Sunday, July 22, 2018

Jamieson & Smith A Shetland Story

I thought it would be sensible to write about the other knitting book I bought on holiday before finally trying to wrench my thoughts away from Shetland for a bit but I'm getting distracted. We have to book our next years holidays in October, and so I'm beginning to think about when I might want to go home next year and if it should be a little bit later. The white nights of midsummer are one of the things I love about Shetland, but they have an unsettling effect on the imagination, and then there's the promise of the early autumn light if we go a bit later and a whole different spectrum of inspiration.

Closer to home I'm also thinking hard about ice cream. Principally the chocolate and Pedro Ximenez ice cream from Diana Henry's 'How to Eat a Peach' that I hope is setting in my freezer. I feel like I say every summer that an ice cream maker is my favourite kitchen gadget. I say it because it's true, but they never last long. I'm on my 4th. A couple of inexpensive kenwood machines both started leaking after a while, a not cheap kitchen aid attachment did the same, and the current cheap one I have that came from Aldi is proving that you get what you pay for. It's rubbish.

I have high hopes for this particular recipe though - the chocolaty boozy custard that I poured into a tub after almost an hours churning tasted amazing. I think it's going to be just the thing for a family dinner in a few weeks, but I wanted to give it a trial run first. With any luck I'll be able to make an informed decision about it before bed.

This book from Jamieson and Smith is half a history of the company and the wool trade, and half a collection of patterns. I haven't read the history part yet - which I'm viewing as an unexpected bonus, I bought the book for the patterns. And I haven't knitted anything from it yet, though there are a couple of things I want to try once the weather is a little more conducive to it (all I want to do in this heat is sleep).

What I really like about this collection is that each of the ten designs comes from a different knitter - it has the same appeal to me as an anthology of short stories, and perhaps in a way that's what it is. Each pattern has a distinct personality behind it suggesting different lives and interests, and different preoccupations with pattern and colour. There's a kind of story in that, and I guess each knitter who comes to these patterns will add their own chapter to it - which is another idea that appeals to me.

On a more practical note, it's a collection that has something for every level of knitter from the total Fair Isle beginner, through to some great jumpers and vests, and some very fetching hats along the way. There should be something for everyone here.


  1. Hi there, I used to work almost exclusively with Jamieson & Smith's wools many years ago when I had a knitting machine. I loved how the yarn behaved and how soft it was once washed. I don't machine knit any more and rarely handknit but you've revived my interest. And thanks for the review of ice-cream makers - I've been thinking of investing one but I can see it will take a lot more research to get the right one. Enjoy the chocolaty boozy one. xx

    1. Re ice cream machines it seems that you either need to get a very expensive one, or go for something basic from a good maker (magimix is the one I'm currently looking at) and be prepared for it to have a potentially short life. I've never had the money, or space, for a top of the range one and am becoming resigned to regular replacements. J&S wool is a delight. The new natural colours range smells strongly of (clean) sheep and is a particular favourite. It might be better for me if I stick to wool and resist the siren call of ice cream.

  2. I have wanted an ice cream maker for a while now but feel that it could be a dangerous possession. I would be tempted to live solely on ice cream.

    I enjoyed reading about your trip to Shetland. It is a place I would love to visit.

    1. I hope you get to Shetland one day, I'm obviously biased but I love it. An ice cream maker is very useful, and I can almost promise you won't end up eating nothing but ice cream...