‘Know Real Shetland’ by the Real Shetland Company

Featured‘Know Real Shetland’ by the Real Shetland Company

2018 marks the 10th anniversary of The Real Shetland Company and we have come a very long way since we first started trading.

The Real Shetland CompanyThe company was originally formed to create, market and promote a distinguishable brand for wool sourced exclusively from Shetland, Real Shetland Wool (RSW).  At the time, there were many impostor products that used the term ‘Shetland’ in goods that mostly contained cheap foreign wools or synthetic fibres.

 

Over the following 10 years, working closely with our partners on Shetland, Jamieson and Smith (J&S, the home of RSW) and their parent company, Curtis Wool, we succeeded in defining our brand which is now recognised and highly sought after, all over the world.

It is with great sadness that now in 2018, we see a re-emergence of those imposter products, desperate to latch onto the heritage and quality of genuine RSW.

The Shetland ‘Type’

Unbeknown to many, there is a technical loophole that exists from a time when ‘Shetland’ referred to a quality of yarn or finished product.  This term is now outdated and mostly unused bar for a select few manufacturers who seek to exploit it.

Shetland Definition - Trading Standards
Shetland Definition courtesy of Trading Standards (UK)

In our opinion, the correct description of a non-Shetland wool product choosing to use the Shetland name should be clearly marked as ‘Shetland Type’ but for malicious purposes, these ‘type’ products are often simply marketed as ‘Shetland’.

We cannot mention any specific manufacturers, suppliers or retailers but we can inform and educate our customers as to the difference between our products as well as share a little of the Shetland Story behind our brand.

The simple truth is that even these ‘type’ products must properly describe their wool content so we ask that whenever seeking a genuine RSW throw, cushion, carpet or similar, you take a moment to check the wool content.  Most ‘Shetland Type’ goods are made using Australian Merino or NZ lambs wool.

The manufacturers who use this loophole are actively harming the Shetland crofting community who we have tried so hard to support.

The Shetland Story

The heritage of Real Shetland Wool dates back to the Vikings, who are believed to have brought Norwegian sheep to the Islands which were then bred with local sheep.  The Shetland Islands were the ideal landing point for early Viking settlers and a perfect environment for raising sheep, who thrive on the land.

Shetland Sheep
Sheep enjoying the luscious Shetland countryside

With grassy hills, kelp laden beaches and a contrasting climate specific to Shetland, the sheep living here grow a unique fleece, both springy and crinkly.  Today, the eco-system is much the same but the Viking farmers have descended into who we now refer to as crofters.  The Shetland crofting community continue to care for their sheep in much a similar manner but with the added benefit of modern day animal husbandry techniques to maintain their health.

Given the unique characteristics of Real Shetland Wool, demand for the fibre remained constant until imposter products started to flood the market.

Through J&S, Curtis Wool sought to support this important crofting community by offering a stable and generous price for their wool, shortly after, the RSC was formed.

J&S buy the vast majority of all wool grown in Shetland and deal direct with over 700 Shetland crofters, maintaining the commitment to buy wool at a price well above that of their mainland counterparts.

With there only being a relatively small amount of wool produced on Shetland, the balance of the annual Shetland wool clip tends to remain on the Islands.  The RSC and our partners are the only businesses with access to enough RSW with which to offer a diverse range of genuine RSW products.  Buying RSW products, helps our network support the Shetland wool industry.

The Future for Real Shetland Wool

Here at the RSC, we feel that the argument for the ‘Shetland Type’ terminology is a dishonest and misleading tactic that damages the good reputation we have forged for wool sourced from Shetland.  Unfortunately, as long as this loophole exists, there is little we can do about it other than educate the public.

Sadly, even some customers of the manufacturers exploiting this loophole believe their products to be RSW when in fact it is not.  Whether this is them turning a blind eye or that they’ve been purposely mislead by their supplier, we can’t be sure.

We see the future in a positive light, providing we can continue to get this message across.  With there now being a ‘origin’ wool test that can identify the origins of a fibre, we hope that we can challenge the imposters and once again defend RSW.

