A SHETLAND wool broker and an Edinburgh-based luxury e-commerce business are joining forces to offset the impact of the council’s decision to end knitting lessons in local schools.
Thistle & Broom managing director Teresa Fritschi said she was dismayed by Shetland Islands Council’s decision last week to discontinue knitting classes to save £130,000.
In collaboration with island wool brokers Jamieson & Smith, Thistle & Broom are now offering financial incentives to encourage kids to learn Fair Isle knitting in the hope that the skill will help them earn a living.
Thistle & Broom pays 66 per cent of their retail price to its hand knitters, with authentic Fair Isle sweaters retailing for up to £525 on the Thistle & Broom website at www.thistleandbroom.com
Ms Fritschi said the finer details of her efforts had still to be worked out, but she compared the situation to the “battle” to preserve Harris Tweed.
“It would be an understatement to say how dismayed we are at the council’s decision to save £130,000.00 annually in cutting this vital programme from the curriculum of Shetland’s schools.
“The potential long term economic impact of this decision makes it seem very short-sighted.
“In cooperation with Jamieson & Smith we have a tremendous opportunity to mitigate the impact of this decision or perhaps reverse it,” she said.
Jamieson & Smith purchases 80 per cent of the fleece available from Shetland’s flocks.
The company believes their 80 year old business, their Shetland staff and the local crofters who provide the fleeces would all suffer without new generations of knitters.
Marketing executive Connie Smith said the domino effect of the school budget cuts would be broad and long term.
“Both of our businesses are focussed upon positively impacting local economies and growing organically within Scotland’s borders,” she said.
Ms Fritschi added that knitwear connoisseurs from around the world often queue for months for the privilege of owning an authentic, hand-knit Fair Isle jumpers offered through Thistle & Broom.
“In the absence of council funding hopefully we’re able to fill the void by providing the financial incentive for kids to learn the skills from their grandmothers and thus allow for the perpetual continuation of this amazing craft,” she said.
The collaboration will likely include streamlined ordering of the yarns for the knitters with the benefit of a trade discount available.
In addition, the Jamieson & Smith three sheep logo will now adorn every T&B garment made with their yarns as documentation of authenticity and the source of yarn.
Become a supporter of Shetland News
Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.
Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.
Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has over 440 supporters who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.
Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -
- Bring you the headlines as they happen;
- Stay editorially independent;
- Give a voice to the community;
- Grow site traffic further;
- Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.
If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.
Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.Support Shetland News