Dear Shetland Islands Council,

I write to express my dismay at the decision of the council not to renew the Promote Shetland contract, thereby discontinuing the important work of this organisation, and removing three people from their jobs. The minutes of your decision — effectively arrived at during the brief adjournment in which councillors were allowed just 15 minutes to assess all relevant documentation — record that Shetland’s “goal posts have changed,” and that the council prefers the business of promoting the islands to be “much less about heritage tourism” and more about “attracting people, particularly young people, to live, work, study and invest in Shetland.” I suspect we disagree about the broad connotations of the term “heritage tourism”, but as a “heritage tourist” myself – as well as someone who has studied, worked, and made significant business investments in Shetland, (albeit someone who at 43 is perhaps no longer “young”) I would like to tell you about my personal experience of Promote Shetland.

Towards the end of 2010, I was commissioned by a well-known magazine to produce a substantial feature article about Shetland lace knitting. This was an exciting commission for me: the magazine actually paid writers well, and I would get to travel to Shetland to research the piece. I was just getting back on my feet after the stroke which had disabled me ten months earlier. As I’d had to quit my university lecturing position, I was considering whether I might be able to build a new life for myself through my writing and my designing. Perhaps this trip would hold some answers. I had never been to Shetland, and I knew no one there. Like many first-time visitors, I began my research at the shetland.org website.

The site was beautiful, simple to navigate, and had a fresh, contemporary feel. And not only was it visually appealing, but it was packed full of useful information. I found out about different local areas and activities, virtually explored the landscape and its wildlife, found out what was so interesting about Shetland archeology (a new discovery for me), and sought out places to stay. You could download well-produced booklets in PDF form covering topics from geology to hiring kayaks and the website made me even more excited about visiting Shetland. Inspired, I decided to get in touch with Promote Shetland, the organisation who’d produced it. These folk seemed on the ball — perhaps they might assist me with a few interview suggestions?

I fired off an email but, having done a fair bit of research previously in the field of local textile “heritage”, I didn’t expect too much in return. Small public bodies and cultural organisations were woefully under-resourced (even before the Tory cuts began to bite), and those dealing with outside enquiries had many other demands on their time: assisting with other people’s research was generally a very low priority. But the prompt response from Misa Hay, at Promote Shetland really surprised me. She immediately put me in touch with Dr Carol Christiansen at the Shetland Museum (the world’s leading authority on Shetland lace knitting) and Rhoda Hughson at Unst Heritage Centre. She told me about a contemporary work involving lace knitting and light projection which had been coordinated by local artist, Roxanne Permar, and shared information about a fantastic new project that Jimmy Moncrief had spearheaded, intended to showcase the unique talents of Shetland’s skilled lace knitters, and ensure their extraordinary work was properly valued.

(photo from Roxanne Permar’s Mirrie Dancer’s project, 2010)

I had several email conversations with Misa, and was incredibly impressed. This person seemed to be a sort of living hub of information! Everything was at her fingertips, she was always professional and encouraging in her responses: nothing was too much trouble.


(Tom in the Unst bus shelter)

With everything that Misa had provided me, after Christmas, Tom, Bruce and I visited Shetland for the first time. I worked in the Archives, the Museum and its stores, impressed with everything about it, overwhelmed by the fascinating story of Shetland lace that I was gradually uncovering. Following the local area guides that I’d downloaded, we explored everywhere from Northmavine to Spiggie, and Bruce surprised himself with his first swim, breaking the ice over a boggy pool at Eshaness. We drove to Unst in a crazy blizzard, sharing the festive cake that Tom had baked with the wonderful women at the Unst heritage centre, who’d taken the time to meet me. I spent a happy afternoon chatting with knowledgable lace knitter, Mary Kay, and visited Jamieson & Smith, the Shetland Woolbrokers whose local fibre expertise had resulted in the production of the wonderful new yarn which had enabled Shetland’s knitters to create really fine lace, once again.


