Monday, 23 May 2016

My 2016 Wool Week Hat

Sunday 22nd May

I picked up a copy of Ella’s pattern for this year’s Wool Week hat when I was at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival (yes, I went all that way for the pattern? well not really, but I was there and it was there so I picked it up), and, I have at last got my hat knitted. It took a while but I found the time on my flight to the US this past week, on my way to start my US adventure.

I planned the colours for my hat in my handspun yarn, as usual, changed the colours a little, and used all naturals. What I did change was one of the rounds of crofthooses (sorry Ella). The idea popped into my head that it might be nice to have words in it, so I graphed out ‘shetland wool week croft hoose hat’. It almost fitted the stitches but not quite, so after some thought, I took out ‘week’ and put in ‘toorie’ (Shetland for ‘hat’) and that fitted perfectly. 

Hat finished, washed, dressed
Love the crown

Didnt get it knitted before I left for the US. But it kept me occupied through the flight from Aberdeen to Amsterdam to Atlanta and then to Ashville, NC. A long flight with a few problems but it did get me to my destination - and the hat was done, and my US adventure with my friend Martha Owen had begun.

First stop here in the US is the John C Campbell Folk School, NC, where we are teaching 2 classes, a weekend class in Dyeing, which finished this morning, and a week class in dyeing, spinning and knitting which starts tonight.

The weekend class went really well, lots of colour, and good students, with some old friends among them. The time just went by too fast.

looking at samples of the dyed fleece and mixing the colours.

Today has been a long day so far and there is still more to do. It started with Martha and David at Morning Song at the Folk School at 7.45am, then to finish the class, and the student presentation, before a leisurely lunch and a rest (and finding a little time to write a blog) before Martha and I head back to the Folk School to meet the students for the next class and get that one started.

David and Martha at Morning Song 

But the sun is shining, it is warm with very little wind, and it is so relaxing sitting on the porch among the trees in North Carolina.

The US trip will continue with classes at North House, Minnesota; Vesterheim Museum, Iowa; The Trading Post for Fibres, Indiana; then Martha goes home and I continue to Cordova, Alaska; then home.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Edinburgh Yarn Festival

Wow, that was a busy Festival!

I had a busy few months to spin yarn to get stock for the summer and the first event at Edinburgh. But orders were completed, a new pattern done - the Sprigs and Links of Love for a Scarf, Cowl and Gloves, 

and a load of yarn spun, with enough to put together kits for Trowie and Njuggle hats and gloves.

Trowie Dags
Trowie Toorie Hat
Njuggle Dags

Njuggle Toorie Hat

Njuggle Square Hat

With the car packed I set off for the ferry, thankfully with good weather. The only thing I was not looking forward to was the drive into Edinburgh, but it actually turned out to be very easy, such a relief.

Friday morning and I am ready for the doors to open at the Market, 9am for those going off to classes that morning, and 10am for the public. And wow, they streamed in. There was just a sea of people, everywhere, all morning, then thinned out a bit at lunch time. Luckily I had an assistant, my sister, Margaret, who talked to people non stop.

So good to get time to talk to folk myself in the afternoon and on the Saturday. Talked to many that I had met in Shetland at Shetland Wool Week, and at workshops while on textile holidays, then some of the girls I had met in Iceland. Not forgetting, of course, the Shetlanders: quite a few had come down to the Festival for shopping and classes who came and said hello, and this being Edinburgh there are lots of Shetlanders who stay now in Edinburgh. Thanks to you all for saying hello. All in all a very enjoyable Market - and sales were good too.

Did I take any photos - well just a few, very quickly, when it was quiet.

The shawl I wore at the Festival, 
as everyone was wearing their knitwear.
Handspun Lace yarn and madder dyed.
Jumper yarn, naturals and natural dyed,
and my lace jacket.
Kits, lace yarn, sock yarn, patterns,
and a shopper having a rest.

One of the next patterns will be that lace jacket, it was greatly admired, so I have promised it for next year.

There are always extra projects that need to be fitted in to the schedule - here is one  - testing the Sprigs and Links of Love Cowl in another yarn. This is in Kate Davies new yarn, Buachaille, in Harr, Squall and Ptarmigan, it works in any yarn but just had to try it. This will be mine for next winter.

Next to fit into the workload will be the Ella's Wool Week Crofthoose Hat.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Catch up - and what is next?

