shetland wool week annual


I mentioned in my last post that I had two patterns in the wonderful Shetland Wool Week Annual, now that Wool Week is nearly upon us I thought I would share some pictures of my two patterns.


My first offering is my Rof hat, the motif is inspired by the roof’s on Crofthouses, you might recognise it if you have one of my Crofthouse Cushions, I love the simple but effective repeat of it and I was really pleased with how it came out!


Of course it is topped with a nice pompom (you know I love a good pom pom!!) I knit the sample in Jamieson & Smith Shetland Chunky which is a lovely worsted spun heavyweight aran, I chose the naturally inspired Dumba and Kirn Mylk but it would look equally nice in any of the shades.I also fancy knitting myself a version using Alafoss Lopi, or even Brooklyn Tweed’s brand new yarn Quarry which I treated myself to a few skeins last week.


My other pattern is another piece of headwear, the Muli headband!


I finished this pattern right after I got back from Iceland in May and I was inspired by some of the motif’s I saw at the Textile Museum there, although you find this kind of motif in Shetland knitting I find there to be quite a Scandinavian look about it!


I knit the headband using two strands of J&S 2ply Jumper Weight held double for a light aran/DK weight. I did a subtlety shaded version using 5 colours and also a 3 colour version. I think it came out really nice and I love how the different colour schemes work.


If you cant make it to Shetland for Shetland Wool Week I urge you to order a copy of the Annual, (available here) as well as patterns from Gudrun Johnston, Outi Kater and Donna Smith to name a few there are also brilliant articles from Laurie Goodlad, Kate Davies and Shetland Museum Head of Textiles Carole Christiansen.


As well as working hard during Wool Week I am also doing a talk on Collecting Vintage Knitwear with my friend Kate Davies, I am feeling much more confident about this after going to meet a tour group on Saturday night to show them some of my collection. Its funny how easy it is to speak about the things you love! I cant believe Wool Week starts in just a few days, I started working at Jamieson & Smith at the second Wool Week and its been amazing to watch it grow bigger and bigger every year. I’m sure you can understand I will be a bit busy over the next week or so but I will be back as soon as I can to fill you in on my view of Wool Week as a Shetlander! (I will be blogging over at Jamieson & Smith throughout the week)

Til then, happy knitting! xxxx

stasis wristwarmers


When I made my Stasis jumper I mentioned briefly that I had tried initially to knit the jumper entirely in Loft, the Brooklyn Tweed yarn which the original pattern is made in. Knitting machines are fickle creatures and soft, easily breakable yarn does not a good combination make. So I ended up knitting both sleeves in the Loft yarn but by the end of the second sleeve I knew it was going to be tricky so I decided to start over using Jamieson & Smith Shetland Supreme in 2009 which of course I know works well in my machine.


So I flung my first sleeves away in annoyance, but because I am a hoarder I flung them into a drawer. I find the colourwork pattern on the Stasis jumper really pleasing and its beautifully balanced so I thought I would try and salvage them into something. I have ended up with a nice pair of wristwarmers, all I did was rip them back so far then picked up the stitches, did 5 or 6 rows of rib and cast off and sewed up the sides leaving a gap for my thumb. Life is pretty busy just now with not a lot of time for making so I was glad to have a little finished object to show after only a few hours.


I do have something exciting however to share which I did the work for a few months ago, The Shetland Wool Week Annual!


I have two patterns and a small interview in the annual, you can see from the names on the cover that some of my favourite textile contemporaries are also included, you can pre order a copy here or you will be able to purchase it in Shetland at Wool Week. As you can imagine Wool Week is a crazy time for me at work so I don’t think ill get a chance to post again before it but I will be back as soon as I can!

speak soon x

puffin jumper the third


hello! I’m sorry for the silence here over the past few weeks, thanks for the nice comments on my last post. Things have been very busy and they are set to get more so over the next wee while but today I do have something to show you, my latest finished object.. another Puffin!


My jumper drying on a jumper board in the sun.

