The guest patron for this year’s Shetland Wool Week has been named as “man of wool” Oliver Henry.
The news was announced yesterday at the start of the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, where the wool week team is exhibiting. The annual hat pattern, which is now synonymous with the launch of the patron, was also released.
This year’s official hat is called “The Roadside Beanie”, the inspiration for which came from elements of Mr Henry’s life, from which he drew sketches and illustrations. These were interpreted into a design and pattern by his colleague Sandra Manson.
Mr Henry has lived in Shetland all his life and has worked with Shetland wool for 52 years. He has judged, graded, sorted, worn, promoted, researched and been inspired by wool in his work at Jamieson and Smith.
He said: “My Roadside Beanie features two common roadside sights in Shetland: Shetland sheep and fishing boats. Both of them have loomed large in my life as a Shetlander.”
It was clear to him that sheep would be part of his design story, given his career.
Fishing also played a big role in his life, especially growing up on the family croft at “Roadside” in Hamnavoe, Burra Isle.
His father and brothers had their own boat and fishing was their livelihood. Unfortunately he suffered from seasickness and could not carry on the family tradition of fisherman crofter, so he turned to wool for his work and inspiration.
He said: “We’ve chosen four different colourways this year using yarn from Jamieson and Smith; Jamieson’s of Shetland; Uradale Farm and Foula Wool.”
Shetland Amenity Trust’s wool week manager, Victoria Tait, said: “We are honoured to have Oliver as this year’s patron.
“His passion and expertise for Shetland wool is infectious and he is a massive ambassador for Shetland wool and its people.”
• More in this week’s Shetland Times.