All we can ask of you is to seek out Real Shetland Wool and enjoy all the benefits of our fibre that these impostors are trying so hard to imitate.  Remember, RSW is easily identified by the Three Sheep logo; if you don’t see the Three Sheep, it probably isn’t Real Shetland Wool.

rsc logo blank
The Three Sheep logo – used by suppliers of genuine RSW

Friends of Real Shetland Wool

The Real Shetland Company is not the only manufacturer of genuine RSW products.  We do have the most varied range of RSW goods, ranging from throws, bedding, carpets and more (now available through www.adamcurtisonline.co.uk) but it would be wrong not to mention some of our fellow supporters and their high-quality products.

Jamieson and Smith are the home of Real Shetland Wool and have a stunning array of hand knitting yarns, wool top, garments and more.  Located in Lerwick, the capital of Shetland, J&S is where Martin Curtis set the foundations for Shetland Wool Week.  We are proud to have worked with them for so many years.

Oliver Henry of Jamieson and Smith during Shetland Wool Week
Oliver Henry at Jamieson and Smith giving one of very popular wool talks about Real Shetland Wool and what he looks for in a good fleece

Vispring are one of the UK’s most prestigious bed manufacturers and huge supporters of the Shetland wool industry.  Their commitment to the RSW brand has been paramount in enabling our partners maintain fair prices for the Shetland wool clip.

Vispring Shetland Superb
Shetland Superb mattress by Vispring – made with Platinum Certified RSW

Dries Van Noten, the acclaimed fashion designer has taken a special interest in RSW and used it alongside the J&S branding in a range of clothing seen on catwalks and in the music world.

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Thank You

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support.  The last 10 years have been filled with ups and downs but we would never have made it this far without our wonderful customers who have helped us conduct our business and develop our brand.  We look forward to serving you and defending RSW long into the future.

ACO Note:

For those of you who are unaware, The Real Shetland Company Ltd and Adam Curtis Online are part of the same family business network.  Together we strive to support British textiles and promote eco-friendly wool products.

ACO 2018

The Real Shetland Company

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ACO Christmas Gift Guide

ACO Christmas Gift Guide

The festive season is upon us once again and with the clock counting down towards the big day, we thought you may appreciate some Christmas gift ideas for your family and friends.

The following products are available from our website and include free UK P&P.  All our products are made in the UK and we do ship internationally (please contact us for international shipping options).

British Wool Throws and Cushions £50.00 – £90.00

 

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Best of British Collection (£65.00) – The Best of British collection features three undyed, natural coloured designs, made using specially selected British wool.

Real Shetland Heritage Collection (90.00) – The Real Shetland Co. Heritage throws are made using only Real Shetland Wool, wool sourced exclusively from the Shetland Islands.  This range was developed with some of the UK’s top designers and features 16 coloured designs.

Real Shetland Natural Collection (£60.00) – From The Real Shetland Co, this range features undyed pure Real Shetland Wool in all its natural glory.  Striking natural shades in traditional designs, some of which were released by Shetland’s original Tweed manufacturer, T.M.Adie.

Real Shetland Natural Cushion Collection (£50.00) – A long running favourite of The Real Shetland Co.  100% Real Shetland Wool woven outer casing and filling with 100% cotton inner casing.  Perfect for just about any sofa or arm chair.

Wool Rugs and Sheepskins £65.00 – £210.00

 

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Real Shetland Wool Sheepskins (£65.00) – As with all our RSW (Real Shetland Wool), these sheepskins are sourced exclusively from the Shetland Islands.  All a generous size and in natural white, we don’t bleach our sheepskins.  Very soft and hugely popular all year round!  Tanned in the UK to the highest of standards and a perfect addition to all home settings.

British Wool Coloured Sheepskins (£75.00) – Prepared in the UK to the same high standards as our RSW sheepskins, our British Wool sheepskin rugs offer a stunning mix of natural browns that really are unique.  Very soft and generously sized.  Please note, no two natural sheepskins are ever identical so colour and shape do differ slightly between sheepskins.

Real Shetland Floor Rugs (£210.00) – Two stripey styles in the delectable natural RSW colours.  3ft x 5ft in size.  Woven with 100% undyed RSW and a natural jute backing.  The pile weight is 60oz/yd2 which offers a great feel underfoot.

Cashmere Throws, Stoles and Scarves £80.00 – £350.00

 

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Our cashmere products are all made in the UK, developed by some of the UK’s most talented designers.  Attractive styles and various sizes, our cashmere range has something for everyone.  Please see our cashmere page for more information.

