birthday yoke

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if you read Kates blog you’ll know she was up in Shetland last week on a yoke mission for her new book, of course all that looking,talking and thinking about yokes gave me the urge to make one too.. (hello to all my new followers who have found me through Kate!) a peerie while ago now I bought a a very basic chunky knitting machine off ebay for about £80. (a zippy 90 to be exact!) It was during the height of my icelandic knitting faze and I had all these ideas about the bodies I could whip up for Icelandic yokes.. In short the machine needed a new sponge bar and even when I got one its just didn’t knit very smoothly, anyhoozels I put it away for when I had more time to work with it. Last week I had no time but somehow I decided to try out some of my Lopi stash on the machine and it worked great! so over two nights I knitted up the body of a Vormorgun vest, since it was sleeveless I thought I was a good quick thing to try.

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So.. 6 days later I have a finished yoke! I used the grey and orange left over from my Strokkur, and the yellow and light grey left over from Annie’s Loki. To try and combat the loose sleeves some people seem to have in the project pages on Ravelry I provisionally cast on the sleeves then when I was finished the body I went back and knit the edgings on a size smaller needles with a few decreases before the rib. My smugness is all totally premature as I haven’t even tried it on yet (update: tried it on before I posted this, fits great!) but it is currently drying, tomorrow is my birthday so I’m hoping to wear my birthday yoke! If i do ill put a picture on instagram which you can see on the right hand side —>

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perhaps the yoke reflects the fire from how many candles will be on my cake?.. haha

speak soon xx

knitting room

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When I am busy, tired and a bit stressed (don’t know why just now but I am..) I seem to lose all my creativity. I cant seem to fully formulate ideas and I just wander aimlessly from project to project but not getting anywhere with them! I am very lucky that when my sister moved out my Mam graciously let me take over Marianne’s bedroom as my knitting room. Every morning on my way out the door this past couple of weeks my stress hasn’t been helped when I looked in my knitting room. It had got a bit messy so yesterday in my afternoon off I did a lot of tidying.

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Sometimes I think the best way to get yourself motivated is to get everything back in order again, and get things back into their place. I’m quite pleased with my knitting room as it gives me a place to have everything that inspires me in one place. Its quite a small room but I have managed to pack it full with stuff. Mainly wool…

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But also I keep some of my treasured textile possessions.. like my large collection of books..

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I just bought a dressmakers dummy, which I now see I should have done long ago, but never mind. I have begun to get slightly interested in sewing.. (oh dear, I see another addiction coming on..) but until I start pinning things on it I have decided to put my favourite bits of Fair Isle on it. This Jumper was my Granny Noelle’s and when she died I was given it. I just love all the bright colours on the black background, she used to wear it a lot and always looked fabulous in it. As she did most things, anyway I have it there now to inspire me.

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Its also the perfect place for things like this rug which was made by my Great Granny. Its just a simple latch hook rug but I love all the colours. I’ve also been able to make use of some of the things I made at college, like this foot stool which goes nicely with my rug..

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and this picture, which I made as part of my final project (the bairns, not the kitten – i got that for 20p from a charity shop!) Of course my knitting machine takes up the most room. I have it on an old rickety formica kitchen table that is definitly not stable enough but its a nice yellow colour and used to be Dads so I like it.

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By organising and tidying up then taking some nice pictures I already feel a bit more inspired!

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That cushion is another college make, crofthouses galore! I need it with that chair, I found it at the dump and I love the colour but it doesn’t half give you a sore bum sitting on it without a cushion!

Speak soon,

xxxx

natural dyeing

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On Sunday afternoon I headed up to Hillswick with one of my best pals Amy to see a Natural Yarn dyeing demonstration and workshop. If you saw how much wool I own (in many,many colours) you would think I have no need to get invigled (Shetland word meaning caught up in something) with natural dyeing and you’d be right but my friends, I’m a sucker for anything wirset related!

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colours all possible with Natural Dyes!

I find natural dyeing really interesting but I also always thought it was quite complicated.. so I thought it would be great to see how its done. I spied it on the Hillswick Nature Sanctuary Facebook page so I asked Amy if she’d fancy coming for a look and like me she’s always been interested, so we did! I did a small amount of research into how one prepares yarn for dyeing so I wound some Shetland White Supreme Jumper Weight, 2 ply lace and some White Alpaca I had lying around… (you have no idea..) into hanks and took it up with us.

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For our first time experiencing natural dyeing it was suitably ‘natural’, in a pot on a wood burner outside while we dodged into a shed to avoid lovely Shetland torrential rain showers. Bunchy of Spindrift Crafts was the one giving the demonstration and she explained to me and Amy a little about natural dyeing, we used Onion skins because its one of the easiest to use. She explained all about mordanting.. and other slightly complicated things about dyeing your own wool. (I plan on purchasing a book to try and understand it all a bit better..) but very quickly after a slight gas hob cooker explosion situation (no harm done) Me and Amy were preparing our yarn for dyeing!