(Mary Kay)

Tom and I fell in love with Shetland. It was midwinter: the sun barely broke above the horizon and the wind blew through us in a continual, frozen hoolie, but we encountered warmth and generosity everywhere we went. Talking about knitting, meeting knitters, enjoying the outdoors with my man and dog: somehow, I felt I was at home. And for the first time in ten months, my stroke and its effects were not foremost my mind: I was inspired by this fantastic place, its culture, its women. Shetland really surprised me with its vitality and contemporaneity, and nowhere was this more apparent than in the world of knitting and design. I discovered that young designers around the islands were exploring some really interesting new ideas — designers like Angela Irvine, who combined her work with fine lace patterns with digital prints and beading.


(Angela Irvine’s work. Note Ella Gordon, here depicted at an early stage in her knitwear modelling career)

So I went home, and I wrote my article. I had intended to produce something with a ‘heritage tourism’ emphasis – a piece celebrating the birthplace of a famous ‘historic’ craft. What I’d discovered, though, was that Shetland lace knitting, was forward-looking, trend-responsive, excitingly contemporary and very much alive. It was just like Shetland, in fact.


Anne Eunson’s lace fence at Burra.

That trip was the first of countless others, and the beginning of my supportive relationship with Promote Shetland, an organisation whose assistance and encouragement has continually bolstered the success of my Shetland work.


Colours of Shetland

By 2012, my tiny business was gradually establishing itself. I’d decided to set myself up as a publisher, and produce a book from scratch. The book would be a little different from other knitting titles–combining essays about the things I’d so enjoyed during my Shetland visits together with my original designs (supported by yarn from my friends at Jamieson & Smith). Puffins and lighthouses, ancient wheelhouses and cliffside walks: I’d initially discovered all these things through the helpful information that Promote Shetland produced, and they were now the raw material of my work. If I had a question — if I needed a few facts about the discoveries at Scatness — Misa was on hand to put me in touch with knowledgable folk like Chris Dyer – with whom I went on to form firm friendships.


(Scatness)

Promote Shetland also granted me access to the wonderful pool of images I used to illustrate my book. Back then, Tom’s photographic obsession was in its infancy: all I had to accompany my essays were photographs of me, in Shetland, in my knitwear, and this wouldn’t really do. Producing the book together with my layout designer, Nic, we continually enthused about the extraordinary difference Promote Shetland’s photographs made to the book’s visual appeal. Always on hand with a suggestion for a contact or a photograph of a particular location, Misa not only shaped the direction and content of the book, but enabled me to situate my work more broadly within the wonderfully rich aesthetic of the Shetland landscape.


(image used in Colours of Shetland courtesy of Promote Shetland)

Fast forward a few years: my business has grown significantly; I’ve researched, written and published three books exploring different aspects of Shetland knitting (Yokes, Haps, and Shetland Oo), effectively reinvesting the profits from these titles directly back into Shetland industry (buying several tonnes of Shetland wool). Shetland has given an awful lot to me — finding my place there as a writer and designer has genuinely allowed me to find my own place in the world, post-stroke. Since that first visit, a key impetus of my work has always been to give something back — to spread the Shetland word, just as Misa and her Promote Shetland colleagues were continually doing.


Oliver Henry and a big bale of lovely oo from Shetland Oo. Photograph by Tom.

Misa became a firm friend, someone I deeply admired for her warmth and humour, as well as her perpetually enterprising spirit, and professional expertise. Over countless pots of tea and gigantic scones from the Hays Dock cafe, we’ve shared ideas and inspiration. Everything Misa does impresses me — her sense of Shetland as a “brand” is always fresh and forward looking. She’s incredibly productive (editing the successful 60 North Magazine and Shetland Wool Week Annual among her other work); a supportive collaborator (enthusiastically forwarding so many different kinds of Shetland-inspired work from photography to sound art); and possesses a unique and unparalleled ability to effectively mediate the countless different competing interests who have their fingers in the Shetland pie.

Misa. Photograph by Tom from Shetland Oo.

In 2015, I sat in the packed hall at Clickimin amidst a huge crowd of excitable knitters and watched Donna Smith cut the Shetland Wool Week cake with a few tears in my eyes. For, against so many odds, with a tiny budget and limited resources, Misa had built a truly extraordinary event — an event which (rightly) consolidated Shetland’s position at the centre of the world of woolly textiles and which drew thousands of folk around the globe together through the love of their shared interests. I’m so proud to have played a small part in Wool Week as it has grown.


