Sunday, 31 October 2010


Lynsey, Oliver's grandaughter, adds the finishing touches to the chunky display. 

The new Jamieson & Smith Shetland Chunky yarn is up online after we launched it this week. The chunky is the apple of our eye at the moment as it's pretty amazing in a very technical way - it's worsted spun from our Shetland Combed Tops using special secret technology. 
And it's lovely. I mean really lovely, not lovely in a wishy washy sense. Oooo....

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Friday, 29 October 2010


Last night we hosted a felting workshop led by local textiles designer, Lois Paul. We used our Shetland Dyed and Natural Combed Tops. We all left smiling after a really lovely woolly evening. The result was that we've decided to make the workshop a regular thing. The next one will take place sometime in November, yay!

1. Kelly 2. Juliette 3. Louise 4. Misa 5. Rosalynn 6. Mrs Labourne 7. June 8. Kim 9. Keri 10. Lois 11. Sarah

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Textiles in Focus

Last night Shetland Arts hosted a closed viewing and talk from the curator, Hazel Hughson, about the current exhibition Portage: Textiles, Extremes of Scale, at the Bonhoga Gallery. The exhibition is part of a larger portage project that aims to make links with artists outside of Shetland. The works travelled these links by email, by backpack and by post. 

1. Anniken Amundsen 2. Marian Bijenga 3. Lina Peterson 4. Kari Steihaug 5. Gudrun Gunnarsdottir 6. Susan Mowatt 7.Outi Matrikainen 8.John K Raustein 9. Shetland and the portage links.

Day 3

Shetland lace knitting workshop.

The beginnings of my Shetland Lace scarf using Jamieson & Smith 2 ply lace weight in L40 and L101. Going to go L1 and then L152 next to complete my sea and sky.

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!

Monday, 25 October 2010

It's here!

Our little Wool Week window

Wool Week is upon us and we've been knitting and spinning all afternoon. Sandra led a Fair Isle workshop in our Yarn Store. Three shades of our 2ply jumper weight, three needles, a chart and two hours = an iPhone cover/pin cushion, knitted in the round.

Fair Isle Workshop with Sandra peeping out from behind one of her keen students

Spinning for the first time
Jenny from the Guild of Spinners Weavers and Dyers was here doing demonstrations, and we all had a little go. It was amazing to see our Shetland combed tops transforming at the fingertips. I'm hooked already.

Can't wait for day two.


Saturday, 23 October 2010


Along with our shiny new blog, we're launching other bits and pieces next week for Wool Week, as part of the Campaign for Wool. 

Let's see, we have: our newly renovated home (our stores include an early twentieth century kirk and police station so they really needed some TLC); a Wool Awareness campaign to help our suppliers get the best possible price for their oo; our first range of knitwear, made up of Shetland lace scarves and Fair Isle ganseys that are manufactured at the Shetland College in our Shetland Supreme yarn, which is totally undyed to make the most of the beautiful natural colours of the Shetland Sheep (wow - I think this is the most times you can possibly say Shetland in one description), and last but not least, our new chunky yarn and some brand new patterns for them. 
Phewph, I'm out of breath. That's just a little bit of what we have planned so keep an eye here to see what we're up to each day. 

Can't. Wait. 

Sneaky peak: detail of our new 1ply lace scarf.

PS. Yes, our Wool Week is a little bit later than the rest - but we got extra special permission to run our celebrations to coincide with agricultural events in Shetland. And we just like to mix things up a bit.