Shetland Wool Week in pictures: part 1

Sheep on the hill . . .

. . . and at the marts.

Some fine boys . . .

. . . and my secret favourite.

Oliver Henry, Shetland Woolmeister . . .

. . . judging fine wool on the hoof . . .

. . . and off.

straight from the sheep . . .

. . . to the wool store

. . ready for sorting and grading.


Whoa. I didn’t mean to just disappear on you there! Don’t worry — I’ve not, like the indomitable Betty Mouat, been cast adrift on the North Sea with half a bottle of milk and a biscuit — but I have just been really, really, really busy — working on my book, and a few other projects, as well as spending more time in Shetland photographing my new designs. I’m actually enjoying being so, um, occupied (it is genuinely lovely to feel able to work at a reasonable pace again) but it does mean that I have got stupidly behind with many other things — so if you have been waiting to hear from me, my apologies!!

Anyway, here are today’s announcements:

As the pic at the top of the post suggests, an edited version of my Betty Mouat feature article appears in this months edition of 60 North Magazine. Even if you’ve already read the article, or have no interest in the trials of Betty M, I would encourage you to pop right over to 60 North and download your (free) copy immediately.

There’s a great feature about the new Shetland Textile Museum, its unparalleled resources, and the expertise of the amazing women behind it, and I really enjoyed reading Jordan Ogg’s lively guide to spending the day in Lerwick (which includes some great tips about the best local charity shops for knitwear). There’s also a a piece about the restoration of Unst’s beautiful Belmont House (an idyllic knitting retreat if ever there was one) and a fascinating interview with Ann Cleeves (whose Shetland Quartet has recently been adapted for the BBC and whose adaptation will feature . . . some of my stuff!!)

(Peerie Flooers hat, coming soon to a TV screen near you)

Also, I just released a pattern.

These wee fingerless gloves have been in the pipeline since Spring, and I’ve written up the design for my friends at Studio Donegal. If you visit their lovely shop in Kilcar, you can actually buy a pair of these gloves hand-made by local knitters in beautiful Donegal tweed . . . but if you fancy making your own, you can now find the pattern here or here)

And while we are on the subject of patterns . . .

Did you see that Cloudy Apples has been released?

Cloudy Apples is a collection of accessories that my lovely friend, Jen Arnall-Culliford has created with the equally lovely Kyoko Nakayoshi. The patterns are being released in stages, and first up are these terrifically elegant socks, designed by Jen.

(Dunkerton Sweet socks, designed by Jen Arnall-Culliford. Photograph ©Jesse Wild)

Each design in the collection has been named after an apple — and just like apples, these accessories are sweet, seasonal, and very tasty.

ALSO — Tom’s news is that he’s just accepted a great new job at Glasgow University. He starts in-post next March, and will commute for the time being . . . but in the long term this may herald a Westward move for the Davies / Barr homestead. . . exciting!

AND FINALLY, for those who have missed Bruce, here he is, sitting nicely in the exact location of the discovery of the St Ninian’s Isle treasure 58 years ago. . .

. . . negotiating a stile in customarily elegant fashion . . .

. . . and being intrepid on the cliffs of St Ninian’s Isle.

What a grand walk we had that day.

There is much more to tell you. I’ll be back very soon xx

humans and other creatures

Hiya! It is I, Bruce. I have just returned from a F-U-N time on the island of Islay. This time was particularly fun as I have spent the past few weeks having no fun at all (going back and forth to the place where they put you on a table and poke at you, and are forced to don the humiliating cone.)

Islay is fun because there is a big beach . . .

. . . new walks with interesting smells . . .

. . . and I get to live in the box with the humans, which I really enjoy.

Still, there are things about being in the box that can be very confusing. Such as why it is OK to be wet some times. . .

. . . and not others.

To my mind, the most annoying characteristic of the human-creature is its inconsistency. For example, why is it that these buddies are good to play with . . .

. . . while these are not?

In fact, it is in relation to other creatures that the human-creature is most unpredictable. For example, one evening on Islay we visited this place. . .

I was told that there were otters about, and that I had to be very good. We sat in the box while Kate and Tom stared out of the window, occasionally muttering. After what seemed like an aeon, there was some excitement and animation, and Kate started reaching for her camera. All that had happened was that this had appeared in the water.

. . . which was, of course, not an otter, but a seal.

Now, if they’d have let me out, and into the water, I could have told them right away that there were seals in that place, and not otters. But as well as being inconsistent, human creatures like to think they know best.

But we dogs know better.

See you soon, love Bruce x

lost weekend

Early on Saturday morning, we set off to explore a bit of National Cycle Route 7, between Kilmahog and Strathyre. All was well – the weather was fine, the scenery was glorious, there was a tasty picnic in the basket, Tom was bicycling, and I was tricycling along merrily, with Bruce happily in tow. Then, after a few miles, and just a minute or two after I stopped to take the photograph above, Bruce decided to leap into a barbed wire fence, and wounded himself really badly between his hind-leg and groin. A mad dash to the emergency vets ensued.

