Still Baa-bling on…

I think I have now just about recovered from Shetland Wool Week although it has taken a while!  This year Ella Gordon‘s lovely Crofthoose hat was the official hat for the event; last year it was the Baa-ble hat and I still often get asked where to get it.

It can be downloaded from Ravelry for a small fee (the pattern was free while it was the official hat).



The hat pattern is written for one size (average sized adult) but I have written instructions of how to adapt the pattern for children (bairns as we call them in Scotland!).  You can find those instructions here.  The hat is knitted in a fairly tight gauge (to keep those northern winds out) and some people have had trouble getting the required gauge.  You can also use these instructions to make your hat a bit smaller.

But remember  – it is very important to do a gauge swatch (for all patterns I might add).  I am as guilty as anyone of not doing one especially with something as small as a hat – but I have seen several people complaining their hat has turned to too big but its not if you knit it at the gauge written in the pattern.


Different sizes of Baa-ble hats

It has been such an amazing experience seeing so many of you knitting the Baa-ble hat – as I am writing this there are an incredible 5807 projects on Ravelry!  Last year it was amazing to see the hats being made for attendees to wear at festivals such as the Rhinebeck festival which incidentally takes place in New York State this weekend.

All I can say is THANK YOU for knitting!

I am eventually finding the time to work on a range of matching accessories and other Baa-ble inspired patterns – look out for a cowl and mittens patterns coming very soon…



Shetland Wool Week 2016

I can’t believe it is over a week since I taught my last class during Shetland Wool Week.  It was an extremely busy week and it seems to have taken a bit of time to get back to normal – I only unpacked the suitcase I carried my samples and books in this afternoon!

img_3047Some of the merchandise from this year – a notebook and tea towel with a sheep design by Natty Maid and my Sanik Shawl (the pattern is in the Shetland Wool Week Annual Volume 2)

I have very few photos of the week itself – was teaching every day and kept forgetting to take my camera with me (so many other things to think about!).

img_3012Hard at work during the Mug Cosy class

My classes included a Mug Cosy, where knitting in the round with two colours and steeking were two of the things covered, traditional Shetland haps and Shades of Shetland where we used the colours from a photo of the South lighthouse in Fair Isle to knit a Fair Isle swatch.  I enjoyed doing two full day classes together with Joanna Hunter Coe of Joanna Hunter Knitwear and Ninian; in the morning Joanna guided the class participants through creating mood boards and choosing colours which in the afternoon they used to knit a Fair Isle swatch.  We were all even treated to Joanna’s tattie soup (a traditional Shetland potato and vegetable soup made on salt beef) and bannocks made by Mabel (Joanna’s Mum)!

img_0502Finished Mug Cosy

img_3028A swatch inspired by a photo of the South Lighthouse in Fair Isle in the Shades of Shetland class.

Since I was teaching more of less full-time and still had day to day things to do at home, I didn’t experience many of the amazing events going on.  I did make it to Ella Gordon‘s talk on Monday evening though (in case you don’t know Ella was patron of Shetland Wool Week this year and designed the Crofthoose hat we have seen all over Shetland last week).  Ella was speaking about being a knitter in Shetland.  She spoke about her inspirations and touched on many important subjects affecting the textile industry in Shetland at the moment such as large companies using the concept of Shetland to promote their own mass produced garments.  She discusses this in her blogpost here.

I also made it to the Baltic knitting night at the museum on the Thursday evening, Outi Kater was speaking about the inspiration for her work.  She grew up in Finland and now lives in Shetland and although her work clearly reflects her origin, Shetland features strongly too.

DSC02325.JPGThis is Outi’s pattern, Polar Star mittens I made last year.

You can see Outi speaking about her work and inspiration on the Fruity Knitting Podcast Episode 14 (the same one I am on!).

We were also treated to a talk by Kristi Joeste who is from Estonia and concentrates on knitting Estonian mittens and gloves, both in the traditional patterns and she creates new designs which are inspired by the traditional ones.  The samples she showed us were outstanding as well as very inspirational.  Kate Davies writes a great review of Kristi’s book  here.   I don’t have a copy yet, but it is certainly on my wish list.

I would like to thank Misa Hay and the staff of Promote Shetland for organising such an amazing event and also thank you to everyone who visited, came to classes and just showed an interest in the event – maybe see you next year!



Fruity Knitting Podcast

Shetland Wool Week is almost at an end, I have been very busy teaching every day but it has been great to catch up with so many people, friends old and new (I will write about the week shortly).

