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Wool Week tutor helping to change lives in India

Published: 01 October 2019

Terr Malcolmson Wool Week TutorYoung Shetland knitwear designer and Wool Week tutor Terri Malcolmson is travelling to southern India next week to teach fair isle knitting to women in the Tamil Nadu province.  The two-week trip is part of an initiative to provide women in rural areas with the skills to gain sustainable, well-paid employment.  

The province produces over 40% of all textiles in India and was devastated by the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004.  A delegation of volunteers from Shetland went out to Tamil Nadu in the wake of the Tsunami.  Whilst there, the late Jimmy Moncrieff, former General Manager of the Shetland Amenity Trust, had the spark of an idea that eventually lead to the creation of Shetland Wool Week.

Terri is a talented designer and knitwear tutor and delivers a number of classes throughout the annual Shetland Wool Week programme.  She said, “I am really excited about the trip to India and apprehensive at the same time!  It was participating in Shetland Wool Week that gave me the confidence to teach knitting - this is my third year as a Wool Week tutor and I love it.    The opportunity to travel to Tamil Nadu and to contribute to such an important initiative is a real honour.”

Terri will be working on behalf of the company ‘KOCO’ which stands for ‘Knit One garment Change One life’.  KOCO originated in Australia and they got in touch with Terri earlier this year asking her to get involved.  The company works in partnership with women who live in the rural villages of Tamil Nadu and trains them in the art and science of handknitting as well as reading English and mathematics, enabling them to gain full-time employment and financial independence for themselves and their families.  The women are already skilled knitters and Terri will be teaching them how to knit two colours in each row.

Ruth Mackenzie, Chair of the Shetland Amenity Trust who organise Wool Week said, “I am delighted to hear of Terri’s trip and the important work she will be doing. She is a really talented young designer and it is as if Shetland Wool Week has gone full circle, back to the place where the idea for the event originated.  The purpose of Shetland Wool Week was to celebrate and enhance all aspects of Shetland Wool and to make all aspects of the industry more sustainable in the future.  Seeing a young local designer develop and grow in confidence as a result of the event is fantastic and we wish her all the best for her trip.”

Terri added, “I am busy teaching all week as part of wool week and then I can really start getting ready for my trip.  Both Linda Coutts and Emma Perring at SIC volunteered in Tamil Nadu after the 2004 Tsunami and they have been wonderful in providing me with information and advice for my trip.  I really can’t believe that it is happening.”    

Terri will travel to Tamil Nadu on the 11th of October and will be teaching ‘stranded knitting’ in local hubs.  She will be writing a blog throughout her trip and you can follow her adventures at www.terrilaura.co.uk/blog/