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

eyf purchases

Hello! So I thought I’d do something a bit different and do a video about my purchases at Edinburgh Yarn Festival, so if you are interested have a watch below! also sorry about the reflection from my glasses, I never noticed until afterwards.. typical.

things mentioned:

Shetland Wool Week and Crofthoose Hats!

Hedgehog Fibres

Kate Davies Buachaille

Midwinter Yarns

North Ronaldsay Yarn

Ysolda

Anna Maltz

60 North Magazine

Knitting with two colours by Amy Detjen and Meg Swanson

Rachel Atkinson

Crofthoose Jumper

Armstrongs

 

2015

Every year WordPress sends you a handy dandy list of stats about your blog so I thought it would be fun to share my most viewed posts of the year! My top viewed post was my version of a baa-ble hat, the 2015 official Wool Week pattern by Donna Smith

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Next was my few new yokes post, I am continuously knitting yokes and these are two of my favourites!

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Then there was another yoke, my Cockatoo Brae! I was very proud of this collaboration I worked on with Kate, the original that I made the body and sleeves for made it onto the cover of Yokes so I had to make myself one of course!

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Some of my most viewed posts aren’t from 2015 and the last two are both from previous years, this one is from 2014 and its my Fair Isle yoke. This was very much a trial and error project when I was beginnng to refine my machine/hand knitting combanations skills for knitting my own yokes

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And the last post is one of my most viewed of all time, the 2013 post about my Spencer Dresses, there may be some action with this at J&S soon so keep an eye out for that..!

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This year I feel a made some good steps in my knitting skills and made a lot of things I am really happy with, I feel I’m getting better at making more things that fit into my wardrobe, like my Lila Winter which has been getting a lot of wear the past few months..

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My Riddari, which gave me my first chance at using Quince & Co yarns

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I also did some more traditional Shetland knitting with my Half Hansel, my first hap!

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I feel I made time to make things I really wanted this year, like my third (!) puffin jumper, this time in the original colours

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One of my favourite projects of the year was probably my Crofthouse Vest which although it sparked some varied opinions in the comments I am pretty pleased with it.

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My fastest and probably another favourite project of the year was my Icelandic Jumper I knit in four days!

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Speaking of Iceland of course in May I went there! (there are a few posts about it – of course! see them here, here,here and here)

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And in October we had another brilliant Shetland Wool WeekIMG_6612

In which I had two patterns in the annual and gave a talk with Kate about our Vintage knitwear collections

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Of course I’ve been knitting away at my crofthouses and had another successful Craft Fair, I am taking a bit of a break from them at the moment but I’ll be back at them soon!

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phewf! a busy 2015! each year somehow more of you are finding me and saying lovely things. Quite often I go back and read some of my posts and so many of you leave lovely and kind comments, I don’t reply back to many because I don’t want to reply to some and not all so I find it easier to not reply, but know I read them all and greatly appreciate them. They help to make me feel better a lot, so thank you for reading here! So for 2016 I would like to know about the kind of things you would like me to post about here? please leave me a comment and let me know, its back to work next week, this break has flown by but for now I hope you have a good Hogmanay and a Happy New Year when it comes!

Speak soon, Ella xx

Iceland – the textile museum

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I was really interested in visiting the Textile Museum located in Blönduós, you might know that I am a trustee of the Shetland Textile Museum (see the shiny new website here) so I am always interested in seeing small local museums.. especially if textiles are involved.

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As you probably know if you are as interested/obsessed about Iceland as me the typical Iceland Jumper – the Lopapeysa is a relatively new invention and really took off thanks to the tourist industry, much like a Fair Isle yoke – but the Textile Museum concentrates on Textiles that date from before this time. Helene Magnusson, who ran the tour I was on, has a beautiful book ‘Icelandic Handknits‘ which is all patterns inspired by items in the collection.

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Quite a large part of the museum is dedicated to Halldóra Bjarnadóttir who was a very important person in Icelandic Textiles, you can read more about her here. Many of the items were either knit by her or were in her collection, she had a huge interest in knitting and weaving but also the traditional Icelandic national costume. Quite a lot of the pieces had echoes and similarities to Shetland knitting, especially the lace. Which made me feel nice, I don’t know why..

IMG_5596 IMG_5600 IMG_5602One of the things I found most interesting was the shoe inserts, Helene has done a lot of research into this little knitted objects and another one of her books (see here) is devoted to patterns inspired by this type of knitting. This inserts were knit using garter stitch and intarsia and were designed to go into the traditional fish skin shoes. Something about them just made you really want to have a pair!

