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!)

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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!

Rugs and Placenames

We recently received a new batch of Rugs developed by the Real Shetland Company made from our lovely Shetland Heritage Yarns, we at Jamieson & Smith were tasked with naming the beautiful range of blankets and we decided to go with placenames in Shetland ending in Wick – this can be translated from Old Norse as Vik which means Bay.

Silwick

The varying place names we have here in Shetland are what they are because of our Norse heritage. Norwegian settlers arrived here around 800 AD and brought with them many words to describe the landscape, the language spoken by them was Old Norse, from which Norwegian, Faroese and Icelandic languages are all derived. Of course, Scottish and English speaking settlers who came after them meant place names changed and developed but anything ending in Wick means a bay is sure to be nearby.

1654 Map of Orkney and Shetland
1654 Map of Orkney and Shetland

Shetland is surrounded by Coastline, some of it high and rocky but a lot of it low and easily accessible to boats, hence why we became such an important part of the Northern Sea. Unpredictable weather and rough seas teamed with our unique location of 60 degrees north means we are a common stop off point.

A while ago me (Ella) and Derek had to go out on a little excursion and decided to take some of the blankets with us to photograph alongside the signs for their namesakes.

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Reawick
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Silwick
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Westerwick
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Culswick
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Breiwick

One of the Blankets – Westerwick is the birthplace of one of Shetland’s most well known poets – T. A Robertson. I thought I’d share this poem, its called Voar Wadder and is about Springtime in Shetland, although we are coming into Summer now I thought it was still appropriate! – If you would like to hear the poem being read you can listen to it here

Da ask is tick at da back o Vaila,
   As da cowld, sweet braeth o da Sooth wind blaas,
Whaar da rigs is lyin, gold an shaila,
   An da paet-reek driftin by ower Waas;
Whin da green paeck comes, an you hear da kilya
   Among da fleein cloods o maas.

As up an doon da gaet A’m gyaain,
   Wi da owld byre-borrow back an fore,
I feel da Sooth wind saftly blaain,
   An da cock craas lood at da barn door.
Nae time laek da time wi da green paeck shaain
   An da smell o da eart ida first o da Voar!

The rugs can be purchased on our website here.  They are sized approximately 188cm (74 inches) long and 131cm (51.5 inches) wide which makes them perfect for a summer picnic. Of course while we were taking our pictures we had an interested audience..

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Happy Knitting!

wool week friday,saturday and sunday

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On Friday we had another class with Felicity, this time the class were working from another set of inspiration pictures and different shades of 2 ply Jumper Weight.

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Lots of brilliant swatches again! In the afternoon we had Deborah Gray in doing some drop spindling, we always try and offer at least one spinning class although it is tricky for the space, using the combed tops very quickly everyone was spinning away!

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All through the week Oliver was also giving his sorting and grading demonstrations which was busy as always!

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On Saturday morning Kharis and Amy held the fort at the shop and I went for a look at the Marts Flock Book sale

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I then headed to the Wool Week Hub at Islesburgh Community Centre, where the Makers Market was being held

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beautiful pouches by Julia

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Traditional knitting by Patricia Doull

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Scarves and Snoods by Fraser Knitwear

All through the week the Hub was the base for Wool Week and it worked brilliantly as there was plenty of space for people to sit and knit, spin or whatever!

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This map shows all the far flung places people come from to go to Shetland Wool Week, its amazing!

Yesterday to finish off the week we attended the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers Sunday Teas at Tingwall

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Sunday Tea’s is Shetland are a classic and they didn’t disappoint! As well as the cakes and fancy’s there was a great display of the Guild Member’s Work

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So that wraps up the J&S coverage of Shetland Wool Week 2015, it is a crazy week for us but we always enjoy it and look forward already to next year!

Happy Knitting xx

Brand New Kits!

The hard work is done and the patterns are printed so we can finally reveal four new Fair Isle kits to add to the J&S collection. Two of these are in our 2ply Jumper Weight yarn which I’m sure most of you are familiar with. The other two are in our new Shetland Heritage yarns that are inspired by the original hand spun ‘wirsit’ that used to be commonplace in the Isles.

