Knit Real Shetland

Five of the best knitting books - Scottish inspiration

We've sought out five of the most gorgeous knitting books that draw inspiration from Scotland, from the landscapes to the textures and characters. Unsurprisingly perhaps, three of the five celebrate our favourite Scottish isles...

26th October 2015

Knit Real Shetland

Tapping into the romance of the Shetland Isles, with their rustic landscapes and countless sheep flocks, this pattern book is a real escape from modern city living. Glorious close up images of the knits show off the elegant textures and stitch patterns, while shots of stone-built croft houses and winding lanes give you the idea of where you’d best like to wear them.

An introduction from Kate Davies eases you in gently, introducing you to characters such as Auld Sheepie and his daughter Evie, stalwarts of the 1940s Shetland wool industry. It all serves to draw you in and make you fall utterly in love with the fleeces before you even reach the patterns.

The 15 designs in the book have a slight vintage feel that fits with the island outlook, while presenting a luscious range of colours and styles that fit right into 21st century fashions.

We love the Feathercrest Mittens (even the name makes us a little weak at the knees!) designed by Jared Flood, and autumn-toned Melby Jumper dress by Gudrun Johnson. Other designers who’ve contributed include Jean Moss, Mary Jane Mucklestone, Hazel Tindall, Woolly Wormhead and Masami Yokoyama. 

In fact, there isn’t one item in this collection that we wouldn’t love to wear. Apart from, perhaps, the Osaka Tea Cosy. We’ll leave that to the teapot.

Knit Real Shetland: 15 Knitting Projects in Real Shetland Wool is published by Jamieson and Smith Shetland Wool Brokers Ltd, £20.

Real Shetland Yarns coverWe’re big fans of Shetland wools and knitting traditions, so we were thrilled to discover the new book Real Shetland Yarns. It gathers together 40 personal stories from Shetlanders, telling how wool, textiles and knitting have impacted their lives. Ranging from the memories of lace dresses, to parents working at a knitting machine into the night to bring money into the household, to helping with sheep shearing and more, these are snippets of a truly wool-centred way of life, accompanied by some stunning colour photos.

Many of the stories use the distinctive Shetland dialect – but don’t worry, there’s a glossary for non-Shetland speakers!

Real Shetland Yarns is published by Shetland Amenity Trust, £20.


Colours of Shetland coverInspired by her love of the culture and landscape of the Shetland Islands, designer Kate Davies has created a collection of patterns evoking the Isles’ textile history.

The book, called Colours of Shetland, contains ten patterns - five garments and five accessories - which Kate has designed to blend traditional ideas with a contemporary feel. From stranded colourwork to steeking, there are techniques to delight keen knitters, and every pattern has been designed to take advantage of the rich and varied colour palette of Jamieson & Smith’s popular Jumper Weight yarn.

Among our favourite designs are the ‘Puffin’ colourwork sweater, the classic ‘Scatness’ tam, ‘Ursula’, a steeked cardigan, and the ‘Northmavine’ hap shawl. Colours of Shetland costs £14 from

Knit Scotland coverCelebrate all things Scottish by knitting your own mini woolly version! Knit Your Own Scotland by Jackie Holt and Ruth Bailey (www., £9.99, PB) has patterns for a host of Scotland’s national treasures and icons: the bard himself, Robert Burns, William Wallace, Billy Connolly, Bonnie Prince Charlie, not forgetting Nessie of course and a Highland coo, a cute sheep and a Scottish Terrier. No Scottish scene would be complete without bagpipes, the Saltire flag or a bottle of finest Scotch whisky – you’ll find all these and more within these pages. Happy knitting the noo! Knit Your Own Scotland by Jackie Holt and Ruth Bailey is published by Black and White Publishing, £9.99, PB. 


Scottish Heritage Knits coverThe signature design styles of Scotland - tartan, argyll, houndstooth check, cables - are given a modern twist for handknitters in a fabulous new book by Martin Storey.

Called Scottish Heritage Knits, it’s a collection of 24 patterns for women, from cardigans, jackets, sweaters and ponchos to socks, hats, gloves, throws and bags.

Bright, beautiful colour palettes in 4ply yarns bring a fresh feel to traditional Fair Isle, while bold cables paired with modern shapes offer a new approach to winter layering.

There are also lots of classic, feminine pieces that will become favourites for years to come.

Scottish Heritage Yarns is published by Rowan, £15.99.

If you enjoyed this, you may also like our reviews of baby books here, and our British-inspired books here.

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