My 2019 Shetland Wool Week Experience Part 1

I had a mixture of emotions regarding this Wool Week, apprehension, the fact I was the first male patron and if anyone would knit my Roadside Beanie, were uppermost in my thoughts. Could I cope with the opening ceremony and the fact I had to make a speech? I also had to introduce a video message from the person ultimately responsible for Shetland Wool Week and our patron HRH The Prince of Wales in his role as convenor of the Campaign for Wool, of which our Wool Week was part of. I was to give a powerpoint presentation on my 50 + years working with Shetland wool, before a very knowledgeable crowd of people. I was most apprehensive of the fact the conveyor of Shetland Wool Week, Victoria Tait, had asked if I could give two classes on my subject, Shetland wool handling. I also had a great sense of pride and gratefulness that I had been part of this highly acclaimed event and had played a role in its beginning. A sense of sadness and appreciation of two of my friends no longer with us who also had played such an important in establishing our event on the global stage, sadly no longer with us. Jeemie Moncrieff of the Shetland Amenity Trust, who was the driving force of our wool week and Pete Glanville of Shetland Organics, a loyal and dedicated individual who was also one of the everpresent supporters of wool week.

I will begin my journey which started in the wool store on Friday 27th September giving an afternoon talk and demonstration on Shetland wool to a group of textile enthusiasts from Sweden on a Shetland wool adventures tour.

Visitors on 27th September

On Friday at 6pm, I judged the Shetland Flock Book Sheep Association’s fine fleece competition held in the local auction mart. It was an extremely difficult task as the wool quality was of a very high standard. The two classes of white and coloured comprised of 3 fleeces per entry, 60 fleeces in all. This was a very challenging and time consuming task, lasting 3 hours.

Fleece Judging
Overall Winning Fleece from the Island of Yell

Saturday morning at 8am I embarked on one of my favourite tasks; judging the Shetland Flock Book wool on the hoof, it was to be particularly special this year as I was not only the patron but it was also my 25th year at the event. When tasked to set up Shetland Wool Week, the first people I contacted were the flock book, custodians of the finest wool Shetland sheep since its beginning in 1927. My fellow judges this year was Derek and Charlie and between us we picked our final 6 animals in 4 classes; Ram lamb colour, Ram lamb white, Adult ram colour and Adult ram white. The final decision made in the ring was left to me, and as always wool is left till last and I had to move fast in order to finish before the auction starts.

Wool on the Hoof
Audience Viewing Judging

Auctions were on Saturday at 2.30 pm; I always wait until the wool champion is sold to see if, in fact, I have made the correct choice of winner. A previous year my Supreme champion judged from the 4 classes a black ram lamb sold for a paltry £50! I am pleased to say my champion fared better this time selling for £750.

Auction Sale
Sale Ring

I was glad to get home and have a rest before facing the rest of Shetland Wool Week and the opening ceremony on Sunday night.

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