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It’s always good to get away but it’s always good to get home again. The older I get the more I appreciate being home and the islands that I live on. I spent a week in Edinburgh at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival teaching and selling yarn (many thanks to everyone that came to classes and purchased something from me!), I came home for a couple of nights and then headed away again for a little holiday to London, Legoland in Windsor and then back to Edinburgh for a few nights. While I had a great time and enjoy being in the city for a short time, its is nice to get back to the islands again.

When I step off the plane in Sumburgh it always strikes me how open Shetland is and how the sky looks so much bigger here (and how windy it is!).

Fellow islander, Mark Fullerton has been buzzing around Burra Isle (where I live and where the fleece for Langsoond yarn originates from) with his drone taking photos and videos, its fascinating to see the place from this view. He has very generously agreed to let me share some of these photos and a video with you.

Wide open space - Burra Isle looking towards the south

Wide open space - Burra Isle looking towards the south

The photos below show the crofts where Langsoond yarn originates and Langsound, the strip of water bordering the crofts that the yarn is named after.

Burra, with Langsound and Quarff in the distance

Burra, with Langsound and Quarff in the distance

Our croft and neighbouring crofts. You can see the Meal Beach to the right hand side of the picture

Our croft and neighbouring crofts. You can see the Meal Beach to the right hand side of the picture

Isn’t the natural world amazing?

I am in the process of restocking the website with the yarn that is left from the Edinburgh Yarn Festival and the jumper and house felt brooches; to be notified as soon as they are available please sign up to my newsletter (enter your email address in the box at the bottom of the linked page) - thank you!

Lovely Langsoond Knits

I love seeing what lovely things are being made with Langsoond yarn and I thought I would share a few of them with you. I have sent the yarn all over the world, and its amazing to think that the yarn from the fleece of the sheep on our little island has gone so far.

The Meal Beach Hap by Shona Mason is rather a special one; Shona is a big fan of all things Shetland and I met her when she was Shetland during one of her trips. It was her birthday and I gifted her the very first skein of Langsoond yarn (in shade haigrie) . She went on to design her own hap inspired by the Meal Beach, which is a 5 minute walk from my house. 

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She also uses Shetland double knit Yarn from Jamiesons of Shetland in colours inspired by the colours of the beach to create a beautiful garment.  

Shona then went onto to design the lovely Burra tunic inspired by the island where I live and where the Langsoond fleece comes from. You can read more about her inspiration on her Ravely project page here. You can see the Meal beach in the distance in the photo below.

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I really LOVE the Share sweater by Eri (known as Eritml on Ravelry and Instagram).

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It is called the Share sweater because the idea is it can be shared with a partner or friend, although I don't think I would want to share it! Eri will be releasing the pattern for the sweater in February, I think this is definitely one I will need to add to my queue. I really love Eri's style and she has many other gorgeous designs that you can see on her Raverly design page here.

Claire AKA Soupdragon has made a lovely Everglade hat using shade Speet (unfortunately out of stock but hopefully more will be coming later this year). The hat is one of Woolly Wormhead patterns, Woolly always create such clever designs, I love the way the cables converge into the crown of the hat. 

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And in case you are wondering (and I know some of you will be) the sweater Claire is wearing is a ready made design by Shetland Designer that she purchased during a trip to Shetland.

Look how cute this is! This is Ella Gordon's version of the Doe Cap by Jenny Gordy. The pattern was featured in Making No.2 / FAUNA.

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Ella designs many lovely patterns herself, and here is JanetBarra's version of her Vatsland jumper. I love how Janet has styled the jumper with the gingham dress. 

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This is another pattern in my every growing queue!

Another gorgeous sweater is the Humulus knit by thisLizaknit and designed by Isabell Kramer.

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KEP named her hat Shetland Souvenir, I met her when she visited Shetland on a Shetland Wool Adventures tour, the pattern is Ponderosa, another by Woolly Wormhead.

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I will have a stand selling Langsoond yarn at the MAKE::WOOL event during Edinburgh Yarn Festival this year on Sunday 24th March. For details of the event and how to get tickets (which go on sale tomorrow, Saturday 19th March) please click here

Keep posting the pictures of your Langsoond projects, I love seeing them!

Have a good weekend x






Nemmy Pink-Nose

Hello!

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My name is Nemmy Pink-Nose, and I am six weeks old. A few weeks ago it was really sad as my Mam died but the nice humans on the croft here in Burra, Shetland adopted me and they look after me well, feeding me with bottles of milk, taking me for walks (I've even been to the beach) and keeping me company.

