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.

Real Shetland

We launched an amazing new competition last week…
Real Shetland Stories Competition. Capturing Shetland’s history.
WIN!
Vi-Spring Shetland Superb Kingsize Bed, made with the finest Real Shetland Wool, worth £11,000.
A handcrafted Vi-Spring Shetland Superb bed will be specially made and gifted to the author of the Real Shetland Story that best captures an experience or memory of Shetland life in relation to wool.
Your story could be about
A long connection to something wool related – a life spent crofting or keeping warm at the fishing, or making and selling knitwear.  
A person who wore or worked with wool – a brother who lived in his favourite jumper, a granny who knitted constantly, or a dad who came home from the fishing with his jumper smelling of salt and sea and cigarettes. It might even be about an individual sheep.
A single garment – a favourite sloppy jumper worn in the 80s with a pair of DMs, a pair of work socks that have been darned hundreds of times, a Fair Isle allover that sticks in your mind, or the first pair of gloves you ever sold. 
Your story, memory or experience may be about a place – the bustle on the pier when wool came in and jumpers went out, a spot where shearing was done, winding wool in the kitchen, or a whole community’s connection to wool.
Entries will be judged by Shetland Museum and Archives Curator, Dr Ian Tait, along with local storyteller, Davy Cooper, and the Museum’s Textile Curator, Dr. Carol Christiansen.
 
The Project
The Real Shetland project brings together the islands’ main wool brokers, Jamieson & Smith, their parent company, Curtis Wool Direct, and Vi-Spring, who are a major customer of Shetland Wool, with Shetland Museum and Archives, Shetland Amenity Trust and Promote Shetland. 
The project highlights the importance of textiles and crofting to Shetland’s heritage, culture and economic development, and focuses on remembering and preserving knowledge and skills to ensure the future of our wool and textiles industry. 
These pieces of history will be kept to provide a rich source of information on Shetland life for future generations. Finalist entries will appear in a special edition book. 
Judge, Dr. Ian Tait said “we’re looking for personal recollections and photos that that bring back strong memories of woollens.  The idea is that we gather these evocative stories into a lasting record of wool-related memories.  It’ll be a collective “wirsit memory bank!”  We aren’t looking for the next world-class author or expert photographer; it is the story of ordinary folk and the part Shetland wool played in their lives that judges will be looking for.”
As the world’s finest bedmaker, Vi-Spring knows that real luxury depends on the best natural materials. That’s why their master craftspeople carefully fill each top of the range bed with Real Shetland Wool. 
Vi-Spring understand that the unpredictable Shetland weather and the largely natural diet of our sheep means that the properties of resilience, warmth, softness, fire retardancy and temperature control are carried right through to their luxurious beds. Vi-Spring also recognises that Real Shetland Wool is special because of the way it is and has always been closely intertwined with daily life in Shetland.
 
Entry
Entries should include a small written piece, roughly 100 – 300 words, illustrated with a photograph or drawing. The photograph can be of a person, a place, or depict an event. Include any known names, dates and locations. Photographs can be from a personal collection, or taken from the Shetland Museum and Archives Photo Library (http://photos.shetland-museum.org.uk). You might even want to show us a garment, a swatch, a piece of art, or even a stick drawing. The emphasis is on capturing the story. 
Winners will be announced at a special event during Shetland Wool Week, which runs from 10th – 16th October 2011. 
Entries should be submitted with name, address and telephone number to:
Real Shetland Stories Competition
Shetland Museum and Archives, Hay’s Dock, Lerwick, ZE1 0WP
or Jamieson & Smith, 90 North Road, Lerwick, ZE1 0PQ (where you can view a replica of the prize).
For more information or to follow the project: www.facebook.com/realshetlandstories
Closing date:
15th September 2011
Terms and Conditions:
By submitting an entry you agree to your story and image being published as a book. All entries may be used for publicity and promotional purposes by competition organisers. Intellectual property rights remain with the author.  Judges decisions are final.


Real Shetland Stories, in association with Jamieson & Smith, Curtis Wool Direct, Vi-Spring, Shetland Museum and Archives, Shetland Amenity Trust, Promote Shetland. 
And here’s a replica of the prize in our Lerwick wool store (the winner will have one made to their exact specifications). It is seriously the most amazing thing you’ve ever felt. No kidding.
Want one. More pictures to come…
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