3.5 out of 5 stars
Growing up on a sheep farm in Suffolk and learning to spin weave and knit, meant that Esther Rutter has had wool running through her fingers since childhood. She has been a knitter for years and has had a fascination in the history of wool and the part it has played in the history of the UK.
However, no one had written about it from the behind a pair of needles. Moving to Scotland a few years ago meant there was a career gap and she seized the opportunity to do some research in the knitters.
Little did she know that it would be a journey around all of the UK, from the southern Channel islands of Jersey and Guernsey, across to Wales and back to the fens before heading north to Scotland. Each place that she visits is the opportunity to start a new knitting project so you hear and see in the photos the garments that she made, from funeral socks to a pussy hat, gloves to a cricket jumper and even knits herself a yellow bikini. She has another go at spinning again, with her mum re-teaching her some of the skills that she had long forgotten and knits a gansey for her father that uses a good couple of kilos of wool.
I thought that this was a very interesting take on the cultural history of our country. It was the woollen trade that made our country rich at the time and those financial influence affected all aspects of peoples lives. As well as the history, the author is prepared to make the things that she is finding out about and talk to the people who are keeping this little bit of our culture alive. I am not a knitter, (my wife is though) and it is something that has never really appealed as a hobby. Rutter has a strong narrative in the and I found this to be a fascinating book nonetheless.