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Published: 19 July 2014

By Andy Ross

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Traditional crafts

Every so often the idea that traditional crafts are disappearing comes up in the media. We are alarmed by stories of the last person to make this or the final end of a craft that has existed for decades.

This week there have been two stories about the decline of crafts. The first is about the loss of craft teaching in some state schools in England and the second is a feature on the BBC about the last traditional craftspeople in England.  It seems that, for some, the crafts of England are in danger of disappearing completely.

For us in Shetland, the traditional craft of textile making is alive and well. In fact, it is thriving! This year we have seen many more visitors coming to Shetland to take part in textile tours, visiting textile studios and workshops, and booking on Wool Week events  if anecdotal evidence is anything to go by. It seems that in the isles the craft of making fabrics and working with textile is alive and well.

Part of that is because the long history of knitting, weqving and other textile crafts has never completely disappeared. Part of it is because there is an industry built on those skills, and because contemporary designers and makers are using the heritage in new ways, and because new blood is constantly coming into the industry in Shetland.

Of course all is not completely rosy here. Like England, the knitting instruction in schools was lost a few years ago with council budgetting, More lucrative jobs in oil pull people away from other making a living from making and creating. Life in the isles is not for everyone and young people go away to see the world as they do everywhere. But the future looks bright for the sector. Our passion and enthusiasm for textiles from Shetland does not look like it is in any danger of disappearing any time soon.