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Where, oh where is the shetland yarn?

rjf | Posted in Knitting and Crochet on

I just spent 3/4 of an hour trying to find Alice Starmore’s Scottish Campion (2-ply shetland yarn) on the Web.  It comes in more than 100 colors so fair isle knitting can be lots of fun but nowhere could I find a company whose website had a sample page for colors and often not even prices.  Can anyone point me in the right direction?   rjf


  1. Tish | | #1

    Did you try Google?  I just did a quick scan, and from the hits I got, it appears that Alice Starmore's Scottish Campion may be discontinued.  I found this site with a substitute that may do for you:


    Several sites seem to be suggesting this Jamieson yarn as a substitute for the scottish campion.

    Good luck!

    1. User avater
      ehBeth | | #2

      What a great site. She Ewe is fabulous - will save that to favourites. Thanks!

    2. rjf | | #3

      Hi Tish, Thank you!  I did look on Google and that site did seem to be the best but I couldn't get the colors to come up.  From the looks of the page, they must carry every color there is.  It does sound as if Campion is no longer but Jamieson yarns came up quite a few times, often from England and Canada.  Alice Starmore had site as well with some of the colors she must use often but not nearly as many as SheEweKnits.  The other thing is that I need it fast and I'm afraid to try something out of the country.  Have you dealt with any Canadian or English companies?   rjf

      1. Tish | | #4

        The only company I have bought yarn (over the internet) from is The Mannings in Pennsylvania.  I confess to window shopping on-line, then going back to my local knitting shop to see if I can get the yarn there.  I love internet shopping, but I would be really sad if Inez went out of business, so I try to be good.

        The Mannings is a weaving store, but they carry lots of knitting yarns.  I don't know if they have the shetland wool you want ot not, but the staff is knowledgeable.  You might want to just give them a call.  They are in East Berlin southern Pennsylvania near Gettysburg.

        717-624-2223 or http://www.the-mannings.com

        Here's a midwestern company with a huge selection- I got this link from Theodora:


        I don't know if they have your wool.  Sorry to be so vague, but I'm internetting on the fly today and don't have time to double check.

        Good luck!

        1. rjf | | #5

          Those are very impressive sites.  I couldn't get any colors on the Mannings' site but the number of color names is very nice and long so I'll call them Monday to see about a color card.  Have you ever heard about the Tomato Factory Yarn Store?  It was (unfortunately past tense) near the NJ border, not too far from Philadephia.  Maybe in Lambertville.  They carried more than 150 shades of Scottish Campion and before that, Jameison and Smith (if I have those names in the right order).  I haven't done Fair Isle in a long time but I feel the urge coming back.    Thanks for the web sites.  rjf 

          1. carolfresia | | #6

            So I'm guessing that Regia yarn wasn't quite enough to get the fair Isle out of your system?! I'll look forward to seeing the finished result with it anyway...


          2. rjf | | #7

            Hi,  I've been taking the socks (and it is plural now) to knit on while I'm visiting Grandpa Charlie in the hospital and the nurses and other visitors are raving over what the yarn does.  No one can believe that tweedy ball of yarn can produce such a neat, well-planned pattern.  I've done toe-up and turned the heel exactly the same way I did the toe.  Amazing.  The real advantage to this method is that you can try them on as you knit to make sure they're the right size.  We're getting white-outs today but at least it's above zero.  I checked out the chocolate band on the chocolate mousse.  Wow!  Now you need some knitters on there.     rjf

          3. Jean | | #8

            I bought a skein of Opal to try.  Which yarn and what size needles are you using? Are you using 4/5 straight needles or 2 circular.  I think I will be knitting while we're driving  so am leaning toward 2 circulars, but have never tried the technique before.