Cashmere Scarves £80.00

Cashmere Stoles £156.00

Cashmere Throws £198.00 – £350.00

Real Shetland Sheepskin Beanbags £490.00 – £750.00

 

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Real Shetland Wool Beanbag (£750.00) – Lovingly handmade in the UK using our natural white RSW sheepskins.  Features leather base with zip opening for refilling.  Ridiculously comfortable and amazing to snuggle down into.

Real Shetland Wool Pouf (£490.00) – A scaled down version of the large beanbag, handmade in the UK with the same care and attention to detail and of course, our RSW sheepskins.  An ideal companion to the large beanbag or perfect for children.

Hand Knitting Yarns £3.20 – £7.50

 

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For the discerning hand knitter in your life, we have a lovely selection of very special British Wool and Real Shetland knitting yarns to offer.  All our yarns were made in the UK – spun in Yorkshire.

We offer free shipping on yarn orders over £15.00 – below that and there’s a £3.50 shipping charge to UK addresses.

ACO Real Shetland Wool Shrink-Resist Worsted Aran (£6.50/100g hank) – Originally developed by The Real Shetland Company, this worsted yarn has been specially treated so that it’s machine washable.  Available in natural white (or ‘ecru’), this Aran weight yarn has a wonderful handle and is suitable for hand-dying, taking colour very well.  Available on hank which makes dying much easier.

British Wool Worsted 2-ply (4ply lace weight) £3.20/25g ball

British Wool Worsted Aran £4.00/50g ball

British Wool Worsted Chunky £7.50/100g ball

 

Thank you for reading our 2017 Christmas Gift Guide.  If you have any questions regarding any of our products, please feel free to contact the team either through our WordPress contact form (here) or via the ‘Contact Us’ page on the ACO website (here).

Just to make your Christmas shopping that little bit kinder on the wallet, we’re offering a 10% discount from your first order by signing up to our mailing list (bottom left of the page).

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

ACO

ACOReal Shetland Wool 3 Sheep logo

Haroldswick, Norwick and Tangwick…

Continuing from our Lerwick blog post, looking at the namesake of some of our attractive Real Shetland Wool Heritage Throws, we have three more throw designs which we thought you may like to learn about; Haroldswick, Norwick and Tangwick.

 

The Heritage Collection of throws is made using Jamieson & Smith’s exclusive Heritage yarn collection; a soft yet strong Worsted spun yarn, developed to recreate traditional Worsted yarns found in the Shetland Museum’s archives.  Keeping in touch with the Heritage theme, the throw range boasts the best of Shetland and Yorkshire textile tradition with both yarn and throws being developed and produced between the two locations; a truly British product.

 

We have already discussed the origins of ‘wick’ in Old Norse (referring to the shape of the bay), with all our throws being named after a stunning Shetland bay.  Here’s some more information about these three Shetland locations, should you ever wish to visit.

Norwick and Haroldswick are located on the Island of Unst, towards the North-East of Shetland, whereas Tangwick is to the North-West, still classed as part of the mainland, in Northmavine.

Haroldswick was given its name from the Viking King Harald, and is supposedly the first landing point of the Vikings on Shetland, also home to the most northerly church in Britain.  Norwick is a very pretty little bay, partly pebble and partly sandy, frequently visited by wildlife photographers and artists.

haroldswick
A stunning bay at Haroldswick, Shetland
norwick bay
Another pretty bay found at Norwick, Shetland

 

Northmavine, home to Tangwick, is almost an Island in its own right, joined to Mainland Shetland by Maivis Grind, ‘The Gate on the Narrow Isthmus.’  Home to Tangwick Haa Museum, originally built as a private residence by the Cheyne family in the late 1600’s, Tangwick (Northmavine) is the most northerly parish of mainland Shetland.  With rugged coastline and rolling hills (some of the highest in Shetland), Northmavine is one of the more picturesque corners of Shetland.

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All products made by The Real Shetland Company use only Real Shetland Wool; wool sourced exclusively from the Shetland Islands.  We design, develop and manufacture our products in the UK and are firm supporters of British Textiles.

Real Shetland Wool 3 Sheep logo
Remember, if you don’t see the Real Shetland 3 Sheep logo then it probably isn’t Real Shetland Wool!

 

You can find more information on Real Shetland products at the official Real Shetland Company website (here) and all products are available to buy from Adam Curtis Online.

If you would like to contact us directly, please either use the contact form (here) or using the information from the contact pages on one of the aforementioned websites.