moving on..

Hello everyone, I’m so sorry I have been so quiet since I came back from New York, this year has been a bit tough so far but in two days I leave for Edinburgh Yarn Fest and I am. so. excited..!! I thought I’d do a quick blog and remind you all that after Friday when the new patron and pattern for Shetland Wool Week is announced at EYF the Crofthoose Hat pattern will no longer be available for free!

look at all those happy hats and people, don’t you just want to make one? Well, you better download it now! I will be doing a bit of pattern rejigging and then will have it available to buy from my Ravelry store in a month or so. As an aside, I still have a couple of Crofthoose pattern ideas, do you think I should let it go and move on or would you be ok with me developing them..? Let me know.

Im sad that my year of being patron has come to an end but I will always be so grateful for how much it has helped me, my confidence and my skills in designing, I also have all the people who read here to thank for that too so thank you! I finally feel I am getting into the groove again with designing and have been working on a new…. yoke (of course) pattern:

I am hoping to have the pattern out in April all going well so keep an eye out for that! I will probably wear it to EYF on Friday so if you see me come and say hi!, actually if you see me either of the days say hi! I am really looking forward to catching up with friends old and new and doing some serious damage to my bank account. I have been saving up since christmas so I feel a spending spree coming on..

I have been having some family stuff going on which I won’t go into detail about because for one It’s all a bit boring actually and for another, it’s not my problem so probably shouldn’t go around blabbing about it, but anyone who has a parent or family member with addiction issues will understand. I swing from it completely taking over my thoughts and draining me of creativity to being able to carry on ok but at the end of the day I have to live my life too and things like going to Edinburgh will really help take my mind off things!

So hopefully I’ll be back soon with maybe a EYF haul, would that be good? Speak soon xx

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!

the wool week banner at the museum

the wool week banner at the museum

crofthoose hats

crofthoose hats

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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

shetland wool week 2016

Hello! I’m sorry I haven’t posted sooner after Shetland Wool Week, what a crazy week it was! I felt like it just flew by. I did two classes and a talk and of course I was working at J&S the whole week. I really did try but failed to take too many pictures but I thought I’d share some of the pictures I did get through the week..

the wool week banner at the museum

the wool week banner at the museum

some of my knitwear at my class on the Sunday

some of my knitwear at my class on the first Sunday

a few photos in the new Sheila McGregor cabinet

a few photos in the new Sheila McGregor cabinet at the Museum

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there were a couple of crofthooses at my class on Sunday

Oliver and his Oh Henry chocolate bar, how we laughed!

Oliver and his Oh Henry chocolate bar, how we laughed!

Crofthoose Hats

Crofthoose Hats

one of my favourite things about Wool Week - te Annual!

one of my favourite things about Wool Week – the Annual!

Sunday Teas

Sunday Teas

some of my dads pictures at the Makers Market

some of my dads pictures at the Makers Market

a naturally dyed and handspun crofthoose hat and mitts set, it was so soft!

a naturally dyed and handspun crofthoose hat and mitts set, it was so soft!

organic hap at Vaila Fine Art

organic hap at Vaila Fine Art

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mini haps by Ina Irvine and prizewinning fleece

crofthoose hats

crofthoose hats

It was really a great week, but so incredibly busy – I’m still getting over it! The shop (J&S) was mental everyday but its such a good way to see everyone that’s up that we probably met almost everyone! I was quite surprised how shy I felt though, I suppose I’m not used to doing speeches and talks although I was really pleased with how they went* it was probably just the quantity of people I was meeting that make me feel quite overwhelmed. Also I was ridiculously nervous for my speech at the opening ceremony..

I can’t really put into words how weird (in a good way!) it was to see so many Crofthoose Hats, at the opening ceremony they asked everyone who had one to hold it up – I couldn’t believe how many I saw, I am still so happy with the design and really proud of what I have done this year. Being the Wool Week patron has given me a confidence in my skills and helped me to believe maybe I can do this designing stuff…

Anyway I’m going to have a bit of a rest and do some selfish knitting, speak soon!

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*I’m working on putting my talk into an article for those who were vexed it wasn’t streamed so ill let you know when I know more!

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

‘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

crofthoose hat knit a long: choosing colours

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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!

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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!