Jamieson’s is a family owned business, which has specialised in wool from the native Shetland sheep for 5 generations. The family are dedicated to the survival of this unique fibre and as each new generation joins the business, this promotion becomes their life’s ambition.
The business was started in the early 1890’s. Set up by Robert Jamieson in Sandness, on the far west coast of the Shetland Isles. From his shop, he bought or exchanged for goods, knitwear from the local crofters. The knitted goods were then sold on to meet the public demand for fashionable Shetland hosiery beyond the island’s shores.
Over the next century, each generation of Jamieson brought their own skills and ideas to develop and progress the business. Andrew (Robert’s son) became one of the islands first wool brokers, buying the raw wool clip from the crofters and shipping it to Scotland’s mainland for processing. At the time, Shetland wool was believed to be too fragile to be spun on industrial machinery so it was blended with wool from coarser breeds. The very best blend of 'Shetland' yarn produced was only about 60% pure. This blended yarn never fulfilled the family’s dream of 100% pure Shetland knitwear; grown, spun and knitted in the Shetland Isles.
The next generation, Bertie (Andrew’s son) expanded the business in 1952 by opening a retail outlet in Lerwick, Shetland’s capital town. This was the start of the Jamieson Knitwear brand. Original Jamieson’s sweaters were hand-knitted by home workers using blended ‘Shetland yarn.
Chasing the life-long dream, Bertie, and his son Peter began to experiment with the spinning of pure Shetland yarn. Their efforts were successful and 100% pure Shetland yarn was produced in 1978 to the delight of the family.
In 1981, they opened Jamieson’s Spinning, Shetland’s only commercial woollen mill. This unique mill, built in Sandness, completes all the stages of yarn production under one roof. This includes grading, scouring and dyeing fleece before colour blending, carding, spinning, twisting and balling to produce their 100% pure Shetland yarn.
After achieving this success, home production was hit by a sharp fall when the number of hand-knitters available in the islands declined due to the oil boom. However, the demand for the Jamieson’s brand was steadily increasing. Recognising the urgent need to increase production, the Jamieson family were among the first in the islands to harness computerised knitting technology. Combining this technology with the 100% pure Shetland yarn produced in their mill, allows the highly complex traditional Fair Isle patterns to be re-created in an increasing range of both traditional and vibrant contemporary colours.
Recognising the potential for woven fabrics using these unique colourful yarns, Jamieson’s Spinning installed weaving looms and now produce an extensive range of genuine Shetland Tweeds and blankets.
With the business now moving into its 5th generation, Peter, and his son Garry, continue to develop and promote their prized unique Shetland products. The extensive ranges of hand knitting yarns now being offered have been developed and extended with valuable assistance from their many international agents and distributors. Jamieson’s exclusive Shetland knitwear, fabrics and yarns are now available in premium stores and boutiques worldwide.
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