our current projects

Thanks so much for your feedback on yesterday’s poll! I found the results really interesting and illuminating, but also somewhat troubling, as I wasn’t completely sure that all respondents had a full sense of what Shetland Oo is actually about.

We are currently working on two projects. The first, Shetland Oo, marks an interesting departure for us as it is not a book of knitting patterns. Rather, its a visual and textual exploration of the working world of Shetland wool (or oo). As a writer, designer, and yarn producer, I’ve been working with Shetland wool for many years, and have a deep-seated respect for the people who raise, produce and work with this wonderful fibre. While the beautiful aesthetics of Shetland knitting consistently inspire me, it is the unique skills and acumen of those who work with Shetland wool that perhaps impresses me the most.

Shetland Oo is a celebration of those unique skills, through my words and Tom’s photography. In the pages of the book you’ll discover the people and animals and processes that shape the wonderful world of Shetland wool today, and find out more about them. So, for example, you’ll meet Oliver Henry, a man of infinite talent and skill whose portrait begins this this post, and who might in many senses be regarded as the living embodiment of Shetland Wool.

You’ll also meet Ella Gordon.


Ella is a talented young designer of both machine and hand knits who, inspired by Shetland’s moments of transition, has developed her own distinctive aesthetic. Many of you will know Ella as the patron of Shetland Wool Week, and the designer of the Crofthoose Hat, but she should perhaps also be known for her growing collection of vintage and contemporary Shetland knitwear. Powered by Ella’s uncanny ability to sniff out a charity shop bargain, her collection has reached impressive heights.


As a book of photographs and words, we want Shetland Oo to be a really beautiful object, something whose pages you might savour, or dip in and out of, to find out more about a subject you enjoy. And this is why we wanted to gauge your interest in a hardback version. Based on yesterday’s poll, we will produce a proportion of the print run (as you requested) as a limited edition hardback, alongside a more accessible (but still sturdy) burst-bound paperback. As this is not a book of patterns, we feel there is little direct need to read it on a tablet, or to print out individual pages. Our sense is that an e-book of photography wouldn’t carry the same appeal as print (but feel free to convince us otherwise if you’ve strong ideas about it!)

Over the coming weeks, you’ll be able to read interviews here with many of the woolly folk who feature in Shetland Oo, and gain a flavour of the book’s content and photography. Shetland Oo will be available to order in time for the Christmas holidays.

The second project on which we are currently working IS a collection of patterns – Inspired by Islay.


Islay, the “Queen of the Hebrides” is one of the most beautiful and beloved of Scotland’s Western Isles. Strategically situated between the mainlands of Ireland and Scotland, Islay was an attractive prospect for seafaring Scandinavian settlers long before it became the power base of the Gaelic Lords of the Isles (whose political home was at Finlaggan, where I am pictured here).


Drawing on the island’s unique combination of Gaelic and Nordic cultural influences, as well as by the Hebridean landscapes that I love, I’ve created a collection of 12 new designs. The collection includes garments and accessories, strongly features colour and cables, and many designs have been specifically shaped and styled for both men and women.


Inspired by Islay will initially be available by subscription on a familiar knitterly club model. The subscription includes exclusive weekly pattern releases, essays, interviews and photographs (sent out by email newsletter) together with special discounts on our other products (including yarn). At the end of the club period, subscribers will receive the Inspired by Islay book, containing all twelve patterns, together with a range of interviews and essays about Islay, all of which are framed by Tom’s beautiful photography of the island.

Inspired by Islay is a club to see you through the winter months, offering a whole season of knitterly inspiration.

The cardigan shown here is a variant of the garment I made myself last year for my wedding, which I know some of you were interested in knitting.


I’ve given it more ease, more length, and pockets.


Its called the Finlaggan Cardigan and I’m really pleased with it. It is the first pattern that will be released as part of the club.


The Inspired by Islay club period will open in December and the subscription period will conclude twelve weeks later, in February, 2017, with the publication of the book. This book will be produced in the format you’ll immediately recognise (from the Book of Haps and Yokes) as a robust burst-bound paperback with complimentary e-version. We are anticipating that membership of the Inspired by Islay club – including all print and digital material, shipping, everything – will cost just £30.


So to summarise:

Shetland Oo is a collaborative documentary project exploring the wonderful world of Shetland wool, featuring my words and Tom’s photography. This book will be available in paperback and hardback formats in good time to purchase before the holiday period.

Inspired by Islay is my new collection of 12 knitting patterns, which will initially be available by club subscription, beginning in December. The price of the subscription includes a printed paperback book and a complimentary e-book, together with exclusive weekly updates and discounts. The Inspired by Islay book will also be available for purchase by non-subscribers next year. I’ll be revealing more about the collection here as the weeks go on, and you’ll also be able to see the book, together with all the garments and accessories from Inspired by Islay at Edinburgh Yarn Fest in March.

Hope this has clarified what’s going on around here at the moment, and what we will have in store over the coming weeks and months!