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There are three humans on the croft, there's Donna, a small boy and another one they call Grandad, who wears a bright yellow jacket. He lives in the other house next door. As well as all the other sheep, there's also a cat called Misty, who runs away from me, a few hens and a dog called Tib who lives with Grandad. She looks like a sheep-dog but acts like a sheep; none of the sheep are scared of her and I often see some of the older ones stamping their feet when she comes too close. She doesn't seem to care though.

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I am quite lucky as the humans are big softies really and sometimes they let me lie on their laps once I have had my bottle as my belly is too full and I can't move. They say they don't have time to sit still but they still do. 

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I try to live in the house but I always get chased out, apparently I make a mess and I have heard Donna complain about having to clean up puddles and plants I have knocked over - the plants in the conservatory and the pots outside really are very tasty, I just can't help myself. I used to be an expert at getting though fences and gates but now I am too big  although I still try my hardest.  Donna says if it wasn't for children and animals she would be able to get some work done but I have seen her doing somethings with some yarn and pointy sticks and she says when she has time to write down the patterns other people will be able to make them too. 

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Donna keeps poking her finger into my woolly coat and telling me how nice it is and how I will really contribute to the future Langsoond Yarn batches, whatever that is. I'm just glad to have my coat just now as its not very warm even if it is midsummer. Donna says to say thank you to those of you who are waiting for the next batch of yarn for waiting patiently and now its looking like it will be available in July.

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I like it here.

Nemmey x

 

Aphaca Scarf and Blanket

I first met Jen Arnall-Culliford when I designed a pattern (the Houlland) for the Book of Haps that she edited along with Kate Davies. I was very impressed with her eye of details and her efficient way of working, and has since tech-edited several of my patterns. So, when she asked last year if I could design a pattern for her and her husband Jims' latest book Something New to Learn About Lace - I immediately said yes as I knew the final publication would be well executed and organised.

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The book is made of four lace designs by Jen Arnall-Culliford (Bithynica shawl), Martina Behm (Nissolia shawl) and myself as well in depth tutorials on lace knitting such as reading lace charts and fixing mistakes using clear photographs and descriptions.

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The brief for the design was something not too difficult to knit, as some lace can be extremely complicated! I have been thinking about using the Madeira lace pattern sometime as it is one of my favourites, it is fairly closely related to the horseshoe pattern which I really enjoy knitting. I knitted several swatches using the pattern in different formats but settled on keeping it fairly simple. The Madeira lace motif is repeated to form the edging of the scarf and blanket, I wanted a simpler repeat to make up the rest of the garment and swatched several lace motifs. Many of them were too big and didn't sit right with the edging, so I settled on a small clover-shaped motif which forms a small triangle to reflect the shape of the Madeira lace. 

The scarf and blanket are knitted in two sections and then grafted together. The scarf is knitted in two halves and grafted together in the centre whereas for the blanket one edging is knitted along with the main part, then a separate edging is knitted and grafted to the rest if the blanket.  Using this construction ensures the scarf is symmetrical, when the scarf is worn, each clover motif will point in the same direction when draped over the shoulders. The blanket is grafted at the edge of the second edging, this way the grafting stitches can be hidden which might be an advantage with such a long grafted row! The blanket pattern have been written for three sizes, the pictures above show size small which is suitable for a cot blanket (and would make a wonderful gift for a new baby), through to size large that would make an attractive bedspread for a single bed.

Jen and Jim have just released their own yarn, Something to Knit With; all four designs in the book use this yarn. The yarn is 4 ply and is a blend of 70% Highland Wool with 30% Alpaca which is wonderfully soft and a delight to knit with, although it is soft it is springy and ideal for lace knitting. It is available in ten colours in 50g skeins and is available to buy here.

Something New to Learn About Lace is available to preorder from their website, the digital version will be available as soon as it is uploaded and the printed books will start being shopped on 7th June. Kits are available to buy for all the designs, you can choose the colour of the kit (and size of the blanket) using the drop down menu which is great as you aren't restricted to knitting it in the colours used in the samples. The books and kits can be found here

I have have had a sneak preview of the book and it is suitable for both beginners and experienced knitters, there's always something new to learn and Jen and Jim make it easy!

All photographs © Jesse Wild.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four Shades of Langsoond

Before I got Langsoond spun I had to decide what shades I wanted.  Shetland sheep come in a variety of natural colours, white (that makes up the majority of the flocks at the moment), Shetland black (a very dark brown), moorit (mid brown), and various shades of grey.  I started off with a mix of coloured and white fleeces and using the hand carders I mixed white with various quantities of coloured fleece to get the shades I was happy with.  There were a few little packages that went back and forth between myself at the Natural Fibre Company until we decided what would work.  We settled on four shades, the white being the only one that isn't blended with another colour.  Instead of being inspired by things to help create the shade, I chose the shades and then named them after things that reminded me of them.  All my shades are named with Shetland dialect words - if you have ever visited Shetland or have met a Shetlander, you will notice we have a strong accent or dialect.