          4. rjf | | #11

            With the Regia sock yarn, I'm using double-pointed # 2 and getting 7.5 to 8 stitches/inch.  I was going to try 2 circular's but didn't have two in the right size and length.  The only difficulty with double pointed needles in a car is that it's easier to drop one and then it rolls under the seat and you can't reach it until you get out of the car.  I used a merger of the two toe-up methods you found the websites for and it makes a really good looking toe and heel but I had to practice quite awhile before I could remember to "slip the slipped stitch"  and not knit it.  The toe was in navy blue and at 8st/inch it's very hard to see the mistake to correct them.       rjf

          5. Tish | | #13

            RJF, When I was doing most of my knitting, I was commuting to work by bus and subway an hour and a half each way.  I had the same problem with double pointed needles.  I bought rubber erasers of the type that you stick on the end of a pencil after you've used up the original eraser.  I stuck these on the back end of my double pointed needles, and both ends of every needle when not in use.  That solved the problem of needles falling out and rolling under the bus seats.  I am sure that there is such a thing made for needles, but at that time, it was easier to get erasers at the drug store than to get to a knitting shop.

            After Carol asked about those yarns, I looked them up on the net.  Way cool!  How do you suppose they'd weave?

            Edited 1/21/2003 9:01:19 AM ET by Tish

          6. carolfresia | | #15

            The erasers are a great idea. I've been winding fat rubberbands around the tips of my needles when I put them down so various curious kids can't accidentally slide them out of the knitting. They're a nuisance to put on the needles, but they're also kind of tricky to get off if you have little fingers and somewhat undeveloped manual dexterity!


          7. rjf | | #17

            Somewhere in Italy there is a tour bus running around with # 3 double pointed needle rattling in its radiator.  That was when you could take knitting on the plane to keep you sane while waiting in the airports.

            I wondered about the weaving too!  There are maybe 3 or 4 other companies making similar stuff.  One is called Socko but I'm not remembering the others.  But my shetland is on the way so I'm finishing my second sock and then I can start the next project!  (After I sew the fleece and weave the rest of the samples for the friendship sampler)  Ah, retirement!                        rjf

          8. User avater
            ehBeth | | #20

            rjf - how did the Fair Isle work out? I came back in here today looking for some ideas again - the knitting bug bit hard the other week! I remembered this was where I found some great references when I first came to Taunton.

          9. rjf | | #21

            Wow! that was almost 2 years ago!  I had to reread all the messages to figure out where we were. I think at point the weaving bug took hold and the next January, temari became the obsession so I haven't fair-isled at all but I am working on an entrelac (spelling?) scarf so I won't look out of place at the knitting group I go to.  I still haven't found a site with colors and prices for 2-ply shetland but I haven't looked very hard.  I wonder if Harrisville 2-ply (at Web's) would work.  It comes on cones, I think, and it seems crisper than skeined yarn but I think would become very soft when washed for blocking.  I'll ask some of the weavers in the guild.   My granddaughter has requested a purple poncho with purple fur so that will be the project after the scarf.         rjf

          10. User avater
            ehBeth | | #22

            it has been a long time, hasn't it.
            make that poncho - and fast! they're very very trendy right now. so white hot that they'll probably burn out in about 4 - 6 months. but ... the upside is that they're incredibly fast and easy to make. i can burn off a bit more than one a week, just knitting while i'm transitting to work.
            tons of free patterns (who actually needs a pattern for a poncho though?) at about.com.

          11. rjf | | #23

            I just looked on about.com and found a poncho pattern I liked...not quite the right size but I'll just knit a little longer since shaping doesn't seem to be an issue with ponchos.  It's not going to be a Christmas present, partly because it would be too cold here to wear it in January so I hope it will stay in style until March or April.  How far do you travel to work that you can get a whole poncho done in a week?  I'm impressed.     rjf

          12. carolfresia | | #24

            Luckily enough, the little poncho-girl doesn't follow the trends all that closely, but prefers to set her own. So a purple poncho by next "spring" (late May-early June??) should be just about right!