The winter is supposed to be the time to relax a little after the busy summer, catch up with orders, increase stock levels, but also plan for the coming year. All in all that makes for a busier time than the summer.

My last blog was after Wool Week with the winner of my Baa-ble hat. With a good wool week behind me and very little stock remaining, and a few weeks to the Craft Fair, I hit the spinning wheel and the dye pots to get yarn and colour. I spun some worsted sock yarn, and jumper weight and lace weight yarns. Then dyed onion yellow, indigo blue and over-dyed for greens, leaving some as natural colours. 

Next it was back to the spinning wheel, yarn was needed for orders and stock.

But at the same time plans had to be put in place for 2016. So what next?

Firstly, The Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March, I have booked a stall at the Market, Friday 18th and Saturday 19th, and I am also teaching a class: Fair Isle - Colour blending, on Sunday 20th. 

I have a new scarf pattern for EYF,

Scarf detail

Hope to see a some of you there.

In May I set off for a trip to the US with my friend Martha Owen, we will be at 
The John C Campbell Folk School, North Carolina,; 
North House Folk School, Minnesota,; 
Vesterhiem Museum, Iowa,; 
then I go on to Cordova, Alaska to take part in The Net Lofts Gansey Project,
We are still working on one more venue. 

Myself and Martha are really looking forward to our trip, it is a bit of an epic one, but it is so exciting - hope we dont get lost any where on the way.

And, of course, the classes for 2016 Wool Week have to be organised. That has taken up a lot of time this month but the plans for all the classes that myself and Niela set up in the Hoswick Visitor Centre are almost complete.

Fit Christmas, New Year and the Lerwick Up-Helly-Aa into the whole scheme of things, and it has been quite a busy winter so far.

Today is a good day to stay inside and work, we have 100 mile an hour justs of wind and a few heavy showers of rain. Hope it passes soon, but it is exciting to watch a storm like this. So far the power is still on, but I am remembering to hit the 'save' button, just in case.

One last item - For the past few years I have been working on a book on the Warp Weighted Loom with Hildur from Iceland, Marta from Norway, in conjunction with the Osterøy Museum in Norway. It is almost finished and should be available by the summer.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Baa-ble hat winner

We have a winner for the Baa-ble hat. 

The winning ticket was drawn at the Maker's Market. Donna was teaching a class next to the Market, so Selina and I gate-crashed quietly and got her to draw the winning ticket.

                           Congratulations Lynette.

Thursday, 24 September 2015


A Baa-ble hat designed for this years Shetland Wool Week by Donna Smith, knitted in my handspun yarn, in a mix of natural Shetland colours, as well as natural and chemical dyed yarns.

Decide for yourself what the scene in the hat is – I see - sheep on the foreshore on a winter night with the Merrie Dancers in the sky above!

You dont have to be in Shetland to win, send an email, or a PM on facebook, with your name and address and I will add to the draw.

            The winner will be drawn at Makers market on Saturday 3rd October.

Monday, 21 September 2015

North Atlantic Native Sheep and Wool Conference, Faeroe

This week is the final preparation time for Wool Week - 9 days of workshops, both hard work and fun, meeting old friends and making new ones. 

However last week I set off for Faeroe to the Wool Conference. It was a wonderfully different week, lots of very interesting talks, discovering more about the Short Tail sheep in neighbouring countries.  

My talk was about my journey in textiles, from knitting as a child, to my business today working with handspun yarns and handknit garments, and including my interest and research into the ancient textiles and the warp-weighted Loom.

Next year the conference is in Lofoten, would love to go but not sure if I can fit it in.

But this was Faeroe and I did find the Faeroese Scotrok...


  ... and some nice coloured Faeroese ewes ...

... loved that dark grey face in the centre of this group.

                                                                ... and a stunning ram ...

Then the scenery and the views - WOW .......

So now I am back home and back to work ..... just a few days before myself and Niela ( set up at the Hoswick Visitor Centre ready for Wool Week classes. 

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Using a Shetland 'kep' pattern from the museum.

Fisherman's 'Keps' are usually thought of as a Fair Isle hat, but they were knitting throughout the Shetland mainland as well. It is the same hat except that the patterns in the Shetland hats are all 'peerie' patterns. There are a couple of examples on display in the Shetland Museum, and I have, in the past, used one of these designs in a square hat.

I have now knitted this same design in a waistcoat, requested by a customer. 

The shade of the colours are a little different but for natural and natural dyed colours they are never the same. Here it is, ready to be posted, and with a square hat to match.