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!

61 thoughts on “our current projects

  1. Just ordered the Islay book at the moment but will likely order Oo as well. Well done Kate!
    Imagine if you were stuck in your previous working life, what the world would have missed!


  2. So exciting to hear about both projects! Will your Inspired by Isley collection feature Buachaille exclusively, or will it be a mix of yarns?


  3. Dear Kate
    will the cream wedding cardigan pattern also include the shorter-without pockets- version of your original? I really like that design, its more streamlined and slim fitting.


    1. Because the original is so fitted it’s a design I’ve found difficult to wear other than in very formal situations. This version is really much more versatile and wearable for occasions other than a wedding! But if you wanted to make your own streamlined version like my original you could just knit the pattern a couple of inches shorter, omit the pockets, and make a size to fit you with around 2 ins negative ease (this version is worn with an inch of positive ease)


  4. Very exciting news!
    The Lives of Oo book looks really promising! There’s a lot of good stories that can be told about Shetland wool, and I can’t wait to read what you’ll make of it. In the mean time, my boyfriend has been over the moon since reading the newsletter announcing that your new pattern project will include men’s patterns!


  5. Like many others, my ‘Book of Oo’ choice is effected by shipping costs. I do agree the larger book would be nicer but -my ongoing Oo/book/patterns purchasing budget effects that…lol- I so look forward to revelling this winter, perusing lovely stories/photos/patterns. I am constantly reading books and knitting using a book stand, which is why I commented about a flat style binding.
    My first comment about e-books to carry patterns or print from, was a generalization. My mother taught us to cherish books, for all the wonders of the world they hold within. I have always applied that way of thinking to my knitting books/magazines, as well. And I will cherish both these wonderful works, when they arrive across the pond.
    In admiration of both your many talents,


  6. Thanks for offering hard and soft-back options for “Lives in Oo” – I would love the hard-back version, but with shipping to North America the price starts to creep outside the book budget (got to leave funds for yarn!) And no, an e-version does not make sense.
    I’m excited to see the results of both projects.


  7. Yes, I see that the cardigan is a bit different from the wedding cardi. It looks stunning on you. I was just thinking that it would be so wonderful to have pockets on a wedding outfit. So practical!


  8. Ok. I understood rightly before I read the comments. Then I began to think I had missed out on something. A good lesson in paying attention for sure. A cloth bound book is definitely the right thing for me. And I am excited for the club. It will be just the right time of year for a little pick me up – even in sunny So Cal!


  9. I chose hardback since, as so many others have said, as it’s a book to pore over at leisure, rather than hoick around in a project bag, I’d rather have the photos on as good quality paper and as large as possible.
    Really looking forward to both books coming out!


  10. Sounds wonderful and how long have we waited for such a book on Oo . Oliver has spent his working life keeping Shetland wool to the fore and sharing his knowledge to all who would listen. He surely should be deserving of the highest accolades and I have no doubt that this book will do you all justice and of course the wonderful Shetland Sheep.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. You’re giving so much back to these two places, by showing an international audience how much there is to learn and appreciate about them. Two wonderful projects – it’s a huge pleasure to so many people, to support you and Tom in your work. What an exciting time!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love that cardigan. Can you tell me what the largest size is of the patterns that you will be producing please? Especially that cardigan :)


  13. How wonderful!!! Can’t wait….will enjoy both…. getting to read about everything Mr. Henry has to say and Ella Gordon …. and the pictures…and the patterns… congrats!!! and thanks


  14. Lovely. I was wondering why people were asking for an ebook format; I remembered your describing Lives in Oo as a study of people in the Shetland wool business, not a book of patterns. Thanks for deciding to offer both paperback and hard cover, as it will certainly be a book to treasure. Of course, all your pattern books are treasures as well, and I’m looking forward to the Islay collection just as eagerly.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I am/was one of your readers who managed to confuse things and thought we were talking about just one book. Two books is fabulous news. I still vote for the hardback format for Lives in Oo — best format, It will be lovely to have Tom’s pictures in a book I can take with me to a comfortable chair instead of having to go to my desktop computer to look at my current favorite. I am very excited to join the Inspired by Islay club subscription. Can’t wait to see what you have created this time!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Ohhh, how exciting, I’ve never joined a knitting club/subscription, so this will be a fabulous first one for me.
    Thanks for clarifying the 2 super projects, and it solidifies for me that I would like the hardback/clothbound edition of Oo!

    I bought Haps on preorder, and still drooling over the stunning photos and luscious designs. I just perused the rest of your books and I think that I need Yokes too! As an aside on the amazing hoody pattern in the men’s cross-country book: I’d love to see this sized for a woman! While not a girl-ie knit design, I see it as a very functional uni-sex piece for the active/casual woman!


  17. I missed the poll but as a relatively new follower of your sumptuous blog, this explanation is really helpful – and exciting! I’m looking forward to being inspired by the Islay Club!


