The new millennium saw a change in my workload with new owners in 2005 and staff changes outgoing and incoming; it was even more important to provide design. We were most fortunate to have a mixture of local design talent and established designers from further afield.
Felicity Ford – I first became aware of Felicity was in August 2013 when she visited the wool store while she was working on a project called “Listening to Shetland Wool “. She wanted to hear and record the landscape where Shetland wool grows. I remember it well as she would record the wool press noise packing the wool, and even recorded me shipping a load of wool. In 2013 Felicity was patron of Shetland Wool week and wrote a song which she played and sang along with on her trusty accordion about her Shetland experience. Felicity has featured our yarns in Knisonik: Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook.
Kate Davies- One of the leading designers in my time and a very good friend of mine, I could write a whole blog series on Kate and her contribution in marketing Real Shetland wool. Kate has produced so many designs in our yarns, too many to mention, however among my favourites are the Sheep Heid and Rams & Yowes patterns using our undyed natural yarns. Kate is not only a very accomplished knitter but also an author of some repute and has published books featuring our yarns. When I started writing the Jamieson & Smith book Kate was a great help in mapping it out.
Elizabeth Johnson- from Shetland Hand Spun has been a personal friend for many years, and like many local women learned to spin and knit from the age of four. Elizabeth supplied us with her own design patterns featuring traditional lace garments, stoles, scarves and such like for many years. Elizabeth was the patron of Shetland Wool Week in 2018, and travels around the globe carrying out workshops in knitting and spinning.
Joyce Ward -Jamieson & Smith were very lucky to have multi-talented staff such as Joyce Ward who created one of my most favourite designs in 2002, the “Lynsey sweater” called after our grand – daughter, Lynsey. It is, in fact, two sweaters a child and an adult version. The yarns used are our 2ply Jumper weight undyed natural yarns, formerly called Shetland 2000, nowadays Shetland Supreme 2ply Jumper yarn.
Leslie Smith -Working alongside Joyce was Leslie Smith from Burra Isle; equally as talented Leslie produced patterns for very distinctive Fair Isle socks which along with design by Joyce featured in our first knitting pattern book Knit Real Shetland.
In more recent times we again were blessed with another staff member Ella Gordon, a graduate from the Shetland Textile College with a BA with Distinction in Contemporary Textiles. It seemed very fitting that I met up with Ella and shared a work space, I found out that Ella was a great-grand- niece of my former manager at J & S, Gilbert Johnstone; she shared his love of textiles. Ella not only designs but is also our social media marketing person. Her ability to take my ramblings on sheep, wool, and textiles and put it into a superb blog format never fails to amaze me.
Sandra Manson – Last but not least, I admire all the fore mentioned individuals greatly but Sandra has a special place in my wool journey. I first came into contact with Sandra when she was five years old, a first cousin to my wife Catherine, we would meet up at their grannies house. Their granny and aunty both were avid knitters; Auntie Mary worked in Tullochs Mill and was a very highly skilled textile worker. It was fairly obvious from that very early age that Sandra would share their passion for knitting always busy on her knitting needles. It was only fitting that Sandra and I would meet up later on in life in the work place similar to meeting up with Ella it was if it was ordained. Sandra and Catherine are very alike very driven and they always have the last word! Similar to Kate I could write a blog series on Sandra (perhaps I will, what a good idea!) Sandra has produced so many designs over the years, again too many to mention, however it was her interpretation of my sketches for my Shetland wool week Roadside Beanie that has pride of place in my heart. Coordinator of Shetland Wool Week, Victoria Tait, when I asked her how can I come up with a design for a hat in my role as patron of Shetland Wool Week, she said “tell your story”. I need not elaborate any further the proof of the pudding is in the Roadside Beanie, which Sandra somehow created from my sketches. The Beanie depicts a simple but an essential way of island life, my journey and that of many Shetlanders of past times.