One of the best things about our recent trip to Shetland, was the opportunity to go and visit Jamieson & Smith. I've been working with them since I started on The Knitter, and not met any of the staff in person. It was absolutely brilliant to put faces to names. Sadly, I didn't take any photos in the shop - which is a haven of all things wool and of glorious colour. What I did do is to pick up some yarn to knit a Betty Mouat Cowl (more about that later), and fondle lots of the new Shetland Heritage yarn.
This range is thinner than the traditional 2 Ply Jumper Weight, and knits to 3ply tension (30-36 sts to 10cm/4in depending on needle size). This is the full colour range at the moment - perfect for really traditional designs, or something more contemporary - the choice is yours. The yarn is worsted spun (rather than woolen spun as the 2 Ply Jumper Weight is). This means that all of the fibres are arranged parallel to each other before spinning, and the result is a smoother, slightly denser yarn. It's also significantly softer than the Jumper Weight. I could comfortably wear it next to my skin, even in a sensitive area like my neck. Although, that said, I'm fairly comfortable with the Jumper Weight too. The difference is noticeable though.
I've knitted up a swatch, ready to work on a few patterns that I'm helping J&S with. It works really well for Fair Isle designs - with a more defined, less fuzzy finish to the stitches. This swatch is worked on 2.75mm needles and has a tension of 34 sts to 10cm. I think you could go even smaller with the needles and still get a nice fabric.
Here's a more close up look at the swatch. Isn't it lovely?
Jamieson & Smith Shetland Heritage (100% Real Shetland Wool; 110m/25g balls)
2.8nm worsted spun
£3.20 per 25g balls available direct from Jamieson & Smith
Full disclosure: I was given the 6 x 25g balls of Shetland Heritage for free, in order to work the swatches for the patterns I'm working on for J&S.