Giving in to temptation…

The problem with spending time in Shetland is that now I have to go cold sheep for a while. More than a while.

But how can I, when they’re this gorgeous? Even though it’s all their fault?

(Nothing to do with me and my maggot-like willpower when confronted with wool, of course, stupid hand injuries or no stupid hand injuries.)

I knew it was going to be good as soon as we arrived. I bought the Shetland Times, and the photo right on the front page involved knitting… a 70th wedding anniversary, and the celebration cake had figures of the couple moulded  in icing. He was playing a fiddle (but of course) and wearing a multicoloured sweater; she was knitting a Fair Isle using a knitting belt and had a basket of wool by her side. I don’t think I’ve seen a knitting belt represented in icing before. And then there’s the Shetland Times Bookshop in Lerwick – perfectly normal, very good bookshop; large knitting section, lots of unusual titles, not cluttered up with other crafts. Oh deary me (All-New Homespun Handknits called to me, especially the wisteria shawl and the spider hat).

Our first stop for – ahem – just standing and looking at wool (yeah, right) was, of course, Jamieson and Smith in Lerwick.

I know this is silly, but I was a little bit disappointed. That’s nothing to do with J&S, but I’d built it up in my imagination into Knitting Paradise Times Three, and with knobs on too. Nothing, nothing could have lived up to my expectations. For me, the best part wasn’t the dyed wool but the naturals – look at that roving. Mm mmm. They also had a good selection of books and patterns, and I did buy something. Of course I did.

One Shetland knitter we met described the situation with J&S and Jamiesons of Sandness as being a bit like Rangers and Celtic (though happily without the parcel bombs), in that you were almost born into a semi-tribal allegiance. She was a J&S woman, but admitted that she did think Jamiesons had the edge in terms of colour range and quality. Now I’ve been to both, I think I agree, though I’m sure this theory needs a lot more sampling…

We’d been into the Jamiesons of Sandness shop in Lerwick, drawn in by the invisible tractor beam of a wonderful window display of subtly coloured skeins, but decided to hold off actually buying wool until we’d been to the Mill itself. So on a wet, howling-gale of a day, bad even for Shetland, we set off. And boy, was it worth it. When we finally drew up at the Mill, we could see the shop, but it was in gloom and darkness. However there were people in an office, and they spotted us struggling out of the car (not difficult – unlike getting out of the car – as the wind was strong enough to take the doors away to Papa Stour). We were made instantly welcome and as soon as I had time to take in what was confronting me, a wall of wonderful wool, I lost it. This was my Knitting Paradise Times Three with Multicoloured Knobs On.

Here’s a taster:

I took about five hundred photographs but screwed up the process in most of them. Sigh. But before you think ‘how sad’ to be so over-excited, bear in mind that it’s probably universal for – er – addicts: I have a friend who surprisingly got footie tickets for a big match and took lots of beautifully focused photographs of the bald-headed bloke just in front of him.

If blues are not your thing, how about pinks?

Oh yeah – not one was overly girly, either.

Terracottas? There was a choice of teracottas.

I was a bit like one of the children in T’was the Night Before Christmas – ‘The children were nestled all snug in their beds, / while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads’ – only I wasn’t in bed and they were visions of Fair Isles. I love Fair Isles. Though I did want to knit a Fair Isle cardi, I did want to work a pattern out myself (I have boobs, and they’re not really catered for in many; I need shaping). I have started work, but not quite got there, so I bought a shade card. But I did have other projects in mind as well…

I knew, in theory, what I wanted to make with the Spindrift (a hap shawl) but I just couldn’t choose. In the end I settled for buying five colours for a bag in Fair Isle, and some other things – well, there was this bargain bin. And it would have been rude not to look in it. It should all be in tomorrow’s post; I’m afraid it was impossible to fit everything in my bag. And I did manage to resist the rugs. Not sure how.

What would you have chosen? (And this is only part of the shade card.)