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We arrived before the museum had officially opened for the summer season so not all of the exhibitions were up yet but there was also a room filled with embroidery work which was very beautiful. I did quite a bit of embroidery at college but since I am neither patient nor neat I never got that far…

IMG_5604 IMG_5605We also visited the former Womens College which is next door to the Textile Museum. It is now a research centre where people can stay and do residencies and research. As I am a toonie I never had to stay at a hostel for school but it kind of reminded me of the Janet Courtney Hostel in Lerwick were students from outlying islands come to stay through the week for school. It was a bit old school in the decorations though compared to that, just look at the wallpaper in some of the bedrooms!

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Anyway, while we were there we met with the two ladies there that were doing a textile residency, one of them Amanda had actually commented on one of my photos on Instagram a few weeks before I went so it was so nice to meet her. She is a weaver (and knitter too, I’m sure she was wearing an Acer cardigan..) so she showed us some of the things she’d been working on. They had a beautiful weaving room upstairs full of old looms. Now I also did weaving at college and my earlier mentioned personality traits (lace of patience and neatness) also meant I was crap at it but I can appreciate a room full of wooden looms. Even I could have woven there.

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One of my besties (and weaver extraordinaire) Amy Gair would have LOVED it, it was very peaceful and quiet, I loved the window Amanda had a little desk set up with all her lopi and pencils ready for inspiration

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While I’m speaking about people I met on Instagram I also have to mention my friend Lara! She bought a cushion from me a while ago and since then we have kept in touch, she is interested in Shetland and me Iceland so obviously we are a perfect match. Luckily we were able to spend most of a day together on my last full day in Reykjavik and she took me to the National Museum, back to Alafoss to buy wool and we also went to a house museum park type thing that was closed but we had a nice wander around! I was really touched that Lara brought a present she made for me, these beautiful mittens:

IMG_5704 I also took a photo of Lara in her recently finished Gamaldags Cardigan, a design by Helene! circles and roundabouts folks..

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Thank you Lara :)

Although I still have a gabillion photos from Iceland this will probably be the last post about my trip, well I might do more at some point but I need to get back into the present..! On Sunday I am heading up to Yell to set up my first joint exhibition with my Dad who is a local artist. Ill be back next week to tell you more.. til then, have a nice weekend and happy knitting xx

Iceland – glaumbær and the fish tannery

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Hello, today I am back with more photos from my trip to Iceland, this time some pictures from the Glaumbaer Turf House and Folk Museum and the Fish Tannery – very different from each other but very interesting! We first visited the Turf house with its adjacent folk museum, these wood-fronted turf-walled and turf-roofed dwellings were inhabited until 1947. Iceland, much like Shetland is pretty tree-less so these buildings were an answer to the lack of wood available. Many aspects of the house are wood but the roof and walls are all made from turf and turf bricks.

col1Some of the front rooms were quite basic and sparsely decorated, with the open turf walls but other rooms were pretty fancy and you forgot the walls were made from earth!

IMG_5555 IMG_5557 Adjacent to the turf house is a lovely tea room and folk museum, filled with items from the last century or so. The house was moved to the site in 1991 as an example of the kind of house that came after the Turf houses. The house is typical of that of a rural Icelander of the time and it was a very sweet building, I loved the blues and greens that were everywhere.

IMG_5575col2IMG_5573 IMG_5572 IMG_5565 There was even an old knitting machine!

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After we had been to the museum we headed further north to go to the Fish Tannery in Sauðárkrókur. It is the only tannery in Europe that makes fish leather.. yes fish leather, its a thing! (these photos are of animal skins, if you are offended.. sorry!)

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My friend Vivian has done a lot of work with fish skins so I knew it was something that could be done but I was amazed at all the different things they can do with it! As well as working with fish they also make more traditional animal skin products from sheep, horses and cows.

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I’m afraid, well maybe not – I’m allowed my own opinions after all, I really quite like sheepskins and stuff.. not like mink coats or anything but these products which are by-products in fact, of the food industry are lovely. At the end of the day, these animals are raised for meat and if someone can get warmth from the skin which would otherwise be destroyed.. why not? spoken like a true granddaughter of a crofter!

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We were shown around the tannery by one of the ladies who worked in the family business and she showed us all aspects of the process.

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There were huge vats full of water and fish skin which had just come from presumably wherever they used the meat (meat? is that the right word for fish?) for the food industry.

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As we were going around I was thinking that surely you would have to sew together lots of fish to get a big enough piece to do anything with but I was amazed how much the fish skin stretched when it was cured – Amazing!

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The products made from the fish skins are extremely high end and the company travels to many places in the year like Japan and Milan to trade shows to gain contracts for the big fashion houses.

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I thought it was really brilliant what they were doing. The tannery was located in a small fishing town and its great that this unusual technique is happening right there and ending up on the catwalk!