This is my third take on the Puffin Jumper by Kate Davies, originally I made a Natural Puffin cardigan, then my Heritage Puffin but finally I have gone back to the original shades and knit myself a true Puffin Jumper. I boarded it on one of my vintage jumper boards and left it to dry outside, it was lovely yesterday and very windy so in about two hours it was dry!


Summer has been poor but in August we have had a few nice nights so tonight I shanghaied Dads walk to the beach into an opportunity to take a few pictures of my new jumper. It was still pretty windy tonight (as you can tell by my hair probably) but actually still quite warm.



The first time I saw the original Puffin jumper I totally fell in love, I don’t know why I didn’t do the colours in the pattern in my first one, but never mind because now I have! It is such a relaxing pattern once you get into it, although it looks quite complicated it really isn’t and you are only using one colour at a time. There is a bit of purling (which I will do anything to avoid) so this time I didn’t purl and just knit back on the wrong side instead, giving me the purl bump on the right side… :) I’m quite proud of that idea..


As is my usual way I knit the body and sleeves on my knitting machine in pieces and then picked all the pieces up for the yoke and hand knit that, each time I do this I am getting a bit better and I nearly have full length sleeves this time.. I used the exact colours in the pattern, its made in 2ply Jumper Weight from my work: Jamieson & Smith. I would have finished this a few weeks ago but I kind of lost my knitting mojo for a bit, resulting in having to knit the neck FIVE times, first too tight, then too loose etc etc. Also I dont think I will knit with black Jumper Weight again for a while, it is very tricky to see.. even with my spec’s on!


As you can see I get my shy and retiring nature from my Dad..


After about five minutes of taking my picture I was asked ‘is it my turn now?.. you can put me on your blog if you want..’ Haha, so there you go Dad.

Of course one can’t model a Puffin jumper without a Puffin impersonation…

9Hopefully it wont be too long til I am back, happy knitting xx

sunday walk


Thank you for all the lovely comments and emails on my last post about the Shearers, its very appreciated and I’m really pleased it was of some interest to people other than my relations!

As I have mentioned Shetland, like much of the UK, has been suffering from a rubbish summer punctuated by one or two glorious days. Yesterday was like that so me and my boyfriend got up early travelled north and did a big (and very hilly) walk to Uyea.




An upside to all the rain is that Shetland is looking very lush and green, if a bit boggy at times! Of course we saw a lot of Sheep, most had already been clipped which I’m sure they were happy about since it was very warm – Not something you can say often! You can see in the picture above lots of hentilagets, that’s what we call the little bits of wool that fall off the sheep. I was tempted to pick bits up but I’d already been given trouble for keeping stopping to take photos of sheep so I thought that might be seen as odd behaviour!

IMG_6199 IMG_6201 IMG_6202After a couple of hours of walking along the coast we reached our destination. Uyea is an island made accessible by a beautiful beach only revealed when the tide is out. It is constantly changing, its one of Peters favourite places so we have been a few times, and each time i’ve been it looks different. We’ve always gone by driving in a 4×4 quite close. It was all the more satisfying to get there after walking the 4 or 5 miles.. I say this now of course having done it.

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Its been a tough and busy couple of weeks with more to come so it was nice to get out of the town and just walk for a while, when its sunny in Shetland I would never be anywhere else.. which you can tell from this smiley if a bit bedraggled photo!

IMG_6226 IMG_6230 Rather than go back the way we came (which honestly I don’t know I could have done it!) we walked back on the track, we saw lots of birds as we walked and as we came near to North Roe there was a few crofthouses to be seen too, which you know I’m always looking for!

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Of course being a pair of pessimistic Shetlanders we didn’t wear any sun-cream, a sure fire way for the sun to disappear again so today I woke up with a nice red nose and forehead..!

Speak soon x

herring photos


I recently bought these two photos from the saleroom, the photos themselves are nice and they cost me the mighty sum of two pounds but what the photos represent was really why I wanted them. Since I bought them they have sparked an interest in me about my family and the role they played in a huge aspect of Shetland history.



