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Ella is wool week patron

2016 Shetland Wool Week patron Ella Gordon. Photo: Jeni Reid.

SHETLAND textile designer Ella Gordon will be guest patron for this year’s seventh Shetland Wool Week following a unanimous vote by the festival’s committee.

The event attracts hundreds of international visitors and knitting enthusiasts to the isles. Last year’s wool week was hailed as the most successful yet, with over 300 people attending from throughout the world.

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The festival is estimated to have brought in at least £300,000 to the local economy – a 50 per cent increase on 2014’s £199,000 impact.

Ella was born and brought up in Shetland and studied textiles at Shetland College. Since 2011 she has worked at local wool brokers Jamieson and Smith, while she also has her own small business making crofthouse-shaped cushions.

She is very interested in traditional techniques, patterns and colours, but uses them in a contemporary way.

Ella was born and brought up in Shetland and studied textiles at Shetland College. Since 2011 she has worked at local wool brokers Jamieson and Smith and she also has her own small business making crofthouse-shaped cushions. She is very interested in traditional techniques, patterns and colours, but uses them in a contemporary way.

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The festival committee said Ella had a real passion for knitting and Shetland heritage, making her an ideal candidate to be 2016 patron.

“I was very proud and excited to be asked to be Shetland Wool Week patron for 2016,” Ella said. “I am extremely passionate about Shetland’s textile culture and heritage. I actually got my job at Jamieson and Smith by helping out at the second Shetland Wool Week, so I have seen the festival grow from strength to strength every year. 

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“I have met so many people from all over the world every year at wool week and I’m really looking forward to this year’s event, although it will be a very busy time for me!

“I think it is so important for Shetland’s next generation to embrace the culture we are extremely lucky to be born into, and I am continually inspired by textiles new and old being made here. I have been collecting vintage Shetland knitwear for a number of years now and I love to take inspiration from the pieces I buy from charity shops and online.”

After graduating from Shetland College with a contemporary textiles degree in 2012, Ella was mainly a machine knitter but has become increasingly passionate about her hand-knitting skills.

She has exciting plans for a knitting pattern specially designed for this year’s event. Full details will be revealed at next week’s Edinburgh Yarn Festival.

“My 2016 hat design for wool week features a motif I am known for using,” she said. “I hope it inspires people to knit it, but also think about our heritage, and how we can keep Shetland’s skills alive, while updating them for our modern lives.”

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Ella feels that social media is extremely important in connecting with a wider world of knitters who are interested in what happens in Shetland.

“Through my blog and online it is so easy to connect with people from all over,” she said, “and it makes me so happy to know how many people would love to come here and experience Shetland Wool Week.”

A programme of events celebrating the isles’ textiles will culminate with Shetland Wool Week from 24 September to 2 October. The full programme will be announced in April.

Wool week programme director Misa Hay, was delighted with Ella’s appointment, describing her as a “great ambassador” for the textile industry for a number of years and the organisers were looking forward to working with her.

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