The fourth Shetland Wool Week exploring the art and craft of wool draws to a close this weekend and has been judged a resounding success, says curator Carol Christiansen
“There’s been quite a buzz,” she said. And judging by the number of folk, around 300 locals and visitors, the event seems set to go from strength to strength.
Many had come from abroad, including from Australia, specially for the week – others had come from Canada and there was a male enthusiast from Brazil. He was definitely a fan of Shetland wool said Emma Miller, of Shetland Amenity Trust. “Every time we see him he’s walking round with a different carrier bag.”
She added: “The whole week’s been super. It’s definitely been bigger than last year and is only going to get bigger, there’s such a demand to continue.”
The week had comprised knitting, spinning, dyeing and craft-making sessions, with visits the length and breadth of the isles, including to the spinning mill in Sandness, Hoswick Woollen Mill and heritage centres in Whalsay and Unst.
There were also demonstrations of wool grading in Jamieson & Smith’s Lerwick premises, where the feast of wool on sale delighted visitors – one described it as being “like a toy shop”.
One of the most popular workshops had been “visible darning”, with Tom van Deijnan, known as “Tom of Holland”, who turned mending thinning elbows and covering stains into an art form. There are three types of darning, he said, Swiss darning, which embroiders over knitting, classic darning with a wooden mushroom and the hard-wearing Scotch darning, based on blanket stitch.
Mr van Deijnan said: “It was amazing to see so many people [at my workshops]. I’ll be back, I’ve deliberately left a few loose ends.”
At the Makers’ Market at Lerwick Town Hall Finnish designer Outi Kater said: “It’s been a real buzz,”, and stall holder Jan Hicks from Cumbria, who runs a women’s co-operative, described the week as “fantastic”.
A new venture from Magnus Holbourn from Foula attracted great interest. His business, which he started in February, involves buying fleeces and having them spun, then taking orders for the natural-coloured wool. He said: “Wool Week’s been very good for us, it’s a good way of connecting with people we’ve sold wool to.”
Stallholder Margaret Anderson from South Voxter, who makes hats out of the “hentilagets” found on fences, said: “It’s great to see people showing so much enthusiasm and interest. It’s important to get our produce into the market place, sometimes the knitwear industry has been put on the back burner compared to the oil industry.”
• For more, including why the future of Shetland knitting is in safe hands, see next week’s Shetland Times.