(together with Ella Gordon and Felicity Ford).

In closing, and speaking from my own perspective, I would like to make the point that events like Wool Week – world-class occasions which Promote Shetland have effectively created out of nothing — have much more to do with the celebration of contemporary Shetland life, work, and culture, and very little to do with “heritage tourism,” as narrowly defined.


Jan Robertson baling at Jamieson & Smith. Photograph by Tom from Shetland Oo.

Wool is not Shetland’s “heritage” but rather Shetland’s future: an industry in which many young Shetland people work, and in which many more are now displaying a renewed interest.


(Whalsay’s Peerie Makkers)

For the past few years, Promote Shetland has acted as an exemplary beacon, shining a spotlight on the rich contemporary cultural life of Shetland: only one small aspect of which is my own field of wool and textiles. That you are determined to extinguish that light is, from a public as well as personal perspective, deeply disappointing. I urge you to reverse your recent decision.

Sincerely
Kate Davies

(and I would urge readers of this blog to sign this petition or to write, as I have done, to the convenor of Shetland Islands Council: Malcolm Bell,
Shetland Islands Council
Town Hall
Lerwick
Shetland
ZE1 0JL

85 thoughts on “an open letter to Shetland Islands Council

  1. I have just returned from a weeks holiday on Shetland, visiting the mainland, Yell and Unst. My views are very subjective after such a short stay, but I was struck by a disjoint between the outsiders view of Shetland and actual life on the islands. Shetland Wool Week and the textiles industry are so well promoted externally that I was very surprised not to see more evidence of it’s happening so soon after we travelled around. And yet the local people I spoke to identified Wool Week as one of the biggest attractions and income generators for them. This included the man who took us on an otter watching day and the people whose accommodation we used. I was also surprised that the textiles we saw on sale were not marketed more widely outside of Shetland. I wonder whether the decision about Promote Shetland was made by people who have no knowledge of the fantastic branding that has been built up around Shetland textiles via the blogosphere. I certainly wonder whether Promote Shetland pays for itself in additional income generated via Shetland Wool Week and its associated industries. My feeling is that there is a strong case for keeping Promote Shetland and welcome your letter Kate.

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  2. Petition signed. How shortsighted is the Council?! Tried to figure out how else to support the cause – and was startled to see that @PromoteShetland has less than 6300 followers on Twitter. I think the fiber community should boost those numbers dramatically in immediate future. i imagine if everyone who reads the wooly blogs that have posted about this, or knit hats for WoolWeek, @PromoteShetland would have at least 10K followers. Let’s do this!

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  3. Last Wednesday, on the other side of the world from Scotland, I spent the day at a conference listening to a series of inspiring speakers talking about the importance (and power) of community. The keynote speaker couldn’t have made the point more strongly that supporting and growing communities starts with LISTENING. He was talking to an audience of people from, primarily, very small rural, isolated communities: perhaps not that different in essence from your islands. Sounds as though the local council in the Shetlands should have been in the room with us. More strength to your arm.

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  4. This move is just wrong.I have been ti Wool Week twice already.Going again this year.I can’t understand this move.

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  5. Kate – Thank you so much for sharing your story and the need for this petition. I did sign it and will share it. I truly enjoy the Promote Shetland website and all it has to offer. What do we have if we don’t have history at our doorstep? We have no future or a poor one at that. We need to honor what has come before us. Thank you for all your efforts and everyone else’s to reinstate the Trust.

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  6. Hi Kate & Everyone…Having joined your site a few days ago, after seeing your Wonderful Open Letter, I hope you won’t mind me posting the one I wrote last night, Many thanks, Neil Forsyth

    Dear Shetland Amenity Trust Supporters,
    This is a copy of a letter I have sent to The Shetland Times & Shetland News, in the hope of reversing decision taken by the SIC Development Committee on Monday 12 June 2017:
    In response to the Shetland Island Council Officials decision last Monday concerning the future of Promote Shetland & the Shetland Amenity Trust, one may wonder what do I & my Brother, Gradon, as Stamfordians, in south Lincolnshire, about 600 miles south know & enjoy about Shetland?