Three of these were designed by our very own Sandra Manson who is an expert at picking out colours and blending them together in beautiful patterns to create amazing garments.

The first of these is the Antarctica Hat, Mittens & Neckwarmer. Sandra initially designed, knitted and gifted these to Dr Alexander Kumar whose address throughout 2012 has been Concordia Station, Antarctica. Dr Kumar learned of the wonders of Shetland wool for keeping you warm when reading of Sir Earnest Shackleton’s trip to Antarctica over 100 years ago, when he was protected from the bitter cold with the aid of Fair Isle wool garments. We have had reports back that Sandra’s knitting has helped keep Dr Kumar comfortable, or as comfortable as you can be in as cold as -91°C!

You can learn more about Alexander’s trip here.

The second of Sandra’s designs is the Peerie Bairns Jumper. This is an extremely cute little thing inspired by traditional Fair Isle patterns handed down over generations. It is completely flexible, with options available in blue or purple and for ages 2, 4 and 6. Though the more adventurous among you could try knitting it in different colours if you prefer – just make a note of the different shades of 2 Ply Jumper Weight you want in the Delivery and Order Comments box at checkout. The Peerie Bairns Jumper will definitely keep your peerie bairn cosy whilst making them look oh-so-cute.

The third of Sandra’s designs – and her first in our new Shetland Heritage yarns – is the Annie Jumper named after our Ella’s neice. The Heritage yarn just oozes authenticity when it comes to Fair Isle knitting and Sandra’s use of patterns brings it all together into a lovely little gansey. This yarn is also perfect for knitting for children as it is worsted spun, making it bouncy and soft to touch. The Annie jumper would also be suitable for boys or girls and is available in options for ages 2, 4, 6 and 9. My mam is currently knitting one for my nephew and I cannot wait for him to try it on!

The final one of our new kits for now is the Fair Isle V-necked Jumper. The pattern for which is based on a garment in the Shetland Museum’s Textile Archive which was one of the inspirations for the new Shetland Heritage range. The yarn for these original pieces was commercially spun but hand-dyed and it looks almost as good as new and very much like the new range. This shows just how well Shetland wool can last if cared for. One of the striking features of the garments in the Shetland Museum’s Textile Archive is how they have been patched over time to match the original colours and pattern, giving them a real sense of history and emphasising their beautiful hand-made quality. This jumper truly is an heirloom piece of real Fair Isle knitting and we are very excited to finally be able to offer it to you.

Detail from the original museum piece. Image courtesy of Jen Arnall-Culliford

The kits are all available now and can be found here! (or directly by clicking on each kit’s name above)

i-D

Remember our collaboration with Lu Flux? Here’s one of the garments in a beautiful spread by i-D as part of the i-Sustain series. These images made me feel all relaxed – I had to stop for a little moment. Sigh.

Felix wears Lu Flux sweater, knitted using BSS80 and lovingly finished with Superfine Shetland Combed Tops.

Warriston

A while back, we mentioned that we’d be putting a kit together for Kate Davies’ lovely Warriston. Well it’s here. At last.

We mentioned quickly that the patterns come with Kate’s new digital magazine, Textisles. This was before we’d had a chance to look through it properly, but now we have and my goodness it is good. Seriously worth a read. It’s wonderfully researched, beautifully written and presented and is just generally one of those things that will make you want to curl on the couch and lose yourself – with a cup of tea, of course.

Also, there is an ultra creative collective of contemporary textile artists in Shetland who go by the name Text-isles. In fact, the group includes the Emma Blain of Aamos Designs who is a part of the J&S Cooperative and Andrea Williamson, who designed the Whalsay Aran. We’re working with the group on a little project at the moment, and can’t wait to see the results.

Also reminds me that we’ve got two new additions to the J&S Cooperative, which should be up shortly. Yoohay!