Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Day Two

Oliver took a guided tour around the wool store.

He showed visitors how Shetland wool from over 700 local crofters (Trading Standards told us last year that we handle aver 80% of Shetland's wool clip) gets dragged in through our big green doors where it is weighed. This information is entered on to a computer and each producer is given a print out before leaving. This wool is then graded - the Shetland wool from pure bred Shetland Sheep (which is the only stuff you'll find in Jamieson & Smith products) is seperated from fleeces from cross breeds (which we sell on). The Shetland wool is sorted into five grades: superfine and grades 1 to 4. This work is all done by hand by Oliver and Derek (well, mostly! Jonathan is helping at the moment, and Stuart works here too, when he's not being an architecture student).

Shetland's sheep clip inside our iconic green Wool Store doors. Photo: Jared Flood
Oliver grading the wool into baskets. Photo: Billy Fox Photography
The baskets the boys use for grading are over 100 years old. Photo: Jared Flood.

Once the wool is graded it is put into bales. Each bale is given a number so that we can trace it right back to the croft it came from throughout the next stages. Northwards come once every two weeks through the wool season (July - October) to pick up these bales and take them to Yorkshire where the wool is scoured (cleaned) at the UK's most environmentally sound scrouring plant. The Shetland wool from pure bred Shetland wool goes on to the spinners and dyers, and comes back to us as lovely yarn which we sell to hand-knitters and knitwear designers and from which we make our own knitwear products, as well as blankets and carpets.

Bales ready to leave us. Each bale has a unique number so that we can trace it back to the croft it came from. Photo: Billy Fox Photography. 

We keep a lot of the good stuff (the Shetland wool from the pure bred Shetland Sheep) here in our middle store. Then when the wool season is done and the bales have left us Oliver has room to start sorting this wool - which he also does by hand through the winter. This requires going through each individual fleece and seperating rough parts from coarse parts. Then it goes through the same process: scouring, spinning, dyeing.

The middle Wool Store and our old scales taken early in the summer (at this time of the year, close to the end of the wool season you can't see the door, floor, walls, etc!). Photo: SWB

Oliver sorting. Photo: Billy Fox Photography.
And ends up as lovely Shetland wool products. Aaaah!

1 comment:

  1. Blyde am gotten a mention in da blog! Aaaaand een o me photos got used...gone but not forgotten!
    Architecture is goin swimmingly btw.
    Hope your gettin on good we wool week an your copin without me!
    Stuart. :)