SWW 2017 round up

Monday, November 6, 2017

We can’t believe it’s a month since Shetland Wool Week 2017 ended. What an amazing, inspiring, creative and wonderful nine days it was! We’re still buzzing.
Having had a break to recover from the adrenalin surge it’s lovely to be able to look back at the photographs, swap stories, read your social media feeds and all your comments.

As always, we are staggered by how far people will travel for SWW, and this year was no exception. The visitors’ map, where everyone is invited to pin where they travelled from was a great indicator, with marks on Australia, Canada, the East and West coasts of USA, Scandinavia, Europe, Israel and the UK.

SWW 2017 was our biggest festival yet and we estimate that around 600 people attended a huge range of activities which took place the length and breadth of the islands. Many stayed the entire nine days, and beyond, so that they could really soak up the atmosphere.

Shetland may be small but we’re resourceful and we hope that we were able to offer something for everyone, from classes, tours, talks, drop ins, exhibitions, community events, demonstrations and a dance. The SWW events are located throughout the isles and to some it can seem a little overwhelming working out how to get around. And that’s when it is so heartening to see a real sense of community spirit emerge between attendees, with people sharing their knowledge, offering lifts – so that somehow it all gets figured out. As someone so rightly said, ‘it’s all part of the adventure’.

So here are just some of our highlights of 2017.

The event kicked off with people coming along to the Hub at the Shetland Museum and Archives to collect their membership bags, ask questions and just get a general feel for the islands, especially if this was their first visit. Alex Boak’s photographic exhibition ‘People who touch wool’ also presented the many faces behind Shetland’s woollen industry.

The SWW 2017 merchandise was also on sale in the foyer area.

With a full programme, classes began right away on the Saturday, whilst the opening ceremony on the Sunday evening signified the official start of the eighth SWW.  This year we welcomed around 350 guests, who had the chance to mingle, enjoy a drink and sample some local Shetland food. The evening was compered by BBC radio producer and musician Claire White and we listened to music from Shetland trad band Vair, various speeches, including patron, Gudrun Johnston; and watched the SWW Fashion Show featuring a wide range of designs including a kimono and a lace garment for men. It was also amazing to see so many Bousta Beanies in one place!

And then the week was well and truly underway. The workshops are of course core to the festival and this year offered a wide choice of skills and techniques, from spinning, dyeing, many types of knitting, and weaving to making accessories for wool-working such as shawl pins and silver jumper pendants.

The tutors came from a variety of backgrounds both within Shetland and beyond and we are grateful to them for so generously sharing their experience and skills. It was lovely to include classes with past SWW patrons, Felicity Ford, Hazel Tindall, Donna Smith, as well as Gudrun. Our visiting tutors included Julia Billings who ran classes on dyeing and fisherman’s knits; the Icelandic Ladies from Thingborg with their Lopi and Icelandic Shawl workshops; Nancy Marchant shared her extensive brioche wisdom; Amy Detjen took away the fear of knitting with two colours; and Karin Kahnlund ran advanced classes in knitting traditions in Sweden.

There were almost daily tours throughout the week too which gave people the opportunity to listen to the experts whilst taking in the scenery of the impressive islands.

Crofting visits are always in demand and there were tours to Bressay with crofter Chris Dyer, and also to Ronnie Eunson’s organic farm Uradale throughout the week.

Hoswick Wool Week, organized by Niela Kara and Elizabeth Johnston  – a mini Wool Week in itself – was incredibly busy with an amazing variety of classes running from day to night with a wide range of tutors.

And a trip to SWW is not complete with a visit to family-owned Jamieson’s in Sandness to see Shetland’s only commercial woollen mill. As always, visitors came away with vivid memories and stories, as well as overflowing bags of yarn.

Jamieson and Smith Wool Brokers in Lerwick were extremely busy. They ran a number of classes and drop-in events, as well as keeping their yarn shop fully stocked (no mean feat during SWW) and Oliver Henry did his wonderful Shetland fleece sorting demonstration.


This year the Flock Book fell outside of SWW so J&S, in association with Vispring, hosted a day at Gremista Farm bringing together sheep, food and farmers.

