Spring/Summer KAL 2016

hello! Thank you for the kind comments on our last post, today I’m going to speak about another fun thing we are doing this Spring and Summer. After the success of our Winter Woollies KAL last year we thought we’d try another one! So these are the shades for our Spring/Summer KAL 2016

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L-R: 141, 125, 29, FC55, 122, 1281, FC45, 121

The Rules for the KAL are:

  • You must use at least 5 of the 8 shades (no additional shades not listed above)
  • You can make any kind of garment or accessory
  • The item must feature some Fair Isle knitting (two colours per row)
  • The Knit a Long will run until 1st August 2016

I had a look on Ravelry and came up with some patterns which would work great with the KAL, all use Fair Isle knitting and a number of colours. First up is Hats!

 

hats
Clockwise from top left: Green Memories, Seasons Hat, Saudade and Crofthoose Hat

Next up is Gloves and Mitts..

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Clockwise from L-R: Blomkrans, Maggies Gloves, Margots Garden and Swedish Fish

Since it is getting into the warmer months I thought rather than Jumpers I’d share some good vest patterns which are out there, they are perfect for trying out all the techniques like stranded knitting and steeks but without the huge investment which a jumper can be..

Clockwise from L-R: Cruden, Wartime Farm, Islay and Tortoise and Hare
Clockwise from L-R: Cruden, Wartime Farm, Islay and Tortoise and Hare

I hope this has given you some ideas for the KAL! if you want to take part we have a thread on Ravelry about it which you can see here, so come and join the conversation, and you can buy the shades here from our site.

Happy Knitting!

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Yarn Series – 2ply Jumper Weight

As mentioned in our last post we are starting this part of this series with our most famous yarn – 2ply Jumper Weight! This yarn is a Shetland classic and this weight of yarn is what almost all knitwear in Shetland is made from. From hats,gloves,scarfs,mittens and up to classic allovers and yokes this weight of yarn is perfect for colourwork and lace alike. Lightweight, warm but strong 2ply Jumper weight is a Woollen Spun yarn made from 100% Shetland Wool from sheep in Shetland. We currently sell this yarn in over 90 colours, spanning all colours of the rainbow and a few in between…

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It was 1968 when Jamieson & Smith began to introduce knitting yarns into our business in order to sustain the employment and increase returns. It was decided to enlist T.M Hunters of Brora as the spinner, this was an obvious step as Hunters had been the main spinner of Shetland Wool since 1901. J&S had been hand sorting Shetland Wool for many years and they then created a ‘Wool Bank’ at Hunters and it was kept there in storage and the wool was drawn from the stock as and when it was needed. At first we started with the five natural shades: fawn, moorit, black, silver grey and dark grey. These shades were dyed to give a constant shade which you can’t do with undyed yarns as they tend to change due to the coloured wool stock available. These shades are still available and are numbered 202,4,5,203 and 54 respectively.

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The yarns were spun to a Gala count, a woollen spun count system used in the Wool trade in Scotland and Ireland, the count is the number of hanks of 200 yards in one pound weight of yarn. Gala is short for Galashiels, an area in the borders of Scotland famed for its once buoyant textile industry, the 2ply Jumper Weight is a 2/21 Gala count and the New Metric count is 2/8.4nm. In handknitting terms 2ply Jumper Weight is equivalent to a 4ply weight yarn also known as fingering weight. We call it 2ply as it is made from 2plys of yarn but this doesn’t refer to the thickness of the yarn. The yarn used to be supplied in hanks or skeins but we have balled it in 25g balls since 2002 which is a good size for Fair Isle knitting. You can see the hanks in this old picture of the shop

