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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!