    We both know that the Shetland Amenity Trust have been doing a very good job in providing us & many other interested Followers, World-wide, an excellent Webcam coverage, without which our interest in Shetland would be Very limited if not non-existent. I did enjoy 2 memorable weeks each on Foula & Unst way back in 1974, & with such a heritage interest was delighted to find such excellent webcam coverage, which enables us to view many interesting sights of Island life including beautiful skies, aurora, seascapes, & wildlife.

    We also enjoy Tom Morton’s Saturday evening Beatcroft Social, which incidentally celebrates its 1st year of broadcasting this week, lots of Very interesting web posts & blogs on the 60 North Media platform, about both the history & current life in Shetland, a very interesting 60 North quarterly magazine, promotion of the Wool, Food, Fishing, Tourism & many other island industries, all of which would no doubt have great difficulty in thriving without such coverage of the “Heritage of Shetland”.

    There are also many other spheres to the skills of the Shetland Amenity Trust which was started & devotedly encouraged by the late Jimmy Moncrief, who would be turning in his grave if he knew what these 3 Council Officials are trying to do last Monday. His daughter, Lila, & Family, are already no doubt fretting at their decision.

    With respect, what we don’t but would like to know is how 3 Council Officials were able or allowed to overturn an earlier decision that secured a further 5 year’s funding for such a devoted & hard working Promote Shetland Team, in such a briefly held meeting, when they gave themselves less than sufficient time to consider the evidence & views that had been presented to them at that time. Why? Why is this allowed to happen in such an undemocratic fashion in what is meant, surely to be a democratically run Country?

    Their decision was backed by their statement that they want less emphasis on heritage, claiming that they felt The Shetland Amenity Trust Team had done as much as they could to promote Shetland’s tourism, & that they wanted now to encourage more people to move to & live in the Island group. How, we ask, does anyone, some of whom without the S.A.T.’s hard work would never have heard of Shetland.

    How, we ask, can residents, young or older be attracted to Shetland when the Islands don’t appear to have sufficient infrastructure, including housing, to support those who are already there?

    How, we ask, can a suitable level of employment be provided for both existing & new-coming residents if what is surely one of the Islands’ modern prime industries, tourism, cannot be successively encouraged by a Promote Shetland Team who have the expertise & experience?

    Am I not right in recalling from my days of studying Economics & other Business Studies subjects, the effects of “The Multiplier”, in that the more tourism that is encouraged, the more may well be spent in the Islands, either by visiting tourists in the many visiting Cruise ships as just 1 example, the more potential there may be for employment for Shetland residents. In this age of technology, am I also not right in thinking the more Shetland is promoted on the internet, by, as I have already said a very skilled & knowledgeable Promote Shetland Team, the more internet & mail orders of Shetland’s merchandise are likely to develop, resulting in more potential employment, & so on.

    Applying the same principle, the more Shetland’s Heritage is made know by such a devoted Shetland Amenity Trust Team, the more likely, more tourists are likely to be enticed to Shetland, leading to more potential employment, living accommodation, etc., etc. etc…

    Thinking back to our contributions from Stamford, Lincolnshire, late last year I made a 46 page, 15 month Shetland 2017-18 Webcam Collage Calendar as a Thank you Gift to such a Wonderfully devoted Webcam Team who also do so much else to Promote The Shetland Isles. I have also, at my own cost, printed & have given these Calendars to many Fellow Webcam Watchers, & various Shetland organisations, including The Shetland Times, & The Shetland Isles Council.

    As well as detailed monthly pages containing collages of views from the Webcams, I have also included a lot of “Heritage” information which has encourage more recipients to want to visit Shetland.

    My Brother, Gradon, for his part, set up a Petition last week with change.org as soon as he learnt of such devastating prospects of The Shetland Amenity Trust. This has already attracted over 1,840 supporters, & still increasing, Many Thanks, Supporters.