  18. The two projects sound fantastic, and I am looking forward to both of them. I have one question: Would the paper or the reproduction of the photographs be superior in the hardback edition compared to the paperback one?


  19. I am so looking forward to both books!

    Now a clarification of my e-book vote yesterday. I think ebooks are the very best way to view stunning photography because of the ability to stretch and expand and truly study the detail in addition to appreciating the overall effect of the whole photo. I subscribe to many design magazines and find I don’t even open the paper copies but instead read them on a tablet for just that reason.
    Another reason to have your “Lives in Oo” available digitally is that you could link to audio or video interviews so that we could get to know Oliver Henry and Ella even better. After watching her streaming online presentation last year explaining her fabulous sweater collection I felt almost like a friend.

    So those are my strong ideas about an ebook version! But I will still love the print.


    1. Completely agree, and thanks, BonnieK, for stating this more articulately than I probably would have. I think the decision to not make “Lives in Oo” available digitally is unfairly dismissive. Photography books can look so much better on a cutting edge digital screen than they do on even the finest paper. Not to mention that for many people it’s an accessibility issue – many people cannot handle the heft of a physical book or have other sensory issues that make digital versions preferable.


  20. Looking forward to both, I really love the club version for the winter months. In the south west of England winter is usually wet and dreary, so this will brighten the days for me.
    Tom’s photography deserves a special book and with your words, Kate it will be very special.


  21. Dear Kate thanks for the clarification, I actually knew that they were two different books (maybe because both are difficult to pronounce for me :-) ). I voted for the hard cover as I think the beautiful pictures deserve it.

    I want to thank you for creating such beautiful and interesting books. I have difficult and stressful job and it is nice to spend my free time with something so beautiful. Really, thank you from Spain.


  22. Of course I WANT both………soft cover due to postage. I keep very good care of my books and if I am knitting a pattern I always copy it and drag those pages around with me and Not the whole book! You two are a wonder…looking foreward to both. Cheers!


  23. This post has swayed me in the direction of the hard cover table book so thank you for the clarification. In addition, I am anxiously waiting for the chance to sign up for the membership. SO EXCITED!


  24. Kate, I had a lots going on over here in NYC yesterday, and did not get around to taking a look at your survey. Apologies to you!

    What you describe in today’s post about the two projects all amazes me…how do you and yours manage to do all that you do? Each project is indeed a different sort of venture, and each sounds fantastic. (Being overseas would make shipping a beautiful hardbound book quite costly for me…but sometimes I do treat myself.)

    I am very much looking forward to the Islay membership. I don’t want to miss out on that opportunity.

    Best wishes from a great fan. xo


  25. I chose the coffee table edition which I know will be stunning. I’ll always support whatever project you and Tom take on.

    Inspired by Isley’s roll out, in club form, will be fantastic. It won’t be long now, December will be here soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Tom’s photography definitely deserves the larger format of a coffee table book, but the reason I voted as I did for a softcover was the cost to get it overseas. Your Islay collection will be such a wonderful way to spend the winter with everyone in the “club”, and thank you for managing to keep it reasonably priced. Two books at a time! What a great way to spend the upcoming Holidays. Thank you, Kate & Tom.


  27. Kate, Just to say both books look wonderful and I am
    looking forward to both of them. I wonder if you
    watched the programme on Tuesday evening -Scotch
    The Story of Whisky presented by David Hayman
    (Bbc2 9.00pm). In this episode he was on Islay and at
    Finlaggan and I was thinking about your wedding and your beautifully knitted wedding cardigan , how apt you have named it Finlaggan. Thanking you all once again for all your hard work in the making of your books.
    Maggie x

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I agree — I chose paperback for the Book of Oo because of postage to the United States. Just thinking about both of your projects has delighted me!


  29. I couldn’t drag my husband away from your site the other day as he drooled over Tom’s photographs. “How do you think he managed to catch that light?”, he would say, or “I wonder what lens he used to get that shot”. I literally had to wrestle my laptop away so I could look at pretty photos of wool. We are likely to have a tussle over who gets to read your new book first….

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Oh, you’re right. I forgot they were two projects. So, even more so do I favor a large format book for the Lives in Oo project! I’m really excited to see each of them!


  31. Islay is super exciting– I can’t wait. As for the Oo book, I chose paperback only because of shipping costs much as another commenter has said. I had the wonderful experience of meeting Oliver this past summer and seeing the superb photo at the start of the post made me nostalgic for Shetland!! He is such an incomparable gem. Thanks for all you do for the knitting world.


  32. I chose the soft book because of shipping across the pond. It will be a wonderful winter – 2 new books to peruse during the dark and snow filled days. Thanks Tom and Kate


  33. Look forward to hearing even more about these publications. What a treat they will be – wonderful photos – wonderful commentary – and wonderful patterns. Perhaps an historical learning experience for future generations.


  34. Is the Altar in the last photo where you got married? It looks so familiar. Looking orward to another great publication from you and Tom.


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