Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Spaces have opened up in 2 of my classes SWW 2019

Niela and I have done a little re-arranging at Hoswick Visitor Centre and there are now a few more spaces available in 2 of my classes on Friday 4th October. The classes are......

Up Your Game - Improvers Spinning  

A class for anyone wishing to improve any part of the spinning process, perfect a yarn, improve their knowledge and ability, need any spinning query answered.

Four Fingers and a Thumb

Whether you are knitting a pair of these double fingered gloves or not, the secret to working good fingers is in how well each finger is started - picking up those sts to start your fingers. And then thumbs - without pulled sts and holes you dont want at the corners.

This class will help you to perfect you fingers and eliminate any problems.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019


Myself and Hadewych van der Werf are hosting classes with a difference during the week before Shetland Wool Week. 

Hadewych has been a tutor with Hoswick Wool Week for a few years, teaching classes on Norwegian stranded knitting, double knitting, Estonian borders and Mother Astrop knitting techniques. Her classes are always popular, selling out quickly and this year is no different. Her classes are all sold our already.

I have done this class before wool week for the last 2 years with a small group. With classes each morning, students have time for some sightseeing and time for homework each day. 

The dates and times for the classes are:

with myself: 
Sunday 22nd, Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th September, 9.30 to 12.30 daily.

with Hadewych:
Wednesday 25th, Thursday 26th and Friday 27th September, 9.30 to 12.30 daily.

The techniques covered in each class will be student led. So you can choose what you wish to work on. Cover several subjects throughout the class or focus on one subject only. 

I will cover any spinning, Fair Isle and Lace subjects.

Hadewych can cover a variety of subjects. Some subject she has suggested are: 

  • variation in Double knitting;  
  • designing your own double marl triangle scarf;
  • decorative edging to steeks and the edges of your work;
  • sewing zips and hooks & eye's in knitwear;

...... and you can also learn from Hadewych's expert colour knowledge at the same time.

Venue is Hoswick Visitor Centre

Cost is £120 for each 3 day class.

To book or for more information email me, Elizabeth at

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Back home and spinning again

I am back home after a wonderful trip to the US. My travels included - Interweave Knit Fest in Loveland, Colorado; John C Campbell Folk School, NC; Maryland Sheep & Wool; a visit with Judith MacKenzie; visits to guilds in Denver and Boulder, CO; and Shuttles, Spindles and Skiens, Boulder, CO; and lastly the Marshfield School of Weaving, Vermont.

I was travelling with my friend Martha Owen and we had such a great trip, meeting lots of old friends and making new ones, and visiting parts of the US that at least I had not been before.

But now I am back home and back to much needed spinning. My stock of yarn was very low after Edinburgh Yarn Fest so now it is back to the grind stone for me.

I have spun some since I got back....

.... and there is more fleece waiting to be processed.

But here are a few photos of my adventures ... well, a lot actually.

Bella, hanging out in the shade in North Carolina

Class at John C Campbell Folk School

Some of the results of the FI class at John C Campbell Folk School

Sheep waiting to be sheared and all the lambs taking a rest.

Martha taking a rest before starting shearing

watching the shearer

Natural dyed colours ready for carding and blending
at Maryland Sheep & Wool spinning class

Everyone working hard in the Fair Isle class at Maryland Sheep & Wool
A busy John C Campbell Folk School stand

Beautiful blues on the Pacific coast

The Rockies - just like the movies!

The natural dye class
at Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins
in Boulder.
The results from the dye class 
.....  all ready for blending and carding

..... and the rolags ready for spinning

leaving Boulder,  heading south to Santa Fe
the plateau goes on forever!

stunning mountains, and yes, there was hail in those clouds

and that stunning landscape just goes on and on.
Santa Fe, and I did buy jewellery.
Stunning views on the drive up to Mesa Verde

Cliff house at Mesa Verde - absolutely stunning.

The Grand Canyon
..... an incredible place
... atmospheric as the sun starts to set
... changing colours as the sun sinks in the west.

Stunning results from the dye class at the Marshfield School of Weaving

We took the carding outside in beautiful Vermont sunshine,
 - but we did stay in the shade.

The last class. Great results in the samples with the first colour choices,
but with a few changes the next knitted samples were even better.
Very proud of everyone in this class.

Then Martha and I headed back to the airport to get our separate planes home
- me to Shetland and Martha to North Carolina.

Till next time.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

A Shawl for a Christmas baby

Where has the winter gone! Well, when you are busy time does fly by!

My winter has been full of - SPINNING, trying to replenish stock ready for shows and visitors. 

One big event in our family did fill up Christmas time, a new baby, and he needed a handspun, handknitted shawl from his granny. He has 4 siblings each with their own baby shawl so no question, he needed his shawl as well. 

With 4 other shawls in the family I needed a different colour combination for this one. So the thinking hat was on, trying to decide what colour to dye for the border, or maybe the main colour? A search for the fleece inspired the design, it came from the fleece - a soft grey 'fleckit' fleece - just perfect for a simple grey shaded border. Not my usual colouring for the border, but a bit special as it is spun from one fleece.

