Temperature scarf & Scottish wool

A few weeks ago I was talking with my husband about the weather in Scotland. It has been a really quite nice summer after what felt like a very long, cold and wet winter. Over the past few months there have been some really glorious days, like this:

Glenfinnan from Room 5 at Glenfinnan House in May
Coilantogle (Coille an Togail) near Loch Vennachar last month

There has literally been four pretty good months of weather, something which is pretty unusual for Scotland. Rivers and lochs have been very low this summer due to a lack of rain, but it’s been a terrible year for fruit and vegetables; it was really quite a cold and miserable winter then all of a sudden there was a dry and fairly warm April. We have two apple trees in the front garden and last year had at least two dozen apples from them. This year just four. And not particularly huge ones either.

The only plant which seemed to do well was the banana chilli plant in the greenhouse. It’s the first time I have grown chillis so I was unsure whether they would grow or not. I managed not to kill the plant and was quite impressed with the abundance of them.

Over the past week or so there has been a definite change in the weather. It seems this change has been later than usual. For some reason my mind wandered to the upcoming COP 26 and thinking about attending it. I have been thinking a lot about Scottish wool recently and one thought led to another until I decided to knit a temperature scarf.

I saw temperature scarves and blankets on Pinterest ages ago (well over a year ago now) and a new quick Google search came up with absolutely amazing ones.

Here is a beautiful one from 2016. (Image accessed from here on 12th October 2021)
One knitted by artist Josie George (great article and more images here, accessed 12th October 2021)
Then there are some very funny charts – as well as serious ones- to be found on Pinterest too. Clearly not an applicable chart for me; far too many colours and temperatures for central Scotland (accessed from here on 12th October 2021)

So with plenty of inspiration in mind, I set about thinking what I would like to do. First I collected the data from Time & Date and then put it into a chart. I then figured out there are 32° celcius (no idea what that is in fahrenheit off the top of my head) from the lowest temperature to the highest. I say lowest, but actually -5°c was the warmest temperature on 11th February; it got down to -18°c that night. But this chart is recording the warmest temperatures on each day. I then decided that I would use about 10 different colours, so actually settled on 11.

My temperature chart in Excel
The start of the scarf and the yarn

With the exception of one ball (which is 4 ply alpaca, I think from the south of England), it’s all Shetland wool. I’ve had that alpaca yarn for years and years, never known what to knit with it until now.

I chose Shetland wool because it’s my absolute favourite. It’s pretty much all I knit with these days, except sock yarn (which nowadays tends to be the lovely sock yarn from West Yorkshire Spinners).

Jamieson’s produce all their yarn in their own mill on Shetland, they have a very logical order of yarn colours on their website and they tend to post the orders same day or the next day. (If something is out of stock, it tends to only take them 10 days or so to have some more in stock and then on its way to you). They also have a fantastic 225 shades to choose from in Spindrift (4 ply) range, which is particularly helpful when you are doing colourwork of any kind (especially fair isle knitting). Carbon footprint wise, the only journey the yarn makes is from Shetland to central Scotland. I have recently discovered a new to me tiny yarn shop in Drymen which stocks Jamieson’s (I went there with my friend for the first time on Saturday and it is definitely my kind of yarn shop!) and not only do they stock Jamieson’s but also Shetland yarn from the (micro mill) Border Mill in Duns, which I am really looking forward to sampling soon

I am also a fan of Jamieson and Smith’s jumperweight yarns. I have tended to buy this from Wool Warehouse in England when buying sock yarn, simply because they send out the yarn really quickly and have an easy to use website. I’m sad to say that I think the J&S website isn’t the easiest to use, even though it seems to have had improvements since I last looked. The shades aren’t organised into colour groups, and photographs appear to be missing of certain shades of Jumperweight yarns as well. And the yarn is processed at the parent company, Curtis Wool, in England – which means it has a much bigger carbon footprint than its competitor.

I know that both companies used to use the Hunter’s of Brora mill to process their yarns before it shut down and it is an absolute shame that there is nowhere big enough in Scotland today to process Scottish yarn. But that is the subject of another blogpost.

I will update folks with my temperature scarf progress on Instagram (@sassenachstitcher)

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