Me soaking the wool before dyeing

Me soaking the wool before dyeing

IMG_3213it was amazing how quickly the yarn started to change colour! And from what I understand if we pre-mordanted the yarn (making the fibre very absorbent to the colours) they would be even brighter but for our first go we were pleased!

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Amy putting some yarn into the dye bath

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When I got home I rinsed the hanks under the tap and hung them up in the shower to dry.. there was a bit of an oniony smell so I’m glad Bunchy told me to rinse them.. a little bit of the colour did come out but I’m pleased with the finished wool! now to find something to make with it..

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This is all the Supreme Jumper Weight hanks we dyed, the one on the left was dyed the least amount of time with the one on the right being in the longest

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the 2ply Lace took on quite a nice orangey tan colour

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and the Alpaca, i think because it was more of a dark creamy colour originally it went a bit darker, its lovely!

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A splendid way to spend a Sunday!

speak soon! xx

inspirations

I am so lucky (and I know it) that since Shetland is a pretty small place.. everyone knows how much I love knitting. For example while I was walking to work the other day someone asked me if I wanted a Jumper Board. Thats just how it goes..

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My Mam’s friend Kay is one of those people who know about my interest (cough..obsession) Last year when they were downsizing her Mams house she offered me a huge amount of her Mothers knitting books. I love the books and things I got and appreciate them so much. Kays Mam has since sadly passed away and earlier this week Kay invited me and Mam to hers to look at some of the other textile things her Mam had. Again I came away with some amazing things and I thought I would share them.

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Now these things are special because Kays family ran what we call a Hosiery Business (a knitwear business), it was run by Kays grandparents Bobby and Jeannie Anderson from there home in Brugarth, Whiteness. It is thought it traded under the name ‘Charleston Brothers’ and was linked to a hosiery business in Hawick, it operated purely as a Mail Order company, and the firm in Hawick would place the orders with the Andersons: sizes and colours required for all over jumpers as well as the main colours of the body’s for the yokes.

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To begin with it was a small family business with the Andersons paying outworkers to knit jumpers and the bodies of the yokes on knitting machines, then they were taken to the hand knitters who would add in the hand knit yoke and then they would dress the finished jumper. Once they came back they Anderson’s would do a quality check before the item was shipped out. After the death of Bobby Anderson in 1962 Hilda Hunter (Kays Mam) joined her mother in the business.

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At this time, Fair Isle knitwear was a big thing, and the business continued to be run from Brugarth with more and more outworkers being employed, this allowed people to make an extra income, much needed in the unstable time when fishing and crofting were the mainstays of a family’s income in Shetland. The samples shown here are examples of things they would send these out workers to give them the patterns for yokes.

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These samples are not colour samples, you can see they have been made in whatever wool was lying around purely to show the patterns, as long as the tone of the yarn was the same the colours didn’t matter.

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The reason only half the pattern is shown in that in a Star pattern in a yoke the other half is purely a reflection on the bottom half so to save time only half has been knitted.

I love that these are working samples, they have been sent out who knows how many times to give guidance to knitters on which patterns to use for a specific order.

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Some have been knit as a tube, others sewed and cut open and one has been backed expertly with a silk ribbon, just as you would do in a cardigan

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My favourite are the sample of yokes backed on paper which include the tree pattern that goes alongside the Norwegian star and in which the clever yoke decreases are placed

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I am going to keep the samples for a while to use as inspiration but I will then give them to the Shetland Textile Museum for their collection, until then I know I will look at them often. Kay’s family business ran until the Oil Boom which is very interesting to me. I’ve mentioned before how Oliver (my boss at Jamieson & Smith) told me it was amazing to him that my degree show work was inspired by that era when to people in the textile industry in Shetland at that time were seriously worried about people deserting the industry for the big bucks at Sullom Voe. As you know, (i swear ill stop talking about it eventually) I curated an exhibition at the textile museum about knitwear from that time and its interesting and important to note that as well as being a boost for some textile workers, that time also marked the end of some businesses.

Thank you to Kay and to her Mam who has given me some of my most treasured books about Shetland Knitting as well as these amazing samples.

Speak soon xx

belmont

Helloo! so, it has been a busy couple of weeks, as predicted. I had a lovely few days in Edinburgh watching one of my friends getting married. My boyfriend was a best man too as the groom is one of his best friends! So we saw lots of friends and I did A LOT of dancing. After that I had a couple (literally two days) at home then it was up to Unst! I agreed ages ago to help out Gudrun Johnson with being a model for her newest book: Shetland Trader: Book Two. My friend Vivian came too and also modelled and it was great to spend some time with her, a mini holiday to Unst.