In the meantime you can hear me speaking about Shetland Wool Week, the history of Shetland knitting and some of my designs on the latest episode of the Fruity Knitting podcast.  The podcast is by Andrea Doig and her husband Andrew, Australians living in Germany, and they cover a wide range of knitting related subjects.  Finnish born Shetlander Outi Kater features in the section “Knitters of the World” and you can hear her speaking about the inspiration for her designs.

You can read the programme notes here.


Thank you for featuring Shetland Andrea!

The Good Years Hat

It’s a while since I wrote my last blog post, the summer holidays now seem like months ago and I am trying to get into a new routine with the boy being at school now for full days.  It seems very strange but I have lots of projects on the cards and I have just released my latest pattern this morning, The Good Years Hat.


It uses a repeated zig zag pattern that forms a very satisfying star at the crown due to the zig zags converging into the centre.

Anyone who has knitted the Shallmillens Snood will notice that the zig zag repeat is the same as one of the sections, so you could knit it to match.


I have knitted it in black and cream to match the snood but it would look great in many different colour options.

While I was knitting the crown I was listening to music, I have a selection of songs on shuffle in a playlist.  “The Good Years” by Karine Polwart came on and I pressed repeat several times (as I do sometimes much to the annoyance of others).  The opening line is “Wherever you are, you shall be my Star”.   I decided that the hat had to be named after that song.  I have had the pleasure of meeting Karine several times, her music is among the best you will ever hear in my opinion and she is a lovely person too.

You can find out more about Karine’s music here.

To purchase The Good Years Hat you can do so on Ravelry here.

It’s only a week until Shetland Wool Week starts so its getting very exciting around here!


Croft Hoose Hat

This year’s official hat pattern for Shetland Wool Week is the Croft Hoose hat designed by this year’s patron Ella Gordon (you can download the pattern for free from the Shetland Wool Week website).


I made the hat using yarn from my stash, I have a very large stash of Shetland jumper weight yarn as I have inherited a lot of it and of I have a lot I have bought just because I am passing the shop and I don’t have a particular colour (doesn’t everyone do that?).

DSC05792 (4).JPGThe pattern is a very clever way of mixing traditional Fair Isle knitting techniques with a contemporary design.  I really enjoyed knitting it as the little hooses grew really fast and beforeIu knew it I was putting the lums (chimneys) on.

Several people have asked over on Instagram and Facebook what colours I have used.  Good question!  As a lot of my stash is really old, many of the colours and yarn companies don’t exist any more.  So I have given the nearest colours for yarn from both Jamieson’s of Shetland and Jamieson and Smith.

Jamieson’s of Shetland:

Shetland Black 101, Ivory 343, Mooskit 106, Thyme 226, Burnt Umbre 1190, Paprika, 261

Jamieson and Smith:

Shetland Black 2005, Off white 202, Fawn 2, Brown FC44, Orange 122, Rust FC38

The only change I made to the pattern was I left out the decrease row just before the crown decreases as I prefer a slouchy beret style hat.  I am very pleased with how it turned out and am sure it will get a lot of wear.

The first photo was taken by my good friend Kate, she has spent several weeks in Shetland gathering stories from fishermen.  We have had lots of interesting discussions and of course knitting, she is on her way back home to Maine and she will be a huge miss, Bon Voyage Kate!

Here we are knitting at Uyea, which is four miles from the main road at North Roe in Shetland, and is such a beautiful spot.  We were fortunate to be able to get a seat in a land rover so it meant we didn’t have to humph the picnic thing on our backs there and back.

me and kate

It was worldwide knitting in public day, there weren’t a huge number of the public to be seen other than a few other walkers and tourists and lots of sheep!  The hat Kate is wearing is her own design based on gannets, I am glad to see she has been inspired while in Shetland!

On a side note, this week I am taking over the Shetland Wool Week Instagram account where I will be sharing some of my inspiration and wool related pictures.  Hope to see you there!

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Houlland 2

It’s really good to see all your Houlland projects on Ravelry, there are a range of beautiful colours being made.

I have made another, this time in Ultra lace weight yarn from Jamieson’s of Shetland in colour eesit.  It’s lovely and soft as it is 50% wool and 50% lambswool.





The pattern Houlland is available in The Book of Haps by Kate Davies.

There are two KALs for projects from the book running at the moment (that I know of anyway), one in Jen Arnall-Culliford’s group and one in the KnitBritish group over on Ravelry.  I thought that would be a good thing to join in with and I have cast on another Houlland in jumper weight Shetland yarn, it will work in that weight but it will be slightly larger than the original. I am using yarn on the cone that I bought from a sale, there are no details about the origin or colour but I love it, and fancy a Houlland in this colour to wear myself.  The same evening I also cast on Theme and Variation from the book, using another cone of yarn I got at the sale; maybe I am being a bit ambitious as I already have several projects on the go at the moment, but I hope to get some knitting done over the summer holidays.


