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!

Christmas Posting Dates

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As things begin to cool down get a bit more wintry we always see the orders getting more and more, all our yarns are made from 100% Shetland Wool so they make the perfect projects for this cold weather! You might also be thinking about yarns for presents so I thought I would give you a breakdown of the Royal Mails recommended posting dates for Christmas:

Friday 4th December: Africa, Middle East

Monday 7th December: Asia, Far East, Cyprus, Japan, Eastern Europe

Tuesday 8th December: Caribbean, Central and South America

Thursday 10th December: Australia, Greece, New Zealand

Monday 14th December: Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Poland

Tuesday 15th December: Canada, Finland, Sweden, USA

Wednesday 16th December: Austria, Iceland, Ireland, Portugal, Spain

Thursday 17th December: France

Friday 18th December: United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Switzerland

As we are located approximately 200 miles off the coast of the Scottish Mainland (you’d be amazed how many people don’t realise!) and we are susceptible to the wild weather there are delays with boats and planes that are outwith our control. We try our best to get everything out as soon as we can but its worth ordering a few days before the limit to be sure. For more information on how we send out our orders see here

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We have got our tree and lights up so its looking very Christmassy in the Shop, that goes along well with the wintry showers we’ve been having!

Happy Knitting!

 

Vintage Shetland Project

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“Fashion and history intertwine in the Vintage Shetland Project as Susan Crawford recreates and explores cherished pieces from Shetland’s rich knitting heritage”

Here at Jamieson & Smith we are lucky to know and call lots of designers our friends, one of these designers is Susan Crawford. Her latest project as you probably know is the Vintage Shetland Project. In this unique book Susan will recreate and publish the patterns for a number of designs featured only in the collection of the Shetland Museum and Archives. For the past 4 years Susan has painstakingly reknit and de constructed (mentally not physically) the pieces to find out how they were made.

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photo: Susan Crawford

Susan has used crowdfunding website Pubslush to help raise the funds to publish this book herself, at the time of writing this post the amount raised is nearly double what the initial target was of £12,000 but in this last few weeks of the campaign we would encourage you to contribute if you can. For £15 you can get a digital copy of the book and for £25 you will get a signed copy of the print edition as well as a host of other goodies depending on how much you put in.

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photo: Susan Crawford

We have been trading since the 1930’s in buying wool and making yarns since the 1950’s so it is quite possible and extremely likely that a number of the pieces were knit using J&S yarns. Luckily as a part of this blog tour we are able to share some of the pieces that will be in the book. Today I’m going to talk about this piece:

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photo: Susan Crawford

This short sleeved jumper is a lovely example of a 1940’s piece of Shetland knitwear and features nice little puffed sleeves, the jumper would have been knit in the round to the oxters (armpit) and then extra stitches cast on for the neck and sleeves to allow it to be knit in the round, the back neck has also been steeked so a zip could be inserted, you can see the maker or owner has written their name on the zip tape

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I asked Susan about what she found out about the piece, she said the yarn is most likely worsted spun (like the Shetland Heritage range) especially as the gauge is quite small at 34 stitches and 34 rounds. This means the yarn is combed before its spun, resulting in a very soft but also strong yarn. As you know from our post on the heritage range we based the colours on traditional knitwear and although this piece is from a bit later than we were looking at some of the colours are still a good match:

L-R: Mussel Blue, Indigo, Berry Wine, Auld Gold and Fluggy White

L-R: Mussel Blue, Indigo, Berry Wine, Auld Gold and Fluggy White

The Indigo shade is a bit brighter than the original but as Susan pointed out the piece may have faded over time and it could have been brighter when first knit. You can see from the first picture of the whole garment how well these yarns last over time, apart from the wear under the arms the yarn is incredibly well preserved.

photo: Susan Crawford

photo: Susan Crawford

This book will be a welcome addition to anyone interested in Shetlands textile heritage, here at J&S we work very hard to keep this strong heritage alive and well so we are really excited to see the book when it comes out!

The full blog tour schedule is below so go back and have a look at some of the posts from our knitterly friends!

 

Thursday 9th July
  
Saturday 12th July
  
Monday 13th July
    
Wednesday 15th July         
  
Friday 17th July
  
Saturday 18th July
  
Sunday 19th July
   
Monday 20th July
  
Tuesday 21st July
  
Wednesday 22nd July
  
Friday 24th July
  
Saturday 25th July
  
Sunday 26th July
   
Monday 27th July
  
Wednesday 29th July
  
Friday 31st July
  
Sunday 2nd August
  
Monday 3rd August
Tuesday 4th Aug
Thursday 6th August
   
Friday 7th August