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.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

A new design - HAIRST

A new design for dags and toories was past due, and something a little different for me. This time I have included natural dyed colours.

The natural colours are 2 fawns and moorit. The dyed colours are logwood blue, lichen and 2 onion yellows, one dyed on white and the other on a light grey.

A peerie pattern is added in this Toorie and a simple crown in fawn and moorit with a touch of blue. The wirsties do have a slit for a thumb so can be worn as dags or a wrist warmer.

The square hat and lang dags shows all the patterns I have used in the Hairst design.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Shetland Textile Museum Exhibition 2015

I have the privilage to be part of this years exhibition at the Shetland Textile Museum. This year the museums display is entitled -  "Makers' Choice". The trustees asked individual Shetland makers to choose a piece from the Museums collection which they liked, or which "spoke" to them, or which they had been inspired by. Then those chosen pieces would be displayed beside a piece of work by the maker relating to that inspiration.

So off I went to take a look through the photos - and I found a small 'kep' (hat). 

What drew me to the hat was the colours - bright natural dyes, as well as the design. It is in what is called traditional colours but it seemed to me to have a different look than the usual combination.

The original has natural white and moorit and dyed colours of red from madder, two blue shades from indigo, and a yellow which could have been from a number of natural dye stuffs. The yarn is commercially spun lace weight yarn. There are some mistakes in the motifs but other than that the knitting is perfect.

My copy and 2 matching toorie hats, both in handspun yarn and natural dyed colours, which are now in the Museum for sale. 

I knitted a copy of the hat and used madder for red, logwood for blue, and onion for yellow. My copy is in my handspun yarn but a thicker yarn than the original, so that my hat is bigger and I had to leave out one pattern repeat. My madder red is not as red as the original, and, as I have used logwood for the blues, the lighter blue is not the clear indigo blue but has a purplish tinge too it.

A bonus for me in finding this piece is that it was donated by Mavis Robertson, whom I had known from my school days.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Cochineal and Logwood

Must try harder .... has to be my aim for 2015 ... at least for blog posts.

I will start this year with the yarn I dyed before our Craft Fair in November last year.

The colours are not quite true, but the photo does show the range of colours I got from the cochineal and logwood dyes.

Logwood blues are one of my favourites. It is such a deep, dark blue, especially with a grey yarn as a base. For these dye baths I did use white yarn as well as a grey and a fawn, so 3 shades from most of the baths.

The lighter shades of the Logwood dyed yarns took on a slight purplish tone. 

These blue hanks are set aside for a customer at the moment while she decides on her project and the quantity of yarn she needs.

Cochineal colours, 1st and 2nd dye baths, with white, grey and fawn yarn - 6 distinct shades.

Then the purples. Cochineal from both baths overdyed in different Logwood baths. No white as a base colour for these, grey and fawn only. The combinations are endless - I aimed for 6 shades of purple - good results, I think.

Some of these purples are now allocated to a yoke cardigan which has been ordered.

Good result!

Monday, 22 December 2014


Just a few days of 2014 left now. Time to catch up and recount something of the past year.

My blogs started off well in the Spring, then as the summer arrived I just never seemed to have enough time and the blog suffered. Time to fill in the gaps from Shetand Handspun's year. It was exceptionally busy however with several trips which made it harder to keep up with production.

The Vararfeldur started in June is still not finished. It has progressed slowly and continues to grow slowly, but spinning and knitting work needed to take priority.  

June, July and August, is the main tourist season, and 'stay at home' time to see visitors to the Studio and there are always many interesting tourists from all over the world.

An invitation from Norway to attend a Wool event in Bergen at the end of August saw 9 of us from Shetland spending a wonderful week there. Teaching Fair Isle and Lace knitting workshops, demonstrating and giving talks on various textile subject. We were given space for an exhibition and for sales tables as well. There were also trips to the Hillesvag Wool Mill and Oleana knitwear factory, and some wonderful food and company, (and a little bit of shopping too). A very successful week but my camera didnt seem to take any photos! (or I was having too much fun).

I did get a few photos from some of the others. This one of myself, Wilma Malcolmson and Hazel Tindall, out for a walk at the Heathland Centre, ...

... and this - 2 generations of owners of the Hillesvag Wool Mill, Norway with 2 generations of owners of the Sandness Mill, Shetland. Taken during our visit to the Hillesvag Wool Mill.

September took me to Iceland, and the North Atlantic Native Sheep and Wool Conference.
The invitation to talk was as a result of a project of ongoing research into the warp-weighted loom, - Hildur from Iceland, Marta from Norway and myself talked about native wool use on the old loom, each talking from our own countries aspect. 

We dressed in Viking costume and set up a loom which we worked on during the talks. With the help of an Icelandic and a norwegian viking spinning and weaving bands, we had a good tableau of textile product to accompany our talks. 

During Hildur's Icelandic talk, with Marta weaving and myself spindle spinning.

We had a few excursions during the conference. This to see the sheep brought off the mountain ranges and watch them being sorted before all are taken indoors for the winter.

Everyone got a gift of a mitten kit from the wool mill - this design aptly named 'Volcano' - and designed especially for the occasion of our visit. Apt as we were all in Iceland at the start of the latest eruption. Here is the first pair that was completed.

Here are several photos from the Viking feast at the end of the conference - wonderful food and wonderful company.
The banquet table
Looks like a good discussion at the top of the table.

Our Icelandic Viking

Lena from Sweden and Deb from the US - knitters are never idol.

The journey back to the airport was across the mountains, with views of the glaciers, to see the terrain where the sheep have been all summer. No tarmac roads and desert vegetation, and near arctic weather now in september. But facinating to see. Here is a view from the bus.

Home again, thankfully with no delays due to the volcano, with only a few weeks till Shetland Wool Week starts, and that would be 9 days non-stop both work and fun. Niela, from Niela Nel Studio, and myself, with help from a few others, put on workshops and drop-ins in the Hoswick Visitor Centre in Sandwick. Again too busy to take photos, but I did remember on one day only - so here are a few.

Always need a cup of tea/coffee before we get started.
My lace design class concentrating hard!

Niela's dye class making very practical use of black rubbish bags as aprons - perfect.
The drop-in area was well used all week whether we had a tutor available or not.

Wool Week over and only another few weeks till the Christmas Craft Fair in Lerwick. Always well attended with stall holders and customers - more stock required. I did however have to look after grandchildren and do some research, so the spinning was minimal. Craft Fair over and time to - do some housework, prepare for Christmas, have a rest.....

There was a load of spinning done, then dyeing with logwood and cochineal...that can keep till the next blog.

In the meantime I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year. 

Thanks for reading my blog.