By Rosabell Halcrow

»Sea Moss

Historic Katie's Pattern
Hand knit Fair Isle
Rosabell Halcrow
Shetland wool sweater
Price: £245 - £525  
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Katie's pattern
Hand knit Fair Isle Shetland wool sweater
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Born in Hamnavoe, on Burra Isle (current population approximately 800) in the Shetland Island archipelago, Rosabell Halcrow has knit since the age of 12. We're not sharing her age but it's been many years since and her expertise at this ancient handcraft is astonishing, glorious and precise. Not surprising given that her aunt once knit Sir Winston Churchill a Fair Isle sweater when he was Prime Minister of Great Britain you could say that it's in her genes.

This is perhaps the most commonly recognised pattern of Fair Isle knitting in the world. The colour combination of Shetland wool yarns in natural white, brown and black and dyed yarns of madder red, indigo blue, yellow made with onion skins, and it's variations, has been knit throughout the Shetland Islands by men and women alike for multiple generations. I first encountered the pattern and became aware of its associate name in purchasing a hand-knit scarf of it made by a local man in the remarkable storefront belonging to Mrs. Gillian Ramsay of Shetland Fudge, their Puffin Poo really must be tried. Gillian shared the history of the pattern with me and indicated that the original, knit sometime in the 1920's, could be found in the Shetland Museum and it was commonly known as "Katie's Pattern". *

Like her many knitting neighbours, Rosabell knits her variation of Katie's Pattern with the same clearly defined geometric patterns for which authentic hand-knit Fair Isle is so well known. Painstakingly building each sweater with two colours of yarn in each row and taking over a 110 hours to create each masterpiece. Rosabell has the distinction of being the very first Fair Isle hand-knitter whose work was offered to our global customer base. Like the other hand-knitters of Fair Isle offered through Thistle & Broom, Rosabell earns a full 66% of the retail price of your purchase. The underlying principle behind this being that by offering such we stir interest in subsequent generations to learn the extraordinary skills from women like Rosabell and continue this unique hand-craft and iconic British fashion.

Please understand that there is always a queue for her, and the other ladies efforts. Your wait can be as little as a month and up to six but in doing so you enjoy the privilege of owning a bespoke garment equal, but different, to a Saville Row suit or a pair of John Lobb or GJ Cleverly shoes. If you are based in the UK we attempt to offset VAT through our shipping model whereas domestic shipping is considerably less than sending to Japan or the United States.

* The term 'Katie's Pattern' is an unregistered trademark. Although not the knitter of the original, Margaret Stuart of Shetland is attributed to have named the ubiquitous Fair Isle pattern prior to passing said garment to the Shetland Museum following the death of its owners in 1981. Subsequently Katie's Pattern has been referenced by Madeline Weston in her two books on the subject of Fair Isle knitting The Traditional Sweater Book (1986) and Country Weekend Knits (2008). There is no implied endorsement between these two ladies and Thistle & Broom, Rosabell Halcrow or any other Shetland hand-knitter whose variation of this pattern and its unique colouration is part of the collective heritage of the Shetland Islands.

Purchase benefits the Thistle & Broom Scholarship.


Chris Capaldi wears Katie's Pattern
Special thanks to 21st Century Kilts and Howie Nicholsby for use of Chris' leather kilt