The origin of the Shetland dialect, as any language is, is complicated and defined by the history of the place, its ownership, and the people living in and visiting the islands, amongst other things.  The Shetland dialect is largely a mixture of English, Lowland Scots and Norn, which is a variation of Scandinavian languages. Norn is now extinct but used to be spoken in Shetland from around the 9th Century until it eventually was largely superseded by the Scots language in the 18th century and became no longer a distinct language.

Kesksie

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The natural creamy white of this yarn reminded me of the flowers of hogweed (the Shetland dialect name for these plants is "keksie").- a plant that is commonly seen along roadsides during the the summer months in Shetland.  

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Daala Mist

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This pale grey yarn takes its name from the mist that lies in the valleys (dale or daala) and is often seen in the summer months  - known in Shetland dialect as daala mist

Lintie

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This name came to me when out running one day and I spotted little brown birds that reminded me of the yarn! The lintie is the Shetland dialect name for the twite, a small brown bird sometimes seen around crofts and stony walls. We have a saying in Shetland for someone someone who is going for it when singing, they are "singing lik a lintie!" You can see one in Richard Ashbee's photo here.

Haigrie

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This shade is a slightly darker grey than the Daala Mist and is named after the grey heron - known in Shetland as a haigrie which comes from the Old Norse name hegri. You can see David Gifford's fantastic photo of a haigire here. We often see a one sitting on the rocks at the bottom of the croft looking over Langsound and I always love seeing it (I need a bigger lense on my camera though to get a good photo!).

The four shades of Langsoond will go on sale on Saturday 30th September at the Maker's Market at Isleburgh Community Centre from 11AM-5PM priced at £18 for a 100g skein.

Addie's Scarf

I am really happy to be able to show you my contribution to the 2017 edition of the Shetland Wool Week Annual.  I designed and wrote the pattern earlier this year and to be honest I had forgotten about it until I saw these beautiful photos taken by Alec Mazurov.

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In January 2016 I visited Vogue Live Knitting in New York with the group promoting Shetland Wool Week.  While we there we met Amanda and her husband who owns a sheep farm, Prado de Lana in Chester County, Philadelphia, USA.  The fleece from each sheep is spun into yarn, and its name is marked on the label so it can be seen exactly where the yarn comes from. 

We were very impressed with the yarn and their business ethos and the ladies from Shetland Wool Week asked if I would like to use some of their the yarn for a pattern for the annual.  I contacted Amanda and chose yarn from the sheep “Addie”.  I love how we know exactly where the yarn has come from, we even know that Addie "is the daughter of Fia and Augustus"!

In fact it was actually speaking to Amanda and seeing the yarn that sparked my idea of getting my own yarn spun - you could say my yarn journey began in New York!  I love how I have met so many people and have been inspired by so many from all over the world through knitting.

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When I was pondering over what to design, my mind went back to New York City and the zig zag patterns created by the skyline.  That made me think of the traditional lozenge pattern I had seen on a jumper I bought from a charity shop, which I adapted for this design.

The yarn was lovely to knit with, Addie is a Romney and it has a silky smooth quality with a slight sheen.  The scarf could be very successfully made with Shetland lace weight such as Jamieson and Smith 2 ply lace weight or Jamieson’s of Shetland Ultra instead.

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It is an honour to see my name in very good company, among some of my favourite designers on such a lovely cover!

The Shetland Wool Week Annual can be pre-ordered from their website here.  You can opt to either have it delivered to you or if you are coming Wool Week you can choose to pick it up from the hub.

Speaking about Shetland Wool Week, I better get on, it will soon be here!

Have a good weekend x

Introducing Langsoond!

If you have been following me on Instagram or have seen my newsletter and last blogpost you will know that I have been working on my own yarn and now its time to let you see it (I am feeling very excited - it has been hard to keep this to myself for so long)!

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Langsoond is a double knit weight, woollen spun yarn in 4 different natural, undyed shades and is 100% wool from Shetland sheep.  Each skein of yarn is 100g, 220m/238yds.  All the fleece either came from my Dad's flock (from the croft that I live on) or from my neighbours' flocks.  This first batch came from the 2016 clip.

Skeins stacked up in the studio

Skeins stacked up in the studio

Langsoond DK yarn in four natural shades

Langsoond DK yarn in four natural shades

Waiting patiently in the cro (pen) to be clipped.

Waiting patiently in the cro (pen) to be clipped.

Once the sheep had been clipped, I sorted the fleeces by going over each one individually (on a make shift sorting table made from a piece of wire mesh held up by two workmates), removing any vegetation, soiled and felted areas and sorted them into different colours.

