The sheep came spilling over the hillside, emerging through the low mist where the green earth touched the gray sky, running down into the fields below.
They were ready for their big moment.
It was Shetland Wool Week, and visitors from around the world — most of them women and nearly all of them knitting enthusiasts — were streaming to the Uradale farm and other areas of the Shetland Islands, a far-flung archipelago north of the Scotland mainland, to see the famed fleeces.
The weeklong festival, established in 2010, is both a way to spread a cherished tradition of knitting and celebrate the local culture, and a commercial opportunity for the area’s sheep farmers, wool spinners and craftspeople.
“What Shetland Wool Week did was offer us a shop window to an international audience, which we probably would have had great difficulty finding,” said Ronnie Eunson, who established Uradale Farm decades ago. “It’s a whole new world, these ladies who knit.”
But it is also a celebration that every year transforms the remote island communities into a hub of woolly activity.
Across the islands, knitters were everywhere, with the rhythmic click of metal needles providing the background soundtrack to island life.
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