I don’t come from a textile background, I have mentioned that before and it’s why I think I seek out as much Shetland knitwear as I can. But one thing I am connected to which was at a point one of Shetlands largest industries, the Herring industry. Shetlands main industries historically were Crofting, Fishing and Knitting. As times have changed these things have peaked and dipped but from the late 1800’s until the mid 1970’s Herring fishing in Shetland was a big deal.

Gutting Herring at Shearers Station, Lerwick. 1940s, Photo: Shetland Museum and Archives

Gutting Herring at Shearers Station, Lerwick. 1940s, Photo: Shetland Museum and Archives

My Great granddad Magnus Shearer (my dads granddad) alongside his brother Arthur and Uncle James started their Herring fishing company in 1919. Magnus and Arthur were born in Clate, Whalsay in 1890 and 1894 respectively. Their Uncle James was born in 1867 and during this period the Herring Industry was booming. To give you an idea in the year Magnus began his apprenticeship as a cooper (they made the barrels the herring were put into) there were 1783 boats working, over 21,000 people employed (the 2015 Shetland population is approx 22,000 people total!!) producing well over a 1,000,000 barrels of cured herring.

 Women gutting herring in the farlins at Shearer's Station, Whalsay. Photo: Magnie Shearer

Women gutting herring in the farlins at Shearer’s
Station, Whalsay. Photo: Magnie Shearer

 Women gutting herring in the farlins at Shearer's Station, Garthspool. Photo: Magnie Shearer

Women gutting herring in the farlins at Shearer’s
Station, Garthspool. Photo: Magnie Shearer

During the First World War understandably the industry died down and both Magnus and Arthur served with the Gordon Highlanders and after they were demobbed and came home the industry was beginning to grow again, most of Europe was on the brink of starvation after the war and herring was a main food supply. To that end they established J&M Shearer in the Summer of 1919. Initially they set up a small curing station at Scarfskerry where the Lerwick Boating Club is located now. (I worked at the boating club one summer when I was at College) after a few years they moved to Freefield where they rented a jetty from Hay & Co, they also operated a station in Whalsay from 1922. In 1928 they were able to purchase the whole Garthspool property in Lerwick they then were able to also purchase the former whaling station in Collafirth, Northmavine which had been turned into a Herring Station (this is the area my Mams side of the family now stays) This huge growth and additions to the company gives you an idea of how strong this industry was.

Research LK 62 landing herrings at Garthspool, to J&M Shearer. Photo: Magnie Shearer

Research LK 62 landing herrings at Garthspool, to J&M
Shearer. Photo: Magnie Shearer

During this period although there was huge growth the industry fluctuated terribly year on year, Shearers was best placed because it had the three stations and were able to rely on their workforce. Early each season Arthur and latterly Magnus’s son, Magnus M (my Great Uncle, my Grannys brother) would go to Whalsay to hire some of the gutters for the coming season, paying them ‘Arle Money’ this was a rough contract, to show that both parties were committed to working together in that season. Mostly the women worked for Shearers year on year, probably because the men were originally from Whalsay and they had a good relationship with them. The ladies worked in groups of three, two gutters and a packer. In Lerwick there was the need for up to 10 crews of three with Whalsay having roughly half that at its peak. The work was dirty,cold and painful. The two gutters would gut the fish while the packer packed the Herring in tiers of salt in barrels, the rate of gutting was extremely fast with about 30-50 herring a minute so every morning the ladies would tie bandages over their fingers to avoid being nicked or cut by the special sharp knife they used to gut the fish. If they did cut their fingers the salt would enter the wound and make it extremely painful.

