Woolly round up 2018

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Hello, and a warm and cosy welcome! We can’t believe that we’re hurtling through November already and Shetland Wool Week 2018 took place over a month ago. It feels strange that after a year of planning, it is now over, and we’re beginning to think about the next one.

But in true autumn mode, which is surely a time to slow down a little and reflect, we wanted to look back on what was another inspirational, sociable and creative festival.

This year we welcomed almost 700 people to Shetland from near and far to take part in our ninth Shetland Wool Week. What an incredible experience it was, and we enjoyed seeing new and familiar faces. Many had taken time off their work and travelled from all corners of the world including Australia, Alaska, Hawaii and Israel. It is truly staggering when you reflect on the distances involved.

For those of you familiar with SWW one of the major draws is the destination. For such a tiny place, we like to think our archipelago packs a memorable punch.

As the event has grown, and more of the local community has become involved, we really aim to make sure that there are wooly-related events throughout the islands. This year was no exception with workshops, classes, drop ins, teas and tours taking place from north to south, east to west.

We have noticed that many visitors are now coming for longer, seeing it as an opportunity to learn new skills, holiday with friends, make new friends, travel, socialise, knit, spin, weave and make memories. In fact, SWW has been described by some as a ‘life affirming’ experience.

As ever during SWW there was a great buzz to the place. Visitors arrived throughout the week and on different days according to their schedules. We loved welcoming everyone to the cosy Hub at the Shetland Museum and Archives –  where people collected their membership bags, browsed the museum collections and displays and had the chance to familiarise themselves with the event. For first time visitors to Shetland it can be a little overwhelming to understand how things ‘work’ in Shetland. The Hub is the perfect place to speak to others and get questions or concerns answered.

This year we decided to kick off the event with a more informal ‘Welcome’ than in previous years. It took place in the brand new Anderson High School.  What a colourful sight it was to see so many Merrie Dancers Toories! After music by the talented Shetland fiddle group, Hjaltibonhoga, there were short speeches, including one from SWW patron Elizabeth Johnston. Everyone then got a chance to mingle, catch up with old friends, put faces to Instagram names, meet tutors, and enjoy a glass of wine and chocolate from Mirrie Dancers Chocolatiers. The sponsors were there with their teams and had put together small display tables too. Overall it was a lovely sociable event – and also a great place to people watch and admire all the amazing knitted garments – almost a mini fashion show in itself! So much skill and talent from all over the world under one roof.

Anyone familiar with the programme will know that workshops run for the nine days of the festival, and whilst we recognise that it is sometimes difficult to get hold of tickets due to the small class sizes, we hope that the breadth of events offered encouraged people to perhaps try something new. There was a diverse line up of events which included hand knitting, machine knitting, Fair Isle and lace knitting, weaving, spinning, felting, crochet, colourwork, dyeing, silver making, design, tours and talks as well as a host of free exhibitions, open studios, demonstrations and drop-in events.

With a slew of over 300 events it is almost impossible to choose highlights. But we are so grateful to our tutors for putting on such a broad range of classes and generously sharing their expertise and passing on valuable knowledge and skills. Many go the extra mile and share their personal history and bring a range of homebaked goodies to class too. We even heard of one tutor taking home a visitor’s much loved but damaged vintage Fair Isle jumper and fixing it overnight. We don’t think you can put a price on experiences like that.

Our visiting tutors were very welcome too, and included Anna Vasko travelling from Finland who ran a series of natural dye classes; Dorset Button Making with Tania Ashton Jones; Thrummed Mittens with Helene Driesen, Peruvian Knitting with Frankie Owens and a range of classes from Beth Brown Reinsel; Sally Melville, Susanne Schmid, Marjolein Reichert; Tori Seierstad and Amy Detjen.

Patron Elizabeth Johnson, who seems to have one of the busiest diaries we know, managed to deliver an enormous range of events and activities. As well as giving two talks throughout the week, overseeing the Hoswick Wool Week events, she also ran her own classes in spinning, knitting, lace and natural dyeing. We don’t know how she stays so calm!

The Shetland Wool Week talks have become a key part of the programme. A particular favourite was Hazel Tindall’s illustrated talk ‘Knitting in Shetland in the 1960s’ which was based on the diary entries of her mother, Chrissie Sandison.  One person commented: “Hazel’s talk was amazing. The knowledge with which she speaks about things is unparalleled and this talk was moving, inspiring and thoughtful”.

From chatting with attendees and looking through the feedback it would appear that people took onboard some of our advice and chose to take a slightly slower pace throughout the week, making sure that their schedules contained enough gaps to allow plenty of time to travel out of Lerwick and make the journey to the other islands, soaking up the scenery, community museums, hospitality and events. 

