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Published: 15 October 2014

By Andy Ross

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Hello to all our new friends who have joined us from the Knitting and Stitching Show. Our blog comes out on a Sunday morning and is an eclectic collection which we hope you enjoy. Here is the reason why...

GlobalYell started in 2001 as a music charity based in Shetland. I started it so that I could teach vocal music and in the beginning we were a very small organisation, organising one event a year, a weekend of teaching in opera and musical theatre. To help make an income we owned and ran a cafe in the North Isles, the Wind Dog Cafe at Gutcher, and I used to run events and musical evenings, craft and art sessions in the cafe. I also sang and did recitals and workshops of my own in the islands. 

In 2006 we were very lucky to acquire a weave foundation, the Ann Sutton Foundation, and moved it up to Shetland. I grew up in a city with a strong textiles manufacturing industry, Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, and my father used to own a screen-printing studio while my mother sewed and tatted and both grandmothers knitted. So it is really not surprising that I have always collected fabrics and done my own sewing and stitching, but weave was a new departure for us. 

My training in music very quickly led me to realise the extraordinary links between music and weave; both use mathematics and patterns, both depend on colour and texture for interest, so I was very happy to move into textiles and set-up our weave studio on the island of Yell in Shetland. 

What you saw on our stand at the Show was the result of work with designers and craftspeople, starting with the fantastic woven whirlpool by Lucy McMullen (pictured opposite in a picture taken by Lucy), and going through scarves by Angharad McLaren, cushions by Emma Blain, and upholstery fabrics by Kirsty Jean Leadbetter. We are very proud of all of our products, including the iPod and iPad pouches made from Shetland tweed by local seamstresses, and we love to the colours that the islands inspire designers to use. 

Of course we were not the only ones on our Shetland croft-house stand at the Show.   A few years back, Shona and Alan Skinner bought a nearby unit to ours and established the Shetland Gallery from where they show the best of Shetland art and craft. It is a beautiful space and Shona works from a studio in the gallery to produce her exquisite embroidered sea and landscapes. It has been wonderful getting to know the couple who have become firm friends, and to have Shona at the Show, halping us to get the stand looking right and generally keeping us all happy and laughing a lot. 

A show like that cannot possibly happen without help from lots of people. Maggie Bowler is one of our stalwart volunteers who not only helped us to get things ready for the Show but also works with our sewing groups and runs around after our young people's performance group Singing Saturdays. Without Maggie, we would not be anywhere near as polished. Thanks Maggie!

Julie Jamieson also helped us with a presence on the stand and packing it all up afterwards, as did Andrew Harrison (who is Chair of GlobalYell) and Toby Skinner. It was really a team effort to get everything packed back onto the pallet (yes, just the one). Well done everyone!

The Knitting and Stitching Show was our first public showing ever. It was amazing to be in such an inspirational atmsophere - embroidered bugs and pictures nearby, lovely African fabrics and baskets, felt sculptures and printed textiles, and that was just in our area. The other two halls were full of interesting and exciting fabrics and machines, guilds doing their demonstrations and workshops. What an inspiring event to be at!

I hope you enjoy reading our blog and will come and visit us sometime. We are always interested in meeting new people and welcoming old friends, and thank you again to all our readers, old and new, for staying in touch.