Welcome to my woolly little blog!!

Welcome to my woolly little blog!!
You are welcome to browse, comment, ask questions,
seek advice on a knitting issue and find out more about Shetland and it's world renowned wool.
Plus, some snippets and snaps from my everyday life.
So pull up a chair and sit awhile, away from the rush of the world.
Please do not use any images from my blog as most of them, unless otherwise stated, are my own work.
You are more than welcome to read, comment and follow!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Real Shetland Stories Competition

In October, during Shetland Wool Week, I entered a competition called "Real Shetland Stories". The idea was to write a short piece of 300 words or less which would tell how wool has been a part of your life.
Having a father and a grandfather who were both talented weavers I decided I would have a go at the competition.
Here is my short piece of writing, followed by a photo of both my father and grandfather.

Wool has been part of the fabric of my family for generations. My grandfather worked a hand loom to weave pure Shetland wool rugs. This creative gene was obviously passed to my father, Adam Johnson from Levenwick, who himself was a very talented weaver of Shetland wool rugs. He worked exclusively in the natural, un-dyed colours of Shetland fleece and his designs were his own and instantly recognizable.
He weaved in Levenwick first of all, then was asked to go into Fair Isle where he also taught machine knitting. My father being a patient, softly spoken man as well as a gifted one was an ideal tutor of these Shetland traditions and he did much to educate people and pass these traditions on.
For a time he taught in Scotland, where he met my mother, and was asked to go to America to teach, but I think my mother decreed this was just ‘one pond too many’!!
She had agreed to move to Shetland and that was far enough!
In 1963 my parents moved to Sandness and my father took a job at Aurora Knitwear in Walls, owned by Lizzie Sutherland. There he dressed jumpers, a job he also enjoyed. Often he took jumpers home to dress. The crew necks had to have a thread run through them to keep the necks in the correct shape while the jumper was being dressed. That was my job! I still remember the cotton spools being kept in an old National Dried Milk container and I got tuppence a neck!! This still makes me smile to this day! I’m very proud of the inheritance left by my father and grandfather and would thread those necks for nothing if I could spend just a moment with both these talented, generous men.

My father weaving at the loom.

My grandfather weaving at the loom. Sadly I never met him.

I was delighted when I received a letter telling me I was one of 40 runners-up who would have their 'story' published in a book in 2012. The book will be an evocative record of life in Shetland in relation to wool and textiles and will be published by Shetland Heritage Publications.
I am very excited about that because it will mean that the talents of my father and grandfather will be recorded in print for generations to come. What better prize could I have?
But that was not all!!
I also received a pure Shetland wool travel rug in natural colours exactly like the one pictured below.

This rug is very special to me for 2 reasons.
1. I won it for writing about the weaving talents of my father and grandfather.
2. It is made in natural colours which my father used exclusively in his designs.
And now as I embark on my own personal journey with pure natural coloured Shetland wool I somehow feel very close to my father who is sadly no longer with us. But he is always with me in my creativity!

I do hope you have enjoyed reading this post and seeing the old photos of two very gifted men.

Feel free to comment or ask questions if you wish to. Or you can email me by clicking on the icon at top right.

Bye for now. Back soon!

Further Progress on my Shawl

Hi, just a quick update today after taking a couple of photos of my progress. I apologize for the pics not being completely blur free but I have a problem with my joints at the moment and I have a little difficulty holding the camera still. Yes, I should have used the tripod!! But I hope you like what you see nevertheless.

The borders are actually sewn together using herringbone stitch once the shawl is completed but I have 'butted' them up to meet each other just to give you the idea of how the colours come together. I'm off to do some more knitting! Back soon!

Monday, 28 November 2011

I'm H.A.P.p.y.

My hap shawl is coming on well so I thought I'd just post a couple of pics to let you see it. I'm loving knitting the lace design and all those little peaks! Take a peek for yourselves! (I'm no good at jokes as you can see!!)

I'll keep you posted on progress.

You can also 'follow' by clicking the button on the right hand side.

Sunday, 6 November 2011


Hi again.
For those reading this who may think the post title is a misprint, or a product of a tired brain, let me explain. In this blog post I'm going to share some of the photos I took when me and my sister visited Jamieson & Smith (The Wool Brokers) here in Shetland. The Shetland dialect word for wool is 'oo'. Plain and simple 'oo'. I could have called it 'Ewe've Been Framed' but there were no sheep inside the building so technically I would have misled you!! Now, joking apart, here are some photos........

No better place to start than with a teapot! This one has a nice Fair Isle cover to it. The pattern is available through J&S.