The crofting tours were, as ever, extremely popular. Chris Dyer’s Garths croft in Bressay and Ronnie Eunson’s Uradale Farm tours were fully booked and proved a memorable experience for many. “This tour was a highlight of Wool Week”. “Impossible to improve on the friendliness of the sheep or the enthusiasm of the tutor.”
Community halls embraced the occasion too and hosted drop ins and exhibitions with many giving knitting and lace demonstrations. The obligatory teas were also big on the agenda!

No visit to Shetland Wool Week is complete without a visit to Shetland’s only commercial woollen mill, Jamieson’s of Shetland in Sandness, with a behind the scenes tour, as well as a chance to see, feel and buy their wonderful yarns and tweed.

Jamieson and Smith in Lerwick is a bucket list destination too, and they opened their shop doors every day, as well as running a series of workshops and talks, including Oliver Henry’s Shetland sheep fleece sorting demonstrations.

The Shetland Wool Week Makers’ Market was a highlight with a range of Shetland wool-related items, many of which are only available to buy during the week. We moved the venue to the Anderson High School which offered an airy, relaxed space, and the school put on mouthwatering refreshments too.


We were delighted to offer an extended range of evening events, which included a ‘Sound of Shetland’ evening, which gave a wonderful insight into Shetland’s musical history. There was also a ‘spree’ for those with enough energy to take part in traditional Shetland dancing.  And Jamieson and Smith held a brilliant ‘Final Ooray’ at Gremista Farm (which is owned by a member of the Flock Book Society) with fiddlers, food and sheep.

We loved every minute of Shetland Wool Week and hope you did too, whether you attended or were able to view it through following others’ virtual journeys, blogs and social media feeds. Thank you to each and every one of you for joining us.

Photographic highlights can be found on our Instagram page. Promote Shetland also produced a short film which can be viewed here.

Next year marks our tenth Shetland Wool Week so we’re currently busy working away on ideas on how to celebrate 10 incredible years. We hope you’ll be able to join us!

Makers’ Market – 29 September

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

SAVE THE DATE: SWW Makers’ Market, Sat 29 September
11.00am – 4.00pm at the new Anderson High School

This is always a treat on the last Saturday. It will take place in the new venue, the Anderson High School. There will be around 30 stalls including: Read More

We’re on the countdown!

Friday, September 21, 2018

We’re really on the countdown now … literally days from launching the ninth Shetland Wool Week! We can’t wait to welcome you all to Shetland from places near and far.

For those of you unable to attend we hope that you’ll enjoy our updates and can one day add our festival to your calendar. Read More

SWW 2019 dates announced!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

It’s perhaps a little early to be announcing next year’s dates when we haven’t even had this year’s Shetland Wool Week, but so many of you have been asking, and we appreciate that it takes a little bit of extra planning to organise a trip to Shetland. So… the dates for Shetland Wool Week 2019, which will also be our 10 Year Anniversary, are: 28 September – 6 October 2019. Add it your diaries, tell all your friends, and we hope you can join us to celebrate our tenth year of Shetland Wool Week!
And now back to this year. Read More

SWW Annual Volume Four: Available to pre-order!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The long wait is over and we’re delighted to announce that the Shetland Wool Week Annual Volume Four (2018) is now available to pre order!

It’s packed with exclusive patterns and fascinating essays, against a backdrop of glorious photography which captures Shetland’s rich and varied crofting landscape.

There are 13 patterns, which include:

SWW 2018 Patron Elizabeth Johnston’s Merrie Dancers Toorie
Alyssa Malcolmson’s Tree Yoke Jumper
Outi Kater’s Antidote Mittens
Ella Gordon’s Einar Hat
Donna Smith’s Foula Snood
Marjolein Reichert’s Kliek Vest Cardigan
Tori Seierstad’s Skalavag Mittens
Anne Eunson’s Lunna Fingerless Mitts
Wilma Malcolmson’s Atlantic Lace Hat and Fingerless Gloves
Marcia Galvin’s Autumn Fingerless Mitts
Janette Budge’s Clickimin Cowl
Terri Malcolmson’s Banksflooer Mitts

Essays include Douglas Sinclair’s insight into the lives of the women who worked at the Gutting during Lerwick’s Herring Boom; Laurie Goodlad explores The Crofthouse Museum and uncovers what life was like in Shetland 150 years ago; Dorota Rychlik gives her personal account of rearing organic native Shetland sheep on the island of Vaila; an update on the Peerie Makkers Project; and Niela Nell Kalra shares her excitement about a creative project between young Shetland designers and the V&A Dundee.

Huge thanks to Alex Boak for the photography and part-time crofter and musician, Astryd Jamieson for modelling.

Priced at £19 it can be pre-ordered here.

Arrange to collect it at the Hub (located at Shetland Museum and Archives) during Shetland Wool Week or have it delivered to your home.


Last chance to sign up for SWW 2018 membership

Monday, July 23, 2018

This is more of a reminder than a newsletter, just to update you on the SWW Premium Membership for 2018.
Back in March we launched our annual SWW membership, primarily as a way for people to support the future of the event, but also to give everyone the opportunity to receive an exclusive range of goodies.