    Finally, what we would all like to know is will the Shetland Isles Council Officials PLEASE ALLOW THEMSELVES ADEQUATE TIME TO READ, DIGEST & FAITHFULLY CONSIDER the contents of The Petition, Open letters & other support, via social media & possibly otherwise, for such a devoted Promote Shetland & Shetland Amenity Team, & reverse their previously ill-fated decision.

    At least we may have some hope in now learning that they have agreed that “The Tender is still open for a new contract”…Let us hope, Please Council Officials you are not as radical as you appear to have been so far in awarding the “New Contract”, bearing in mind so many of us very much enjoy the Heritage of Shetland. Thanking you, in Hopeful anticipation, Neil Forsyth

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Thank you Kate for such an articulate letter.. I too am involved with wool and though sadly, I have never been to Shetland, I have known a number of ‘ex pat’ Shetlanders in different fields, who nevertheless are strongly supportive of the Islands’ heritage, woolly or otherwise. I learned to knit at a very young age, using Shetland wool and continued to do so . I still use some Shetland wool, though I now spin my own range of wool yarns – many from Shetland sheep fleeces.The past informs the presents and inspires the future and we must not lose sight of that fact, or we would be living in a vacuum.

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  8. I find this decision unfathomable – from a purely economic point of view it’s crackers. The amount of money that has been put back into Shetland’s economy from their work must run into tens of thousands. Signed.

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  9. Signed. This is such a short sighted decision, taken far too quickly with far reaching consequences. What is wrong with ‘heritage tourism’ anyway, many people visit Shetland to learn about it’s history, and go away having spent money which benefits the whole economy of Shetland. Of course the islands, like o many communities need young people to live there, to raise families, etc., but why can’t you have both? why does having one mean the end of the other? I’m sure I am not alone in my failure to understand, young people will be attracted to live in a place which is vibrant on so many levels, and tourism adds to this – very sad.

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  10. I, too, have signed the petition and sent a letter/email to the council. I’m stunned at the short sighted decision they have made and sincerely hope they reconsider. In September myself and 9 friends will be visiting Shetland for Wool Week totally on the basis of work done by Promote Shetland.

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  11. Signed and Shared.
    Hope you heard all the love that was coming your way from Knit British podcast this week. (episode 85 )
    http://www.knitbritish.net/category/podcast/
    Mae Li and Louise couldn’t say enough about the genius that is The Book of Haps.
    They talked about how
    a group of Ravelry – ers from all over the world, who have never met face to face, will be visiting Shetland together this summer, thanks to woolly magic.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I’ve just signed the petition, and was glad to see how many people are supporting it. Good to see from the comments that knitters from around the world are giving their support.

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  13. Beautiful letter.
    Oh dear, that council really have lost the plot.
    I signed the petition, and also sent the link to your post to the local Shetland-New Zealand Society in case they are interested.

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  14. I signed it earlier – yes, all the way from Downunder (Australia) because I feel passionately about this. People who create don’t usually want to destroy things. There is such a rich and diverse history and culture in the Shetlands and promoting it in the way it has been promoted can only help to keep young people there and bring in more.
    If you can think of anything else I can do to help – letters anywhere? – then please let me know. Cat

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  15. I had already signed, commented and shared on FB before reading both your own and Louise’s open letter to Shetland Council.

    A profound difference in one life….and think how many others around the world in some smaller way have been affected… so very well said Kate!

    Does bottom dollar not mean keep Shetland alive and thriving, to the Council? The world is speaking loudly and clearly about the astounding job, Promote Shetland has done and they need to reverse their decision, to keep attracting people in all ways to Shetland now and in the far future (as Promote Shetland has so successfully done)!

    Promote Shetlands’ work has indeed brought both residence, admirers, past, present and future tourists; an increase in tax dollars received and those almighty tourist dollars. The last of which the Gov’t I am sure, is still very interested in acquiring! A disgraceful decision that not only hurts residence, business owners, tax payers, students, but the entire island!

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  16. Kate, your letter says it all and so beautifully. I desperately hope this decision will be reversed. (I Signed the petition a few days back.)