While Shetland Wool Week has always been about wool, we have been surprised and delighted that so many participants are thirsty for information about Shetland’s cultural heritage too. The community museums and groups played a crucial role in SWW and it was wonderful to see the range of open days, demonstrations and exhibitions open to everyone, taking place in community halls, such as Ollaberry, Whalsay, Unst and Yell. The Scandinavian Boundweave demonstrations using ShetlandOrganics Natural coloured yarns were also impressive.

The SWW talks are now becoming something of an institution. It was fascinating hearing about Gudrun Johnston’s knitting roots on the westside of Shetland and how she has carved out a successful knitwear design business. Internationally renowned knitwear designers Marie Wallin and Di Gilpin also gave a wonderful, informal insight into their careers and designs and it was encouraging to hear Di endorse the textiles undergraduate course at Shetland College UHI as the “best in the UK”. The Ladies from Thingborg were a blast and their poetic description of Icelandic sheep and wool was captivating.

And at the centre of it all was the Hub where people could relax, chat, knit, ask questions, check out the noticeboard, and enjoy a cuppa. SWW can be very busy at times, but this place provided a focus and sense of calm, and we were thrilled to see so many people use it throughout the week.

As always, we would like to thank everyone who joined us this year, but also those who support SWW all year round. We love receiving your emails and comments and keeping abreast of your latest projects. To us, Shetland Wool Week really does mean community.

We’d also like to give a special mention to Fruity Knitting Podcast who attended SWW. They recorded eight interviews as well as capturing some great footage throughout the week.

Check out Episodes 39 & 40, which include interviews with Hazel Tindall, Dr Carol Christiansen, Elizabeth Johnston; Donna Smith, and a short tour of Jamieson and Smith.

Links can be found here

Episode 39

Episode 40

Blog notes

And finally, huge thanks to all the volunteers and tutors for their expertise, warmth and generosity and for helping us pull it all together.

And now we turn ourselves to future plans …

Dates for SWW 2018 are 22 – 30 September. Watch this space!












SWW Annual Volume 3 (2017) launched

Saturday, September 16, 2017

At last, the wait is over and the SWW Annual Vol III (2017) is now available to pre-order.

This year it’s bigger than ever with 12 exclusive patterns and six essays. As ever the photography is stunning and much of it was taken at Shetland’s historic south end of Commercial Street in Lerwick.

We’re thrilled with how it has turned out and are in awe of the talents of all the contributors. Thanks also to Alex Mazurov for his incredible photography and Ruth Brownlee for the loan of her amazing SeaWinds house.

Patterns include:

SWW 2017 Patron Gudrun Johnston’s Bousta Beanie; Donna Smith’s Addie’s Scarf; Terri Malcolmson’s Triple Tone Circular Scarf; Wilma Malcolmson’s Vermeer Cushion; Outi Kater’s Rosepath Sweater; Ella Gordon’s Tveir Fingerless Mittens; Marie Wallin’s Fetlar Scarf; Elizabeth Johnston’s Shoormal Neck Shawl; Di Gilpin’s Geo Snood; Julia Billings’ Sea Thrift Mitts; Jen Arnall-Culliford’s Sumburgh Hat; Carol Christiansen’s Churchill Pattern.

Essays include:

Roslyn Chapman uncovers the extraordinary stories of some historic Shetland knitters, all male; Douglas Sinclair writes about Shetlander Arthur Anderson who founded the P&O shipping line and championed the isles’ textile industry; a fascinating insight into Shetland knitwear designer Victoria Gibson whose career spans five decades; and Carol Christiansen on rooing, an almost lost method of producing the best wool for hand spinning.

Priced at £18 it can be pre-ordered here. Arrange to collect it at the HUB or have it delivered.

Summer agricultural shows

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Shetland Agricultural Shows
Summer in Shetland always means the fabulous agricultural shows. These offer so much to the community and visitors – and are also an opportunity to showcase livestock, knitwear, baking, horticulture, arts and crafts, stalls, kittens, ducks, dyed yellow sheep:  you name it, it’s likely to be there!

Hazel Tindall visited all the big shows: in Voes, Cunningsburgh and Walls. Here are some of her highlights.

Cunningsburgh – Alyssa Malcolmson is young enough to enter in the 12-16 age group and is a deserved trophy winner with this beautiful jumper. The scalloped edging is, I think, unique, and the patterns in the rib remind me of the work of Pearl Johnson and the late Anna Bell Bray.
– Ruby Williamson’s cardigan in Jamieson & Smith’s Colourbox category (J & S choose eight colours and competitors have to use at least five) deservedly won the trophy. Her use of colour, as always, is exquisite and the cardigan is beautifully knitted and finished.