Now I’m willing my ******** triggering, locking, frozen, hurting thumbs to improve and having arguments about waiting lists with the hospital. Maybe hypnosis or acupuncture would help, or just unfeasibly large quantities of painkillers. Or gin. Or maybe I will be good. I think I know the answer to that one (see tags below).


10 thoughts on “Giving in to temptation…

  1. Annie

    Oh my word … if I were a Victorian lady I think I would be suffering a fit of the vapours just now … all that wool … all those colours … ’tis too much … ye Gods I hope this move to Shetland happens soon !*

    Do you think they suffer from much wool rustling? … “I couldn’t help it your Honour, the colours called to me, there were so many of them, and the yarn kinda stuck to my hand as I was passing !” ;D

    * Sadly it’s still a few years away 😦

    1. kate Post author

      I think I did have a fit of the vapours – might explain my inability to use a simple point and click digital camera… It was astonishing and amazing and all sorts of other words beginning with a and ending with ing… Fortunately knitters are an honest bunch. I don’t know how some visitors manage – we were told that our (considerable) haul was nothing compared to that of some of their US visitors, which always causes puzzlement at how they get it home.

      Look on your potential move as time in which you can clear any stash backlog ready for replenishing!

  2. Harriet

    Sounds like you were very restrained cosidering the temptations on offer. What colours ….!
    For your hand, do try acupuncture. When I was gardening for a living, my elbow siezed up and was v. painful – couldn’t lift a haf-pint glass! Acupunture sorted it and it’s remarkably relaxing.

    1. kate Post author

      I was wondering about acupuncture… I’ll check out the local alt medicine options. Thanks for that!

      Oh the colours… Apparently, some visitors have been known to order a ball of each colour to be sent to them. I can see why!!

    1. kate Post author

      Don’t blame me, you knew it would be like this!

      (I’m going back…. it’s probably just as well I don’t live there, I think.)

  3. Daisy-Winifred

    Temptation, as if :0) Those colours just sing of the landscape and light of The North. I can really understand someone buying a ball of every colour and creating wall banners/hangings to transform a room into a Northern inspiration:0) but my bank manager might just have a bit of a hissy fit at the bill.

    My American friends always build in to the cost of any trip that has fibre/yarn/cloth as promise the filling and transportation as excess luggage the ’empty’ suitcase that nests the smaller one with their clothes in on the way to a destination.

    They have had a few quizzical ‘why have you got a suitcase inside this larger one’ moments going through security at airports but always get a positive reaction when they explain their addiction:0) Though having to actually begin to knit up the yarn into ‘blanket samples’, tack some of the cloth with a new way of making garments has led to some hilarious late night parties but means mixed in to clothing and toiletries they are seen as just an eccentrics belongings rather than something that needs to have more tax slapped on it:0).

    I’d second the help that acupuncture can give and if it only relaxes then it helps cope with pain. Some health trusts still offer this on the NHS so it’s always worth asking GP.

    1. kate Post author

      I want all the colours too. Eventually… ahem…

      My goodness, all is explained — the double suitcase thing is pure genius! I do remember once having to buy a second suitcase after I’d been working in New York for ages – well, OK, a couple of weeks – and there’d been a lot of discount stores to visit, but preparing like that is the mark of the true devotee. Why didn’t I think of that? Instead I took a giant bag that was manageable on the way out but like dragging a dead elephant on the way back (even given that most of the wool was being posted).

  4. Helen

    Their shade card renders me completely indecisive on its own: I think if I were to see the shop I would end up not buying anything at all – or maybe one of everything, which is the same thig really 🙂

    1. kate Post author

      Sometimes it’s better to have less choice, perhaps. What am I saying? Nooooooo…

      Mind you, I had in mind what I wanted but I changed my mind about 85 times when I was there. The wall of colour really gets to you – I even started looking at – shh, whisper it low – pink…


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