We had very little time to rest before traveling out of Lerwick to Tingwall and the local village hall, for one of the last events of Wool Week 2019 and, for me, the most important event. We would not have had a Shetland Wool Week had it not been for the Flock book society, keepers of the ancient breed of Shetland sheep which is famous for its fine wool. It was obvious to me when tasked to create a Wool Week in our islands; who better equipped to help us but this group of custodians who are dedicated to the purity of the breed. After, all the event is called Shetland Wool Week and for me there is only one true meaning and that is Real Shetland wool from native Shetland sheep.
It was the Shetland Flock Book 2019 & Fine Fleece Prize-giving Supper and Dance with sponsors Vispring. I was to present the trophies to the winners of the annual Flock Book show, fine wool competition as the sponsors of the event Vispring had returned back home. The evening was a social evening with traditional Shetland fiddle and accordion music, Shetland dancing and a light supper featuring local fare.
Catherine and I were joined at our table by two ladies from Germany, one lady from Switzerland and a husband and wife from Yorkshire in England. The dancing started the evening was filled with excellent Shetland music; there were not many people on the dance floor so Catherine and I took to the floor. Also dancing were members of the Lerwick dance club and one in particular stood out one of our crofters and my old friend, Allison “Flea” Duncan, I had always wondered how he came by the nickname, just watching the speed of his feet, made me think that could be a reason for his title. He is always “buzzing” around at a rate of knots, which is also the more likely explanation. However, it was very appropriate to have local dancers showing the visitors Shetland dancing. As the dancing progressed I asked several of the visitors to take part and I was surprised how well they could pick up the dance steps.
There was a break for supper and refreshments; it was supposed to be a light supper, however the food on offer mostly local fare was very plentiful and of a very high standard. The Shetland Flock Book laid on a very impressive spread of food and it was most appreciated by the visitors.
Next was the prize-giving and in my role as patron I was to carry out the task of presenting the prizes for the Wool on the hoof; judging the quality of wool on the live animals. The winners of the Fine Fleece Competition were also to be presented with prizes, the prize winners all received trophies and cash prizes from the main sponsors Vispring.
Following the prize-giving it was back to the dancefloor and at this stage I was starting to wilt, and as if to waken me up I would get the occasional slap on the back from the ever present “Flea”. After the last dance we said our farewells to our companions, thanking them for their company and wished them a safe journey home.
On Sunday afternoon we travelled north to Brae, and met up with my son Adrian, his wife Sarah, her parents Frank and Morag, and of course our two granddaughters Erin and Elise. We first went to the local community centre where there were stalls of local crafts goods on show and for sale. The Brae Up Helly Aa shed was open to visitors who found out all about the fire festival. In the Brae Hall were teas, exhibitions and demonstrations by the Shetland Guild of Spinners Weavers Dyers and Knitters. Entertainment was provided by the Northmavine Fiddle and Accordion group who virtually played non-stop. The food was of a very high standard and one of the organisers said they actually had to send for more supplies! The event came to an end with the draw of the raffle prizes where, once again, I was given the task of drawing out the winning tickets. If my memory is correct, the raffle was over £500.00 and the proceeds were given to the Peerie Makkers, a very generous donation to a very worthy cause; the future of our hand knitting.
We walked across the road to our son’s house and on the way met one of the older neighbours, who had commented that he’d never seen so many cars in Brae before they were parked on both sides of the main road. Surely a very fitting end to a successful and wonderful Shetland Wool Week!