13th December 2017

Great turnout for opening of eighth annual wool week

Participants raising a glass to this year’s event. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Shetland Wool Week was launched with great gusto last night with around 350 enthusiasts, many sporting this year’s signature woolly hat, cramming into the Clickimin Bowls Hall.

The event, now in its eighth year, attracted visitors from all over the world including Australia, New Zealand, USA and Japan as well as Europe and the UK.

With more than 500 memberships sold and around 700 expected to attend the week’s classes, talks and tours, this wool week could be the biggest and best yet.

Patron Gudrun Johnston told the launch event guests that she was honoured to have the prestigious role of patron. Born in Shetland, she lived in the isles until the age of five and is now based in the US, but “Shetland is a huge part of who I am”.

Some of her designs from her business The Shetland Trader were featured in the evening’s fashion show, organised by Faye Hackers of Shetland College.

Six other designers’ work was also modelled, to a musical accompaniment by Vair, with innovative creations such as a kimono and a lace garment for men delighting the audience.

Patron of this year’s event Gudrun Johnston. Photo: Dave Donaldson

Designer Andy Ross of GlobalYell made an impassioned plea for funding to promote the future of weaving in the isles. Shetland tweed was once an important product, he said, and could be so again.

The week’s events started on Saturday and many visitors had already been to classes. US visitor Karen Clerke from Missouri said the dyeing workshop she attended was “amazing” and she had tackled a new skill of felting.

Fellow US visitor Susan Rittenhouse from California, on a bus tour to the North Isles, was just delighted to see sheep wandering all over the road.
Tours across Shetland, from Unst to Fair Isle, and classes ranging from silversmithing to knitting a bangle, making a rug or felted bag will continue all week.

• More stories and photos in The Shetland Times on Friday.

About Rosalind Griffiths

I am a Shetland Times reporter covering news, including health stories, and features. I have been in Shetland for more than 30 years.

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