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Belmont House was the location for the photos and we were lucky enough to stay there too. It is without a doubt the nicest place I’ve ever stayed. Its a classic Georgian house built in 1775, and it has been beautifully restored, A process which took 15 years and 1.2 million pounds! The colours used have all been matched to how it would have looked at its best using beautiful Farrow and Ball paints. Of course I cant show any photos of the knitwear we were modelling as its all secret til the book comes out but I thought I’d show you some photos  I took of Belmont while we were there. I found it so inspiring and I loved the colours, we were so lucky with the weather too!

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Vivian, Mary Jane and the brilliant photographer Kathy

Vivian, Mary Jane and the brilliant photographer Kathy (the one with the camera obviously!)

Today the rain is pouring, I’d give anything to be back on that bench in the Sun! I cant wait to see the book. Gudrun’s designs are beautiful and I can see me making some of the pieces for myself.. It was really nice to spend time with people I know through my work at J&S and Gudruns lovely family. The week before Gudrun and Mary Jane were in the shop with their tour group and I was able to meet some of my favourite instagramer and bloggers like Nicole, Lori and Claire as well as the other ladies. Unfortunately I was only able to see them on Monday before I headed to Edinburgh but it was great to meet them all the same!

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Sigh.. I had a nice time.

Speak soon,

xxx

60 north magazine

60north3i have something quite exciting to share, a little while ago I was asked to write something for 60 North magazine about the exhibition at the textile museum I curated, so I did and today I got a copy of the magazine!

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If you read my blog you are probably bored of hearing about it but in the article I went into a bit more detail about the history of the Oil Boom and my inspirations for the items in the exhibition so I hope you find something interesting in it! I love writing but I don’t think its my strongest point (I know what I want to say but sometimes it doesn’t come out how I want!) but I spent a lot of time on this piece and I’m quite proud of myself!

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60 North Magazine comes out every season full of articles about Shetland, it used to be just an online magazine but they have started printing it! Which is very exciting for me.. Im published! If you are interested in anything to do with Shetland it is worth a read, its beautifully designed and full of great pieces. If you want to buy a copy you can do so here, but you can also view it online here.

I have a busy couple of weeks coming up, which includes a trip away! (i know, im leaving the island..) and then a very exciting trip to somewhere in Shetland.. all will be revealed in time…

Speak soon xxx

ps.. yes that is a Dolly Parton top. shes my all time favourite!

peat hill and loki

Luckily Monday dawned sunny and bright so after work Me, Mam, my sister Marianne and my niece Annie headed up to Ollaberry to go to the peat hill! We went to my Grandads house to meet my Auntie Nette who was coming with us.

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You have to give the hens a peerie visit, the back garden at Grandads is filled with wild flowers and hens

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And very camera shy ducks!

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So we headed up to the peat hill, we have a very small bank (relatively speaking) but once we got about half way through me and Auntie Nette both decided it was a lot bigger than it looked! at this stage we were raising the just casted peats (youtube video, its tricky to explain in words!) into small pyramids to help them dry out, later on in the summer we will go up and turn them, which I did a blog about last year. This is a great blog, with a lot more information (and a recipe!) about peats.

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auntie nette working hard

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Mam and Auntie Nette

Mam and Auntie Nette

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Annies peerie cardigan is the thing I said I would show you in my last post, the pattern is Loki by Icelandic designer Ragga Eiríksdóttir (the pattern was available for free, but sadly not any-more) It is a nice pattern so I hope it becomes available again. The only bit I struggled with was the few rows when you had 3 colours in one row! I’m not used to that.. I took a few pictures when I finished it to give you a better idea of the yoke.

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I knit it using Lett-Lopi in a nice yellow, brown and fawn which I thought would go nicely with her hair.. I think I was right..

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It was quite an easy knit, but I think next time I would make my steek a bit wider, it was only 2 purl stitches in the middle which was fine for the body but I didnt feel the yoke stitches were that secure so I had to sew over them, Its fine now but since little girls like to run around I didnt want the yoke to unravel!!

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The sleeves are a little bit short but I’m pleased with the fit of my first garment knitted for somebody else! Annie helped us as much as she could but as she said the peats were ‘very heavy!!’

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The peat hill is tricky for a peerie lass to manuovere so Mam put Marianne and Annie back to Grandads then Me, Mam and Auntie Nette finished up. It took us a couple of hours, and it is tiring work! (especially for a toonie like me!) But the weather was so nice you couldnt complain!

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Me and Auntie Nette

Me and Auntie Nette

And this is how we left the bank, ready to be turned in a few weeks, the we will take the wettest from the bottom and put them on the top and turn the other ones the other way so the inside can dry.

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After we were finished we headed back to Grandads and had some toast and tea before heading back to Lerwick, not before stopping so I could take a picture of the sky over Ronas Hill.

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To me you cant beat a Summers night in Northmavine,

Speak soon,

xxxx

Cardigan Ravelled here