Walls – I was in sole charge of two young grandsons so saw things at the show I would normally have walked past (tractors and trikes mostly) and didn’t spend as much time in the hosiery section as I would have liked.

The Scarecrow is wearing lovely gloves but the knitting is not quite of show standard.

Kathleen Anderson’s black lace shawl was another deserved trophy winner; earlier in the summer it won prizes at the Royal Highland Show.

Swedish two-end knitting

Monday, July 17, 2017

Shetland Museum’s Textile Curator Carol Christiansen tells us about knitting in the north of Sweden and the work of accomplished visiting SWW tutor Karin Kahnlund.

Last Saturday the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Weavers, Dyers and Knitters gathered at the Shetland Textile Museum for their monthly meeting.  We were treated to an interesting talk by Brita Hövenmark, STM’s custodian, about knitting in the north of Sweden, including tvåändsstickning, or two-end knitting (sometimes called twined knitting).  Brita knows a lot about the knitting traditions from her homeland and is herself an accomplished designer and knitter of this technique.  She showed us gloves and mittens she had made, the fabric dense and warm.

It was Brita who introduced me to the work of Karin Kahnlund, the accomplished Swedish knitwear designer, who is inspired by historical knitted and woven fabrics from Sweden.  Karin is one of the foremost practitioners of two-end knitting and we are pleased she is bringing her knowledge to Shetland Wool Week.  Two-end knitting is usually made in to mittens or gloves in a single colour.  Karin will show how to incorporate small areas of colour, commonly used to decorate cuffs of mittens.  What a wonderful thing to learn as we head into the dark winter months and the holiday season!  There are still a few  places available to her Advanced Two-end Knitting in Colour class.


SWW 2018 dates announced

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

We have exciting news! Shetland Wool Week dates for 2018 have been announced!

Due to the recent support and sponsorship from Loganair and our key longstanding sponsors, including Jamiesons of Shetland and J&S, SWW will definitely be going ahead next year. The dates are 22 – 30 September.

Mark your diaires!


Loganair supports SWW

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Shetland Amenity Trust is delighted to announce that Loganair, one of the Scottish regional airlines that service Shetland, has agreed to support Shetland Wool Week from 2018, securing the future of  a hugely successful festival which is crucial to the Shetland economy.

Loganair Managing Director Jonathan Hinkles told a meeting of the Shetland External Transport Forum the company was “proud to guarantee support for Shetland Wool Week in 2018 and beyond.”

Shetland Amenity Trust chairman Brian Gregson thanked Mr Hinkles and said he was delighted at the news.

“Loganair’s recognition of  the importance of tourism and heritage in the isles is to be welcomed,” Mr Gregson said. “I’m really pleased to say that the company is fully committed to working with Shetland Amenity Trust in continuing to develop these sectors.”

Other sponsors of the festival, which was previously run under the Promote Shetland banner, include Jamieson and Smith, Shetland  Wool Brokers and Jamiesons of Shetland.

Wool Week organiser Misa Hay said the Loganair announcement provided a sense of stability and security.

“Wool Week has become a festival of international significance,” said Ms Hay. “We now have a secure base on which to build it into an even bigger and more influential event. And one which in the future will bring bigger and bigger benefits to the Shetland community and economy.”


Thursday, June 29, 2017

As many of you will know from first-hand experience, we were overwhelmed by the response to ticket sales back in May. There are still some tickets available, but we have also teamed up with our fabulous tutors to put on a few more! Classes will go on sale on Wednesday 12 July at 1400 BST on the Little Box Office/Shetland Wool Week.

 Fair Isle Experience – DRAW
We are delighted to announce that a second trip to Fair Isle during SWW has been organised! Rather than selling the tickets via the Box Office we will allocate them on a ‘lottery’ basis (* see details below).

The trip will take place on Friday 29 September and six lucky people will have the chance to take in Fair Isle’s history and culture. Admire the views from the lighthouse, enjoy lunch and afternoon tea, and soak up the experts’ knowledge on Fair Isle’s knitting patterns and colours first hand. All transport included in the price.

