This is my last, regularly scheduled weekly knitting essay. The remainder of the knitting content on TealArt, at least for the foreseeable will be either project reports, or quick notes, or other similar pieces. I've started to feel like the knitting content is a bit tried, and isn't really reflecting what I or you are interested in reading, very much. But I hope you enjoy this little homage to Shetland Jumper Weight yarn. -- ty

I want to tell you a secret: Shetland sheep are magic creatures to be feared and revered.

"Shetland?!?!" you ask in amazement. "Isn't Shetland yarn rough and hard to work with?"

Why yes, indeed they are magic, and while you might think that it is rough, I'm here to explore why you may have the wrong idea about the shetland sheeps [1]. In the style of the meaningless top x-number list that is so popular with the folks at digg, this post will be in a list format. So there.

  1. Shetland not really as rough as you think it is.

    Shetland yarns and wool isn't cashmere, quiviet, or even merino yarn, and when people feel shetland yarn it doesn't feel comfortingly soft like like luxury yarns, that's true. Shetland's magic is that when you put it near your skin, it doesn't irritate. This is because shetland yarn doesn't have guard hairs like some other yarns, so it isn't prickly, and feels comfortable as you where it. This isn't to say that I'd recommend making an unlined-skin-tight cat-suit out of shetland, but for most wear situation, you'll feel comfortable. In the equation is the fact that shetland tends to be (I believe) woolen spun, this means that--among other things that the wool is lofty and light. So not only does the yarn not attack you, it doesn't weigh you down, and magically keeps your warm. What more could you want out of yarn.

  2. Shetland yarns are available,

    While most yarn stores don't stock a full range of shetland colors, the three major suppliers/mills for shetland yarn (Jamieson's, Jamieson's and Smith, and Harrisville Designs) are generally incredibly available, either directly from the mills, or from third-party stores. Since these yarns are incredibly consistent, once you have a color card and idea about what you want, ordering these yarns is really easy.

  3. Shetland 2-ply is incredibly versatile.

    People's first response to seeing 2 ply shetland is often to say that it's too fine. And it is fine yarn, but there are a lot of things that you can do with 2-ply. For instance you can: knit lace work, knit socks at sock-gauge, knit stranded work, or even double the yarn for something a little heftier. Also HD, at least, makes a dk/worsted that's double weight yarn, if you really can't cope with the fingering weight.

  4. Shetland has the best color selection around.

    Because of I think that a lot of shetland mills, HD in particular, generally produce for weavers (and fair isle knitters) there are just more colors around for this kind of yarn. It's great.

  5. Shetland wears well.

    I think that Shetland wears particularly well because of the properties that I mentioned in number 1. It's lofty and tends to fairly firmly spun, and all of the mills mentioned above are just good. That kind of thing matters.

  6. Shetland felts well.

    Shetland, because it's so lofty, and because it's magic felts well. This means that it steeks well, and that the fabric wears really well and tends to find your body shape and form to it. This means that you have to be careful when washing this fabric. It also steeks well as the yarn almost felts from the sweat and friction from your hands as you knit it. This is one of the great joys of this yarn.

  7. Shetland Actually Knits at Sport-Weight Gauge

    I can't explain this one at all, but I know it's true. I keep looking at the shetland and expecting the gauge to be about what I get for other fingering-weight yarn. When I cast on for projects expecting this gauge (yes, I'm a strict-non-swatcher), it's always too big. When I try and trick the yarn, and pretend it's sport weight and cast on with this assumption, it almost always works. This goes for situations where I've tried to knit both both stranded and plain. I have no good explanation other than magic.

  8. Shetland Stranded stitches are actually square.

    This is actually an observation of Meg Swansen and EZ, because even though it's not true, I tend to assume this of all color work knitting, and its usually pretty close. It's even closer with Shetland, though. This makes picking up around armholes particularly fun, and it makes it easier to design using charts.

  9. Shetland yarn lets you be more frugal with yarn.

    Ok, this might strike you as unlikely, given the fact that shetland is perhaps not the most inexpensive yarn around. But it's true. The fact is that shetland yarn is pretty standard, I mean sure, HD is a microd [2] finer than Jameisons and J&S, but they're all close. Also as with any yarn, if you're using the same kind of yarn for more than one project, it's easier to use leftovers.

  10. Shetland doesn't pill like merino and other yarns.

    You're right, I'm stretching for a number 10, because I think this technically should fit under "wearing well," but it stands that shetland doesn't really pill because of the way it's spun and the way it tends to felt. Shetland doesn't pill and seems to wear like iron. This is a good property in yarn. In contrast, I've yet to find a merino that doesn't pill.

I hope these were insightful and fun. Questions? Comments? Thoughts? I'd love to hear them!

Cheers, tycho

[1]I've found that adding inappropriate s's to words particularly animals is incredibly adorable. I implore you to forgive this grammar area, because unlike most of the errors on this site, it is indeed intentional. Sorry for being such a bad writer.
[2]I think this is a measurement unit from science fiction, but I'm leaving it in because it reflects what came to mind first and I think thats kind of funny. If that makes you uncomfortable, read it as "smidge."