my first dress

Photo 11-07-2016, 9 53 17 pm

This feels very unusual to talk about something non-knitting related with you, but! it is to do with making because yes I made that dress you see in the photo above! It was my cousin’s wedding at the weekend and a few months ago I was feeling very uninspired looking through all my usual places I get dresses from, even vintage places weren’t coming up trumps so, of course, buoyed up by watching the Great British Sewing Bee I decided I would make myself a dress..!

Photo 11-07-2016, 9 52 59 pm Photo 11-07-2016, 9 53 21 pm

I knew I wanted quite a simple shape, I do quite a bit of sewing with my cushions and stuff but that’s all quite rough and ready and I did bits and pieces of patchwork at college – so I am not scared of my machine, however, I thought I would ease myself in. I went for this pattern, and again inspired by the Sewing Bee I used an African Wax Fabric which I bought from here. The pattern has you line the dress but because I was using quite a heavy weight cotton I didn’t do that (and I’m glad, I would have been roasting!) I just half lined the bodice. I do have a cheapo dressmakers dummy (usually seen modelling my vintage knitwear) and I thought I was quite a standard shape but I had to do loads of rejigging to get the bodice to fit, darts here there and everywhere! For once in my life though I did try and go slowly and get it to fit as well as I could. I also apparently have a very short torso because I had to lop loads off to have the skirt at the thinnest bit of my waist! after I got the bodice to fit the skirt was very easy and it probably took me a couple of days (one full Sunday and a few nights) to get the whole thing finished.


The weight of the fabric made the dress very good for twirling as you can see, and I did lots of Shetland dancing at the wedding – which involves lots of birling! I’m really pleased with how my dress came out and it makes me feel a lot braver about making more clothes for myself. As well as a large yarn stash I also have quite a lot of fabric (your so surprised. Not) Thank you to Ingrid for taking a few picture of me in my dress :)

The decorations at the wedding were lovely so I thought I’d share a photo of the hall where we had the meal and dance. So Congratulations to Aidan and Carly, it was a beautiful wedding.

Processed with VSCO with p9 preset

It has actually been quite warm in Shetland the past couple of weeks so I haven’t had too  much knitting mojo although I have started my Crofthoose Hat for the KAL in the new Shetland Heritage Naturals which are beautiful so I’m sure ill be back soon to share more..!

Happy Knitting (or sewing..) Speak soon, xxxx


crofthoose hat knit a long: choosing colours


Hello! thank you for the nice response to my Bairns Crofthoose Yoke pattern! Today I thought I begin my series on my new knit along for my Crofthoose Hat, I know there are lots of patterns we all want to knit all the time and sometimes a bit of advice or just even talking about a pattern can get you in the groove to make one.


I thought I’d begin with arguably the most fun but also sometimes stressful part of any Fair Isle project – Choosing colours!!! Of course, I have a big (ahem) stash of yarn – and a rather sizable stash of J&S 2ply Jumper Weight (I work there.. what did you expect!) That is the weight of yarn really suited to the Crofthoose hat – Shetland or 100% Wool yarn in a 4ply/fingering weight.


I don’t do a lot (understatement) of swatching, especially for small projects like hats/mitten but for my Crofthoose Yoke I did take the time to do lots of swatches on my machine of the Crofthoose motif. Mainly because I discovered when putting together the hat colourways that it has a more graphic finished effect than traditional Fair Isle which can be quite subtle. The blockness.. if that’s a word.. of the hooses means you need to think a little bit about how you arrange it. I have found with this pattern it works best to be bold! In case you needed reminding the first colourway I came up with for the finished hat was the J&S one:



l-r: FC58, FC39, FC11, 2 and 202

My general rule of thumb for this is you want to go dark for your cast on colour – FC58 in this case, dark/bright with your house colours – FC39 and FC11 and then light with your two background shades – 202 and 2. Here’s two more quickly put together examples:

IMG_8679 IMG_8681

You can turn this theory on its head however by going light on your hooses/cast on colour and dark with the backgrounds, it will have a more subtle but still effective result. I’m not going to go into any detail about colour and value – mainly because I don’t stress too much about it but also many other people can do it better than me (see here and here for example) but basically if you’re not sure about a colourway you can take a photo on your phone then put it to black and white and see you have enough contrast. Here are some examples of colours I think do work together and give enough contrast between the background and foreground: (PS all the swatches I do on the machine have raw edges which you can see at the top of them, I’ve washed and Ironed them and they haven’t run down, one reason I love Shetland Wool!)

