Shetland Wool Week (SWW) September 2023

Shetland Wool Week (SWW) September 2023

This is a guest post written by Bobbie Herrick, my friend and level 3 stitch classmate. You can see some of her beautiful work here in my post about our exhibition. Bobbie is from the Seattle, Washington area and recently went to the Shetland Islands for Wool Week. I hope you enjoy her post.

Shetland Islands landscape with sheep in foreground and a house by water in the distance.

My friend Dorothy and I had wanted to learn how to do Fair Isle knitting as well as visit the Shetland Islands. We thought SWW would be a fun way to do both.  We knew our adventure had begun when we met Val, from Cleveland, Ohio sitting beside me on a flight from London to Aberdeen, Scotland.  This was her first time to SWW as well.

Shetland Wool Week Participants waiting at the ferry station.

After a day in Aberdeen we checked in at the ferry terminal in the evening for our ferry to the Shetlands.  We found the waiting room full of knitters.  Many of them were wearing the 2023 SWW design for the Buggiflooer Beanie.  Buggiflooer is the Shetland word for a sea campion which grows around the Shetland coast. The travelers were from a great variety of places  including Missouri, Texas, Canada, Australia, Poland, Sweden  and Japan.  Excitement was only temporarily dampened by the rough overnight crossing of the North Sea!

Knitted credit card case by Bobbie Herrick.

We arrived in Lerwick in the early morning and walked to our “Introduction to Fair Isle” class taught by a delightful, skilled tutor, Janette Budge.  There we were given wool to make a small Fair Isle piece. There were experienced knitters as well as beginners.

Later in the week, I was able to visit open houses of several local guilds and some designer studios.   Old and contemporary work was on display.  There were spinners, weavers as well as knitters.

We had only selected a couple of events out of an extensive list of exhibitions, talks, tours and classes. Many events were at different locations on the islands. The SWW ‘Hub’ located in Lerwick was a great resource for finding directions, events, and provided a comfortable place to knit and relax. There we were able to find additional sites and studios to visit.  It also had a map showing where participants were from.

During our week on the islands, we found the local people resourceful, warm and welcoming.  They are proud of their rich Scandinavian and Scottish heritage.

Resident of Shetlands Islands in knitted sweater, scarf and hat standing at the shore.

Shetland artists often get their inspiration from the natural environment and incorporate traditional and contemporary motifs in their lovely work.  There is much more I would have like to see and explore, so hope to return!

Thanks Bobbie for telling us about your trip!

13 thoughts on “Shetland Wool Week (SWW) September 2023

  1. Thank you for sharing your wonderful adventure with us all Bobbie! You look as if you need your woollies at this time of the year in the Shetlands – that’s a happy photo of you on the shore.
    Looking at the map it’s amazing to see how far some enthusiasts travelled to be there.

    1. Hi, thanks for your post. I am new to this so hopefully my reply will go through. It was very windy at times (one of the reasons you see so few trees) but the weather was very changeable. If it was bad it didn’t last long! It was a bit colder than Seattle though. The person on the shore is not me but an enthusiastic SWW participant who is a much more skilled knitter than I. She owns a knitting shop in the north of England. She was off to an experience called Walk in Dir Shoes where she was going to knit while working similar to what was done on a 19th century croft!

  2. Thanks so much for your post Bobbie. I had not realised the Shetland wool week was such an international affair! The photos you shared from Janette Budge’s workshop; wow! Her creations are stunning and her knitted lace blew me away.
    Thanks again!
    P.S. I am not sure if you can access this detective series “Shetland” but if you can you can enjoy viewing the beautiful scenery in comfort.
    Though something tells me you are itching to return ……

    1. Hi again Bobbie, sorry I did not sign off, I forgot I was posting remotely and my nam would not appear. Hélène 😁

    2. Hello, Thanks for your post. Janette Budge may do lace work but that was not hers. That photo was taken at the East Ness local weavers, knitters and spinners guild displays. I saw Janette’s Fair Isle knitting at our class which is lovely. I wish I could send you a photo of that. The lace work is incredible with a variety of designs. PS. I am sure the Shetland series increased my interest in wanting to visit these lovely islands.

    3. I am so pleased that you enjoyed your visit. I have a Polish friend who spent quite some time in Shetland honing her weaving skills. Her work is very beautiful.

      Thankfully it’s not quite as violent as the Shetland series. Which reminds me, the new series is on tonight.

  3. I’m so glad you enjoyed Shetland and its Wool Week Bobbie. I hope that the event is doing something towards reviving Shetland’s wood trade, it sounds as if it might well be. I hope you’ll be able to visit again soon.
    Ruth reminded us about your lovely work she which showed us in her last year’s post about the Experimental Stitch Exhibition. I was blown away by your Hanging Garden lamp.

    1. Thank you, Ann. Glad you liked the lamp. I am hopeful that the publicity and enthusiastic participants will help the wool trade in Shetland. An article about the event was even in the New York Times on November 4. They reported about 800 people came this year!

  4. Thanks for your post Bobbie, I really enjoyed learning about wool week. It’s always fun to go with a tribe of like minded women and enjoy the scenery, learning something new and getting a wool fix all in one trip. I think your credit card case is pretty impressive, much better than I could do. 🧶

  5. A really lovely read. I have not visited Shetland, but so glad to read about wool week and how you enjoyed your visit.

  6. How wonderful to meet like-minded wool enthusiasts brought together from all corners of the globe Bobbie.

    I’m sure you’ve made many friends along with your many lasting memories. Memories that I’m sure will pull you back again.

    Thank you for the insight into your happy trip.

  7. Thanks for sharing, It sounds like you had a great time and will be going back. I would love to see Shetland but maybe in a warmer season. I wonder if there are a lot of felters there.

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