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  17. Thank you for all our contributions. I have enjoyed reading about Shetland on Promote Shetland so much! I used it to plan my visit there, and I will certainly miss it! I think the decision of the council is wrong and short-sighted. I live in Kansas City, Missouri, and it has been wonderful to connect across the world with a magical place.

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  18. I wist I could have said similar points so eloquently.
    I’ve met such amazing and kind people. It has left a positive mark on me as a person and mainly as a knitter/designer. I am certainly proud to be recognised as a knitter/designer of specifically Shetland Fine Lace. I have had much use out of the Promote Shetland website and have led many persons to it for reference. I was very pleased to be able to meet with Misa and her recognising me as a returning visitor to the islands. All the knowledge that she carries with her. One only has to ask.
    I am deeply puzzled to the reasons for this (for us) sudden decision to cancel or renew the contract to actually Promote Shetland. I hope it will sink in with all the reactions, WE ACTUALLY CARE!
    Perhaps negotiations to alter the current contract can take place, instead of cancelling it all together.
    Greetings from a passionate Shetland fan from The Netherlands.
    MoniqueB

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Signed and will forward to others to sign. Excellent letter, Kate. And thanks for letting the rest of us know so we, too, can make our voices heard!

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  20. Signed and commented. Promote Shetland and you have combined to cause me to be possessed of the need to visit Shetland! it is true. thanks for fighting the good fight for good people.

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  21. Kate, Your blog reaches an enormous variety of people and cultures, not defined by
    age, gender, or location (knitters are not defined in this way – except, of course, by those who hold
    onto ignorant views and stereotypes. I think you should point out to your local council the 7 million
    Ravelry users of all ages – wake up local council).

    As someone from California, USA, you’ve opened my eyes to the rich textile heritage of your area, as well as a broader view of your culture and what Shetland offers. I want to visit now, whereas before it wasn’t a part of my travel plans. Your intelligent and thoughtful writing has often prompted me to forward your blog posts to knitters as well as non-knitters who I know would be interested in what you have to say. And, Tom’s photographs provide an outstanding visual connection and education about the area.

    Your local council is making a very short-sighted mistake by not understanding that Heritage Tourism offers
    an enormous draw and should be a strong part of a strategic public relations plan. (And, yes, I signed the petition.)

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  22. What an interesting article, thank you Kate. It is always sad to see the generations pitted against one another in thoughtless comments and decisions such as these. In reality, we all need one another to survive and it is extremely short sighted of Councillors to make such sweeping statements, whilst lacking insight in to what really brings people to their shores, such as heritage, tradition and a Shetland welcome for all comers. One can only hope they react in a positive manner when reviewing the signatures on the petition and, hopefully, reading the comments on this blog, if indeed they are truly aware of what brings people to their door. Whilst it is vitally important to attract young people to live and work with, it is equally important to value skills and experience as well as maturity in an older age bracket. I am sure each and every one of us applauds the wish for new blood and younger generations but it may be wise to rethink their rather exclusive comments to those of a more inclusive nature; it is not a wise move to give a slap in the face to those people with an interest in its heritage who are prepared to support it through tourism, and, importantly, spending hard earned cash to support the islands economy. Short sighted.

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  23. Signed and commented. I have been inspired by you and then by extension the work of Promote Shetland. The photographs, the music, and most of all the yarn bring me great joy. Though too far to visit in person, I dream of going to Shetland. Meanwhile I spend dollars indulging my love.

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  24. I have signed the petition. I will be travelling to Shetland Wool Week 2017 after longing to do so for a few years. The work of Promote Shetland is priceless and has engaged me for certain. Hope the council will take another look, this decision seems very short-sighted.

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  25. Signed and commented. Promote Shetland has enabled me to find my haven and refuge which is Shetland. Through Wool Week I’ve met new friends and become more confident in my creativity. My world has been enhanced exponentially by the discovery of this beautiful place, it’s welcoming community and myself. It seems to me that the Shetland Islands Council have made a decision which is not in keeping with the community it represents which saddens me.

