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Working With Wool, A Guest Post from Vivian Ross-Smith

‘Form’. Shetland wool on Burlap. 20x21cm. 2018

You don’t have to look hard in my studio to find wool. There are balls of J&S yarn scattered everywhere and crimps of raw fleece dotted around my work benches. There’s a grip and bite to Shetland wool that is unlike any other wool I have used in my work; the texture is beautiful to hold and excellent to work with. J&S have an enticing range of colours waiting to grab your attention but it’s the natural shades that always sit best with my work. Reminding me of shearing sheep on my home island of Fair Isle.

‘Fair Isle Scattald’ 2018, acrylic on wood. 14 x 12 cm each (series of 17)

‘Ewes Out’ 2018. Shetland wool handstitched on canvas. 70 x 51 cm (Detail)

Some of my fondest childhood memories are gathering as a community to ‘caa’ sheep. This process involves walking through the rugged, heather-covered hills as one to manoeuvre the flock toward the ‘crü’, a large enclosed pen from which sheep can be sheared and dosed. Feeling the rich, almost sticky lanolin coat my hands as I prize fleece away from skin to find the growth line I will clip along. Not only have these textures, colours and smells stuck with me, the coming together of community to work collectively had a huge impact on me too. As with many artists, my personal history is an integral framework for my practice. The mentality and dynamic of island communities’ shapes my work, I approach my art as an islander.

‘But if you use the word craft, it’s like you’re politicising the word craft’, 2020. Shetland wool and acrylic on paper

‘Craft Conversations II’, 2020. Canvas, felt, acrylic, Shetland wool, wood and tracing paper

Materiality forms the backbone of my practice from which I explore the aesthetic qualities, as well as the cultural value of material. Fish skins, salt, wood, and hessian are paired with traditional island skill sets such as knitting, knotting, weaving and stitching to communicate craft, skill, isolation, and commitment to place. It is wool, however, that features in my work time and time again – a material completely intertwined with Shetland culture. When I use wool, I play a small part in feeding into the long and rich history of crofting, knitting and textiles in Shetland.

‘Stitch’, 2019. Hessian and Shetland wool. 24x24cm

‘Sorting + Grading’ 2019. Shetland wool and burlap. 140x80cm

‘Sorting + Grading’ 2019. Shetland wool and burlap. 140x80cm (Detail)

Living on a small island like Fair Isle simultaneously requires self-sufficiency and a willingness to rely on neighbours. Although not the only industries, the laborious working of land and sea through crofting and fishing, is still a common practice on Shetlands islands. I use my practice as a method of echoing the types of work that take place on islands, commitment to working in a repetitive and laborious way is mirrored through the rhythms and durational nature of my work, reminiscent of the ebb and flow of the sea, or the back and forth of a knitting machine. Alongside the workload of an islander comes a collective commitment to place and way of life, which highlights the need for a strong community, allowing a sharing of workload and the building of support structures. It is this joined-up thinking I am interested in. To me, islands are places of coming together.

Good Mother, 2018. Shetland wool handstitched on canvas. 70 x 51 cm

‘Moder Dy’, 2019. Haddock skins, Shetland wool, wooden bar

This shared working is very apparent in the crafts of the island and particularly in the knitting, where its commonplace to share patterns and knitting knowledge with neighbours, friends and family. The social aspect is what draws me to textiles and from that stance, my appreciation of wool as a material strengthens.

‘J+S’, 2019. Raw fleece hand-stitched with Jamieson and Smith yarn. 24×24 cm

I’ve never been taught how to use stitch properly, instead making it up as I go along with whatever means make sense to the work. The same goes for my knitting, although Fair Isle is my home island and I have been surrounded by exceptionally talented knitters for my whole life, I only taught myself to knit garments properly in 2017. My use of wool in my artwork has always been intuitive and centres around the development of tactile surfaces and trying to gain an understanding of the materials form and function.  piece could be as simple as exploring the relationship between raw and spun wool, yet the touch of the fleece, the smell of the lanolin, the individual crimps, keep my mind and hands engaged for hours. Or the conceptual could take forefront, how does craft practice fit into fine art? Is the internet the new craft space rather than gathering and making physically? Regardless of the starting point for a piece of work, it’s the material – and usually the wool – that my mind goes to first.

‘Craft Conversations III’ 2019. Shetland wool and canvas

 

I ask viewers to look at material from a perspective they’re not used to. I ask them to question its qualities, origins and if our understanding of the material itself can be built on. From this place of constant learning, a deep appreciation can be formed.

