We are thrilled to announce this year’s Shetland Wool Week patron as Shetland knitwear designer and handspinner, Elizabeth Johnston.
The news was officially launched this morning at the start of the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, where Shetland Wool Week has a stand.
The annual SWW hat pattern, which is now synonymous with the launch of the patron, was also released. This year’s official hat pattern is called ‘The Merrie Dancers Toorie’ and was designed by Elizabeth Johnston. The hat is based on a fisherman’s kep in the Shetland Museum and Archives’ Boat Hall, and features three small patterns, but is not a Fair Isle design.
Elizabeth has lived in Shetland all her life, and like many others who grew up in the islands, has knitted from childhood. Elizabeth bought her first spinning wheel in 1978, which changed her focus from knitting to spinning, and also teaching these skills. She eventually started her own business, Shetland Handspun, which has taken her to many places around the world and she is in high demand as a speaker and instructor.
Elizabeth said: “I have loved designing the Merrie Dancers Toorie. The kep has a dark background with colours that remind me of the northern lights, or ‘merrie dancers’, and a familiar sight to fishermen. You can blend or contrast any colours and I have suggested a variety that use yarns from Jamieson & Smith; Jamieson’s of Shetland; Uradale Yarns and Shetland Handspun.”
We are delighted to have Elizabeth as our new patron. She has a life-time of knowledge about Shetland wool, learned from those who came before and honed through practice. Centuries of Shetland textile craft come together in her work: sheep-rearing, wool processing, dyeing, spinning, knitting, weaving. Perhaps more importantly, she is passing on her skills and knowledge to others through practice-based teaching, just as Shetlanders have always done.
The Merrie Dancers Toorie pattern can be downloaded for free here or come along to our stand at EYF and pick up a printed copy. Elizabeth will be splitting her time between the SWW stand and also her own stand, Shetland Handspun, so drop by and say hello.
The pattern will also be available from the Shetland Museum and Archives shop and textile outlets in Shetland.
Knit the hat in any of the suggested colour variations, or come up with your own colour scheme, and wear it to Shetland Wool Week 2018 – identify your fellow Wool Weekers and compare hats throughout the week and at the official SWW 2018 photograph!
Remember to share your creations and experiences with us by tagging your photos with #merriedancerstoorie or #shetlandwoolweek2018