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Shetland Wool Week 2019 Patron Announced

Published: 22 March 2019

The Shetland Wool Week guest patron for 2019 has been named today as Shetland ‘Man of Wool’, Oliver Henry.

The news was announced yesterday morning at the start of Scotland’s largest urban yarn and fibre event, the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, where the Shetland Wool Week team is exhibiting.

The annual SWW hat pattern, which is now synonymous with the launch of the patron, was also released.  This year’s official hat is called ‘The Roadside Beanie’.  The inspiration for the hat came from elements of Oliver’s life, from which he drew sketches and illustrations.  These were then interpreted into a design and pattern by his colleague Sandra Manson.

Oliver Henry has lived in Shetland all his life and has worked with Shetland wool for 52 years. He has judged, graded, sorted, worn, promoted, researched and been inspired by Shetland wool in his work at Jamieson and Smith, also known as ‘The Shetland Wool Brokers’.

Oliver explained the inspiration behind the hat design: “My Roadside beanie features two common roadside sights in Shetland: Shetland sheep and fishing boats. Both of them have loomed large in my life as a Shetlander.

Oliver has worked with sheep and wool for over fifty years, so it was clear to him that they would be part of his design story. Fishinghas also played a big role in his life, especially growing up on the family croft at 'Roadside', in the busy fishing community of Hamnavoe on Burra Isle. Oliver’s father and brothers had their own fishing boat and fishing was their livelihood.  Unfortunately Oliver suffered from seasickness and could not carry on the family tradition of fisherman crofter, so  turned to Shetland wool for his work and inspiration.

Oliver said, “I chose the beanie shape for practical reasons: it keeps my ears warm while walking my dog here in Shetland!  The world of knitwear design is a bit of a departure from my usual field of expertise, but it’s been fun working on the idea and seeing it developed through to a final pattern by Sandra Manson. We’ve chosen four different colourways this year using yarn from Jamieson and Smith; Jamieson’s of Shetland; Uradale Farm and Foula Wool.”

Victoria Tait, who works for the Shetland Amenity Trust as Shetland Wool Week Manager said: “We are honoured to have Oliver as this year’s patron. His passion and expertise for Shetland wool is infectious and he is a massive ambassador for Shetland wool and its people.  He was also one of the original founders of Shetland Wool Week, which has now grown and established itself as one of Shetland’s most successful events.”

Shetland Wool Week will be celebrating it’s tenth year in September, as such the team were keen to bring it back to its original roots and this has been reflected in their choice of patron.  Vicotria said, “We are looking forward to working with Oliver through the coming 12 months and we know he has a lot of ideas and ‘oo-related’ stories to share on his blog and Instagram page.”

Ruth Mackenzie, Chair of the Shetland Amenity Trust who run the event said, “Shetland Wool Week has been an incredible success.  It attracts over 650 participants each year, the vast majority of these from overseas.  Our tenth year celebrations will very much focus on the Shetland wool community – it is this community that makes the event so special so it is great to have Oliver as patron.”