new york

Hello everyone, I’m sorry I haven’t been back sooner to tell you about New York, I thought I’d try something a bit different with the gallery above so you could see some of the pictures I took (just on my phone) while I was away. I also filmed a video today with a haul and my thoughts about being in New York, It all gets a bit rambly at points but I hope you like it!

Things mentioned:

Purl SohoLinen Quill and Alpaca Pure Helix

Do Ewe Knit Hedgehog Fibres Chubby

Yarn CupboardWoolfolk Tynd

Upscale Hare

Loome

Dustys Vintage Buttons

Prado Delano

Eric – Sticks + Twine podcastRib magazine

Michele Wang

Romi Hill

Gudrun Johnston

Mary Jane Mucklestone

Lori Graham

Jaclyn – Brooklyn Knitfolk Podcast

Kirsten – Voolenvine

Bristol Ivy

Up Helly Aa

2016

Hello and Happy New Year! thank you for the kind comments on my last post, today I thought I’d take a look back over 2016 and some of my knitterly escapades..

This year was definitely a year of designing for me, that begun with my Crofthoose Hat and the announcement that I would be 2016’s Shetland Wool Week Patron

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I am so proud of my hat and truly feel it will be one of my most favourite designs forever, this of course, led to my going to Edinburgh Yarn Festival to launch the pattern.. (I can’t wait to go again in 2017!)

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I also designed a few more patterns using the Crofthoose Motif, the Crofthoose Jumper, Bairns Crofthoose and Crofthoose Mitts which were featured in the Shetland Wool Week Annual 2016thumbnail_SWW Annual vol.2_cover IMG_8167 IMG_8538

I also released two other patterns, the Hap Cowl and Flora Mitts, both contained skills I previously was afraid of – lace and fingers!

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I have been so grateful and pleased with the response from my designs this year, it has really helped my confidence with designing and I hope to do much more in 2017, some are already in the pipleline!

Of course one big highlight for me this year was Shetland Wool Week, it was a great privilege to be asked to be patron and It was another great week even though I was so busy!

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the wool week banner at the museum

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I also did lots of posts with photos which I really enjoyed this year, from clipping Sheep in Bressay, Lambs, the Whalsay Exhibition, Voe Show.. the list goes on.. (I encourage you to scroll through the blog and look at older posts, theres too many to link to!)

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Thank you so much to everyone who reads my blog and comments, I really appreciate it! I hope things continue to grow and get better in 2017, In just under two weeks I am doing my last thing as the 2016 Wool Week patron by heading to New York for Vogue Knitting Live, yes me – going to New York!! So ill be sure to be back soon after it to tell you all about it,

thank you, xx

recent purchases

hello everyone! sorry its been a quiet few weeks since my last post, (thanks as always for the nice feedback!) work has been busy, the days are getting shorter (today it was nearly dark at ten to three PM..yuk!) but I have a few things to share which I have recently bought – some new and some vintage – all with a distinctly wintery theme..

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A couple of weekends ago was the annual Shetland art and craft fair, I sadly didn’t have a stall this year – what with wool week and everything it was just too much work – hopefully next year ill be back!! but instead, I spent the weekend helping out my dad who is a cartoonist at his stall. This meant, of course I did a bit of buying to try and get over my regret at not selling my wares..

First I got some more naturally dyed wool from Spindrift Crafts, I bought some of her yarn last year and used it in the 4th colourway for my Crofthoose Hat pattern and I really love the soft colours.

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We have Sheepskins from the Shetland Tannery at J&S and they are truly beautiful, I really admire Natalie (even more so after reading her interview on Kates blog) and like to support other women in Shetland doing their thing.. so I bought a pair of Sheepskin mittens from her. They are so so cosy..

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The last thing I bought was a neck warmer from Mati Ventrillon, a designer based in Fair Isle, I love the way she puts colours and patterns together, although they are quite traditional she manages to make them look modern

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Around the same time I got a few nice new (to me) knitwear bits from charity shops and ebay, first are these lovely gloves..

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I love these kinds of Shetland gloves with a turned up cuff and all over Fair Isle, I would be pretty unlikely to knit myself a pair (although I would like to) but they are definitely very cosy and as usual although not colours I would pick I love them together.

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I also picked up this lace scarf from a charity shop for £2! It’s knit in natural colours and again is one of those things I’d love to make – this is in 2ply Lace (J&S shades L1, L4, L5 and L78 if you were wondering!) but I’d like to make one in thicker yarn – even some of my precious speckled hand dyed yarns!

Any respectable haul by me is not complete without a couple of garments, the first is a machine knit lacy jumper which I got from ebay

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If you know me you know I love grey so this is right up my street, it is Shetland Made going by the label and the seller wrote me a lovely note to say she was pleased it was coming back to Shetland as she had bought it either here or in Orkney in the 70’s or 80’s.

The last thing I’m going to share is another Cowichan cardigan featuring Buffalos and Canadian leafs which also came from ebay, it is hand knitted and so very warm

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I am still interested in Cowichan garments and am currently working on another vest inspired by one so its always good to look at how one is put together, this one has great pockets on the front and a lovely big shawl collar.

