What is Shetland Wool Week?
Shetland Wool Week is an annual festival that takes places in Shetland in the last week of September, and actually lasts for nine days. Packed with classes, knitting, spinning, dyeing, weaving, tours, exhibitions, open studios, teas, talks and tours – it is a celebration of Shetland’s wonderful textile heritage and we hope that there is something for everyone!
What are the dates for 2020?
The dates are 26 September – 4 October 2020.
How do I get to Shetland?
Shetland is 600 miles north of London, but it is accessible by overnight ferry from Aberdeen or a 60 – 90 minutes flight from all the main Scottish airports.
Visit shetland.org for more information.
Travel within Shetland
Many of the events take place in Lerwick and Hoswick and most venues are accessible by bus. However, in order to truly appreciate the scenery you might consider hiring a car or taxi. There are no trains in Shetland.
Visit shetland.org for more information or here for information on public transport.
Approximate journey times to key SWW locations:
The following are all within easy walking distance from each other:
Shetland Museum and Archives and SWW HUB
Islesburgh Community Centre
Anderson High School (venue for the SWW welcome)
Shetland Textile Museum
Scalloway Museum: approx 15 minutes drive from Lerwick
Burra: approx 25 minutes drive from Lerwick
Hoswick Visitor Centre, Hoswick, Sandwick: approx 20 minutes drive from Lerwick
Sumburgh Head: approx 45 minutes drive from Lerwick
Sandness (Jamieson’s Mill): approx 45 minutes drive from Lerwick
Ollaberry Hall: approx 50 minutes drive from Lerwick
Tingwall Hall: approx 15 minutes drive from Lerwick
Levenwick Hall: approx 25 minutes drive from Lerwick
Shetland is an archipelago, so you may need to factor in a ferry journey too when attending classes, which we advise that you pre-book.
Bressay: the Bressay ferry sails from the Albert Buildings, Lerwick every hour in the day and takes 5 – 10 minutes.
Whalsay: the ferry terminal is at Laxo, a 20 mile drive from Lerwick. The crossing to Symbister takes 25 minutes.
Yell: A car ferry service operates from Toft (a 28 mile drive from Lerwick), on the mainland to Ulsta in Yell. The crossing takes 20 minutes.
Unst: Two ferry crossings are involved in travelling from the Shetland Mainland to Unst, but it’s a very straightforward journey. A car ferry service operates from Toft (a 28 mile drive from Lerwick), on the mainland to Ulsta in Yell. The crossing takes 20 minutes. From Ulsta, Yell allow 25 minutes to drive to Gutcher. From here take the car ferry across Bluemull Sound from Gutcher to Belmont on Unst; this crossing take 10 minutes.
Fair Isle: this is only accessible by inter island flight (8 seater) from Tingwall Airport or by ferry, 2.5 hours from Grutness Pier at the southern tip of Shetland.
Further information here
Shetland is a small place and it is advisable that you book your accommodation well in advance. Shetland has a range of accommodation from hotels, guest houses, B&Bs and self-catering.
Visit here for more information.
We offer a wide range of classes, many of which have a Shetland influence or focus. We try and keep numbers small, and on average there are 12 students to a class. Typically, there is one tutor per class and on average they last between three to six hours, with prices ranging from £35 to £100+ each.
SWW is for everyone, but there are some classes that will require students to have certain skills. For full details read the relevant class description on the SWW website.
Do I need to bring materials with me?
In most classes yarn will be provided. However, it is best to check the website description, which will give full details, including yarn, needles, and any other materials or homework required.
What is membership?
Membership for 2019 is now live.
Our annual SWW membership is primarily a way for people to support the future of the event, but also give everyone the opportunity to received an exclusive range of goodies.
Shetland Wool Week depends on its many supporters in everything it does. Your generosity is important to us and provides us with the life blood to continue delivering a varied and inspiring event, as well as helping to preserve Shetland’s textile heritage and its rural farming community for future generations to enjoy.
How do I buy tickets for events?
Tickets usually go on sale mid-May each year.