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Vivian Ross-Smith is an artist working from the Shetland Islands. She adopts a collaborative and systematic approach to making and sharing through painting, textiles and the digital. Her work creates space to discuss the practices of island life from a contemporary, fine art context and explores the textures, qualities and values of material and space. Ross-Smith’s work builds relationships and conversations between material, place and people and is as much about experiencing as it is about seeing.

 https://www.vivianrosssmith.com

@vrosssmith

Thank you Vivian for this guest post – we hope you are enjoying our Wool Week content – make sure to follow our instagram and subscribe to our youtube channel – if you haven’t already! Happy Knitting!

 

 

Knitting an Afterthought Heel, Guest Post from Lesley Smith

My name is Lesley Smith and I am a knitter and designer living and working in Shetland. Ella has asked me to write a short blog post for Wool Week 2020 about my method for knitting an afterthought heel into a Fair-isle sock.

An afterthought heel is as the name describes, a heel that is knitted on when the rest of the sock is completed. It’s a common sock heel construction but not one that was traditionally used in Shetland as far as I can find. All the old examples of socks I have seen here have a heel flap and gusset. I chose to use an afterthought heel for a number of reasons. It allowed me to use the same design on the heel and the toe. I could also use design elements from the crowns of Fair-isle tams and berets, which I love. Best of all I don’t have to purl every 2nd row of colour work on a heel flap. Here, I am going to show you how to pick up the heel stitches after the rest of the sock has been knit.

As you can see from photo 1, I have knit the whole sock save for the heel, with waste yarn knitted in where the heel will go. The waste yarn I used is a synthetic in a contrast colour which makes it easier to see and remove. I have knit it across half the stitches of the sock

The next step will be to pick up the stitches above and below the waste yarn. I like to pick these stitches up before removing the waste as it avoids dropped stitches! I use a circular needle with a long cable in a finer gauge than the sock was knit with as it makes it easier. Begin picking up the stitches from the side of the sock where the row begins. This will keep the jog in the pattern on the sock and the heel at the same side.

In this example, I’m picking up the leg stitches first. Once you’ve picked up the leg stitches (half of the total number of stitches to be picked up) slide the stitches onto the needle cable. Turn the sock so the toe is nearest you. Pick up the sole stitches by going behind the right leg of each stitch. Picking them up this way prevents them from being twisted. When all the sole stitches are picked up slide them onto the cable needle

Next, we are going to remove the waste yarn. With a tapestry needle or knitting needle pick out one stitch at a time all the way along. If the end gets too long snip it off as you go.

Now all that’s left to do is transfer these stitches onto the needles you knitted the rest of the sock with. In my case, it was a short circular needle.

Before you begin to knit, check your stitch count. I usually have one extra stitch on the sole which can come in handy! When you knit the sole stitches, knit up to the last stitch. This last sole stitch can then be knitted together with the leg stitch next to it. This helps to close any small holes at that side. If I don’t have an extra stitch there, I would pick up something to do this with. Any holes at the other side can be closed by using the yarn ends to weave in on the back.

 

I hope this will help and inspire you to give it a go. If you’d like to see any more of my designs you can find me on Etsy as TakDeeSock and on Ravelry as Lesley Smith Designs. Hope to see you for Wool Week 2021!

Thanks to Lesley for this guest post, the yarn used in her sock shown here is Shetland Heritage, we hope you are enjoying our Wool Week content – make sure to follow our instagram and subscribe to our youtube channel – if you haven’t already! Happy Knitting!

Wool Week Videos at Jamieson & Smith

Hello everyone, This weekend would have seen the beginning of Shetland Wool Week, sadly but unsurprisingly it was cancelled this year but we, like many others have put together some online content for you throughout the week. The following list breaks down what you can expect from our Youtube channel over the next week or so (all UK time):

Sunday 27th September

Slowing Down Fast Fashion (Campaign for Wool)

Monday 28th September

10am – Wool Sorting and Grading with Oliver Henry (J&S)

2pm – Shetland Story (J&S/Curtis Wool)

5pm – Vispring Beds (Vispring)

Tuesday 29th September

10am – The J&S Yarn Range with Ella Gordon (J&S)

2pm – Haworth Scouring (J&S/Curtis Wool)

5pm – Why Wool – Protect our Oceans (Campaign for Wool)

Blog Post – Afterthought Heel with Lesley Smith

Wednesday 30th September

10am – Fair Isle Bookmark with Hazel Tindall (J&S)

2pm – Wool Combing (J&S/Curtis Wool)

5pm – There’s no Wool in the Sea (Campaign for Wool)

Thursday 1st October

10am – Fair Isle Cuffs with Alison Rendall (J&S)

2pm – Spinning with Lighthowlers (J&S/Curtis Wool)

5pm – Synthetic VS Wool and Two Jumpers, What’s the Difference? (Campaign for Wool)

Blog Post – Vivian Ross Smith on Working with Wool

Friday 2nd October

10am – WYS with Sarah Hatton (West Yorkshire Spinners)

2pm – Shetland Wool Week 10th Anniversary with Prince Charles (Campaign for Wool)

5pm – Two Carpets, what’s the difference? and Two Curtains, what’s the difference? (Campaign for Wool)

Saturday 3rd October

10am – Bonus Video! The Difference Between Woollen and Worsted Spun (J&S)

2pm – Choose Wisely – Check its Wool (Campaign for Wool)

Sunday 4th October

Throughout the day – Woolabilities, short cartoons produced by the Wool Carpet Focus Group.

