A Treat in the Post – Colours of Shetland

Kate Davies writes one of my favourite knitting blogs and when I was reading it recently I saw a mention that stocks of her book Colours of Shetland were getting low. I’ve been meaning to buy it for a while so I was spurred to order a copy.

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It arrived this morning and I’m so glad I did. It’s a lovely book and it makes me want to do two things – knit some of the beautiful designs and visit Shetland!

The two are closely connected as Kate’s designs are inspired by the landscape, and seascape, of Shetland and by its heritage traditions.  The ten patterns are more than worth the £14.99 the book costs, but an added pleasure are the stories of Shetland’s history, landscape and natural history that eloquently convey Kate’s love for the islands.

DSC_0093Kate uses Jamieson and Smith’s jumper yarn throughout.  This genuine Shetland yarn  (the company handles 80% of the wool produced on Shetland) is available in over 80 colours.  The company blog is also a mine of information about all things Shetland wooly.


Something Completely Different – Knitting Wire Jewellery

The Gawthorpe Textiles collection is one of the heritage gems of the North West of England.  It deserves to be better known.  Fabulous embroidery, quilts, lace and costume. The collection is housed at Gawthorpe Hall, a lovely JacobeanNational Trust property in Padiham, not far from Burnley.

This year they are running a series of artist-led workshops.  Eager to try something new I spent a very pleasant Sunday afternoon at a knitted wire jewellery workshop.  The workshops are held in the lovely library which was very tantalising as there were so many enticing textile history lining the room.  However there wasn’t time to browse as we had a project to complete during the afternoon.


The workshop was led by textile artist Claire Ketteman who inspired us by showing some head-dresses she had made for dance performances. Check out her lovely blog, Textile Alchemy.


Our project for the afternoon was a pair of earrings in the form of fuchsia flowers.  First we tried out knitting with wire.  For many of us, including me, a big part of the pleasure of knitting is the tactile enjoyment of lovely soft yarn so knitting with fine wire is a very different type of experience.We were provided reels of red and purple copper wire to make the fuchsia flowers.  I didn’t quite finish a pair but I’m proud of the one I made! (below)


The earring hooks, wires and beads were provided and Claire helped those of us who were new to jewellery making put the earrings together.  They dangle just like real fuchsia flower heads do.  You can see a perfect example on Claire’s blog.





I haven’t been to many knitting workshops – a couple at Rowan in Holmfirth – and this one.  But when I do I always wonder why I don’t do it more often.  There is something about sitting round a big table with needles and yarn that is very conducive to amiable chatter.

As well as workshops the Gawthorpe programme also includes ‘Exploration  Days’ with opportunities to look closer at parts of the collection with a curator.  Sessions on lace, quilts and embroidery are coming up this summer – I’m sure they’ll be a real treat for historic textile enthusiasts.

Knitting in History – Victorian Baby’s Sock 5

Knitting in History

Knitting in History

Well, it’s finished. What have I learnt from this test of a design published in 1880?

This design is quite sweet but I think a similar effect could be achieved more simply. The stitched on lace      border is charming – see my previous post for instructions – BUT the seam around the leg is quite clumsy.

Adding the ribbon threaded through the eyelet holes around the ankle made a nice finishing touch.


Knitting in History – Victorian Baby’s Sock 4

Knitting in History

Knitting in History

As I mentioned previously the writer of this pattern decided not to give the instructions for the lace at the cuff of the sock as illustrated. So I started this edging wondering what the finished trim would look like and I must say I like it a lot. It redeams the writer in my eyes for the clumsy construction of the sock.

In my next post I’ll show the completed sock but just for now let’s look closer at the lace edging.


Don’t you think it’s a lovely little edging design? I liked it so much I decided to try it out in a couple of other yarns.

The middle example in pink is Orkney Angora – 70% angora, 30% merino 4





ply. I knit it on 3.75mm needles for a more open airy texture. I think it would make a lovely edging for a lace shawl, or maybe the cuff of a cardigan?

For a completely different effect I tried it in Anchor Alida 6 ply crotchet cotton using 2mm needles. I think this might look good as the edging of a tray cloth or on a white pillow case if you like the vintage look.  None of these examples have been washed and blocked yet.

If you would like to try this edging this is the pattern.  I’ve rewritten it to make it a bit easier to follow.

A Knitting Tip from the Sheep

A Knitting Tip from the Sheep


Cast on 9 stitches.  Knit one row.

Start 4 row repeat –

Row 1 – K3, yo, K2tog, yo2*, K2tog, K2  (10 stitches)

Row 2 – M1**, K3, K1 of the stitches made from 2 yarn overs, P the other (this makes the largest hole in the design), K2, yo, K2tog, K1 (11 stitches)

Row 3 – K3, yo,K2tog, K6  (11 stitches)

Row 4 – CO2***, K5, yo,K2tog, K1 (9 stitches)

* yo2 – yarn over twice

** the method for M1 is to knit first into back of the stitch and then knit into front – 2 stitches on needle. The second of these is the first of the K3.

*** Cast off 2 stitches.

The extra stitch at the start of Row 2 and the cast offs at the start of Row 4 form the zig-zag edge.

Knitting in History – Victorian Baby’s Sock 3

Knitting in History

Knitting in History

Well, I’m coming to the conclusion that the writer of this design could have made it a lot simpler, and better.  After knitting the foot and ankle section in the round the writer has us cast off.  The foot sole is then knit as a flap attached at the toe as shown here.

The next steps are to knit a separate lace border and sew it to the cast off top, and to sew the sole piece in place. So there is quite a bit of seaming in this tiny object!

As I have knit it I have concluded that it would be possible to knit the sole first and then pick up stitches around the circumference for the foot. A nice little knitted frill could be grown on from the top of the ribbed section without the need for a seam.

DSC_0113However I’ll continue as instructed for the genuine experience of making this sock as designed in 1880. However I’m planning a new design inspired by this sock with modifications to make it easier.