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  26. Supporting you and the phenomenal choices you and Tom have made in moving there….thank you and your voice has reached a large number of us stateside. Your promotion of the beauty of Shetland and knitting via your books and blog are watched closely with interest. Your books are on display in my local yarn shop in Charlottesville, Virginia. You did this. We have our own Tom here and his heritage here is celebrated in the celebration of his diverse interests, making the most of your abilities and overcoming challenges. Things I believe your work there exemplifies. God bless you real good!

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  27. Signed. And, I left a comment indicating that I am not young, but I still intend to visit Shetland Islands in the next year or two. Plus, I let them know that both you and the Shetland Island Amenity trust have been instrumental in my desire to visit.

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  28. This Council needs to rethink their decision . Why would they be doing this? They need to be pleased that Shetland is moving forward. Redirect Council goals to include both objectives. Make sure Shetland doesn’t become stagnate .

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  29. Dear Kate I would like to help, even thought my english is not so good. I do not remember what sparked my interest on Shetland although I know for a fact it was something related to knitting. When I started considering seriously the idea if dragging my family to shetland for a holiday (from Spain) I came across the Promote Shetland webpage, browsing through their webpage I registered for a guide, thinking I would be sent to a link where I could download it. What an amazing surprise when a couple of weeks later an eveloppe from Sheetland arrived, with the most wonderful guide inside it, full of information about Shetland, from all points of view, nature, traditions (including knitting), food, hotels, archaeology (my second love)…. I could see Shetland had it all, and that sealed the deal, we spent our next holidays there (2012). Since then I have never stop my relationship with Shetland, I have ordered wool from Shetland on a regular basis (from Shetland organics, Jamieson and Smith, Jamieson’s of Shetland….) and I have bought all the books related to Shetland and knitting and I am always interested in all that the young and new designers of Shetland have to offer. C’mon I would even order some haggis if it could be delivered to Spain!!!!.
    I sincerely believe that all of this brings economic richness to Shetland and the bussiness over there, and it is only possible thanks to the work of Promote Shetland and it’s people that someone from so far as Spain would haver considered to travel somewhere like Shetland, with all its beauty and wonders to offer.
    I have signed the petition of changer.org, but I also wanted to offer my testimony in case it can help

    Thanks a lot Kate

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  30. Thanks for the info. I will get a letter off. It is because of the interest you have sparked, then reading Promote Shetland and 60° North that we started planning a trip to Shetland. You and the Shetland residents have done an amazing job promoting Shetland and providing valuable information ~ It’s the love of their home and land that shines through!
    Why change what is working!

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  31. Yet again we’re reminded that young families are the only worthwhile members of society. If you’re not contributing babies, you’re not contributing anything. Never mind where all these hypothetical young parents will work once all those pesky middle aged tourists have been put off, jobs are not important when they’ll live in the massive new housing developments which will line the councillors pockets – no thought has been given to it beyond that, in Shetland or anywhere else in the UK. Depressing.

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  32. Signed. Short-sighted local councils appear to need constant vigilance in many jurisdictions. Thank you, Kate, for your eloquence on this as on so much else.

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  33. All true! I’ve worked a little bit with Misa and her team and they’re fantastic. What has really upset me about this decision is the way the excellent work they do sounds like it’s been dismissed out of hand. The economic value to the islands of Wool Week alone is more than their annual budget.

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  34. Kate, that is an excellent article and I strongly support your efforts to keeping local heritage alive. I really hope they reconsider their decision. I think more and more people are attracted to the old ways of living and being in a community and adding there own creative energies to keeping life interesting and thriving. I think that what has been created by you and other like minded people, should and could be used as a role model for other communities.

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  35. Kate – thank you so much for bringing this to our attention – YIKES. I have signed the petition and left a message that I hope they read. May they see that they are cutting off their nose to spite their face. Fingers crossed that they will reconsider. In the states this is how we keep up and keep coming back – how do they not know this. Thanks again!