We have been provided with great videos from the Campaign for Wool, Vispring and West Yorkshire Spinners and here in Shetland, we worked with Keiba Clubb so we really hope you enjoy them. Thanks also to Adam Curtis for helping us with filming on the mainland, Haworth Scouring and Lightowlers Yarns. To see what else is happening make sure to follow Shetland Wool Weeks social media and visit the website for more online events.

Happy knitting/watching/listening/reading!

In the next few weeks..

Hello Everyone, as difficult as it was we totally understand why the decision was made to cancel Shetland Wool Week this year, but of course, we will miss seeing all our visitors and this means many of you will not be getting your Shetland and J&S fix this year! to that end, we are working hard on having content which we will be sharing over the end of September and beginning of October. We will have exclusives from Haworth Scouring and Combing, West Yorkshire Spinners, Campaign for Wool and Vispring as well as lots from us here at J&S, this post is to remind you to follow our social media to make sure you don’t miss anything!:

Instagram

Facebook

twitter

And to subscribe to our youtube channel as that is where we will post all our video content first:

youtube

We know it won’t be the same as being here but we hope it will give you lots to see and help tide you over until you can visit again, we also still have spaces available on our Zoom Drop Spindle class with Deborah Gray – this is the only ‘live’ class we have and it is on the 1st of October, if you order a kit (see here) you will receive a drop spindle and natural comb top sample pack to be used in the class. We will be back with more details about the other content nearer the time but we hope you will all be looking forward to it,

Happy knitting!

New WYS Shetland Yarns!

Hello everyone, sorry for being quiet on here – we are in the middle of the Wool Season so things are pretty busy in the wool store and we are working on lots of things which we will share soon! but today we happy to share the two new ranges which have been launched with our ongoing collaboration with West Yorkshire Spinners.

In these ranges, West Yorkshire Spinners purchase the raw Shetland Wool from J&S and using their state of the art dyeing and spinning capabilities to create now 3 different ranges using Real Shetland Wool.

First up is the Croft Double Knit range:

The Croft Double Knit carries on from the success of the original Aran Croft range with 12 solid colours and 6 speckled shades, and alongside the range is a pattern book containing garment and accessory patterns by Sarah Hatton and Rosee Woodland.

Technical Information:
Hank Size: 100g
Composition: 100% Shetland Wool
Weight: Double Knit
Needles: 4mm US6
225 Metres / 246 Yards
Tension: 28 Rows – 22 Stitches

You can find the Croft DK on our online shop here, and the pattern book here.

Next up is something new and exciting – The Croft Wild Shetland Aran Roving Yarn:

This yarn is a really unusual loosely spun Aran yarn available in a range of 4 colours inspired by Shetland and its landscape, we also have the undyed Ecru to go along with it. The yarn has long colour stretches resulting in an interesting effect on the finished item as you can see in the swatches

l-r: Rolling Hills, Stormy Skies, Fired Earth and Turning Tides

Technical Information:

Hank Size: 100g
Composition: 100% Shetland Wool
Weight: Aran Roving
Needles: 5mm US8
166 Metres / 182 Yards
Tension: 24 Rows – 18 Stitches

We also have two kits available for this range, the Finlay and Alana Sweaters, you can find them on the online shop here and here.  You can find the Wild Shetland range on the online shop here.

We look forward to seeing what people make with these new ranges, happy knitting!

Gentle Reopening

Hello everyone, just a quick post today to give you a run-through of our situation as Scotland enters the new phase of relaxing Lockdown. Scotland has different rules than England so we are following the current guidelines which mean as of Monday 29th of June we are now in working 5 days a week and our shop is open to the public! We are however still offering free Shetland Delivery for phone and online orders and we would encourage locals to take advantage of this service, and only coming into the shop if completely necessary. We want to keep our customers and staff as safe as possible. We are of course adhering to social distancing in the shop and offering hand sanitiser as well as cleaning regularly.

This also means we are back posting 5 days a week, this should hopefully mean you getting your orders a bit quicker but we are still seeing delays in orders arriving and unfortunately coupled with rising costs we will be raising our postage costs for European and Rest of the World orders as of 1st July 2020. European orders will now cost £8.95 up to 2kg and Rest of the World £10.95, we are working on new systems and hope to offer more options for posting in the near future but for the moment this is the current situation.

