I finished my Stoorbra socks, I love them, everybody who's seen them (my mum and her dog) loves them, as well as a few friends and relatives who are heavily hinting for a pair (they took me just over two weeks to knit with plenty of time on my hands - people, that's quite a big ask - I'm not saying no, just that it's a proper job of work to make something like these to order).
I also love the Shetland Wool Week Annual where I found the pattern, and The Shetland Wool Adventures Journal from which I've been cribbing ideas this morning. The Wool adventures Journal is definitely an independent venture - the brain child of Misa Hay, who is a powerhouse of inspiration and creativity. The journal is a logical extension of her business that further supports other local businesses and designers - I like everything about this.
I have a growing collection of knitting related literature, most are focused around patterns, quite a few are self published (Kate Davies, Susan Crawford, and the Trollenwol books that focus on designs using Uradale wool), and there's a healthy number published by The Shetland Times as well. My favourites are the ones that highlight a whole lot of designers - so the along with the wool week annuals and Misa's journal there are the books that the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers, and Dyers have produced. I think of the Wool Week Annual is an independent publication - it's published by the Shetland Amenity Trust, and it serves a specific purpose, so perhaps technically it isn't - but does that matter?
When I say I like everything about these journal type publications, part of that is the variety they offer me as a reader and knitter, part of it is the sense of collaboration within a community. I'm too young to think of the truck* system in Shetland as anything other than history, but well within my lifetime the rates that some knitters were being paid was exploitative which is why so many turned their back on it the moment other job options became available. Wool Week is a visible sign (amongst others) that people can the tide has turned. It might still be exceptional to make a living out of knitting and designing, but at least there's a sense that many of the people involved are doing it on their own terms.
Meanwhile the socks are brilliant. They will be my reading socks, perfect for keeping my feet warm and cozy on the sofa when I'm too engrossed in a book to move around and get the circulation going again. Or don't want to put the heating on. As I said with the first one, it's a really lovely pattern to knit - and I'm delighted to have learnt about 3 needle bind offs (genuinely excited about this). If it's maybe not suitable for absolute knitting beginners, the one size fits all approach means that it is a perfect first sock project as there's only the heel turn to tackle - no other shaping or fitting, and the Fair Isle patterning keeps it interesting all the way.
It's not just the first sock I've knitted, but the first sock pattern that's made me think it would be worth the effort, and this is something else I like about collections from a whole range of designers - there's always the thing you didn't know you wanted to make until you see it.
*Knitters would be paid in kind for their garments, often in things like tea and sugar which they then needed to barter to get the actual necessities of life. It's a complicated issue - on the one hand you would get something for your knitwear irrespective of actual market demands, but mostly it exploited the knitters.