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Published: 14 December 2019

By Andy Ross

Christmas 2019

The festive season has started...

Every year we close up shop for a rest so this blog will be the last for 2019. To go out with a bang here are some of the things that have happened in the year, some things to look forward to, and some things that people have sent us to share. 

This year we celebrated our fourteenth anniversary of the weave studio in Yell. From the wonderful gift of looms and equipment we have grown into a production studio as well as an educational space, and now we are branching out to share our space with others. Who would have thought it, huh?

In this fourteenth year we welcomed visitors from all over the world - South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, China, North and South America, all over Europe, and the blog increased its reach too. It currently goes out to more than 750 people who pass it onto friends and relatives. Isn't that amazing? Our network of friends who are interested in textiles grows and grows. 

This year we ran our annual textile tours for the 12th season. How time flies. From its start as a small group of six people who came on a three day trip back in 2007 to our current seven trips a year, the tours are popular, booking out very quickly. With advertising starting earlier and earlier soon we will be sorting out dates for 2021...

Our educational work also continued. Open studios, adult learning classes, workshops and classes outside the studio. It has been pretty busy and looks like it will continue to be that way for 2020. 

The studio production took another step forward. We now have a larger area to show the cloths that we make for my company, The Shetland Tweed Company, and this proved very successful over the summer. Now I am looking for an interior design company to work with to make bespoke cloths. Very Exciting! 

While on The Shetland Tweed Company, the website that we originally had is no longer working for us. I am in the process of creating a new one and will have that up and running soon. There won't be anything for sale on the website because we cannot keep a shop stocked with enough items due to our emphasis on bespoke weaving, but you can have a look at what we have done in the past and you can always get in touch with us to find out what is available. 

The Shetland Tweed Research Project continued when I started a Master of Research Degree with Glasgow School of Art. This degree is a part-time one over two years and there have been some fascinating results. There have also been touching, heart-breaking and lovely stories about the role that textiles have had in Shetland lives, which I will share once the thesis is submitted. I am afraid that you will have to wait until early 2021 though! Occasionally I post on the Facebook page, or to The Shetland Tweed Instagram page if there is something that simply has to be shared immediately!

We added some new items to the library and collection, including some ancient Italian papers from 1793 all about Shetland sheep, and some costume pieces. If you want to see or use the collections do get in touch.

Maggie, Alexa, Lynn (our newest volunteer), Shona and Alan, and Martha worked with us this year, making products, volunteering to show visitors around, weaving, sorting and cataloguing the libraries, enjoying coffee and chat while making plans, and generally being Good Eggs. Thank you very much for all your hard work and enthusiasm. Without you we would not be doing anywhere near as well or, quite frankly, as happy!

And to you, our Receivers of the Blog. A huge thank you for continuing to stay in touch, for your generous thoughts and contributions, and for making Saturday mornings (when I write the entries) so full of intrigue and interest. 

On a personal note, I started to paint and draw, and rediscovered the joy that making art for its own sake gives. I learned that crafting and making art with others is important, and time spent alone creating is a true luxury that should not be squandered, but should be shared. It was my fiftieth birthday this year - never too late to learn new things - and so I spent time drawing primates, seeing exhibitions and am just about to go to revisit Zandra Rhodes' exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum. Who knew reaching half a century could be so much fun and so enlightening?

Without further ado, here are a few Christmas things to look at, many contributed by our readers. Of course there is much, much more out there. Have a play and send us some. We would love to know what you find. Some of these on our list are current, some are coming in the New Year and some are very old. All are interesting. Isn't this an amazing world we live in? Merry Christmas everyone! See you in 2020.

Pink Beasts in Miami

Quilts in Margate

An electric eel's Christmas lights

Hand-stitched photographs of the Berlin Wall

The Orkney Cloth Company is fundraising for a new loom

TextileArtist.org continued to inspire

The role of art for ancient hominids became more important with this discovery

Mary Delany's fabulous floral portraits made out of paper, paint and flower parts

Isabelle de Borchgrave makes costumes from paper

Shetland Tweed was subject to a 66.6% tax in the middle of the last century

Flower mantids are beautiful

and to get you in that festive, reflective mood (with no apologies for tugging those heartstrings)

Silent Night in many languages from South Africa