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Elizabeth signs on as Wool Week patron

Elizabeth Johnston wearing the Shetland Wool Week 2018 hat.

ELIZABETH Johnston has been announced as the patron of this year’s Shetland Wool Week.

The Shetlander has also designed the Merrie Dancers Toorie for this year’s official hat, with the pattern now available online for free.

The news was announced this morning at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, where the Shetland Wool Week team is exhibiting.

Johnston, who has lived in Shetland all of her life, began knitting as a child but she changed her focus to spinning after buying a spinning wheel in 1978.

She then started her own business Shetland Handspun and has been in high demand for her speaking and instructing.

Johnston said she was “honoured” to be the patron of the increasingly popular Wool Week, which is taking place this year between 22 and 30 September.

“I have been actively involved in Shetland Wool Week for some time, running classes for the last five years with Niela Kalra at Hoswick,” she added.

“I love the buzz of the event, so being this year’s patron will only add to my overall enjoyment.

“I have loved designing the Merrie Dancers Toorie as well. The kep has a dark background with colours that remind me of the northern lights, or ‘merrie dancers’, and a familiar sight to fishermen.

“You can blend or contrast any colours and I have suggested a variety that use yarns from Jamieson & Smith; Jamieson’s of Shetland; Uradale Yarns and Shetland Handspun. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with.”

Shetland Wool Week co-ordinator Victoria Tait said: “She is an inspiration: running her own small business, transforming Shetland fleeces into beautiful yarn which she then naturally dyes and eventually works into delicate hand knitted items.

“We are looking forward to working closely with her over the next 12 months.”

Shetland Museum and Archives textiles curator Carol Christiansen hailed Johnston’s “life-time knowledge” of Shetland wool.

“Centuries of Shetland textile craft come together in her work: sheep-rearing, wool processing, dyeing, spinning, knitting, weaving. Perhaps more importantly, she is passing on her skills and knowledge to others through practice-based teaching, just as Shetlanders have always done,” she added.

The Merrie Dancers Toorie pattern will also be available from the Shetland Museum and Archives shop and local textile outlets from next week.

Membership for Shetland Wool Week will be available from March, with tickets going on sale at the end of May.

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