I paid a visit to the headquarters of the Amenity Trust to see Jeemie Moncrieff in early January to discuss his suggestion of how we were to turn wool week into a major event. He told me, “We discussed how to achieve this the night of Wool Week 2010, do you remember?” I replied, “Vaguely, I cannot recall a lot about what took place that night!”
I said, “I agree; although there are a few major problems. We at J&S do not have the staff or experience to develop this and even if we did, all the relevant parties would not engage with this if we were at the helm. Also, in my experience of Shetland textiles they have never been united and never could be.” His response was to hit the desk with both hands and shout, “We will make it happen!”
If my memory is correct there were four of us at that first meeting. In his role as general manager of Shetland Amenity Trust Jeemie looked after the museum and visitors centres throughout Shetland as well as environmental projects such as recycling and the like. Promote Shetland was also the responsibility of the trust, and as the name suggests the body promoted all aspects of Shetland life including its culture and heritage.
Promote Shetland undertook the organising and promotional activities of Shetland Wool Week along with its other marketing work with other sectors within the Isles such as food and drink. The Trust was an independent group, however part of the Shetland Islands Council who financially supported the various trusts responsible for developing Shetland and its products.
In early 2011, Martin Curtis, joint managing director of our parent company Curtis Wool Direct, wanted to hold a story competition which would record a collection of memories and traditions of individuals involved in Shetland sheep wool and textile crafts. This was to be a joint venture between Curtis Wool Direct, Jamieson & Smith and the Shetland Amenity, the end result was a very favourable turn out of over 100 entries. Stories depicting everyday working life in crofting, knitting and textiles maps out what is distinctive about Shetland’s culture and natural heritage, a fantastic response from the people of Shetland! The winners would be announced at Shetland Wool Week 2011, the event would be held in the museum’s boat hall. The sponsors of the event were a mix of public bodies; Shetland Amenity Trust, Shetland Museum, Shetland Wool Week, Promote Shetland and the Campaign for Wool. Private business sponsors were Vi Spring, the main sponsors of the event: supplying a hand – made Shetland wool bed to the winner Drew Ratter. DNB bankers supplied Shetland Wool Throws to the other entrants chosen to be in the book, Curtis Wool Direct and J&S were also involved in the publication. Similar to Shetland Wool Week this was another highly successful event involving Shetland wool and showed the strength of public bodies working well with private enterprise for the wellbeing of Shetland wool producers and knitters.
Shetland Wool Week 2011 was launched on Monday 10th October running for one week and consisted of events and classes held in public venues; Shetland Textile College, Shetland Textile Working Museum, Shetland Museum and Archives and several local companies involved in wool and textiles took part.
The Shetland Flock Book society show and sale concluded the main part of the event at the Shetland Rural Centre where I judged the wool inside the ring on the live animal “Wool on The Hoof”; the winners received prizes from the main sponsor, again Vispring, makers of premier handmade beds using the finest Shetland wool. The Shetland Flockbook Society also has a fleece competition on the Friday night before the annual show and sale. Vispring were also the main sponsors of this event.
All images courtesy of Jim Nicolson from Cunningsburgh.
It was a fairly exhausting week but the beginning of something special that would put Shetland sheep, wool and textile firmly on the global map.” It could only get bigger”, said Jeemie. All the pieces just needed to come together and even I started to believe this would happen. It was a first, nearly all the people in Shetland involved in textiles were coming together, even if it were for one week!
Below is the 2011 catalogue of activities and shows the total amount of companies, events and classes available, quite a good selection which could only get better.
Thank you again to Jim Nicolson for providing photos of the event.