 Women gutting herring in the farlins at Shearer's Station, Garthspool. Photo: Magnie Shearer

Women gutting herring in the farlins at Shearer’s
Station, Garthspool. Photo: Magnie Shearer

Herring gutting at Shearer's. Photo: Magnie Shearer

Herring gutting at Shearer’s. Photo: Magnie Shearer

After the outbreak of the Second World War the herring fishing went down dramatically, again my Great Grandad Magnus was enlisted to the Gordon Highlanders but due to his age (49) he remained in Shetland as Movement Control Officer, during this time he also became provost of Lerwick from 1941-1946. To keep things going Arthur stayed on to run the business during the war and he also ran the Whitefish side of the business which had been established to give the coopers extra work during the winter.

James Manson nicknamed 'Yunkers', making a whole barrel in Shearer's Cooperage. Photo: Shetland Museum and Archives

James Manson nicknamed ‘Yunkers’, making a whole barrel in Shearer’s Cooperage. Photo: Shetland Museum and Archives

Some Summer herring fishing still went on at this time but on a much smaller scale as the yard had been taken over as an Army camp. Both the herring and whitefish was controlled by the government and the story goes that all the cured herring during the war was used to feed German Prisoners or War at POW camps throughout the UK.

Packing th gutted herring into the barrels. The cooper on the far right of the photo is Magnus Shearer (Arthur's son) Photo: Magnie Shearer

Packing the gutted herring into the barrels. The cooper
on the far right of the photo is Magnus Shearer (Arthur’s son) Jamieson & Smith can be seen in the background behind one of the boats mast’s. Photo: Magnie Shearer

Gutting mackerel at J. & M. Shearer's station. Lt.-Rt.- Tammie Garriock, James Manson (Yunkers), Bertie Tulloch, Willie Couper. Photo: Shetland Museum and Archives

Gutting mackerel at J. & M. Shearer’s station. Lt.-Rt.- Tammie Garriock, James Manson (Yunkers), Bertie Tulloch, Willie Couper. Photo: Shetland Museum and Archives

After the war my Great Uncle Magnus joined the family firm and his cousin, Arthur’s son, also called Magnus (its a strong family name, what can I say!) went into the cooperage to serve his apprenticeship. In 1945 when all the fishermen returned home from the war Shearers decided to put all their boats back out to the fishing (they had been being used as ‘flitboats’ to transport goods between the stations and then in War service) and built back up the Shetland fleet. The industry never recovered completely after the war and the demand for cured Herring was beginning to fall, however the demand for frozen Herring was beginning to rise and J&M Shearer installed Ice factories in 1945,1948 and the flake ice plant in 1960. (one of these buildings is now the offices of the Shetland Amenity Trust) Gutting machinery was also installed in 1964 which improved the conditions for the workers but quality became more of a problem. The company was bought by HPB (By Products) LTD in 1970 and in 1977 on the 1st of January a complete ban on herring fishing in the British Sector of the North Sea began essentially ending 250 years of Herring Fishing in Shetland and ending the Shearers involvement after over 60 years.

The two men in the foreground are Magnus Shearer Snr, the 'M' of J&M Shearer (my Great Grandad) The other man is the AHM Herring Inspector Photo: Magnie Shearer

The two men in the foreground are Magnus Shearer Snr,
the ‘M’ of J&M Shearer (my Great Grandad) The other man is the
AHM Herring Inspector Photo: Magnie Shearer

 Gutting herring at Shearer's Station, Garthspool, herring drifter 'Research' LK 62 in the background Photo: Magnie Shearer

Gutting herring at Shearer’s Station, Garthspool,
herring drifter ‘Research’ LK 62 in the background Photo: Magnie Shearer

