As the weather grows more chilly, things are becoming very busy round here — in a good way. I have been knitting and designing and writing for weeks now, in advance of a few new Winter releases. In a few days I will be publishing the next design in my Edinburgh Series of garments (which you’ll see hinted at above), inspired by the industrial and maritime heritage of Leith. This design is cosy and wintery and woolly and I’m very happy with it – I hope you like it too.

Additionally, I’ve been working really hard on some new seasonal accessory designs. . .


. . . which will soon be available as kits in my online shop. Colours of Shetland (now in its second edition) is finally back in stock (hurrah!) , and I’m looking forward to it being joined by Snawheid, and several other jolly kits over the next couple of weeks. I’m developing these kits as something of an experiment, so you must tell me if there are particular designs of mine that you’d like to see available and I’ll see what I can do.

I’m also rather happy about a couple of vintage knitwear finds . . .

This jumper (an ebay find) is destined to become a pair of SWANTS!


. . . and if you have seen Ella’s blog recently, you’ll know why I am unbelievably excited by this:


Ye gods! It is indeed one of Margaret Stuart’s beautiful Spencer dresses and it is now in my possession! Seriously, this is a completely amazing garment (that fits me too) and I am incredibly grateful to Ella for enabling its acquisition. More of this anon.

In the meantime, here are a few woolly links for you this Wovember Wednesday:
Needle and Spindle‘s lovely post about Pelle’s New Suit – a beautiful children’s story from 1912 that tells the story of a jumper.
Caroline Walshe thoughtfully documents the process of growing, preparing, spinning and knitting a shawl from the fleece of Jake, her Jacob wether. This is one of the most inspiring pieces about process that I’ve read in a long time.
Equally inspiring, but for different reasons, is Cecilia Hewitt’s piece about her unique and very beautiful handspun yarn. Cecilia’s sense of place and colour has something truly magical and profound about it – but her work is also refreshingly grounded in the ordinary and everyday. “An intriguing patch of colour in the hedge turned out to be a crisp packet.”
Finally, via 60 North TV and the Shetland Times, a short video about this year’s Shetland Wool Week. Highlights include Oliver Henry talking about his work grading fleeces, and brief clips of Hazel, Tom, Sarah and, of course, Felix singing the Shetland wool song!

28 thoughts on “a woolly wednesday. . .

  1. Hello Kate
    Talking of seasonal changes do you know the blog Plays with Needles? In her latest post Susan features the Barbara Kingslover short essay ‘Where it begins: Knitting as a Creation Story’ in the Nov/Dec issue of Orion magazine. Like all Kingslover’s writing you can get lost in the language – just wonderful.
    Also Susan’s posts of 28 October and earlier are about a recent trip to Scotland – the photos are lovely.
    Look forward to hearing more about the spencer dress. Carmen


  2. Thanks for the links! I am intrigued by the mention of your venture into swants (I keep associating this word with ‘swan’ rather than ‘pants’ – entirely different mental image) as I’ve been thinking about the role of leggings in my wardrobe as well as how to keep legs warm on winter walks. I look forward to seeing your take on them.


  3. I cannot WAIT for more pictures of your spencer dress! The colors are lovely.

    I also must confess I do not quite understand the swants trend, but that is probably because I have the build of the Hobbit and they would be both Embiggening and Stumpifying on me.


  4. Huzzah, this is a very wonderful woolly blog post of dreamz! Xx I love the glimpses of the new and old wool items: the marvellous prospect of KATE IN SWANTS; the SPENCER DRESS; the wondrous woolly vision atop the post; the tasty colourwork… and the Shetland Wool Week video is a triumph, 60 degrees North have done a lovely job on that and I felt very honoured that my song is reprised in it, especially after Liz did such a super job of filming the song by itself. The footage of Ollie, Hazel, Tom, Sarah and other Shetland buddies in action made me extremely happy when I watched it! We heart Shetland.


  5. Kate,
    Many thanks for wonderful things to think about. It was my first time reading Pelle’s New Suit and I will read it to my Grand Daughter. I thoroughly enjoyed the piece on Shetland Wool Week and put it on my facebook. For over 30 years I have been immersed in sheep, spinning and wool and am more excited than ever about it. Shetland Wool Week is on top of my bucket list. Thank you.