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SO i will definitely be keeping warm in Shetland this winter! rather aptly for the end of this post today the newest 60 north magazine was announced featuring a photo of myself and some (pah) of my collection on the cover.. If you missed out on my talk at wool week I have written a piece about it – it will be out soon. The photo was taken by Tom Barr for him and Kates new book Shetland Oo which is also coming out very soon!

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Until later.. speak soon! xx

 

fethaland

We have had a great spell of weather in Shetland the past couple of weeks, I knew it was all too good to be true so on Thursday I took the chance to go with some of my pals who were home up to Fethaland for a walk!

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Fethaland is an old fishing station located about a 2 mile walk from the tip of North Roe, and is the furthest point of the mainland of Shetland. I’ve been there a few times before, its a nice walk there (minus a couple of big hills) and we had a lovely time. The day was bright but quite grey which is reflected in the colours of the landscape, of course I took a gajillion pictures so I thought I’d share some..

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Fethaland was a Haaf station and at one time the busiest in Shetland. There are loads of old structures left behind, it almost has a St Kilda kind of vibe and you can imagine how busy and bustling it would have been at one time. The huts had wood and turf roofs which they would remove at the end of every season but on your way to the stations there are lots of old examples of crofthouses which were probably very near to all the action at one point, its crazy that they are now nowhere near anyone…

This video is amazing and shows a number of photos of the station and now..

I had a great day with some of my oldest pals and it was so good to get out and walk! I have been quite tired after Wool Week so it was nice to do something different.

speak soon xx

flora mitts

A few weeks ago, I shared a photo on Instagram of a yoke cardigan I had got from eBay, it emerged when I bought it that I had purchased it from my auntie Louise, in Shetland!

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However I loved the colours in the yoke and particularly the mixture of moorit and blues which I had never really seen before, it gave me the idea to try the motif and colours on a pair of fingerless mittens.

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Doing my pattern for the Wool Week annual (Crofthoose Mitts) had made me feel much more comfortable about doing the fingers on mitts and it was really easy to translate the yoke motif for the gloves. Many yoke patterns and glove patterns follow the same size Norwegian star so I did a bit of fiddling on illustrator until I was happy with the design then hit my stash of 2ply Jumper Weight to try and match all the colours which I was able to do quite easily! The original yoke is quite felted so the colours look even nicer and blended but even so I was pleased with what I came up with.

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The mitts are knit from the cuff up with an afterthought thumb, you knit the thumb stitches in a waste yarn, slip them back onto the needle then reknit them in pattern. After you have finished you go back and unpick the waste yarn and pick up the stitches for the thumb. The fingers are knit by placing all the stitches on stitch holders and picking up stitches for the front and back before joining in the round. They are a bit fiddly but there are not that many stitches and hardly any rows so it doesn’t last long.

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Although I use 7 colours in the pattern it would be equally effective in less colours and it’s perfect for using up odds and ends of jumper weight. I like to knit my fair isle on 3.5mm needles but for these, I went down to 3mm for a more dense and warm fabric. If you would like to knit your own Flora Mitts you can purchase the pattern on my Ravelry page here!

I will most probably/definitely now not be back here until after Shetland Wool Week, it begins a week on Sunday and I am very nervous and excited – so keep me in your thoughts and wish me good luck with my speech and talk and classes – eek!

Speak soon xxx

clipping in bressay

Last Saturday my dad asked me if, after I’d finished work at lunchtime, I wanted to come over to Bressay and help (errr.. take photos) of clipping his pal Campbell’s sheep. So after misreading the ferry timetable (spot the toonie) I scurried from work and just made it.

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Bressay is a 7-minute ferry ride from Lerwick and even so, I go there ridiculously un-often and never since passing my test. So I slowly headed over to where the clipping was happening over at the other end of the Island. At points, Bressay and Lerwick are very close to each other, and the fact Bressay is there is why Lerwick is a port at all, its protects us (somewhat) from the strong north sea!

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Anyway, I got there and Dad, Campbell and Ewan (the clipper) were about halfway through the small flock Campbell keeps on his familys land. There is a nice peerie Crofthoose there (my favourite thing you know by this point…) and since it was a nice day we had a great afternoon! I can’t say I was much/any help but I just enjoyed being there and took loads of photos which I thought I’d share here:

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The weather has been pretty poor in Shetland this summer (what’s new) but the past few weeks have had some nice days so we were lucky to catch the day we did. The fleeces they clipped and packed will go to my work, be sorted, graded then shipped away to be processed before coming back to Shetland as yarn – which is nice! They have a mixture of white and coloured Sheep which all can be used in yarn and products so nothing will go to waste.

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In case you wonder, the red marks you can see on the clipped sheep above is a paint they mark on their back to know they’ve been given their medicine for the year!

We are slowly getting closer and closer to Shetland Wool Week (aaargh!) so I can’t promise I’ll be back before then.. but I have some stuff I’m hoping to get done before then so you might see a few more posts from me.. (and maybe a new pattern!) there is still one spot on my Tuesday class at Wool Week but my talk and other class are now sold out.

Speak soon! xx

‘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..

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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.

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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