To enter: *As this is an extremely popular tour, we want to try and make it as fair as possible for everyone to be in with the chance of getting a ticket. If you would like to enter the competition simply email your name, address and contact telephone number to: info@shetlandwoolweek.co.uk

In the email subject heading put: ‘Fair Isle Experience Draw’.
We will select six names at random and contact you separately to organise payment.
Deadline: Monday 10 July

Note: Please note that due to Fair Isle’s unique geographical location this event can be cancelled at short notice in the case of adverse weather. This trip ends an hour earlier than the Monday tour due to changes in the flight timetable. However, the itinerary remains the same.

Visit an Organic Farm and Native Shetland Sheep

Two more tours to Ronnie and Sue Eunson’s organic sheep farm have been added to the programme.
Look through fleeces in a wide range of natural colours, and chat about what farming/crofting in Shetland is really like.

Try a Lace Sampler with Nan Smith
In this class you will knit a lace sampler. You’ll have a chance to try various Shetland lace patterns, such as old shell, new shell, cockle shell, horseshoe, ring, fir cone, leaf, bead etc as well as garter stitch, stocking stitch and moss stitch.

Broaden your knowledge of the Shetland knitting dialect too as Nan will be referring to many Shetland ‘makkin’ words throughout. This class is aimed at all skill levels. 


Fair Isle Yoke Bag
Join Jeannie and Janette Budge and make your own Fair Isle-style pouch bag. An opportunity to practise blending colours, try a knitting belt and knit with two colours. This class is aimed at the intermediate level knitter.

Steeking with Barbara Cheyne
In this class you will knit in the round a small piece of work in two colours – part pattern and part steek. Appropriate for all levels.

Monday 25 September 1400 – 1700
Wednesday 27 September 1000 – 1300

Cockleshell Lace with Rachel Hunter
This class will introduce you to the Cockleshell lace pattern – a well-known and very recognizable pattern in the Shetland lace tradition.  It is appropriate for all skill levels.

From Lace to Chunky: Knitting Traditional Shetland Lace Patterns in Heavier Organic Yarns

This introductory class with Sheila Fowlie will show you how easy it is to knit lace, and how traditional Shetland lace patterns can be used with different weight wools. This is aimed at the intermediate level knitter.

Learn to Knit with Two Colours with Amy Detjen

Launch into two-colour knitting (Fair Isle, Norwegian, and Armenian) with an arsenal of tips for two colours (traditionally one in each hand). 

Shetland Museum and Archives Textiles Tours

Join Shetland Museum & Archives Visitor Services Assistants for a tour of the Textile displays. The Textile Collection is Recognised as a collection of national significance.


Icelandic Button Band – Crochet a ‘knitted’ button band
Join Ingibjorg Sveinsdottir and Maja Siska in this class where you will learn about how to crochet a ‘knitted’ button band. It looks like it is knitted horizontally and it is a beautiful finish to any Fair Isle or Icelandic cardigan. This class is aimed at the intermediate level knitter. 

Introduction to Fair Isle Yokes with Hazel Tindall
We’re delighted to be able to offer a few more spaces to Hazel’s popular Fair Isle yokes class. You’ll learn how to knit a section of yoke to understand the shaping, follow a chart and use colours. This is an intermediate level class.

 Remember, there are still spaces available on classes listed in the programme, so please take another look and book your spot.






Tickets still available to 2017 events

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Shetland Wool Week 2017 programme was launched yesterday and we had a record number of sales. Despite the initial technical glitch to the booking system, many people were able to book a range of events.

We are working with tutors to see if we can put on additional classes during Wool Week. We will confirm this in the next few weeks once we have allocated venues.

In the meantime, as of Wed 17 March, there are still over 1,000 bookable tickets left, including the following.

If you go to the search box at the top of the page with the name of your preferred class and choose ‘Book Tickets’ it will take you straight to the Little Box Office website.