HAP-py Knitting!



Rhubarb and Apple Crumble Slices

One of the few vegetables we can grow in Shetland without really trying is rhubarb.  We have had three patches in our yard all my life and it’s still going strong so it’s always good to find new things to do with it other than crumble or jam.


There is often discussion between other rhubarb growers here about recipes and I have noticed a few people on Instagram looking from recipes so I thought I would share this one.

This tray bake combines apples and rhubarb which are stewed together, spread on top of shortbread and then it is topped with crumble.

It is delicious served warm with ice cream or cream as a pudding or cut into squares when it has cooled and served as a cake.




8 oz (225g) rhubarb (roughly 3 large stalks, trimmed), cut into 2 cm pieces.

6 oz (175g) eating apples (roughly 2 small ones, peeled and sliced)

2 oz (50g) caster sugar

2 teaspoons water


Place all of the filling ingredients in a pan and cook over a medium heat until the rhubarb and apples are soft.  Leave to cool slightly.



5 oz (150g) porridge oats

9 oz (250g) plain flour

4 oz (100g) caster sugar

6 oz (175g) butter


Preheat oven to 180C (fan 160C) and line a 25cm (9.5 inch) square tin with greaseproof paper.

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Melt the butter and pour into the dry mixture to form a crumble mix.  Press half of this into the tin and press down firmly.  Spread on the rhubarb and apple filling.  Spread the rest of the crumble mixture on top and press down lightly.  Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until it is golden brown.



In the middle of last year I got an email from Kate Davies asking me if I would contribute a design to the idea she had for a new publication, The Book of Haps.  Being a huge fan of Kate’s work and knowing that she does a great job at whatever she does of course I had to say yes!

The brief was to design and knit something which was a modern take on a hap.  One of the main things I noted was that it had to be wearable.  I have a couple of large traditional square haps which I find are too big to be wearable everyday so I wanted to design something that was inspired by the traditional hap but was easier to throw on with a dress or coat and be comfortable in.


My thoughts went straight to my Great Aunty Emma, she is an amazing lady, who is almost 95 and is still knitting.  She has always knitted lace and has designed and made countless haps over the years for personal customers, knitwear agents and family members.

She made this beautiful hap for my son when he was born almost 5 years ago.

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Remarkably she writes very little down (like many other Shetland knitters) and just “makes it up as she goes along”.  Something I love about her style of knitting is the way she isn’t too precious about being exact “maybe a decrease here and maybe another one there” but it always turns out stunning.  A couple of years ago I became very interested in the construction of Shetland haps so I went to visit her for a lesson.

Here she is giving me a lesson – her hands were moving so much faster than I could write!

aunty emmas hands

For my design, I knew I wanted to use the edging Aunty Emma showed me (known as the Brand Iron edging) and trees.  The tree is a lace pattern that she uses a lot in her designs and it is one of my favourites due to its straight lines and pleasing symmetry. So I knew I wanted to use that pattern and also some element of traditional Shetland hap construction (you will find information about traditional hap construction in the new book).  Thinking about these things I then began to visualise a triangular shaped garment, which I then had to make!



Choosing the yarn was easy.  Aunty Emma almost always uses Shetland lace weight yarn for her haps, I chose Jamieson and Smith Shetland Supreme lace weight in an unyded shade of grey (its called “grey” but it has a brownish hue).  This yarn was developed in conjunction with the Shetland museum and this description is given by Jamieson and Smith:

“The yarn is worsted spun from the natural, undyed colours of pure bred Shetland Sheep to replicate the handspun yarns used in the finest Shetland lace items of the 1800s, such as Queen Victoria’s stockings and items displayed at world exhibitions.”

Its a lovely yarn to work with, soft but strong, it seems quite springy before it is blocked but it stretches a lot!


Houlland is the croft where Aunty Emma and her family (my Granny included) lived on the west side of Shetland in Sand.  She has many memories of knitting there, she knitted her first spencers (garter stitch long-sleeved vests for wearing as underwear) when she was 5 or 6 years old and sold them to the travelling grocery van.  They would then use that money to buy essentials like sugar, flour and tea.  She also remembers knitting haps; her mother would knit the elaborate, lacy, edging and borders and then she would pass it on to the children (including Emma) to complete the garter stich centre.

The croft house at Houlland when the family lived there.

Houlland house

These photos were taken at the Baptist Church in Sand which is across the road from Houlland and is where the family attended Church on Sundays.


The book has been edited by Kate Davies and Jen Arnoll-Culliford, I want to publicly thank them for asking me to be part of such an amazing project and also for being stars to work with!

