The Workshop Co-operative in St Margaret’s Hope began its knitwear tradition in 1978 when the agency for Icelandic Lopi yarns became available.
A group of experienced local knitters started hand knitting garments for sale through the Co-operative. Using traditional patterns and drawing on their expertise in the craft of knitting, the hand knitters in the Co-operative established the unique brand of Workshop knitwear still recognised and appreciated today, forty years later.
High quality yarns have always been one of the hallmarks of Workshop knitwear. They are chosen for their colour, texture and weight as required for interpreting the Workshop’s patterns.
They are sourced from a variety of producers for particular patterns and styles. We use North Ronaldsay yarns for robust, warm sweaters, hats and mitts.
Luxury Italian yarns, made of alpaca, merino and cashmere fibres are used for warm and light jumpers, jackets and scarves.
Icelandic Lopi yarns are used for mid-weight garments, hats, head - warmers and mitts.
Our patterns draw on traditional fishermen’s gansey patterns of knots, anchors and waves and adapt them into contemporary designs named for Orcadian locations – Tankerness, Roeberry, Quindry, Herston – or with a nod to their maritime origins – Ocean and Chevron.
Part of the long Orcadian tradition of hand knitting, our team of experienced local knitters work to the Workshop’s patterns and designs. Working out of the shop in St Margaret’s Hope, our knitwear manager co-ordinates knitwear production, designing new patterns and working with the knitters and finishers who regularly drop by.
An important part of the process, finishing consists of sewing up side seams, grafting shoulders, setting in sleeves and sewing on buttons. Every sweater, jacket or scarf is subjected to high standards of quality control before being hand washed so it gets its finished size and feel. This is reassuring for customers who know that their jersey or jacket won’t change once it’s washed – so long as they follow the after care instructions given!
Many of the Workshop's scarves are created to co-ordinate with sweaters. Made from the same softer yarns, there are Roeberry and Chevron patterns as well as others such as Wave and Barley Ear. Whether they are worn with a matching sweater or simply on their own, they are very popular with customers looking for luxurious warm accessories. Hats and mitts, on the other hand, are usually knitted using heavier yarns to give extra warmth and a closer fit. We have one expert knitter who to date has knitted nearly 900 hats for the Workshop. Customers enjoy looking through the basket of hats in the shop to find a turn back or a beanie in a size, pattern and colour to suit them.
The bigger garments come as tunics, sweaters or jackets, sized broadly as small, medium or large according to design, pattern and yarn. As they are hand made, each is truly individual so visitors to the shop are encouraged to try them on. This way they can be sure of a perfect fit in a style and colour that is exactly what they want.
In the shop our unique knitwear is displayed alongside a wonderful range of the best Orcadian crafts such as jewellery, pottery, cushions and complementing knitwear, and arts such as prints, photographs and cards. We hope you will come to see us soon.