12 Dec

Spinning, and especially the Shetland wool inevitably brings me back to the 2019 edition of the Loch Ness Knit Fest in Inverness. What better occasion to share that experience than my 12th advent calendar spinning surprise!

So happy to land in the land of the Shetlald wool!

We were staying at the Royal Highland Hotel. 

I am known for falling asleep during movies if we are watching anything after 9 PM. This means I also wake up first, together with the chickens as they say in my forefathers land. Since I didn't want to disturb my partner's sleep with all sorts of morning noises, I decided to go knit in the lobby. I was knitting a pair of socks for my sister using a technique I had learnt the previous day at a workshop that took place at the festival and was very excited about finishing 2 socks at the same time without experiencing any second sock syndrome. 

Just then I was approached by a couple of little old ladies heading for breakfast who marvelled at the 2 at a time toe up technique I was using on my socks and told me they were also knitting for their grandchildren. Then they asked whether I ever knit with Shetland wool and I told them I was very much looking forward to buying some for the first time at the festival that day. They said it was the best wool to knit with and now I really wanted to get my hands on some. I felt so moved that two 80+ year old friends still travelled together.

This pair of socks lead me to designing my very first improved sock pattern that is available for purchase here and on my Ravelry page.

Inverness is a lovely city

Here are a few pictures of the festival premises:

The J.C. Rennie wool stand I bought the jumper weight wool I used to knit the Whalsay sweater from Marie Wallin's Shetland collection with:

I was so happy when I finished it:

Next is Bunloit Woolery, where Michael chose a hand spun Shetland wool for me to knit him a jumper with, there is no pattern for this jumper, I kind of knit it spontaneously after I did some math based on the swatch:

I also got some wool to spin on the Turkish spindle Alison's husband makes:

The Turkish spindle and the brown wool are sitting in the bowl on the table:

A set that blew my mind was the Zinda tam and cowl from The Border Mill, also Shetland yarn. I knit the tam and still have to do the cowl:

Finally today I also got to spin this wonderful wool on my wheel - it is just like spinning Merino wool, you don't really notice it being considerably coarser as the theory suggests - 29-31 microns.

The sheep are relatively small and robust, some have still a natural wool change. That allows the wool to be plucked - it is a method called "Rooing". The time when this happens varies according to each individual. 

They are described as a "primitive" breed, a landrace or "unimproved" breed.

The wool has very strong curls and is fine and smooth - the Whalsay sweater feels like I am touching a thin sheet of sponge. 

There is a surprising number of 11 main colours of natural Shetland fleece: light grey, grey, white, emsket (dusky bluish-grey), musket (light greyish-brown), shaela (dark steely-grey), black, fawn, moorit (reddish brown), mioget (honey-toned, yellowish-brown), and dark brown.

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