Inside a Paper Bag Were 4 Balls of Wool…

This Golden Fleece by Esther Rutter

I can’t decide whether non knitters would love this book a much as I did. Esther spins a good yarn (pun absolutely intended), but the knitter in your life will especially love it. I received it as birthday gift from a good friend who knows I am slightly hooked on knitting. (It’s meditative and also helps with pain relief. Get knitting!)

Esther Rutter is a young woman living in Scotland who decided to spend a year investigating traditions of knitting in the British Isles by travelling the length and breadth of the land exploring regional knitting history. Along the way she revives her own knitting habit, picking up local patterns and wool. Her skills improve as she travels, although I found it very encouraging to hear that she had loads of unfinished garments and a huge stash of wool waiting to be used. I guess that must be true of all us knitheads. Confession:Sometimes I pick up knitted bits and for the life of me cannot remember what they were meant to be.

The book has inspired me in so many ways. I realised, for example, that I have never knitted socks. Imagine! I am remedying that soon. I doubt I will be attempting two at once (see page 165 and Magic Looping!) I definitely won’t be making all the items she attempted though. I laughed out loud when she decided to knit a fifties style bikini. It reminded me of my Dad suddenly taking it into his head to teach me to swim at Herne Bay beach (all pebbles). He went off and bought some knitted trunks. The sight of him stepping gingerly out of the sea wearing what had turned into a skirt down to his ankles will never leave me. I can swim though!

Esther’s bikini fared much better, survived her dip in the water and looks pretty good, too. I am so pleased that the book is peppered with pictures. I found myself flipping through to find what she was talking about, especially the Gansey jumper she made for her Dad.

I have always thought that knitting a garment, making anything for someone really, is an act of love, so was particularly moved by this passage:

Words by Esther Rutter from This Golden Fleece

Isn’t that lovely? I always tell my family, as I graciously bestow upon them my own knitted garments of varying success, that there is a little bit of love in every stitch!

The other impact the book has had on me was to give me pause about the type of wool and I use and the environmental effect. I am now consciously looking for homegrown wool which hasn’t been subject to masses of chemical immersions. I haven’t yet begun spinning my own wool or dyeing it with nettles but give me time; I may yet get there. Esther’s Mum spins and she takes this up with her. I was often reminded of the film How to Make and American Quilt as I read through the book, older women passing on knowledge to their younger counterparts. As does Esther, imparting bits of knowledge on chemistry, (e.g. how wool is comprised) and history (e.g. the tricoteuse in France).

A book for the non knitter? Yes, I think so. One to be read slowly, enjoyed and savoured. Be careful, though. You might find yourself itching to pick up some needles and get knitting.

You can find out more about Esther on her web site here or follow her on Twitter, @thisgoldenfleece

Next ReVitalYou course

At the time of writing we still have a couple of spaces on our January 20th course near Bath. It’s a brand new course designed to help you get the most out of life, particularly with regard to some of the latest research on how what we put in affects what we put out. ReVitalYou. Take a peek and get in touch.

Changing People licences experienced trainers, coaches and organisations to deliver its International RenewYou programme for women. Read more about it here

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Posted on January 9th, 2020 by

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