Shetland Wool Week with Sarah Jane: Part One of Three

Our very own Sarah Jane Humke is a skilled spinner and knitter with a love of all things lace. She is also a sheep aficionado, an interest that was strengthened during the several years she lived in England. While there, Sarah became friends with Deb Robson and accompanied her as she gathered some of the information for her Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook. So when Sarah had the opportunity to join some long-time friends and attend Shetland Wool Week this fall, she jumped at the chance to return. We were pleased that Sarah was willing to share her adventure with us for our November program.


Sarah knits with some of the wool she brought back from her trip.

Sarah’s first stop was Iceland, home of the Icelandic sheep whose light airy inner layer and strong outer layer of wool are carded together to make lopi. She made the most of her twenty-four hour layover by visiting the island’s mill store where yarns, Icelandic sweaters, mittens, and pencil rovings were sold. Rather than buying a completed sweater, Sarah picked out three sweaters worth of yarn. That earned her an “atta girl” from the locals.


Icelandic sheep have a long outer coat and a fine inner coat. When spun together, lopi is produced.

Sarah’s next stop was Devon, England, for a tour of John Arbon Textiles. The mill uses large vintage equipment to make breed specific yarns and rovings. It is a small family run mill which uses locally grown raw fiber and is one of the few small worsted miles still operating in the U.K. Sarah was pleased to learn the mill’s shop offered good deals to those who had taken the tour. To view a video of the mill in action, click here.


Then it was all aboard the sleeper train to Aberdeen, Scotland, the Granite City. Sarah didn’t visit any yarn shops in Aberdeen but highly recommends the sleeper train! A huge ferry passed by an Aberdeen golf course build around ancient ruins on its way to Sarah’s next destination: the Orkney Islands.

Read more about Sarah’s adventure in “Shetland Wool Week with Sarah Jane: Part Two.”



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