I clearly remember the first time Céline told me about Shetland wool. At that time, we were looking for the craftsmen and the fibers that today are part of La Maison Tricotée. I had never heard of this island. Shetland wool from the Shetland Islands (???), traditionally used for knitting jacquard (Ah!).
I went to their site to understand the reason behind Céline's enthusiasm for this yarn and I quickly understood why. Jamieson & Smith is a cooperative founded in 1930 by the Smith family in the Shetland Islands. They buy the fleece of the sheep from around 700 herders at higher prices to help support the local textile industry and herders. The fleece is transformed into different kinds of products: blankets, rugs, clothes and … knitting yarn. The company supports over 80% of all the wool produced on the islands and plays a very important role in the local economy and in preserving the islands' textile heritage.
After exchanging a few emails with JAMIESON & SMITH , we were accepted, with great kindness, as their wool retailer. A month later, our first order arrived.
A rich selection of around forty colors, plain or mottled, in "2ply Jumper Weight", "2ply Lace Yarn" and "Supreme Lace". Céline quickly knitted KATE DAVIS ' "NEEP HEID" beret in 2ply Jumper Weight. The result was just wonderful. She showed me the work of designer Kate Davis who published this beautiful book “COLOURS OF SHETLAND ” , entirely inspired by the Shetland Islands. I found the patterns really beautiful, they made me want to, but the jacquard technique scared me. She brought back bad memories.
Despite this reluctance, Shetland fascinated me.
I was looking for encouragement to take the first step and I quickly found it. During my last visit to my parents, my mother fell in love with my LAMINARIA EN HAIKU DRAGON so much, that she asked me if I could knit one for her (if you spoil your parents with gifts knitted in the most beautiful fibers, don't be surprised if they ask you for nothing more than an Estonian lace shawl knitted in silk and mohair, right?).
After knitting two Laminaria and eight Haiku projects in total, I wanted to try something different. My mother really liked the pattern BRIDGEWATER BY JARED FLOOD , a square shawl in Shetland lace.
Knitting Shetland lace with real Shetland wool? The concept seemed appealing to me. Shetland Supreme Lace reminds me of my mother: a woman of great beauty, simple and natural, like this fiber in the natural colors of Shetland sheep.
No sooner had I started this shawl than this fiber began to fascinate me. She had something that totally hooked me. I put aside all my other projects to exclusively knit the shawl everywhere. Even knitting a big, long and somewhat boring square in garter stitch didn't discourage me.
I had so much fun knitting this shawl that I started looking for other projects to feed my addiction.
One evening, on my Facebook, I come across a photo of Kate and the royal baby. This image evoked baby blankets and shawls knitted in lace at births and royal weddings in England. Follow my logic, the Bridgewater is a square shawl so it can also be used as a baby blanket.
What a great gift to give to your dear friend who thinks she will be pregnant in 3 years! A completely reasonable time to knit it! This is how I started my second Bridgewater in natural color 2ply lace. And, how not to fall for the softness of lambswool? Not so sure to give it as a gift when it's finished...
It was time to stop my fear of jacquard and start a project with Jumper Weight. I had a big crush on the STEVENSON SWEATER BY KATE DAVIS , a beautiful striped sweater inspired by the Stevensons lighthouses of the Shetland Islands. I was so successful with my sample that I immediately started the marinière (two weeks before the end of the semester at university and in the middle of the holiday season rush at the store, right? proof of a real addict?).
The marinière is my official evening knit because I can no longer walk around with it after finishing the ribs, it is progressing well (I won't tell you the indecent hours when I go to bed just to knit it a little longer, when I finish to revise late at night). The result is so beautiful that I can't wait to finish it!
A few weeks ago, I was knitting Bridgewater at the store when Céline asked me what I was knitting: a Shetland lace shawl. Another?! And that's when I made my confession:
– “Céline, I don't know what's happening to me, I can't stop knitting Shetland, I'm completely obsessed. I don't knit anything else! »
– “You've become a real knitter! she replied.
There, I no longer needed to look for excuses. A real knitter must try all the qualities of Shetland! So I threw myself into the STROKKUR sweater in Shetland Aran (this quality has been making eyes at me since it arrived at the store). A beautiful Aran personality, sturdy and tender at the same time.
One day, I said to Céline: “the more I knit, the more I find that discovering a new fiber is like discovering a new person. It is getting to know its nuances, its qualities, its weaknesses and connecting to its energy.
Shetland speaks straight to my heart, I find it complex, with a very interesting balance between strength and resistance and a lot of softness. As a testimony that in difficult and austere environments, we always have the possibility to get out of it, to protect ourselves, without ever losing our tenderness. Shetland wool is not an obvious yarn, it has a mysterious side, you have to go find it to discover its beauty. If you go beyond its rustic first appearance, you will discover the beauty of an entire Scottish tradition.