IMG_8659 IMG_8661 IMG_8667

The main thing that makes it tricky is sometimes a colourway can look great in ball form but when you try it out it just doesn’t work, these are like that, in the ball (or cone in this case) they looked great but it didn’t translate to the knitted fabric, either because of the background colour or the contrast between the house and roof shade:


just the middle one in this case

IMG_8668 IMG_8665

This one below is an example of one-half of the swatch working but not the other, you can see the darker main grey on yellow works really well but by switching the greys around and giving a darker background colour the houses just don’t pop the same.


Another problem you might come across is things working in person but not translating well in photography which is like the one below, I actually made a sample of the Crofthoose Yoke in this colourway and I wore it to Edinburgh where it got lots of nice comments but somehow in photos it just doesn’t look as good. But at the end of the day – as long as your happy with it.. who cares!


You can also get ideas from knitwear, in this case, some of my vintage knitwear gives surprising ideas to how colours work together in a row, by isolating them and seeing how they react with the shades around you can get more inspiration..

IMG_8683 IMG_8684 IMG_8690 IMG_8691

I hope this has given you some ideas as to putting your colours together for your hat, it’s also worth remembering though – don’t stress about it – If it doesn’t look right just rip it out. It’s only knitting :) Another way to get inspiration is to have a look at the finished projects, there are over 150 on Ravelry and it’s a great way to spark ideas!

If you’d like to take part in the KAL then head over to my Ravelry group and get chatting about colours, yarns, whatever you fancy! It will run until September the 1st so lots of time to get involved. If you do knit a hat remember to tag your photo’s on Ravelry with the #crofthoosehatkal so I can see them all!

Speak soon!

bairns crofthoose yoke


Hello! I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet over this past month, work has been busy, the weathers been quite nice and oh yeah my countries political climate has gone absolutely to shit… (pardon my language)

ANYWAY.. I have something exciting to share with you today, my Bairns Crofthoose Yoke pattern is available now!

PicMonkey Collage PicMonkey Collage2

I have done two versions which are both available in the pattern: a long sleeve and a short sleeve one. I have used Jamieson & Smith 2ply Jumper weight but you could use any 4ply yarn. I rejigged the chart from my adult yoke pattern and removed one row of hooses as well as keeping the background colour the same. I am really happy with how my colours came out, i thought it might be quite a girly pattern but I think it really suits Magnie too. Its available in sizes age 1 up to 12  but the ages is just a guide, I have a quite detailed size chart in the pattern.



The jumper is knit in the round to the oxters (armpits) both sleeves are knit, it is all joined together, raglan shaping is worked and then you cast on extra steek stitches to work the yoke in the round.

IMG_8521 IMG_8417

At the end you reinforce the steek (by hand sewing/machine sewing/crochet) and cut it open before knitting a short buttonband for easy getting on and off, someone mentioned to me that buttons are not good for girls with long hair so you could easily replace them with snap closures if you wanted to, I love choosing buttons to go with things though! I’m really pleased with how this came out, and I’m also really happy with the photos, of course I’m biased but my niece and nephew really are quite cute!!

IMG_8435 IMG_8487 IMG_8538

So if you want to make your own Bairns Crofthoose Yoke you can buy the pattern here on Ravelry

Speak soon! xx

shetland wool week


Hello! Thank you all for the lovely and kind response to my Crofthoose Yoke! I’m sorry i’ve been a bit quiet but things are still quite busy, I’m hoping for a bit of relaxing soon. The photo above was taken at West Sandwick Beach in Yell a few weeks ago, it was a beautiful day!

This is a quick post to let you know about the classes and talk I’m doing at Shetland Wool Week, the programme and booking was announced today and you can see all the events here, I wish I was able to go to some of the classes but I’m sure ill be busy enough!