          13. User avater
            ehBeth | | #25

            It works out to about 6 - 8 hours of time on the bus and subway a week. Plenty of time for a poncho. I knit continental style, so I'm faaaaaaast. When fair-isle sweaters were all the rage, I had a real routine worked out - Day 1. knit one cuff on the way to work, knit the sleeve to the elbow on the way back, do the last 3 inches (before joining) of the sleeve that evening. Day 2. repeat. Day 3. do the ribbing at the waist. Day 4 and 5. Knit the body to the joining point. On the weekend, join and start the pattern. If I was in the mood, I'd knit the bulk of the patterned part. Otherwise - Week 2. Day 1, 2 and 3 - knit the pattern. Day 4. do the neck ribbing (if the sweater wasn't too heavy to carry around by this point). Complete underarm weaving evening of Day 4.I could complete 2 sweaters a month, just from streetcar time. When I was dieting, and knitting at night, I was cranking out a lot. My entire family is still very warm in winter as a result. Ponchos - the no-lose fashion trend for people who like to knit. Love it!

          14. Jean | | #26

            Ponchos were big 25-30 years ago when my DD's were teens. Wish I had kept the ones I made for them then. They were gorgeous.

          15. User avater
            ehBeth | | #27

            Hey, am I one of your DD's? <grin>
            That's exactly when I last had ponchos.
            Now, I'm making them for friends' kids and grandkids.If you can't play a sport, be one.

            Edited 11/30/2004 9:50 pm ET by ehBeth

          16. rjf | | #28

            Wow!  That's impressive.  Is all the knitting in the round? 

            The woman who runs our knitting group (it actually just trots along on its own, I think) grew up in Europe and knits continental style and it's like lightning.  The weird thing is that if I'm doing Fair Isle, I can do what amounts to continental with my left hand and english(?) with my right hand but I have trouble doing continental just by itself.  The way she knit, the purl stitches came out "backwards" so she had to turn them or enter from behind to make them work.  Does that make sense to you?  It's something about the yarn goes over the needle when it should go under and around.  The other thing she does, is to buy sweaters from Good Will, take them apart and reknit or alter for size by taking off the bottom ribbing and reattaching after shortening the sleeves or body.      rjf

          17. User avater
            ehBeth | | #29

            I work those Fair Isle, and most nordic patterned sweaters, in the round, on 5 needles for the most part.Sounds like your leader/facilitator is doing continental knitting and then North American purling. I've seen people with that interesting stitch combo. I knit and purl continental style. It can be a bit intimidating to people if they haven't seen it before - it really is fast. My dream is to someday have a 'real' Shetland knitting belt. Stick that base needle into the belt and just zoom through the knitting.

          18. JeanetteR | | #30

            Could you tell me what continental style knitting is, and can you re-learn in this style to get a better speed?  I can knit without taking my hands off, but am not very fast.


          19. Jean | | #31

            Hi Jeanette, I think you will find this site very helpful


          20. JeanetteR | | #32

            Thank you!  This looks like a great site, and is now in my 'favourites' to check it out properly and run the video clips tomorrow,as it's 10pm about bed time here.

          21. kjp | | #33

            Question:  I knit both continental and "north american"...my mom refused to teach me as she knits north american (yarn in right hand)...so I found a continental knitter and then learned both (quite handy for teaching!).  I have 2 friends who learned to knit in Ireland I think.  They hold the left needle under their arm and knit with the yarn in their right hand - very fast.  You mentioned a shetland belt, wouldn't that be the same thing - i.e. yarn in the right hand?  I can't find much information on the kind of knitting my friends do and you seem to be a good one to ask!

            Thanks, Karin 

          22. User avater
            ehBeth | | #34

            Karin - (yes to yarn in the right hand, needle under arm)

            here's a link to site that sells the knitting belts - so you can see one, and sort of imagine how it works (I'm hopeless at posting images here, so links it must be)


            and here's an interesting link that talks about knitting belts partway down the page


            I've got an ancient (to me) belt that has double rows of holes punched in all the way around.  I sometimes stick the back end of my left (double-pointed) needle in, and just work away madly with the right hand.  A proper padded knitting belt would certainly be better, but hmmmmmm maybe I just figured out what a great little birthday gift to me would be. <grin>

            Now - can you imagine going on a knitting tour of Scotland? I just found this site http://www.joycejamestours.com/joycejames/scotland.htm

            - the details of a 2002 tour included

            Weisdale Mill, home of the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers.  This will be an opportunity to chat with guild members and to view their collection of antique Shetland lace and Fair Isle garments.  We will also be able to see the Guild's collection of antique Shetland crafts.  In the afternoon, we will meet  members of the guild for a workshop.  They will also bring spinning wheels and show us how to use the traditional knitting belt.