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She also showed us upstairs in their sample room some other examples of things which could be made from animal skin, like polar bears, artic foxes and even a cat! I refrained from taking a picture of that.. I know there is a lot of cat lovers around..!

next time.. the textile museum!

xx

Iceland – istex factory

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Hello, I’m not intentionally dragging out my Iceland posts for dramatic effect, things have been so busy this week but today I am back with some pictures from one of my favourite parts about my trip, the Istex yarn factory! I have a very healthy *ahem* stash of Icelandic yarn so I was really looking forward to seeing where it was produced.

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The factory is just outside Reykjavik and it is where they spin and dye the wool. It is washed in a different part of Iceland, in Blönduós – a town in the north which we also visited and is home to the textile museum.. (can you smell another blog post on the horizon?) Icelandic wool is made of up two types of fibre: a finer,softer inner and a stronger,glossy outer. These two aspects together create a warm, water repellent and windproof yarn which is perfect for Icelandic (and Shetland..) weather.

IMG_5656 As you know, I work for a yarn company (Jamieson & Smith) so as you can imagine, any thing related to wool or wool production I find really interesting. At Jamieson & Smith the yarn is spun and dyed down south so I don’t get to see any of this part. We deal with the raw wool in the wool store and then the finished products in the shop. The factory was smaller than I imagined which I think is quite common for this kind of industry, wool and yarn is such a niche market that we seem to manage to do the work with less staff and space as people would think. (not that the factory was tiny or anything, its just when you know how far reaching a yarn brand is, its always surprising how few people are really involved)

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The washed wool arrives at the factory in bales and then it is spun and dyed from there. The factory was a hub of activity and it was brilliant to see all the wool at its different stages from airing, blending, dyeing, carding, spinning, balling to finished yarn.

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We were shown around the factory by Hulda Hákonardóttir who is the marketing manager for Istex, she told us how the Istex brand was formed after the wool crisis in the 1980s and 4 (of 5..not sure) members of staff joined together to purchase the factory after the bankruptcy of the former company. This was interesting to me as I know we struggled in the 1980s and 1990s in Shetland with the price and value of wool.. Well J&S did, others not so much. Anyway, the company has gone on from strength to strength and now has a staff of about 40 making the yarn, from einband (lace weight) up to bulky.

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I was pleasantly surprised with some of the similarities I found between my work and that of this worldwide brand. They even handmade their shade cards there in the factory, one of my least fave jobs to do..

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I think it is really good how forward thinking they are and Hulda told us about the new Lopi 34 book (of course already purchased..) It is made up of vintage patterns redesigned for a more modern audience. This is the kind of things that keep classic Yarn company’s moving and not being left behind. There is a place for more rustic yarns (read scratchy) and honestly you can train yourself to wear them. I will always support these kind of company’s because they are honest about what they are doing.

Next up! the turf house and folk museum and the fish tannery..!!

(also: I’ve added some more piece to my knitwear collection blog, including a few pieces I bought in Reykjavik)

iceland – goats at haafell

Hello, I’m sorry for the delay in posting more about my trip to Iceland. Getting back to normal has taken me longer than anticipated and I have had lots to do since I got back!! I thought I’d share some pictures today from the Goat Farm we visited in Haafell in the Borgarfjörður region. IMG_5510IMG_5528

We visited the farm on our first day on the way to our guesthouse. I don’t know a whole lot about goats as we don’t have many in Shetland but they were extremely cute, we were able to see a lot of the newborn baby goats which lets face it is always a good thing.

my favourite baby goat!

my favourite baby goat!

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This farm holds a significant population of the Icelandic goat and the family-run farm strives to further and strengthen the breed. The farm was close to closing in the past couple of years but thanks to a crowd funding campaign which had donations from all over the word (you can see the facebook page here) the farm was able to stay open. One of the things that has helped the farm gain attention is that some of these goats were featured in Game of Thrones (I tried to watch it, too gory for me!)

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Inside the shed with the mam’s and baby goats there were a few other animals as well, including some new born kittens and rabbits (very like my own rabbit from my childhood, Beano flashbacks!)

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We were really lucky with the weather on the first day, it was really nice and sunny which made visiting the goats outside much nicer, you could tell they were enjoying the sun as much as us. The guy that was driving our bus said to me about the weather ‘its not always like this you know’ when I mentioned I was from Shetland he came back with ‘Oh so you know the situation then!’ which made me lol.

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note the adopted goat to the left, a sheep brought up as a goat!

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I really enjoyed visiting the goat farm, I don’t know much about them as I said but I was amazed at how friendly they were compared to sheep, in Shetland and in Iceland most of the sheep you meet are pretty scared of you and run away as soon as you come near but the goats just sidled up next to you and waited to be clapped!

me cuddling a goat. As you do.

me cuddling a goat. As you do.

The website for the goat farm is here and this is a lovely article with some great photos from when the farm was feared to close.

Speak soon!