26th March 2017

Levenwick lass Gudrun named Shetland Wool Week patron

A Shetland-born knitwear designer based in America has been named patron of the popular Shetland Wool Week festival.

Levenwick-born Gudrun Johnston has also designed the festival’s official “Bousta Beanie” hat which was launched last weekend at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.

It uses a variety of colourways in Shetland wool by Jamieson & Smith, Jamieson’s of Sandness and Uradale Yarns.

The Edinburgh Yarn Festival is Scotland’s biggest urban yarn and fibre event, attracting around 5000 wool and knitting enthusiasts from all over the world.

More than 7,500 Bousta Beanie hat patterns were downloaded from the Shetland Wool Week website and another 2,000 in person.

There were also stands from Jamieson’s of Sandness, Uradale Yarns, and Shetland Handspun.

Ms Johnston has strong Shetland connections with her grandparents from Skerries and Ness.

She has published two knitwear books of her designs and successfully relaunched the Shetland Trader, a design company, first began by her mother, Patricia Johnston.

Ms Johnston is a frequent visitor to Shetland and has attended every Shetland Wool Week since it started in 2010.

Many of her designs feature Shetland patterns and yarns, and she is inspired by the colours of the isles’ landscapes.

Ms Johnston, said: “I am so very honoured to be the patron of the 2017 Shetland Wool Week. I am astonished, though in some ways not surprised, at how much it has grown.

“My Shetland lineage runs deep, but I’ve spent much of my life on mainland Scotland and, more recently, in America.

“And yet the personal, creative and professional inspiration that defines my work is Shetland: its history and culture, people and language, its landscape, and the ever-present sea.

“Looking back over the last 15 years, I’m amazed at the role Shetland has played in my knitting career.

Ms Johnston wearing here Bousta Beanie hat

“Through my designs, publications and teaching I’ve been able to share Shetland’s rich knitting heritage with a far-flung international audience.

“Through my knitting-themed trips, I’ve had the pleasure of showing guests the wonders of Shetland first hand.

“My Wool Week hat design was inspired by the ever-changing shades of the Shetland landscape.

“I wanted to reflect this in a simple Fair Isle pattern that floats between one background colour and two contrasting colours.

“The beauty of this approach is that it creates endless possibilities for colour combinations. I’m excited to see what everyone comes up with.”

Last year more than 3,000 tickets were sold for 200 different classes and events.

Shetland Wool Week co-ordinator Victoria Tait, said: “We are delighted to have such an inspiring designer as Gudrun Johnston as this year’s patron.

“She has a large international following online and  is an enthusiastic ambassador for Shetland’s textile industry, so she was a natural choice for the Shetland Wool Week committee.”

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