LOCAL ‘Man of Wool’ Oliver Henry has been confirmed as the patron of this year’s Shetland Wool Week as the festival looks ahead to celebrating its tenth anniversary.
Henry, who works at brokers Jamieson and Smith, has been involved with Shetland wool for 52 years.
He helped design the annual Wool Week hat pattern, the Roadside Beanie, which takes inspiration from his life and interests. His sketches were turned into a design and pattern by his colleague Sandra Manson.
“My Roadside beanie features two common roadside sights in Shetland: Shetland sheep and fishing boats,” Henry said.
“Both of them have loomed large in my life as a Shetlander.”
The fishing side of the design stems from growing up on the family croft at Roadside in Hamnavoe, Burra. Henry’s father and brothers had a boat and fishing was their livelihood.
Henry suffered from seasickness and could not carry on the family tradition of fisherman crofter, so he turned to local wool for his work.
“I chose the beanie shape for practical reasons – it keeps my ears warm while walking my dog here in Shetland,” he added.
“The world of knitwear design is a bit of a departure from my usual field of expertise, but it’s been fun working on the idea and seeing it developed through to a final pattern by Sandra Manson.
“We’ve chosen four different colourways this year using yarn from Jamieson and Smith, Jamieson’s of Shetland, Uradale Farm and Foula Wool.”
Wool Week manager Victoria Tait said the festival is “honoured” to have Henry as patron for this year’s festival, which is taking place between 28 September and 6 October.
“His passion and expertise for Shetland wool is infectious and he is a massive ambassador for Shetland wool and its people,” she said.
“He was also one of the original founders of Shetland Wool Week, which has now grown and established itself as one of Shetland’s most successful events.”
Chairman of organisers Shetland Amenity Trust Ruth Mackenzie added: “Shetland Wool Week has been an incredible success. It attracts over 650 participants each year, the vast majority of these from overseas.
“Our tenth year celebrations will very much focus on the Shetland wool community – it is this community that makes the event so special so it is great to have Oliver as patron.”
Download the Roadside Beanie pattern here.