Over the course of a year, Esther Rutter – who grew up on a sheep farm in Suffolk, and learned to spin, weave and knit as a child – travels the length of the British Isles, to tell the story of wool’s long history here. She unearths fascinating histories of communities whose lives were shaped by wool, from the mill workers of the Border countries, to the English market towns built on profits of the wool trade, and the Highland communities cleared for sheep farming; and finds tradition and innovation intermingling in today’s knitwear industries. Along the way, she explores wool’s rich culture by knitting and crafting culturally significant garments from our history – among them gloves, a scarf, a baby blanket, socks and a fisherman’s jumper – reminding us of the value of craft and our intimate relationship with wool. This Golden Fleece is at once a meditation on the craft and history of knitting, and a fascinating exploration of wool’s influence on our landscape, history and culture.
Esther Rutter studied English at Oxford University’s Magdalen College, where she held an academic scholarship. She has worked at the Wordsworth Trust and at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, and is currently Writer in Residence at the University of St Andrews. Growing up on a sheep farm in Suffolk – where as child she learned to spin, weave and knit – she retains an affection for all things woolly. She lives in Fife.
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