Spotlight on Pure Wool

I loved going into the wool shed because of the smell of the raw oily wool. It was the real deal! Straight from the sheep and ready for the next step.
Down a few steps from there we went into a part of the building that Oliver Henry, the director of J&S told us used to be the old Police Station many moons ago. He showed us the cell where they put the offenders. No moon shone in there! And we were on our best behaviour for the rest of our photo taking time!
Here are a few photos from that section of the building.....

A hand knitted lace hap draped over an old herring barrel with a photo of a Shetland herring station in the background. I will add a link at the side for those of you who would be interested to see more photos of the herring stations. You can also simply Google "Shetland herring stations".

Oliver told us that you will know pure Shetland wool by the 'wavy' look it has nearer the body. The photo below also shows pure Shetland wool, this time on the surface. I do believe I unintentionally captured some grass in the form it goes in one end and also in it's 'post-processed form'!! Oh well, this is raw wool at it's most organic!!

And something I hadn't seen before was this excellent quality pure wool carpeting made from Shetland wool.The photo below shows a mat made from the same carpeting with the 3 Vementry rams Logo on it. Vementry is a place in Shetland.

Just beside the carpeting was this lovely old rocking chair, probably made in Shetland too, complete with 2 hand knitted lace cushion covers on the cushions. I could have sat in it for a few minutes but I was frightened I missed something!

Some more photos now.....

A beautiful example of an all-over Fair Isle jumper in natural colours. Exquisite when seen in reality!


Just a very small selection of the shades of wool available at Jamieson & Smith, The Wool Brokers, Shetland Isles.

Shawls in natural shades. I love these. They are a work of art and of huge talent. I aspire to produce work like this!

I couldn't resist photographing this old window half way up the stairs that had the wool cones on them. Although I couldn't get the whole window in because of the stair banister I was happy to include the spinning wheel ornament, the three little sheep in the middle and the old vase ( maybe full of spiders by now!!) I love quirky!!!

Fair Isle knitting in the natural un-dyed colours of Shetland wool. There are many very talented Fair Isle knitters on Shetland. I've knitted a little Fair Isle but at the moment I'm trying to master fine lace knitting. One thing at a time!!!

This is a Cockle Shell scarf knitted by Sandra Manson who also designs and knits garments in pure Shetland wool. She is always very welcoming when you enter the shop and has a great way of encouraging people to try something new. She has helped me a lot!!

Well, I'll leave you to have a look at those for now. My next post on here will be a photo of my shawl progress. Until then, stay crafty!!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Start of New Shaded Hap Shawl

Hi, I'm happy to report I've made a start on my new shaded shawl today. In Shetland we call a shawl a "hap" so I will probably just refer to it as that from now on. Here's a pic of the few rows I've done. This hap begins in the centre and then works out to the border and peaks, as in the photo in a previous post ( just scroll down).

I'm not exactly sure yet how I'll use the colours and I'll probably use a couple more shades as well. These are lovely natural colours of Shetland sheep and the wool knits beautifully.
Watch this space for my next installment plus photos from The Wool Brokers.

Stay creative!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Gilet is Finished

Hi again, I'm happy to say my hubby's gilet got finished and he is delighted with it. I think he was surprised it fitted him!! I didn't enjoy knitting it as much as I should have because it wasn't wool I was using. However, it was his choice of yarn so that was what was important. Here's a photo of it on the jumper board.

It's amazing how the various levels of stripes can make the whole thing look lop-sided. I actually had to measure the pockets to see if I had got them right, I was so convinced they were "up the creek"!! But sure enough, they were OK. That was a relief. I don't think I'd have wanted to start over again. At one point the pocket linings were driving me quite mad!

But I am SO much more excited to show you my very first cockle shell scarf, knitted in pure wool which I bought from Jamieson & Smith, Shetland, aka The Wool Brokers (Shetland) Ltd. (SEE LINK ABOVE RIGHT TO GO TO THEIR EXCELLENT WEBSITE).
Here's the scarf. The wool is 2ply lace yarn.

The Wool Brokers have an excellent range of colours to choose from. Of course there are the natural un-dyed colours of the Shetland sheep, but there are also great coloured yarns. My scarf was knitted in a lovely pale green with faint flecks of pale blue, pink, lilac etc. It knitted up beautifully.
My new project is the shaded Shetland shawl I blogged about in an earlier post. Scroll down to see that. I will keep you posted on my progress. Until then, please have a look at the Wool Brokers site. I think you will find it very interesting.
My sister and I got permission to take some photos in their premises one afternoon and I will upload some photos for you in my next post.

Take care. Stay creative. Kate