A skein of Shetland 2000
Shetland 2000 once knitted up

Yarn Profile: Shetland 2000

First Impressions
Color is one of the basic constructs of Shetland knitting. Although each row shouldn't carry more than two colors at a time, typical patterns may call for more than 10 colors of yarn.

Pure Shetland sheep provide so many color variations that, at one point, Shetland wool brokers exported more than 30 colors of undyed yarn alone. Today, the demand for dyed colors has forced many Shetland wool producers to breed other sheep that produce easily dyed white fiber instead.

This yarn is the result of a collaboration between Yarns International and Jamieson and Smith Wool Brokers of Lerwick, Shetland. It is pure, undyed Shetland wool grown in the Shetland Islands.

It is currently available in five colors: Shetland White (cream), Mooskit (grayish brown), Shaela (steely gray), Moorit (somewhere between fawn and dark reddish brown), and Shetland Black (brownish black).

Knitting Up
The first thing I noticed about Shetland 2000 was its softness and sheen, unlike the dyed Shetland yarns I've tried. Yes, it still has an abrasive "wool" feel. But by having avoided the abusive dye process, the yarn has a clearer spin and the fibers don't look matted and jumbled.

This helped make knitting a breeze. The yarn didn't snag, and its firmness allowed me to knit easily by touch alone. The resulting swatches were fine, thin, and eager to become part of something useful.

Blocking / Washing
There are no washing instructions on the yarn label. I recommend the following: immerse in lukewarm water with a small amount of mild soap or shampoo. Move the garment around gently until it's fully saturated. Let it soak for about five minutes, then rinse in lukewarm water. Roll up your garment in a towel to remove excess water, then lay it out to dry.

My swatches bloomed and softened with wash, but I was barely able to detect a change in gauge. There's no need to worry about your colors bleeding or fading, since they're in the wool itself.

You'll want to take the time to block your garments flat. Even while wet, the ends of my swatches wanted to curl up.

Shetland 2000 has an elasticity that makes both knitting and wearing it a pleasure. Stretching a swatch gives the same satisfaction as kneading a well-yeasted bread dough. The good fiber memory will help garments bounce back into shape again and again, no matter how much wear they must endure.

Although Shetland 2000 is softer than many dyed Shetland yarns, it still has a relatively high itch rating. On the flip side, it's a slender but strong yarn that will keep you warm for years.

I'm a firm believer in stepping aside and letting nature do the talking. For Shetland 2000, the result is a lovely yarn that is noble in its simplicity. It's rich and hearty, with resilience and depth.

I only hope this collaboration will continue and that we'll see the reintroduction of more natural colors into the Shetland wool market.

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