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Knitting comes in and out of fashion in Shetland as it does everywhere, although we have always and will always have knitters in Shetland various things over the years has meant the popularity peaks and dips. Unfortunately it has always been that Shetland knitters skills are highly undervalued and therefore underpriced, see Rosalyn Chapmans article in 60 North Magazine (page 11) Sadly this was the fact of life over the centuries where the merchant dictated the terms to the hard pressed knitter. Things like the Oil Boom era in the 1970’s and its subsequent higher wages meant Shetland knitting began a steep decline and the 1980’s were particularily tough for us and other textile businesses in Shetland. The reason I talk about the decline is to highlight than in order for us to keep making Shetland wool we have to make some tricky decisions and that did mean that over the years we had to cut colours of the Jumper Weight but we are refining it as we go, adding and removing colours as the trends change. Luckily at the moment we are currently experiencing a huge popularity in Shetland Wool and the Shetland style of knitting and rightly so thanks to things like Shetland Wool Week, the work of designers such as Kate Davies,Gudrun Johnston (and many,many more) and tied to that the strength of social media and how the internet open us up to a huge audience.

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As well as the yarn being availlable on ball we also sell 2ply Jumper Weight on 500g cones, on cone the yarn is oiled for machine knitting as it helps it go through the machine better but we are often asked if you can use it for Hand knitting and you can. The oil is synthetic and will easily wash out, we would always encourage you to wash your finished items anyway but if you have used oiled yarn it is a must. The yarn will feel a bit thinner and might stain your fingers while you knit with it (especially darker shades with stronger pigments) but once it is washed the yarn will bloom and relax into its normal thickness. You might also wonder why we dont have all the shades available on cone at all times, the reason is we order balls and then get some on cone so we dont reorder until the ball stock goes down and as a result the cones will usually run out before we reorder.

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If you have every visited our shop in the North Road in Lerwick you will know almost half the shop is taken up with the 2ply Jumper Weight, It runs in numerical order up the right hand side of the shop from shade 1A up to FC64 (If you every wondered FC stands for Fashion Colour!) As you can believe Sandra spends a lot of time filling up those shelves to keep the shop looking lovely and tidy. This is also where we gather up all the orders so we are forever running up and down this side of the shop!

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If you are interested in seeing the colours available in Jumper Weight you can order a Shade Card here

We’ll be back next week with a look at one of our other yarn ranges, Happy weekend and happy knitting!

Shetland Haps

Hello! and sorry for the lack of blogs over the past wee while. Things have been very busy at J&S but today I am back with a blog about Haps!

baby wrapped in a hap, courtesy of the Shetland Museum and Archives.
baby wrapped in a hap, courtesy of the Shetland Museum and Archives.

I feel like lately Haps have been everywhere with Gudruns Hap Knit-a-Long on ravelry and Louise of KnitBritish’s Hap-A-Long which begins this week, so I thought I’d share some of the Hap patterns available from J&S and of course the modern counterparts as well as some ideas of the yarns that can be used to make one!

Haps drying in a field, courtesy of Hap Shawls: Then and Now by Sharon Miller
Haps drying in a field, courtesy of Hap Shawls: Then and Now by Sharon Miller

A Hap is essentially a wrap which is used to keep you warm, of course they come in many shapes and sizes but traditional Shetland Haps are square with a centre panel, a patterned surround (usually feather and fan lace) and an edging. There are many different ways to construct a Hap of which Louise goes into a good amount of detail on her blog post, there is also some good information here.

a hap drying outside in the 1970's. Courtesy of the Shetland Museum and Archives.
a hap drying outside in the 1960’s. Courtesy of the Shetland Museum and Archives.

We are very lucky that we have a lot of the samples created for patterns over the years for us, I’m going to start with the fancier Haps, traditionally used as Christening Shawls and knit using 1 or 2ply Lace weight.

Sheelagh
The Sheelagh Shawl
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The Gibbie Shawl
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The Rose of York Shawl

These 1ply Shawls, all designed by Gladys Amedro follow the construction method of knitting the edging, picking up stitches then knitting into the centre which is one of the styles of Hap construction. They can all be made using 1ply Yarns, we have the 1ply Cobweb and also the 1ply Shetland Supreme. The original 1ply Cobweb will yield a crisper shawl due to its woollen spun make up but the Shetland Supreme will give you a softer shawl with more of a Halo, both beautiful of course!

