crofthoose hat inspiration

Hello, thank you for all the comments and discussion on my post on Friday, today I thought we’d look at something a bit more cheery – Crofthoose Hats! I meant to do a lot more for the KAL but things have been so busy that I just haven’t had a chance – happily though people have still been making lots of Crofthooses.

There are now nearly 250 projects on Ravelry, and I love looking at all the different colours people have chosen, although I did the four colourways I really wanted people to choose their own colours and put colourways together.. I thought I’d share a few of the hats I’ve found inspiring from the project page but then I couldn’t stop!

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My plan was to have the knit a long going until the 1st of September but I think I will have it ending at Wool Week so you still have until the 28th of September to get involved and knit your own Crofthoose Hat! I did start one in the new Natural Heritage yarn from my work but looking at all these hats I think I will knit a brightly one!

If you do knit one remember to tag your photos on instagram with #crofthoosehatkal and #crofthoosehat – Happy Knitting!

‘shetland wool’

this post is not meant to bash either to the company or the person that contacted me, I just thought it was interesting to share and sparked a train of thought within me..


I was recently contacted by quite a large clothing brand, based in the UK wondering if I would write a piece for them about Shetland as their new collection featured a number of designs knit in Shetland Wool. The piece was to give people a feel for the landscape, lifestyle and culture here. I was interested but asked if they could tell me where the Shetland Wool came from in their collection. As you know I work for one of the only Shetland Wool companies – Jamieson & Smith, and most definitely one of the only ones in Shetland itself. The reply I got stated that the wool wasn’t going to be from Shetland so they understood if I didn’t want to write a piece.

What bothers me about it is that if I hadn’t asked about the origins of the wool and just written the piece that the people reading it would feel ‘wow, this is where the wool in my cardi/jumper whatever comes from’ when obviously it won’t be. Even without writing it, if it say’s on the label ‘Shetland Wool’ while that might not mean anything to some people, to others they will know about Shetland and the connotations of the wool. This made me think about the day I went to at the Shetland Museum a few months ago and reminded me of a phrase..

handwritten note of unknown date found at the bottom of a typed letter by A.I Tulloch in relation to Shetland knitting

handwritten note of unknown date found at the bottom of a typed letter by A.I Tulloch in relation to Shetland knitting

Now times have changed since this was written (there was no date on it but it was a long time ago) but it still holds true in some regards, and I don’t blame companies for calling the fibre they use whatever the manufacturers have called it. I know enough about this industry to make a guess at the mainland company probably responsible for the fibre that will be used in this companies products. The unique landscape and climate of Shetland is what makes the wool the way it is, Shetland Wool even from mainland UK feels different – not in a bad way, it just does. Usually those makers of Shetland Wool not from Shetland are specialist breeders and indie spinners, Unfortunately, the phrase ‘Shetland Wool’ has come to mean a style of spinning and type of fibre rather than origin of fibre which I can be pretty sure that’s what this will be.


Perhaps I am a bit touchy, as a Shetlander involved in the textile industry, I understand how fragile it is. We don’t have the amount of knitters and sheep that Shetland had at one time. Our industry is strong, thanks to things like the internet, Ravelry and Instagram to name a few but it is fragile. We rely on people wanting the real thing and coming to us for it.

Those fibre manufacturers using and in my opinion abusing Shetlands name are relying on the strength of the word ‘Shetland’ and the connotations surrounding it. As knitters and makers I think it is our place to ask questions about where wool and fibre comes from, I don’t like doing it (I’m not a fan of confrontation or arguing) but there are ways to do it without being an arsehole about it, On a wider scale wovember does a brilliant job of celebrating wool – all wool throughout November, and asks the questions in an educational way, have a look at their website here.

Preaching over… back to the knitting and on a cheerier note I got an email yesterday with a very exciting picture – the cover of this year’s Shetland Wool Week Annual!

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Yes – I had one more Crofthoose design in me! And they made it into the cover!! I cannot wait to see this year’s Annual and I know I will treasure my copy forever, pre-orders begin next week and I’m sure this page will be updated soon. Very excitingly too, my lovely pal Vivian is the model for the annual so I can’t wait to see all the pictures.

Speak soon, xx

heritage puffin cardigan


As soon as we got the new Natural Shetland Heritage yarn into my work I knew I wanted to make something with it, I had the idea to make yet another (this is my fourth!) variation of the Puffin Sweater by Kate Davies, its is such a great pattern and I knew it would work well in the Heritage (my second one was knit in the dyed version of the same yarn) and I’m not disappointed!


I did a bit of modifying to the pattern just to mix it up a bit, I did no waist shaping, in fact, I made the body more a-line in shape, I also used a Yarn Over increase method to make the yoke a bit lacy looking instead of the Kfb increasing used in the pattern. In keeping with my a-line shape i decided to just do 5 buttons at the top of the cardigan.


I wanted to try and use all 6 of the new shades but in my initial swatch, I wasn’t keen on the shading when I had Fawn and Moorit in so I decided to just use Shetland Black, Grey, Light Grey and White. This is two less I think than the original pattern so I had to do more rows of each colour which I think gives the yoke a more graphic look.


I was really good and swatched for both my machine knitted body and sleeves and the yoke, I actually made a size a few bigger than I would usually due to the gauge of the Heritage on my machine and so I could have a little bit more positive ease than my other puffins.

All in all, my natural Puffin cardi has given me a bit of my knitting mojo back! speak soon xxx


voe show


hello, I’m sorry for the unexpected silence over the past few weeks, I wish I could say I have been so busy doing lots of fun things and have lots of knitting to show you but I’m afraid I’ve been feeling very blah and uninspired. However, this weekend just been I did do something a bit different. You might have seen on the J&S blog I posted today that I was judging at the Voe Show for the colourbox competition. The Voe show is one of a number of agricultural shows all around Shetland over the summer, I took so many photos (as always) so thought I’d share some here too.














All is not lost however, I do have some knitting on the wires and I feel the inspiration is coming back…

speak soon, xxx

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.

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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:

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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!)

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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

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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..

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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.

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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!!

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

Speak soon! xx