‘Shetland’ Book Launch – A New Collection of Fair Isle by Marie Wallin
A Norwegian Challenge
A Shetland Photography Safari with Austin Taylor
Advanced Two-end Knitting in Colour with Karin Kahnlund
An Evening with the Ladies from Thingborg
Basic Brioche (one colour) with Nancy Marchant
Beginner’s Drop Spindle Spinning with Deborah Gray
Beginning Double Knitting with Amy Detjen
Blending Colours of Shetland with Deborah Gray
Bressay Lighthouse Exhibition
British Fisherman’s Knits with Julia Billings
Chunky Cable Masterclass with Di Gilpin
Crochet Class with Lizzie Simmons
Double Knitting – a Journey into the Reversible
Dressing Shetland Knitwear Accessories
Fae Ewe Tae You
Fair Isle and Lace Candle Holder with Linda Shearer
Fair Isle Charts for Beginners with Terri Malcolmson
Felt Your Own Bag
Felted Creatures
Felted Gloves (note this ends at 1600 and not 1400)
Felted Slippers
Felted Shetland Postcards
Felted Wool Vessels
Get Organised – Make a perpetual knitting workbook
In conversation with Di Gilpin and Marie Wallin
Introduction to Magic Loop Knitting
Knit a Picture
Knit Wire Earrings
Knit Your Own Bangle
Knit Your Own Wire Lampshade
Knitting from Lopi and Design of Classic Lopi Sweater
Knitting Texture
Knitting the Thumb Gusset
Make a Wooden Needle and Threading Hook
More is More
Picture-perfect Knitting
Scandinavian Boundweave
Shetland Sheep, Food and Folk on the Croft
Spree for Cushla
Taat Chat at da Bod
The Dye Spell
The Importance of Plying
The Perfect Finish for Lace with Anne Eunson and Kathleen Anderson
The Perfect Picture (photography class)
The Warp Weighted Loom
Threads as Thick as Fishers Lines
Tuck into Your Own Brioche Cowl with Nancy Marchant
Unique Unst: Lace Knitting and Georgian Grandeur (email bookings@belmontunst.co.uk)
Up your game – improver’s spinning
Wearable Felted Art
Weaving Stories at the Bressay Lighthouse
Wirds in Wirsit
Wool Labyrinths
Woolly Words Folded Book Origami

North Mainland Tour
Central Shetland Tour
Tour to Unst
Tour to Yell
Visit an Organic Farm (Uradale Farm)


SWW 2017 Little Box Office Update

Monday, May 15, 2017

Just a reminder to all those planning to join us at this year’s Shetland Wool Week that tickets will go on sale tomorrow, Tuesday 16 May at 1.00pm BST.
The website for the Little Box Office can be found here

A few of you have raised some questions on how the Little Box Office works, so hopefully the following information will help clarify things:

Phone line
The quickest way for you to book tickets is directly online.
However, we will have a special number for anyone experiencing difficulties with the Little Box Office.   The number to call is 01595 980100

This will be available from:

We must stress though that as we are a small team, your call will be placed in a queue.
It will be no quicker booking tickets by phone. If you have more general, less urgent enquiries, please email us at: info@shetlandwoolweek.co.uk

Printed copies of the programme
If you would like to order a printed copy of the programme you’ll be able to do this from Tuesday through the SWW website. No rush here as there will be plenty of copies available.  Copies are free, although there will be a charge for postage and package.

And finally, please don’t be disappointed tomorrow if you’re unable to get hold of your first choice of tickets. There is plenty going on throughout Shetland Wool Week, so there really should be something for everybody.

Happy planning and booking and as always, thank you for your support.





Traditional Shetland patterns influence scarf design

Friday, May 5, 2017

Linda Shearer, member of the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers, shares her latest project with us, which was inspired by two patterns from the book, A Shetlander’s Fair Isle Graph Book – In Colour. She writes:
With the success of the book ‘A Legacy of Shetland Lace’ produced by the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers in 2012, we decided to start work on another book – this time Fair Isle patterns using members’ own designs.Linda patterns This prompted one of our members, Kathleen Anderson, to look out old graph books which had been given to her quite a few years ago by the son of the knitwear manager for Anderson & Co. where she previously worked.  Kathleen took the books along to a Guild meeting where most of us thought the books should be produced just as they were.  The Shetland Times published the books, into one volume, split into two parts.

After the Guild had the book published, I decided I would like to try knitting one of the coloured patterns from it.  I chose the two patterns, ‘Hunting McIntyre’ and ‘Royal Stewart’, thinking it would be fun to knit them both in a scarf.  I tried to choose colours as near to the graphed picture as possible.
The scarf is modelled by Linda’s daughter, Emily.

We are still in the process of producing our own book of members Fair Isle knitting patterns, and hope to have it completed in the next few months.