The First Minister of Scotland and the First Minister of Shetland Wool

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We are proud to represent one of Shetlands traditional industries, this means occasionally we get some unusual visitors to our shop, yesterday this was the case when we got a visit from the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon!

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For our international readers the First Minister is Scotland’s head of government, Nicola Sturgeon is also the leader of the SNP party so she was in Shetland on the Campaign trail for the upcoming election. Its always important to show these kinds of visitors what we do here at J&S and the effort we make to sustain the Shetland Wool Clip, we can feel a bit isolated sometimes from the effects of Mainland Politics but Nicola was very interested to see the kinds of things we make up here.

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Of course Oliver gave her a tour of the Woolstore and Showroom as well as the Shop, we forget as we are here everyday but the first time you come in the shop and see the walls full of Shetland wool it really is like a sweetie shop! As always we felt proud of what we do here at J&S and no matter your political views it was exciting to have a visit from our First Minister.

All photos here by Scott Goudie, our resident photographer (oh and he works in the wool store)

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!

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It was back in 1968 the Jamieson & Smith introduced knitting yarns to help add value to the Shetland Island clip, as mentioned in the last post the wool was graded and sorted by hand into its various quality’s before being sent away to be spun into whichever yarn we specified. Nearly 50 years later we still do the same.

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Knitting in Shetland has been one of our main industries throughout the centuries* and we are lucky to have patterns passed down throughout peoples families but for those out with Shetland it was tricky to access these traditional patterns. Sandra Manson who works at J&S has been knitting since she was a child, the skill’s passed down to her from her Granny and Auntie.

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Sandra is always on the lookout for vintage patterns and one she has recently reknit in our Shetland Heritage range is a Hap taken from the Traditional Shawls and Scarves book (which we have on our shop here) Some of these vintage patterns need a bit of work so Sandra has made a few changes to hopefully make it easier to knit and you can find the pattern in this weeks edition of The Peoples Friend.

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Almost since we started doing yarns in the late 60’s we have had patterns in various magazines, before the days of Ravelry, Facebook and Twitter that was the main way we could reach our customers all over the world and for many people without access to the internet it is still a way for them to hear about Jamieson & Smith Yarns.

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If you don’t have access to the Peoples Friend Magazine we will be releasing the kit ourselves in the upcoming months, but for this week it can be found in there. Happy Knitting!

*If you are interested there is a day all about Shetland Knitting being hosted at the Shetland Museum and Archives this Saturday (March 5th 2016) and it can be viewed on-line, for more information see here

winter jobs

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During the winter (and its feeling wintery today in Shetland!) of course things slow down a bit on the Wool side of J&S but we carry on with the job of sorting the graded fleeces, white and coloured. Shetland Wool is known for having different grades in one fleece and it is this time of year we can take the time to separate out the best of them.

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Oliver is taking each fleece and looking for certain things within them – the handle, the character and fibre fineness to name a few. You often find spinners looking for the crimp of a Shetland fleece and this is one of the things we are looking for.  The best of all these things together make for the finest results in Spinning.

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The finest fleeces have a lack of Guard Hair, the courser fibres which bring down the grade. By hand sorting you can remove and ensure the overall fineness of the fleeces. This exquisite Shawl of Sandra’s shows an example of how fine Shetland Yarn can be hand spun.

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As well as the white fleeces, which is obviously the most common in Shetland, we are also lucky to have many of Shetland’s crofters come to us with their coloured fleeces. (I did a post a while ago about the Natural Colours which you can see here) These are crucial because they allow us to have a number of ranges using only the Natural Shades. 1 and 2ply Supreme Lace and Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight. We also have something new coming soon using the Undyed colours so keep an eye out for that..

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So although the green doors are shut there are plenty of things going on behind them! And if your interested in Olivers hat there will be a pattern coming soon..

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Happy Knitting!

Sometimes here in Shetland its easy to forget how far-reaching our yarns can be. As you probably know, every year we take place in the Colourbox challenge with local agriculture shows, see posts here and here.

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Well our friend Mary Jane Mucklestone was teaching at Vogue Knitting Live last week and she had the idea to try a mini colourbox challange with her students, so using this years colours, the students set about knitting their own Fair Isle using the colourbox shades

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They were very lucky because there were a few Shetland Ladies kicking about New York last week and noted Shetland Designers Hazel Tindall and Wilma Malcomson were both available to judge the entries, just like we do here!

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After some deliberation (by the looks of it!) Hazel and Wilma chose their winners..

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So congratulations ladies! We would have loved to have been there and seen J&S in the wild in New York

Happy Knitting!

Up Helly Aa 2016

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We will be closed this Wednesday 27/1 as its a public holiday the day after Lerwick Up Helly Aa, no orders or emails will be dealt with but we’ll be open again on Thursday as normal.

For more information about Up Helly Aa see here, and if your interested in seeing more there is a live broadcast which can be veiwed here

Three Cheers for Up Helly Aa!

Winter Woollies KAL 2015

We have had a busy few weeks since we came back after the Christmas break, so one thing I haven’t had a chance to do is reveal the winner of the Winter Woollies KAL we had towards the end of last year. If you want to read more about what we did, see here and here.

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So after a lot of deliberation we choose Bev’s project as our winner!

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Bev actually used all the shades in her Hat and Mittens, we only required 5 or more to be used but we thought she put them together so well in her finished project, look at that lovely corrugated rib! For her prize we sent her a copy of our book Knit Real Shetland and a selection of 2ply Jumper Weight in her choice.

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If you want to see some more examples of what people made, have a look at the finished objects thread on Ravelry here. If you have any ideas of different kinds of Knit a Longs you would like us to do, leave a comment here or send us an email: mailroom@shetlandwoolbrokers.co.uk we had great fun doing it and would love to do more!

Happy Knitting xx