  6. Hooray! Pelle’s New Suit, my favourite children’s story !
    Hooray it is getting the fame it deserves amongst the knitting community.
    Can’t wait to see you wearing your swants!


  7. Thanks for sharing my Pelle’s New Suit post for Wovember and indeed for the great links to fleece to garment posts. We are so removed from fibre sources by mass production and therefore from the reality of our dependency on plants, animals and the earth. These projects really highlight these connections and dependencies.


  8. I’m a intermediate knitter of 4 years. When I saw your ‘Firth ‘o Forth’ sweater i leaped to order the pattern, as I fell in love with it straight on. Working the swatch, I ran into trouble. I’ve never knit five stitches together before, and with the needles and yarn I had, I couldn’t. Lokking for help on line, I found the suggestion to slip three, knit two together, and then slip the slipped stitches over. WIll that work? Do you have another suggestion? Gratefully, Nancy


  9. I vote for Snawheid/paws kits! I’d like to make my Snawpaws convertible, if I can manage it, because I don’t live a pure-mitten lifestyle.

    Also, the Swants are making quite a stir in my orchestra. The principal bass player is asking me to make him a pair and some are threatening an all-Swants rehearsal! The handwork teacher at our Waldorf school (y’all call them Steiner schools) is having a Swants party, so I think I’ll bring him along to that. And I can SO see my husband in a pair. :-)


  10. Dear Kate: thanks SO much for the link to Caroline’s blog! I have a sheep fleece I need to card and spin. After seeing her beautiful shawl I know what I’ll be doing this winter. The tips of my fleece are golden so I’m really anxious to see how they will blend with the spinning. I also can’t wait for the third entry in your Edinburgh series. I love the idea of the kits as it’s difficult sometimes to get the yarn used in your patterns here in the States.


  11. Well, you DO know how to ‘trash’ my plan for my work this AM :) what a wonderful post and I cannot tell you how happy I am that you got a Spenser Dress!!! all the lead off’s were/are so interesting. Thank you again. Glad you are well and busy…………


  12. I enjoyed some time in Point Reyes Station CA this weekend for fair with all these woman who raise sheep and then spin the wool and make yarn. Or make natural cotton clothing and dye them with all of natures bounties. Also went to Windrush Farm in Petaluma, CA for their christmas fair. Maggie raises the sheep and then dyes the yarns too and gives classes on how to do the same. Very inspiring! You would have enjoyed these 2 events I’m certain.


  13. Kits of your designs is an excellent idea – they’ll sell like the proverbial hotcakes.

    How lovely that you should get a Spencer dress. I hope you’ll join the chorus urging the Shetland Museum or J&S to get the rights to issue the pattern for us to knit this one ourselves.


  14. What a wonderful post Kate. I look forward to the online shop.It would be great to purchase caller herrin’,hats of midlothian,snawheid hat and mittens. i could go on and on and can’t wait.


  15. Swants ! Oh, I can’t wait to see those !!! You’re hot right now , designs coming out of your wee ears and there’s no stopping you! Here, we’ve had our first good rain for the Autumn, so Wovember is just now starting to feel it.


  16. Great post—can’t wait to check out the links you provided. Also, love the sneak peak at your new design. I bought the materials from Jamieson & Smith for my self and a friend to make Sheep Heid, but that might be one people would like as a kit? And when I made Doll Heid I remember spending quite a bit of time looking for 3 colors in the same yarn.


  17. I would love to hear how you go on with your Swants making, I really want to try them out but I haven’t found a prefect sweater yet for the job! The sweater you’ve picked looks like an ideal warm choice! :D x


  18. Super excited about the new design as it’s so cold here in Calgary right now! I’ve been combing the thrift shops to find a proper wool jumper for Swants and can’t find such a thing – everything is nasty and plastic. I will have to resort to Ebay as well!


  19. Oh my…that new one hinted at in the photo really looks like a drop everything design to me. Can’t wait. All good news…congratulations.


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