International line up for Shetland Wool Week begins Monday 10th October

by Deborah Leggate -

Shetland is celebrating its wool and textiles industries with a week-long festival which starts on Monday 10th October. Run by Jamieson and Smith Shetland Wool Brokers, Shetland Wool Week is part of the international Campaign for Wool, a project lead by HRH The Prince of Wales to promote the natural benefits of the fibre.

Over 30 events are taking place locally, each focused on exploring the most interesting and innovative examples of wool development, production and use.

People and organisations from all sections of the industry are involved, from some of the best local businesses and craftspeople to international designers and textile artists. Visitors from the US, Japan and Germany are heading to Shetland to take part, as well as representatives from Campaign for Wool and competition sponsors from Vi-Spring in Devon and DNB Nor in Norway.

The events are open to all and cover a range of themes and practices. Felting is the focus for a class with the respected Norwegian textile artist Karin Flatoy Svarstad, while designer for Daks, Emma Bradbury, will give a talk on contemporary textiles, alongside Elizabeth Johnston, who will be discussing Prehistory and Shetland Textiles. Budding design students from the Shetland College are set to deliver short presentations as part of the same event: Shetland Textiles - Then and Now event at the Shetland Museum and Archives. Later in the week American designer, Mary Jane Mucklestone will lead a career workshop drawing on her wide-ranging experience in textiles and the New York fashion industry.

Shetland Wool Week was planned to coincide with the Shetland Flock Book Sales and fleece compeititons, which takes place on Saturday 16th October. The winners of the recent Real Shetland Stories Competition will also be announced during the week, with the winner receiving a bed of Real Shetland Wool from luxury bedmakers, Vi-Spring.

Events are taking place all over the islands. In Lerwick there are family and childrens craft events and Textile Tours at Shetland Museum and Archives; classes in Fair Isle, Shetland Lace and Weaving at Jamieson & Smith's wool store on Lerwick's North Road; traditional textile demonstrations and an installation by Shetland College students at the Shetland Textiles Museum in the Bod of Gremista; and an exhibition of knitted garments at Vaila Fine Art. The Centre for Creative Industries and Bayanne House are both running events in Yell, and there is a Knit and Knatter in Unst; Burra Bears studio in Burra is open all week; and light installation, Blowup, lets people experience interactive knitting at Bonhoga Gallery in Weisdale.

Commenting on the festival, Marketing Manager with Jamieson and Smith, Sarah Laurenson, said: "The great variety of this year's Wool Week gives it an international scope. This gives people in Shetland the opportunity to experience some of the very best in design and textile practice, and to share our culture, heritage, skills and knowledge with people from all over the world. Being part of the Campaign for Wool identifies Shetland as a place where all the different elements of the industry are taken into account. The Shetland Wool Week Committee includes representatives from Shetland Museum and Archives, Shetland Amenity Trust, Promote Shetland and the Shetland College, and it is this mix of people which has resulted in such a diverse programme. The textiles and agricultural events show a common purpose in promoting Shetland's wool as a quality niche product that can truly be traced from beginning to end.'

The full Shetland Wool Week 2011 programme is available to pick up at Shetland Museum and Archives, Jamieson & Smith, Vaila Fine Art, Shetland College and the Shetland Library.