LAST week’s Shetland Wool Week was the most successful yet in the still young history of a festival celebrating the local textile industry and the hardy native sheep that provides the wool.
Organisers laid on almost 90 events including exhibitions and workshops, talks and tours, drop-in sessions and markets.
Emma Miller of Shetland Amenity Trust said she was overwhelmed by the response from the hundreds of mainly women participating in the nine-day event.
By Saturday afternoon around 290 people had registered, but a more accurate number of participants is nearer 450, she said.
Now in its fifth year, the festival has grown much quicker than anyone could have expected when the idea was first hatched in 2010.
“The success is purely down to the enthusiasm of the people who are willing to spend so much time and money to come here, but equally to all the local folk who are getting involved,” she said.
“It brings together everyone who is involved in textile locally, from the larger companies to the many designers.”
Now a truly international affair, Shetland Wool Week attracts participants from all over the world.
“There were a lot of people from America, there were loads from Europe, a few from Australia and New Zealand, one from Russia, Israel, South Africa, and earlier today I spoke to someone who came from Brazil,” Miller said.
Planning for the 2015 event is already under way. To that end Selina-May Miller has been employed as a full-time wool week coordinator.
It will be her role to grow the event further while ensuring that the family-like atmosphere among the hundreds of knitting enthusiasts can be maintained.
Emma Miller said some of this year’s participants had already booked accommodation for next October.
“Wool week has to get bigger, because there are more and more people wanting to come.
“We have to offer the core classes like Fair Isle knitting and lace knitting, because that’s what people expect, but we also want to offer thing for people who live here and for those who come back year after year,” she said.