Fleeces waiting to be sorted (in an old quilt cover!)

Fleeces waiting to be sorted (in an old quilt cover!)

The fleeces were put into sacks and shipped away on a pallet to the Natural Fibre Company in Cornwall who have done an amazing job of spinning it and I must say they should be praised for their excellent customer service!

I have chosen the name "Langsoond" as the name for the yarn - "Langsound" is the stretch of water that runs along the East coast of Burra Isle, which the croft overlooks.  The land straight ahead (to the left of the photo) is the island of Trondra, with Quarff in the distance behind it.  In Shetland dialect we pronounce the "ou" in sound as "oo" so I have gone for the phonetic spelling.

Some of the Shetland sheep on the croft looking over Langsound

Some of the Shetland sheep on the croft looking over Langsound

There is so much to do when producing yarn, as well as getting shipped away from spinning I have been working with a designer on a new logo and labels, even choosing the right colours for the label has taken a lot of time!  I have been working on three designs to accompany the yarn, patterns that use one, two and three skeins of yarn, the patterns are being finalised and I will show you these very soon.  There will also be project bags and stitch markers to compliment it which I am also really excited about!

Working on patterns to accompany the yarn

Working on patterns to accompany the yarn

The yarn will go on sale at the Shetland Wool Week Makers Market in Isleburgh Community Centre on Saturday 30th September, and I will put what is left over in my online shop afternoon that date.  Please note there are limited supplies, but I have the fleece from this year's clip ready to be sorted for the next batch, so if you miss out this time, there will be more coming in a few months time. 

I will be back again soon to speak about the individual shades and what I have named each one (get ready for a lesson in Shetland dialect!).

Cheerio for now!

Summer Part 2

It's that time of year when you really don't know which clothes to wear in the morning: last week I had a dress, woolly cardigan and boots on in the morning and by the afternoon I was wearing my sandals and a t-shirt.  There are still some lovely spells of weather but we are also starting to experience the transition to Autumn, like today as it felt decidedly more autumnal.  I think this time of year when it starts to change is probably my favourite.  The summer jobs are done (or it's too dark and cold to do any more) and it's time to think about inside projects (which of course involves lots of knitting!).

We got the hay dried and in the byre (barn) a couple of weeks ago, although with the amount of rain we had the week before we wondered if it would ever dry.

Turning the hay over by hand to help it dry

Turning the hay over by hand to help it dry

 The hay will be used to feed the sheep on the croft over the winter - and speaking of sheep - if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook or got my newsletter (or if you figured it out from my last blogpost) you will know that I have my own yarn coming soon, spun from the fleeces from our own and our neighbours' sheep.  

Going over a fleece on the "sorting table"

Going over a fleece on the "sorting table"

I will give you more details very, very, soon but currently I am busy  working on the labelling, writing up patterns using the new yarn and things like that!  I am planning to launch it at the Maker's Market in Isleburgh during Shetland Wool Week on Saturday 30th September and anything leftover will be sold through my online shop.

It's a very exciting project for me as it's something I have been thinking about for a long time, and sometimes you just have to stop worrying about what might (or might not) happen and try it!

I had quite a varied summer, after I came back from Fair Isle I spent a week in Edinburgh and straight after that, at the beginning of August I went to teach at a Creativity Festival in Saunderton outside London.  The Festival was the brainchild of Natasha whom I only previously knew as Taking a Moment of Time on Instagram.  I have followed her for a while now and longed to go on her retreats and so was delighted when she asked me if I could come and teach classes on Fair Isle knitting.  Over 30 creative people gathered on Natasha's farm for a weekend of crafting, chatting and eating gorgeous food, most of which had been grown on the farm.

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The format was camping but we had lovely tents all beautifully decorated, marquees in case it rained (which it did a bit) and a large fire to gather around at night.

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Teaching Fair Isle knitting inside the marquee

Teaching Fair Isle knitting inside the marquee

I was just a tiny bit jealous of the vegetable garden (that's an understatement)

I was just a tiny bit jealous of the vegetable garden (that's an understatement)

It was wonderful to meet up with so many people I "knew" through Instagram like Melody (bmandarines), Janice (Janice Issitt Lifestyle), Renee (Eastlondonknits) and Linda (Kettleyarn).  There was such a range of people there with a similar interest in craft and it was lovely to relax and spend time together.  For a more photos of the retreat Janice wrote a really good blogpost on it here.  Look out for future retreats by following The Hill View Farm Moments website here.

As I mentioned earlier I am busy at the moment getting the yarn and all the related things ready - all the individual things, like the logo, labels, etc.. have taken a while to complete but now it's all finally coming together so I will let you know more within the next few days - Stay tuned!