Of course by the time I was born in 1990 this was all long over but there are little reminders of Shearer’s everywhere down on the sea front in Lerwick, I feel a strong connection when I walk along there which I do often. My work at Jamieson & Smith is near to where the stations were located and you can see it in the background of lots of the photos. The herring gutters that came up to work in Shetland were the reason Jamieson & Smith started doing a Mail Order service, one of the first in Shetland, so the gutters that came up to work in Shetland in the season could carry on knitting when they got home. It’s hard for me to appreciate how difficult it must have been for my family when the business began to fail as the industry died. They kept it going in different forms but when I read how parts of the business were broken up and sold off it makes me feel for my not so distant ancestors. I wish my Granny was still here so I could ask her about it, although perhaps it was upsetting which is why I don’t know too much about it all. Or of course I could be being dramatic (me? never..) and that was just how the world was changing. All the information I have and all the photos were kindly given to me by my cousin Young Magnus, my Great Uncle Magnus’s son. He gathered together what he could from memory and research because the official records of the business were lost or destroyed when they were relocated to the offices of the then parent company HBP (By Products) LTD in 1984 when they sold off the business and assets of Shearers. An interesting thing young Magnus also sent me was a transcript of a recommendation letter which my Great Granddad received when he was looking to emigrate to Nova Scotia as a Fisheries Officer after a particularly difficult Herring season in 1920-1921. As he pointed out, who knows if his optimism took over or if he had already met and fallen in love with my Great Granny Flora Stephen as they were married in December 1922. In any case, it’s a good job he didn’t or I likely wouldn’t be here today!

J&M Shearer barrels, Photo: Shetland Museum and Archives

J&M Shearer barrels, Photo: Shetland Museum and Archives

I hope this history is vaguely interesting to some of you, I’m glad I got those £2 photos..! As an aside my nephew is also called Magnus, he’s not a Shearer but his dad is from Whalsay..

Further reading:

Coull, James R. Fishing, Fishermen, Fish Merchants and Curers in Shetland: Episodes in Fishing and Curing Herring and White Fish. Shetland: Shetland Amenity Trust, 2007. Print.

Telford, Susan. ‘In a World a Wir Ane’: A Shetland Herring Girl’s Story. Lerwick: Shetland Times, 1998. Print.

Fryer, Linda G. “Knitting by the Fireside and on the Hillside”: A History of the Shetland Hand Knitting Industry C.1600-1950. Lerwick: Shetland Times, 1995. Print.

Abrams, Lynn. Myth and Materiality in a Woman’s World: Shetland 1800-2000. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2010. Print.



vintage shetland blog tour


Hello! today I am here to talk about something very exciting, if you know me you know I love vintage knitwear (see my ever growing collection here) and obviously I love Shetland so this project is very interesting to me. The Vintage Shetland Project is going to be a book full of patterns based on items in the Shetland Museums textile collection. Susan Crawford is the author of a number of knitting books and her main area of interest is vintage knitwear, her specialism is recreating and redoing patterns from vintage knitwear and making them into modern patterns ready for todays knitter, Susan is extremely inspired by the fashions and textile of the early to mid 20th century and I cant wait to see this book!!

Haps and Jumpers on stretchers and jumper boards. photo: JD Ratter, Shetland Museum and Archives.

Haps and Jumpers on stretchers and jumper boards. photo: JD Ratter, Shetland Museum and Archives.

Shetland Museum and Archives has a large and brilliant textile collection, Susan has spent the past few years choosing and developing patterns based on items in the collection, this difference between this and what Susan usually does is that there are no patterns for these items so Susan has painstakingly redesigned each item. She says ‘As these garments slowly perish as they unfortunately will do, I hope to extend their life in another way, recording their image, their patterns, their stitches, and their past and enabling knitters to read these histories and to be able to recreate these perfectly flawed knits too’

Fair Isle Scarves in the Museum Collection.

Fair Isle Scarves in the Museum Collection.

The reason we are doing this blog tour is so that you can be involved in the process too, Susan has organised a pubslush campaign which means by contributing to the publishing of this book you can receive rewards and bonuses (like receiving all of Susans books!) depending on how much you put towards the book.


photo courtesy Susan Crawford

Being in this blog tour has meant a sneaky peek at some of the items featured in the book. Some I have been lucky enough to see myself first hand at the Museum store, but what I like is that Susan has chosen very different and individual pieces from the collection. They all feature interesting or different techniques like the hat shown above. This hat has a crazy open pom pom on the top that I just love!