When the Little Box Office opens simply type in the class or event you’re interested in and book online. Please note it is no faster to buy tickets via phone, and, in fact, it may be more efficient to buy online. Tickets are typically restricted to two per person per event.
There is a £1.50 booking fee added to your basket at the end.
There is no ‘speed’ added to the process of putting tickets into the basket – the only slightly faster thing will be the checkout as the contact details will already be saved. Once a ticket is selected and added to the basket, it is unavailable for any other customer to select for 30 minutes to allow you to add other items and check-out without rushing. The only way you would lose out is if your computer times out, or if you don’t check out within the half hour.
Sadly, there is nothing we can do about people’s internet connection so if there are broadband/internet issues, the only thing we can suggest is either someone else orders on your behalf, or you arrange to be somewhere with guaranteed internet connection.
The Little Box Office does not accept PayPal. In order to book tickets you will need a credit card (Visa, MasterCard or American Express) or debit card.
There will be a main telephone number to call if you have any specific queries, which we will announce when the Little Box Office goes live. Please bear in mind that we are a small team though and you may be placed in a queue.
Do I need to set up an account on the Little Box Office?
There is absolutely no requirement to set up an account, and you will be able to purchase event tickets without doing so. However, if you do decide to set up an account, your contact details will be saved and you will be able to view your past orders.
Tickets are non-refundable
However, there is a very effective noticeboard in use during the event at the HUB and a SWW Facebook forum page, so if you want to sell your tickets privately, or chat online, then this is a good starting point. If a class is cancelled, you will get your money back or you can transfer your ticket to another class.
Are there classes for children?
This year there are no specific children’s classes. However, children are welcome to come along to any of the drop-in events.
Is there homework required for classes?
Some classes do ask for a little bit of preparation beforehand to ensure that you get as much out of the class as possible. Homework details are listed on the relevant class page on this site. Tutors will also email instructions.
Are there evening events?
Yes, there are talks, classes, book signings, knitting nights and a Shetland ‘spree’ arranged throughout the evenings at the festival. See the programme for details.
Some of the local pubs have traditional music on a Wednesday night and Mareel is Shetland’s first rate cinema and shows films daily. The newly opened ‘The String’ in Lerwick will be holding a number of musical events throughout the week.
What is the SWW HUB?
The HUB is a great place to relax, knit and meet fellow Wool Weekers.
Located in the Gadderie at the Shetland Museum and Archives, Lerwick, it is open from 10am – 7pm. Pick up your membership pack here and find out what’s happening each day. There is also a handy noticeboard where you can swap tickets and find ways of sharing lifts. Coffee and tea is available.
Can I bring my non-knitting partner?
Of course, everyone is welcome. This year we are including five guided tours which include trips throughout the isles. Although they will have a woolly theme, they may be an ideal day out for non-knitting aficionados. Look in the programme for details.
What can I buy at Shetland Wool Week?
As well as the eclectic range of shops throughout Shetland there is also a chance to buy woollen-related items at the Shetland Wool Week Makers’ Market on the second Saturday of the festival. This is a free event and everyone is welcome to attend.
Shetland Wool Week 2018 merchandise is still available here.
The SWW hat
Every year we have a SWW patron who designs a hat for the year.
The pattern is available to download for free from the SWW website or you can pick up a copy of the leaflet at various Shetland shops. For the last four years the hat pattern has been launched at the fantastic Edinburgh Yarn Festival.
Local yarn shops in Shetland
It’s practically impossible to leave Shetland without topping up your woollen stash.
Most of the above sell knitting needles and maakin belts too.
There is a wide range of eateries throughout Shetland which are advertised locally.
Shetland Wool Week Annual
For the past four years we have produced an annual for Shetland Wool Week full of patterns and articles. The fourth edition is now available to buy here.
Please note that it is not puffin season during Shetland Wool Week. These comical and fascinating birds visit our cliffs from April to August. However, there are is a bounty of other wildlife to observe.
For information on what to do in Shetland visit https://www.shetland.org/things
Make sure that you’re signed up for the Shetland Wool Week newsletter for all updates.
Also, if you’re on social media be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram.