RSY Book Launch 2012 and Heritage Yarns 2013

Following 2011s successful ‘Real Shetland Stories’ competition, the book launch event took place at Shetland Museum and Archives on 9 May 2012.

Real Shetland Yarns Book Awards

“Real Shetland Yarns” includes the forty final winning entries, along with the images, in a striking volume to be treasured and enjoyed.

Real Shetland Yarns Book Winners

Included in the publication was a fitting tribute to Jim Smith o’ Berry Farm who sadly had passed away in February 2012 and a piece he wrote about the family business of Jamieson & Smith. Were it not for the effort and vision of his father John “Sheepie” Smith none of this would have materialised.

From Left: Martin Curtis of C.W.D, Sarah Laurenson of J&S, Chris of Vispring, Janet Curtis of Vispring and Andrew of Vispring

Representatives from each organisation involved in the competition and publication attended the event.


Vispring, founded in 1901, was the first bed-maker to produce the pocket sprung mattress, revolutionising the way beds were made. Vispring has exclusive use of Real Shetland Wool to create its luxurious range of all wool beds. The Shetland Collection.

Vispring Bed

DNB is a Norwegian banking corporation which promotes sustainable development through responsible business operations; emphasising environmental, ethical and social considerations. They generously provided sponsorship in the form of Real Shetland Wool throws which were awarded to each author included in the book.


Curtis Wool Direct Ltd is suppliers of the world’s premier wools and parent company of Jamieson & Smith. Based in West Yorkshire, the company buys and processes the best quality wool from all over the world.

Jamieson & Smith Shetland Wool Brokers Ltd, the main buyer of the Shetland wool clip purchasing over 80% produced in the islands.

Shetland Amenity Trust are the agency responsible for celebrating and championing Shetland’s cultural and natural heritage, and actively promoting greater public access to, and enjoyment, of the full heritage resources and services within Shetland.

Shetland Museum and Archives is the gateway to discovering Shetland’s unique heritage and culture.

Promote Shetland are the local organisation contracted by the local authority to project Shetland on the world stage as an authentic, creative and highly desirable place to visit, study or do business with.

Shetland Wool Week was first held in 2010 as part of the Campaign for Wool drive to promote wool as a sustainable and quality product.

The Campaign for Wool organisations have joined together to identify and promote the comprehensive environmental and product benefits which accrue to mankind as a direct consequence of sheep farming and the resultant products, of milk, meat and wool.

Heritage Yarns

In the summer of 2012 I was asked by Dr Carol Christensen to visit the Museum store, up the hill from us, to look at the museum knitwear collection. A collection of garments was laid out for me to look at dating back, in some cases, 100 years and most looked in mint condition. The handle (softness) of the garments, even with gloves on was exquisite. The reason for my visit was that the museum would like us, along with recreate the “wirsit” (worsted) yarn used in the garments.

I had told them that this was possible however I would need threads or a garment to find out the weight of yarn. “Not possible,” Carol replied, “you will have to guess and we can photograph the garment with the shades we require” I said that was putting me on the spot as I had never worked with worsted yarn other than the Supreme lace range. I also had little knowledge of metric weights; however I would say this is similar to the Gala count 2/22.5, which was a range of Shetland yarns produced for us by Hunters of Brora.

Heritage Collection (Courtesy of Shetland Museum & Archives)

The wool we would use would be the finest hand sorted Shetland and would be of the highest quality similar to the wool we used to supply T.M.Adie of Voe in their Everest garment collection.

Carol approved of this and we supplied all the information to Curtis Wool Direct and in 2013 we had received all the 9 original shades required by the museum. I went down to Jeemie’s office with the “wirsit” (worsted) shades, and showed him and Carol the finished yarns. Their reaction was very favourable; the weight of yarn and shades was very similar to the garments in the museum collection. The new yarns would be called “Heritage” a suitable title as it was a very important part of our islands textile history.

Combed Tops and Heritage Wirsit (Courtesy of Curtis Wool Direct Ltd)

Another successful venture into Shetland textiles past recreating another iconic yarn which had been so important to the knitters and craft workers of Shetland.

Thank you again to the Shetland Amenity Trust for providing the other images.

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