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Still time to get involved with Shetland Wool Week

Published: 12 September 2023

The countdown to Shetland Amenity Trust’s annual Shetland Wool Week festival has begun, with the nine-day event set to kick off on Saturday 23 September.

As well as celebrating Shetland’s rich textile heritage, crofting, wool and design, there will be a particular focus on a variety of related cultural events to ensure that the festival appeals to a broad audience of locals and visitors alike. Shetland Wool Week takes place throughout the isles with many local communities hosting exhibitions, talks, classes and drop ins.

Hazel Sutherland, chief executive of the Shetland Amenity Trust said: “It is fantastic to see local community groups really getting behind Shetland Wool Week. The event is a balance between in-depth workshops and a variety of more sociable gatherings all with Shetland oo at its core.

“There is perhaps a perception that Shetland Wool Week is only for visitors, but it is very much aimed at people living in Shetland too. Whilst the event is a celebration of Shetland wool it also aims to pass on the skills and knowledge that make Shetland’s textiles so distinctive.  This year we have included a strong cultural programme which connects the heritage of our past with the people we are today. For example, we have a talk about the dialect names of Shetland’s wildflowers, inspired by this year’s patron, Alison Rendall’s Buggiflooer Beanie; and an ‘In aboot da night’ at the crofthouse museum with traditional storytelling and music.”

Curator of the event and knitwear designer, Donna Smith, has brought in new additions to the programme with an emphasis on upcycling knitwear. She explained: “We are really excited to be running some classes that aren’t primarily about knitting techniques, but rather have a focus on how to re-use, recycle and re-wear garments and transform them into something beautiful. Two of our visiting tutors are experts in this field: Stitch Birdie (Lorna Reid) and Jeanette Sloan will run classes on how to transform a plain knitted fabric using a variety of embroidery stitches and embellishments all using Shetland materials. Take a look at the Shetland Wool Week Box Office and see if there’s something there for you.”

The Hub which is located in the Shetland Museum will continue to be the main meeting area for participants.   There will be daily demonstrations covering topics such as spinning, openwork, machine knitting and Fair Isle as well as short learning sessions where people will be able to try Fair Isle knitting and beginners lace.   On Fair Isle Friday, knitters are welcome to bring along their own projects for advice if they need help with a pattern, have made a mistake, or want to brush up on their skills.

Hazel continued: “It’s an exciting time for SWW and we are really pleased to see the event grow with our tutors and event providers coming forward with new and interesting ideas. There are still a number of tickets left and people can either dip in and out of the drop ins, teas and exhibitions, or sign up for a talk or a more in-depth class. We would really encourage anyone with an interest in Shetland’s textiles to come along – it’s a lot of fun and all about sharing and passing on knowledge, techniques and skills.”

A number of virtual events will take place throughout the week and daily film updates will be provided by Claire White and Molly Williams – ensuring that the event can be enjoyed online around the world.

Details of tickets still available can be found on the SWW Little Box Office.