to a Shetland Agricultural show I would definitely take it as it gives you a great overview of Shetland Culture and it’s a great day out!

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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..

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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.

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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:

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White

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Fawn

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Light Grey (a first in our undyed worsted ranges)

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Grey

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Moorit

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Black

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!

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British knitting awards 2016

Thank you all for the kind feedback and comments on the last blog, we were so pleased with how it was received! Today I’m back with a quick reminder about the British Knitting Awards hosted by Lets Knit Magazine..

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We are lucky enough to have been nominated again  in the Best Brand for British Yarn Category, this is our third year being nominated, thank you! We are in a category alongside some of the big wigs  so we really love being seen in the same regard by our customers.

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The past two years we have won third place which is brilliant but we would really love to come First or Second this year! You can vote here and it also enters you into a great giveaway (a £500 spa break or a £100 yarn bundle!!) so what is there to lose?

Thanks again and happy knitting🙂

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.

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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!)

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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!