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Local knitwear designer to curate the fourteenth Shetland Wool Week

Published: 21 February 2023

Shetland Amenity Trust’s annual Shetland Wool Week festival, the isles’ celebration of Shetland sheep, wool, and textiles, has a new curator this year.

The festival will see renowned local knitwear designer, Donna Smith, start a two-year term as curator. Donna, who was Shetland Wool Week patron in 2015, when she designed the now famous Baa-ble hat, which was her first ever written knitting pattern, is a well-respected design talent, both locally and internationally.

Donna Smith wearing her Jemima’s Jumper and Cowl which she designed for the 2022 SWW Annual

In recent years Donna has firmly established a name for herself in the textile industry. As well as tutoring, she now produces and hand dyes her own Shetland wool, Langsoond Yarn, and last year published her first book of knitting patterns. She is also a popular knitting tutor and speaker with a wealth of experience in dyeing, Fair Isle and Shetland lace knitting.

Shetland Amenity Trust chief executive, Hazel Sutherland said: “It is a pleasure to have Donna onboard as part of the SWW team. She comes with a wealth of experience and a deep understanding of Shetland’s textile heritage, and we’re looking forward to working closely with her to develop this year’s programme. Donna is bursting with creative ideas and contacts, and this, combined with her pragmatic approach will help deliver a varied festival with quality at its core.”

Donna Smith said: “I am honoured to have been asked to join the SWW team and help curate the programme. Having been involved with the festival since it started, as both a tutor and a patron, SWW has played a significant role in my life over the years. It has been interesting to see it change and grow and I am looking forward to bringing forward my ideas to help shape it so that it continues to appeal to a broad audience, whilst retaining the skills, stories and techniques that have put Shetland’s textile heritage on a global platform.”

A significant part of the curatorial role is to encourage new talent to ensure that the event remains sustainable. With this in mind Donna is interested to hear from anyone in Shetland who is keen to learn how to become a tutor or get involved with the event in other ways.

Donna added: “It can feel intimidating to take on the role of tutor and it requires a certain set of skills to translate knitting knowledge into a meaningful teaching experience. I am really keen to tap into the wealth of expertise that we know exists in Shetland and help nurture it so that people will consider becoming a tutor themselves. This may be through specific training, or perhaps shadowing tutors during this year’s event. Anyone who is interested to find out more, please get in touch with me via the SWW team.”

Shetland Wool Week is now in its fourteenth year and will run from 23 September – 1 October 2023.

The new SWW Patron and hat pattern will be announced in spring and the programme will be released later in the summer.

Anyone who is interested in getting involved in the event, be that through volunteering, hosting an event, or running a class, please get in touch with the SWW team at woolweek@shetlandamenity.org