          23. kjp | | #35

            I'm drooling over that tour! Thanks for the great links.  I'm still trying to figure out the difference between the knitting belt and the way my friends knit.  I'll have to have a knitting date & study what they do & how it might work with a knitting belt.  It's so interesting to learn about all the techniques people use!  Such proof that knitting is truly an ART!  (and an obsession!)

          24. User avater
            ehBeth | | #36

            As I recall, Gatherings used to cover this sort of thing 15 or so years ago. Must dig into my memory banks.  Perhaps Jean has a better recollection?

            An obsession. What a nice way to think of it <smile>

          25. FitnessNut | | #38

            It just came to me, after reading rjf's latest post, that I think Alice Starmore has either discussion or photos of the knitting belt in her book "Fair Isle Knitting". Now, my memory could be wrong ;-) because its been ten years or more since I read the book, but I'll bet you could find it in your library. And it is a wonderful book, like all of hers. I learned lots from reading them.

          26. rjf | | #37

            Threads has a soft bound book called "Knitting Around the World" published in 1993.  They show a picture of Scottish knitting with the right needle tucked in the armpit but there is also an article about Fair Isle knitting which mentions the knitting belt.  I had "Principles of Knitting" from the library but I don't remember if she covered those kinds of knitting.  Maybe Jean will know.  If you do Fair Isle knittting, then you're doing both kinds of knitting at the same time.  But somehow, I can't translate that to doing just continental!  rjf

          27. Jean | | #39

            I don't recall, there was so much good stuff in that book! Not being a continental knitter, I would have skipped over that part.

          28. rjf | | #40

            continental knitting:

            I've tried but it feels uncomfortable and the stitches get turned when I'm trying to purl and that's a real pain if I'm doing ribbing.  I think I scoop when I should wrap.  That book have a lot of good ideas and maybe it really will be republished.   Stay warm.    rjf

          29. User avater
            ehBeth | | #41

            I'm certainly hoping that this current trendiness of knitting among younger people is going to stick around long enough for some new books to come out, and some of the great classics to be republished. I'm getting tired of searching for knitting books in the remainder shops.

          30. Jean | | #42

            I was encouraged to see some knitting magazines amongst the crochet ones last time I shopped the bookstore. Maybe soon they will show things other than scarves, ponchos, and etc.

          31. Jean | | #14

            Those  dropped needles are a pain! :) I forgot to ask you can you make a pair out of a skein or does it take more? I have to order it from the net--no yarn shops around here.

          32. rjf | | #16

            The Regia yarn takes two skeins.  Wait, I'll check the yardage.....210 meters.  It probably takes 1 and 1/2 to 3/4 skeins.  It's very nice to work on.  rjf

          33. Jean | | #19

            Thanks, I'm ordering some today.

          34. rjf | | #18

            One of those websites you pointed me to had jelley bean socks and I think it was the same kind of yarn but very bright primary colors.  It was the toeup sock site that changed address.                                           rjf

  2. Lynn | | #9

    Hello, I'm looking for a simple pattern for booties. The library books I've checked out don't make sense in the last stage - the toe and putting the bootie together. Please help.

    1. ElonaM | | #10

      Here's a baby bootie pattern:


      The knitlist will probably have a number of other bootie patterns, too.

    2. rjf | | #12

      I've never tried booties.  I usually think of them as being crocheted.  Here are two sites from Jean and Elona.



      They both had quite a few different patterns and very understandable.       rjf

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