Textile designer Ella Gordon will be guest patron for this year’s seventh Shetland Wool Week. She was elected in a unanimous vote by the festival’s committee.
The event attracts hundreds of international visitors and knitting enthusiasts to the isles. Last year’s was hailed as the most successful yet, with over 300 people attending from throughout the world. The festival brought in at least £300,000 to the local economy, an increase of £101,000 on 2014’s £199,000.
Ella was born and brought up in Shetland and studied textiles at Shetland College. Since 2011 she has worked at local wool brokers Jamieson and Smith and she also has her own small business making crofthouse-shaped cushions. She is very interested in traditional techniques, patterns and colours, but uses them in a contemporary way.
Ella has a real passion for knitting and Shetland heritage, which makes her an ideal candidate for the role of patron for 2016.
“I was very proud and excited to be asked to be Shetland Wool Week Patron for 2016,” she said. “I am extremely passionate about Shetland’s textile culture and heritage. I actually got my job at Jamieson and Smith by helping out at the second Shetland Wool Week, so I have seen the festival grow from strength to strength every year. I have met so many people from all over the world every year at Wool Week and I’m really looking forward to this year’s event, although it will be a very busy time for me!
“I think it is so important for Shetland’s next generation to embrace the culture we are extremely lucky to be born into, and I am continually inspired by textiles new and old being made here. I have been collecting vintage Shetland knitwear for a number of years now and I love to take inspiration from the pieces I buy from charity shops and online.”
After graduating with a degree in Contemporary Textiles from the Shetland College in 2012, Ella was mainly a machine knitter but has become increasingly passionate about her hand-knitting skills. She has exciting plans for a knitting pattern specially designed for this year’s event. Full details will be revealed at next week’s Edinburgh Yarn Festival.
“My 2016 hat design for Wool Week features a motif I am known for using,” she said. “I hope it inspires people to knit it, but also think about our heritage, and how we can keep Shetland’s skills alive, while updating them for our modern lives.”
Ella feels that social media is extremely important in connecting with a wider world of knitters who are interested in what happens in Shetland:
“Through my blog and online it is so easy to connect with people from all over, and it makes me so happy to know how many people would love to come here and experience Shetland Wool Week. I hope to make Shetlanders proud of our heritage, and share with whoever I can how much I love Shetland Wool and Shetland knitting.”
A programme of events celebrating Shetland textiles will culminate with the official Shetland Wool Week on 24 September until 2 October 2016, with the full programme to be announced in April.
Shetland Wool Week Programme Director Misa Hay, was delighted at Ella’s appointment.
“Ella has been a great ambassador for the Shetland textile industry for a number of years now, and we are looking forward to working with her. Next week, at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival we will be launching Ella’s official 2016 Shetland Wool Week hat, so keep an eye on the SWW website and social media channels. It’s bound to be in high demand.”