After stops in Iceland, England, and the Orkneys, Sarah boarded the ferry that would take her to the Shetland Islands and Shetland Wool Week.
Shetland Wool Week is a festival celebrating Britain’s most northerly native sheep. Shetland sheep were likely brought to the islands a thousand years ago by Viking settlers. Not only is the breed hardy, but these small sheep produce an amazing variety of wool from which everything from delicate lace to rugged outerwear can be made. Their soft fine wool comes in eleven different colors and is the basis of the Shetland Islands’ renowned textile heritage.
Shetland sheep come in a wide variety of colors. Their soft durable wool is prized for spinning and knitting.
In only its seventh year, Shetland Wool Week draws participants from around the world to attend exhibitions, classes and lectures about weaving, spinning, dyeing, Fair Isle and lace knitting, and more.
All the shops had special displays for Wool Week including bits of yarn bombing.
This telephone box is yarn bombed with delicate Shetland lace.
Sarah had a difficult time choosing from the 160+ events offered, but attending the opening reception was a must. Highlights included canapés made with only local produce, music, talks, and a group of authentic Vikings. A fashion show featured items ranging from handspun lace, Fair Isle jumpers, and Shetland tweed.
Members of the Lerwick Jarl Squad (Viking reinactors) made an appearance at the opening reception.
Here are highlights of some of the other sessions Sara attended:
Island Inspiration Tour–This was a boat trip over bumpy seas where the most important instruction Sarah received was, “DON’T FALL OFF THE BOAT!” They sailed to the abandoned island of Havera observing wildlife, walking around the island to see ruins of the settlement, and viewing knitted items made by former inhabitants.
Havera was inhabited between the 1770s and 1923.
Jamieson’s of Shetland Tour of Spinning Mill and Knitwear Factory–This is the Shetland’s only spinning mill where you can see the process from fleece to finished garment. The wool is all grown locally.
Jameison’s of Shetland’s offers many shades of wool grown and spun locally.
Burra Bears Open Studio–Held on Burra Isle, this tour of Wendy Inkster’s studio told the story of how nineteen years ago Wendy gave new life to used Fair Isle jumpers by turning them into Shetland’s first teddy bear.
Sarah’s own Burra Bear wearing lace Sarah made in a Shetland lace knitting class.
Other sessions Sarah enjoyed were Woolbrokers Jamieson and Smith demonstrating sorting and grading wool, Lace, Tweed, and Haps, a tour of textile displays at the Shetland Museum, The Makers’ Market, Shetland Flock Book, Shetland Lace Knitting, and Knitting a Hap.
Our many thanks go to Sarah for sharing her adventure with us. She may have inspired us to add Shetland Wool Week to our fiber bucket list.