Sunday, June 15, 2008

A good start on the Tilted Blocks. I have added some stitches to take account of the finer gauge of the yarn I’m using. I think I’ve got it about right. One forgets how dense garter stitch is: this is going to take a while. But the first block is done – the rest of yesterday’s knitting time was devoted to winding a skein. Now if I can master the technique – this book is full of techniques – for adding new stitches at the edge, we’re in business. Pic tomorrow.

“The Lerwick Lace Shawl” is a delight. Sharon has (beautifully) restored an antique Shetland shawl in her collection – she doesn’t give its provenance, and probably doesn’t know it. And then figured out how it was knit, including some discoveries about technique which she modestly says are “rarely mentioned”. I wonder if they have ever been in print before.

She provides a full pattern, or patterns, and an interesting discussion of yarns old and new. There seems to be a new yarn about called “Shetland Supreme” in natural undyed colours from Jamieson & Smith (Sharon stocks it). Maybe we’ll have to forgive J&S, somewhat, for the Shetland Jumper Weight colours I believe they’ve dropped.

There is an interesting “sampler” on page 16 where she shows how to test all your choices for a shawl, centre, border, edging, in quick and comprehensible form, to get an impression of the whole.

There are fascinating historical pages at the end. I knew about “rooing”, where wool is combed from a sheep with the fingers, rather than cut. I hadn’t thought how superior the product would be – the staple up to 2” longer – and hadn’t known what a violent process it was. Sheep don’t care for being roo’ed, and make some effort to be somewhere else while it is going on. There is a good picture of a recently-roo’ed ewe on page 31.

And I loved the picture of the “plantie crubs” on page 29. Sheep can go wherever they like. Vegetables are grown in pens.


The BBC said this morning that Senator Obama has been filling sandbags in Iowa, and added that he is senator for that state. Sort of thing they ought to get right.

There is a picture of Cindy McKean in today’s Sunday Times with a different diamond lapel pin – this time it seems to say “USMO”. She must have a whole box of them.


  1. I was very interested in your account of "Rooing". When we visited Shetland in 2000, this was explained to us. Sheep left unshorn cast their old coat, so there must come a point when the old wool parts company withthe skin. Then it would be easy to Roo. Does she suggest that it is only the neck wool which is used for the best lace yarn?
    At the time we were there, they were dumping wool in the sea, because there was no market for it.

  2. I have a couple skeins of J&S's Shetland 2000, which is undyed jumper weight. I'm not terribly inclined to forgive them for moving their production off the island, though, and will likely stick with Jamieson's to help support the island economy a bit more (though the amount I buy is unlikely to make a huge dent). Also, David worked several years ago on a project with Peter Jamieson, and Peter was very responsive when I wrote him with questions about his yarns.

  3. Anonymous1:25 AM

    Dumping wool in the sea? That's a sad waste. If composted it will rot and make nitrogenous fertilizer!

    As one who avoids Paypal and doesn't use credit cards on the net, I rarely have the chance to buy UK books. Even the Overseas Postal Money Orders are wasteful because I'm told the UK banks charge as much or more to exchange them as they do for cash.
    I'd love to learn more about the "special techniques" in the Lerwick shawl.