I also really want to thank Aunty Emma for being such an inspiration!

Aunty Emma wearing the Houlland


The book can be pre-ordered at and will be shipped in early June.

You can read an interview with me and more about Aunty Emma over on Kate’s blog.

Thanks also to Tom Barr for taking the photos on a bright but very blustery typical Shetland day!

And – several people have already been asking about the coat – its from Cabbages and Roses, it is mine but I unashamedly copied Kate when bought it, I mean, I was inspired by Kate!





A New Pattern – Shallmillens Snood

It’s a pretty busy week around here, between all the pattern releases for the new “Book Of Haps” edited by Kate Davies and Jen Arnall-Culliford (which is available to preorder at and all the buzz surrounding the Shetland Wool Week ticket sales, I have also making final tweeks to my latest pattern, the Shallmillens Snood.


I knitted this snood last year: it started off as a way for me to experiment with repeating patterns in colours with a strong contrast.  I have worn it a few times since and have been asked several times for the pattern and here it is!

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“Shallmillens” is a Shetland dialect word meaning “smithereens” or many pieces, as the snood is made up of a series of geometric patterns in blocks.

A provisional cast on starts the project, it is knitted in the round and at the end, the provisional cast on stitches are unravelled and are grafted together with the stitches of the last round.  Instructions are giving for doing provisional cast on and grafting (AKA Kitchener stitch).

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It would make an ideal project if you are new to knitting with more than one colour, as the patterns are very repetitive, there is no shaping and not changing of colours.  It is knitted in Jamieson and Smith Jumper Weight Yarn (four 25g balls of each colour), I chose highly contrasting black and off white but it would look good in many different colour combinations, or a multi-coloured version would be a good project for stash busting!

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The Shallmillens Snood pattern is now available to purchase on Ravelry and watch out for my contribution to “The Book of Haps” which will be revealed later this week.  I cant wait to show you!

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Many thanks to Jen Arnall Culliford for tech editing.

Happy Knitting!







Hap-py about Haps

The other day I asked my son if he wanted a “Hap Sandwich”.  Of course, I meant a ham sandwich and he couldn’t understand why I was laughing!  I have been thinking about haps a lot lately, one reason why is that I am really pleased that I have a design in “The Book Of Haps” produced by Kate Davies and Jen Arnold -Culliford.  I have been keeping quiet about it which was quite hard as I couldn’t show what I was working on!


The book is made up of patterns by different designers and essays about haps.  I have had a peek at the designs and they are all amazing, so different from each other; it is an honour to be part of such a lovely publication and beside many of the designer I admire and aspire to be like!  The design on the cover is by Carol Fellor from Ireland, Kate and Jen will be revealing each design on a daily basis on their blogs Kate Davies Designs and Jen A-C Knitwear and I will be revealing my design shortly so watch this space!

The book is available to pre-order at Kate’s shop here and the books will be shipped in early June.

On Saturday I spent a few hours of the day with the Shetland Branch of the Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers.  We met in the Trondra Hall and after the obligatory cup of tea and a banana muffin,  Anne Eunson (who knitted the famous lace fence) did a workshop on dressing (blocking) handknit garments.


She showed us how to dress a traditional square hap, this beauty was knitted by her mother when her daughter was born.  At one time in Shetland, as knitting was so important, most homes would have had their own wooden frames (usually homemade) for dressing various hand knitted garments, including aa adjustable hap board like this.  Strong cotton thread is sewn through each peak (scallop) of the hap and tensioned on the pins of the board until the hap is evenly and fully stretched.



Anne will be teaching a class on dressing lace knitwear during Shetland Wool Week, details of the programme will be out next week.


The meetings of the Shetland branch of Knitters, Spinners, Weavers and Dyers are open to everyone with an interest in textiles regardless of their experience, and take place generally every second Saturday on the month at various locations around Shetland.  For details of meetings please see

I am currently knitting a traditional Shetland hap, pattern in A Legacy of Lace by the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers, which starts with the lace edging.

Its taking a while as I have been working on other things (also to be revealed soon) but the lace edging is so repetitive it is very easy to memorise and so it has been my travelling project, the edging of a hap is also probably one of my favourite things to knit.


I have also just finished blocking my Hap for Harriet but I think I will share that another time!

Have a good weekend!

















































Boards like these are generally homemade, Kate’s Husband Tom has made one and promises to write a tutorial for one on her blog soon.  Of course, you can pin it out on the carpet or I rember my Granny pinning it out on the grass in the back green on a fine day.









I spent a day with Kate earlier this year speaking about traditional Shetland haps and visiting some local ladies that were hap knitters, which was very interesting and inspirational.