As Fall, or “hairst” as Shetlanders say, rolls around each year knitters have a lot to be excited about. ‘Tis the season for some of the big wool festivals in the US – most of which happened virtually this year. It also marks time for many of us who love traditional wools and designs to focus on Shetland Wool Week. For over a decade now Shetland Wool Week has celebrated the wool industry and history of the small islands that have captured the hearts of many a fiber artist.
Like most of the world, Shetland has been battling the pandemic and cancelled the festivities of Wool Week early on. One of the things not cancelled was the Shetland Wool Week Annual, Volume 6. We can still get our fix of beautiful designs and interesting essays. While it’s not the same as being in Shetland, we’ll take it.
This year’s annual is definitely my favorite. There isn’t a single item I don’t want to make. The eleven patterns range from the complex to the simple and include fair isle knitting, lace, and even weaving.
Let’s take a brief tour through the annual, shall we?
The cover features the Radiant Star Cowl by Ella Gordon. (Some of you may remember Ella as our cover model for Ultima Thule and the 2016 SWW Patron.) We’re fans of Ella’s work and love the bright colors she chose for this cowl. Whether you consider the color scheme retro or southwest you’ll find a yarn pack for the Radiant Star Cowl using Jamieson & Smith’s jumper weight wool here.
The first pattern listed inside the annual is the wildly popular Katie’s Kep, the free pattern by Wilma Malcolmson.
There are a few kep kits on the LCK website if you haven’t cast one on yet.
The Peerie Leaves Jumper by our friend Donna Smith is simply beautiful. Worked in Donna’s Langsoond DK weight wool you’ll find this pattern offers a bit of fancy work with the easily memorized leaf motif. I didn’t have quite enough Langsoond in my stash but cast on Peerie Leaves in a lush merino/angora DK wool from Kimmet Croft Fibers because I was eager to get it on the needles right away.
Last night I soft blocked my Peerie Leaves Jumper to determine how many more repeats of the leaf chart I need before the underarms. The soft wool shows the pattern quite well and yet softens it nicely too.
The Beach Glass Tassel Scarf by Emma Geddes grabbed my attention quickly for its simple graceful style. I’m not a weaver but know those who do might enjoy a yarn pack so we’ve put one together for you here.
The Strom Cardigan by Rachel Hunter is a nod to winter evenings and the Merrie Dancers — what Shetlanders call Aurora Borealis — hence the vivid greens and pinks. It is named for Stromfirth, her part of Shetland. Rachel combined Jamieson & Smith dyed jumper weight and the natural sheepy shades of their Shetland Supreme jumper weight. We think this cardigan is going to be hit, don’t you?
Yarn packs are available here.
Next up is Da Skew Beret by Angela Irvine. One ball of Jamieson & Smith Shetland Supreme 2 ply lace yarn, your annual, and a few skills, is all you need to make this beret.
The Rig O’ Flooers Cushion by Terri Malcomson fits the bill as a gift item that doesn’t require knowing anyone’s size. With one side depicting a full array of wild flowers and the other depicting a more tended garden of flowers you’ll get plenty of knitting joy from this project. The yarn packs can be found here.
The last four patterns we’ve not put together yarn packs for because we feel knitters are likely to want to personalize them.
The Mirknen Dags & Legwarmers are by Elizabeth Johnston who tells us mirknen is a Shetland word for sunset and literally means “darkening”. We think whatever shades of Jamieson & Smith jumper weight you choose you’ll have fun.
The Stoorbra Socks by Alison Rendall are explained by the poem in Shetland dialect included in the annual. We think two shades J&S Shetland Supreme would give a pleasing effect. How is your ear for the dialect?
An mony a hairst will bring da coarn lang eftir wir awa,
an generations still oon-boarn will skyug da winter snaa.
Dey’ll watch da hedder turning green, da dancing simmermil,
an see da sun geng doon at nicht anunder Stoorbra hill.
STOORBRA HILL by Vagaland
The Bosie Gloves by Alissa Malcolmson were named for their classic X and O pattern using Bosie, the Shetland term for hugs. You’ll need 5 shades of jumper weight wool (2 balls of the main color), your annual, and some sweet knitting time to add these to your winter wardrobe.
The Kirk Ness Toorie and Mitts by Andrea Williamson would be a good introduction to two-color knitting. Worked in Aran weight wool (we suggest Lettlopi Icelandic wool) the hat and mitts have a simple geometric chart and will knit up quickly.
The rest of the Shetland Wool Week 2020 annual includes a few essays and bits of history you’ll enjoy reading.
Another suggestion if you’re eager for more about Shetland is the Shetland Wool Adventures Journal .
When the decision was made to limit travel to Shetland, tour leader Misa Hay quickly converted the stories and photos of the places she generally takes tourist to visit into an incredible journal in print. Having been to Shetland I can affirm that this book will give you a taste that makes you want to return and will tide you over until you can once again walk the beaches and cliffs of Shetland.