Yesterday my colleague and good friend LH took me to the wonderful The Royal Edinburgh Repository and Self Aid Society on Castle Street. Kate Davies has written a whole post on it (and weaves in a bit of Jane Austen too), but nothing prepared me for the actual shop. It reminded me of those summers when I would pretend to be Anglican for one day. I helped out in the home produce stall at the annual summer feté at the Anglican Church in Copenhagen - mostly as a favour to friends, but also because I could grab some really tasty homemade jam and sneak off with awesome homemade cakes (and cheap books). The shop was filled with all sorts of homemade goodies: jams, cakes, fudge .. oh, and knitting.
Oh, but the knitting. I had several moments of weak knees and uncontrollable knitterly glee. Plenty of pretty baby garments, practical gloves and neat scarves .. and then you would uncover one Shetland shawl after another. One-ply Shetland shawls - yes, cobweb Shetland shawls. The most beautiful, astounding things you could ever want to see in your entire life.
LH is holding one in the photo. I think at this point the two shop assistants had decided that we were bonkers, but harmless.
They pulled out more things for us to marvel at: fair-isle gloves and delicate lace scarves. I looked at prices and my heart nearly broke: for a full-size cobweb Shetland shawl (similar to the bottom shawl) the shop asked £75 (a quick price comparison). It is heart-breaking to see people of exquisite skill selling their handiwork at such a price - it is devaluating their work, their skill and their time - and I wonder why a centrally-placed Edinburgh shop is selling the shawls at such a low price? Does this reflect the market for such shawls or does it reflect that they are unsure about how to price the items?
LH said something profound about knitting journeys yesterday and I have been thinking about her words. Whilst I was physically taking my knitting on a journey yesterday, I began thinking about how knitting is also taking me for a journey.I am somewhere very different to where I am just a few years ago when I got back into knitting and that journey has only just begun.
In my head I'm playing around with a complex set of 'identity markers' and I am trying to work them out through knitting. I am getting increasingly interested in my knitting heritage (primary Danish and Faroese, of course, but with several detours because I am essentially a flâneur) as well as British textile history. I like to think of knitting as something intensely personal - the yarn runs through our hands and we touch every millimetre of the material we are creating - and I want my knitting to reflect me whoever I am becoming.
And to keep me warm and cosy so I will not die during the forthcoming Scottish winter. My cardigan's coming on nicely, non?