Shetland Wool Week

4-12 October 2014
Proudly Supporting Shetland

Shetland Wool Week 2014

Zoom Shetland Wool Week is a world renowned celebration of Britain’s most northerly native sheep, the Shetland textile industry and the rural farming community on these islands. Shetland wool is a world class natural fibre, with a long standing reputation for quality, strength and excellence from the fleece to the textile products. Shetland knitwear has a deserved respect gained from many generations of hard working knitters and crofters producing some of the finest lace and Fair Isle knitwear.

In this fifth year of Shetland Wool Week, an extensive range of exhibitions, classes and events covers many different subjects including weaving, spinning, dyeing, Fair Isle and lace knitting, and a look at traditional gansey styles. The Foula Froke is the only gansey design to originate in Shetland, with introductory classes on this complementing a contemporary take on Dutch traditional ganseys.

New and exciting venues include classes held on a traditional restored Tall Ship, and at the brand new Sumburgh Head classroom facility at the very tip of mainland Shetland – incorporating an indulgence of natural heritage and stunning views into the creativity of textile work. Events are taking place from this southern tip, right up to the most northerly island of Unst, famous for its beautiful lacework, with many locations in between.  

Hazel Tindall, who has twice held the World’s Fastest Knitter title, will be Patron of 2014 Shetland Wool Week. Hazel grew up in Shetland and learned to knit before she can even remember. Her knitting has been the subject of many articles and book chapters, and her own patterns are eagerly sought by knitters all around the world. Hazel has a real passion for knitting, patterns and Shetland wool and having delivered a number of classes in past years, is an ideal Patron for Wool Week 2014. She will design a special Wool Week pattern which will be made available prior to the event. Details will be posted to this website later in the year.

The Shetland Wool Week Committee bids a very warm welcome to everyone attending Shetland Wool Week 2014.

Shetland Wool

Shetland wool is a world-class natural fibre, and its reputation relies on the islands' native expertise from the crofters who grow it to the talented Shetland women who design and create with it. The legacy of the isles early wool industry has gifted contemporary Shetland with an international reputation for excellence in knitting and textiles.

Wool played a pivotal role in the development of Shetland’s modern history. There are few places in the world where wool has been continuously grown, processed, knitted and sold, for centuries, and a few locations where every stage of production - from sheep right to through to finished sweater - is still locally evident. And certainly there is nowhere to beat Shetland in terms of its sheer wealth of expertise, from internationally-renowned wool experts like Oliver Henry, to Hazel Tindall, the world's fastest knitter. Highlighting the fibre's bright future alongside its important heritage, Shetland Wool Week is a truly time for celebration.

Shetland Wool Week 2013

The varied and extensive line up for the 2013 Wool Week festival included master classes and events with well-known local and international knitters and designers.

Shetland Wool Week is a celebration of Britain’s most northerly native sheep, Shetland’s textile industries and rural farming communities. 

  Zoom   Guest patron of the 2013 event was Felicity Ford, who, in addition to her work with ‘Wovember’ is also an accomplished sound artist and textile designer. Felicity’s workshops and lectures included a focus on the ‘sounds of Shetland sheep’, inviting participants to ‘listen’ to Shetland wool.

Felicity was joined by Tom Van Deijnen, otherwise known as ‘Tom of Holland’ for selected events. Tom is perhaps best known for his Visible Mending Programme (VMP), where he uses darning, patching and weaving techniques to give a new lease of life to damaged or over-loved garments. Also on the bill for this year’s event, was international designer and teacher, Di Gilpin, who has recently been awarded The Balvenie Master of Craft award for the Textiles Category for 2012. Di’s work brings hand knitting to the fashion world, and her 30 years of teaching experience brings something special to her workshops.

Well-known local designers and knitters also provided a range of courses and events for aspiring Fair Isle and lace knitters, spinners, weavers and dyers. The Hoswick Visitor Centre had an astonishing array of events planned through the week with Niela Nell Kalra and Elizabeth Johnston; Jamieson and Smith (Shetland Wool Brokers) Ltd opened their shop daily for lessons with Hazel Tindall, Mary Henderson and Mary Kay, to name a few; with additional events taking place throughout Shetland, including: Unst Heritage Centre, ASF Shetland, Whalsay Heritage Centre, Shetland Museum and Archives, Shetland Textile Museum and Shetland College. 

Read the 2012 Shetland Wool Week report by Kate Davies here

A further addition to this year’s Wool Week, was the North Atlantic Native Sheep and Wool Conference, which was held over four days at the end of the festival. The Conference is an international project held annually in venues in the North Atlantic region. The aim of these conferences is to bring together beneficiaries and stakeholders in native sheep and wool production to collaborate, and develop new projects and initiatives. Holding the conference in different venues throughout the North Atlantic each year allows the host area to highlight initiatives and challenges in their own area.