Monday, October 31, 2011

Occupy Wall Sheep

My copy of Knit Real Shetland arrived!  I took advantage of the offer of free shipping from the UK and it only took about a week to appear on my doorstep.  The patterns are really strong - I can easily imagine knitting more than half of them, which I think is a pretty good ratio for any knitting book.  

My only criticism is with the colour choices of the samples in the book.  All the patterns are gorgeous but the colours...not so much, in my humble opinion.  

Am I being too cranky to imagine that this design might be even more stunning in a more harmonious colour scheme?  

Ach, everybody's a critic.

Fortunately I can easily imagine them in other colours and if there is one thing that Jamieson and Smith are good at, it is offering a lot of options in that department.  In fact, part of why I purchased this book was because I once, in a fit of enthusiasm, bought their entire colour sampler kit - one skein of each of the colours they sell.  It was very exciting when it arrived but then I was left wondering what exactly I would do with one skein of each colour of their yarn.  Problem solved!  This book has lots of great ideas that require no or only a small amount of supplementing.

The book also contains an interesting introductory essay by Kate Davies about the history of Jamieson and Smith and Shetland knitting in general.  

Shetland wool is unique and Shetland knitting reflects this.  I was recently speaking with a man from New Zealand who was telling me that the wool industry there was in trouble - people just aren't wearing real wool anymore.  As someone who spends a great deal of money on wool, I had a moment of disbelief that this could possibly be true, but I am sure it is.  I have heard similar stories about the Falkland Islands.  And here is Kate Davies again on how products are being marketed as made of wool when, in fact, they have little or no wool content.

In the grand scheme of things, this sounds like it is a very small issue.  But look a little closer.  If we lose traditional industries like the Shetland and Falkland wool industries, we lose a lot more than a handful of jobs and livelihoods on a couple of tiny, ocean-swept islands.  We lose entire cultures, and by that, I mean lose them forever.  So while I may have a small quibble about someone's taste in colour, the truth is that I gladly spent my money on this book, and I will spend more to buy yarn to make the patterns in it.  

It isn't Occupy Wall Street but it is a small gesture to keep this tiny world of ours just a little more interesting for just a little while longer.


Shammickite said...

I agree that people are not wearing so much wool. I have been scouring thrift shops (Sally Ann, Value Village etc) for used 100% wool sweaters that I can felt... but they are very hard to find.

Jan Morrison said...

I am now busy imagining a poster to go with your slogan.
Buddha is in the details!

Robyn said...

And it is ALL details, as Daido Roshi used to say.

OfTroy said...

different standards--Wool in UK is a more generic term (wool= fiber for knitting or weaving, and 2nd, wool =fiber made from sheep, (3rd wool(adj) = fiber from assorted animals: mohair (goat) wool, Angora (rabbit) wool, etc.

US has different standards- and in general wool =animal fiber (most likely (and legally!) from sheep, but the generic term wool might be use (casually) for mohair or cashmere--

I am of the opinion that if wool were introduced today to the world, it would be heralded as a miracle fiber--for its insulation, for its durablitity, for its warmth (vs weight) etc.. trouble is wool is an old fabric and no one really recognizes all its great properties (well no one but spinners, knitters, weavers and crocheters!)

Robyn said...

You have a point Helen - in Newfoundland, "wool" means simply any yarn whatsoever, including acrylic. But when you are trying to sell something and using the term wool...I think it should mean something more specific.

Wool is a miracle fibre! I was a wool sock skeptic but now I am a total convert. Winter or summer - wool is best.

newfie said...

I love wool.

I agree it is the best fibre out there. I've reading lately how many companies have been marketing their yarn as natural with wool and other natural fibres when it is in fact mainly or all acrylic!

If you go to swanky outdoorsy places(like outfitters here in st. john's) there are tons of posters touting how good their 100% pure wool products are. As if this was just discovered not a well known fact that their ancestors all the way to their grandparents knew.