I’m doing two classes all about my vintage knitwear collection, ill be taking some of my extensive (ahem) knitwear I’ve collected over the past few years and talking about how you can take inspiration from these items. Amazingly one of the classes has already sold out but there is still spaces on the second class.

I’m also giving a talk (solo..sob, i wont have Kate to hold my hand this time!) about being a knitter in Shetland in 2016, I’m very passionate about keeping Shetlands skills and heritage alive so it will cover all the things that inspire me.

If you are coming I cant wait to meet you and if your not I’ll be sure to share as much as I can on here,

Speak soon! xx

crofthoose yoke


Last night was such a beautiful night so I took the opportunity and got Mam to photograph my jumper so I could finish off the pattern for my Crofthoose Yoke! I’ve knit three samples of this pattern and I think this version is my favourite – it fits in so well in the Shetland landscape. The pattern has charts for all three I’ve made and a blank one for you to colour in your own colour scheme.


IMG_8180 IMG_8148

Inspired by my Crofthoose Hat I had the feeling this motif would work great on a Shetland yoke and it does! I’ve done some subtle raglan shaping which makes the yoke a bit lower than a traditional one with short rows on the back above the yoke to raise it higher. It was a bit fiddly to find a way to get the motif to line up in the way I wanted but I’m so happy to have the pattern ready and available,  if you’d like to purchase a copy of the pattern you can do so here! The pattern is available in sizes 32″ up to a 42″ and has been fully technically edited, this is my first foray into multi sized pattern and I’m very excited to have it out..



Happy Knitting xx


a good saturday

Hello! I’m sorry its been quiet here for a few weeks, I’ve been very busy with secret knitting and I passed my driving test! which was very exciting but meant I was practising that instead of knitting – anyway I passed so that’s good. I also went away for a peerie trip to Glasgow to see some of my friends and go to the Dixie Chicks concert, my trip also included going to Ayr to visit my pal Amy which was great!


So yesterday I headed up to Whalsay with my Mam to meet up with one of my knitting pals Linda, I was very excited to see the current exhibition at the Whalsay Heritage Centre. Whalsay is one of the many islands of Shetland and you have to get a ferry to get there – so I had my first experience of driving onto a ferry!


The very exciting exhibition they have on this summer is called Fair Isle Knitting Through The Decades and includes over 140 items, Whalsay knitters are some of the best in Shetland in my opinion and I wasn’t disappointed with the items on show. There were items from the 1920’s to the present day and because they were donated for the exhibition everything wasn’t behind glass which was great – you could have a good look!


the photo shows a group of three brothers and the tank top above is one of the ones worn in the photo.


yokes, swatches and another sample with a photo showing the garment worn



early garments, an unusal jumper and the original sample cardigan from the Traditional Knitting from the Scottish and Irish Isles book, knit by Ina Irvine


mam looking at some of the great texts alongside the exhibition

IMG_8057 col2

I found the whole exhibition really interesting and inspiring. Its really funny to see how the fashions change over the decades but also to see how something’s don’t change much at all! They had organised as much information about the pieces as possible and it was so interesting to read. If you get the chance to go they are open: 2-5pm Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1st May – 2nd October which means if you are coming for Shetland Wool Week it will still be on. Thank you Linda for showing us around!



It was such a beautiful day that after our trip we went up North to visit my Granddad in Ollaberry, where my Mam grew up.IMG_8095

Spring has definitely sprung now and there are lots of lambs everywhere..


IMG_8127 col4


As well as the lambs running free with their mams on the hills some of the newer babys are still being kept in the shed’s until they are ready to go outside which is nice as you get a close look at them, they are so cute!



I went with Granddad to feed a caddy lamb, one who’s mam has died or wasn’t accepted by their mam, you have to bottle feed them until they can fend for themselves, again – very cute!


I had a great day out with Mam and it made me feel very happy that the weather is getting better!

As an aside.. Shetland Wool Week Memberships are now available, see here! And if you dont fancy a membership the programme will be available from the 17th of May with booking opening on the 24th – its all very exciting!

Ill be back soon with some of the fruits of my secret knitting.. til then Happy Knitting!