Shetland Wool Week has grown considerably from it’s beginnings 10 years ago as Oliver Henry, this year’s SWW patron explained at the opening ceremony last week. At a ticketed opening capped at 500 guest, he recalled speaking to just 30 guests at the first ever ceremony.
One week ago today, we were already benefiting from many of the generous Shetland Wool Weekers who have blessed our shores this year, as Shetland Wool Week organisers gave us a table at the opening. We raised over £1000 for the Shetland MRI Scanner Appeal on that night alone, but the impact of Shetland Wool Week on our fundraising started many weeks earlier.
We sold 150 tickets to our MRI Maakers Event, the majority online long before guests from as far afield as Australia and America even arrived here. Our raffle tickets arrived in time for thousands to sell before Wool Week had even officially begun, with so many eager to win Billy O’ Middle Toon – the Burra Bear made out of Harriet’s Hats from all over Shetland. With so many visitors downloading Harriet’s Hat patterns to knit before they got here, it’s difficult to tell exactly how much impact Wool Week had on our fundraising before it officially got underway, but it’s certainly well over £3000.
During the week, we were given space at the Hub in the Shetland Museum & Archives, both before and after our own special event on Thursday. If you include advance ticket and raffle sales we raised in excess of £5700 from that night alone with £1250 of that collected at the event itself.
One of the highlights of many of our guests was this year’s Guizzer Jarl greeting them at the door and later mingling with them for photos. We’re extremely grateful to John Nicolson and his squad for coming and sharing another unique part of Shetland culture with Wool Weekers from around the globe. For us, it provided a rare opportunity to get this lovely photo of three of this year’s prominent local figures. What other time could you get the founder of MRI Maakers, the Guizer Jarl, and the patron of Shetland Wool Week in one shot?
A particularly special night for the many guests from around 10 different countries, who now have a new found love of Reestit Mutton soup and Bannocks. All this and more in the particularly eye catching venue of the Lerwick Town Hall’s main hall.
After such a busy night, the more relaxed day in the wool week hub was a welcome change in pace for the MRI Maakers who helped out, but not entirely sedate. Both of the yarn suppliers featured on our patterns needed more pattern bundles through the day having already been resupplied earlier in the week. There was also a few last minute preparations for the Makers Market, yet more support and donations from Shetland Wool Weekers, and we even recruited another MRI Maaker who had moved to Shetland just days before.
The MRI Maakers have been gearing up to Shetland Wool Week, essentially from it’s very first night, by making a wide variety of items all crafted using Shetland Wool. So while we had already raised more than we’d anticipated, Saturday’s Maker’s Market was expected to give a substantial boost. It certainly didn’t disappoint!
We had learned in the previous days through hearing it over again from many of wool week’s visitors that many, often return visitors, appreciate our local hospitality immensely and welcome the opportunity to give something back by supporting a local cause. Nevertheless, we didn’t expect anything what we experienced on when the Anderson High School opened it’s doors at 11am. Within mere minutes we’d raised over £1000 with the sale of a beautiful lace shawl someone insisted on paying £400 for, and a single donation of £700 from someone who understandably wishes to remain anonymous. The remainder of the staggering £4463.40 taken in total coming from the sale of patterns and items knitted by our 62 volunteer knitters. We had deliberately not posted the many items made by our Fernlea Maakers on the website so we had them to sell, and it’s a good thing we did! Virtually everything made by them and others of the same generation is now gone, accounting for several hundred pounds of the total raised that day.
Once the initial surge died away a little, which took a couple of hours, we had time to chat more with people at our stall. Many asked if there was a way they could donate directly to us later, so I said I would share a link to our GoFundMe page.
We entered Shetland Wool Week having already raised just over £42k, and now just 1 week later our new total is a breathtaking £58,657! While we did receive in total the incredible amount of £3551 from Marie Wallin from her Meadow Book sales, we’re confident that at least a similar amount had been raised in connection with wool week before it began. There was however another surge in pattern downloads totalling around £1000 so far following the release of an interview of Anne Frost by Kristy Glass. Taking everything into account, we can say we have raised at least £15,500 in connection with Shetland Wool Week which is way beyond anything we could have hoped for.
Wool Week has given us much more than that though. We’ve had the opportunity to meet a great many people in person who have been supporting us from afar, including the first person to cast on her Harriet’s Hat in the knit along organised by the Minnesota Knitters Guild. It truly has been an incredible week, tiring, but incredible.
We would like to thank Victoria Tait and the many people at Shetland Wool Week for supporting us and giving us the opportunity to achieve as much as we have this week. Thanks also to the many, many, people who helped in any way to arrange and host such a successful MRI Maakers event. A special mention must to the makers of the soup and home bakes, and the Voe Bakery for supplying the bannocks, we know people have sought out the recipe so they can make them when they get home. Thanks to John Nicolson and the others of his squad and everyone at the Lerwick Town Hall, in particular Billy. Lastly, but most importantly, we must thank the many extremely generous Shetland Wool Weekers of 2019 for supporting us in such an amazing way. Thank you all, so much!
Here’s a gallery of our Shetland Wool Week, hope you’ve all enjoyed it as much as we have.