A picture of the fleece just did not happen, I was in too much of a hurry to spin the yarn - I had a deadline, babys arrive whether the shawl is ready or not. But a photo of this fleckit fleece would just have looked like a grey fleece. Separating the fleece for different shades of grey was a little tricky, and you never know how successful you have been until the spinning is done and the yarn is washed and the hanks are dry. That done, it was a relief to have 5 shades of grey! and knitting could start.

The shawl was finished when the new little baby boy was a week old, so he used his older brothers shawl till his was ready.

The new shawl added to the family collection, each with a very different coloured design. Hope they like them when they grow up and might need a shawl for their own family.

All 5 shawls stacked up. 

The newest at the bottom, then 2 for the big sisters, an indigo blue for one brother, a multi coloured shawl for brother number 2.

In the top shawl I used small amounts of leftover yarn from each of the other shawls. Love that one.

And here is the newest shawl, a perfect shimmer of light greys.

... and a little boy, starting to grow up, wrapped in his shawl.

... comfy, cosy and warm, all wrapped up and asleep. Hands tucked in so he doesnt scratch his face, but always room to move inside a knitted wool shawl.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Shetland Wool Week 2017

We are almost there!!!

In a couple of weeks time 'wool weekers' will start arriving, and Wool Week classes and events starting just a few days later.

The final preparations are well under way. Niela and myself, as Hoswick Wool Week, have almost everything ready for our classes, and look forward to meeting old friends and making new ones. I am especially excited to have good friends coming from Norway, Iceland, the Netherlands, and the USA, as well as lots of you from the UK.

But ... there are still a few places to be filled.

Niela's classes are full, but ...

I have a couple of places in my 2 evening classes - on Monday in the 'Up You Game - Improvers Spinning' class, which can cover any spinning process you are having problems with or need to improve; and on Tuesday in 'More is More: Cuffs, Basques and Trims' where you can perfect 2-coloured ribs, work a turned cuff, work a FI patterned rib - each will enhance garments, giving that little extra finishing touch.

Hadewych, our returning tutor from the Netherlands, is teaching 4 classes, and all are booked except for 3 spaces in her Norwegian Challenge class. She studied knitting in Norway for a full year, and brings the Norwegian style of stranded knitting. An expert teacher praised by many of her students last year.

Hadewych's Norwegian Challenge

Bonnie Lefebre, check out her website , is a creative knitwear designer who takes inspiration from landscapes and seasonal elements, as well as architecture, fashion and history.  Vibrant colour, unique textures and lace are key features in her designs, using hand-dyed, handspun and ethically produced yarns. 

We have her for one class, Knitting Texture
Her textured knitting techniques enhance 
those wonderfully coloured yarns we love.

Plying is something lots of spinners find difficult - so here is your chance to up your plying skills with an experienced tutor. 
Ruth Gough from Wingham Wool Work is here for Shetland Wool Week again, and is with us for her class - The Importance of Plying - to lead you through plying methods, teaching good practice and showing why plying is so important in making a balanced yarn.

Cecil Tait's woodwork classes have always been popular at Hoswick Wool Week, but somehow his class - 'Making a Wooden Needle and Threading Hook', still has spaces to fill.

The needle is perfect for naalbindin, and every spinner needs a personalised threading hook, dont they?

One of Cecil's woodwork classes

Our final class which is still not fully booked is Austin Taylor's - The Perfect Picture. Austin is a professional photogragher in Shetland and a wonderful teacher. He will lead you through taking photos on phone, ipad or camera, giving you knowledge and confidence to take better photos, perhaps, especially of your textiles.

Here is one of Austin's,
 how perfect is that!

Looking forward to seeing some of you at Shetland Wool Week.

Sunday, 27 August 2017


A new knitting DVD is launching at the Shetland Textile Museum on 31st August.

Here is the poster for the launch.

Hazel Tindall had the idea to make a DVD of knitting tips, and now it is ready, and full of information that will just help with any knitting project. It was hard to keep the number to 50 tips, there was a lot more we could have included - maybe next time.

There are simple tips and more intricate ones. We hope they will address some of your knitting problems, but mostly we hope it makes your knitting easier and more enjoyable.

For those of you coming to Wool Week - you will find the DVD and Hazel and myself if you want it signed.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Another Shetland Ooie Weekend - Dyeing, Spinning and Knitting Workshops

After our first ooie weekend we asked for feedback and mostly the reply was - more of the same. We have mixed things up a little, but leaving Anne's classes the same and Hazel's 'Swatching with a Purpose' stays as well. We are adding short classes on Friday night, just for hour, then having an 'in about da night' - always good to have a get together wi wir 'sock'.

We are staying with the same venue, the Bridge End Outdoor Centre. There is the possibility of staying overnight at the Centre - stay overnight on Friday for a class on Saturday - ask for details.