Again we would like to thank all our customers and friends for their support and business during this crazy time, we know how lucky we are to have such a strong and reliable customer base that has kept us all working and kept you knitting!

Happy Knitting x

Keep Making KAL

Hello Everyone, Happy Friday! Today we announce the beginning of another J&S KAL – the Keep Making KAL! we thought since it will be a while before life is back to normal we would host another Knit-A-Long. Rather than a themed KAL as we have done before this time we would focus on using this time to make something you’ve always wanted to make or trying a new-to-you skill in your making. We want to encourage discussion and sharing progress – mainly on our ravelry group but also through any social media using the #keepmakingkal

We are all going through different experiences at the moment and we hope the project you choose to work on during the KAL will give you comfort, whether that is as a distraction at the end of the day or something you can focus on while you are home.

so the rules are as follows:

  • All projects must use only Jamieson & Smith yarns/fibres.
  • You can use any wool/fibre based skill – knitting, crochet, spinning, embroidery etc as long as the wool used is from J&S
  • KAL will run from now (22nd May 2020 to 22nd September 2020)
  • Focus on improving your skills, making something you’ve always wanted to make, using a yarn you’ve never used, designing something thats just been an idea or finishing a project that’s been waiting to be finished!
  • Share progress on our Ravelry group and post your finished object in a designated finished object thread.
  • A winner will be chosen at random by a random number generator, everyone who posts a finished object will receive a free J&S pattern of their choice from our Ravelry store.
  • By taking part you are allowing us to share your images on our social media.

So have a think and head over to our Ravelry Group and get chatting about what you’d like to make, we are always amazed at the items made during our KAL’s and we cant wait to see what you come up with!

Chunky Knitting

Hello everyone, during these strange times, it can be hard to find things for children and young people to do in their downtime, looking at screens or watching tv is good some of the time but not all the time so knitting could be a new skill they take up, It improves fine motor skills, problem-solving and math skills as well as using their creativity and reducing stress.

Our Shetland Chunky range is now discontinued but this means the stock we have is available at a reduced price, originally it was £7.50 per 100g ball but we are now offering it at £3.50 a ball, there are lots of great patterns out there for chunkier yarn and there are a few free patterns which are designed for our Shetland Chunky:

These patterns all include different elements of rib, reading your knitting and in the case of the Chunkeanie – knitting in the round. Once these skills are learnt they can be grown upon and using slightly thicker wool, to begin with, will encourage beginners not to give up! There is a lot of help available online too – if you search ‘knitting tutorial beginners’ on youtube, there are literally hundreds of videos that come up!

Happy Knitting!

Angela Irvines Lace Creations

Hello everyone, Happy Friday! today we thought we’d look at something a bit different and share some of Angela Irvines Shetland Lace creations, in particular her lace Creel lampshade which she shared on Facebook a few days ago, I was blown away by it so asked Angela a few questions about it:

For our followers that are not familiar, what is a Creel?

A creel is a cage for catching lobsters & crabs on the seabed.

What gave you the idea to turn it into a lampshade?

The idea came ages ago, a creel is covered in net, and my late brother made many to catch lobsters. I knew they would look fab covered in fine lace. The structure and ‘eye’ of the creel are great sculptural shapes to stretch lace over. Industrial Chic interior fashion is all the rage at the moment too.

Was it easy to do?

It was very very hard to do, I was amazed I didn’t have to re-do any panels. I worked the sizes & stitches out best I could from other creations I gave done on lace furniture panels in the past. The ‘eye’ of the creel was a real challenge to design as it had to finish with the round eye, I just knitted that part as the beginning of a crown for a hat before casting off, it fitted like a glove to my delight! Phew!

How did you choose the lace motif’s you used in the piece?

I chose my favourite auld Shetland Fine Lace seashore themed patterns, ‘Birds Eye’ for the creel eye ( where the lobsters or crabs crawl into the bait & are then trapped) Elaborate Print o’ da Wave top/sides and Alice Maude Pattern for the end as it is a beauty with waves also.

You often use Shetland Supreme Lace in your work, what do you like about the wool?

I use Shetland Supreme as its the best, strongest, finest, dresses the lace out tight to perfection and un-dyed the colour of wir Shetland sheep.

Angela uses our Supreme Lace in her creations like this lamp using Supreme Lace in Grey and the sideboard which features panels in Black Supreme Lace:

You can see more of Angela work on here website here, very inspiring!

Happy Knitting!

Northern Lights KAL winners!

Hello everyone, happy Monday! thank you for all voting in our Northern Lights KAL post, the winners are:

Garment

EvaL8’s Norrsken

and

Accessory

jelibets Night Wing

Thank you, everyone, that took part, and we have messaged the two winners on Ravelry about your prize! Now our Northern Lights KAL has finished we would like to do another KAL to focus on during this strange times, so if you have any ideas let us know in the comments below, happy knitting!

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