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  36. My husband and I, from the U.S., are taking our first trip overseas in August….And we chose Shetland. I am a spinner and knitter and following Kate Davies blog and the Promote Shetland site. When my husband asked where was the first place I wanted to go on my bucket list, I said, “Shetland”. We want to learn all we can about the history of Shetland in what I know will be a too short 10 days.
    I’m even knitting a hap from Jamison and Smith yarn from Kate Davies book of Haps so tat I can wear it on this trip!
    The Promote Shetland site and Kate Davies blog have been instrumental in our choice to come to Shetland and to help plan the heritage sites we want to visit.

    Liked by 3 people

  37. Signed – wanted to leave a comment but have unique name and small town and there seemed to be no way of anonymous comment had to do without.

    You, your recovery, your patterns and books and Tom’s photography are an inspiration to me. Unfortunately increasing age and disability mean that Shetland and your more complicated garments are likely to remain impractical.

    Thanks

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  38. Kate, Not sure my comment from Illinois will matter to them, but I have signed the petition and left a comment. You and Tom have inspired so many with your sharing of your crafts and the knowledge shared by the people of Shetland. Anything we can do to help will be a pleasure. Thank you for all you do and for letting us know, around the world, that maybe, just maybe, together, our voices can be heard.

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  39. I have signed the petition, too. I discovered Shetland through your blog and your books, Kate, as well as all the services Promote Shetland has provided over the past years. I dream of visiting Shetland daily and even living there. I certainly hope the Council is moved by your letter to reconsider its short-sighted decision.

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  40. Signed. I was lucky enough to visit Shetland last summer with one of Gudrun Johnston & Mary Jane Mucklestone’s knitting adventures. Alas, heritage tourism won’t replace the oil industry & apparently the Foula primary school has only a single child. These are a big challenges to put on the shoulders of Promote Shetland. Rather than whittle down a successful organization, the council should take a step back & rethink their decision.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Signed and shared as soon as I heard about this short sighted decision. It seems so out of keeping with the community spirit on other Scottish Islands.
    I also wrote to the council explaining the impact Wool Week has had on my life since my first visit in 2014. This decision will have far reaching consequences, not least on the Council itself, because of the negative press they have generated, if it is not reversed.

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  42. Well said. This isn’t the first time a town council has made statements like this about young people living and working…while I’m not given to thinking much about feminist issues, as a childless woman in my forties it angers me that what the council mean here is that they want to reduce the numbers of useless middle aged women visiting the islands in favour of couples in the process of producing young children to live in and visit Shetland. As the unwanted middle aged women are attracted to Shetland by textiles and history lets start by stopping these absurd knitting lessons in schools and then come right out and say it – if you’re not young enough to reproduce and you don’t want to ‘live and work’ here, you’re no longer welcome. I live just across the water in Aberdeen and this summer I was going to make a long awaited trip to Shetland, during which I would have, no doubt, spent a lot of money in local businesses. I won’t bother now. If every ‘Heritage Tourist’ did likewise, where would these ‘young people’ they are hoping to attract work, and so live?

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Signed the petition. Scotland, and specifically Shetland, are at the very top of my list of places I really need to visit. Your books and website have done much to inspire my desire to travel to this stunning part of the world, hopefully more than once!

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  44. Hear, hear, Kate! Well said. Let us hope that this wrongheaded, short-sighted decision is put right. Thank you for speaking out so eloquently.

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  45. I have signed the petition. This action seems completely at odds with their own rationale for closing Promote Shetland down. Misa and Promote Shetland are exactly the people and roles that they want to attract to Shetland, young, dynamic and dedicated to the future growth of the Islands. It truly seems like a short-sighted mistake. I hope they reverse the decision.

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  46. How does one hope to attract people to live somewhere and close down something that actively worked to improve job opportunities?

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  47. This is excellent Kate, including so many important aspects that could have not been thought about let alone considered in the short time given to the ‘assessment’ before the decision.

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  48. Done. And I made sure, that many more people see the petition. ;-)

    Thank you so much for this and all your other blogposts – I really look forward to each of it and almost all of them go straight to my heart. In one way or another.

    Liked by 1 person

  49. Oh, Kate, I must admit that although I enjoy growing old(er) your books have made me wish that I were young and able to move to Shetland, the magical place you have so realistically recounted.

    Like

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