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photo courtesy of the Shetland Museum and Archives

The hat is actually part of a two piece set alongside an unusual crossover top, It cleverly uses the plain rounds to do the decreasing in the crown enabling the peerie patterns to stay correct. The huge pom pom obstructs most of the lovely crown shaping so Im intriqued to know more about it!


photo courtesy Susan Crawford

As a Shetlander thats interested in knitting it is quite easy to feel quite smug about the rich culture and heritage I was merely born into, we are so lucky to have these skills passed down to us. Even me who doesn’t come from a textile background, I can ask Sandra who I work with at Jamieson & Smith (she is my personal knitting guru) and you can always find someone or something to inspire you. We, as Shetlanders, have to appreciate the people who have an interest in Shetland and Shetland Knitting and that are willing to publish things like this, I know from my work at J&S that people are constantly looking for books about Shetland knitting and Fair Isle. We are notoriously shy or reluctant (take your pick) to share our knowledge so we must value for those that do so.


photo courtesy Susan Crawford

At the time of writing the project has already totally surpassed its goal, which is amazing! but Susan plans to use the extra funding to continue improving the book and adding more and more to it – so don’t stop contributing!

To see the posts and people in the blog tour, see the list below! Friday see’s the tour continue on to Jess from Ginger Twist Studios.

Thursday 9th July
Saturday 12th July
Monday 13th July
Wednesday 15th July         
Friday 17th July
Saturday 18th July
Sunday 19th July
Monday 20th July
Tuesday 21st July
Wednesday 22nd July
Friday 24th July
Saturday 25th July
Sunday 26th July
Monday 27th July
Wednesday 29th July
Friday 31st July
Sunday 2nd August
Monday 3rd August
Tuesday 4th August
Wednesday 5th Aug
Thursday 6th August
Friday 7th August


hermaness worsted


we have been suffering from a usual Shetland summer this year for example today pretty much the rest of the UK is going through a heat wave and in Shetland its 14 degrees and raining.. pretty poor to be honest but sometimes, and quite a a lot recently the days have been crap but the nights have been quite nice and last night was one of those nights.


Since I came back from Iceland I have had a lack of knitting mojo, it think it was over-stimulation! I came back with too many ideas and too many things I wanted to make. I needed something simple and quick, then I saw Karens post about the Fringe Hatalong. The pattern is a worsted weight version of Hermaness, one of Gudrun’s pattern from her book that was released last year.


The pattern requires one ball of Shelter, I have a few of those lying around..! So I thought I’d give it a go, I still have my jumper weight version on the needles, which I really want to finish.. but for now this was a quick and easy project.

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I used 3.5mm needles for the rib and 4.5 for the main pattern. Since I am over half way through my jumper weight version of the original pattern I caught on again to the pattern repeat pretty quickly so I got the hat worked up over a couple of nights (while I binge watched Orange is the New Black!!) I was disappointed with how much it stretched when I washed it so if I was to make another I might go down a needle size and maybe two for the rib! Its ok as it is a slouchy hat but if it had been more of a beret I would have been disappointed.

Collage The Shelter was lovely to knit with, it has a very odd texture to me, although its 100% wool it nearly feels like chenille or something? Its very loosely spun so it must be all the air making it feel squishy. If you look hard enough on Raverly there are people complaining about how easily it breaks, I don’t find it to be too bad and I think the colour of the yarn makes up for it. They are very complex and dyed in the wool so you get lovely flashes of other colours. I used Hayloft which is a lovely bright orangey yellow. The hat should take one ball but I had used a tiny bit of this ball so I ran out near the end and couldn’t do all the knit rounds between the decreasing or the I-cord bind off.

Thanks to my mam for taking the pictures of me in the hat, I totally turned our walk into a photo-shoot..!

If you would like to knit your own hermaness hat you can download the pattern via Karen’s blog and if you do, remember to use the hashtag #fringehatalong on instagram!