For those who follow us on social media, you’ll have already seen the sneak peeks of the bag and brooch, but here they are again.

SWW Members’ wooden brooch by Donna Smith
Designed exclusively for SWW by Donna, this wooden brooch of a Shetland jumper features elements from the SWW Merrie Dancers Toorie by this year’s patron, Elizabeth Johnston (Shetland Handspun).

SWW Members’ project bag 
This striking drawstring project bag features a bold red Shetland jumper, also inspired by 2018’s SWW hat pattern. It’s nice and roomy – perfect for all your works in progress.

Small (60ml) bottle of Shetland Soap Co Wool Wash.
An extremely mild, luxurious wool wash that uses lavender essential oil. Ideal for Shetland knitwear.

Membership closes on Sunday 29 July.
We’re putting in our final order at the start of next week so if you’d like to receive these gorgeous goodies, then visit the online shop for further details.

For everyone attending SWW this year, you’ll be able to select the ‘click and collect’ option – so no need to pay for delivery and you can collect your items on arrival. For those unable to join us, but would like to support us from afar, we’ll post your items to you, hopefully just before Shetland Wool Week starts.

SWW 2018 merchandise
Some of you have been asking about SWW merchandise for 2018.We are working away on a small range that will be available during Shetland Wool Week and, stock levels permitting, we’ll also add them to the online shop.
Can’t wait to share them with you at the end of September …



Summer’s here…

Friday, June 29, 2018

Now that the longest day has passed, it is officially summer! Bring it on we say. We can’t get enough of the long Shetland days and all the freedom and opportunities that the extra light bring. Until around mid-July we’ll enjoy the ‘simmer dim’ (summer twilight) when the sun only disappears for a few hours, bringing us almost 19 hours of sunshine. Those extra hours of daylight signal a season of opportunity and seemingly limitless options – whether that means exploring Shetland’s great outdoors; grabbing the chance to do more with family and friends; or to relish the time to consider and pursue new creative projects. Read More

SWW Ticket Sales Information

Thursday, May 17, 2018

We’re on the countdown to the Shetland Wool Week 2018 programme official launch date and the opening of ticket sales.

The Little Box Office opens on Sat 19 May at 10.00am (BST). The website can be found at www.thelittleboxoffice.com/shetlandwoolweek

Read More

SWW 2018 Programme Update

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

As always, May signals the launch of the Shetland Wool Week programme.
Tickets will go on sale on Saturday 19 May, 10.00am BST.

For all those who have signed up as members we will be emailing you the programme as a PDF file on Wednesday 9 May.
A contact telephone number will be issued closer to the launch date, in case anyone experiences technical problems on May 19th.

SWW 2018 membership
There is still time to sign up for SWW membership, which along with a host of goodies includes advance access to the programme allowing you the chance to plan your events of choice before the tickets go live.

We kindly ask that you do not share your advance copy of the programme with non-members.

Details on Premium Membership or Standard Membership can be found here.

Some highlights of the programme:
The programme is looking really great this year!
We’re delighted to see the return of many familiar faces and organisations. There are too many to list them all but they include Donna Smith, Hazel Tindall, Terri Malcolmson, Joanna Hunter, Wilma Malcolmson, Rachel Hunter, Janette Budge, Deborah Gray, Niela Kalra, Mike Finnie, Shetland College Textiles, Shetland Organics, Ronnie Eunson, Oliver Henry, Helen Robertson and Linda Shearer.

Shetland Wool Week primarily works with tutors from Shetland, but we have visiting tutors joining us too, including Beth Brown Reinsel; Sally Melville; Tania Ashton Jones; Anna Vasko and Frankie Owens.

We’ve added more weaving and spinning classes, with patron Elizabeth Johnston running two additional spinning courses designed especially for Shetland Wool Week.

As well as tours to Unst, South Mainland, Bressay, Uradale, Whalsay, Sandness Mill, North Mainland and a Walking Tour of Lerwick, there are vibrant talks and social events lined up too, plus a host of free drop-ins and exhibitions, as well as the Makers’ Market and Flock Book sale.

Slow down!
With over 300 events from morning ‘til night, there should be plenty for all.
Slow down, soak up the atmosphere, mix up your itinerary with a variety of classes, tours and exhibitions, and leave time to travel around the islands and appreciate all that Shetland has to offer. As well as learning new skills, Shetland Wool Week is also about meeting up with old friends and making new ones along the way.

We hope you enjoy the programme when it comes.


Love Shetland Wool Week – Become a 2018 Member

Friday, March 30, 2018

 Annual Shetland Wool Week 2018 membership is now live!

This year we are introducing a few changes to our membership with the focus on benefits to you, as well as supporting the future of Shetland Wool Week.

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.

Read More