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1ply Cobweb
1ply Shetland Supreme
1ply Shetland Supreme
The Pam Shawl
The Pam Shawl

The Pam Shawl, seen above is another Gladys Amedro pattern but this time it is knit using 2ply Lace, we also have the My Weekly Baby Knits Shawl which is another 2ply Shawl. These are a bit less delicate and more for everyday use, although they would still be perfect for a christening

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2ply Lace
2ply Supreme Lace
2ply Supreme Lace
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Shetland Heritage

Although typically knit in Original 2ply Lace you could also knit any of these shawls using 2ply Supreme Lace or Shetland Heritage, both which would give you a different feel. The Supreme 2ply is a bit lighter weight than the original whereas the heritage is slightly heavier, since they are both worsted spun compared the the 2ply lace you would again get a different feel using them.

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The Morag Shawl from Sharon Millers ‘Hap Shawls: Then and Now’ is a classic example of a traditional Hap which was worn by Shetland Women over the centuries. Large, warm and soft, this would keep everyone from a tiny baby to an old lady warm.

courtesy of the Shetland Museum and Archives.
courtesy of the Shetland Museum and Archives.

Typically knit in Jumper Weight, the shaded sections were used to add interest and use up all the scraps of Yarns.

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Supreme Jumper Weight

A subtly shaded Natural Hap in Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight would be classic and timeless but it also offers the chance to use some nice colour palettes of Jumper Weight..

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203,1284,366,fc9 and fc56
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2, fc39,fc34,141 and 29
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54, fc39,fc38,fc12 and fc11

In relation to finding patterns for these kinds of Haps, in the Traditional Shawls and Scarfs pattern booklet – all written out and not charted – there is a pattern for this kind of Shawl

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Also available in the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers book: A Legacy of Lace is the Traditional Shetland Hap by Zena Thomson

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But online you will find a wealth of patterns inspired by this style of Haps.

Hansel Hap (Full Version)
Hansel Hap (Full Version)
Hansel (Half Version)
Hansel (Half Version)

Gudrun Johnson’s lovely Hansel Pattern is available in a full and half hap version as well as in a Craftsy class! Knit using Jumper Weight the colour possibilities are endless.

northmavine

Another Modern Hap inspired pattern is the Northmavine Hap by Kate Davies from her Colours of Shetland book, again knit in Jumper weight, this shawl has aspects of a traditional shawl in a modern shape.

I hope this has inspired you to get involved with Louise’s Hap-A-Long which begins on the 10th of April. Of course there are many more patterns which fit into this style so have a look and get involved! I thought I’d leave you with this great photo from a carnival in Lerwick with a Shetland themed float, that’s a big hap on the back!

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Changing Trends

Fashions are always changing, especially in knitwear; one minute everyone is snapping up all the bright, bold colours and the next it’s all about the naturals. We try to follow these changing trends to try and make sure knitters are able to get the shades they want for their designs. We frequently get asked about discontinued shades and recently decided to reintroduce a couple that were often requested by our customers: FC7 (orange) and FC11 (green).

New/Old Shades

These are vital shades for blending in with others so have been a very popular addition to our 2ply Jumper Weight range already. We would love to be able to keep hundreds of shades but each one takes a lot of care and attention to make (not to mention a lot of space to store!) so we have managed to limit it to the beautiful shades we currently have, which are used in the creation of countless variations of knitwear. Besides there is only a limited amount of Real Shetland Wool available so we want to make sure we are using it wisely.

J&S 2ply Jumper Weight

We try to have a good relationship with our customers, as your views are so important in helping us continue to develop into the future. Re-continuing FC7 and FC11, which we are so glad to have back, is just one example of how we respond to your feedback. In the past few years our range has rapidly expanded with our Combed Tops,  Cushion Filling, Shetland Supreme 1 and 2ply Lace, Shetland Chunky and Shetland Heritage being introduced meaning the shelves in our shop are now bursting with 10 yarn and fibre ranges in a huge variety of shades. These have all been developed through working with various organisations, with feedback from you, so please keep it coming and we will see what we can come up with next.

Along with all our other 2ply Jumper Weight shades, you can find balls of FC7 and  FC11 here and cones here.

Happy Knitting!