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.