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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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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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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New Yarn Launch – Shetland Heritage Naturals

A few of you may have heard whisperings over the last few months about something exciting on the way from Jamieson & Smith.

We are so happy to finally let you all in on the secret and launch our Shetland Heritage Naturals…

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These undyed shades are an extension to our Shetland Heritage range which is an incredibly smooth and strong worsted spun 100% Real Shetland yarn!

The Shetland Heritage Naturals are a lovely variation to our woollen spun 2ply Jumper Weight for use in Fair Isle or other colourwork. Due to the worsted spinning process they are slightly lighter in weight meaning they are also suitable for lace knitting.

Similar to our Supreme Lace yarns the Heritage Naturals show off beautifully the natural tones of our islands’ native sheep.

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Technical info:

25g, 110m/120yds, 2.8nm worsted

Tension: 30 sts and 32 rows = 10cm/4in over Fair Isle pattern using 3mm needles

You can read more about our original Shetland Heritage range here and about the idea behind developing the Heritage yarn here.

You can see it on our online shop here!

Yokes

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

out of season

At this time of year we are beginning to gear up to the busy wool season – all throughout the year we are continually hand sorting and grading the wool but it’s also the perfect time for us to do a bit of maintenance to our buildings!

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We are based in Lerwick, Shetlands Capital so this means we are tight for space, wool takes up a lot of room and we are always looking for ways to streamline our operations. During the Wool Season the Wool store is absolutely jam packed with lovely wool, see this picture from the last year….

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Anyone who has visited J&S will know we had two Wool Stores, well this off season we have combined the two to make one big wool store! This was quite a task and the floors were not at the same level as they were build at different times. Luckily Oliver, Derek, Scott and Jan are all handy with a hammer so once got the wall knocked down (by professionals!) they were able to do all the work in raising the floor. We also blocked up the two middle doors so there is more room for the bales we know are coming!

The main reasons for this alteration are not just to improve the work flow and thus cut costs it is also to accommodate a more modern, larger baler replacing our current wool press, we received it second hand in 1970 so we are due an upgrade! This new press will cut costs and speed up wool handling meaning we can process crofters wool and payment’s faster.

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There used to be one small door linking the two stores, now the forklift can easily go between them and stacking bales is a bit easier

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We also took the chance while we were working with concrete to install a better ramp and rail outside the shop, which makes outside the shop a lot safer and tidier.

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In a small place like J&S it’s important that we can all turn our hand to different things, and we are very lucky we have members of staff able to do this work in house when things are a bit quieter on the Wool Side, it’s a lot of hard work now but in the long term it will benefit how we are able to process the Wool we receive annually from over 600 of Shetlands Crofters and Farmers. I think head Wool man Oliver is pleased with the progress!

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Until next time, happy knitting!

Natalia’s Yoke

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Today we have an exciting new pattern to share, we often get asked about childs yoke cardigan patterns, much like our adult Hairst Yoke. This is one of the many kinds of patterns Shetlanders pass down generation to generation which makes it difficult to find a traditional pattern to make, but now Sandra has designed one for us!

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The cardigan is called the Natalia Yoke, named after our very cute model and Kharis’ niece. It is knit using 2ply Jumper Weight and comes in sizes 22 inches up to 28″. It is knit traditionally in the round with a steek but it also includes instructions for if you wanted to knit it flat, the relatively small size makes it a great first steeking project, and as there are only 3 different contrast shades a great first Fair Isle project too.

If you would like to order the kit for the Natalia yoke you can do so on our website here!

happy knitting!