Thursday, September 26, 2013

Retrospective

Reading Jean and Kristie's posts about their trip to Shetland sets me thinking.  Jamieson and Smith.  How much this name has meant to me over the years. 

I first came across their yarn in Whitby, in a wonderful shop called "The Shepherd's Purse".  They had the full spectrum of 2ply jumper weight hanging on a line across the shop - a glorious sight.  You could buy yarn there or you could order it by mail.  It took me a while to realise that it was possible to order direct from Lerwick.  I bought some bright tones of purples and used a cone of navy to make a cheery striped pullover.  This would have been about 1980.

Then I discovered Sasha Kagan.  Her designs used the 2ply jumper weight alongside touches of lurex and mohair.  Now, Sasha's designs tend to feature flowers and leaves, but in her first book - "The Sasha Kagan Seater Book" -  variety was key  - lots of dynamic movement in the placing of images.  I knitted two of the Ribbons cardigan, buying the yarn from the Art Needlework shop in Oxford.  This was by far the most successful colourway.


Then I knitted Pansies.  This had bands of white mohair and silver lurex.


For myself I knitted a very striking waistcoat with dachshunds running up and down on it.  It was backed with three colours of brown used alternately in a ribbed fabric.  I was very fond of it but eventually it no longer fitted.

 
This is the image from the book, as I sent my waistcoat to the collection of the Knitter's guild.


Making these projects made me see how inevitably a stock of spare yarn is built up.  When I knitted this Kaffe Fassett waistcoat for my younger sister, I bought in only a few new yarns.  Similarly when I reprised the design for my mother.  Using some blues in a brown mix gave it a lift.  I inherited this waistcoat when my mother no longer needed it.
 




This waistcoat from the mid-80s is very much of its time.  I had one myself which read "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose", which I was very pleased to find fitted the space without much fudging.  For my mother, who lived near the sea, I chose appropriate imagery .


Somewhere in the 90s I remember travelling north on the train with a J&S shadecard.  Their yarns were so cheap, and the colours so lovely, that it was a real pleasure to pick out a selection of new yarns.  However, when the yarn arrived it was different somehow - the blends a little muddy and the colours in some of them forming slubs rather than blended fibres.  It was many years before I used these yarns. 

In 2000, we visited Shetland and Orkney just after our wedding.  It was at a time when the woolcrop was not in big demand.  There was talk of wool being dumped in the sea:  we certainly saw someone in Cumbria burning wool in an old quarry.  Along the road we saw signs to independent designers and we pulled over to visit.  I bought scarves and gloves in wonderful colour combinations.  Gloves at £9 a pair - who could knit them for that ?  They made great presents.  However, J&S itself was a disappointment.  The yarns were there, but the patterns on offer were distinctly traditional.  So much has changed in the last thirteen years - so many new, young designers, like Kate Davies.   I can feel an urge upon me to call up the online shade card and order some yarn.




 

3 comments:

kristieinbc said...

I think you are right - much has changed in the past decade or so, and Kate Davies has done much to promote Shetland. Going to J&S was the highlight of the Shetland portion of my time there (although I loved all of it!).

It was fun to see your knitting from the past. As a dachshund owner I am curious about the jacket you knit. Did you use a pattern or make it up yourself?

Thelma Crape said...

Thanks for the photos of your knitting from the past. You made some lovely garments. I agree with you. Maybe you should have a look at the shade card and make something for 2013.

Thelma Crape said...

Thanks for the photos of your knitting from the past. You made some lovely garments. I agree with you. Maybe you should have a look at the shade card and make something for 2013.