Shetland Ooie Weekend

Fri 19th, Sat 20th and Sun 21st MAY 2017

Bridge End Outdoor Centre, Burra

Friday 6.00pm - 7.00pm, 
Saturday & Sunday 9.30am - 4.30pm

Class costs:
£55 per day, includes lunch 
Saturdays dye class - £15 extra for materials
Friday night mini classes  - small donation please.

For further information and bookings:
Phone: Elizabeth on 01950 460551


Book a place in one of our 3 mini classes from 6 - 7pm, 

or come join us for an 'In About da Night' from 7 - 9pm. 

Bring your sock and join us for some makin an yakin.

No charge, small donation welcome.

FIRST STEPS IN CROCHET with Hazel Tindall 6 - 7pm
Learn how to make basic crochet stitches which will get you started on many crochet projects. Bring a crochet hook – 3.5 mm OR 4.00 mm, double knitting wool in two colours.
Optional: Scissors, blunt needle, camera (your phone), notebook and pen.

BANNOCK MAKING CLASS with Anne Eunson 6 - 7pm
Shetland Bannocks are the best - you have to agree! Anne makes bannocks that are just perfect. Come learn her secrets to make those perfect bannocks. Ingredients provided, but maybe bring a peenie (apron).

AN INSIGHT INTO NATURAL DYEING with Elizabeth Johnston 6 - 7pm
Come see the dye pots being set up for the dye class on Saturday. See the dye stuffs and the preparations needed before dyeing. 


with Hazel Tindall

Make small sample pieces which can become brooches, or joined up to create a unique usable knitted piece, - scarf, place mats, cushion covers, bed runner, etc. Lots of experimenting with colour in this class, just what you need to grasp colour use in Fair Isle.

Level - able to knit in the round with 2 colours. 

Materials required: 3.25  or 3.5mm needles 
- 4 short double pointed.

Yarn for sample pieces 
- 4 dark colours, 4 light colours 

Blunt needle, scissors. 

Homework: using 3.25 or 3.50mm needles, 
cast on 108 stitches. Keep stitches on needle. 

with Anne Eunson

In this class you will start to knit your own 1' square Shetland Lace hap (shawl). You will be shown the traditional way of how the pieces are knitted and then grafted together. Once armed with these skills, you will then be able to knit any size of hap you desire in the future.

No experience needed other than you need to be able to knit

Shetland Lace yarn will be provided.

Please bring 3mm x 2 dpn.

with Elizabeth Johnston

Discover the beauty of natural dye where each colour compliments the next. With our natural coloured fleece; flowers, plant roots, wood, bugs; and centuries old recipes - see the quantity and variety of colours and shades achievable.

Learn the mordanting and dye processes. 

Come on Friday night if you can, but it is not essential.

Bring an apron and a box or poly bags for your fleece.

There is an extra charge of £15 for this class for materials, and you will go home with a quantity of dyed fleece.

SUNDAY 21st May

with Hazel Tindall
Learn the steps needed to plan your own jumper. Start a mini jumper to understand the construction and see how the patterns fit into the garment design. Hazel will have Allovers for you to examine to give you ideas for designing your own. 

Bring: Three or four 3.25mm double pointed needles (or a circular needle), jumper weight yarn in 8 colours – 4 light and 4 dark (small amounts), ruler, squared paper, notebook, pencil, eraser. Optional: Scissors, blunt needle, camera (your phone), calculator.

Homework: Cast on 80 stitches, work 4 rows of rib (your choice) either in the round or back and forth. Join to work in the round: *K5, m1, repeat from * to end. 96 stitches spread over 2 or 3 needles.

with Anne Eunson 

In this class we will look at ways to improve the speed of your knitting needles - getting them into 5th gear!

As with any job, it is ALL about the finish. So, we will also be experimenting with different grafting techniques to enable you to get as near a perfect finish as possible.

Techniques covered. Grafting together stocking stitch, garter stitch, different ways to join side seams and how to graft a holey row.

Please bring two pieces of garter stitch, in a slightly looser tension than normal and still on needles 20sts x 40 rows.  (Whatever weight of wool yarn you prefer).

Wool yarn and dpn's to suit.

Contrast coloured yarn of same thickness.

Grafting needles.

Knitting Belt.

Patience and a sense of humour.

Spinning, carding & combing
with Elizabeth Johnston

Look at the qualities in Shetland fleece, try a variety of preparations with different qualities - different ways to comb, hand and drum carding, - or not, as well as exploring methods of manipulating tops. Then test spin. Finish with different plying methods for - 2-ply, 3-ply 5-ply - and wash to see the results. 

A class for any spinner.

Bring whatever in the following list that you have:
spinning wheel, at least 3 bobbins, carders, combs, reel, sweerie box, noste pinne.

Bring any fibre that you use and/or want to experiment with.

There will be extra wheels for you to use or try, drum carders, hand cards, kems, combs and brushes, reels, sweerie boxes to use.

Shetland fleece will be supplied.

We are looking forward to another great weekend!