Bruce is well-trained, and very good off the lead. He always stays close to us when we are walking or cycling, and this is the first time he has sustained any kind of serious injury while we’ve been out and about. Fence-leaping is not typical Bruce behaviour, but I would not want to run the risk of him acting on an unaccountable dog-whim on another occasion. Does he know what hurt him? Would he know not to try jumping such an obstacle again? My feeling is probably not. In any case, we were lucky that his injuries weren’t much worse, that Tom was there to manhandle him back over the fence to safety, and that we were able to get his injuries attended to relatively quickly.

The worst thing about having an injured animal is that you cannot explain to them what is wrong; why their leg is bothering them, why they can’t run up and down the stairs, why they have to sleep wearing a giant plastic cone on their swede. It is fair to say that Bruce is feeling a wee bit sorry for himself, but really, he is absolutely fine.

National Cycle Route 7 can wait a while.

today’s news . . .

The weather is biblical. Again.

A beautiful moth appeared in the kitchen.

I prepared a gigantic slow-cooked curry. My preparations would have been more efficient had I not kept stopping to photograph the moth.

I crunched all the numbers for one of my new patterns (whoot!).

And, for those of you who were asking, my BMC kit, in the muted colourway above, is now back in stock over at Jamieson and Smith

I am two

Hiya, it is I, Bruce. I was born on the 27th May, and now I am two years old. This weekend we celebrated my birthday at some very fun places called Inner Hebrides. To travel there, you have to get on noisyboat.

As everybody knows, I am called Bruce. Yet apparently I have another name that no-one ever calls me. This other name – Finlaggan – was hitherto unknown to me and it belongs to Kennel Club. Now, as far as I know, a kennel is a sort of dog prison, and belonging to a club of kennels does not interest me at all. Also, if this other name is my “proper” name, then why on earth am I known as Bruce? Clearly, being two years old means that the humans can now bother me with these confusing and pointless issues of nomenclature.

This other name – Finlaggan – also belongs to a place on the island of Islay. Kate told me that this place was once the seat of the Lords of the Isles.

Finlaggan is surrounded by water: good. Finlaggan is a Historic Site: bad. What is the point of all this lovely water if you cannot run about and jump in it?

Kate told me that Finlaggan was my spiritual home. Though it is a very nice spot, I think it may actually be more her kind of place than mine.

If you ask me, what every birthday needs is somewhere you could hold a really good party. I think I might have found just the place.

This tidy pile is currently on the market for a mere 1.6 million donuts. I think it would suit me down to the ground.

Imagine me, if you will, bounding unconstrained through the twenty four bedrooms, and wreaking happy havoc in the deer larder.

Truly, a hoose for Bruce. Unfortunately for me, my humans’ tastes are a little more modest.

But even so, I think I’m lucky to have them. We always have fun.

. . . though sometimes you do have to question their sanity.

Anyway, despite not even knowing what a birthday was before last week, I had an excellent one. I’m now looking forward to many more with the humans.

Pretty exhausting, really.

See you soon, love Bruce x


Ok, before I begin, allow me a moment: I think that this is probably the best photograph I have seen of myself in ages. I like it because I look comfortable and physically capable — concepts which, a couple of years ago seemed totally unimaginable. Few people seem to talk about just how bloody uncomfortable it is living in a body that has had a stroke. I am happy to say that this discomfort abates somewhat as time goes on . . . Anyway, for a multitude of reasons, I would heartily recommend a trike to anyone with neurological weakness or balance problems. I love it as you can see . . .

Now I have got that shot of me, wildly gurning, out of the way, I can tell you about the cardigan.

It uses the same motifs as the Peerie Flooers designs, and its name is Bláithín, which means, in Irish “little flower.”

It is knit Donegal yarns, “Soft Donegal” – a squooshy, nubbly, and richly saturated tweed.

It is knit in one piece, and then steeked up the centre. Design features include inset pockets, steek sandwich facings, and i-cord buttonholes.

If you look carefully at the centre right of the photograph above, you’ll see a buttonhole. You’ll also note that there is i-cord around the cuffs and pocket tops. Yes, I do like my i-cord . . .

The i-cord edging is added after all the knitting is complete; it is worked all in one piece, all the way around the cardigan. Here is a shot of the edging worked along the “steek sandwich” buttonband. . .

Here is the edging on the inside of the cardigan, so that you can see the sandwich from the reverse, together with a buttonhole . . .

. . .and here is a buttonhole in action.

One of my aims with this design was for it to be as accessible as possible not only to those knitters who were cautious about steeking, but those who were afraid of colourwork. The yoke design is very simple.

It is also easily-customisable for the more adventurous knitter who would prefer to insert their own yoke design. The pattern repeats are short, and the decreases are worked over a number of plain rows.

Bláithín comes in nine sizes, covering a 30 to a 50 inch bust. The cardigan has a gentle A-line shape and is designed to be worn with 1-2 inches of positive ease. It is soft, warm, and very easy to wear.

Ideal for the novice tricyclist!

The Bláithín pattern is now available, and you’ll find it here or here!

I’ve also designed a wee Bláithín, in babies and girl’s sizes. This pattern will be available very shortly.

That’s all for now – I’m off up North today to look at some wool. See you later!


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